The committee investigating efforts to overturn America’s 2020 presidential election has found Donald Trump at the center of the plot. His endorsement helped a political debutante unseat a veteran in the Alabama primary. Taiwan scrambled jets as China flew through its airspace. And as Texas investigates the Uvalde massacre, local police were slammed for their “abject failure.” All this and more in today’s PDB.
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All the Way to the Top
Testimony Shows Trump’s Hands-On Approach to Election Meddling
The Jan. 6 committee has directly tied former President Donald Trump to efforts to overturn the 2020 result after months of investigations into his inner circle. Tuesday’s hearing featured testimony that illuminated a widespread campaign that included bullying state lawmakers and election officials. Speaker of the Arizona House Rusty Bowers testified that Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani had called him and argued votes had been cast by dead Arizonans. Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, received 18 calls asking him to “find 11,780 votes,” the exact number needed for Trump to best Biden in the state. (Sources: The Hill, NYT)
Republicans Back Conservative Women in Primaries
Alabama’s six-term Rep. Mo Brooks lost his MAGA endorsement and now he’s lost his spot on the ticket. Republican voters crowded behind challenger Katie Britt in the upset. Britt has proved popular in the state, where Alabamians say they’re desperate for fresh blood, but a last-minute endorsement from former President Trump didn’t hurt. Meanwhile, Virginia Republicans have backed two women — state Sen. Jen Kiggans and Yesli Vega — to take down two Democratic congresswomen and help win back the House. Sending strong women in is a tried and true strategy for the state, which sent three Democratic challengers to D.C. in 2018. (Sources: AP, WaPo)
Taiwan Scrambles Jets as China Flies Into Air Defense Zone
The 29 Chinese aircraft, including bombers, fighters and aerial refueling planes, flew south of the island before moving into the Pacific. It’s the largest incursion in Taiwan’s air defense zone in weeks and a reminder to the rest of the world of tensions in the region. China’s long claimed Taiwan as a province of the mainland, which Taipei rejects, but an increase in such incursions is raising fears of what the next stage of “debate” will look like. The Wednesday flights show the threat of Chinese military intervention is “more serious than ever,” said Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu. (Source: Reuters)
Texas Safety Director: Policing in Uvalde Massacre an ‘Abject Failure’
Col. Steven McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, offered his damning assessment of the police response to the Uvalde school shooting at a state Senate committee Tuesday. McCraw, who oversees policing in the state, said the on-site commander put officers’ lives ahead of the children and wasted precious time searching for a “key that was never needed.” Local lawmakers in Uvalde have hit back, calling the hearings a “Bozo the Clown show” that places the blame only on local responders, not state police who were also on the scene. (Sources: NYT, AP)
Here are some things you should know about today:
Help not wanted. Some of America’s biggest companies aren’t hiring replacements for departing workers and data from jobs site Indeed shows a slowdown in postings in recent weeks. It’s the latest sign executives are wary of an impending recession. (Source: Bloomberg) Smokeless. The Biden administration is moving ahead on a plan to strip cigarettes of nearly all nicotine, a policy move expected to make cigarettes less addictive and encourage millions to quit. (Source: WSJ) Earthquake. At least 920 people have been killed in a magnitude 6.1 earthquake in Afghanistan. The Wednesday morning quake hit about 30 miles from the city of Khost and the death toll is expected to climb. (Source: AP)
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Pentagon Report Underscores Chink in Blockchain Armor
The “Are Blockchains Decentralized?” report, commissioned by the Defense Advanced Research Project and conducted with the research group Trail of Bits, has raised serious questions over just how decentralized the technology actually is. Spots of “unintended centralities” effectively give some savvy users power over the blockchain, sparking fears of cryptocurrency theft and other exploitation. Earlier attempts to raise concerns about the blockchain — the spine on which Web3 is supported — have been dismissed and “mocked by those seeking to cash in on this decade’s gold rush,” the report declared. The findings come as the crypto market plunges in value. (Source: Gizmodo)
Financial Insecurity Behind Record Abortions in England, Wales
Health authorities reported 214,869 medical terminations in England and Wales in 2021 — the highest number since the procedure was legalized in 1967. “Economic uncertainty and job insecurity” have forced women to make “tough decisions around continuing or ending a pregnancy,” said Clare Murphy, CEO of a major abortion provider. The rate climbed the most for women in their early 30s, but dropped for those under 18. Providers reported an increase in women who are already mothers seeking abortions, accounting for 57% of terminations last year. Meanwhile, 52% were performed at home thanks to new pandemic “pills by post” rules. (Source: The Guardian)
Bill Cosby Found Guilty in 1975 Los Angeles Sexual Assault
A civil jury found the disgraced actor guilty of a 1975 sexual assault against then-16-year-old Judy Huth, ordering him to pay $500,000. Huth, who was represented by women’s rights crusader Gloria Allred, described an incident at the Playboy Mansion where she was cornered and assaulted by the comedian. Allred said the case was the first to go to trial under the Child Victims Act, which encourages adult survivors of child abuse to come forward. “She or he may come forward years later, and they will have a right to do so,” Allred explained. Cosby, 84, did not testify. (Source: Variety)
Operation Bugs: How a Welsh Bunny Hopped a Ride and Survived
Mark Pearson was driving from Pwllheli to Bangor in Wales when he heard a thump but didn’t see anything on the road behind him. Instead, a coworker later let him know he had a bunny passenger in the grille of his car. Pearson said the rabbit had hit the grille, gone through it “and the plastic has gone back into place.” He pondered whether to call animal rescue or roadside assistance, but settled on releasing the rabbit back into the wild because it seemed healthy. Animal services responded by reminding drivers to take any rescued animals to an emergency vet. (Source: The Guardian)
Deshaun Watson Settles 20 of 24 Sexual Misconduct Suits
The terms of the settlements with the Cleveland Browns quarterback will remain confidential. Allegations quickly piled up against Watson in March 2021, filed by female massage therapists who accused him of sexual misconduct. Previous reporting revealed that he’d visited at least 66 different therapists in 17 months — and the Houston Texans, who he played for prior to being traded to Cleveland, required the workers to sign nondisclosure agreements. Two grand juries in Texas declined criminal charges against Watson last year, but the NFL is investigating whether he violated its code of conduct, so the saga isn’t over yet. (Sources: ESPN, Sporting News)