U.S. military’s newest weapon against China and Russia: Hot air

The Pentagon is working on a new plan to rise above competition from China and Russia: balloons. The high-altitude inflatables, flying at between 60,000 and 90,000 feet, would be added to the Pentagon’s extensive surveillance network and could eventually be used to track hypersonic weapons. The idea may sound like science fiction, but Pentagon budget documents signal the technology is moving from DoD’s scientific community to the military services. “High or very high-altitude platforms have a lot of benefit for their endurance on station, maneuverability and also flexibility for multiple…

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The lore of ‘CODELs’: How foreign travel helps Congress at home

MADRID — Thom Tillis and Chris Murphy’s work on a once-in-a-generation gun safety bill began thousands of miles away from the Capitol, in the Western Balkans. The North Carolina Republican and the Connecticut Democrat barely knew each other at the time and had no predetermined reason to link up, especially on an issue as vexing as gun violence. They don’t sit on the same Senate committees. They’re from different regions. And less than two years ago, Murphy was even fundraising on behalf of Tillis’ Democratic opponent. Their swing through Serbia,…

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Despite rebukes, Trump’s legal brigade is thriving

Juli Haller was part of Donald Trump’s legal brigade in Michigan, filing a lawsuit alongside the ubiquitous Sidney Powell that claimed absentee vote counts were likely manipulated by a computer algorithm developed by allies of deceased Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez. The lawsuit was quickly deemed baseless, and she was among nine attorneys ordered by a federal judge to pay the city of Detroit and state of Michigan’s legal fees and referred for possible disbarment. In a blistering rebuke, Judge Linda V. Parker called it a “historic and profound abuse of…

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New Jan. 6 Trump documentary footage revealed

POLITICO has exclusively obtained a trailer for Alex Holder’s “Unprecedented,” the British filmmaker’s upcoming Discovery+ docuseries about the Trump family. The two-minute-plus trailer was included among the hours of footage that Holder turned over to the House Jan. 6 committee under subpoena. Holder gave testimony to the committee behind closed doors on June 23. The new video highlights the filmmaker’s unique access to the former president and his family, and includes unseen footage of Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, each of whom is shown…

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6 dead, 30 hurt in shooting at Chicago-area July 4 parade

A gunman on a rooftop opened fire on an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago on Monday, killing at least six people, wounding at least 30 and sending hundreds of marchers, parents with strollers and children on bicycles fleeing in terror, police said. Authorities said a man named as a person of interest in the shooting was taken into police custody Monday evening after an hourslong manhunt in and around Highland Park, an affluent community of about 30,000 on Chicago’s north shore. The July 4 shooting was just the latest…

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Abortion fight strains Democratic alliance with Gen Z

A debate is raging inside the Democratic Party about whether it’s giving its base — especially those under 30, the generation that most strongly supports abortion rights — enough motivation to keep voting for the party, as federal Democrats struggle to meaningfully push back against the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The fear is that an already deflated Democratic base won’t show up in November, particularly the youngest voters, who smashed participation records in the last two elections and backed President Joe Biden by a 25-point margin in 2020. Some…

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Meet the GOP deal-makers-in-waiting who Dems may find essential in 2023

Reps. Kelly Armstrong and Hakeem Jeffries started their unlikely sentencing reform partnership from a predictable place: screaming at each other in a Judiciary Committee hearing. “We were going back and forth and pretty animated,” Armstrong said in an interview. “Then during a break, we started talking … and I’m like, ‘If you guys want to work on this stuff in a smart way that isn’t a hearing that we’re all working on cutting our YouTube clips, I’m your guy.’” The North Dakota Republican and House Democratic Caucus chair from New…

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Republicans Are Sending Abortion Back to the States. But D.C. Isn’t a State.

All seems calm one spring afternoon on Capitol Hill. Storms whipping up tornadoes are building miles away, but it’s business as usual at the Carol Whitehall Moses Center, Planned Parenthood’s busiest health care facility in the Washington, D.C. region. Patients scheduled for abortions or routine health care are checking in, getting routed to the clinic’s waiting rooms, labs, nurses’ stations or recovery rooms. The facility provides medication abortion to between 12 to 15 patients a day and 20 to 25 by surgery in the first trimester, according to my guide,…

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From Chelsea Clinton to David Petraeus, Here’s What Politicos Are Reading This Summer

Here’s a message you won’t often hear from us at POLITICO: We’re giving you our blessing to tune out the news, just for a moment, so you can settle in with a good book. Every year, we ask cultural icons, philosophical thinkers and political changemakers — from novelists and journalists to military generals and politicians — to share the books that are fueling them this summer. This year, we asked them for two recommendations: a book they’re showing off in their Zoom backgrounds and a book they’d like to kick…

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The metamorphosis of J.K. Rowling

WHEN IT COMES TO J.K. ROWLING, even some of the children’s author’s biggest fans are finding it increasingly necessary to separate the work from the creator. Join the Potter Trail walking tour in her adopted hometown of Edinburgh, and you’ll learn that Rowling wrote much of the first Harry Potter novel at Nicolsons Cafe. The establishment was co-owned by her brother-in-law — so as a broke, recently divorced single mother, she could nurse cheap espresso all day without guilt for taking up a table. You’ll also be told how, as…

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No more whispers: Recession talk surges in Washington

President Joe Biden says “there’s nothing inevitable” about a recession in the U.S. He is an increasingly lonely voice about that prospect. From Wall Street to Washington, whispers about a coming economic slump have risen to nearly a roar as the Federal Reserve ramps up its battle against the highest inflation in four decades. Price spikes and the Fed’s aggressive interest rate hikes sent the benchmark S&P 500 stock index tumbling to its worst performance in the first half of the year since 1970. Consumer confidence has sunk to record…

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‘The tide is coming back’: Bracing for a new global health fight

Atul Gawande, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s global health office, is trying to figure out how to tackle one of the world’s biggest crises in decades as governments struggle to fund the effort. After two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world recorded a 20 percent increase in the overall death rate and the first decline in global life expectancy in a century. The virus has killed millions across the globe — and shut economies, ravaged health systems and slashed the health care workforce. Low-income countries…

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Opinion | How the Founders Intended to Check the Supreme Court’s Power

Last December, during oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case in which the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted that “there’s so much that’s not in the Constitution, including the fact that we have the last word. Marbury versus Madison. There is not anything in the Constitution that says that the Court, the Supreme Court, is the last word on what the Constitution means. It was totally novel at that time. And yet, what the Court did was reason from the structure…

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Kemp racing to stay competitive with Abrams in fundraising

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp should have no problem fundraising — and in some ways, he doesn’t. He locked up in-state donors in the GOP primary even after former president Donald Trump recruited a challenger. And so far, he has brought in more than $22 million in his bid for reelection — already more than what he raised in the whole 2018 cycle. But compared to the fundraising skills of his Democratic challenger, Stacey Abrams, Kemp’s just collecting pocket change. This year’s gubernatorial race is a rematch between Kemp and Abrams.…

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How a well-heeled Brooklyn enclave could decide New York’s hottest congressional primary

NEW YORK — It’s a crowded congressional primary fight in a district spanning some of New York City’s most diverse neighborhoods. But mostly-white Democratic voters in tony brownstone Brooklyn could end up single-handedly crowning the winner. If they’re not on vacation, that is. After a panel of judges threw out gerrymandered political maps drawn up by New York Democrats in April, a court-appointed special master created the newly drawn 10th Congressional District. And it’s attracted over a dozen hopefuls, including former Mayor Bill de Blasio, Rep. Mondaire Jones of Westchester…

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Flawed oxygen readings may be behind Covid-19’s toll on people of color

Doctors have sometimes failed to diagnose serious cases of Covid-19 among people of color — and the Food and Drug Administration acknowledges one reason may be flaws in devices it approved to measure blood oxygen levels. Pulse oximeters can overestimate blood oxygen in people with dark skin, causing doctors to miss patients’ distress signals. The FDA is convening an expert advisory panel later this year to assess the problem and offer guidance to health care providers. An agency spokesperson said it has prioritized assuring that pulse oximeters are “sufficiently safe…

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Dems meddle in Trump-Hogan proxy war in Maryland

Dan Cox’s campaign for governor of Maryland got an early endorsement from Donald Trump last fall. And now, Democrats want Republican primary voters to know all about it. The Democratic Governors Association launched a new ad Friday blasting Cox, a state lawmaker, for his ties to Trump, for being “100 percent pro-life” and for “refusing to support any federal restrictions” on guns. “Dan Cox: Too close to Trump, too conservative for Maryland,” the narrator intones. But the end goal of the ad is not to sink Cox. Instead, Democrats are…

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The Michigan Democrat Who Could Solve Her Party’s Identity Crisis

INDIANAPOLIS — Three hours into the rubber chicken dinner, the waitstaff had cleared the dessert plates and the wine bottles on the tables had long been emptied. The audience was growing restless, having sat through an endless procession of speakers — the mayor of Indianapolis, the candidate for U.S. Senate, the candidate for 1st Congressional District, the candidate for state auditor, the candidate for state treasurer, the representative of a Democratic group called Hoosier Women Forward and the son of the former Marion County sheriff who received a posthumous lifetime…

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Air travel is a hot mess. There’s not much the government can do about it.

The airline industry may be booming, but flying is arguably worse than ever, with cancellations and delays rampant — and more disruptions predicted for the busy July Fourth weekend. And there’s not much the federal government can do about it. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg recently called airline CEOs to a meeting to talk about how to ease the waves of delays and cancellations that have stranded thousands of passengers this summer — during the Juneteenth-Father’s Day weekend, some 3,000 flights were canceled and tens of thousands more delayed. But so…

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Interior offshore oil drilling plan skirts tough choices

The Biden administration proposed an offshore drilling plan that could have anywhere from zero to 11 lease sales, a move that pushes the politically fraught decision on oil and gas production off for months and is likely to frustrate both fossil fuel supporters and climate change advocates. The plan from the Interior Department was released just one day after the Supreme Court issued a ruling sharply limiting EPA’s power to curb pollution causing climate change — and as gasoline prices remain near record highs. Those fuel prices are a key…

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‘We don’t have to pretend anymore’: Greens ready to bail on D.C.

The climate advocates who cheered President Joe Biden’s arrival at the White House last year are preparing to give up on Washington. Instead, environmentalists and many of their Democratic allies are starting to shift their focus to state capitals as the places to press for action on climate change — going back to a strategy that they employed with some success during the Trump era. The flight from D.C. is in large part a response to 18 months of frustration with major setbacks to Biden’s climate agenda, capped by Thursday’s…

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Why Biden’s climate push might not be doomed

The Supreme Court ruling that hobbled the Biden administration’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gases doesn’t leave the president totally out of options. The administration, congressional Democrats and their environmentalist allies can still step up their push for major climate legislation, rely on the Environmental Protection Agency’s remaining powers and work with cities and states to ramp down carbon pollution. None of those paths would be easy, especially given Democrats’ inability during the past year to get a major climate bill through the Senate. And some of the numerous climate initiatives…

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The Real Reason Washington Ignored Kavanaugh’s Would-Be Killer

On June 8, at about 1:05 in the morning, a taxicab pulled up outside the Chevy Chase home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. A young man dressed in black got out, carrying a backpack and a suitcase. According to an FBI affidavit, he eyed the Deputy U.S. Marshals standing guard outside the house, then turned and walked down the block. A few minutes later, the man called 911, allegedly saying he was having suicidal thoughts, had a firearm in his suitcase and had come from California to kill a…

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There Are 11 Types of Donald Trump Enablers. Which One Are You?

This week, Cassidy Hutchinson demonstrated in front of the whole world how a political staffer can break free from the rationalizations that lead dwellers of the swamp to enable behaviors we know are evil. I might be a Cassidy sympathizing Enemy of the People. But as a gay man who contorted himself into defending homophobes and a Trump abhorrer who didn’t hesitate when asked to spin for Trump’s EPA toady Scott Pruitt, I still know a thing or two about being an enabler. I have had more drinks where reluctant-MAGA and…

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The Democratic primary that could determine the future of abortion rights

The only way Democrats can codify Roe v. Wade into law is with a world-beating bank shot that requires two new votes to weaken the filibuster. Enter Battleground Wisconsin. Senate races in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania represent Democrats’ best chance to net two extra Senate seats — enough, presumably, to chip away at chamber rules that empower the minority party to block legislation. President Joe Biden boosted their effort Thursday by endorsing an exemption to the 60-vote threshold to preserve nationwide abortion rights. But Democrats need to beat historical odds and…

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Dems unite Jan. 6 and Roe for new battleground target: ‘MAGA’ Republicans

Democrats are readying a new strategy to help save their House majority that unites two topics currently riveting Washington: the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The heart of the approach: calling out GOP candidates’ most hard-line positions on multiple issues. Take, for example, the Republican hopeful who recently suggested rape victims were less likely to get pregnant. Or the Republican who’s defended the far-right militia, the Oath Keepers, alongside several more who have shared QAnon conspiracy theories with their supporters. All of those candidates…

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W.H. takes aim at DeSantis — even as Florida slips away from Dems

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida has the White House and national Democrats stumped. President Joe Biden’s policies loosening sanctions on Venezuela and easing restrictions on Cuba could be politically toxic in Latino-heavy South Florida. The administration was seen as making moves without considering political outcomes or improving Biden’s standing with a demographic key to winning the state. And funds from national donor groups have dried up after Florida Democrats suffered stinging losses in recent years. But Florida is also home to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a likely 2024 hopeful who takes…

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Push to rein in social media sweeps the states

Efforts to police speech on social media are spreading across the country, with lawmakers in 34 states pushing bills that are already setting up court battles with tech giants over the First Amendment. State legislators have introduced more than 100 bills in the past year aiming to regulate how social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter handle their users’ posts, according to POLITICO’s analysis of data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. However, only three bills have become law, including statutes in Texas and Florida aimed at punishing…

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