Heavily Redacted Mar-A-Lago Search Affidavit Released to the Public!

Dear Commons Community,

The sworn affidavit that prosecutors used to request a federal judge to let them search Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence earlier this month was released yesterday.  According to the document;

“There is probable cause to believe that additional documents that contain classified NDI or that are Presidential records subject to record retention requirements currently remain at the PREMISES [Mar-A-Lago]. There is also probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found at the PREMISES,” the heavily redacted, 38-page affidavit reads.

NDI refers to National Defense Information ― a category of documents considered highly sensitive.

The Department of Justice’s proposed redactions, and reasons for those redactions, were also released. As reported by several media outlets.

The affidavit, filed by an FBI agent from the Washington, D.C., office with training in “counterintelligence and espionage investigations,” says that the agency was brought in to investigate by the National Archives after officials there found that 15 boxes retrieved from Mar-a-Lago earlier this year included highly classified material.

“Of most significant concern was that highly classified records were unfoldered, intermixed with other records, and otherwise unproperly [sic] identified,” the FBI agent wrote.

The FBI did a preliminary review of the material in those boxes and found documents with classification markings in 14 out of the 15, the special agent wrote, describing the documents using a string of acronyms referring to classified material and “FPOTUS” for former President Trump:

“A preliminary triage of the documents with classification markings revealed the following approximate numbers: 184 unique documents bearing classification markings, including 67 documents marked as CONFIDENTIAL, 92 documents marked as SECRET, and 25 documents marked as TOP SECRET. Further, the FBI agents observed markings reflecting the following compartments/dissemination controls: HCS, FISA, ORCON, NOFORN, and SI. Based on my training and experience, I know that documents classified at these levels typically contain NDI. Several of the documents also contained what appears to be FPOTUS’s handwritten notes.”

The categories include HSC, which refers to “intelligence information derived from clandestine human sources,” and NOFORN, which means that material is not to be released to any foreign governments or nationals.

The agent then quotes from a June 8 letter from the Department of Justice to Trump’s lawyers that said the classified material was not being securely controlled.

“They have not been handled in an appropriate manner or stored in an appropriate location. Accordingly, we ask that the room at Mar-a-Lago where the documents had been stored be secured and that all of the boxes that were moved from the White House to Mar-a-Lago (along with any other items in that room) be preserved in that room in their current condition until further notice,” the letter read.

Much of the text of the affidavit is entirely blacked out to protect the names of investigators, witnesses and investigative techniques. The entirety of Pages 24 through 28 is just black lines, except for paragraph numbers and a subheading: “There is probable cause to believe that documents containing classified NDI and presidential records remain at the premises.”

DOJ prosecutors filed the redacted affidavit at the federal courthouse in West Palm Beach, Florida, late Friday morning after Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart ruled on Thursday that he had accepted the redactions prosecutors proposed to the affidavit as “narrowly tailored to serve the government’s legitimate interest in the integrity of the ongoing investigation and are the least onerous alternative to sealing the entire affidavit.”

An hour after the release of the affidavit, an angry Donald Trump posted a message on his social media network attacking the FBI, the Justice Department and the judge in the case.

“Affidavit heavily redacted!!! Nothing mentioned on ‘Nuclear,’ a total public relations subterfuge by the FBI & DOJ, or our close working relationship regarding document turnover – WE GAVE THEM MUCH. Judge Bruce Reinhart should NEVER have allowed the Break-In of my home,” he wrote on Truth Social.The former president has publicly demanded the release of the unredacted affidavit but did not make that request in court.

FBI agents searched Trump’s tennis and social club in Palm Beach on Aug. 8 and took away boxes of material, including 11 packets of classified documents. Among that set was a batch labeled with the highest classification markings, meant for review only in secure government facilities.

Trump, who had already been attacking the FBI and prosecutors for investigating his actions on and leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection has ramped up criticism of law enforcement since then.

His followers have responded by threatening FBI agents and the Department of Justice, and one Trump supporter was killed in a shootout with police after he tried to attack the FBI’s Cincinnati field office.

In addition to the federal criminal investigations, a Georgia prosecutor is separately investigating Trump and his allies’ attempts to coerce state officials into falsely declaring him the winner in that state.

Trump, despite losing the election by 7 million votes nationally and 306-232 in the Electoral College, became the first president in more than two centuries of elections to refuse to hand over power peacefully. His incitement of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol — his last-ditch attempt to remain in office ― killed five, including one police officer, injured another 140 officers and led to four police suicides.

Nevertheless, Trump remains the dominant figure in the Republican Party and is openly speaking about running for the presidency again in 2024.

Trump is an embarrassment to himself, the GOP, and the country!


President Biden Slams “MAGA”Movement, as “Semi-Fascism”

Dear Commons Community,

President Joe Biden lambasted the philosophy behind his predecessor, Donald Trump, at a fundraising event yesterday, saying the MAGA movement embraced by large sectors of the Republican Party was akin to “semi-fascism.”

The president, speaking at a Democratic fundraiser in Maryland, called out “extreme” Republicans and said he was concerned about the state of Democracy in America. Biden added he wasn’t sure if the hard-right tilt of the GOP was coming to an end or just beginning, warning those gathered to vote during November’s midterm elections to reject the “ultra MAGA agenda,” referring to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” mantra.

“What we’re seeing now, is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy,” Biden said. “It’s not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the… I’m going to say something, it’s like semi-fascism.”’  As reported by the Huffington Post and Reuters.

Biden went on to say he didn’t realize how damaging Trump’s tenure in the White House had been to the country’s international standing when he first walked into the Oval Office. Those statements marked some of his sharpest comments yet aimed at the Republican establishment.

“I underestimated how much damage the previous four years had done in terms of America’s reputation in the world,” the president said, before adding he retained hope those losses could be regained.

“I believe there’s not a damn thing America can’t do if we set our mind to it,” Biden said.

The White House is hoping to ride a string of political victories into the November elections, including the landmark Inflation Reduction Act passed earlier this month and his decision to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for millions of Americans. Democrats also hope to leverage nationwide anger over GOP efforts to limit access to abortion and voting rights and fend off Republican efforts to wrest control of either chamber of Congress.

Biden this week began a nationwide tour to support Democratic candidates running for congressional and local offices. He warned supporters Republicans wouldn’t stop at their recent victories after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade, but would move on to attack other civil liberties, including same-sex marriage.

“It’s not hyperbole now you need to vote to literally save democracy again,” the president told a crowd at the Democratic National Committee event Thursday, according to Reuters reports. “America must choose. You must choose. Whether our country will move forward or backward.”

The President and the Democrats should not hold back from calling Trump and the Maga Movement for what they are!



New Policy: Federally Funded Research Must Be Open Access!

Open access is more than free access - OpenScience

Dear Commons Community,

The White House yesterday released guidance dictating that federally funded research be made freely and immediately available to the public.

Entitled, Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research, the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s guidance calls for federal agencies to make taxpayer-supported research publicly available immediately, doing away with an optional 12-month embargo. It also requires the data underlying that research to be published. Federal agencies have until December 31, 2025, to institute the guidance.

“The American people fund tens of billions of dollars of cutting-edge research annually. There should be no delay or barrier between the American public and the returns on their investments in research,” Alondra Nelson, head of the office, known as OSTP, said in a news release.  As reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“Heather Joseph, executive director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, told The Chronicle that the announcement was “extremely welcome news.” The provision requiring data to be published, she said, is especially significant and will “help boost scientific integrity and trust in science” by allowing other scientists to validate researchers’ conclusions.

Nelson’s memo outlining the guidance cites the Covid-19 pandemic as a “powerful case study on the benefits of delivering research results and data rapidly to the people.” At the outset of the pandemic, scholarly publishers lifted their paywalls for Covid-related articles and made research available in machine-readable formats, which Joseph said allowed scholars to use text- and data-mining, artificial-intelligence, and computational techniques on others’ work.

The new guidance expands on a 2013 memo issued by OSTP during the Obama administration. That memo applied only to federal agencies that fund more than $100 million in extramural research; the Biden memo has no such cap. That means that, for example, work funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, which didn’t meet the $100-million threshold in 2013, will for the first time be covered by federal open-access policy, Peter Suber, director of the Harvard Open Access Project, wrote on Twitter.

The Association of Research Libraries welcomed the expansion in a statement that described the memo as “a historic moment for scientific communications.”

Lifting the yearlong embargo that some journals have imposed on papers they publish will promote more equitable access to research, some said. The previous policy “limited immediate equitable access of federally funded research results to only those able to pay for it or have privileged access through libraries or other institutions,” two officials in the White House office wrote in a blog post. “Financial means and privileged access must never be the prerequisite to realizing the benefits of federally funded research that all Americans deserve.”

That’s a theme President Biden has championed for years. Yesterday’s White House news release quoted his remarks to the American Association for Cancer Research as vice president in 2016, when he criticized taxpayer-funded research that “sits behind walls” put up by journals’ subscription fees.

Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, released a statement praising the guidance for “unlocking federally funded research from expensive, exclusive journals” and calling it “an astronomical win for innovation and scientific progress.” (Wyden and a fellow Democratic senator, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, in February urged Nelson to establish an open-access policy.) And Michael Eisen, a co-founder of the open-access project PLOS, applauded the guidance on Twitter. “The best thing I can say about this new policy,” he wrote, “is that publishers will hate it.”

It’s not clear how academic publishers, whose profits and business model will be affected, plan to adapt to the new guidelines. A spokesperson for Elsevier, a leading commercial publisher of academic journals, wrote in an email to The Chronicle that Elsevier “actively supports open access to research” and that 600 of its 2,700 journals are fully open-access (nearly all of the others, the spokesperson wrote, enable open-access publishing). “We look forward to working with the research community and OSTP to understand its guidance in more detail.”

Emails from The Chronicle to three other major academic publishers — Springer Nature, Taylor & Francis, and Wiley — did not draw an immediate response.

Some commentators worried that publishers would raise the article-processing charges, or APCs, associated with open-access publishing in their journals. But Joseph, of the academic-resources coalition, said she hopes language in the guidance that encourages “measures to reduce inequities in publishing,” particularly among early-career scholars and those from underserved backgrounds, will prevent that.

“Those publishers that try to charge ridiculously high APCs will find it difficult, because ‘inequity in publishing’ means ‘I’m priced out of being able to publish. I can’t afford to contribute my research article to the scientific record,’” Joseph said. The White House’s blog post also noted that it was working to ensure “support for more vulnerable members of the research ecosystem unable to pay rising costs associated with publishing open-access articles.”

And authors have other options by which to make their work open, Joseph said. The guidance, she noted, allows authors to make their manuscripts freely available in an “agency-designated repository” — even if it’s also published in a journal.

The National Institutes of Health, which finances more than $32 billion a year in biomedical research, promised yesterday to comply with the new guidance. “We are enthusiastic to move forward on these important efforts to make research results more accessible, and look forward to working together to strengthen our shared responsibility in making federally funded research results accessible to the public,” Lawrence A. Tabak, acting director of the NIH, wrote in a statement.

The Chronicle article called this new policy “A historic moment” for research.

I agree!


President Biden’s student loan forgiveness policy could help more than 40 million Americans!

Dear Commons Community,

President Biden yesterday announced he’s canceling $10,000 in student debt for Americans making under $125,000 a year, fulfilling a campaign promise and garnering criticism from across the political spectrum.

“An entire generation is now saddled with unsustainable debt in exchange for an attempt, at least, at a college degree,” Biden said during afternoon remarks. “The burden is so heavy that even if you graduate you might not have access to the middle-class life that a college degree once provided.”

“All this means people can start finally [crawling] out from under that mountain of debt, to get on top of their rent and their utilities, to finally think about buying a home or starting a family or starting a business,” he added. “And, by the way, when this happens, the whole economy is better off.”

More than 40 million Americans could see their student loan debt reduced — and in many cases eliminated as a result of Biden’s actions.  As reported by the Associated Press.

Fulfilling a campaign promise, Biden is erasing $10,000 in federal student loan debt for those with incomes below $125,000 a year, or households that earn less than $250,000. He’s canceling an additional $10,000 for those who received federal Pell Grants to attend college.

It’s seen as an unprecedented attempt to stem the tide of America’s rapidly rising student debt, but it doesn’t address the broader issue — the high cost of college.

Republicans quickly denounced the plan as an insult to Americans who have repaid their debt and to those who didn’t attend college. Critics across the political spectrum also questioned whether Biden has authority for the move, and legal challenges are virtually certain.

Biden also extended a pause on federal student loan payments for what he called the “final time.” The pause is now set to run through the end of the year, with repayments to restart in January.

“Both of these targeted actions are for families who need it the most: working and middle class people hit especially hard during the pandemic,” Biden said at the White House Wednesday afternoon.

The cancellation applies to federal student loans used to attend undergraduate and graduate school, along with Parent Plus loans. Current college students qualify if their loans were issued before July 1. For dependent students, their parents’ household income must be below $250,000.

Most people will need to apply for the relief. The Education Department has income data for a small share of borrowers, but the vast majority will need to prove their incomes through an application process. Officials said applications will be available before the end of the year.

Biden’s plan makes 43 million borrowers eligible for some debt forgiveness, with 20 million who could get their debt erased entirely, according to the administration. About 60% of borrowers are recipients of federal Pell Grants, which are reserved for undergraduates with the most significant financial need, meaning more than half can get $20,000 in relief.

Sabrina Cartan, a 29-year-old media strategist in New York City, is expecting her federal debt to get wiped out entirely. When she checked the balance Wednesday, it was $9,940.

Cartan used the loans to attend Tufts University, and with Biden’s plan she will be able to help her parents repay the additional thousands they borrowed for her education. As a first-generation college student, she called it a “leveling moment.”

“I know there are people who feel that this isn’t enough, and that is true for a lot of people,” said Cartan, who already has repaid about $10,000 of her loans. “I can say for me personally and for a lot of people, that is a lot of money.”

For Braxton Simpson, Biden’s plan is a great first step, but it’s not enough. The 23-year-old MBA student at North Carolina Central University has more than $40,000 in student loans. As an undergraduate student she took jobs to minimize her debt, but at $10,000 a semester, the costs piled up.

As a Black woman, she felt higher education was a requirement to obtain a more stable financial future, even if that meant taking on large amounts of debt, she said.

“In order for us to get out of a lot of the situations that have been systemically a part of our lives, we have to go to school,” Simpson said. “And so we end up in debt.”

The plan doesn’t apply to future college students, but Biden is proposing a separate rule that would reduce monthly payments on federal student debt.

The proposal would create a new payment plan requiring borrowers to pay no more than 5% of their earnings, down from 10% in similar existing plans. It would forgive any remaining balance after 10 years, down from 20 years now.

It would also raise the floor for repayments, meaning no one earning less than 225% of the federal poverty level would need to make monthly payments.

As a regulation, it would not require congressional approval. But it can take more than a year to finalize.

Biden’s plan comes after more than a year of deliberation, with the president facing strong lobbying from liberals who wanted sweeping debt forgiveness, and from moderates and conservatives who questioned its basic fairness.

Proponents see cancellation as a matter of racial justice. Black students are more likely to take out federal student loans and at higher amounts than their white peers.

The NAACP, which pressed Biden to cancel at least $50,000 per person, said the plan is “one step closer” to lifting the burden of student debt.

Derrick Johnson, the group’s president, urged Biden to cancel the debt quickly and without bureaucratic hurdles for borrowers.

Biden’s decision to impose an income cap goes against objections from some who say adding the detailed application process to verify incomes could deter some borrowers who need help the most.

The Biden administration defended the cap as a gate against wealthier borrowers. Politically, it’s designed to counter arguments from critics who call debt cancellation a handout for the wealthy. Republicans hit hard with that argument on Wednesday despite the cap.

There are also lingering questions about the administration’s authority to cancel student loan debt. The Justice Department released a legal opinion concluding that the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act gives the Education secretary the “authority to reduce or eliminate the obligation to repay the principal balance of federal student loan debt.”

The legal opinion also concluded that the forgiveness could be applied on a “class-wide” basis in response to the coronavirus pandemic, a national emergency..

Lawsuits are likely nonetheless. The Job Creators Network, which promotes conservative economic policies, said it was considering legal options, with president and CEO Alfredo Ortiz calling the president’s effort “fundamentally unfair” to those who never took out loans for college.

Student debt forgiveness has been long overdue!


Giant Ukraine Flag Unfurled in Central Park to Commemorate Ukraine Independence Day – 8/24


Dear Commons Community,

As Russia’s war on Ukraine entered its seventh month, New Yorkers gathered in Central Park to mark the besieged country’s independence day with the unfurling of a massive flag (see video above).

The giant blue-and-yellow symbol, said to be the biggest Ukrainian flag in the world, was displayed in the park’s Sheep Meadow before a crowd of hundreds.

Oksana Gapyuk, 29, and her boyfriend took the day off to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Ukrainian parliament’s vote to leave the Soviet Union — normally a joyous occasion.

“This has more significance because it also marks six months since the full invasion, so it’s just heavier,” Gapyuk said. “Any celebration feels grand.”

Chants of “Slava Ukraini,” or “Glory to Ukraine,” echoed through the meadow during the celebration.

Gapyuk said strangers stopped her in the street to wish her a happy Independence Day as she made her way to Central Park.

“That’s never happened before,” she said. “Other cultures know, Ukraine shields the whole democratic world now. If Ukraine falls, it will be ugly for everybody. We need more and more support for Ukraine.”

A group of Armenians, whose home country also broke away from the Soviet Union, came to show solidarity.

“Keep up the fight,” said Gogor Yegnukian. “I know you’re unrelenting — you don’t need me to say it — but know that Armenia is behind you, Armenians are behind you, the civilized world is behind you.”

Glory to Ukraine!



The New Yorker: Reviewing the Results of Yesterday’s Primaries in New York!

Rep. Jerry Nadler beats Rep. Carolyn Maloney in bitter New York House  primary

Dear Commons Community,

Eric Lach, staff writer and columnist for The New Yorker, reviewed the results of yesterday’s primaries in New York.  His overall conclusion was that there was no A.O.C 2.0 and the ongoing fight between insurgents and loyalists in the state Democratic Party continues. Below is his entire analysis.

Well thought through!



“Four years ago, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s shock victory in a low-turnout midterm primary election in New York changed the shape of American politics. On Tuesday, the state held low-turnout midterm primaries with no such results. Instead, what the most-watched races offered was the latest glimpse of the ongoing fight between progressive insurgents and Democratic Party loyalists in New York. Loyalists claimed the day’s biggest victories, thanks in large part to the state’s new political maps—a consequence of a 2020 redistricting process that some of those same Party loyalists, led by then Governor Andrew Cuomo, botched so badly that a state judge ultimately outsourced the job to a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon.

The race that got the most attention, and which had the closest outcome, was for an open seat in the newly redrawn Tenth Congressional District, where the attorney Dan Goldman—who served as the House Democrats’ lawyer during Donald Trump’s first impeachment—squeaked out a victory in a crowded field. The old Tenth District was a zigzagging triumph of gerrymandering, running from Morningside Heights, in upper Manhattan, to Borough Park, in South Brooklyn. The new district is much more compact, covering SoHo and Wall Street, in lower Manhattan, plus a large chunk of western Brooklyn, across the East River. It’s a diverse district—Latin American and Caribbean communities, traditionally Black neighborhoods, and both Manhattan’s and Brooklyn’s Chinatowns are situated within its borders—but it is also undeniably the current capital of yuppie New York. After the updated map was revealed, earlier this year, it seemed that every politician in the district was thinking about getting into the race. Thirteen Democrats eventually qualified for the ballot, including former Mayor Bill de Blasio, who dropped out in July, after polls showed him performing dismally. (He netted a few hundred votes on Tuesday.)

Goldman won with more than sixteen thousand votes, good for about twenty-five per cent of the total vote. An heir to Levi Strauss, he was propelled by millions of dollars in self-financing, and by the endorsement of the Times editorial board, which argued that his “uncommon experience, particularly his knowledge of congressional oversight and the rule of law, could prove especially valuable in Congress in coming years.” It’s notable that the Times chose to endorse the leading white-guy candidate in the race, who will now go on to become one of the richest members of Congress, over a diverse field of candidates with deep experience representing local communities. In the endorsement itself, the Times pointed out that, if Goldman won, he would need to work to “convince the large numbers of lower-income and middle-class Americans he would represent that he understands the issues facing those constituents.” Errol Louis, one of the deans of New York’s political press corps, called this argument “​​a mini-masterpiece of elite liberal reasoning.”

Goldman’s closest competitor, the State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou, got more than fifteen thousand votes, about two per cent less of the total than he did. Niou gained prominence last year, as one of the insurgents who raised the pressure on Cuomo to resign after he was accused of sexual harassment and corruption. But her effort to be the progressive champion in the race was challenged by Carlina Rivera, a City Council member from the Lower East Side, and Mondaire Jones, a first-term U.S. representative and one of the first openly gay Black members of Congress, who opted to run in the Tenth District after his own district, in the suburbs north of New York City, was redrawn. As a result, even though Goldman was the subject of the most overt criticism of any candidate in the race, the contest also felt like Goldman versus everyone else, obscuring the qualities of his critics. In the race’s closing days, Niou and Jones held a joint “anybody but Goldman” press conference. It seems voters responded to their call. Rivera and Jones each attracted more than ten thousand votes. Two other candidates, the State Assembly member Jo Anne Simon and the former congresswoman and Brooklyn District Attorney Elizabeth Holtzman, attracted more than twenty-five hundred votes apiece.

If the Tenth District was wide open, then the Twelfth District, in upper Manhattan, was the opposite. For decades, Manhattan had separate congressional seats representing the Upper West and Upper East Sides. The new map this year merged the two districts, meaning that Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, both in Congress since 1993, faced off against each other. As in the Tenth District, the refusal of the candidates to get out of each other’s way, and the difficulty that they had articulating what, precisely, voters had to gain or lose depending on who they voted for, meant that the race in the Twelfth District devolved into a battle of personal ambitions. While the news in Washington was focussed on climate change, inflation, and former President Trump’s potential treason, voters in New York’s Twelfth were treated to the spectacle of Maloney, the current chair of the House Oversight Committee, suggesting that Nadler, the current chair of the House Judiciary Committee, was “senile” and “half dead.” A third candidate in the race, a thirty-eight-year-old lawyer named Suraj Patel, who had tried to unseat Maloney several times before, tried to pitch voters on the need for generational change in Washington. It didn’t work. Nadler wound up winning easily.

One state race in which New York insurgents were hoping for an Ocasio-Cortez style outcome was in the Seventeenth District, where Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, faced a challenge from State Senator Alessandra Biaggi. Biaggi called Maloney, a longtime Democratic Party lieutenant, a “selfish corporate Democrat with no integrity.” Voters in the Seventeenth District went for him by a two-to-one margin. “Tonight, mainstream won,” Maloney said, during his victory speech on Tuesday. Like Niou, Biaggi was a prominent critic of Cuomo and a central voice in calling for his ouster. In fact, Niou and Biaggi are friends, and have been roommates in Albany during legislative sessions. They were both part of a cohort of younger politicians in Albany who, in recent years, have made a persuasive case that the state government is in urgent need of reform. It’s a shame that, in pursuing these ultimately unsuccessful congressional bids, both have set that project aside.

On Tuesday night, as the results came in, insurgents consoled themselves by focussing on some victories down ballot, in State Senate races. National attention, meanwhile, turned to the special election in the Nineteenth District. The seat there became open in May, when Governor Kathy Hochul tapped its former occupant, Antonio Delgado, to be her Lieutenant Governor. Many Democrats at the time worried that the district, which runs from the northern New York City suburbs to Albany, and which includes plenty of rural areas, would be lost to the Republican Party. But, after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Democratic candidate in the race, Pat Ryan, won and declared that he was going to “nationalize” the contest. “I believe this has to be a national referendum on Roe,” he told the Washington Post, in July. “It’s our first chance to send this message, that the country is not going to tolerate this erosion of our fundamental rights.”

Ryan is no A.O.C. 2.0, but the results of his race may prove consequential all the same. It’s notable that the election in the Nineteenth District wasn’t a primary. New Yorkers, particularly in New York City, get precious few chances to vote in competitive general elections. The state’s primaries are closed, and in recent years primary dates have bounced around the calendar, further dampening turnout and making it harder for voters to follow what’s happening. It shouldn’t take just sixteen thousand votes to represent the center of New York City in Congress, as Goldman will. It should be a lot harder than that.

Charlie Crist Wins Democratic Primary to Take on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis!  

Charlie Crist defeats Nikki Fried in Democratic race for governor – WFTV

Dear Commons Community,

Charlie Crist yesterday won the Democratic nomination for Florida governor, giving him a second shot at the job he once held as a Republican.

Crist defeated Nikki Fried, the sitting agriculture commissioner and currently the only Democrat in a statewide office, which now allows him to take on incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Florida Republican has spent recent months campaigning around the country as a prelude to a widely expected 2024 presidential run.

Crist focused on that in the eight-minute victory speech he gave just 17 minutes after polls closed in the state’s Panhandle counties located in the Central time zone. “This guy wants to be president of the United States, and everybody knows it. However, when we defeat him on Nov. 8, that show is over,” he said to cheers. “Gov. DeSantis only cares about the White House. He doesn’t care about your house.”

Fried, who for much of the year-and-a-half primary campaign had lagged far behind in polling, seemed to gain momentum in recent weeks thanks to a surge of women voters angered by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down Roe v. Wade.

That boost, though, proved ephemeral, as Democratic voters appeared to make a pragmatic decision about who would be best able to defeat DeSantis: Fried, who appealed the most to young and progressive voters, or Crist, preferred by older and more moderate Floridians.

Crist won most of the state’s large metro areas by two-to-one margins, including in Broward County, Fried’s home base, and late Tuesday led statewide 60% to 35%.

Four years earlier, Democrats picked the progressives’ favorite, Andrew Gillum, over the more moderate Gwen Graham, only to see him lose narrowly to DeSantis in a strong year for Democrats.

In his remarks Tuesday, Crist repeated a theme he hit often in the primary campaign: that he can create a coalition of voters, including moderate Republicans, who are turned off by DeSantis’ aggressive style.

“We can unite Democrats, independents, and many Republicans who care about our Florida, and we will defeat Ron DeSantis,” he said.

As he attempts to do this, though, Crist faces a steep climb.

Good luck to Mr. Crist!


NASA Releases the Sound of a Black Hole – A Little Creepy!


Dear Commons Community,

On Sunday, NASA shared audio of sound waves that astronomers had extracted from the black hole at the center of the Perseus galaxy cluster. The sounds were then amplified and mixed with other data to create a track (listen above).

NASA clarified that it was not “intentionally made ominous, but the sound you hear is amplified a lot, and other sounds are interpreted from light data.”

“One of the motivations to create such data sonifications is the desire to share the science with more people,” the space agency added.

The black hole at the center of Perseus has been associated with sound since 2003 when astronomers discovered that pressure waves emitted from the black hole caused ripples in the cluster’s hot gas that could be translated into a note, NASA explained in May when it first released the audio. The note is too low for humans to hear, at around 57 octaves below middle C.

NASA resynthesized the sound waves into the range of human hearing by scaling them dozens of octaves above their true pitch. It also added more notes by translating astronomical data into sound.

A little eerie!




Mitch McConnell Tosses Dig at Trump – Says voter fraud is rare and he isn’t worried about threats to democracy!

Mitch McConnell And Trump: From Returned Donations To 2020 Election : NPR

Dear Commons Community,

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Monday that he isn’t worried about threats to American democracy after a national NBC News poll revealed voters ranked it as the top issue facing the country.

The Republican Senate leader also said that there is “very little election fraud” but that it “happens occasionally,” comments that clashed with ongoing claims from former President Donald Trump’s wing of the party, which has insisted that voter fraud is rampant and the 2020 election was stolen.

McConnell was asked at the Scott County Chamber of Commerce in Georgetown, Kentucky, about the results of NBC News’ latest national poll, which showed a majority of American voters support various investigations into alleged wrongdoing by Trump. The poll was conducted after the FBI searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate on Aug. 8.

Asked about Americans ranking threats to democracy higher than other issues, including the cost of living, McConnell told reporters: “I do think it’s an important issue. There were those who were trying to prevent the orderly transfer of power for the first time in American history,” after the 2020 presidential election, “and that was not good.”

But the top Senate Republican does not believe that American democracy is facing immediate danger, citing efforts to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power between the election on Nov. 3 and the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021, that were “thwarted.”

“I guess that’s had some impact on the poll. … But look, I think we have a very solid democracy,” McConnell continued. “I don’t think of the things that we need to worry about, I wouldn’t be worried about that one.”

The comments come after poll results Monday revealed that 57% of registered voters believe that probes into potential wrongdoing by Trump should continue, while 40% say they should stop.

The poll was conducted Aug. 12-16, in the days after the FBI recovered documents labeled “top secret” at Trump’s Florida home. The search was quickly criticized by Trump as politically motivated and by his allies as a weaponization of the Justice Department.

McConnell would do well for the GOP to go a step further and completely repudiate all things Trump!



Teachers in Columbus, Ohio’s Largest School District, Go On Strike!

Columbus teachers union votes to strike beginning Monday morning

© Provided by WSYX – Columbus

Dear Commons Community,

Teachers in Columbus, Ohio, went on strike starting yesterday, two days before classes are scheduled to resume for the new semester.

More than 94% of the Columbus Education Association members voted to reject the school board’s final offer late Sunday. The union represents more than 4,000 teachers, librarians, nurses and other employees.

“This strike is about our students who deserve a commitment to modern schools with heating and air conditioning, smaller class sizes, and a well-rounded curriculum that includes art, music and P.E.,” the union said in a statement.

The school board said its offer put children first.

“We offered a generous compensation package for teachers and provisions that would have a positive impact on classrooms,” the board said in a statement.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther called for the union and school board to keep bargaining.

“The CEA and the school district must return to the table and get our kids back in the classroom. A responsible solution is within reach, but only if negotiations restart now,” the mayor said in a statement.

The district of some 47,000 students has said it plans to start the school year with remote learning on Wednesday if the strike continues. Some parents said that option was ineffective during the pandemic.

May the two sides continue to bargain and settle their differences!