September 16, 2019

Another subpoena has been issued for President Trump's tax returns.

This time, it's from Manhattan state prosecutors, who have subpoenaed Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, for eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns, The New York Times reports. This subpoena was reportedly issued by the Manhattan district attorney's office late last month, and it comes as part of the ongoing investigation into the hush-money payment made to keep porn star Stormy Daniels quiet about her alleged affair with Trump prior to the 2016 presidential election. Trump has denied the affair.

Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was previously sentenced to three years in prison for his role in paying off Daniels. Although Cohen was convicted for violating federal campaign finance laws, the Times notes New York prosecutors are examining whether state laws were violated when Cohen was reimbursed.

"In particular, the state prosecutors are examining whether the [Trump Organization] falsely accounted for the reimbursements as a legal expense," the Times writes.

Democrats investigating Trump have previously moved to obtain financial documents by issuing subpoenas including to the Treasury Department, but the president has taken these requests to court. The Times writes that for Trump, "it may be more difficult to fend off a subpoena in a criminal investigation with a sitting grand jury, as there is in Manhattan," although the tax returns would only be made public if they became evidence in a criminal case. Read more about the subpoena at The New York Times. Brendan Morrow

3:15 a.m.

"A conspiracy ripping through the anti-vax world may finally drive some anti-maskers to do the unthinkable: wear a mask and keep their distance," Vice News reports. The conspiracy theory claims, falsely, that vaccinated people "shed" certain proteins that can infect unvaccinated people and cause some sort of harm, usually tied to reproduction. ("It is biologically impossible for a vaccinated person to spread the vaccine to someone who hasn’t been vaccinated," The Associated Press says.)

For those who do believe that vaccinated people can somehow infect them with vaccine proteins — one private school in Miami barred vaccinated teachers from interacting with unvaccinated students — some "anti-vax influencers" are suggesting they protect themselves by "social distancing, the very strategy the have long decried," Vice reports. Others "conspiracy theorists are wondering if perhaps their longtime bane, the mask, could become their salvation."

Several people who study the anti-vax and anti-mask movements said they are skeptical mask-wearing will take hold in those communities. Other observers found the conundrum delightful and perhaps a little too perfect to be true.

In any case, "while the conspiracy is baseless, the fear it is causing vaccine skeptics is very real," Vice says. "And where there is a fear, there's money to be made." You can read more at Vice News. Peter Weber

1:50 a.m.

Over the last 20 years, so many forests have regenerated worldwide that they could fill up France, according to a new World Wildlife Fund study.

There were different ways the forests were regenerated — in some areas, nothing was done, while in others native trees were planted, invasive plants removed, and livestock fenced off, BBC News reports. Natural forest regeneration is "cheaper, richer in carbon, and better for biodiversity than actively planted forests," WWF's William Baldwin-Cantello said.

The documented forest regeneration occurred in northern Mongolia, Canada, central Africa, and Brazil, where an area about the size of the Netherlands has regrown since 2000. These regenerated forests could absorb the equivalent of 5.9 gigatons of carbon dioxide, which is more than the U.S. emits every year, BBC News reports.

To "realize the potential of forests as a climate solution," there needs to be more than just the restoration of natural forests, Baldwin-Cantello said. The world must also combat deforestation. Catherine Garcia

12:38 a.m.

"Israel versus Palestine — and I know that even saying that sentence means I'm losing followers online and I'm on the verge of being blocked on all social media and in life," Trevor Noah said on Tuesday's Daily Show. "But guys, we have to talk about it. Because this is one of the most difficult stories that has existed in our lifetime," even more than India versus Pakistan, China versus Tibet, or "white people versus rhythm."

Israel versus Palestine "is a 73-year-old beef that has that has stumped everybody," Noah said, and because it has gone on for so long, "people forget that it is ongoing — that is, until there are flare-ups that the world cannot ignore," like what happened this week. What makes the conflict so difficult to discuss is "all the layers that are packed into it," he said. "No matter how much you try and break it down, people are always going to say that you're leaving out some crucial piece of context," and "they're probably right."

There's the Holocaust, Britain's seizure of Palestine, clashing religions, and surrounding countries with their own agendas, Noah said. "And you know what makes it even harder is the fact that who's right and who's wrong always seems to change depending on when you start measuring time. This week was the perfect, perfect example of it." But "I don't want to have that argument," he said, "the part where we say who's good and who's bad and who started it. Let's step away from that and instead ask a different question. Instead, let's look at who's dead and who's alive this week."

It's just not a fair fight, Noah concluded, "and I know this is contentious, and I know people are going to hate me for this, but I just want to ask an honest question here: If you are in a fight where the other person cannot beat you, how hard should you retaliate when they try to hurt you?" He ran through some imperfect personal analogies, admitted he didn't have any answers, and left viewers with one question: "When you have this much power, what is your responsibility?" Peter Weber

12:37 a.m.

The reason why some gas stations are running out of fuel isn't because of the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Tuesday, but rather because people are panic buying.

"Much as there was no cause for, say, hoarding toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic, there should be no cause for hoarding gasoline," Granholm told reporters.

Running from Texas to New Jersey, the Colonial Pipeline transports 45 percent of the East Coast's fuel supply. It shut down on Friday when the company learned it was the target of a ransomware attack, but the pipeline is expected to be "substantially operational" by the end of the week, Granholm said.

On Tuesday, more than 1,000 gas stations in the South and along the East Coast reported being out of fuel. There are long lines at other stations, and this is due to a "supply crunch" rather than a worrisome shortage, Granholm said. With summer approaching, gasoline prices are starting to go up, and Granholm warned gas station owners there will be "no tolerance for price gouging." Catherine Garcia

May 11, 2021

California gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner told CNN, in an interview broadcast Tuesday, that she "didn't even vote" in the 2020 election. But "Los Angeles County records show she actually did cast a ballot last fall," Politico reported Tuesday night, with notarized proof.

Jenner didn't leave much wriggle room, telling CNN's Dana Bash she didn't vote for president or any of the 12 ballot measures because "I didn't see any propositions that I really had one side or the other." So on Election Day, Jenner said, "I just couldn't get excited about it. And I just wound up going to play golf and I said, eh, I'm not doing that."

An unidentified Jenner campaign spokesperson told Politico's Carla Marinucci that Jenner voted on "some local issues." But even if that's true, Marinucci writes, "her claim to be a non-voter in that seminal 2020 election was baffling for a gubernatorial candidate trying to establish her political credibility, especially since records show she did participate in the contest."

GOP strategist Tim Rosales told Politico he's heard of lots of candidates who said they voted and didn't, "but I've never heard it the opposite way, where somebody said that I didn't vote" and actually did. "I can imagine, having been on the inside of these types of high profile campaigns, you've got a lot of a lot of people scrambling right now," he added.

Claremont McKenna College's Jack Pitney, a former GOP operative, said if Jenner were "someone who is serious about public life," she "would know there is record of who votes — and who doesn't." He likened Jenner's campaign to "a reality show," adding "this gets her attention. Mission accomplished."

A new poll from the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies found opposition to the California gubernatorial recall rising to 49 percent, with 35 percent in favor. Jenner won only 6 percent of voters pressed to pick a candidate if Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is recalled. Peter Weber

May 11, 2021

The fighting between Israel and Hamas escalated on Tuesday to levels not seen since the 50-day war in the summer of 2014.

An Israeli airstrike targeting an apartment building in Gaza City left three senior members of the Islamic Jihad militant group dead, as well as 10 children and a woman, The Associated Press reports. Another airstrike destroyed a 12-story building that housed Hamas offices; because warning shots were fired, civilians were able to flee, and no casualties have been reported. At least 35 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the fighting began, AP says.

Hamas started firing rockets into Israel on Monday, and in response to Tuesday's Israeli airstrikes, launched hundreds more into the country, killing three women and injuring dozens more. One rocket hit a bus in Holon, wounding three people, including a young girl. There have also been reports in cities across Israel of synagogues, Jewish-owned business, and cars owned by Arabs being set on fire.

The current conflict began last week after Palestinians held demonstrations against Israel's planned evictions of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem. Over the course of several days, Palestinians and Israeli forces clashed at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, a holy site for both Muslims and Jews. Police used tear gas and stun grenades inside the mosque, and the Palestinians in turn threw stones and chairs at officers.

During a televised address Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel has fired at hundreds of targets, and Hamas and smaller militant groups "have paid, and I tell you here, will pay a heavy price for their aggression." He added that the "campaign will take time. With determination, unity, and strength, we will restore security to the citizens of Israel." Qatar, Egypt, and the United Nations are trying to work out a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Catherine Garcia

May 11, 2021

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) gave a defiant speech from the House floor on Tuesday night, saying she will "not sit back and watch in silence" while others lead the Republican Party "down a path that abandons the rule of law" and joins former President Donald Trump's "crusade to undermine our democracy."

Cheney's impassioned remarks come on the eve of a Republican vote on whether to remove her from her position as the House Republican Conference chair. Cheney has been a staunch critic of Trump this year, blasting him for spreading false claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged and inciting the mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) is poised to replace Cheney as the No. 3 House Republican; while she has a more moderate voting record than the conservative Cheney, Stefanik is one of Trump's loudest defenders.

"We must speak the truth," Cheney said in her speech. "Our election was not stolen and America has not failed. Every one of us who has sworn the oath must act to prevent the unraveling of our democracy. This is not about policy. This is not about partisanship. This is about our duty as Americans. Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar."

Cheney called out Trump multiple times during her speech, saying he is behind a "threat America has never seen before. A former president, who provoked a violent attack on this Capitol in an effort to steal the election, has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him. He risks inciting further violence."

She went on to identify herself as a "conservative Republican," adding that the "most conservative of conservative principles is reverence to the rule of law. The election is over. That is the rule of law. That is our constitutional process. Those who refuse to accept the rulings of our courts are at war with the Constitution."

Cheney delivered her remarks right after several members of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus gave speeches against "cancel culture," CNN reports, and only one Republican, Rep. Ken Buck (Colo.), remained on the floor to listen to her. Catherine Garcia

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