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Supreme Court weakens EPA power to enforce Clean Water Act
The Washington Post
At issue was the reach of the landmark 51-year-old Clean Water Act and how courts should determine what count as “waters of the United States” under protection of the law. Nearly two decades ago, the court ruled that wetlands are protected if they have a “significant nexus” to nearby regulated waters.
Many wetlands will lose federal protections after U.S. Supreme Court ruling
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Many wetlands across the country will lose federal protections following a U.S. Supreme Court decision on Thursday. […]
Environmentalists say the ruling "ignores the science" that almost all waters are connected through groundwater.
"Just because a wetland doesn't have a surface connection doesn't mean that nothing is happening beneath the surface," said Brian Vigue, policy director for Audubon Great Lakes.
The interpretation may not have much immediate impact on Wisconsin’s wetlands, because they are protected by rules enacted by the state Legislature in 2001. But two important regional water bodies – the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River – may now be at risk for water quality damage as wetland protections fall back to the states.
Impeachment recommended for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton
The Dallas Morning News
In a historic move that portends the ouster of one of the most powerful Republicans in the state, a House ethics panel on Thursday recommended the impeachment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The panel filed 20 articles of impeachment on Thursday evening. They accused the state’s top lawyer of sweeping abuses, including bribery, obstruction of justice and abuse of the public trust over a stretch of several years.
“Paxton engaged in misconduct, private or public, of such character as to indicate his unfitness for office,” the impeachment articles said, adding his actions brought the agency into “scandal and disrepute.”
Oath Keepers’ Stewart Rhodes sentenced to 18 years in Jan. 6 attack
Los Angeles Times
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was sentenced Thursday to 18 years in prison after a landmark verdict convicting him of spearheading a weeks-long plot to keep … Trump in power, which culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Rhodes was sentenced in a federal courthouse in Washington that sits less than a mile from the Capitol. He is the first Jan. 6 defendant convicted of seditious conspiracy to receive his punishment, which will set the standard for a slew of sentencings to come of members of far-right extremist groups.
Prosecutors, who sought a 25-year sentence, said Rhodes remained a threat to American democracy more than two years after he led a plot to forcibly block the transfer of power from Trump to President Biden after Trump lost the 2020 election.
DeSantis promises to be 'aggressive' in considering pardons for Jan. 6 rioters, Trump
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday he would consider pardoning … Donald Trump and his supporters convicted in rioting at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, if he is elected to the White House.
DeSantis made his comments in an interview with "The Clay Travis and Bud Sexton Show" podcast, a day after the Florida leader announced he would campaign against his one-time ally for the Republican nomination ahead of the 2024 presidential election. […]
DeSantis said that he would seek to use presidential pardon powers "on Day One," a break from tradition with most presidents who typically wait until the end of their administrations to issue the legal reprieves.
Trump workers moved Mar-a-Lago boxes a day before FBI came for documents
The Washington Post
Two of Donald Trump’s employees moved boxes of papers the day before an early June visit by FBI agents and a prosecutor to [Trump’s] Florida home to retrieve classified documents in response to a subpoena — timing that investigators have come to view as suspicious and an indication of possible obstruction, according to people familiar with the matter.
Trump and his aides also allegedly carried out a “dress rehearsal” for moving sensitive papers even before his office received the May 2022 subpoena, according to the people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a sensitive ongoing investigation.
Prosecutors in addition have gathered evidence indicating that Trump at times kept classified documents in his office in a place where they were visible and sometimes showed them to others, these people said.
Trump’s Lawyers Warn Him: Get Ready to Be Indicted by the Feds
Some of Donald Trump’s lawyers and top advisers have given [him] an unwelcome, if not unexpected message in recent weeks: You should expect to get indicted this year. Again.
This month, several legal and political counselors to Trump have bluntly informed him that they expect the Justice Department to charge him in the criminal investigation into his hoarding of highly classified documents following the end of his presidency, two sources familiar with the matter tell Rolling Stone. The feds have also been probing whether or not Trump tried to obstruct the investigation prior to last year’s FBI raid of the ex-president’s Florida estate.
This, of course, comes on the heels of Trump’s indictment by local prosecutors in Manhattan in April for falsifying business records. Later this summer, officials in Fulton County, Georgia, are expected to decide whether or not to indict Trump on election fraud charges.
Democrats have warning for White House that their support for debt deal is not guaranteed
Rep. Susan Wild, one of the country’s most politically vulnerable Democrats, made her displeasure known over the White House’s handling of talks to raise the debt ceiling with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
In a closed-door meeting on Thursday, the Pennsylvania Democrat contended that the White House’s deal-cutting could put her party in a difficult position and force lawmakers to vote on thorny issues that would almost certainly be used against them in their reelection bids next year. And above all else: She said that the White House was taking House Democrats’ votes for granted, according to sources in the room.
Wild’s sentiment, which has been echoed privately by progressives and moderates alike, was noted by House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries. The New York Democrat assured his caucus that he has relayed that message to the White House to convey to House GOP negotiators in the last-ditch talks to avoid default.
White House and G.O.P. Close In on Deal to Raise Debt Limit and Cut Spending
The New York Times
[…] In exchange for lifting the debt limit, the deal would meet Republicans’ demand to cut some federal spending, albeit with the help of accounting maneuvers that would give both sides political cover for an agreement likely to be unpopular with large swaths of their base voters.
It would impose caps on discretionary spending for two years, though those caps would apply differently to spending on the military than to nondefense discretionary spending. Spending on the military would grow next year, as would spending on some veterans’ care that falls under nondefense discretionary spending. The rest of nondefense discretionary spending would fall slightly — or roughly stay flat — compared with this year’s levels.
The deal would also roll back $10 billion of the $80 billion Congress approved last year for an I.R.S. crackdown on high earners and corporations that evade taxes, though that provision was still under discussion. Democrats have championed the initiative, and nonpartisan scorekeepers have said the funding would reduce the budget deficit by helping the government collect more of the tax revenue it is owed. But Republicans have denounced it, claiming falsely that the money would be used to fund an army of auditors to go after working people.
Left-behind polling memo shows abortion hurting outlook for GOP
One party’s trash is another party’s treasure. In the latest chapter of what seems to be a long-running series about Roll Call getting ahold of things people shouldn’t leave behind, a binder from a conference an outside group held for top GOP Senate staffers at a West Virginia resort had some cautionary signs about the 2024 climate.
The generic ballot has shifted toward Democrats, with Republicans losing ground among independents on the abortion issue, according to a new polling memo from a GOP firm that fell into Democratic hands.
“There has been a 6 point swing in the last year on the Generic Senate ballot from R+3 to D+3. This movement is [led] overwhelmingly by Independent and NEW voters that identify abortion as one of their top issues,” according to a “National Issue Study” by co/efficient, which was in the news recently as one of the pollsters for Kentucky Republican gubernatorial nominee Daniel Cameron.
Belgorod incursion: Meet the anti-Kremlin militia behind the attack inside Russia
The Kyiv Independent
At an abandoned gas station in northern Ukraine, five cars with Russian volunteers fighting on Ukraine's side waited for journalists.
A few days after a successful incursion inside Russia's Belgorod Oblast, those who took part wanted all the attention they could get.
The Russian militia groups, who call themselves the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC) and the Free Russia Legion, say they have been fighting alongside Ukraine in some of the hottest spots of the war, including Ukraine's Donbas.
They now claim to have attempted to bring the fight into Russia, even if for a short while.
Wagner starts withdrawing from Bakhmut
Russia's Wagner mercenary group has started moving its forces out of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Thursday.
"We are withdrawing the units from Bakhmut. From today at five in the morning, May 25 until June 1, most of the units will rebase to camps in the rear. We are handing our positions to the military," he said in a video posted on Telegram.
Prigozhin announced the capture of Bakhmut on Saturday after the longest and bloodiest battle of the war. He said his fighters would pull out by June 1 and regular Russian troops would move in to replace them.
Support for Russia drops in post-Soviet countries after Ukraine invasion
Approval of Russia has plunged in neighbouring countries, who are wary of a bullish Moscow which has lost its traditional role as a regional power broker.
Since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russia has lost a significant amount of support in countries which were historically part of its sphere of influence.
A recent Gallup report shows that in many - but not all - states that were once part of the Soviet Union, approval of the Russian leadership took a hit between 2021 and 2022.
This is at odds with what President Vladimir Putin, who seeks to restore "Russian dominance", possibly wanted to obtain.
EU will 'react as appropriate' to Russian nukes in Belarus
The EU has condemned plans by Belarus to host Russian nukes, following an agreement signed between Minsk and Moscow.
"This is not a step towards deescalation, this is not a step towards decreasing the tension," Peter Stano, spokesperson for the EU's foreign policy branch, told reporters on Thursday (25 May).
Stano said the move only further increases tensions and points to the Belarus collaboration with Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"The European Union will of course be following very closely how this is implemented and we will be reacting as appropriate," he said.
Chinese hackers spying on US critical infrastructure, Western intelligence says
A state-sponsored Chinese hacking group has been spying on a wide range of U.S. critical infrastructure organizations, from telecommunications to transportation hubs, Western intelligence agencies and Microsoft said on Wednesday.
The espionage has also targeted the U.S. island territory of Guam, home to strategically important American military bases, Microsoft said in a report, adding that "mitigating this attack could be challenging."
While China and the United States routinely spy on each other, analysts say this is one of the largest known Chinese cyber-espionage campaigns against American critical infrastructure.
China faces a new Covid wave that could peak at 65 million cases a week
China is bracing for a new wave of Covid infections that could see as many as 65 million cases per week by the time the surge peaks at the end of June.
It’s a startling prediction in a country, where the pandemic originated in late 2019, that only months ago had enforced some of the harshest Covid control protocols on the planet. Now, with the latest omicron variant, XBB, fueling a resurgence in cases, the response from China’s government and the public is muted at best.
The surge comes about six months after the country dismantled its sprawling infrastructure for dealing with Covid, including harsh lockdowns, mass testing, stifling quarantines and strict mask requirements.
Sudan’s warring sides accuse each other of violating ceasefire
Sudan’s warring sides have accused each other of being behind breaches of the latest ceasefire that was negotiated by the US and Saudi Arabia, now in its third day.
Clashes between the rival factions broke out again on Thursday in Khartoum and neighbouring Omdurman, witnesses said, as well as the strategic city of El Obeid to the southwest.
“Residents in the cities of Omdurman and Khartoum reported hearing overnight gunfire being exchanged between the Rapid Support Forces and the Sudanese army,” said Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Omdurman.
US imposes sanctions on leader of Wagner group in Mali
The United States has imposed sanctions on the head of the Wagner group in Mali, accusing the Russian private army of using the country as a conduit for arms and military equipment for Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
The US Treasury said Ivan Aleksandrovich Maslov works closely with Malian officials to build Wagner’s presence in Mali and elsewhere in Africa.
In Africa, the Wagner group has brokered deals in Mali, Central African Republic, Libya and elsewhere, providing security for what are often autocratic national leaders, frequently in exchange for a share of the local mining of gold and other resources.
Biden taps ‘butt-kicking’ fighter pilot Gen. CQ Brown for Joint Chiefs chairman
Stars and Stripes
President Joe Biden on Thursday officially nominated Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown, the Air Force chief of staff and a career fighter pilot with extensive command experience, as his choice to serve as the nation’s next top military officer.
In a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House, Biden highlighted Brown’s intellect, his experience commanding troops in Europe, the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific, and his even-keeled manner as he formally introduced the general as the nominee to become the 21st chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Brown, who is the first African American to lead a U.S. military service, appeared alongside the president, Vice President Kamala Harris and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during the announcement.
“Gen. Brown is a proud butt-kicking American airman — first and always. He’s gained respect across every [military] service from those who have seen him in action and have come to depend on his judgment,” Biden said. “Gen. Brown has built a reputation across the force as an unflappable and highly effective leader — as someone who creates an environment of teamwork, trust and executes with excellence.”
How the tongue shaped life on Earth
A small but growing group of researchers is fascinated by an organ we often take for granted. We rarely think about how agile our own tongue needs to be to form words or avoid being bitten while helping us taste and swallow food. But that’s just the start of the tongue’s versatility across the animal kingdom. Without tongues, few if any terrestrial vertebrates could exist. The first of their ancestors to slither out of the water some 400 million years ago found a buffet stocked with new types of foods, but it took a tongue to sample them. The range of foods available to these pioneers broadened as tongues diversified into new, specialized forms—and ultimately took on functions beyond eating. […]
Yet how tongues came about “is one of the biggest mysteries in our evolutionary history,” says Sam Van Wassenbergh, a functional morphologist at the University of Antwerp. Like other soft tissues, tongues are rarely preserved in fossils. Hidden inside the mouth, they defy easy observation. In the past decade, however, new technologies have begun to reveal tongues in action in different groups of animals. That work is beginning to yield new insights about the tongue’s evolutionary trajectories, and how its specializations fueled further diversification. Kory Evans, an evolutionary biologist at Rice University, says the more biologists learn, the more convinced they are that “tongues are really fantastic.”
Popocatépetl volcano spews smoke and ash, putting millions of Mexicans on alert
Popocatépetl volcano just outside Mexico City has been erupting occasionally since 1994, but over the past week it has rumbled every day.
Scientists have recorded hundreds of explosions, and webcams trained on the volcano have shown it spewing incandescent material. From Mexico City, you can see a column of ash rising from the summit. […]
Scientists in Mexico say it's impossible to tell how long this new activity will last, or whether recent activity might lead to such a blast. But they say the 17,700-foot volcano, known locally as El Popo, will give enough warning to evacuate the millions who could be in danger.
America aged rapidly in the last decade as baby boomers grew older and births dropped
The United States grew older, faster, last decade.
The share of residents 65 or older grew by more than a third from 2010 to 2020 and at the fastest rate of any decade in 130 years, while the share of children declined, according to new figures from the most recent census.
The declining percentage of children under age 5 was particularly noteworthy in the figures from the 2020 head count released Thursday. Combined, the trends mean the median age in the U.S. jumped from 37.2 to 38.8 over the decade.
America’s two largest age groups propelled the changes: more baby boomers turning 65 or older and millennials who became adults or pushed further into their 20s and early 30s. Also, fewer children were born between 2010 and 2020, according to numbers from the once-a-decade head count of every U.S. resident. The decline stems from women delaying having babies until later in life, in many cases to focus on education and careers, according to experts, who noted that birth rates never recovered following the Great Recession of 2007-2009.
Minnesota enacts right-to-repair law that covers more devices than any other state
It doesn't cover video game consoles, medical gear, farm or construction equipment, digital security tools, or cars. But in demanding that manuals, tools, and parts be made available for most electronics and appliances, Minnesota's recently passed right-to-repair bill covers the most ground of any US state yet.
The Digital Right to Repair Bill, passed as part of an omnibus legislation and signed by Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday, "fills in many of the loopholes that watered down the New York Right to Repair legislation," said Nathan Proctor, senior director for the Public Interest Research Group's right-to-repair campaign, in a post. […]
Minnesota's bill… covers most electronic products sold on or after July 1, 2021, and doesn't allow for as much manufacturer discretion. Companies that sell in Minnesota but don't offer customers or independent repair shops the materials needed to fix devices with "fair and reasonable" terms and within 60 days can be found in violation of the state's Deceptive Trade Practices law.