John Bolton, President Trump's third national security adviser, was apparently pretty unpopular in the White House. Among those cheering his departure Tuesday, The Washington Post reports, were first lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, "countless Defense Department officials, and numerous international leaders." Also, Fox News host Tucker Carlson. But that's not why he was fired, or resigned, whatever.
Trump and Bolton had substantive disagreements on how to address Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Afghanistan, as Trump alluded to in his dismissal tweet, "but Trump finally decided to remove his top security aide on Tuesday after a heated discussion in the Oval Office, following accusations by other officials in the administration that Bolton had leaked to the news media," the Post reports.
Tucker Carlson and "several senior administration officials frequently told Trump that Bolton, a career hawk with a reputation as a vicious bureaucratic infighter, not only wasn't on his team but was using the news media against him," Politico reports. "He was a leaker, they told him. Others in the administration feared the same, at times excluding Bolton and his allies from sensitive meetings for fear they would weaponize the information exchanged to their advantage. ... Ultimately, it was hearing media accounts about how Bolton had advised the president to scuttle a meeting with Taliban leaders at Camp David that proved a breaking point for Trump."
"Trump and his aides privately blamed" Bolton for news reports describing his opposition to the Taliban talks and Pence's agreement with Bolton, The New York Times reports. Bolton was also suspected of leaking notes about a North Korea nuclear freeze plan he opposed. True or not, the Times says, "Bolton's adversaries inside the administration have been after him for weeks, spreading stories about how the national security adviser had been excluded from meetings and was on the outs with the president." And now he is. Peter Weber
The new CDC guidance on mask usage for Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 has swiftly shifted mask mandates. My state of Minnesota lifted its mandate, though our municipal mandate is still in place. Our favored Costco, however, is outside city limits and newly mandate-free for vaccinated customers, which means I can do my next grocery trip unmasked.
My twin toddlers soon cannot. They'll turn two this summer, which means that just as my husband and I can take our masks off in most indoor spaces, they'll have to put theirs on. Teaching them to wear a mask is proving a herculean task, so much so that I wonder if it's possible. Either way, I know it's ridiculous.
Other nations realize this. We have a flight planned for later this summer, so I've been researching airline rules. American carriers and airports all require masks for children two and up, per federal mandate. Airlines from other nations take a far more reasonable approach. At Emirates and Virgin Atlantic, the minimum age is six years old. For British Airways and Air France, it's 11 (and that higher cutoff isn't only for air travel).
This isn't indicative of a lax attitude toward the pandemic: France and the U.K. have had far stricter mitigation measures than we've seen anywhere in the United States. In the most recent French lockdown, for example, no one could travel more than 6 miles from their homes, a wildly draconian rule. Yet French parents don't have to wrestle their uncomprehending toddlers into masks to travel, and American parents do.
I have two ideas for a more reasonable (and, yes, obviously self-serving) approach given what we know of young children's mental and emotional development and COVID-19 itself. The first idea, which is my preference, is that children 11 and younger, who are currently too young to be vaccinated, would simply be exempt from all mask mandates, which is exactly what the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends. For this demographic, pandemic risks are very low, especially with adult vaccination rates rising, and the benefits of normal life are high.
The second idea, if WHO guidance isn't acceptable, is to make kindergarten the cutoff. (The WHO actively advises against masks for kids 5 and under.) A child too young to go to school is too young to wear a mask. Their brains are just not ready yet, and this is as much biological reality as is COVID-19. Bonnie Kristian
The Supreme Court on Monday announced it will take up its first abortion case since Justice Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation gave the court a 6-3 conservative majority. Many legal scholars and analysts believe the ruling on the challenge to a struck-down Mississippi law that seeks to ban nearly all abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy could significantly affect Roe v. Wade.
Legal historian Mary Ziegler and others argue Roe doesn't necessarily have to be overturned outright for the Supreme Court's decision to alter the landscape. Instead, tinkering with it and allowing some pre-fetal-viability bans, like the Mississippi law, will pave the way for dismissing precedent. "If not viability, what is the limit on bans?," Ziegler tweeted. "IS there a limit on bans?"
Mary (who you should follow if you don't already) is absolutely right here.
The key to this case is that the conservatives can take a *huge* bite out of Roe *without* "overruling" it—just by allowing states to move the line before which Casey applies from viability to 15 weeks. https://t.co/kVYXhK4rti
Not everyone is so sure this spells doom for Roe's central components, though. Attorney Gabriel Malor actually thinks the fact that the justices will rule only on whether "all previability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional" suggests the case might not be as crucial as it seems. Malor thinks the answer to that question is obvious (of course they aren't all unconstitutional, he writes), while a more important question presented in the challenge won't even be taken up.
Interesting that they only accepted question 1, which has an obvious easy answer. (Of course not *all* previability prohibitions are unconstitutional.)
They *didn't* take up the much more important second question about whether Casey's standard survived Whole Woman's Health. pic.twitter.com/SR7F8kZ15I
Meanwhile, Drexel University law professor David Cohen writes that no one can confidently predict how the court will rule, pointing out that an 8-1 conservative court was widely expected to overturn Roe when ruling on Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, but ultimately did not. Tim O'Donnell
Former child star Ricky Schroder, who drew criticism for confronting a Costco employee over the store's mask policy in a viral video, is both apologizing and doubling down.
The Silver Spoons actor on Instagram apologized to the Costco worker he filmed himself confronting for not allowing him into the store without wearing a mask, while at the same time suggesting that's something he "had" to do to make a point against mask mandates, per Entertainment Weekly.
"I was trying to make a point to the corporate overlords," Schroder said in a video, addressing the Costco worker. "Sorry that I had to use you to do it. If I hurt your feelings, I apologize. But I do think that independence from medical tyranny is more important than hurting people's feelings. So I'm sorry I hurt your feelings, but I want us all to be free."
The Costco employee was seen in the video explaining to Schroder that while the CDC recently issued guidance saying that those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can stop mostly wearing masks indoors, "the mandate in California has not changed" yet and he was still required to wear a mask in the store. Costco is "simply abiding by the law," the worker added. Schroder, though, angrily rejected that explanation in the video, declaring that his followers in California should "give up your membership" to Costco in protest.
The video quickly went viral and prompted criticism of Schroder over his treatment of the Costco employee, with writer Paul Rudnick tweeting, "Anyone who harasses a store or restaurant employee over a mask policy is despicable." Brendan Morrow
The White House is abuzz, and not just with political gossip.
In a recent call with President Biden's senior adviser Cedric Richmond, former Trump adviser Jared Kushner offered not only job advice, but also his condolences regarding the White House fly problem, sources told Politico.
"Yeah man, they're like bats," Kushner said to Richmond in what Politico called a rare "point of agreement" between the two officials. "Good luck," Kushner added.
The White House's bug issue is reportedly ongoing, extending back through the Trump presidency to at least the Obama administration, per Politico. Former National Security spokesman under President Barack Obama Tommy Vietor said, "We had bug zappers going 24/7." Brigid Kennedy
It's very important to Martha Stewart that the world doesn't get the wrong impression about how many "glorious" peacocks she has.
Stewart took to Twitter to slam the New York Post for running a "fake news" story that said she has 16 peacocks on her farm. She'll have you know, in fact, that her peacock game is far stronger than that.
"I actually have 21 of these glorious birds whose house is impeccable," Stewart declared.
Stewart has apparently been absolutely thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic, previously saying she has "zero complaints" about quarantining on her 153-acre farm. While she was at it, she clarified on Twitter for anyone wondering that her peacocks "do not smell" and are "so clean," their "voices are loud but such fun to hear," and they're "so friendly."
So there you have it! In the Post's defense, People notes Stewart did write a blog post on "my peacocks and peahens" back in July 2020 in which she said, "I have 16 living in a coop surrounded by a large, fully-enclosed yard." But the Post has added a correction to its story, bumping up Stewart's number of peacock friends by five and possibly avoiding the libel case of the century. Brendan Morrow
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday the State Department requested "additional details" from Israel regarding "the justification" of its air strike on a tower in Gaza that housed offices for several media outlets, including The Associated Press and Al Jazeera. Blinken said he has "not seen any information provided," though that doesn't necessarily mean there was no communication between the U.S and Israel. Israel, which warned occupants to evacuate the building before the strike, has said Hamas was also using the tower for military purposes, making it a legitimate target.
In a column for HotAir.com, Ed Morrissey attempts to read between the lines of Blinken's remarks, arguing it would have made little sense for Israel to target the tower if it wasn't a Hamas facility. If the Israeli Defense Forces "just decided to indiscriminately take down buildings in Gaza ... they wouldn't have left the surrounding buildings intact and they'd be dropping much heavier ordinance," he writes, adding that it appears Israel "wanted to take out this building in particular with no loss of life and carefully set up the mission to accomplish it."
As for Blinken, Morrisey suggests he simply may have been out of the loop as information passed between Mossad and the CIA (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday the evidence would have been shared through intelligence channels), or "it might be that everyone already knew Hamas had a command center in the building," which would render a formal briefing unnecessary. In that case, Israel would put together a comprehensive "after-action report," and Blinken "might be signaling to Netanyahu to accelerate that process." Read more at The Associated Press and HotAir.com. Tim O'Donnell
AT&T on Monday announced it has reached a deal to spin off WarnerMedia and combine it with Discovery, creating a new standalone company, CNN reports. Discovery CEO David Zaslav will lead the new company, which The New York Times writes would be a "media juggernaut" that would be bigger than both Netflix and NBCUniversal, though not quite as big as Disney.
The $43 billion deal, CNN writes, would "combine two treasure troves of content," including the streaming services HBO Max and Discovery+. WarnerMedia owns HBO, CNN, TNT, TBS, and Warner Bros. among other assets, while Discovery's brands include HGTV, Food Network, and Animal Planet.
The combined company "would be a formidable competitor to" Netflix and Disney as the streaming wars continue to heat up, Bloomberg writes. The company is planning to spend about $20 billion on content, more than Netflix, Axios reports.
This announcement was also a "significant about-face" on the part of AT&T, which acquired Time Warner for over $85 billion in 2018, the Times writes.
AT&T CEO John Stankey said Monday the move "positions the new company to be one of the leading global direct-to-consumer streaming platforms." The deal is subject to regulatory approval, but the companies say they expect it to close in the middle of 2022. Brendan Morrow