The Department of Homeland Security says it has suspended any actions to implement Trump’s travel ban, and the Louvre in Paris reopens after Egypt identifies the man who attacked soldiers with a machete.
The Justice Department Appeals the Federal Court Stay on Trump's Travel Ban
The U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) appealed a decision on Saturday night by a federal judge in Seattle that temporarily halted President Donald Trump’s travel ban. The judge’s ruling was made Friday night, and by the next morning the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department both said they would quit enforcing the ban that stopped people in seven majority-Muslim countries from coming to the U.S. The move by the DOJ takes the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where it could go before three judges, one appointed by former-President George W. Bush, another by Jimmy Carter, and the third by Barack Obama. As POLITICO reported, a potential hurdle for Trump’s ban is that “temporary restraining orders” like those issued by the federal judge in Seattle “are not ordinarily appealable. Usually a party who wants to appeal has to wait until the next stage in the process, a preliminary injunction.” If the Ninth Circuit Court refuses to hear the appeal then it could go to the Supreme Court.
The judge opens up our country to potential terrorists and others that do not have our best interests at heart. Bad people are very happy!
Romanian Prime Minister Rescinds Decree that Legalized Corruption
The prime minister of Romania, Sorin Grindeanu, bowed to massive protests on Saturday against a decree that would have protected politicians from prosecution for corruption. The decree decriminalized some offences of graft and bribery of up to $48,000. It was pitched as a way to relieve pressure on the prison system, although it mainly would have protected dozens of government officials. Protesters had taken to the streets for five days, with as many as 330,000 showing up in 70 different cities—140,000 of whom were in a plaza near the prime minister’s office building. The decree would have especially helped Social Democrat leader Liviu Dragnea, who was convicted of electoral fraud and was accused of using his political influence to get state salaries for two people. The conviction barred Dragnea from serving in political office. He is viewed as the power behind the prime minister, who took office last month.
Egypt Identifies the Man Who Attacked Guards at the Louvre
An Egyptian Interior Ministry official said on Saturday that the man who attacked soldiers at the Louvre Museum in Paris was 28-year-old Abdullah Reda Refaie al-Hamahmy, a man with no history of political activism or criminal activity, the Associated Press reported. Al-Hamahmy came to Paris on a tourist visa and bought two military machetes at a gun store in the city. Then, while trying to enter the Louvre’s underground shopping center, he rushed at French guards. The guards shot al-Hamahmy four times, and he is recovering from those wounds, which are no longer listed as life-threatening. Al-Hamahmy is Egyptian, although he is believed to have been living in the United Arab Emirates. He came to Paris last week and sent his family a photo of himself with the Eiffel Tower. During the attack, al-Hamahmy yelled "Allahu akbar!" and French President Francois Hollande has said there is “no doubt” this was a terror attack. Al-Hamahmy’s father denied to reporters that his son was radicalized or involved in any militant group. The Louvre, which houses countless masterpieces of art, reopened Saturday morning.
The Department of Homeland Security and the State Department Suspend Trump's Travel Ban
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Saturday it would suspend all actions to implement President Donald Trump’s travel ban on seven majority-Muslim countries, and the State Department said it would allow visa holders from those countries to to enter the U.S. Both announcements came after a federal judge in Seattle ruled to temporarily block Trump’s executive order, a ruling that derived from a lawsuit filed by the state of Washington, and joined by Minnesota. “This decision shuts down the executive order immediately,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Friday night after the ruling was made. “That relief is immediate, happens right now.” In accordance with that ruling, the State Department said it would allow people with visas from the previously banned countries to enter the U.S., and in a separate statement DHS said it would stop enforcing Trump’s order, effectively returning to the standards prior to the ban. In its statement, DHS said it had “suspended any and all actions implementing the affected sections of the Executive Order entitled, 'Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.'” Trump denounced the judge’s decision via Twitter, saying:
The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!
The world’s richest man has some embarrassing friends.
Yesterday, the world got a look inside Elon Musk’s phone. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO is currently in litigation with Twitter and trying to back out of his deal to buy the platform and take it private. As part of the discovery process related to this lawsuit, Delaware’s Court of Chancery released hundreds of text messages and emails sent to and from Musk. The 151-page redacted document is a remarkable, voyeuristic record of a few months in the life of the world’s richest (and most overexposed) man and a rare unvarnished glimpse into the overlapping worlds of Silicon Valley, media, and politics. The texts are juicy, but not because they are lurid, particularly offensive, or offer up some scandalous Muskian master plan—quite the opposite. What is so illuminating about the Musk messages is just how unimpressive, unimaginative, and sycophantic the powerful men in Musk’s contacts appear to be. Whoever said there are no bad ideas in brainstorming never had access to Elon Musk’s phone.
What happened when Alabama tried and failed to kill Alan Eugene Miller
At Holman Correctional Facility, in Atmore, Alabama, the prisoners have a tradition of beating their doors when guards take a man from the holding area colloquially known as the “death cell” to the execution chamber to be killed. More than 150 men slam their full strength against solid steel, rolling thunder down the halls. It’s a show of solidarity with the condemned man—not because he is presumed innocent or absolved, but because the men of death row are uncommonly aware of death’s uncompromising egalitarianism. It’s coming for all of us, and they mean it when they say it.
Death came for Joe Nathan James Jr. on July 28 of this year, but the lethal-injection procedure that followed the prisoners’ last cage-rattling display of camaraderie stretched to roughly three hours, resulting in multiple needle-puncture sites and, eventually, what appears to have been a venous cutdown, or an incision into James’s inner arm meant to reveal a vein. (This is not, quite obviously, what is supposed to happen.) Yet in the immediate aftermath of James’s execution, John Hamm, the commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections, claimed that “nothing out of the ordinary” had taken place in the course of his killing, which might’ve passed for public knowledge had The Atlantic not published the results of an independent autopsy staged shortly after James’s death. I was there at the autopsy and saw for myself what they had done to him, all the bruised puncture sites and open wounds. I confess I had hoped the facts of what happened to James might prompt some hesitation among Alabama’s legislators about rushing to lethally inject another man. But no Corrections Department representative ever so much as responded to my questions, much less the substance of the reporting: The next execution date kept drawing nearer.
Boats on roofs; cars out to sea; coastal towns underwater. The sand from Naples Beach now chokes Naples streets. Hurricane Ian’s 150-mph winds yanked houses off of their foundation in Fort Myers, a pretty town once known for its avenues of royal palms. As many as 50 people reportedly are dead in Florida. In some of our glossiest, most affluent, most densely populated communities, survivors now sift through the ruins of their slice of paradise.
Up north in Tallahassee, where I live, we were just beyond Ian’s western reach, but a few days ago it looked as if the storm was heading straight for us. Like most everyone else in Florida, we prepped for it: filling our gas tanks, anchoring our patio furniture, trotting through the grocery store buying batteries, toilet paper, cans of tuna, bags of ice, six-packs of beer. City-power crews geared up. Florida State and Florida A&M universities geared down, canceling classes.
Recently, after a week in which 2,789 Americans died of COVID-19, President Joe Biden proclaimed that “the pandemic is over.” Anthony Fauci described the controversy around the proclamation as a matter of “semantics,” but the facts we are living with can speak for themselves. COVID still kills roughly as many Americans every week as died on 9/11. It is on track to kill at least 100,000 a year—triple the typical toll of the flu. Despite gross undercounting, more than 50,000 infections are being recorded every day. The CDC estimates that 19 million adults have long COVID. Things have undoubtedly improved since the peak of the crisis, but calling the pandemic “over” is like calling a fight “finished” because your opponent is punching you in the ribs instead of the face.
Why liberal college professors can’t admit their own complicity
During the peak of the pandemic, John Katzman and I had a standing phone date at 7:30 on Friday mornings. Katzman usually walked along the beach near his house in the Hamptons while we spoke. I’d sit in my office, try to visualize the beauty of Long Island’s southeastern shore, and listen.
Katzman is astonishingly knowledgeable about the American educational system. He founded Princeton Review, the test-prep behemoth, in the early 1980s, and has founded several other start-ups since. Part of what makes Katzman so compelling is that while he taught kids how to master the SAT, he simultaneously emerged as one of the test’s harshest critics—arguing that it didn’t measure very much and that whatever it did measure either was associated with wealth or could simply be bought. In a 1999 interview on Frontline, Katzman famously called the SAT “just bullshit.” It’s difficult to imagine someone who has more vividly illustrated the advantage of wealth in college admissions than he has.
Cape Coral is a microcosm of Florida’s worst impulse: selling dream homes in a hurricane-prone flood zone. But people still want them.
Five years ago, after Hurricane Irma pummeled Florida’s Gulf Coast, I rode a boat through the canals of Cape Coral, the “Waterfront Wonderland,” America’s fastest-growing city at the time. It was a sunny day with a gentle breeze and just a few puffs of clouds, so as I pointed to the blown-out lanais and piles of storm debris, my guide, a snowbird named Brian Tattersall, kept teasing me for missing the point of a magical afternoon. He said I sounded like his northern friends who always told him he was crazy to live in the Florida hurricane zone.
“Come on. Does this feel crazy?” he asked, as we drifted past some palm trees. Cape Coral is a low-lying, pancake-flat spit of exposed former swampland, honeycombed by an astonishing 400 miles of drainage ditches disguised as real-estate amenities, but to Tattersall it was a low-tax subtropical Venice where he could dock his 29-foot Sea Fox in the canal behind his house. When I asked if Irma would slow down the city’s population boom, he scoffed: “No way.”
His baldly illegitimate claim to four Ukrainian provinces shows contempt for the global order—and his own subjects.
Vladimir Putin today announced his annexation of four provinces of Ukraine—four provinces that he does not fully control, that did not vote to join Russia, that have been the site of mass murder and mass deportation since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. With this statement, the Russian president is also declaring war. But this is not merely a war on Ukraine.
Putin’s war—Russia’s war—is also a war on a particular idea of world order and international law, an idea upheld not just by Europeans and North Americans, but by most of the rest of the world, indeed by the United Nations itself. One core principle of this world order is that larger countries should not be able to grab parts of smaller countries, that mass slaughter of whole populations is unacceptable, that borders have international significance and cannot be changed through violence or on one dictator’s whim. Putin already challenged this idea in 2014, when he annexed Crimea. At the time he also held a sham referendum, but he convinced many outsiders that it had some validity. Although some sanctions followed, the world largely gave him a pass. Commerce and diplomacy with Russia continued.
The beloved Hubble observatory could get the SpaceX treatment.
The Hubble Space Telescope is falling.
Not imminently, but it’s happening. The beloved observatory, which has spent decades revealing cosmic wonders from its perch a few hundred miles above Earth, does not have a propulsion system to maintain its altitude. According to NASA’s latest projections, the observatory could reenter Earth’s atmosphere as early as 2037—a grim fate that the agency has been anticipating for many years. When the last crew of astronauts visited Hubble for repairs, in 2009, they installed a special piece of hardware on its exterior so that, when that time came, a spacecraft could come up, clip on, and guide the telescope to a safe reentry through the atmosphere. On its way down, Hubble would streak through the skies like a meteor and then fall into the sea.
Without strong fair-use protections, a culture can’t thrive.
In the late 1970s and early ’80s, Lynn Goldsmith, a polymath skilled as a photographer and a musician, took pictures of many of the period’s prominent rock stars, including the Rolling Stones, Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen, the Police, Talking Heads, and Prince. Some images are in vivid color, and others in black and white. Some were taken in unrecognizable, decontextualized spots; others were shot on rooftops in the heart of Manhattan, with New York City’s architecture providing the backdrop. All of them have the lush, analog softness of film, and, especially if viewed together as an entire collection, evoke a specific era in music and in the city.
Goldsmith’s prolific and historically significant output has deservedly been archived in various institutions. One of her images was also enshrined by Andy Warhol, who used a photograph she took of Prince as the basis for his illustrations of the musician. But at least in some legal and art circles, Goldsmith may end up being remembered not so much for her beautiful photographs, but for her legal dispute with the custodians of Andy Warhol’s art, which the Supreme Court will hear on October 12.
A look at the grim scenarios—and the U.S. playbook for each
Updated at 11:30 a.m. ET on June 21, 2022
The 12th Main Directorate of the Russian Ministry of Defense operates a dozen central storage facilities for nuclear weapons. Known as “Object S” sites and scattered across the Russian Federation, they contain thousands of nuclear warheads and hydrogen bombs with a wide variety of explosive yields. For the past three months, President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials have been ominously threatening to use nuclear weapons in the war against Ukraine. According to Pavel Podvig, the director of the Russian Nuclear Forces Project and a former research fellow at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, now based in Geneva, the long-range ballistic missiles deployed on land and on submarines are Russia’s only nuclear weapons available for immediate use. If Putin decides to attack Ukraine with shorter-range, “tactical” nuclear weapons, they will have to be removed from an Object S site—such as Belgorod-22, just 25 miles from the Ukrainian border—and transported to military bases. It will take hours for the weapons to be made combat-ready, for warheads to be mated with cruise missiles or ballistic missiles, for hydrogen bombs to be loaded on planes. The United States will most likely observe the movement of these weapons in real time: by means of satellite surveillance, cameras hidden beside the road, local agents with binoculars. And that will raise a question of existential importance: What should the United States do?