She then worked as a staff attorney with the Community Legal Aid Society, where she represented the needy and victims of domestic violence. She moved to a corporate law role at the firm Young Conaway Stargatt and Taylor in 2007, a mainstay in the Delaware legal circuit.

In 2018, she was nominated by John Carney, the governor of Delaware, to serve as vice chancellor on the state’s high court, the Delaware Chancery Court. In 2021, Gov. Carney nominated Ms. McCormick to become the first woman to lead the court.

More than 1.8 million businesses are incorporated in Delaware, including more than two thirds of Fortune 500 companies — and they all look to the court for guidance. When Twitter filed its lawsuit against Mr. Musk in July forcing him to close his acquisition, its case went to Delaware, where the company, like many others, is incorporated.

Judge McCormick, who has first dibs on any proceeding that comes before the court, chose herself of among a court of seven judges to oversee one of the most high profile corporate court battles in years.

At a hearing in September, as lawyers for Mr. Musk argued to delay the trial to take into account new claims from a whistle-blower, she poked at the billionaire’s decision to skip due diligence in his race to sign the deal in April. When Mr. Musk’s lawyer argued it would have been impossible to find out about the whistle-blower before the deal, she interjected, “We’ll never know, will we?” She added that “there was no due diligence.”

wrote in a ruling.

“She evidently was not putting up with any nonsense,” said Lawrence Hamermesh, a professor of law at Delaware Law School.

In October, after weeks of presiding over bruising back and forth arguments between the two sides, Judge McCormick granted Mr. Musk’s requests to put the trial on hold to give him more time to complete his financing for the acquisition. Judge McCormick granted him until Oct. 28 — a three-week delay.

“She had one eye on the clock,” said Brian Quinn, a professor at Boston College Law School, noting the two sides did not seem ready for a trial just two weeks away. “Another eye,” Mr. Quinn said, was “on potential appeals. She is looking forward saying, ‘Well, what if I ruled against Musk, and he appealed, and his appeal is that I pushed him — I rushed him toward the trial when he wanted to close the deal.’”

Judge McCormick is well-versed in trials involving deals with buyers that tried to walk away. As an associate at the law firm Young Conaway Stargatt and Taylor, she worked on cases involving deals that went awry when the stock market crashed in 2008. That included representing the chemical company Huntsman in 2008 when the private equity firm Apollo Global Management scuttled the deal it had struck to combine the chemical company with another it owned.

That deal, and others like it, paved the way for the kinds of contracts Twitter signed with Mr. Musk. Sellers learned how to prevent buyers from trying similar escape hatches. Companies increasingly structure deals with “specific performance” clauses allowing them to force a deal to close.

to follow through with its acquisition of a cake supplier after it argued that the pandemic had materially damaged the business by curbing demand for party cake.

Kohlberg contended it could not complete the deal because its debt financing had fallen apart. Judge McCormick did not buy that argument.

If Mr. Musk does not come through with Twitter’s money by Friday, that could ding his credibility in court, legal experts say. That could matter in November, when Judge McCormick is set to preside over a separate trial involving Mr. Musk and his compensation.

The case, filed in 2018, had originally been assigned to another judge on the Delaware Chancery Court, Joseph R. Slights III, before he retired in January. Judge McCormick picked up the case on Jan. 12, the same month Mr. Musk began to buy up shares of Twitter stock that ultimately led to his planned purchase of the company.

“It’s not ideal for him,” said Ann Lipton, a professor of corporate governance at Tulane Law School, of Mr. Musk’s multiple run-ins with Judge McCormick. “She’s uniquely low drama, which is the opposite of Musk. ”

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Tricon Completes the Sale of its Interest in U.S. Multi-family Portfolio for $315 Million of Proceeds

TORONTO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Tricon Residential Inc. (“Tricon” or the “Company”) (NYSE: TCN, TSX: TCN), an owner and operator of single-family rental homes and multi-family rental apartments in the United States and Canada, confirmed today the closing of the previously announced sale of its 20% equity interest in a portfolio of 23 Sun Belt apartment buildings to a vertically integrated residential real estate investment and property management company, which will assume all asset and property management responsibilities for the portfolio after a customary transition period.

The sale resulted in gross proceeds of approximately $315 million to Tricon. The Company intends to use the net sale proceeds primarily to repay outstanding debt on its corporate credit facility, enhancing its balance sheet flexibility to pursue future growth in its core single-family rental business. Tricon also intends to use a portion of the proceeds to repurchase common shares under the normal course issuer bid announced on October 13, 2022.

About Tricon Residential Inc.

Tricon Residential Inc. is an owner and operator of a growing portfolio of approximately 34,000 single-family rental homes and multi-family rental apartments in the United States and Canada with a primary focus on the U.S. Sun Belt. Our commitment to enriching the lives of our residents and local communities underpins Tricon’s culture and business philosophy. We strive to continuously improve the resident experience through our technology-enabled operating platform and innovative approach to rental housing. At Tricon Residential, we imagine a world where housing unlocks life’s potential. For more information, visit www.triconresidential.com.

Forward-Looking Information

This press release contains forward-looking statements and information relating to expected future events and the Company’s financial and operating results and projections that involve risks and uncertainties, including statements regarding the Company’s intentions, growth and investment opportunities, and performance goals and expectations. Such forward-looking information is typically indicated by the use of words such as “will”, “may”, “expects” or “intends”. The forward-looking statements and information contained in this press release include, without limitation, statements regarding: the Company’s use of the net transaction proceeds and the expected debt reduction and balance sheet impact of that use.

If unknown risks arise, or if any of the assumptions underlying the forward-looking statements prove incorrect, actual results may differ materially from management expectations as projected in such forward-looking statements. Examples of such risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the inability to complete the transaction described herein due to the failure to satisfy its requisite conditions, and other risk factors described in the Company’s continuous disclosure materials from time to time, available on SEDAR at www.sedar.com. Accordingly, although we believe that our anticipated future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements and information are based upon reasonable assumptions and expectations, the reader should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements and information. The Company disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, unless required by applicable law.

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Tricon Announces Normal Course Issuer Bid

TORONTO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Tricon Residential Inc. (“Tricon” or the “Company”) (NYSE: TCN, TSX: TCN), an owner and operator of single-family rental homes and multi-family rental apartments in the United States and Canada, announced today that the Toronto Stock Exchange (the “TSX”) has approved its notice of intention to make a normal course issuer bid (the “Bid”) for a portion of its common shares (“Common Shares”) trading on the TSX, the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”) and/or alternative Canadian trading systems, as appropriate opportunities arise from time to time. The Bid will be made in accordance with the requirements of the TSX and applicable Canadian and U.S. securities laws. Tricon is adopting an automatic securities repurchase plan in connection with its Bid that contains strict parameters regarding how its Common Shares may be repurchased during times when it would ordinarily not be permitted to purchase Common Shares due to regulatory restrictions or self-imposed blackout periods. Tricon may begin to purchase Common Shares on October 18, 2022.

As of October 7, 2022, there were 273,760,820 Common Shares issued and outstanding, and Tricon’s public float was 265,591,538 Common Shares. Pursuant to the Bid, Tricon intends to acquire up to 2,500,000 Common Shares, being approximately 0.94% of the public float of Common Shares, in the 12-month period commencing October 18, 2022 and ending on October 17, 2023. Purchases under the Bid will be funded through available cash and made by Tricon through the facilities of the TSX, the NYSE and/or alternative Canadian trading systems, in accordance with the TSX’s applicable policies and applicable regulatory requirements, including Rule 10b-18 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The price that Tricon will pay for any Common Shares will be the market price of such Common Shares at the time of acquisition. Under the Bid, Tricon may purchase up to 160,449 Common Shares on the TSX during any trading day, which is 25% of 641,796 (the average daily trading volume for Tricon’s Common Shares on the TSX for the six months ended September 30, 2022). This limitation does not apply to purchases made pursuant to block purchase exemptions. Rule 10b-18 contains similar volume-based restrictions on daily purchases on the NYSE, subject to certain exceptions for block repurchases. Common Shares that are purchased under the Bid will be cancelled upon their purchase by Tricon.

Tricon believes that the repurchase of a portion of outstanding Common Shares is an appropriate use of available resources and is in the Company’s best interests. “Our primary capital allocation priorities of debt repayment and positioning our balance sheet for future growth remain unchanged,” said Gary Berman, Tricon’s President and CEO, “but we believe that buying back some of our shares is a worthwhile use of cash in the current share price environment.”

About Tricon Residential Inc.

Tricon Residential Inc. is an owner and operator of a growing portfolio of approximately 41,000 single-family rental homes and multi-family rental apartments in the United States and Canada with a primary focus on the U.S. Sun Belt. Our commitment to enriching the lives of our residents and local communities underpins Tricon’s culture and business philosophy. We strive to continuously improve the resident experience through our technology-enabled operating platform and innovative approach to rental housing. At Tricon Residential, we imagine a world where housing unlocks life’s potential. For more information, visit www.triconresidential.com.

Forward-Looking Information

Certain statements contained in this news release constitute forward-looking information within the meaning of applicable securities laws. In some cases, forward-looking information can be identified by such terms such as “may”, “might”, “will”, “could”, “should”, “would”, “occur”, “expect”, “plan”, “anticipate”, “believe”, “intend”, “estimate”, “predict”, “potential”, “continue”, “likely”, “schedule”, or the negative thereof or other similar expressions concerning matters that are not historical facts. Some of the specific forward-looking statements in this news release include, but are not limited to, statements with respect to the number of Common Shares to be acquired under the Bid and other related matters. Tricon has based these forward-looking statements on factors and assumptions about future events and financial trends that it believes may affect its financial condition, financial performance, business strategy and financial needs. Although the forward-looking statements contained in this news release are based upon assumptions that management of Tricon believe are reasonable based on information currently available to management, there can be no assurance that actual results will be consistent with these forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements necessarily involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond Tricon’s control, including, among other things, the risks identified in materials filed under Tricon’s profile at www.sedar.com from time to time. The forward-looking statements made in this news release relate only to events or information as of the date hereof. Except as required by applicable Canadian law, Tricon undertakes no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, after the date on which the statements are made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

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Live Updates: Putin’s ‘Mass Strike’ on Ukraine Draws Furious Condemnation

For months, Russia’s state media insisted that the country was only hitting military targets in Ukraine, leaving out the suffering that the invasion has brought to millions of civilians.

On Monday, the mask came off. Russian state television showed gas lines in Ukraine, empty store shelves and a long-range forecast promising months of freezing temperatures there. And rather than focus on the civilian destruction in Russian-held areas as they usually do, news broadcasts in Russia showed columns of smoke and carnage in central Kyiv.

“There’s no hot water, part of the city is without power,” one anchor announced, describing the scene in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

The sharp shift was a sign that domestic pressure over Russia’s flailing war effort had escalated to the point where President Vladimir V. Putin felt a decisive show of force was necessary.

His military has come under increasingly withering criticism from the war’s supporters for not being aggressive enough in its assault on Ukraine, a chorus that reached a fever pitch after Saturday’s attack on the 12-mile bridge to the annexed Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea — a symbol of Mr. Putin’s rule.

With Monday’s brutal escalation of the war effort, Mr. Putin in part appears to be responding to those critics, momentarily quieting the clamors of hard liners furious with the Russian military’s humiliating setbacks on the battlefield.

“This is important from the domestic political perspective, first and foremost,” Abbas Gallyamov, a Russian political analyst and former Putin speechwriter, said of Monday’s strikes. “It was important to demonstrate to the ruling class that Putin is still capable, that the Army is still good for something.”

But with his escalation, Mr. Putin is also betting that Russian elites — and the public at large — do indeed see it as a sign of strength, rather than a desperate effort to inflict more pain in a war that Russia appears to be losing.

“The response was supposed to show power, but in fact it showed powerlessness,” Mr. Gallyamov said. “There’s nothing else the army can do.”

After Monday’s strikes, some of the invasion’s harshest critics among the Russian hawks declared that the military was finally doing its job. The strongman leader of the Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov — who recently excoriated the army’s “incompetent” leadership — said in a Telegram post that he was now “100 percent happy” with the war effort.

Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

“Run, Zelensky, run,” he wrote, referring to Ukraine’s president.

Other cheerleaders of the war triumphantly recalled Mr. Putin’s declaration in July that Russia had not “started anything yet in earnest” in Ukraine.

“Now, it seems, it’s started,” one state television talk show host, Olga Skabeyeva, said.

Mr. Putin described Monday’s strikes as a response to Ukrainian “terrorist acts,” casting them as a one-time assault to deter future Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory. In his home city of St. Petersburg, where he had traveled on Friday for his 70th birthday, Mr. Putin spoke on national television for just over three minutes in what the Kremlin characterized as the start of a meeting with his Security Council.

He made a point of saying the strikes came at the military’s initiative, an apparent effort to head off assertions that he was plotting the war effort in isolation.

“This morning, at the suggestion of the Ministry of Defense and according to the plan of the Russian General Staff, a massive strike with air, sea and land-based high-precision long-range weapons was launched against Ukrainian energy, military command and communications facilities,” Mr. Putin said. “If attempts to carry out terrorist attacks on our territory continue, the measures taken by Russia will be tough and in their scale will correspond to the level of threats posed to the Russian Federation. No one should have any doubt about it.”

In his speech, Mr. Putin made one notable omission: he did not mention the West as the ultimate culprit behind Saturday’s Crimean bridge explosion or other suspected Ukrainian attacks. That was a departure from the typical Kremlin rhetoric that portrays Washington and London as the puppeteers behind Ukraine’s resistance.

The shift was a possible signal that the Russian leader was interested in controlling the escalation of the war, and that he was not on the verge of provoking a direct conflict with NATO.

But some signs pointed to Mr. Putin being prepared for a wider escalation of the war. On Saturday, he appointed a general known for his ruthlessness, Sergei Surovikin, to lead the war effort in Ukraine. And Mr. Putin’s closest international ally, President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus, declared on Monday that thousands of Russian soldiers would soon arrive in the country to form a joint military group with Belarusian forces — creating the specter of a new threat to Ukraine’s north.

Greg Yudin, a professor of political philosophy at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, said Mr. Putin had bent to pressure from right-wing hawks who are calling for even more escalation. He said he expected that Mr. Putin would “sooner or later” heighten the threats of potentially using tactical nuclear weapons.

In central Moscow, many people said they were unaware of what had happened in Ukraine. People soaked up the sun in the chic neighborhood of central Tsvetno, or rushed to work or appointments.

Some younger people, more attuned to social media, said they were aware of the strikes on Ukraine but felt powerless to assign blame. “It is bad when people are killed for any reason,” said Sasha, 19, a university student. Still, she went on, “In any fight, both sides are responsible.”

In Russia, the penalties for criticizing the war — or even using the term war — come with hefty fines and even jail time, so many Russians are cautious about making comments that might have a negative connotation about the war.

Valerie Hopkins reported from Moscow. Alina Lobzina also contributed reporting.

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Phoenix Suns Owner Fined $10M For Racist, Misogynistic Conduct

Robert Sarver, who also owns the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, was suspended one year and fined the league maximum after a nearly yearlong investigation.

The NBA has suspended Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury owner Robert Sarver for one year, plus fined him $10 million, after an investigation found that he had engaged in what the league called “workplace misconduct and organizational deficiencies.”

The findings of the league’s report, published Tuesday, came nearly a year after the NBA asked a law firm to investigate allegations that Sarver had a history of racist, misogynistic and hostile incidents over his nearly two-decade tenure overseeing the franchise.

Sarver said he will “accept the consequences of the league’s decision” and apologized for “words and actions that offended our employees,” though noted he disagreed with some of the report’s findings.

The report said Sarver “repeated or purported to repeat the N-word on at least five occasions spanning his tenure with the Suns,” though added that the investigation “makes no finding that Sarver used this racially insensitive language with the intent to demean or denigrate.”

The study also concluded that Sarver used demeaning language toward female employees, including telling a pregnant employee that she would not be able to do her job after becoming a mother; made off-color comments and jokes about sex and anatomy; and yelled and cursed at employees in ways that would be considered bullying “under workplace standards.”

The $10 million fine is the maximum allowed by NBA rule.

“I take full responsibility for what I have done,” Sarver said. “I am sorry for causing this pain, and these errors in judgment are not consistent with my personal philosophy or my values. … This moment is an opportunity for me to demonstrate a capacity to learn and grow as we continue to build a working culture where every employee feels comfortable and valued.”

Sarver, the league said, cannot be present at any NBA or WNBA team facility, including any office, arena, or practice facility; attend or participate in any NBA or WNBA event or activity, including games, practices or business partner activity; represent the Suns or Mercury in any public or private capacity; or have any involvement with the business or basketball operations of the Suns or Mercury.

The league said it would donate the $10 million “to organizations that are committed to addressing race and gender-based issues in and outside the workplace.”

“The statements and conduct described in the findings of the independent investigation are troubling and disappointing,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “We believe the outcome is the right one, taking into account all the facts, circumstances and context brought to light by the comprehensive investigation of this 18-year period and our commitment to upholding proper standards in NBA workplaces.”

It’s the second-largest penalty — in terms of total sanctions — ever levied by the NBA against a team owner, behind Donald Sterling being banned for life by Silver in 2014. Sterling was fined $2.5 million, the largest allowable figure at that time, and was forced to sell the Los Angeles Clippers as part of the massive fallout that followed him making racist comments in a recorded conversation.

The allegations against Sarver were reported by ESPN last year, which said it talked to dozens of current and former team employees for its story, including some who detailed inappropriate behavior. He originally denied or disputed most of the allegations through his legal team.

On Tuesday, Sarver’s representatives said the investigation’s findings “confirmed that there was no evidence, whatsoever, to support several of the accusations in ESPN’s reporting from November 2021.”

“While it is difficult to identify with precision what motivated Sarver’s workplace behavior described in this report, certain patterns emerged from witness accounts: Sarver often acted aggressively in an apparent effort to provoke a reaction from his targets; Sarver’s sense of humor was sophomoric and inappropriate for the workplace; and Sarver behaved as though workplace norms and policies did not apply to him,” read the report from the New York-based investigating firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

Sarver will have to complete a training program “focused on respect and appropriate conduct in the workplace” during his suspension, the league said.

Among the league’s findings:

— That Sarver engaged in “crude, sexual and vulgar commentary and conduct in the workplace,” including references to sexual acts, condoms and the anatomy, referring to both his own and those of others.

— The investigation also found that Sarver sent a small number of male Suns employees “joking pornographic material and crude emails, including emails containing photos of a nude woman and a video of two people having sex.”

— Sarver, the investigation found, also exposed himself unnecessarily to a male Suns employee during a fitness check, caused another male employee to become uncomfortable by grabbing him and dancing “pelvis to pelvis” at a holiday party, and standing nude in front of a male employee following a shower.

— He also made comments about female employees, the investigation found, including the attractiveness of Suns dancers, and asked a female Suns employee if she had undergone breast augmentation.

The league also will require the Suns and Mercury to engage in a series of workplace improvements, including retaining outside firms that will “focus on fostering a diverse, inclusive and respectful workplace.”

Employees of those organizations will be surveyed, anonymously and regularly, to ensure that proper workplace culture is in place. The NBA and WNBA will need to be told immediately of any instances, or even allegations, of significant misconduct by any employees.

All those conditions will be in place for three years.

The league said the results of the investigation were based on interviews with 320 individuals, including current and former employees who worked for the teams during Sarver’s 18 years with the Suns, and from the evaluation of more than 80,000 documents and other materials, including emails, text messages and videos.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Biden At Independence Hall: Trump, Allies Threaten Democracy

In a speech Thursday night, President Biden framed the November elections as part of an ongoing battle for the “soul of the nation.”

President Joe Biden warned Thursday night that “equality and democracy are under assault” in the U.S. as he sounded an alarm about his predecessor, Donald Trump, and “MAGA Republican” adherents, labeling them an extremist threat to the nation and its future.

Aiming to reframe the November elections as part of a battle for the nation’s soul — “the work of my presidency,” President Biden used his prime-time speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia to argue that Trump and “Make America Great Again” allies are a challenge to nation’s system of government, its standing abroad and its citizens’ way of life.

“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic,” President Biden declared. He said they “are determined to take this country backward’ they “promote authoritarian leaders and they fan the flames of political violence.”

The explicit effort by President Biden to marginalize Trump and his adherents marks a sharp turn for the president, who preached his desire to bring about national unity in his Inaugural address. White House officials said it reflects his mounting concern about Trump allies’ ideological proposals and relentless denial of the nation’s 2020 election results.

“MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards,” President Biden is saying, according to prepared remarks released by the White House. “Backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.”

“For a long time, we’ve reassured ourselves that American democracy is guaranteed. But it is not,” President Biden says. “We have to defend it. Protect it. Stand up for it. Each and every one of us.”

President Biden, who largely avoided even referring to “the former guy” by name during his first year in office, has grown increasingly vocal in calling out Trump personally. Now, emboldened by his party’s recent legislative wins and wary of Trump’s return to the headlines, President Biden is sharpening his attacks.

Trump plans a rally this weekend in Scranton, Pennsylvania, President Biden’s birthplace.

At a Democratic fundraiser last week, President Biden likened the “MAGA philosophy” to “semi-fascism.”

In Philadelphia, White House officials said, President Biden intended to hark back to the 2017 White supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, which he says brought him out of political retirement to challenge Trump. President Biden argues that the country faces a similar crossroads in the coming months.

Biden allies stress that he is not rejecting the entirety of the GOP and is calling on traditional Republicans to join him in condemning Trump and his followers. It’s a balancing act, given that more than 74 million people voted for Trump in 2020.

“I respect conservative Republicans,” President Biden said last week. “I don’t respect these MAGA Republicans.”

Delivering a preemptive rebuttal from Scranton Thursday evening, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy accused President Biden of trying to divide Americans, and blasted the Democrats’ record in Washington, pointing to rising inflation, crime and government spending.

“In the past two years, Joe Biden has launched an assault on the soul of America, on its people, on its laws, on its most sacred values,” he said. “He has launched an assault on our democracy. His policies have severely wounded America’s soul, diminished America’s spirit and betrayed America’s trust.”

Asked about McCarthy’s criticism, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said “we understand we hit a nerve” with the GOP leader, and quoted the Republican’s prior statements saying Trump bore responsibility for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Larry Diamond, an expert on democracy and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, said calling Trump out for attacks on democracy “can be manipulated or framed as being partisan. And if you don’t call it out, you are shrinking from an important challenge in the defense of democracy.”

Even this week, Trump was posting on his beleaguered social media platform about overturning the 2020 election results and holding a new presidential election, which would violate the Constitution.

Timothy Naftali, a presidential historian at New York University, said it’s not unusual for there to be tension between a president and his successor, but it’s “unprecedented for a former president to be actively trying to undermine the U.S. Constitution.”

“The challenge that President Biden faces is to get on with his agenda while still doing what he needs to uphold the Constitution,” Naftali said. “That’s not easy.”

The White House has tried to keep President Biden removed from the legal and political maelstrom surrounding the Department of Justice’s discovery of classified documents in Trump’s Florida home. Still, President Biden has taken advantage of some Republicans’ quick condemnation of federal law enforcement.

“You can’t be pro-law enforcement and pro-insurrection,” President Biden said Tuesday in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.

President Biden’s appearance Thursday night was promoted as an official, taxpayer-funded event, a mark of how the president views defeating the Trump agenda as much as a policy aim as a political one. The major broadcast television networks were not expected to carry the address live.

President Biden’s trip to Philadelphia is just one of his three to the state within a week, a sign of Pennsylvania’s importance in the midterms, with competitive Senate and governor’s races. However, neither Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democrats’ Senate nominee, nor Attorney General Josh Shapiro, their pick for governor, was expected to attend Thursday night.

The White House intended the speech to unite familiar themes: holding out bipartisan legislative wins on guns and infrastructure as evidence that democracies “can deliver,” pushing back on GOP policies on guns and abortion that President Biden says are out of step with most people’s views, and rejecting efforts to undermine confidence in the nation’s election or diminish its standing abroad.

The challenges have only increased since the tumult surrounding the 2020 election and the Capitol attack.

Lies surrounding that presidential race have triggered harassment and death threats against state and local election officials and new restrictions on mail voting in Republican-dominated states. County election officials have faced pressure to ban the use of voting equipment, efforts generated by conspiracy theories that voting machines were somehow manipulated to steal the election.

Candidates who dispute Trump’s loss have been inspired to run for state and local election posts, promising to restore integrity to a system that has been undermined by false claims.

There is no evidence of any widespread fraud or manipulation of voting machines. Judges, including ones appointed by Trump, dismissed dozens of lawsuits filed after the election, and Trump’s own attorney general called the claims bogus. Yet Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research polling has shown about two-thirds of Republicans say they do not think President Biden was legitimately elected president.

This year, election officials face not only the continuing threat of foreign interference but also ransomware, politically motivated hackers and insider threats. Over the past year, security breaches have been reported at a small number of local election offices in which authorities are investigating whether office staff improperly accessed or provided improper access to sensitive voting technology.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press. 

Source: newsy.com

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Underground theatre: Ukraine actors return to stage in bomb shelter

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MYKOLAIV, Ukraine, Aug 26 (Reuters) – Actors in a heavily bombarded city in southern Ukraine have returned to the stage, putting on their first performance since Russia’s invasion in an underground shelter converted into a tiny theatre.

A few dozen theatre-goers descended steep concrete steps into the subterranean venue on Thursday for the opening night of a show put on by the Mykolaiv Art Drama Theatre. Their usual venue, an ornate 450-seater hall, has been closed due to the six-month war that has seen Mykolaiv, a strategic southern port, repeatedly targeted by Russia forces.

“Of course, many plays have been cancelled, because some male actors went away to fight, some went abroad as temporary refugees. So, our theatre company has become smaller,” said actress Violeta Mamykina, speaking in her cramped dressing room before going on stage.

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Theatre manager Artem Svystun described the performance as “art-therapy”, giving local people who have stayed on in the city some brief respite from the stress of the war.

Ievhen Studzinskyi, who was in the audience for Thursday night’s show, agreed.

“When I went outside, I said it plain and simple, ‘it was fun’,” he said. “There were tears. There was food for thought. There was a philosophy, depth. I felt really good.”

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Reporting by Umit Bektas; Writing by Andrii Pryimachenko and Alex Richardson; Editing by Alison Williams

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Pres. Biden Rallies For Democrats, Slams ‘Semi-Fascism’ In GOP

President Joe Biden compared Republican ideology to “semi-fascism” at a rally ahead of midterm elections.

President Joe Biden called on Democrats Thursday “to vote to literally save democracy once again” — and compared Republican ideology to “semi-fascism” — as he led a kickoff rally and a fundraiser in Maryland 75 days out from the midterm elections.

Addressing an overflow crowd of thousands at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, President Biden said: “Your right to choose is on the ballot this year. The Social Security you paid for from the time you had a job is on the ballot. The safety of your kids from gun violence is on the ballot, and it’s not hyperbole, the very survival of our planet is on the ballot.”

“You have to choose,” President Biden added. “Will we be a country that moves forward or a country that moves backward?”

The events, in the safely Democratic Washington suburbs, were meant to ease President Biden into what White House aides say will be an aggressive season of championing his policy victories and aiding his party’s candidates. He is aiming to turn months of accomplishments into political energy as Democrats have seen their hopes rebound amid the legacy-defining burst of action by Biden and Congress.

From bipartisan action on gun control, infrastructure and domestic technology manufacturing to Democrats-only efforts to tackle climate change and health care costs, President Biden highlighted the achievements of the party’s unified but razor-thin control of Washington. And he tried to sharpen the contrast with Republicans, who once seemed poised for sizable victories in November.

Just months ago, as inflation soared, President Biden’s poll numbers soured and his agenda stalled, Democrats braced for significant losses. But the intense voter reaction to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and a productive summer on issues of core concern to Democrats have the party feeling like it is finally on the offensive heading into the Nov. 8 vote, even as the president remains unpopular.

Ahead of the rally, President Biden raised about $1 million at an event with about 100 donors for the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund in the backyard of a lavish Bethesda home.

After his speech at the rally, President Biden lingered with the largely mask-free crowd for nearly 30 minutes, diving back into the style of campaigning that had been disrupted for Democrats for more than two years by the COVID-19 pandemic. The president, who was identified as a close contact of first lady Jill Biden on Wednesday when she was diagnosed with a “rebound” case of the virus, did not appear to wear a face covering as he posed for selfies and hugged supporters.

President Biden’s Thursday events come a day after the president moved to fulfill a long-delayed campaign pledge to forgive federal student loans for lower- and middle-income borrowers — a move that Democrats believe will animate younger and Black and Latino voters.

Republicans, though, saw their own political advantage in the move, casting it as an unfair giveaway to would-be Democratic voters.

“President Biden’s inflation is crushing working families, and his answer is to give away even more government money to elites with higher salaries,” said Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell. “Democrats are literally using working Americans’ money to try to buy themselves some enthusiasm from their political base.”

President Biden on Thursday expanded on his effort to paint Republicans as the “ultra-MAGA” party — a reference to former President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan — opposing his agenda and embracing conservative ideological proposals as well as Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election.

“What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy,” President Biden told donors at the fundraiser. “It’s not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the — I’m going to say something, it’s like semi-fascism.”

“I respect conservative Republicans,” President Biden said later. “I don’t respect these MAGA Republicans.”

The Republican National Committee called President Biden’s comments “Despicable.”

“Biden forced Americans out of their jobs, transferred money from working families to Harvard lawyers, and sent our country into a recession while families can’t afford gas and groceries,” said spokesperson Nathan Brand. “Democrats don’t care about suffering Americans — they never did.”

Since the June Supreme Court ruling removing women’s constitutional protections for abortion, Democrats have seen a boost in donations, polling and performance in special elections for open congressional seats. The latest came Tuesday in a Hudson Valley swing district that, in a Republican wave year, should have been an easy GOP win. Instead, Democrat Pat Ryan, who campaigned on a platform of standing up for abortion rights, defeated Republican Marc Molinaro.

“MAGA Republicans don’t have a clue about the power of women,” President Biden said, noting the resonance of the abortion issue with women voters as some in the GOP push a national ban on the procedure. “Let me tell you something: They are about to find out.”

The shift is giving Democrats a new sense that a Republican sweep of the House is no longer such a sure bet, particularly battle-tested incumbents polling better than President Biden work their districts.

Meanwhile, Democrats have benefited from Republican candidates who won primaries but are struggling in the general campaign. Trump-backed Senate candidates have complicated the GOP’s chances in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona, while several Trump-aligned candidates in House races were not always the party’s first choice.

Trump’s grip on the GOP remains strong and has perhaps even become tighter in the aftermath of the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago home.

JB Poersch, the president of Senate Majority Project, an outside group that is working to elect Democrats to the Senate, said the Republican candidates are “getting caught up in the Trump tornado once again — that is exactly what voters of both parties don’t want.”

President Biden’s political event, sponsored by the Democratic National Committee, comes as the president and members of his Cabinet are set to embark on what the White House has billed as the “Building a Better America Tour” to promote “the benefits of the President’s accomplishments and the Inflation Reduction Act to the American people and highlight the contrast with Congressional Republicans’ vision.”

Meanwhile, the White House has benefited from a steady decline in gasoline prices, which, while still elevated, have dropped daily since mid-June.

“Our critics say inflation,” President Biden said, dismissing GOP attacks that his policies resulted in inflation being at a 40-year high. “You mean the global inflation caused by the worldwide pandemic and Putin’s war in Ukraine?”

In Maryland, President Biden was joined by gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore and a host of other officials on the ballot. Moore, introducing President Biden, said his Trump-backed rival “Dan Cox is not an opponent. He’s a threat.”

Months ago, Democratic lawmakers facing tough reelection fights sought to make themselves scarce when President Biden came to town, though White House aides said Biden could still be an asset by elevating issues that resonate with voters and sharpening the distinction with Republicans.

Now, allies see the fortunes beginning to change and the president as more of a direct asset to campaigns.

“Joe Biden is not the ballot technically,” said House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer. “But Joe Biden is on the ballot, and Joe Biden needs your support.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Ukraine Braces for Attacks on Civilians as It Celebrates Independence Day

Credit…Dmitry Serebryakov/Associated Press

Daria Dugina, the hawkish commentator who was killed in a car bombing outside Moscow on Saturday, did not only have a following in Russia because of her frequent appearances on state television. She was also an activist who cultivated ties with European right-wing networks, according to several figures from the French far right.

Ms. Dugina was particularly connected in France, moving between ultraconservative intellectual circles long frequented by her father — Aleksandr Dugin, an ideologue whose nationalist views have influenced President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia — and far-right movements on the rise, including the party of the presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.

“She was pursuing a political goal in which she obviously wanted to promote her father’s ideas,” said Pascal Eysseric, the managing editor of Éléments, a national-conservative French magazine, who knew Ms. Dugina through her father. “She was on a mission. That’s undeniable.”

There has long been an affinity for Mr. Putin among affiliates of the French far right, who admire the Russian leader’s muscular stance and opposition to what they view as Western decadence. In 2014, Ms. Le Pen’s party, then known as the National Front, secured a $9.3 million loan from a Czech-Russian bank. The same year, it was the only French political party to support Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Ms. Dugina, 29, studied philosophy for a year in France between 2012 and 2013 at a university in the western city of Bordeaux. It was around that time, Mr. Eysseric said, that she got in touch with GRECE, a French ethnonationalist think tank with which her father has collaborated.

She built ties with “anti-liberal, anti-Western and conservative political forces in Europe,” Mr. Eysseric said, describing her as spirited and highly educated.

Ms. Dugina promoted Ms. Le Pen through articles and appearances directed at a Russian audience. She was particularly active in the run-up to the 2017 French presidential election, according to a former member of Ms. Le Pen’s party with ties to the Kremlin, and interviewed several figures of the French far right around that time.

The former party member, who declined to be named for fear of retribution for his ties to Russia, said that Ms. Dugina met with members of Ms. Le Pen’s close circle. Hervé Juvin, a senior member of Ms. Le Pen’s party, now known as the National Rally, said he had met Ms. Dugina on several occasions but had lost track of her in recent years.

“She certainly played a role in generating sympathy for Marine Le Pen’s candidacy among a number of Russian news media,” Mr. Juvin said, “and she certainly established a link between the ideas that belonged to Russian patriots at the time and the ideas that belonged to the National Rally.”

In 2019, Ms. Dugina joined several French far-right activists in signing a petition praising the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and describing the conflict in Syria as “planned and orchestrated” by the West and Israel.

Far-right French figures have mourned her on social networks. Éléments published a tribute to Ms. Dugina, saying she was killed because the West had long targeted her father.

“To speak with her for an hour was to have the strange impression that the (counter-)revolution was really underway and that we were really preparing to topple the established order,” David L’Épée, the editor of the conservative magazine Krisis, wrote in the article, noting her “open conspiratorial nature that so fascinated her interlocutors.”

He said that the last time he saw Ms. Dugina, she had just returned from a meeting with associates of Matteo Salvini, the Italian far-right leader.

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Former Software Engineer Aims To Change The Future Of Farming

A former IBM engineer is building open-source tractors for the masses in hopes of changing how food is grown and who grows it.

The founder of Ronnie Baugh Tractors in Paint Rock, Alabama learned an invaluable lesson as a marine in the Vietnam War: If you believe something’s impossible, you’re dead.

Horace Clemmons, now 79, says that advice not only kept him alive in the war; it’s also the driving force behind his current effort to reinvent an industry now dominated by corporate giants like John Deere and AGCO.

“The goal is to try to convince everybody else they can make these things,” Clemmons said. “All you need is two jack stands and somebody that can turn a wrench and somebody that can weld, and you’re in business making your own tractor.”

Clemmons worked for IBM in the 1970s as an early software engineer, but his success came after he left that job and founded the first cash register company to use open-source software.

“I said at the time I left IBM, ‘I will create a business unlike IBM,'” Clemmons said. “People will not do business with me because they have to. They will do business with me because they want to.”

In a former t-shirt factory surrounded by cotton farms that now export their harvest to China, Clemmons today is trying to bring that same open-source philosophy to tractors.

Everything that goes into a tractor is somewhat cheap and widely available. If someone can’t afford the $22,000 sticker price, Clemmons will sell them the plans to build their own. Its “open system design” is a far cry from the patented and proprietary technology of a John Deere. 

The hope is that this novel approach will inspire farmers to innovate and customize the tractor the same way open-source computing and the coders who had access to it sparked the PC revolution that changed the world.

“So IBM started dominating the PC market, but Michael Dell in his dorm room looked at what IBM was doing and said, ‘But the customers are asking for something different,'” Clemmons said. “And IBM says, ‘No, no, you buy what I got.’ And Michael decided, ‘Screw that. I’m going to start a business doing what the customer wants done.’ Like, what was Dell’s revenue last year? 107 or 8 billion. And what was IBM’s? 50 something? Okay. If we do the right thing, that’ll be John Deere 10 years from now.”

Clemmons says his ultimate goal is to give the millions of impoverished small farmers around the world access to mechanization and the economic empowerment that comes with it. He says the whole concept behind Ronnie Baugh Tractors is to show the world what’s possible. Partners in Uganda, Senegal and the Philippines have already licensed the design and are now building Oggun tractors domestically. They’re even adding two-wheel and fully electric versions to the lineup. 

Having access to low cost, highly customizable agricultural equipment that is also open-source technology has the potential to benefit millions of small farmers in the developing world. But in the U.S., the idea is also gaining traction — for very different reasons.

In Tarrytown, New York, the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture is like a living laboratory for sustainable food production. Jack Algiere, the center’s director of agroecology, says he purchased one of Clemmon’s first Oggun tractors because of its versatility. 

“The diversity of a farm like this where we’re growing literally hundreds of different crops — there is no one piece of equipment, there is no giant thing that we’ll use to solve all of our problems,” Algiere said. “There are a lot of little instruments in our toolbox, so we want those to be as minimal as possible and as repairable as possible.”

Not to mention, there’s the ability to tinker with the design. Algiere says he’s made multiple modifications, cutting and welding the frame to raise the floorbed, making room for nearly a dozen different custom tools. All of these changes are shared among the growing Oggun community of small farmers. Farmers, he says, who have been underserved by the agricultural equipment industry since big agriculture all but wiped out the small farm in the 1950s.

“No one goes small anymore,” Algiere said. “Once you get small, you go into garden tractor garden equipment, lawn tractors, because that’s where the market is. This is an invisible market.”

It’s an invisible but growing market. Algiere says as climate change wreaks havoc on agriculture, the need to adopt a smaller scale, locally adapted approach to growing food has never been greater.

“It’s not about reliving some past or, you know, a fairy tale of what agriculture was, but what our future looks like,” Algiere said.

At the Hudson Valley Seed Company in Accord, New York, Steven Crist uses an Oggun tractor to grow more than 70 varieties of crops a year, producing organic, heirloom seeds that are shipped all over the country.

“For us here, it’s our finesse tool,” Crist said. “When we got this tractor, we were scaling up at the same time, so we built our whole farm around this thing.”

Crist says aside from the utility of the tractor, he felt aligned with the philosophy behind it. 

“It felt in league with the mission of seed saving, organic seed saving in general, where we’re trying to not create borders, not control a patent or a thing,” Crist said. “We’re trying to proliferate it and give people access to the ability to do good work in the world. That’s kind of mushy, but it’s true.”

With climate change and an ever-widening global economic divide, Clemmons says he’s determined so see his plans through, even if it takes generations.

“I mean, people tell me I’m crazy, and I agree with them,” Clemmons said. “I have a sister who tells me I’m as crazy as she is, and I chuckle and say, ‘You’re right, but mine is socially beneficial. I am me. I get up every day. Being me.”

Clemmons says he would rather fail trying to change a broken system than succeed by following its rules.

Source: newsy.com

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