Tue. May 28th, 2024

Morning Report — Campus protests expose differences in red and blue America 

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May15,2024

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Pro-Palestine protests on college campuses across the country are here to stay.

From Ivy League universities in New York and the Northeast, to schools in the Midwest, Texas, the South and California, the surge in student activism has resulted in protest encampments and other demonstrations, drawing significant police crackdowns and sometimes appearing to attract outside disruptors. At least 900 protesters have been arrested during demonstrations on college campuses in the last 10 days, according to a Washington Post tally.

THE PROTESTS HAVE EMERGED as the latest flashpoint in the internal Democratic debate over the war. Most Democrats say they both support free speech and condemn antisemitism, and consider criticism of the Israeli government to be fair game. But debates over how to distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israel and antisemitic speech are fraught and reaching a fever pitch on campus.

“So often, history ends up vindicating those who call for peace early,” said Rep. Greg Casar (D-Texas), who went to the University of Texas to show solidarity with demonstrators. “I do think that more and more members of Congress will start to show up at these events and start to hear out more and more of where the students are coming from.”

Asked about instances in which demonstrators around the country have used antisemitic language, Casar told The New York Times, “They’re not a part of the peace movement. Anybody that’s motivated by hatred — be it racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, hatred of any form — they’re not peaceful.”

THE PROTESTERS ON CAMPUSES are getting very different responses from elected officials in red and blue states. Texas is seeing pushback after state troopers in riot gear arrested more than 50 people at a peaceful demonstration, and Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has threatened expulsion for students who engage in unsanctioned demonstrations, while New York has made clear the National Guard will not be called in as authorities negotiate with Columbia University’s student encampment. 

Washington, D.C., police on Friday declined to disperse a peaceful protest at George Washington University because of the potential optics. The gulf in response between blue and red states comes from differing political priorities, experts say. Republicans want to appear firmly in control of the situation.

 “That is a concerning difference,” said Kaivan Shroff, senior adviser to the Institute for Education and a Democratic political strategist. “I think that there is a much more sort of set of standards for protecting free speech and basic human rights in the blue states.”

▪ The Washington Post: For Jewish students, protests stir fear, anger, hope and questions.

▪ The New York Times: With pro-Palestinian protests spreading across campuses nationwide, university leaders have had to confront a central question: When does a demonstration cross the line?

While responding to the protests falls under the purview of individual private schools and state government in the case of public universities, pressure is mounting on President Biden to step up the White House’s response to the demonstrations, and raising concerns that it may fracture an already shaky voting coalition that elected Biden to the presidency in 2020.

In May, Biden is slated to speak at two college commencements: the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and Morehouse College in Georgia. Morehouse professor Andrew Douglas said many students and faculty are “wrestling” with whether, or how, to protest the commencement. Douglas says the priority among faculty is to protect students’ rights to protest, noting that a protest at Morehouse — the country’s only historically Black college for men — could bring a different risk than similar protests at other campuses across the country.

▪ NBC News: The Biden administration faces pressure from lawmakers to step up its response to antisemitic incidents on college campuses.

▪ Axios: Protesters greeted attendees at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in D.C. on Saturday, demanding that Biden do more to protect Palestinian lives in Gaza.

▪ The Hill: Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) ripped into the pro-Palestinian protests roiling college campuses, calling the encampment demonstrations “pup tents” for the militant group Hamas.

▪ The Hill: Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein said she was arrested Saturday while protesting the Israel-Hamas war on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis.

The clashes between anti-war protesters and police is spreading alarm among congressional Democrats who worry that anger over Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza could engulf their convention in late August. Images of police arresting students have Democratic lawmakers bracing for chaos in Chicago — where in 1968, the Democratic National Convention was marked by violent clashes between police and anti-Vietnam War protesters. Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who attended the 1968 convention, said he’s worried that protests at this year’s convention might overshadow the official proceedings.

“I was there among those who were against the Vietnam War. The demonstrations hurt more than helped — but on the other hand, it’s hard to stop folks who have passionate views about a war,” he said. “So yes, I do worry.”

3 THINGS TO KNOW TODAY

▪ The first documented cases of HIV transmitted through needles used for cosmetic purposes was reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention involving an unlicensed medical spa in New Mexico that reused one-time, disposable equipment. Needles used in general for cosmetic purposes include so-called “vampire” facials, Botox injections and tattoos.

▪ Sick of receiving political text messages? Here’s how to stop them.

▪ In California, a new state agency last week approved a regulatory cap on health industry spending increases to rein in the rise of health care costs. Hospitals, physicians and health insurers must find ways to cut costs to meet the state target by 2029.

📺 Sunday talk shows: As he prepares to step down from his leadership position in February, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took to the Sunday show circuit this weekend to emphasize he’s focused on returning Senate control to Republicans, rather than who ends up in the White House.

“What I want to do and what I’m focused on is not the presidential race, but getting the Senate back,” he said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet The Press” that aired Sunday. “I’ve been the majority leader, I’ve been the minority leader, majority is better.”

Meanwhile on CBS’s “Face The Nation,” McConnell said he stands by comments he made in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol that former presidents, including former President Trump, are “not immune” from criminal prosecution.

▪ Politico: McConnell declined to call for the National Guard to intervene in the pro-Palestinian protests that have popped up on college campuses across the country, even as other Republican leaders called for more forceful action.

▪ The Hill: On “Meet The Press,” McConnell said he is not pushing for anything at the federal level for an abortion ban.

▪ NBC News: McConnell says the world is “more dangerous now than before World War II.”

LEADING THE DAY

© The Associated Press / Jacquelyn Martin | Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) continues her threats to oust Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) over his support of Ukraine aid.

CONGRESS

ALL EYES ARE ON Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) this week as she continues to threaten to oust Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) from his post this week after he muscled two high-profile proposals through the House: an increase in aid for Ukraine and an extension of Washington’s warrantless spying powers.

While The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Mychael Schnell report Johnson received widespread praise from leaders in both parties for championing the bills — and forging deals with Biden and the Democrats to get them done — the moves sparked backlash from a handful of hardliners vowing to topple him from power. Greene introduced a motion-to-vacate resolution last month, after Johnson endorsed legislation to fund the government, and is now escalating her threat to force it to the floor. With no pressing must-pass legislation on the schedule, that internal battle is set to take center stage on Capitol Hill — a bitter Republican-on-Republican battle coming at an inopportune time for GOP leaders looking to unite the party ahead of the November elections.

DEMOCRATIC SENATORS ARE CALLING on the Biden administration to push for an ambitious deal at the pivotal United Nations talks on plastic waste. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) told The Hill’s Saul Elbein that the world needs the United States to stand for a strong treaty against countries like China, Russia and Iran that are trying to water it down. He argued that an ambitious stance could spur congress to pass new legislation of its own — but warned the administration’s current negotiating strategy risks giving polluters a “veto” over the process.

The U.S., he said, has bound itself with “self-imposed constraints [that] work to the advantage of the industry” the talks seek to regulate.

▪ The Hill: While Democrats have expressed growing concerns about how Israel is carrying out its war in Gaza, they largely rallied around sending more weapons when the bill moved through the House and Senate in the past week. 

▪ The New York Times: As Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) prepares to retire after nearly three decades in Congress, he has one last mission: to get his party to embrace marijuana legalization.

WHERE AND WHEN

The House will meet at noon.

The Senate will convene Tuesday at 3 p.m.

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10 a.m.

Vice President Harris will travel to Atlanta for a moderated conversation at 2:45 p.m. as part of planned, themed appearances in coming weeks. She’s focused on economic opportunity, especially as a 2024 mobilizer among minority men, and for rural and low-income communities.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Saudi Arabia today and Tuesday. He met in the morning with foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council member states in Riyadh. He met with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud. In the afternoon, the secretary joined a conversation with World Economic Forum President Børge Brende, followed by a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan. Blinken this afternoon joins representatives from Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Palestinian Authority to discuss the situation in Gaza. At 8 p.m. local time, Blinken attends a working dinner with counterparts from Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 1:30 p.m.

ZOOM IN

© The Associated Press / Jeenah Moon, Bloomberg | Former President Trump, pictured in a Manhattan courthouse last week, returns as a defendant today.

MORE IN POLITICS

TRUMP TRANSITION: While campaigning, the former president previews policies he’d implement if elected and teases a menu of potential running mates. The conservative Heritage Foundation has detailed plans for Republican governance, outlined in its “Project 2025.” Trump allies crafted a 10-page proposal aimed at curbing the independence of the Federal Reserve. In the meantime, Trump’s sons are talking about screening potential VP and personnel picks, looking for loyalty and skills at political combat.

For all these reasons, critics are wringing their hands that Trump will fashion a transition intent on eliminating the federal guardrails and tripwires that curbed some of his instincts prior to his defeat in 2020. The 2024 candidate is battling criminal indictments in four jurisdictions. He returns to a courtroom in Manhattan today, pleading innocence to charges tied to alleged fraud in 2016 while seeking the presidency. Through his lawyer last week, Trump argued to a skeptical Supreme Court that sitting and former presidents are immune from criminal prosecution for official decisions made while in office.

Among Trump allies dreaming about West Wing or Cabinet service, there’s another cautionary tale: Fly too close to the sun and you get burned. There are criminal trials involving top Trump loyalists underway or scheduled in many states. Some former aides are sagging under the weight of legal bills and career implosions. And some have been disbarred or face that process, Axios reports.

2024 ROUNDUP

▪ Biden on Sunday won the Democratic presidential primary in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory.

▪ Trump met privately Sunday with DeSantis in Miami and the governor indicated he’d help the campaign with fundraising.

▪ Here are Biden and Trump’s paths to victory in the Electoral College

▪ The Biden campaign wants to win over moderate Republicans. It’s not easy.

▪ Here’s what Nikki Haley’s supporters could mean for Trump’s November chances.

▪ In Florida, a handful of GOP state lawmakers who supported the state’s upcoming new abortion restrictions (at six weeks of pregnancy) could be vulnerable this election year.

▪ In Congress, a victory last week by Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.) offered a jolt of momentum for House progressives.

▪ A growing number of Republican-led states are pledging to reject new Title IX rules finalized this month by the Education Department, teeing up a potential legal battle with the White House over bolstered protections for transgender students.

▪ In swing states Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Biden and Trump appear neck-and-neck, according to the latest CBS News poll.

▪ South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who backs Trump and aspires to another rung up the political ladder, spent the weekend defending her disclosures (in an upcoming memoir) that she shot and killed a 14-month-old puppy named Cricket because she thought it was a “less than worthless” hunting dog, killed a goat and euthanized three senior horses on her farm. Criticism has been abundant.

COURTS

A Manhattan criminal trial resumes Tuesday in which Trump denies falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment to an adult film actress before the 2016 presidential election. The Hill’s Niall Stanage recaps the first week, during which the jury heard sworn testimony from three prosecution witnesses.

The Hill: Why is David Pecker — the former National Enquirer publisher who explained to jurors his efforts to help Trump’s campaign and said he was told a relationship between Trump and porn star Stormy Daniels was “true” — still in the former president’s good graces? “David’s been very nice,” Trump said last week. 

The former president will face another hearing Thursday before Justice Juan Merchan about his alleged contempt of a gag order (The New York Times).

Politico: Biden’s brother, James Biden, partnered with Qatari government officials in his quest to find money for U.S. health care ventures, according to testimony by fund manager Michael Lewitt, a former business partner of the president’s brother. Lewitt testified in a Kentucky bankruptcy court that two companies that facilitated the efforts were part-owned by “members of the Qatari government.” Why does it matter? Because it would be the closest alleged link between Biden family business interests and foreign governments, a subject of House GOP investigations and an impeachment inquiry.

ELSEWHERE

© The Associated Press / Tatan Syuflana | Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in Saudi Arabia this week, is again promoting a long-stalled cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

INTERNATIONAL

CEASE-FIRE TALKS: Israel put forward a new proposal for a possible hostage deal with Hamas that includes a willingness to discuss the “restoration of sustainable calm” in Gaza after an initial release of hostages on humanitarian grounds, Axios reports. It is the first time since the Oct. 7 attacks that Israeli leaders have suggested they are open to discussing an end to the war in Gaza as part of a hostage deal.

Talks are set to resume in Cairo this week, as Hamas confirmed its intent to send a delegation to Egypt, which has mediated negotiations for months alongside Qatar. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is traveling to Saudi Arabia today to meet with regional partners. He told CNN on Friday that it could be possible to roll out a framework for the normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia along with a two-state solution proposal independent of a cease-fire deal.

“Cease-fire or not, we’ll continue to make these possibilities known. But in order to actually realize this, there’s going to have to be an end of the conflict in Gaza,” Blinken said. “And as I said, there’s also going to have to be a resolution to the Palestinian question, or at least an agreement on how to resolve it.”

ISRAEL SAID IT WILL NOT INVADE RAFAH in southern Gaza until officials have spoken with U.S. leaders about their concerns, White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby said Sunday during an interview on ABC News. In recent days, Israel appeared poised to launch an invasion of the area, where more than one million Palestinian civilians are. The international community has long warned Israeli leaders of the massive humanitarian toll of targeting the area.

In a Sunday phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden “reaffirmed his ironclad commitment to Israel’s security” after Iran’s missile and drone attack on the country earlier this month, the White House said. But the call underscored daylight between the two on Israeli strategy in Rafah. Netanyahu shows no signs of backing away from a ground offensive there — a potential move that the U.S. publicly opposes.

▪ The New York Times: Israel says the number of trucks entering the enclave has doubled to an average of 400 a day. The United Nations disputes that but agrees that the pace of deliveries has quickened.

▪ The Washington Post: Weeks after seven World Central Kitchen workers were killed in an Israeli airstrike, the organization announced it would resume operations in Gaza, where more than one million Palestinians face catastrophic levels of hunger.

RECENT BREAKTHROUGHS in U.S.-China ties are already starting to fray over Beijing’s support for Russia in Ukraine. The Hill’s Ellen Mitchell reports that despite renewed communications between Washington and Beijing, championed since late last year, the U.S. is angry about China’s growing role in the Russia-Ukraine war, specifically its commercial support of Moscow’s military production. The Biden administration is now looking to use new sanctions as diplomatic leverage to stop China from giving Russia drone and missile technology, satellite imagery and machine tools — aid that bolsters the Kremlin’s war machine more than two years after its invasion.

Reuters: Energy ministers from the Group of Seven countries are discussing setting a common target date of 2035 to shut down their coal-powered power plants.

OPINION

■ Student protest is an essential part of education, by Serge Schmemann, New York Times editorial board member.

■ Congress leads on Iran sanctions, by Andrew Ghalili, opinion contributor, The Wall Street Journal.

THE CLOSER

© The Associated Press / Kirsty Wigglesworth | A baby gorilla, Jameela, born at the Fort Worth Zoo, needed to be moved from Texas to Ohio at 11 weeks old to be reared by a foster mom at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. She’s now thriving (and looks similar to the London Zoo baby gorilla pictured with her mother this spring). 

And finally … 🦍 Jameela, a baby western lowland gorilla who possesses social media dazzle, is living her best life so far, thanks to zoo teamwork. She experienced a rough birth early this year, flew from Fort Worth Zoo to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, was adopted by “rock star” Freddy, her 49-year-old new mom, and is now an adorable, wide-eyed and curious member of a foster family within a critically endangered species.

▪ WKYC: “Such an amazing journey”: Baby gorilla Jameela (video).

▪ Fox8: More video!

Stay Engaged

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Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “Morning Report — Campus protests expose differences in red and blue America ”
  1. “The pro-Palestine protests on college campuses are vital to shedding light on the ongoing crisis. It’s crucial that we stand together against injustices and amplify the voices of the oppressed.”

  2. The protests have emerged as the latest flashpoint in the internal Democratic debate over the war. Most Democrats say they both support free speech and condemn antisemitism, and consider criticism of the Israeli government to be fair game. But debates over how to distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israel and antisemitic speech are fraught and reaching a fever pitch on campus.

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