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    State department announces $275m in new aid package for Ukraine – as it happened

    Here is a wrap-up of the day’s key events:
    The state department has announced a new aid package for Ukraine worth $275m. It includes ammunition for Himars (high mobility artillery rocket systems), 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds, tube-launched wire-guided missiles and javelin anti-armor systems.
    The secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, will undergo a non-surgical procedure on Friday related to his prostate cancer, the Pentagon said. Austin will temporarily be unable to perform his duties due to the “minimally invasive procedure” and the deputy defense secretary, Kathleen Hicks, will assume his duties, the Pentagon said.
    Ahead of the fourth anniversary of George Floyd’s death, Joe Biden released a statement in which he called for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The act, which seeks to address racial profiling and the use of force in police encounters, has been stalled in Congress for the last few years. However, it was reintroduced to Congress by Sheila Jackson, a Democratic representative from Texas, on Thursday.
    Joe Biden’s re-election campaign has released a new ad called Snapped. The ad criticizes Donald Trump, saying that he “snapped” after losing the 2020 election. It’s voiced by one of the former president’s longtime political foes, actor Robert De Niro.
    Speaking after a rally in New York City last night, his first in the city since 2016, Donald Trump predicted that he can win his home state – which happens to also be a historically and fiercely Democratic-voting one.
    Donald Trump hinted at the possibility of Nikki Haley joining his administration after she pledged her support to him following a bitter campaign against him for the Republican nomination for this election. “I think she’s going to be on our team because we have a lot of the same ideas, the same thoughts,” Trump told News 12.
    The New York Democratic congressman and Bronx native Ritchie Torres hit back at Trump for his rally in the south Bronx yesterday, saying: “His presidency was a catastrophe for the Bronx. His mismanagement of Covid resulted in more deaths than Pearl Harbor and 9/11 combined. Donald Trump should apologize to the people of the Bronx rather than hold a rally.”
    Thousands of Trump supporters came out to Crotona Park in New York’s south Bronx on Thursday evening to support the former president as he rallied for nearly 90 minutes. In attempts to woo more Black and Hispanic voters in one of the country’s poorest and most diverse neighborhoods, Trump launched fiery tirades against immigrants and Biden’s immigration policies. He claimed migrants were “building an army” to attack America “from within”.
    That’s it as we wrap up the blog for today. Thank you for following along.Russian jamming technology has reportedly interfered with US-made satellite-guided ammunition in Ukraine.The Washington Post, which reviewed confidential internal Ukrainian assessments, reports:“Russia’s jamming of the guidance systems of modern Western weapons, including Excalibur GPS-guided artillery shells and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, which can fire some U.S.-made rockets with a range of up to 50 miles, has eroded Ukraine’s ability to defend its territory and has left officials in Kyiv urgently seeking help from the Pentagon to obtain upgrades from arms manufacturers.Russia’s ability to combat the high-tech munitions has far-reaching implications for Ukraine and its Western supporters – potentially providing a blueprint for adversaries such as China and Iran – and it is a key reason Moscow’s forces have regained the initiative and are advancing on the battlefield.”The US secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, will undergo a non-surgical procedure on Friday related to his prostate cancer, the Pentagon said.Austin will undergo the procedure at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center later this evening.Austin will temporarily be unable to perform his duties due to the “minimally invasive procedure” and the deputy secretary of defense, Kathleen Hicks, will assume his duties, the Pentagon said.Ahead of the fourth anniversary of George Floyd’s death, Joe Biden released a statement in which he called for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.Biden said:
    His murder shook the conscience of our nation and reminded us that our country has never fully lived up to its highest ideal of fair and impartial justice for all under the law.
    He went on to add:
    What we witnessed as a result was one of the largest modern civil rights movements in our nation’s history, with people from every background marching together against racism and systemic injustice.
    Two years ago, alongside George Floyd’s family, civil rights leaders and law enforcement officials, I signed an executive order to implement key aspects of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act with respect to federal law enforcement, including: restricting chokeholds and no-knock warrants, and establishing a database for police misconduct – all measures to advance effective, transparent and accountable policing.My administration has made significant progress in implementing this executive order, and will continue our work to build public trust and strengthen public safety. But real and lasting change at the state and local level will only come when Congress acts. That’s why I will continue to urge Congress to send the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which ensures law enforcement accountability, to my desk.
    The act, which seeks to address racial profiling and the use of force in police encounters, has been stalled in Congress for the last few years. However, it was reintroduced to Congress by Sheila Jackson, a Democratic representative from Texas, on Thursday.In response to the bill’s reintroduction, the American Civil Liberties Union said:
    The American Civil Liberties Union welcomes the reintroduction of this important legislation; however, the ACLU calls on Congress to strengthen and improve portions of the bill to provide the federal interventions necessary to address police misconduct and brutality.
    The state department has released the following statement on the latest aid package for Ukraine:
    The United States is announcing today a significant new drawdown of weapons and equipment for Ukraine to support the brave Ukrainian people as they defend their country against Russia’s aggression.
    This $275 million package … is part of our efforts to help Ukraine repel Russia’s assault near Kharkiv.”
    In addition to Himars ammunition, artillery rounds, missiles, javelins and anti-armor systems, the aid includes precision aerial munitions; small arms; tactical vehicles; body armor; chemical, biological, radiological anf nuclear protective equipment; and spare parts.With the latest package being the fifth aid package the Joe Biden administration has authorised since signing the national security supplemental, the state department said it plans to “move this new assistance as quickly as possible”.
    As President Biden has made clear, the United States and the international coalition we have assembled will continue to stand with Ukraine in its defense of its freedom.
    The state department has announced a new aid package for Ukraine that is worth $275m, Reuters reports.The aid package includes ammunition for Himars (high mobility artillery rocket systems), 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds, tube-launched wire-guided missiles and javelin anti-armor systems, according to the state department.Egypt and the United States agreed on Friday to temporarily send humanitarian aid to the United Nations in Gaza via Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing until legal mechanisms are established to reopen the Rafah border crossing from the Palestinian side, the Egyptian presidency said, Reuters reports.The agreement resulted from:
    The difficult humanitarian situation of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the lack of means of life in the Strip, and the lack of fuel needed for hospitals and bakeries,” said the statement.
    The agreement was reached in a phone call between the US president and Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the statement said.Egypt on Monday warned against Israel’s continued military operations in Rafah, which were preventing aid deliveries to the impoverished Strip.Much of the aid delivered into Gaza since the conflict between Israel and Hamas began in October has come through Egypt, entering through the southern Gaza city of Rafah or the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing on Israel’s border with the Palestinian territory.Since May 5, just before Israeli forces took control of the Rafah crossing from the Palestinian side, no trucks have crossed through Rafah and very few through Kerem Shalom, according to UN data. Sisi and Biden also agreed to intensify international efforts to being a ceasefire.The Guardian’s Middle East live blog is here.Hunter Biden is back in court today for the final hearing before he’s expected to stand trial on federal firearms charges in Delaware as his father’s re-election campaign unfolds, the Associated Press reports.Joe Biden’s son didn’t speak to reporters as he followed his lawyers into the Wilmington courthouse. He’s charged with lying about his drug use in October 2018 on a form to buy a gun that he kept for about 11 days in Delaware. He has acknowledged an addiction to crack cocaine during that period, but his lawyers have said he didn’t break the law and the case is politically motivated.The two sides have been arguing in court documents about evidence in the case, including contents from a laptop that he allegedly dropped off at a Delaware repair shop. Defense attorneys question the authenticity of the laptop’s data in court documents, but prosecutors say that there’s no evidence the data has been compromised.Prosecutors plan to show jurors portions of Hunter Biden’s 2021 memoir Beautiful Things in which he detailed his struggle with alcoholism and drug abuse following the 2015 death of his older brother, Beau, of brain cancer at age 46. Biden’s lawyers are objecting.US district judge Maryellen Noreika will preside over what’s expected to be the last hearing before the trial, which is expected to begin with jury selection on 3 June.Hunter Biden is also facing federal tax charges in Los Angeles and is set for trial in that case in September.Hello, politics live blog readers, as we approach what is a holiday weekend in the US, ahead of the Trump trial resuming in New York with closing arguments on Tuesday, there is still news coming out of Washington and elsewhere.We’ll bring it to you as it happens. For now, here’s where things stand:
    Joe Biden’s re-election campaign has released a new ad called Snapped, which criticizes Donald Trump, saying that he “snapped” after losing the 2020 election. It’s voiced by one of the former president’s longtime political foes, actor Robert De Niro.
    Speaking after a rally in New York City last night, his first in the city since 2016, Donald Trump predicted that he can win his home state – which happens to also be a historically and fiercely Democratic-voting one.
    Donald Trump hinted at the possibility of Nikki Haley joining his administration after she pledged her support to him following a bitter campaign against him for the Republican nomination for this election. “I think she’s going to be on our team because we have a lot of the same ideas, the same thoughts,” Trump told News 12.
    The New York Democratic congressman and Bronx native Ritchie Torres hit back at Trump for his rally in the south Bronx yesterday, saying: “His presidency was a catastrophe for the Bronx. His mismanagement of Covid resulted in more deaths than Pearl Harbor and 9/11 combined. Donald Trump should apologize to the people of the Bronx rather than hold a rally.”
    Thousands of Trump supporters came out to Crotona Park in New York’s south Bronx on Thursday evening to support the former president as he rallied for nearly 90 minutes. In attempts to woo more Black and Hispanic voters in one of the country’s poorest and most diverse neighborhoods, Trump launched fiery tirades against immigrants and Biden’s immigration policies. He claimed migrants were “building an army” to attack America “from within”.
    Ohio’s governor, Mike DeWine, has called for a special legislative session to include Joe Biden on the election ballot.Robert Tait reports for the Guardian:Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, has called an emergency legislative session to put Joe Biden’s name on the presidential ballot after what he called an “absurd” threat from the state’s top election officer to remove the president for missing its deadline.For weeks, Ohio’s secretary of state, Frank LaRose, has been at loggerheads with the Democrats over how to put Biden and his vice-president, Kamala Harris, on the ballot given that their official nomination comes after the expiry of the state’s deadline of 90 days before the November election.The Biden-Harris ticket is scheduled to be certified after its official coronation on the final day of the Democratic national convention on 22 August in Chicago, 15 days after Ohio’s 7 August cutoff date.For the full story, click here:Joe Biden’s campaign has released a new ad called Snapped, which criticizes Donald Trump, saying that he “snapped” after losing the 2020 election.Actor and fierce Trump critic Robert De Niro voices the 30-second ad, saying:
    From midnight tweets, to drinking bleach, to tear-gassing citizens and staging a photo op, we knew Trump was out of control when he was president, and then he lost the 2020 election and snapped.
    Desperately trying to hold on to power. Now he’s running again, this time threatening to be a dictator, to terminate the constitution.
    The ad features a clip of Trump saying that there will be a “bloodbath” if he does not win in 2024.“Trump wants revenge and he’ll stop at nothing to get it,” De Niro continues.Describing the ad, Biden’s campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, said:
    This ad lays out the clear contrast voters will see a month from now when Trump stands on the debate stage next to Joe Biden: Trump is running to regain power for himself, Joe Biden is running to serve you, the American people.
    Kamala Harris has released the following statement regarding the second anniversary of the Uvalde, Texas, shooting in which 21 people, including 19 children, were shot and killed:
    Two years ago, 19 beautiful children and two selfless teachers were killed in their classrooms during a senseless mass shooting carried out with a weapon of war …
    In the months and years since these 21 Americans lost their lives and 17 others were injured, the families in Uvalde have powerfully channeled their anguish into advocacy – demanding action to change the unacceptable fact that gun violence is the leading cause of death for children in our nation.
    Congress and state legislators throughout America must have the courage to act by banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, passing red flag laws, and making background checks universal.
    Bernie Sanders, who spoke exclusively to the Guardian, has introduced a bill to improve dental care among Americans, particularly amid the prevalence of gum disease in the US and one in five US seniors having lost all their natural teeth.The Guardian’s Jessica Glenza reports:A bill introduced by the US senator Bernie Sanders would dramatically expand access to oral healthcare by adding dental benefits to Medicare and enhance them in Medicaid, public health insurance programs that together cover 115 million older and lower-income Americans.Despite Americans’ reputation for the flashy “Hollywood smile”, millions struggle to access basic dental care. One in five US seniors have lost all their natural teeth, almost half of adults have some kind of gum disease and painful cavities are one of the most common reasons children miss school.“Any objective look at the reality facing the American people recognizes there is a crisis in dental care in America,” Sanders told the Guardian in an exclusive interview. “Imagine that in the richest country in the world.”For the full story, click here:Speaking to Fox News during yesterday’s south Bronx rally, Donald Trump remained confident that he can win his home state, which happens to also be a historically and fiercely Democratic one.
    “I love the people … They’re entrepreneurial and they’re going to save New York … We’re gonna win New York. And if we win New York, the election’s over. We take over the country,.
    The Biden-Harris campaign has released a new statement on campaign priorities and talking points ahead of the debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump in Atlanta, Georgia, on 27 June:
    In the month leading up to that first debate, the Biden-Harris campaign will zero in on Trump’s dangerous campaign promises and unhinged rhetoric. We will make sure that the voters who will decide this election are reminded of the chaos and harm Trump caused as president – and why they booted him out four years ago.
    Trump and his lagging campaign will be left to explain to voters why he embraces political violence, brags about abortion bans, threatens to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Social Security and Medicare, and puts greedy corporations and himself over American workers again and again.
    Team Biden-Harris will drive these key themes across the entire campaign in the lead-up to the debate, including through new paid media efforts, earned media opportunities, and on the ground organizing and battleground events to bring the stakes of this election to every voter who will decide it.
    The campaign also said it plans to organize around key moments including the anniversary of the 2022 Dobbs decision in which the supreme court stripped away federal abortion protections, as well as the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, where 49 people were shot and killed in 2016.At his rally, Donald Trump hinted at the possibility of Nikki Haley joining his administration after she pledged her support to him following a bitter campaign against him.“I think she’s going to be on our team because we have a lot of the same ideas, the same thoughts,” Trump told News 12.“I appreciated what she said. You know, we had a nasty campaign, it was pretty nasty. But she’s a very capable person, and I’m sure she’s going to be on our team in some form, absolutely,” he added.During her campaign trail, the former South Carolina governor criticized Trump numerous times, accusing him of having “lost any sort of political viability” and showing “moral weakness”.Yet on Wednesday, Haley revealed she would be voting for Trump, saying: “Trump has not been perfect on these policies … But Biden has been a catastrophe. So I will be voting for Trump.”New York Democratic representative and Bronx native Ritchie Torres hit back at Donald Trump for his rally in the south Bronx yesterday.
    His presidency was a catastrophe for the Bronx. His mismanagement of Covid resulted in more deaths than Pearl Harbor and 9/11 combined.
    Donald Trump should apologize to the people of the Bronx rather than hold a rally.
    Donald Trump’s rally in New York’s south Bronx on Thursday evening drew a significantly more diverse crowd compared to his typical white-majority rallies in other parts of the country.The Guardian’s Ed Pilkington reports:Up to a quarter of the thousands of people who came to hear him (the New York City parks department said Trump’s campaign had a permit for up to 3,500 people) were Hispanic or Black. Some of the supporters wore their Make America Great Again politics proudly on their sleeves.“I’m a Black dyed-in-the-wool Republican,” read one T-shirt. A group of three Hispanic women waiting for the secret service to screen them at the start of the evening chanted “Trumpito!” “Trumpito!” as they danced to the official theme song of Trump Latinos.Theo Diakite, 29, an African American who lives close to the park, said he was drawn to the rally out of curiosity. He has never voted in his life, but this year is feeling tempted to back Trump.He has noticed that other people in his neighborhood share that curiosity. “There are a lot of people who were firm against him in 2020, but are now not so sure.”For the full story, click here:Thousands of Donald Trump supporters came out to Crotona Park in New York’s south Bronx on Thursday evening to support the former president as he rallied for nearly 90 minutes.In attempts to woo Black and Hispanic voters in one of the country’s poorest and most diverse neighborhoods, Trump launched fiery tirades against immigrants and Joe Biden’s immigration policies.“African Americans are getting slaughtered. Hispanic Americans are getting slaughtered,” Trump said, adding that the flow of migrants into New York is hurting “our Black population and our Hispanic population, who are losing their jobs, losing their housing, losing everything they can lose”. At one point, Trump even accused migrants of wanting “to get us from within”, saying: “I think they’re building an army.”In response to Trump, the crowd whooped and cheered, with many at one point breaking into chants of “Build the wall!” and “Send them back!”Trump also responded to former Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, who said earlier this week that she would vote for him in November. “I think she’s going to be on our team,” Trump said, adding: “I appreciated what she said.”Despite Trump’s legal woes and Biden’s handling of the border crisis, it appears that inflation is the biggest concern among voters. “The cost of living defines this election,” writes Amy Walter and David Wasserman in the Cook Political Report. A new poll by the Guardian and Harris released this week found nearly three in five Americans wrongly believe the country is in an economic recession, with the majority blaming Biden.Here are other developments in US politics: More

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    Arizona secretary of state calls threats to election officials ‘domestic terrorism’

    The rising threats against US elections officials are a form of domestic terrorism, the secretary of state in the presidential campaign battleground state of Arizona has said.“Terrorism is defined as a threat of violence for a political outcome,” Adrian Fontes said in remarks recorded for an NBC Meet the Press episode airing on Sunday morning. “That’s what this is, and … we do have to address it for what it is.”Fontes’s comments came as he formed part of a Meet the Press panel of top elections officials from states whose voters could decide in November whether Joe Biden serves a second term in the White House or Donald Trump returns to the presidency.The Guardian has reported how Arizona’s most populous county, Maricopa, has taken extraordinary measures to protect its staff and the counting of ballots. Election workers there endure a daily torrent of hateful and menacing messages over email and social media as Trump and his Republican supporters continue to lie that Biden and his Democratic allies fraudulently stole the 2020 presidential race from him.Fontes, a Democrat and retired US marine, told Meet the Press that such abuse was not enough to get him “off of his post” personally. But, he added: “I will say … it has [affected] not just us but our families as well.“You know, when you have to tell your neighbors, ‘Hey, pay attention, if something happens, the kids might have to come over,’ or to have go-bags ready, or to any number of these things so many people across the country have had to suffer through – that’s a problem,” Fontes said. “One of the ways that I have been looking at this and addressing this is telling the really hard truth. And that is this: threats against elections officials in the United States of America is domestic terrorism.”The label of domestic terrorism is one that both the political left and right in the US constantly argue over.For instance, federal prosecutors have avoided seeking domestic terrorism sentences for Trump supporters convicted of carrying out the deadly attack on the US Capitol after his defeat to Biden. But agencies laid the groundwork to level domestic terrorism charges against mainly liberal activists protesting against a proposed police training center in Atlanta known as Cop City.Fontes said he was optimistic that the justice department was “really ramping up and starting to prosecute” threats aimed at election officials. Notably, in March, a Massachusetts man who had threatened to blow up Fontes’s office in 2021 was handed three and a half years in prison, marking one of the most severe federal punishments yet handed down for the wave of violent threats against ballot workers driven by Trump’s stolen election lies.Trump’s attempts to subvert the legitimacy of Biden’s victory in 2020 has been at the center of several of the more than 80 state and federal criminal charges pending against him across a total of four indictments in various jurisdictions.“We’re working with law enforcement across the country to really start to address these things,” Fontes said of election-worker security. “It’s not too little, too late – but we do have to address it for what it is.” More

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    ‘A deranged fringe movement’: what is Maga communism, the online ideology platformed by Tucker Carlson?

    In the last few years, a self-styled political movement that sounds like a contradiction in terms has gained ground online: “Maga communism”.Promoted by its two most prominent spokespeople, Haz Al-Din, 27, and Jackson Hinkle, 24, Maga communism comprises a grab bag of ideas that can seem lacking in coherence – ranging from a belief in the power of Donald Trump’s followers to wrest power from “global elites” to an emphasis on masculine “honor”, admiration for Vladimir Putin and support for Palestinian liberation.The two have been repeatedly kicked off social media platforms for spreading disinformation. Hinkle, for example, was booted from Instagram earlier this year – shortly after claiming in a series of posts that Ukraine was behind the terrorist attack on a concert hall in Moscow, despite Islamic State claiming responsibility for the act.Hinkle and Al-Din have been ridiculed by critics as pseudo-intellectual, cravenly opportunistic grifters who have carved out an intentionally provocative niche designed to siphon followers away from other highly online political communities.“If you look at their policies, like what they actually propose, it’s clear that this is a deranged fringe movement that doesn’t really have a great deal of articulation,” said Alexander Reid Ross, a lecturer at Portland State University and author of Against the Fascist Creep, which explored how rightwing movements co-opt the language of the left. “It seems ludicrous, but I would say it’s really a symptom of the erosion of rational political life.”Until recently, Al-Din and Hinkle’s reach seemed limited to corners of the internet largely populated by young men attracted to their messages on masculinity and US foreign policy. But with their inflammatory and often misleading posts about the Gaza war, and as they rail with increasing frequency against what they view as American imperialism, their footprint is growing.“Deranged” or not, Hinkle and Al-Din’s “movement” is attracting recognition in increasingly high places on the right. Hinkle’s defense of Putin’s foreign policy has earned him an invitation on to Tucker Carlson’s show and praise from Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Hinkle and Al-Din have also forged international alliances with the likes of the Russian ultranationalist philosopher Alexander Dugin, whom they met at a conference in Moscow earlier this year.The founder of Maga communism cultivates a militant aesthetic when he addresses his followers via livestream from his home.His beard is carefully coiffed, and he often wears an oversized black blazer and black collared shirt. Behind him, swords are mounted on the wall, “to symbolize the war I am waging to defend the message I believe is true amidst mountains of lies”, Al-Din, 27, who streams on Kick and YouTube under the name “Infrared”, said in a phone interview.Both Haz and Hinkle say they support Trump not out of admiration for the man, but out of the belief that his followers represent the most significant mobilization of the American working class in decades.They subscribe to social conservatism in a way that appeals to the growing numbers of gen Z males who believe feminism is harmful to men, and cast issues such as transgender rights, the climate crisis and racial justice as neoliberal distractions.“It’s not that we’re against women. We just perceive that the discourse, culture and the political sphere have seen a huge decline in the notion of honor,” Al-Din said. “One of the reasons for that is the decline in basic masculine virtues, the rise of a kind of effeminization, especially of men.” Hinkle has regularly made anti-trans comments on his own social media, making declarations such as: “We need to protect our youth from trans terrorists and propagandists.”“They’re firmly embedded in a corner of social media that is the most vitriolic, terminally online, troll culture,” said Reid Ross.View image in fullscreenHinkle and Al-Din’s links to communism are tenuous at best, but they may be opportunistically emphasizing the label to tap into shifting attitudes. Polling has indicated that members of gen Z, even gen Z Republican voters, are more open to socialist ideas compared with previous generations. In a video debunking Maga communism published last year, the Marxist economist Richard Wolff noted that there’s precedent for nationalist movements co-opting communist rhetoric, particularly during times of social upheaval and economic hardship.“If you’re a political movement and you want to get supporters at a time when socialism is attracting more and more interest, well, you might be tempted to grab hold at least of the name,” Wolff said, noting that this was a strategy most famously used by Adolf Hitler during his rise to power.“It’s provocative,” Hinkle said of his movement’s name, smirking, in a 2022 interview with the comedian Jimmy Dore. “But that’s why it’s trending on Twitter right now.”According to an infographic regularly recirculated by Hinkle, proposed Maga communist policies include “dismantling big tech”, banning “antifa street terrorism”, ending “woke academia” and subsidizing gyms in every community. They also propose exiting Nato; deporting the Obamas, Bushes and Clintons to the International Criminal Court; ending “open borders”; and “putting banking into the hands of the people”.Hinkle and Al-Din also claim they’re anti-imperialists and cling to the enduring myth of Trump as the more dovish candidate. Their band of online followers see themselves as pitted against “the unipolar world” and “western hegemony”, and they often support authoritarian nations that the US sees as its adversaries, such as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. Al-Din, for example, told the Guardian that he has a “profound” admiration for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in part due to his “resilience in defending the honor and history of Korean civilization”.Neither Hinkle nor Al-Din have typical Maga backgrounds, and they both take a tepid view of Trump, whom they praise as the figurehead of the Maga movement but not necessarily an enduring one.“We have a saying, as Maga communists, which is that when you go to McDonald’s, you don’t go for the clown, you go for the burger,” Al-Din said in an interview. “Trump is the mascot of the movement.”View image in fullscreenBefore Hinkle was a cigar-smoking Maga communist who supports fossil fuels, he was a denim-clad Bernie bro and an environmental activist. He founded a successful ocean clean-up club at his high school in San Clemente, California, organized a student walk-out to protest gun violence after the 2018 Parkland shooting, was invited to speak at a congressional briefing in Washington DC about decommissioning nuclear power plants, and took a knee at his graduation to protest racial injustice. “He’s the kind of guy that gives you hope about the future,” one environmental activist leader once told the Los Angeles Times about Hinkle.In 2018 and 2019, immediately after graduating high school, Hinkle ran (unsuccessfully) for San Clemente, California, city council, and campaigned against homelessness and corruption.By 2020, Hinkle was still entrenched in progressive politics, identifying as a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. But he was also starting to flirt with various personalities considerably outside the progressive mainstream, getting a boost after interviewing the then Democratic presidential candidate Representative Tulsi Gabbard on his YouTube show, The Dive with Jackson Hinkle. (He was kicked off YouTube for spreading disinformation and now streams on the fringe platform Rumble.)Al-Din is the son of Lebanese Muslim immigrants and grew up near Dearborn, Michigan. When he was in college at Michigan State University, he says, he was a full-fledged Marxist. While he claims he’s never voted in a presidential election, he says he was probably most sympathetic toward Bernie Sanders.When Trump won, Al-Din says, he concluded that the left was “out of touch with actual working people”. Put off by what he calls the left’s association with “so-called alternative sexualities and fringe countercultural tendencies” and lack of patriotism, he started developing the set of ideas he called Maga communism.“We were just telling these leftists, these crazy-looking septum-piercing purple- haired leftists, that when you go up to working class Americans and tell them they have to hate their country, and they have to hate being American, you are aiding the enemy, you are not helping, you’re not helping fight imperialism,” said Al-Din.Despite Al-Din’s background, Trump’s anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric didn’t bother him, he says. “The whole thing about the Muslim ban, I mean, I really couldn’t care less,” he said in reference to Trump’s 2017 executive orders barring travel to the US from majority Muslim countries. “I didn’t really find anything significant about that at all.”Hinkle and Al-Din’s paths didn’t cross until July 2021, when Hinkle was getting attention online for promoting conspiracy theories rejecting a report that the Syrian government had engaged in chemical weapon attacks. He was invited to appear on a show on the topic hosted by the leftwing streamer Vaush. (Vaush later published the clip with the title Debating the Slipperiest Conspiracy Theorist I Have Ever Met.) It attracted Al-Din’s attention, and the two began messaging.Later that year, Al-Din visited Hinkle in LA and pitched him on what he calls his take on Marxism-Leninism: Maga communism, which envisions harnessing the populist, nationalist fervor of Trump’s base in pursuit of a working-class revolution.The following year, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine offered the perfect opportunity for Hinkle and Haz to promote their new gospel. The conflict animated online armies on both the far left and far right, who expressed strong criticisms of Ukraine’s political system and voiced concerns about the expansion of Nato.“The media lied to you every day for two straight years about Covid,” Hinkle wrote on Twitter/X, days after Russia’s invasion. “Why would you believe anything they’re telling you about Russia & Ukraine?”Most recently, Maga communism has glommed onto the Palestinian cause – to the chagrin of much of the movement – which has also helped to amplify its reach.If Al-Din is the thought leader behind Maga communism, then Hinkle is its salesman. In the six months since 7 October, Hinkle has enjoyed a surge in visibility by pivoting into generating pro-Palestine content online. That’s included sharing gruesome images of dead children among rubble in Gaza, posting AI self-portraits in combat gear with the caption “FREE PALESTINE” and hawking coffee mugs with the words “Zionist Tears”, sold at $16.99 a pop. His followers on X leapt from less than 500,000 to more than 2.5 million in just six months, and he has a premium account, meaning he’s entitled to a share of ad revenue according to the level of engagement on his posts.Al-Din has a much smaller following on X – just shy of 90,000 – but these days, his posts often garner hundreds of thousands, even a million, views, significantly more than he was netting prior to 7 October. Al-Din told the Guardian he makes about $5,000 a month via streaming. Hinkle declined to say how much he made from his platforms; according to the New York Times, he made $550 last September via X.Al-Din and Hinkle’s position on the Israel-Gaza conflict makes them outliers in the broader Maga movement, which has largely rallied behind Israel. Trump and his allies have cast pro-Palestinian protests in the US as another manifestation of “wokeness”. Trump recently described protesting college students as “raging lunatics and Hamas sympathizers”.While some other young leaders on the far right, such as the white nationalist livestreamer Nick Fuentes, oppose Israel for explicitly antisemitic reasons, Al-Din and Hinkle insist that their position on the conflict is grounded in their broader “anti-imperialist” stance, shared by more prominent conservatives such as Tucker Carlson, who has also criticized US support for Israel. Hinkle and Fuentes have been allies in the past; Hinkle and Al-Din have previously streamed on Fuentes’ platform Cozy.tv, and Hinkle said he had gotten dinner with Fuentes last September. They fell out shortly after following an argument about class politics and the country-folk artist Oliver Anthony’s viral song about the working class.But despite Hinkle and Al-Din’s high-profile support for Gaza, the pair were recently jeered at a pro-Palestine event at Emory University. The event was co-hosted by Cair (Council on American-Islamic Relations) and was to feature the political activist Norman Finkelstein. The Emory law student Grayson Walker, the showrunner for Al-Din’s Infrared show, was a co-organizer, and added Al-Din as a speaker at the last minute.In his bizarre speech, Al-Din berated members of the audience, saying that they were responsible for spreading “imperialist and Zionist propaganda and slander against my comrade Jackson Hinkle” and were “just as culpable in the crimes of the Zionists as those who give their dollars and money to them”. The audience booed him and shouted “shame on you”, after which Cair abruptly canceled the event and put out a statement.“Today, we unwittingly damaged the movement for Palestinian liberation by allowing a rogue actor to hijack an event intended to highlight the Palestinian genocide,” Cair said in a statement. “A student co-organizer commandeered this platform by inserting hateful and divisive guests into the program,” it continued, adding that the organizer, Walker, had “greenlighted a deeply problematic speech”. (Hinkle and Al-Din later claimed they’d been “canceled” by “the Zionists” and used a homophobic slur to refer to the pro-Palestinian students at Emory.)Al-Din and Hinkle see Israel as part of a “globalist” deep state network, while rejecting the notion that such terminology relies on antisemitic dog-whistles. They see Ukraine as part of that same network, as well as Nato, the European Union, and the Biden administration. “We are fighting to win over the hearts and minds of the Maga common man,” Al-Din told the Guardian. “Israel is just as much connected to the same multinational corporations and special interests that Maga despises.”Al-Din and Hinkle have been suspended or banned from a number of platforms for spreading disinformation, mainly about the Russia-Ukraine conflict or about the war in Gaza. A recent profile of Hinkle by the New York Times cited research indicating that a network of bots or inauthentic accounts may be responsible for amplifying some of his most incendiary posts. In January, Hinkle’s account on X was ranked third for posts flagged with “community notes”; his posts have been repeatedly flagged as disinformation by watchdogs.Last month, Hinkle posted a video that he claimed showed Israelis “panicking” as Iran’s missiles reached Israel. Online sleuths verified that the video was actually of pop star Louis Tomlinson’s fans near the Four Seasons hotel in Buenos Aires.Asked by the Guardian about charges that he spreads disinformation, Hinkle said he “rejected the question”.Despite Hinkle’s apparent penchant for sharing disinformation about contentious world events, he’s landed some high-profile media appearances in the last six months. He appeared on former the CNN host Chris Cuomo’s show and Alex Jones’ Infowars to pitch Maga communism. Jones, who often goes on red-faced rants about communism, appeared relatively open to what Hinkle had to say.“Most of the Maga movement understands that the resources, the land and the means of production of the United States of America should be in the hands of the Maga working class,” said Hinkle. Jones called the idea “very interesting”. Last month, Jones also changed his tune and began referring to Israel’s war in Gaza as a “genocide”.Hinkle and Al-Din have also continued to expand their international reach. In February, they attended a conference in Moscow hosted by a Bulgarian oligarch who has been placed under US sanctions. At the event, called “The International Movement of Russophiles”, Hinkle met Dugin, the ultranationalist philosopher, and the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov. During the conference, Hinkle became the first American appointed to the Russophiles’ executive board. Weeks later, Dugin wrote approvingly of Hinkle, Al-Din and “the emergence of Maga communism” in a blog for Arktos, a far-right publishing house based in Budapest.View image in fullscreen“These individuals are allies of conservative Tucker Carlson but are also Marxists who support Trump and advocate the ‘Make America Great Again’ (Maga) slogan,” Dugin wrote. “Together, they are committed to dismantling liberal dominance.” Last year, Hinkle appeared on the Russian state broadcaster VGTRK and claimed “Joe Biden is controlled by a satanic cabal of DC deep-state leadership.”Reid Ross says Hinkle and Al-Din occupy an overlap in the left-right venn diagram that is probably rooted in an “anti-imperialist” ecosystem that has proliferated online in the last decade.Last year, Hinkle spoke at an event at the Reflecting Pool in Washington DC called “Rage Against the War Machine”, which was promoted by Tucker Carlson and hosted by the Libertarian party and the People’s party, which was briefly affiliated with Cornel West. The event drew together a curious amalgam of far-right and far-left personalities – including Matthew Heimbach, one of the organizers of white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, and the former Green party presidential candidate Jill Stein. Participants rallied under the banner of pacifism; reports from the event suggested overall messaging supported Russia’s war on Ukraine.A Discord server – essentially a chat room – called “IGG MECHA-TANKIES”, linked to Al-Din’s show Infrared, has about 5,000 members and offers some insight into the movement’s internal dynamics. The general chat is awash with pseudo-intellectual posturing and armchair historical analysis. Members often feature obscure quotes by Bolshevik revolutionaries in their bios, Russian flags, or pictures of a young Kim Jong-un as their profile pictures.Joseph, who joined the Infrared community two years ago, described the appeal of Maga communism (he declined to share his last name due to privacy concerns). He’s 19, a resident of Kentucky, and works overnight shifts in a factory making air vents for luxury cars.“I was always sympathetic to Maga, but I’d also liked some of what Bernie Sanders had been saying around the time of his campaign,” Joseph said. But, he said, he found himself feeling alienated from leftist spaces because he considers himself socially conservative.The emphasis on hyper-masculinity in these kinds of ultra-nationalist or conspiracy-based movements, experts say, often draws in vulnerable men who may crave affirmation or a sense of belonging. “The thing about Haz [Al-Din] and his success as this great leader is that he really understands the cultish aspect of fascist leadership,” said Reid Ross. “Haz has an intensity that makes him seem like a huge believer.”Their support for Trump does not translate into loyalty to the GOP. Al-Din told the Guardian that his end goal was to “reclaim” the century-old American Communist party, whose numbers have dwindled to 5,000 and which he says has become co-opted by “liberals, federal agents and Democrats”.An animated propaganda video, made by one of Al-Din’s followers, projects a dystopia where the US government is persecuting known communists. Al-Din escapes from Washington DC with a cache of weapons stolen from antifascists, seeking refuge with midwestern farmers. The video ends with a communist uprising against the government, led by Al-Din, cast as revolutionary folk hero. More

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    Biden campaign releases De Niro-voiced video ad warning Trump has ‘snapped’

    Joe Biden’s re-election campaign has released a high-profile new video ad they are calling Snapped, which attacks Donald Trump as a candidate who will stop at nothing to grab power again.The aggressive, 30-second spot is voiced by an old Hollywood foe of the former president, the actor Robert De Niro, and will be distributed nationally.Against a backdrop of dramatic orchestral music and news images from Trump’s presidency, the De Niro voiceover begins: “From midnight tweets, to drinking bleach, to teargassing citizens and staging a photo-op, we knew Trump was out of control when he was president, and then he lost the 2020 election and snapped.”In relevant photographs, Trump is shown on his phone on Air Force One and at the podium in the White House briefing room in a notorious press conference in 2020 when he suggested that being treated internally with bleach might combat Covid-19. Then he is shown posing with a Bible outside what’s known as the Church of the Presidents, near the White House, after nearby demonstrations against racial injustice and police brutality, following the murder of George Floyd in May, 2020, had been violently cleared by the authorities.Then it goes on to show the deadly attack on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021, when extremist supporters of Trump, encouraged by the then president, broke into US congressional chambers to try, ultimately in vain, to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory over him.De Niro continues that Trump was “desperately trying to hold on to power”. Then adds: “Now he’s running again, this time threatening to be a dictator, to terminate the constitution.”Footage of Trump shows him warning there will be a “bloodbath” if he does not win in 2024, and additional images showing a mob carrying pro-Trump and election-denying flags clashing with police.“Trump wants revenge and he’ll stop at nothing to get it,” the voice of De Niro continues.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionThe US president then says in his voiceover: “I’m Joe Biden and I approve this message”. The closing image is Biden walking towards a doorway and saluting the troops that guard him. More

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    Haiti gang kills US politician’s missionary daughter and her husband

    The daughter and son-in-law of a US Republican politician are among three Christian missionaries who have been killed by gang members in Haiti as it emerged that the long-awaited deployment of an multinational security force tasked with rescuing the Caribbean country from months of bloodshed had been delayed.Ben Baker, a Republican state representative from Missouri, announced the news of the couple’s murder on Facebook late on Thursday, writing: “My heart is broken in a thousand pieces. I’ve never felt this kind of pain.”Baker said his daughter Natalie Lloyd and her husband, Davy – both Christian missionaries in Haiti – “were attacked by gangs this evening and were both killed. They went to Heaven together.”Their group, Missions in Haiti Inc, said the couple and another member of the group named only as Jude had been “ambushed by a gang of 3 trucks full of guys” while leaving church and were “shot and killed” at about 9pm on Thursday. “We all are devastated,” the group posted on Facebook.A spokesperson for the White House national security council said the Biden administration was aware of reports of the deaths of the US citizens, saying: “Our hearts go out to the families of those killed as they experience unimaginable grief.”The killings came just hours after Joe Biden voiced optimism that Haiti’s security crisis – which began spiraling out of control in late February after a coordinated gang insurrection – could soon be solved with the arrival of a 2,500-strong Kenya-led multinational policing force.“We’re not talking about a thousand-person army that is made up of trained [personnel],” Biden said of the Haitian gangs who have plunged the country into mayhem and forced the country’s previous prime minister, Ariel Henry, from power. “This is a crisis that is able to be dealt with.”The first Kenyan members of that force were supposed to land in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, this week to spearhead the operation, with their arrival timed to coincide with a state visit the Kenyan president, William Ruto, is making to the US.Speaking alongside Biden on Thursday, Ruto also voiced confidence that the US-backed policing mission could “break the back of the gangs and the criminals that have visited untold suffering” on Haiti since the start of a coordinated criminal insurrection in late February. Armed criminals would be dealt with “firmly, decisively [and] within the parameters of the law”, Ruto vowed.But the first contingent of Kenyan officers did not arrive as planned this week, with confusion surrounding the reasons for the postponement.One source with knowledge of the mission told Reuters the Kenyan officers were given no explanation for the last-minute delay but ordered to remain on standby. A second source said “conditions were not in place in Port-au-Prince to receive the officers”.Other sources in Kenya’s interior ministry told the Geneva-based civil society group Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime that an advance team sent by Kenya had found Haiti “ill-prepared for the deployment”.Some observers suspect the delay could be related to security concerns over giving the heavily armed gangs advance warning of the mission’s arrival – something which might allow criminals to launch surprise attacks on incoming planes.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionDiego Da Rin, a Haiti specialist from the International Crisis Group, said that if and when it arrived, the multinational force would face a huge task trying to subdue an estimated 5,000 gang members who control more than 80% of the capital.“The gangs have never controlled so much territory in Haiti. They have expanded their armies and their arsenals and they have established strongholds in areas the police have not been able to access, sometimes for years,” he said.In recent days, armed groups have intensified their attacks, completely or partly demolishing at least four police stations in a striking show of strength seemingly designed to coincide with the anticipated arrival of Kenyan forces.“That’s a message and it is not a veiled message … The message is: ‘Don’t come here, because if you come … you will be treated as invaders and enemies,’” Da Rin said. More

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    Ohio governor calls special legislative session to include Biden on election ballot

    Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, has called an emergency legislative session to put Joe Biden’s name on the presidential ballot after what he called an “absurd” threat from the state’s top election officer to remove the president for missing its deadline.For weeks, Ohio’s secretary of state, Frank LaRose, has been at loggerheads with the Democrats over how to put Biden and his vice-president, Kamala Harris, on the ballot given that their official nomination comes after the expiry of the state’s deadline of 90 days before the November election.The Biden-Harris ticket is scheduled to be certified after its official coronation on the final day of the Democratic national convention on 22 August in Chicago, 15 days after Ohio’s 7 August cutoff date.LaRose, also a Republican, warned this week that current rules would force him to exclude Biden’s name from ballot papers, denying voters in the state a full choice of presidential candidates.He wrote to the chair of the Ohio Democratic party, Elizabeth Walters, saying the onus was on the party to change its nominating arrangements because the state legislature had ruled out amending Ohio law to accommodate Biden.In a news conference, DeWine overrode that decision, calling the situation “simply unacceptable”.“Ohio is running out of time to get Joe Biden, the sitting president of the United States, on the ballot this fall,” he said. “Failing to do so is simply not acceptable. This is a ridiculous – this is an absurd situation.”Posting on X, LaRose – who first raised the issue last month – had earlier said he was “duty bound to follow the law as Ohio’s chief elections officer”.“As it stands today, the Democratic Party’s nomination will not be on the Ohio election ballot,” he wrote. “That is not my choice. It’s due to a conflict in the law created by the party, and the party has so far offered no legally acceptable remedy.”The Democrats had earlier suggested resolving the problem by offering a “provisional nomination” of Biden and Harris, a solution LaRose said fell short of the state’s legal standard. Democrats countered that this view was contradicted by the experience of the 2020 election when, they argued, several other states accepted a similar resolution to incompatible deadlines for both parties.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionDeWine’s decision potentially saves the Democratic party from filing a lawsuit to force Biden’s name on to the ballot.A similar possible deadlock situation arose in Alabama, but state legislators resolved it by pushing back the certification date, with the governor quickly signing it into law.The imbroglio has come against a backdrop of mistrust between Democrats and Republicans over elections, fuelled by Donald Trump’s relentless peddling of a lie that Biden’s 2020 presidential victory was “stolen”.Ohio was once viewed as a swing state but has recently trended solidly Republican, with Trump triumphing over Biden by eight percentage points four years ago, and beating Hillary Clinton by a similar margin in 2016. More

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    Texas’s pardon of a man who killed a Black Lives Matter protester is chilling | Tayo Bero

    This month, the Texas state parole board unanimously recommended the pardon and release of convicted killer and former US army sergeant Daniel Perry, along with the restoration of his firearm rights. Perry had been working as an Uber driver in July 2020 when he shot and killed Garrett Foster, a white man who was attending a Black Lives Matter protest with his Black fiancee. Perry was later indicted for murder, tried, convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison by an Austin jury.Almost a year from the date of his sentencing, Perry’s pardon was granted by Texas governor Greg Abbott, and he now walks free. As terrifying as the initial incident was, this pardon sends a chilling message: that politically motivated killing is OK, and that politicians are more focused on pandering to political pressure than protecting people’s lives.During Perry’s trial, it emerged that in the weeks before he killed Foster, he had shared white-supremacist memes and talked about how he “might have to kill a few people” who were demonstrating outside his house in 2020. He also compared the Black Lives Matter movement to “a zoo full of monkeys that are freaking out flinging their shit”. And days into nationwide protests sparked by George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer, Perry sent a text message saying: “I might go to Dallas to shoot looters.”Perry described shooting Foster as an act of self-defense. Yet according to trial testimony about the day Foster died, Perry had seen the predominantly Black group of protesters gathered across the street from him, ran a red light and drove his car right into the middle of the protest. When Foster – who was legally carrying a firearm but had not, according to some eyewitnesses, threatened Perry – approached Perry’s car, he shot him dead and sped away.In rehashing this horrendous incident, the question on my mind is: how do you justify “pardoning” a person like this? Condemning Perry’s release isn’t about believing in carcerality or wanting to keep people in prisons, mind you; it’s about how we get to this point as a society, whom we grant permission to kill, and how we treat the people involved in a tragedy like this in its aftermath.Abbott – who rarely issues pardons, and has generally only pardoned low-level, nonviolent offenders – had faced pressure from conservative media figures to grant Perry one. Rightwing pundits like former Fox News host Tucker Carlson and even Texas GOP chair Matt Rinaldi squeezed him publicly about Perry’s conviction. It doesn’t seem like Abbott needed much convincing, though, seeing as he directed the parole board to review Perry’s case just one day after he was convicted.There’s also the question of how we got here. Foster’s death and his killer’s subsequent pardon are the direct result of a government that’s more beholden to wealthy gun lobbyists than concerned with commonsense legislation that literally saves lives. Foster’s death was, in part, the result of a tragic meeting of Texas’s notoriously loose stand-your-ground self-defense laws, which Perry’s supporters claim he was upholding when he shot Foster, and the state’s “open carry” laws, which Foster was legally exercising when he had his rifle slung over his shoulder during the protest.Alan Bean, the executive director of the Texas-based civil rights advocacy group Friends of Justice, summed up the implications of Perry’s case succinctly.“If one guy with a gun feels threatened by another guy with a gun, murder is permissible. If both men felt threatened, the resulting tragedy would technically be ruled a no-fault double-homicide,” he wrote after news of the pardon went public.Even Texas police aren’t blind to the ways that open-carry laws are exceptionally dangerous and nonsensical. “We were completely opposed to ‘license to carry’ because anytime there’s more guns, there’s a problem,” Ray Hunt, executive director of the Houston police officers’ union, said back in 2021.If there was any doubt that Abbott doesn’t care how problematic these laws are, even after what happened to Foster, consider that he used his pardon announcement to reaffirm that “Texas has one of the strongest ‘stand your ground’ laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive district attorney”.These are scary words to hear from your elected official after a tragedy that could have been avoided with better gun laws. Abbott continues to signal to gun-toting rightwingers that they can go around murdering people they don’t agree with, and that they will have the full force of the law to back them up.Foster’s mother, Sheila, spoke to the New York Times after the pardon, and her words are haunting in their truth. “It doesn’t make sense,” she said over the phone. “It seems like this is some kind of a political circus and it’s costing me my life.”
    Tayo Bero is a Guardian US columnist More

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    Congress’s latest ‘antisemitism’ hearing was an ugly attack on Palestinian rights | Moira Donegan

    If you didn’t know what was really going on at US college campuses, the congressional hearing on Thursday – in which the presidents of Northwestern and Rutger’s and the chancellor of UCLA were called to testify before a Republican-controlled House committee – would do little to inform you.The House committee on education and the workforce has held six – yes, six – public events to draw attention to the supposed crisis on campus in the months since the 7 October attack on Israel. They’ve hauled university presidents to Washington to harangue them, allegedly for not being sufficiently punitive toward pro-Palestinian students and faculty. These hearings have been used to belittle and antagonize university faculty and students and have fed racist and anti-intellectual moral panics that have led to the resignations of several of the university presidents who have been called to testify, notably including Liz Magill of the University of Pennsylvania and Claudine Gay of Harvard.The hearings have aimed to pressure colleges and universities to crack down on a wide variety of politically disfavored speech, particularly pro-Palestinian and anti-war speech, and particularly that of students and faculty of color. In many cases, this pressure seems to have yielded the desired results: at Columbia, Minouche Shafik, the university president, twice ordered the NYPD onto campus to conduct violent mass arrests of anti-genocide student protesters; the first of these raids came the day after Shafik testified before the House committee and disparaged her own students in degrading terms.But on Thursday, at least, the university administrators seemed less nervous, a bit more subdued – even if they were not willing to defend the rights of their anti-war students or correct the Republicans’ lies about them.Michael Schill, president of Northwestern, Jonathan Holloway, president of Rutgers and Gene Block, chancellor of UCLA, were calm, if occasionally annoyed, as the Republicans on the committee told them they should be “ashamed” for using insufficient violence against protesters, called for the defunding of specific programs and the firing of individual faculty members, demanded that undergraduate students be expelled and compared pro-Palestinian demonstrators with Nazis and the segregationist George Wallace. At one point, a Republican congressman also digressed into a prolonged grievance over the firing of a Northwestern football coach.The Republican outrage at the college administrators is nominally due to what they say is a “scourge of antisemitism” on these campuses. That pretext is supported by the false conflation of anti-Zionism or simple concern for Palestinian life with antisemitic animus – a dangerous and insulting conflation that was made repeatedly and without contradiction throughout the hearing. In reality, the false equivalence of anti-Zionism with antisemitism is belied by the reality on the ground, in the campus anti-war encampments that have sprung up across the country and in the burgeoning young Jewish anti-Zionist movement. In the real world, Jewish students are not only safe and welcome in the encampments and in the broader anti-war movement; they are frequently emerging as intellectual and organizing leaders.But this reality was not convenient for the Republicans, who hope to cynically use a fear of antisemitism to provide a shield of moral righteousness to their anti-education, anti-diversity, anti-intellectual and fundamentally racist project. The flimsy pretext of fighting antisemitism was required to provide a thin pretext for an effort that is at its core about rooting out and punishing disfavored ideologies and attempting to eliminate them from the public sphere. To say that this is an insult to the history of antisemitism would be an understatement.The attempt to paint the anti-war movement as violent and malicious veered, at times, into the absurd. In one prolonged exchange, the hearing was shown a viral video, produced by a young Zionist influencer at UCLA. In the video, the man is standing in a path on campus, facing a small group of silent pro-Palestinian protesters wearing keffiyehs. The young man declares that he wants to pass them to go into an academic building. The students are mostly silent; one seems to ask him to use a different entrance. “I want to use THAT door,” the man says, pointing, and looking back at the camera. The protesters are quiet; they do not move. No one is violent, or even particularly agitated. The Republican committee members referred to this video repeatedly and in dramatic terms throughout the hearing, claiming it represented an epidemic of Jewish students being violently refused access to campus facilities.Meanwhile, other events on UCLA’s campus went largely unremarked. For while a pro-Palestinian encampment was present on UCLA’s campus for some days, so were pro-Israel demonstrators, whose much better-funded demonstration featured large groups of Zionist protestors bussed in from off campus, along with a jumbotron that played pro-Israel propaganda at all hours. When they were there, the Zionist group jeered and taunted the anti-genocide protesters, allegedly yelling racial slurs and rape threats and even allegedly releasing rats into the encampment.On the night of 30 April, a large group from the pro-Israel camp, many of them wearing Halloween masks, violently attacked the pro-Palestinian encampment. They brought “knives, bats, wooden planks, pepper spray and bear mace”, according to one witness, and proceeded to beat the anti-genocide protesters, pushing many into the ground using barricades. The police, whom UCLA had summoned to campus to help maintain order, stood by and allowed the attack to continue for hours. They seem to have assessed, correctly, what they were there to protect, and who they weren’t.At the hearing on Thursday, the Republicans went to extensive lengths to criticize universities that have engaged in negotiations with their student protest encampments, calling these talks “capitulation” to “pro-terror” and “pro-Hamas” forces. Since the encampments sprung up at many campuses this spring, not all universities have chosen to disperse their students by having them beaten and arrested; some have engaged in dialogue – with varying degrees of good faith – and attempted to persuade the students to pack up the tents in exchange for material concessions.At Northwestern, the successful negotiations resulted in a pledge from the administration to include funding for five undergraduate students and two faculty members from Palestine to come to campus, as part of the university’s broader international programming. This promise to include Palestinian scholars in campus life seemed to particularly offend the Republicans, who demanded to know why Jewish affinity groups had not been consulted before the commitment was made.This is not typical of such university funding decisions: Why would a Russian-speakers’ club, say, be consulted before a scholarship was offered to a Ukrainian student? But the message from the outraged Republicans was clear: the inclusion of Palestinians in university life, they feel, should be subject to a Jewish person’s veto.
    Moira Donegan is a Guardian US columnist More