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Wednesday, April 10, 2024

McCarthy says Gaetz forced him out of House speakership ‘to stop ethics complaint’ over sex scandal | Republicans | The Guardian

McCarthy says Gaetz forced him out of House speakership ‘to stop ethics complaint’ over sex scandal

"Former speaker says Matt Gaetz led charge to remove him to quash allegations Florida representative ‘slept with a 17-year-old’

a man with brown hair in a black suit and green tie and a man with grey hair in a dark suit
Florida representative Matt Gaetz (left) reportedly pushed to remove McCarthy (right) in retaliation for the House ethics investigation. Composite: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The far-right Florida Republican Matt Gaetz forced Kevin McCarthy out as House speaker last year “because he slept with a 17-year-old” and wanted a congressional ethics investigation to end, McCarthy charged on Tuesday.

“I’ll give you the truth why I’m not speaker,” McCarthy said, at an event at Georgetown University in Washington.

“Because one person, a member of Congress, wanted me to stop an ethics complaint because he slept with a 17-year-old, an ethics complaint that started before I ever became speaker. And that’s illegal and I’m not gonna get in the middle of it.

“Now, did he do it or not? I don’t know. But ethics was looking at it. There’s other people in jail because of it. And he wanted me to influence it.”

The House ethics investigation of allegations against Gaetz opened in 2021, when Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, was speaker.

The House investigation was paused when Gaetz was investigated by the US Department of Justice for sex trafficking, over allegations that he paid for sex and had sex with an underage woman. In December 2022, Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector whose arrest led to the investigation of Gaetz, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for offences including sex trafficking a minor.

In February 2023, prosecutors said they would not issue charges. The House ethics investigation then restarted.

Gaetz denies wrongdoing. On Tuesday, he told Politico: “Kevin is a liar. Which, actually, is why he isn’t speaker. Just ask any of the 224 people who voted to remove him.”

McCarthy became the first speaker ever ejected by his own party, last October, after Gaetz introduced a motion to vacate and attracted support from seven other Republicans. Because Democrats refused to come to McCarthy’s aid, that was enough to show him the door. McCarthy left Congress at the end of last year.

Citing a review of private correspondence, the Daily Beast has reported that Gaetz “indicated to a friend that his effort to undercut, isolate and ultimately remove McCarthy was, indeed, payback” for the House ethics investigation.

The Beast said “other Republican congressional sources” also said Gaetz was motivated to move against McCarthy by the ethics investigation, not policy differences.

Gaetz told the Beast: “As I’ve answered likely 100 times on the record, I led the charge to remove Kevin McCarthy from his role as House speaker because he failed to keep his promises.”

McCarthy lost his job shortly after relying on Democratic support to pass a spending package, thereby averting a government shutdown. His successor as speaker, Mike Johnson, now faces a similar threat, a motion to vacate filed by another rightwing extremist, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, but not yet forced to a vote.

At Georgetown, McCarthy said: “So then they come out and they say [I was ejected] because I kept government open. I’d do it all over again. We’re not going to pay our troops? I’m going to pay my troops, you can do the job …

“I think today if you went back for the people that voted [to remove me] they think that was a smart vote? I don’t think so … I made everybody stand up, because I think historically, it’ll be viewed as a very bad thing that happened to our Congress.”

Asked if he thought the same would happen to Johnson, McCarthy said: “No. The Democrats will never let it happen.”

McCarthy says Gaetz forced him out of House speakership ‘to stop ethics complaint’ over sex scandal | Republicans | The Guardian

Opinion | It’s not ‘terribly strange to be 70’ - The Washington Post

Opinion It’s not so ‘terribly strange to be 70’

"I turned 70 today, a young age for an older person to be, but it is the oldest I have ever been by a long shot. It has been well over six decades since I learned in arithmetic how to carry the one, and the rest has sped by like microfiche.

One big juicy, messy, hard, joyful, quiet life. That’s what my 70 years have bequeathed me.

In my teens, already drinking and drugging, I didn’t expect to see 21, and at 21, out of control, I didn’t expect to see 30. At 30, I had published three books but, as a sober friend put it, was deteriorating faster than I could lower my standards.

Then at 32, I got clean and sober, the miracle of my life from which all other blessings flow. My son was born three years later. The apple fell close to the tree: My son went off the rails, too. He and his partner had a baby at 19, which had not been in my specific plans for him, but you know the old line: If you want to make God laugh, tell Her your plans.

The baby, soon to get his learner’s permit, turned out to be the gift of a lifetime. My son got clean and sober 13 years ago, and the three of us grew up together. Then after a long search, I met this brilliant, kind writer guy and, three days after I started getting Social Security, I married him. Yesterday, I published my 20th book, called “Somehow.” Today, when I woke up, I was 70. Seventy!

I think that I am only 57, but the paperwork does not back this up. I don’t feel old, because your inside self doesn’t age. When younger people ask me when I graduated from high school and I say 1971, there’s a moment’s pause, as if this is inconceivable and I might as well have said 20 B.C. That’s when I feel my age. But I smile winsomely because, while I would like to have their skin, hearing, vision, memory, balance, stamina and focus, I would not go back even one year.

My older friends and I know a thing or two.

In general, though, I know how little I know. This is a big relief.

I know that my lifelong belief, that to be beyond reproach offers shelter and protection, is a lie. Shelter is an inside job, protection an illusion. We are as vulnerable as kittens. Love fends off the worst of it.

I know now that everyone is screwed up to some degree, and that everyone screws up. Phew. I thought for decades it was just me, that all of you had been issued owner’s manuals in second grade, the day I was home with measles. We are all figuring it out as we go. Aging is grad school.

I know a very little bit about God, or goodness, or good orderly direction. I am a believer, but I don’t trouble myself about ultimate reality, the triune nature of the deity or who shot the Holy Ghost. I say help a lot, and thanks, and are You kidding me??? Have You been drinking again, Friend?

I know about something I will call cloak hope, most obvious to me in the people who swooped in and helped me get sober in 1986, and swooped down again in 2012 for my child. In my case, an elderly sober woman named Ruby saw me in my utter, trembly hopelessness — afraid, smelly and arrogant; she swept in and took me under her wing. She wrapped her cloak around me and was the counternarrative to all I believed at 32, i.e., that I needed to figure things out, especially myself, and who to blame.

I know the beauty of shadows. Shadows show us how life can gleam in contrast. Sunshine might be dancing outside the window, but the wonder is in the variegation, with fat white clouds bunched up on the right casting shadows on the hills and gardens, and brushstrokes of gray clouds on the left and — most magical — the long narrow shawl of fog right across the top of the ridge. The day is saying, Who knows how the weather will morph, but meanwhile so much is possible. And that is life asserting itself.

I know life will assert itself. Knowing this means I have a shot at some measure of pliability, like a willow tree that is maybe having an iffy day.

I know everything is in flux, that all things will turn into other things. I am uncomfortable with this but less so than in younger years. Michael Pollan wrote, “Look into a flower, and what do you see? Into the very heart of nature’s double nature — that is, the contending energies of creation and dissolution, the spiring toward complex form and the tidal pull away from it.” So I don’t sweat feeling a little disoriented some days.

I have grown mostly unafraid of my own death, except late at night when I head to WebMD and learn that my symptoms are probably cancer.

I know and am constantly aware of how much we have all lost and are in danger of losing — I am not going to name names — and am awash with gratitude for lovely, funny things that are still here and still work.

I know how to let go now, mostly, although it is not a lovely Hallmark process, and when well-wishers from my spiritual community exhort me to let go and let God, I want to Taser them. But I know that when I finally tell a best friend of my thistly stuckness, the telling is the beginning of release. You have to learn to let go. Otherwise, you get dragged, or you become George Costanza’s father pounding the table and shouting, “Serenity now!”

I know that people and pets I adore will keep dying, and it will never be okay, and then it will, sort of, mostly. I know the cycle is life, death, new life, and I think this is a bad system, but it is the one currently in place.

I know I will space out and screw up right and left as I head out on this book tour, say things I wish I could take back, forget things, sometimes onstage, and lose things. I just will.

I recently went to Costa Rica, where my husband was giving a spiritual retreat, and I forgot my pants. My pants! And last month, I went to give a talk at a theater two states away and forgot to bring any makeup. I am quite pale, almost light blue in some places — think of someone from “Game of Thrones” with a head cold — and ghostly under bright lights. When I discovered this omission, I was wearing only tinted moisturizer, powder on my nose and light pink lip gloss.

I gave myself an inspiring pep talk on my inner beauty, the light within. And then I had a moment of clarity: I asked the person driving me to the venue to stop at CVS, where I bought blush and a lipstick that was accidentally brighter and glossier than I usually wear. I looked fabulous. Age is just a number when you still know how to shine. And I shone."

Opinion | It’s not ‘terribly strange to be 70’ - The Washington Post

Arizona’s abortion ruling threatens to upend 2024 races - The Washington Post

‘Catastrophic,’ ‘a shock’: Arizona’s abortion ruling threatens to upend 2024 races

"State Supreme Court rules a near-total ban from 1864 can go into effect in a battleground state that could play an outsize role in the presidential election and help determine which party controls the U.S. Senate next year

Republican Kari Lake, an ally of former president Donald Trump who is running for U.S. Senate, was among the Arizona politicians Tuesday who said they disagreed with the state's Supreme Court ruling on abortion. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

A near-total abortion ban slated to go into effect in the coming weeks in Arizona is expected to have a seismic impact on the politics of the battleground state, testing the limits of Republican support for abortion restrictions and putting the issue front and center in November’s election.

Arizona’s conservative Supreme Court on Tuesday revived a near-total ban on abortion, invoking an 1864 law that forbids the procedure except to save a mother’s life and punishes providers with prison time. The decision supersedes Arizona’s previous rule, which permitted abortions up to 15 weeks.

Arizonans are poised to consider the issue in November, now that the groups working to amend the state’s constitution to enshrine abortion rights — which include the ACLU of Arizona and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona — say that they have acquired enough signatures to establish a ballot measure, according to the Arizona Republic. Meanwhile, Republicans in the state are asking Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) and the Republican-led state legislature to come up with a solution.

The developments in Arizona are part of a wave of state actions to reckon with the future of access to reproductive care after the U.S. Supreme Court, with a conservative majority installed during Donald Trump’s presidency, overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. While several states enacted abortion restrictions as a result of overturning Roe, protecting access to reproductive care has broadly been a winning issue for Democratic candidates and for ballot measures that protect abortion access in the elections since the 2022 ruling.

Follow Election 2024

As a battleground state, there is a lot on the line in Arizona’s looming elections. President Biden is running for reelection after winning the state in 2020 by fewer than 11,000 votes, and the race for a Senate seat in the state could prove crucial in determining which party controls the body next year. The balance of the statehouse is at stake this election cycle, too, with Republicans holding a one-vote majority in each chamber.

Polls show that abortion is a motivating issue for Arizona voters.

An Arizona Supreme Court ruling on April 9 invoked an 1864 law that forbids abortion except to save the mother's life. (Video: Reuters)

An October New York Times-Siena College poll found that 59 percent of Arizona registered voters said abortion should be mostly or always legal; 34 percent said it should be mostly or always illegal. A March Fox News poll also found 39 percent of Arizona voters said abortion would be extremely important in deciding their vote for president, with another 32 percent saying it would be very important. Voters who supported Biden in 2020 were nearly twice as likely to say the issue would be extremely important in their vote, 51 percent to 27 percent.

In the hours following Arizona’s abortion decision, Republicans who previously were vocal advocates of restricting abortion found themselves in an unfamiliar position: condemning a change that will restrict reproductive care in their state.

Despite having supported abortion restrictions in the past, two Arizona House Republicans representing districts Biden won, Reps. David Schweikert and Juan Ciscomani, each said they opposed Tuesday’s ruling. And Kari Lake — the staunch ally of Trump running in one of the most closely watched Senate races this cycle — called Tuesday’s ruling “out of step with Arizonans.”

Lake had previously celebrated the overturning of Roe and once expressed support for the 1864 bill. But on Tuesday, she called on the Arizona state legislature and Hobbs, to whom she lost a gubernatorial race last year, to “come up with an immediate common sense solution that Arizonans can support.”

At a GOP gubernatorial debate in 2022, Lake said she approved of the territorial-era law banning all abortions.

“My personal belief is that all life matters. All life counts, and all life is precious, and I don’t believe in abortion,” she said then. “I think the older law is going to take and is going to go into effect. That’s what I believe will happen.”

Since announcing her run for Senate, Lake has moderated her public statements on abortion, telling NBC News in March that she supports access to abortion up to 15 to 24 weeks and said Arizona’s previous standard of 15 weeks was a “good law.”

Despite disagreeing with the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling Tuesday, Lake said in her statement that she believes the issue of abortion should be decided on a state level and not federally — echoing Trump, who made a case for states’ rights on Monday.

Stan Barnes, a Republican consultant who previously served in Arizona’s state legislature, said Tuesday’s ruling was “a shock to the Republican body politic in Arizona” that will have “a tremendous impact on the 2024 election outcome.”

“I’m trying to think of when there was a more stunning, political phenomenon injected into an election cycle and I can’t think of one. It’s just a powerful change in the political landscape leading up to the 2024 general election,” added Barnes, who runs Copper State Consulting Group.

Max Fose, an Arizona Republican operative who formerly worked for then-Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), said he thinks Tuesday’s ruling also will “definitely give Biden a leg up going into the election.” Fose argued that the court basically “pushed Arizona back to the Civil War days” — something he predicted the state’s voters would reject.

“If we look at it, it’s like 9 percent of the electorate is Republican swing voters, that represents 234,000 people,” he said. “They just slummed those people over to Biden’s corner.”

The high political stakes are not lost on Democrats.

Tony Cani, a Democratic strategist who was deputy director for Biden’s 2020 campaign in Arizona, said he thinks the ruling “is going to be catastrophic for” Republicans in his state.

“This is earth-shattering,” said Cani, who founded Slingshot Campaigns. “This is going to create an overwhelming wave of voters who otherwise might not have been enthusiastic about this election, or otherwise might not have voted at all, to go in and vote literally for their lives and for their rights.”

Democrats have criticized Republicans running for office for months over their stance on abortion, and Tuesday’s ruling, they suggested, has given them more ammunition.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a memo last Friday that abortion-related ballot initiatives expected to appear in several states on Election Day will play to their party’s advantage. Eighteen House districts the DCCC has identified as battlegrounds are in states — including Arizona — that will have or are likely to have an abortion initiative on the ballot in November.

Following Tuesday’s Arizona ruling, DCCC spokeswoman Lauryn Fanguen said Ciscomani and Schweikert were “working overtime to restrict access to abortion care.” And Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokeswoman Maeve Coyle highlighted Lake’s previous support of the 1864 law, saying that “Arizonans must reject this abortion ban and reject Kari Lake at the ballot box” to restore “their rights and freedoms.”

Biden’s reelection campaign put the blame for the Arizona ruling squarely on the president’s 2024 rival.

“What’s happening in Arizona is only possible because Donald Trump overturned Roe v. Wade,” Jen Cox, a Biden campaign senior adviser in Arizona, said in a statement. “No one should discount the impact this has on women across our state and — as we saw in 2022 — Democrats, Independents, and Republicans are going to hold Trump accountable.”

Later this week, Vice President Harris is scheduled to visit Tucson to discuss reproductive freedoms, according to the White House. The visit, which was in the works before Tuesday’s ruling, will give the Biden administration yet another opportunity to speak out against enacting restrictive reproductive policies and Republicans who appoint judges whose decisions have led to stringent limits on reproductive care.

Tuesday’s ruling could also have consequences at the ballot box for two of the justices who voted for the ban. They face a retention election in November. Under Arizona law, the seven Supreme Court justices are appointed by the governor but appear on the ballot two years after their initial appointment and every six years thereafter.

Arizona Democratic strategist Stacy Pearson said it became clear to many women in Arizona that the state’s Supreme Court would try to overturn abortion access after then-Gov. Doug Ducey (R) expanded the court in 2016 and appointed conservative justices, and the Republican-led state legislature failed to repeal the territorial ban.

Now, she said, Republicans have begun to “realize that their plan was mistimed.” As a result, she argues, Democrats have an opportunity to capture the U.S. Senate seat and control of Arizona’s state legislature by continuing to run on their messaging about protecting access to abortion.

“This is one of those issues that Democrats have just gotten right from the jump. It isn’t hard to convince voters where the Democrats stand on autonomy,” she said. “This could very well tip the control of the Arizona state legislature and have a Democratic controlled chamber for the first time in my adult [life].”

The decision to add the measure protecting abortion access to the ballot, she noted, also islikely to end up before the state’s Supreme Court.

Patrick Svitek, Azi Paybarah and Scott Clement contributed to this report."

Arizona’s abortion ruling threatens to upend 2024 races - The Washington Post

Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Opinion | I’m Jewish, and I’ve covered wars. I know war crimes when I see them. - The Washington Post

Opinion I’m Jewish, and I’ve covered wars. I know war crimes when I see them.

Palestinians view the damage at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on April 1. (Dawoud Abu Alkas/Reuters)

Peter Maass is the author of “Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War.” He covered the Bosnia war for The Post, and the invasion of Iraq for the New York Times Magazine.

"How does it feel to be a war-crimes reporter whose family bankrolled a nation that’s committing war crimes?

I covered the genocide in Bosnia for The Post, wrote a book about it, and reported from Iraq and Afghanistan, among other conflict-ridden countries. Also, my ancestors were key funders of Jewish emigration to British-controlled Palestine. The Warburgs and Schiffs donated millions of dollars to that cause, and during the war between Jews and Arabs that started in 1948, they helped raise vast sums for the new state of Israel. When Golda Meir made an emergency fundraising visit to the United States, one of the philanthropists she met with was an uncle of mine who led the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

As Israeli forces grind through Gaza in what the International Court of Justice defines as a “plausible” case of genocide, my family’s history of philanthropy runs into my familiarity with war crimes. When Israel bombs and shoots civilians, blocks food aid, attacks hospitals and cuts off water supplies, I remember the same outrages in Bosnia. When people in a Gaza flour line were attacked, I thought of the Sarajevans killed waiting in line for bread, and the perpetrators who in each case insisted the victims were slaughtered by their own side.

Atrocities tend to rhyme.

When I reported from besieged Sarajevo, I stayed in a hotel that was smack on the front line, with Serbian snipers routinely firing at civilians walking under my window. While exiting or entering the Holiday Inn, sometimes I was the one getting shot at. On a spring day in 1993, I heard the familiar crack and whistle of a sniper’s bullet, followed by an awful scream. I went to my window and saw a wounded civilian trying to crawl to safety. Writing in The Postmore than three decades ago, I described the man’s desperate shouts as “a mad howl of a person pushed over the edge. It came from the lungs, from the heart, from the mind.”

I was thinking of Haris Bahtanovic — I tracked him to a nearby hospital the next day — as I watched an agonizing video from Gaza not long ago. The video shows a grandmother, Hala Khreis, trying to leave a neighborhood that Israeli forces are surrounding. Walking tentatively, she holds the hand of her grandson, who is five years old and carries a white flag. Suddenly, a shot rings out and she crumples to the ground dead. Sniper rifles have high-powered scopes — the shooters can see who they are shooting. The attacks on Khreis in 2024 and Bahtanovic in 1993 occurred in daytime and were not accidental.

Millions of Jews in America feel connected to Israel’s creation. Maybe our ancestors gave or raised money, maybe they went and fought, maybe they donated to Zionist organizations. What’s a Jew to do now? Everyone makes their own choices, but my experience of war crimes taught me that being Jewish means standing against any nation that commits war crimes.

I noted in my Bosnia book how being a Jew and seeing an actual genocide made me understand, more than before, the precariousness of minorities and the necessity of speaking out as atrocities emerge. That imperative strengthens if your government abets the crimes or your tribe commits them.

Israel and its supporters contend that what’s happening in Gaza is a legal and righteous response to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas fighters. It’s evident that war crimes were committed by Hamas: Israelis were shot in their homes at kibbutzim, and concertgoers at the Nova music festival were massacred. We’ve seen the pictures and videos, and while some allegations have turned out to be false, the evidence of brutal crimes is solid. Hamas is still holding more than 100 hostages.

That does not give Israel a pass to respond as it pleases. An eye for an eye — or a hundred eyes for one eye — is not a thing in international law. A key tenet of the laws of warfare is that an attack that endangers civilians must be militarily necessary, and any civilian casualties that occur must be proportional to the military gain. What that means, in plainer language, is that you cannot slaughter a lot of civilians for a minor battlefield gain, and you certainly cannot target civilians, as appears to have happened in the killing of Hala Khreis and many other Palestinians. So far, more than 30,000 people have been reported killed in Gaza, most of them civilians, including more than 13,000 children.

The victims of genocide — which Jews were in the Holocaust — are not gifted with the right to perpetrate one. Of course, a war-crimes court should be the arbiter of whether Israel’s actions in Gaza qualify as genocide, but sufficient evidence for indictments appears to exist because the legal definition of genocide is “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” The key words are “in part.” Holocaust levels of killing are not required to reach the legal standard.

This puts all Americans, not just American Jews, on the spot. The U.S. government is Israel’s principal supporter, by virtue of the bombs and other weapons that continue to be provided to the extremist government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. We are all implicated.

The idea of Jews protecting the rights of Palestinians is not as new as you might think. Before the Holocaust, my ancestors were part of the “non-Zionist” movement that supported Jewish emigration to Palestine but opposed the creation of a Jewish state. The non-Zionist position was based on the concern that a Jewish state would result in violence and reinforce accusations that Jews were not loyal to America.

For example, in the May 21, 1917, edition of the New York Times, a headline reads: “Mr. Schiff Not for Zionism: He Would Establish Jewish Population, Not a Nation, in Palestine.” The story is about my great-great-grandfather, Jacob Schiff, the Gilded Age financier who bankrolled efforts to help persecuted Jews flee Europe. The idealistic non-Zionist goal was for the Jews who were settling in Palestine to make a deal with the Arabs already living there that would not give either side complete government control. Two decades later, in 1936, my great-grandfather, Felix Warburg, who had married Schiff’s daughter, accurately warned that establishing a Jewish state would lead to “bloody heads and misfortune.”

Jewish settlement continued in Palestine, of course, and the Holocaust accelerated momentum for creating a national homeland there — for which my ancestors dutifully opened their wallets. But there is a largely forgotten history of what then happened in a dissenting corner of America’s Jewish community. As Geoffrey Levin writes in his relevant new book, “Our Palestine Question,” since the founding of Israel “there have been American Jews deeply unsettled by Israeli policies toward both the Palestinian refugees and Arabs living under Israeli rule,” who are fiercely dedicated to the issue.

These dissenting Jews were unsettled by, among other things, the exodus of more than 700,000 Arabs when Israel was established; it’s what Arabs refer to as the Nakba, or “catastrophe.” Israel refused to let these Arabs return to their homes and, over the decades, constructed a repressive apparatus of military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. While Levin’s book was published just before the latest convulsion, he astutely noted that “some American Jews today see their support for Palestinian rights as a meaningful expression of their Jewish identity.”

My Jewish identity was always a bit vague because my ancestors were German Jews who assimilated at the speed of cultural sound; when I was growing up, we even had a Christmas tree. (They donated and spent their money at the same pace; the fortune was mostly gone by the time I came of age.) I began to feel more Jewish while covering the genocide of Bosnia’s Muslims. What Levin points to — the defense of Palestinians increasingly being an act of Jewish identity, particularly for younger Jews — feels right for me, too.

It was near Sen. Charles E. Schumer’s home in Brooklyn that I recently saw how this long-ignored movement has found new propulsion. I live a 10-minute walk from the Democratic majority leader’s apartment building, which the New York Police Department barricades whenever a protest approaches. Though Schumer now calls for early elections that might unseat Netanyahu, he supports military aid to Israel and is the highest-ranking elected Jewish official in the United States. Protesters are shunted a few hundred yards away to Prospect Park, and about 100 of them happened to be there when I walked by last month.

Some waved professionally printed, multicolored placards that said “Hands Off Rafah — Stop the Genocide,” and “Ceasefire Now — Let Gaza Live.” But there was also a woman wearing a kaffiyeh around her waist, who held a piece of cardboard with a handwritten message: “Jewish Nurse Against Occupation.” She was protesting not just the killing of civilians but the decades-long military occupation of Palestinian territory, which is the underlying problem.

These protesters are part of a movement that includes Jewish demonstrators who wear T-shirts that say “Not In Our Name.” Their potent voices undermine the argument that all protests against Israeli violence are antisemitic. They help legitimize global opposition to what’s being done in Gaza, and they defend not only Palestinian lives but Jewish lives, too, because they contradict the misbegotten idea that Jews as a whole are to blame for what Israel is doing.

I did not take the activist route after graduating from college. I chose journalism, then wars chose me. Through the years, I realized that exposing war crimes — wherever they occur — is central to my identity as an American, a journalist and a Jew."

Opinion | I’m Jewish, and I’ve covered wars. I know war crimes when I see them. - The Washington Post

New voting laws in swing states could shape 2024 election - The Washington Post

New voting laws in swing states could shape 2024 election

"States have made the rules that govern elections either tighter or looser in the run-up to the 2024 vote, depending on which party has been in charge

A polling station on the last day of early voting in Las Vegas on Nov. 4, 2022. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Voting in Michigan will be easier for many people this fall than it was four years ago. There will be nine days of early voting. All mail ballots will have prepaid return postage. And every community will have at least one drop box for absentee ballots because of a measure adopted by voters with the support of the state’s top Democrats.

Those casting ballots in North Carolina, where Republicans enjoy a veto-proof legislative majority, will see dramatic changes in the opposite direction. For the first time in a presidential election, voters there will have to show an ID. More votes are expected to be thrown out because of new absentee ballot return deadlines. And courts will soon decide whether to allow a law to go into effect that would reshape the state’s elections boards and could result in fewer early-voting sites.

The two states illustrate how much voting has changed since the last presidential election. But whether Americans will have an easier or harder time casting a ballot than they did in 2020 will depend on where they live and, often, whether Democrats or Republicans have been in charge.

“It’s really kind of a tale of two democracies,” said Liz Avore, a senior adviser at the Voting Rights Lab.

Follow Election 2024

States across the partisan spectrum abruptly changed their voting policies in 2020 to provide more options at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Many eased the criteria for voting by mail, and some sent absentee ballot or ballot applications to all voters. Election officials installed ballot drop boxes, set up curbside voting programs and in some cases extended the deadlines for returning absentee ballots.

Former president Donald Trump has baselessly accused Democrats of using the loosened rules to rig the 2020 vote, turning election policy into the object of hyperpolarized disagreement.

Particularly in swing states, Republicans have generally pushed for tighter laws, such as voter ID requirements and limits on mail-in voting, in the name of election integrity. Democrats have advocated eliminating barriers that could suppress voter participation, including by making rules for registering to vote and casting ballots more flexible.

Some states have made the rules they established in 2020 permanent or further expanded options for voting. Others have enacted restrictions that go beyond what were in place before 2020 and made it easier to challenge others’ voter registrations and ability to cast ballots. Not all the rules are set yet; some could change because of last-minute legislation and a wave of litigation.

Nowhere are the changing rules more important than in the seven states most likely to determine the presidential election. Many of those states were decided by tiny margins in 2016 and 2020 and are again expected to be crucial.

Some voters may have a tougher time casting a ballot than they did in 2020 in the battleground states of Georgia and North Carolina, where Republicans hold legislative sway. Voting could be more difficult in Wisconsin, as well, but the picture in the state, which has a Democratic governor and a Republican-dominated legislature, may change soon because of cases pending before the state’s liberal-majority Supreme Court.

Voters will probably have an easier time voting than they did four years ago in two other swing states, Michigan and Nevada. In the latter, Democrats had unified control of state government until last year.

In Arizona, voting rules this year will be roughly the same as they were four years ago, while in Pennsylvania, some changes will make it easier to vote, and others will make it harder, according to a review by the Voting Rights Lab. In both states, control of state government has been divided.

“We’ve just seen really an unprecedented wave of elections legislation in the past few years,” Avore said. “The success of our democracy at large is going to depend on the ability of election officials to adjust to these new systems.”

Some of the changes since 2020 are sweeping. Others appear minor but can add up when combined with other tweaks to voting laws. “As a group, these laws have a big impact,” said Sean Morales-Doyle, director of voting rights at the Brennan Center for Justice.

Some of the most significant and contested changes have come in North Carolina.

Unlike in 2020, voters there will have to show a photo ID this fall. State lawmakers passed the voter ID law in 2018, but courts blocked it from going into effect. More than a year after the presidential election, the state Supreme Court struck it down. Months later, after Republicans took control of the court, the justices reinstated the voter ID law.

The state’s ID law is the strictest in the country when it comes to mail voting, according to the Voting Rights Lab. When voters return their mail ballots, they must include a copy of their ID along with the signature of a notary or the signatures of two witnesses.

Previously, mail ballots postmarked by Election Day were counted if they arrived up to three days later. Now, mail ballots must by received by Election Day. In last month’s presidential primary, more than 750 ballots were rejected that would have been counted under the old law.

Another recent change would make the state elections board and county elections boards evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, rather than giving an edge to whichever party controls the governor’s office. A court has blocked that law, finding that it interferes with the powers of Gov. Roy Cooper (D), so they have kept their Democratic majorities. The Republican-controlled state Supreme Court could take up the case before the election.

A change to the makeup of the boards could be significant. The boards determine how many early-voting locations there are, and deadlocks could result in counties, including the state’s most populous and Democratic ones, getting just one early-voting site each.

New laws in North Carolina also give partisan poll observers more authority at polling places and make it easier to challenge ballots cast by mail and at early-voting locations. The ability to challenge ballots echoes a law in Georgia that has been used to question thousands of voters’ eligibility to cast ballots.

Election experts said such policies put a strain on election workers, forcing them to review challenges that are often based on hunches or faulty data. Often meritless, the challenges rarely result in preventing people from voting but could make some people less likely to vote, they said.

“It can be sending an intimidating message to voters,” Morales-Doyle said.

Georgia also has new voting rules since 2020. A law passed by the Republican-dominated legislature in 2021 drew headlines and criticism for a provision that limits handouts of water or food to those waiting in line to vote. That law also limits where ballot drop boxes can be placed while expanding early-voting opportunities in most counties. Despite the increased early-voting hours, some Georgia voters are still likely to face long lines this fall, according to the Voting Rights Lab.

A new measure, passed late last month on the last day of the Georgia legislative session, includes provisions that have sparked controversy but are not scheduled to go into effect until after the fall election. Among them is a ban that would take effect in 2026 on using tabulators that count votes by reading QR codes or other computer markings on ballots. Critics say the measure would make it impossible to use electronic tabulators to count votes — even hand-marked paper ballots because they typically include computer-generated markings. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has not yet said whether he will sign the bill.

In Pennsylvania, voters are now added to the voting rolls automatically, but some absentee ballots are at risk of being thrown out.

Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) created a system last year that automatically registers eligible residents to vote when they obtain or renew a driver’s license, unless they opt out. In the last presidential election, mail ballots that were postmarked by Election Day but received up to three days after that were counted. This year, they must be received by Election Day.

Pennsylvania law requires voters to write the date they return their mail ballots on an envelope, and an appeals court recently ruled ballots could not be counted if they came in envelopes that were undated or had the wrong date on them. That will mean more ballots will get rejected this fall.

The voting landscape in Wisconsin has changed since 2020, but it may not be done shifting. In that election, municipalities set up hundreds of absentee ballot drop boxes in response to the pandemic.

More than a year later, conservatives on the state Supreme Court concluded state law doesn’t allow the use of drop boxes and barred their use for 2022 and beyond. Last year, liberals took control of the court, and they recently agreed to revisit that ruling. A decision is expected by the summer.

Republicans in the Arizona legislature have sought to tighten some voting laws, but Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) has so far blocked their efforts. GOP lawmakers are attempting to go around Hobbs to schedule a ballot measure this fall that would greatly restrict mail voting for future elections. Mail voting has long been popular in Arizona, and it’s unclear whether such a measure could pass.

In Nevada, officials used emergency provisions in 2020 in response to the pandemic to facilitate early voting. They sent mail ballots to all voters, established at least one drop box in every county, allowed third parties to collect ballots from voters and counted absentee ballots that were received by election officials after Election Day if they were postmarked by then. In 2021, Democratic leaders in the state made those policies permanent, meaning they will be in effect this fall.

Republicans and Democrats may spar over election rules, but some experts say there’s no reason their goals are necessarily at odds.

“There’s this push and pull between access and integrity,” said William & Mary Law School professor Rebecca Green, who specializes in election law. “I think both things are true: People can agree that eligible voters should be able to cast ballots and that those ballots should be counted securely.”

Amy Gardner contributed to this report."

New voting laws in swing states could shape 2024 election - The Washington Post