Welcome to The Daily 202! Tell your friends to sign up here. On this day in 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas.
Sports and politics have run together since both existed. Think of Rome’s Colosseum, where successive emperors staged games to delight, to entertain, to remind everyone who had the power and the money — and to pacify the public with the “circus” in “bread and circuses.”
Or think of the 1966 World Cup, boycotted by … all of Africa. Or, 40 years later, the protest movement in Germany against Iran being able to compete in the World Cup of 2006, because of the anti-Semitic pronouncements by its president at the time, hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
But this World Cup is shaping up to be a unique environment — not just because it’s being played in the Middle Eastern monarchy of Qatar (a relative, though free-spending, newcomer to soccer) and now rather than summer, when it would be too hot to play in the host nation.
Yes, Qatar spent hundreds of billions to showcase its wealth and influence and raise its global profile by hosting the World Cup, the world’s most-watched athletic competition. And it now faces scrutiny of alleged abuses of migrant workers and intolerance of LGBTQI+ identities.
But there’s more to the politics of this World Cup than “sportswashing” Qatar’s image or Doha fending off foreign criticisms with the help of FIFA, international soccer’s governing body.
For one thing, the most high-profile political demonstration thus far has come from the Iranian men’s national soccer players. Team Melli, as they are known, stayed mute while Iran’s national anthem played Monday before their match against England — protesting their own government.
My colleagues Kareem Fahim and Miriam Berger reported how that silence was “widely seen as an acknowledgment of — or even a show of solidarity with — a popular uprising unfolding at home.”
“The appearance of Team Melli, as the Iranian squad is known, is being closely watched, and not just for how it performs in the stadiums in Qatar. During widespread unrest in Iran that began in September with the death of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, in police custody, Iranian sports figures — including revered current and former players for the national soccer team — have assumed a central role,” my colleagues wrote.
“As anti-government protesters have looked to the soccer players to support the protest movement, which has faced a withering and deadly crackdown by the government, Iran’s leaders have tried to keep the team’s players from speaking out, hoping to use sports as a distraction from the uprising, rather than a rallying call, analysts say.”
Iran’s national broadcaster did not show the moment, my colleagues reported. And note this line from their piece: “Iranian authorities and the intelligence agents traveling with the team clearly want them to stay silent.”
And silent they stayed on Monday. But on Sunday, Iran team captain Ehsan Hajsafi told a news conference the squad was with the protesters.
“They should know that we are with them. And we support them. And we sympathize with them regarding the conditions,” Reuters quoted Hajsafi as saying.
That hasn’t been the only political dimension. Plans by some teams to show public support for LGBTQI+ people — thereby implicitly criticizing the host nation — appear to have been quashed, my colleagues Leo Sands, Cindy Boren and Adam Taylor reported.
“Soccer teams representing seven European nations at the World Cup announced Monday that their captains won’t wear LGBTQ armbands in Qatar after FIFA, which organizes the tournament, said players sporting the bands would be penalized,” they wrote.
“The captains of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland had intended to wear the OneLove rainbow armband to promote diversity and inclusion at the World Cup.”
FIFA threatened sanctions that could have included yellow cards — two of those warnings in the same match mean expulsion and potentially other punishments. Fines are one thing. Potentially pushing out a national team’s biggest star(s) are apparently another.
That drew criticism from Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was in Qatar for the opening of the tournament:
DOHA — Blinken slams FIFA’s decision to punish World Cup soccer players with yellow cards if they wear armbands in support of diversity and inclusion. “No one on a football pitch should be forced to choose between supporting these values and playing for their team.”
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) November 22, 2022
The U.S. men’s national team had previously announced they would feature a rainbow crest in their logo, Andrew Beaton and Joshua Robinson of the Wall Street Journal had reported a week ago.
“The team said it would not wear the crest on the field, but planned to display it in U.S. soccer-controlled areas in Qatar, such as fan parties. Pictures of the crest show that the stripes, which are all typically red, are multicolored,” they reported.
The team also hosted some migrant workers who played a role in building the World Cup infrastructure.
World Cup heroes are usually the stars who score goals. This year, they could include those who make points.
“After months of failed legal challenges, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) appeared Tuesday before a special grand jury investigating efforts by former president Donald Trump and his allies to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia, the latest high-profile witness in a probe that is believed to be nearing a conclusion,” Holly Bailey and Matthew Brown report.
“Soccer fans wearing the rainbow, a symbol of LGBTQ inclusivity, have said they were refused entry into World Cup stadiums and confronted by members of the public to remove the emblem, despite assurances from FIFA, soccer’s governing body, that visitors would be allowed to freely express their identities during the tournament in Qatar,” Leo Sands reports.
“Musk has stoked the culture-war issues that helped inspire him to purchase the company in the first place. A fierce advocate for the right ‘to speak freely within the bounds of the law,’ Musk has moved rapidly — at times erratically — to undermine a regime built over a decade to define dangerous language on the site and protect vulnerable communities, replacing it with his own more impulsive style of ad hoc decision-making,” Cat Zakrzewski, Faiz Siddiqui and Joseph Menn report.
“Years before he allegedly walked into a Colorado LGBTQ bar with an assault-style rifle, the man now known as Anderson Lee Aldrich had a different name, and a tumultuous past,” Joby Warrick, Robert Klemko, Razzan Nakhlawi, Alice Crites and Cate Brown report.
“Whether the events of Aldrich’s childhood had any bearing on Saturday’s horrific violence is unknown. But Aldrich’s earlier existence as Nicholas Brink, reported for the first time, offers possible answers to several key mysteries surrounding the suspected gunman. Public records and databases were oddly silent about Aldrich for the first two decades of his life.”
“The designation from the Justice Department’s Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program means [Capitol Police officer Howard Liebengood’s] family will receive a lump-sum payment. The precise amount was not immediately clear, but it will be in line with what relatives of other federal law enforcement officers killed while performing their duties have received,” Peter Hermann reports.
“Under the new district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, the prosecutors have returned to the long-running investigation’s original focus: a hush-money payment to a porn star who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump,” the New York Times’s Jonah E. Bromwich, Ben Protess and William K. Rashbaum report.
“During an all-hands meeting with Twitter employees [Monday], Musk said that the company is done with layoffs and actively recruiting for roles in engineering and sales and that employees are encouraged to make referrals, according to two people who attended and a partial recording obtained by The Verge. His comments were made the same day that an unspecified wave of cuts hit Twitter’s sales department, which has lost almost all of its senior leadership since Musk took over,” the Verge’s Alex Heath reports.
“Failure to secure a seditious conspiracy conviction could spell trouble for another high-profile trial beginning next month of former Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio and other leaders of that extremist group. The Justice Department’s Jan. 6 probe has also expanded beyond those who attacked the Capitol to focus on others linked to Trump’s efforts to overturn the election,” the Associated Press’s Lindsay Whitehurst and Alanna Durkin Richer report.
“In the evolutionary chess match between the coronavirus and humans, scientists’ next move can’t come soon enough for the millions of Americans relying on treatments known as monoclonal antibodies. These lab-made therapies are rapidly losing their healing power, forcing researchers around the world to devise new antibodies that are both more potent and more resistant to new variants,” Mark Johnson reports.
“With Republicans narrowly taking control of the House, and Donald Trump announcing another presidential bid, President Joe Biden and aides are moving with speed to counter an anticipated barrage of right-wing attacks,” Politico’s Christopher Cadelago reports.
“For months, White House officials have been laying plans to prepare for congressional probes and possible impeachment fights. They’ve been coordinating with a long list of department officials and bringing on attack dogs to help them turn back Republican narratives about the administration.”
“Data from a laptop that the lawyer for a Delaware computer repair shop owner says was left by Hunter Biden in 2019 — and which the shop owner later provided to the FBI under subpoena — shows no evidence of tampering or fabrication, according to an independent review commissioned by CBS News,” CBS News’ Catherine Herridge and Graham Kates report.
- “The independent analysis, by two cyber investigators from Minneapolis-based Computer Forensics Services, found no evidence that the user data had been modified, fabricated or tampered with. Nor did it find any new files originating after April 2019, when store records indicate Biden dropped it off for repair.”
“For weeks, Russia has struggled to make any territorial advances in Ukraine. Russian troops have retreated from key areas in the east and the south, most recently from the city of Kherson,” Júlia Ledur reports.
“The controversial facial recognition firm hired by the US government during the height of the pandemic is being slammed by members of Congress, who say the company misrepresented how its technology works and downplayed excessive wait times which stopped Americans from collecting unemployment benefits,” the Verge’s Janus Rose reports.
“New evidence shows that ID.me ‘inaccurately overstated its capacity to conduct identity verification services to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and made baseless claims about the amount of federal funds lost to pandemic fraud in an apparent attempt to increase demand for its identity verification services,’ according to a new report from the two U.S. House of Representatives committees overseeing the government’s COVID-19 response.”
“Congressional Republican leaders are on track to steamroll the growing number of conservative lawmakers who want to stop funding Ukraine’s war effort, a move that’s sure to intensify the GOP divide over U.S. support for Kyiv,” Politico’s Andrew Desiderio reports.
“The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who co-led the congressional delegation to the conference, downplayed the impact of neo-isolationists within his party and noted that the Hill’s most powerful GOP lawmakers firmly support additional aid.”
At 5:50 p.m., the Bidens will leave the White House for Joint Base Andrews, where they will fly to Nantucket, Mass. They will arrive in Nantucket at 7:30 p.m.
“Biden appeared to be in jolly spirits Monday, aviator sunglasses on, unleashing yet another torrent of terrible jokes and groanworthy puns. Was there a reference to ‘fowl play’? You bet. Did he promise not to ‘gobble up too much time’? Well, people wouldn’t call him Uncle Joe if he didn’t,” Travis M. Andrews writes.
Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.
10 Must-Read Novels About Asian American Politics – Publishers Weekly
In Ryan Wong’s daring and generous debut novel, Which Side Are You On, Columbia University student Reed informs his parents that he’s dropping out of college and dedicating himself to grassroots organizing—for the past few months, he’s been protesting the killing of an unarmed Black man by an Asian American police officer. He’s adamant to learn everything he can about his Korean mother’s involvement in a Black-Korean coalition in the 1980s, so that he may use it to impress his other activist friends and fuel their current work. But the stories recounted by his mother and the discussions they engender—all carefully laid out in electric, and occasionally heartrending, dialogue between mother and son—start to affect Reed’s clear-cut views, revealing to him the many difficulties of organizing across cultures, and hinting at the importance of empathy and humanity in the effort to fully understand one’s community.
You might not know that “Asian American” is a relatively new term, only about fifty years old. You likely don’t know the term was coined by student leftists to join a coalition of Chicano, Black, and American Indian movements on Bay Area campuses in 1968. You might not think of Asian American Pacific Islanders as political as all, and this is largely because that history has largely been ignored or erased in favor of the tame, assimilationist “model minority” narrative.
Today, as we face intense anti-Asian violence, ongoing U.S. militarism in Asia, rapidly shifting migration patterns, and a crisis of American racial identity, it might help us to examine the political nature of Asian America through some of its most compelling narratives. Here’s a selection of ten novels that expand upon, challenge, and imagine futures for this young identity. They’re stories of rebels and revolutionaries, organizers and outsiders taking histories into their own hands.
This sprawling, 700+ page epic pays tribute to the Asian American Movement that defined this new identity. It was written decades later, but has all of the humor, bite, hope, and surrealism you might expect from a novel of vignettes set in the Bay Area of the 1960s and ’70s—scenes of Black Panthers and young Asian American radicals in a hotel room in Chinatown, of an Alcatraz Island takeover, of free folk concerts in Golden Gate Park, and, of course, of the demonstrations to save that hotbed of organizing and elder care and arts making, the I Hotel.
The narrator of this novel talks to you, but the “you” of it is an ambiguous American who is in Lahore, Pakistan, for unknown reasons—to befriend the narrator, to kill him, or both. Like the confessor in Camus’s The Fall, we get a frank and revealing series of tales, but instead of the existential angst of the judge we have the racial existentialism of the man trying to belong in a world that won’t have him. It’s a reminder that often fundamentalists scorn the very systems in which they once came close to belonging.
Can a novel about Japanese war atrocities in the Philippines be funny? An early scene has protagonist Vince watching a maudlin drama on the airplane back to the Philippines (which he left for the U.S. 13 years before) about a convent during the Japanese invasion. To speak about the unspeakable, you may need the absurdities that pop culture makes possible, the distance of humor. The Manila of Leche is a hazy hell, but also one full of pathos and heart, and it leads Vince exactly where he needs to go.
4. Guerrillas by V. S. Naipaul
What would the Asian diaspora in the Americas be without Naipaul’s Trinidad, which he left to attend Oxford only to revisit again and again in his writing? Guerrillas takes place on an unnamed island on the eve of revolution. Naipaul is one of the original problematic faves—his sexual politics are horrifying, his view of revolution condescending. Yet he’s one of the greats at showing the extreme bifurcations that colonialism and diaspora perform on the human mind, whether the white liberal’s paternalism or the would-be revolutionary’s deluded egoism.
This isn’t an “Asian American” story in the usual sense, but America’s presence is like a long shadow, a bogeyman, an uninvited dinner guest in this kaleidoscopic story of 1950s Manila. In other words, American stories happen anywhere America’s military and political presence rule, and their tacit condoning of the rise of an unnamed dictator and his glamorous first lady form the story’s backdrop. Hagedorn’s sentences bite and her scenes steam with heat as you follow this network of characters asking what they’ll do with their new-found “independence.”
This novel is often remembered as a portrait of a son and his working immigrant father. But it’s also a novel of politics, where some of the most tender and dynamic moments are between the narrator, Henry Park, and the city councilman John Kwang, who he’s assigned to spy on. John is charismatic and idealistic, a foil to Henry’s mercenary pragmatism. One of the crucial plot points revolves around a Korean money circle, or ggeh, one of the main ways Korean businesses survive, but to the U.S. state looks like money laundering. The novel asks what it means to succeed in a country designed to destroy you, to be loyal to people sent to undo you.
7. America Is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan
Somewhere between novel and autobiography, America Is in the Heart has all the sweep, heroism, and tragedy of the old epics. We follow the narrator, also named Carlos, from his youth in the Philippines to the fields of California to the canneries of Alaska, where, witnessing the brutality against Filipinos by police, bosses, and business owners, he becomes radicalized. He joins socialist and communist groups, organizes with unions, and publishes poetry and essays on his experiences, the culmination of which is this monumental book.
Lee’s father was jailed under the regime of President Sukarno in Indonesia. That traumatic event shows up in Lee’s poetry and is a central feature of this poem-novel-memoir-myth of his family’s migration story. The book is called a “remembrance” and it reads like a dream, or, often, a nightmare, as the ravages of persecution and exile, of otherness and violence, manifest within and between Lee’s family members. History and displacement haunt this prose, every sentence drops like a stone, and the smallest moment sends you reeling to the past.
Dense yet sprawling, this experimental book traces Korean independence martyr Yu Gwansun through the stories of other mythic women martyrs in history. Cha was a visual artist, writer, and performer—a brilliant polymath who was murdered just as this book was published. Dictee shows what a book can be, that it’s capacious enough to contain photographs, verse, myth, and anything else the writer needs to assemble in order to speak about a fractured history.
10. The Hanging on Union Square by H. T. Hsiang
It’s not hard to see why Hsiang had trouble finding a publisher for this oddball novel that reads something like a screenplay or a novel-in-verse but without the respective plot or lyricism that usually accompanies those forms. But he had the foresight to self-publish it in 1935, and it’s a good thing he did, because he offers a portrait of the vibrant and rough life in Greenwich Village through the eyes of Mr. Nut, who becomes politicized by the grind of the down-and-outs. He seems compelled by some manic force, conveyed through the novel’s prose—a heady mix of bohemianism and radicalism pushing the lines forward.
Justin Trudeau says he’s ‘absolutely serene and confident’ he made right decision to invoke Emergencies Act
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ended his testimony at the inquiry into the use of the Emergencies Act on Friday by saying politics had nothing to do with his government’s decision to invoke the legislation.
“My motivation was entirely about ensuring the safety of Canadians,” he said just before 4 p.m. ET in response to a question from government lawyer Brian Gover.
“My secondary motivation was making sure Canadians continue to have confidence in their institutions and society’s ability to function and enforce the rule of law when it’s not being respected. Politics was not the motivation at all in the invocation of the Emergencies Act.”
Commissioner Paul Rouleau then asked the lawyers for various stakeholders if they had any other questions. When they said they did not, Mr. Rouleau thanked Mr. Trudeau for his testimony, which began just after 9:30 a.m. ET.
“Well, Prime Minister, I am very pleased to be able to tell you we have completed our work for the day with you,” he said.
Earlier Friday, Mr. Trudeau said the threats to Canada’s national security from last winter’s convoy protests were both economic and violent, and before he invoked the Emergencies Act the premiers were unable to suggest any alternative to using the sweeping powers to end the protracted demonstrations.
The Prime Minister was the final witness to testify at the inquiry studying the act’s use. Mr. Trudeau made the ultimate decision to invoke the never-before-used act on his own on Feb. 14, with the goal of ending protests that gridlocked the capital and jammed several border crossings across Canada.
“I am absolutely, absolutely serene and confident that I made the right choice,” Mr. Trudeau said.
‘Bad humour’ and short fuses: How politicians’ texts played out at the Emergencies Act inquiry
The public inquiry investigating the federal government’s unprecedented use of the Emergencies Act in February has seen a huge number of documents that otherwise would never see the light of day — including politicians’ private texts exposing some embarrassing, and enlightening, conversations.
Politics is a profession prone to carefully crafted statements and rhetoric, so the text messages offered rare insights into the thought process of many key politicians — and a glimpse at tensions between governments.
Here are some of the stand-out text exchanges from the past few weeks.
‘Screwed the pooch’
According to text messages that Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said Jason Kenney wrote, the then-premier of Alberta accused the federal government of not caring about the Canada-United States border closure in Coutts, Alta.
Around dawn on Feb. 14, the RCMP arrested more than a dozen Coutts protesters and seized a cache of weapons, body armour and ammunition — just hours before the Emergencies Act was invoked.
According to the messages LeBlanc shared with Transport Minister Omar Alghabra and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino three days earlier, Kenney accused the federal government of leaving the provinces holding the bag on protest enforcement.
The texts were brought up during Mendicino’s testimony and were in documents released by the inquiry this week.
In the texts attributed to Kenney, he also complained about the federal decision to decline Alberta’s request for military equipment that could help remove protesters’ vehicles.
One message said — in an apparent reference to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — that “your guy has really screwed the pooch.”
“Speaking of bonkers,” Alghabra wrote in his text exchange with LeBlanc and Mendicino, apparently in reference to some of Kenney’s texts.
“Totally,” LeBlanc replied.
Ontario’s Sylvia Jones gives a cold response
The commission also got a glimpse of a testy call between Mendicino and Ontario’s solicitor general at the time, Sylvia Jones, about how to handle last winter’s convoy protests. Their conversation apparently included some colourful language.
Mendicino’s chief of staff Mike Jones and Samantha Khalil, director of issues management at the Prime Minister’s Office, discussed wanting Jones at the table during trilateral meetings.
“Can have my boss reach out again [to Sylvia Jones] but last call got pretty frosty at the end when [Mendicino] was saying we need the province to get back to us with their plan,” wrote Jones.
“‘I don’t take edicts from you, you’re not my f–king boss,” the staffer continued, describing Jones’ response.
‘Tanks’ text was a joke – Lametti
Mendicino was party to more than one text conversation that came up during the inquiry. One exchange with Justice Minister David Lametti generated some controversy during the inquiry hearings.
In that text exchange, Lametti told Mendicino he needed to “get the police to move” and secure support from the Canadian Armed Forces, if necessary.
“How many tanks are you asking for,” Mendicino wrote back.
“I just wanna ask Anita how many we’ve got on hand,” he added, referring to Defence Minister Anita Anand.
“I reckon one will do!” Lametti texted back.
During his testimony at the inquiry, Lametti said he wasn’t calling for the deployment of the army and described the exchange as banter with a colleague and a friend.
“There will be occasional attempts at bad humour,” he said.
Lametti calls Ottawa police chief ‘incompetent’
A separate exchange of texts between Lametti and Mendicino appeared during Lametti’s testimony.
In those messages, Lametti shared some criticism of former Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly, who resigned during the occupation of the city’s downtown streets last winter.
“They just need to exercise it and do their job,” texted Mendicino, referring to the Ottawa Police Service’s authority to enforce the law.
“I was stunned by the lack of a multilayered plan,” Lametti responded. “Sloly is incompetent.”
While Lametti said he’d now soften his language about Sloly, he told the inquiry he had to move out of his Ottawa residence during the protest to avoid harassment.
“I was frustrated, I have to admit,” he said. “It is frank.”
Trudeau, Blair take aim at Ford
During a private call with then-Ottawa mayor Jim Watson in early February, Trudeau accused Ontario Premier Doug Ford of hiding from his responsibilities as the streets of the nation’s capital were gridlocked by the protest.
The inquiry had access to a readout of that call — which is not an exact transcript of the conversation.
“Doug Ford has been hiding from his responsibility on it for political reasons, as you highlighted,” Trudeau said.
“Important we don’t let them get away from that.”
The prime minister wasn’t alone in criticizing Ford. Text messages from Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair to his chief of staff also shared a few choice words about the premier.
“I am embarrassed for my former profession. And worried for my government which is being made to look weak and ineffective,” Blair, a former Toronto police chief, said in a text message.
“I can’t believe that I’m hoping Doug Ford will save us.”
Government ‘is losing … confidence in OPS’
Politicians weren’t the only ones seeing their private text exchanges aired in public.
A text message from RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki released to the inquiry said the federal government was already losing confidence in the Ottawa police just one week into the massive protest.
The Feb. 5 texts were between Lucki — who was in a meeting with federal ministers at the time — and Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Thomas Carrique.
“Trying to calm them down, but not easy when they see cranes, structures, horses bouncing castles in downtown Ottawa,” she wrote.
She also provided insight into the government’s thinking at the time, adding that she or Carrique might be called in if the government invoked the Emergencies Act.
“Between you and I only, (Government of Canada) is losing (or) lost confidence in OPS, we gotta get to safe action (or) enforcement,” Lucki texted Carrique.
In one text exchange with Mendicino’s chief of staff, Serge Arpin, who was chief of staff to Mayor Watson, criticized Blair for saying the lack of enforcement was “somewhat inexplicable.”
“But it is friendly fire from you guys – don’t kid yourself,” Arpin wrote.
In a separate text in the same exchange, Arpin told Mike Jones that the RCMP was “lying to you flat out” about the police resources available.
Arpin told the inquiry that comment was the product of exasperation.
“Extraordinary frustration of having to tell the mayor that our residents who are now onto day 14 or 13 of the demonstration and we’re not seeing any meaningful progress in terms of additional bodies on the ground assisting [the Ottawa Police Service] with the operation,” he testified.
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