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Paul Pelosi recovering as attack renews focus on toxic politics

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The brazen attack on Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is renewing concerns about the toxic political atmosphere and is prompting calls to beef up security for lawmakers and their family members.

Paul Pelosi, 82, was recovering in Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on Saturday following surgery for a fractured skull and other injuries from an attack early Friday by a hammer-wielding intruder.

Nancy Pelosi made her first public comments about the matter on Saturday night in a Dear Colleague letter to members of Congress, referring to how “a violent man broke into our family home, demanded to confront me and brutally attacked my husband Paul.”

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She thanked supporters, saying that “the outpouring of prayers and warm wishes from so many in the Congress is a comfort to our family and is helping Paul make progress with his recovery.” The letter didn’t make any political attacks but quoted a Bible verse from Isaiah 41:10 that begins “Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.”

San Francisco police have identified the suspect in the attack as David DePape, 42, who appears to have been deeply drawn into election falsehoods, political conspiracy theories like QAnon and fringe rantings from various right-wing sites.

The Washington Post confirmed that a voluminous blog written under DePape’s name was filled with deeply antisemitic writings and baseless claims as well as pro-Donald Trump and anti-Democratic posts. It was registered to a house in Richmond, Calif., where DePape lives, according to neighbors.

Alleged assailant filled blog with delusional thoughts in days before attack

“We are on a very slippery slope and I think the whole issue of security needs a fresh examination,” said Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), who represents a San Francisco Bay area district close to Pelosi’s and is the speaker’s closest friend in Congress.

“This has to stop,” Eshoo said, referring to the propagation of inaccurate conspiracy theories that appear to be fueling fury toward lawmakers. She said her constituents “are surprised that we stand in line, go through security — they think every one of us has security.”

Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat from Colorado, said the attack spotlights the dearth of safeguards for family members of lawmakers who may be targets.

“Here was Paul Pelosi, all by himself at home,” she said in an interview.

DeGette said she had a security detail when she was one of eight House members who managed the second impeachment of former president Donald Trump. But her husband did not have protection when she was in Washington and he was in Colorado, she said.

The U.S. Capitol Police, the agency responsible for protecting members of Congress, has reported a sharp increase in threats against lawmakers in recent years, and threats have sharply escalated since the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. It said the number of cases involving threats against members of Congress rose from about 4,000 in 2017 to more than 9,600 last year.

The rising use of campaign ads invoking hunting imagery and other heated rhetoric against opponents has candidates imposing more stringent security this election season.

While she unsuccessfully defended her seat in the primaries this year in Wyoming, Rep. Liz Cheney (R) simply could not hold the sort of traditional campaign events meant to demonstrate broad support.

Cheney, the daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, has faced a significant number of death threats since the Jan. 6, 2021, attack after President Donald Trump invoked her name at his rally earlier that day because she led the wing of House Republicans supporting certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

She used a former Secret Service agent as personal security to get to and from the Capitol that day, and Cheney — who has played a high-profile role on the Jan. 6 committee — has had a regular Capitol Police security detail since early 2021.

Other campaigns, including that of Democrat John Fetterman, who is running for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, have publicized the particular city or region in which he will be campaigning ahead of time to draw interest from supporters and the media. Oftentimes, however, the precise location and address of the event will not be distributed until the morning of the event.

Some Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mehmet Oz issued full-throated rebukes of the attack on Paul Pelosi. But others in the GOP — which has often demonized Pelosi in its political attacks — seized on the incident as a way to deride the House speaker or taunt Democrats.

“I am very disappointed at the tepid response on the other side,” DeGette said. “Some people have condemned it, but others have remained silent or made it into a political joke.”

She contrasted the latest muted comments to the bipartisan unity after House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was shot in 2017 by a gunman during congressional baseball practice, when “everyone across the spectrum condemned it.”

A month after the 2017 shooting at the practice, the Federal Election Commission issued guidance that allowed lawmakers to spend campaign funds on security, particularly on the upgrading or installation of security systems at residential homes or offices.

Mike Loychik, an Ohio Republican state representative, called political violence “unacceptable” but went on to mock calls by some Democrats to put more money into social services rather than police, tweeting: “I hope San Francisco dispatched their very best social worker to respond to the brutal assault of Nancy Pelosi’s husband.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California called the attack on Paul Pelosi “wrong,” saying in an interview on Breitbart Radio on Saturday that he had texted with the speaker to offer his “prayers for Paul.” But he quickly pivoted to one of Republicans’ most popular lines of attack against Democrats, blaming their supposed support of “defunded police” and “woke D.A.s” for crimes like the assault on Paul Pelosi.

 

President Biden on Saturday called on the conspiracies and falsehoods promulgated by politicians to stop.

“It’s one thing to condemn the violence. But you can’t condemn the violence unless you condemn those people who are arguing that the election is not real,” Biden said in comments to reporters while in Wilmington, Del. “The talk has to stop. That’s the problem.”

San Francisco Police Chief William Scott would not speculate on a motive for the attack on Paul Pelosi. But it appears that the assailant had been looking for the speaker, and he uttered “Where’s Nancy?,” according to a person briefed on the case.

“This was not a random act. This was intentional,” Scott told reporters on Friday.

DePape is expected to be charged with attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse and burglary, among other offenses, according to Scott.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said on Twitter that charges would be brought on Monday and DePape is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday.

 

Former president Barack Obama invoked Paul Pelosi’s attack at a rally on Saturday, warning that more people “could get hurt” and democracy could suffer unless politicians tamp down the furious divisions.

“If our rhetoric about each other gets that mean, when we don’t just disagree with people, when we start demonizing them, making wild, crazy allegations about them, that creates a dangerous climate,” he told the crowd in Detroit during a political rally for several Democratic candidates in the state.

He said if officials don’t reject violent rhetoric, “if they tacitly support it, or encourage their supporters to stand up besides voting places armed with guns, dressed in tactical gear, more people can get hurt — and we’re going to be violating the basic spirit of this country.” He was then interrupted by a man shouting in the crowd, but Obama urged the attendees not to get “distracted” and focus on voting.

John J. Pitney Jr., professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif., said Americans have had fiery political differences since the beginning of the country. But social media has increased the temperature and allowed various conspiracy theories involving QAnon, vaccines and other topics to commingle, with many of the same people believing all of them, he said in an interview.

Pitney said the threat of violence will prompt many lawmakers to change the way they do business — moving interactions with constituents online, for example.

Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, the chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in an interview in Detroit that he’s urging candidates “to make sure that you’ve got situational awareness, situational awareness when you’re at campaign events and keeping your eyes open for people who have nefarious intent.”

“I just have to be very conscious of the space,” he said of his personal safety concerns. “You can’t be a representative unless you’re actually talking to people and listening to their issues.”

But he acknowledged the strain that public discourse has made on the job.

“We have to be out there, have to keep our eyes open, and try to be as safe as we can,” he said.

Aaron C. Davis, Dalton Bennett, Cate Brown, Leigh Ann Caldwell, Dylan Wells and Annie Linskey contributed to this report.

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How Harlem Shaped Warnock’s Faith and Politics

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Senator Raphael Warnock’s time in New York City as a seminary student and pastor helped set him on a path to politics, forging how he operates in the Senate and on the campaign trail.

Four days before the November midterm elections, Senator Raphael Warnock slipped away from the campaign trail in Georgia to deliver a eulogy in Harlem.

His mentor — the Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, a powerful and politically astute preacher who led Harlem’s storied Abyssinian Baptist Church — had died at the age of 73. At the memorial service, Mr. Warnock told the crowd of mourners about the intersections of faith and public life that had shaped Mr. Butts’s work, and his own.

“Calvin Butts taught me how to take my ministry to the streets,” Mr. Warnock said at a service that drew former President Bill Clinton, Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “He understood that the church’s work doesn’t end at the church door. That’s where it starts.”

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Mr. Warnock now finds himself locked in one of the last and most closely watched elections of the 2022 midterms — a Georgia runoff on Tuesday against a Trump-backed Republican rival, Herschel Walker.

The hallmark of Mr. Warnock’s political persona has been firmly rooted in the present, through his position as senior pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had preached. But a lesser-known chapter from Mr. Warnock’s past — his time spent in New York City starting in the 1990s, as a student at the Union Theological Seminary and as a pastor at Mr. Butts’s church — in many ways set him on a path to politics, shaping how he operates in the Senate and on the campaign trail as he runs for re-election.

According to nearly a dozen seminary classmates and elected officials who knew him at the time, Mr. Warnock’s New York experience helped cement his instincts to channel the teachings of his faith into social justice activism. It’s an approach that propelled him to Washington, where he was one of seven ordained ministers when he arrived in Congress last year.

“In the beginning it was really watching him straddling the church and the academy,” said the Rev. Cathlin Baker, a friend who attended Union Theological Seminary with Mr. Warnock. “Expressing his faith in the public square emerged through his time in New York.”

One of the young men Mr. Warnock worked with as a youth pastor at Abyssinian went on to become the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg.

Mr. Bragg got to know Mr. Warnock during visits home from college and described a “remarkable consistency” in his dual emphasis on pastoral duties and “what that means for greater Harlem, and the social issues, and the things we see him advocating for in Congress now.”

“There’s an indelible imprint of the church and Rev. Butts on him,” Mr. Bragg said, “and certainly of him on the church.”

The New York Times

Mr. Warnock was 22 when he arrived in New York in the fall of 1991, and he stayed for about a decade. The city was in the throes of a social and civic upheaval that would mold the next generation of Black political power, locally and nationally, serving as a proving ground for activists, pastors and elected officials.

There was Mayor David N. Dinkins, New York’s first Black mayor who confronted the Crown Heights riots the year Mr. Warnock came to town. And there was Eric Adams, a police officer who challenged police brutality and would become the city’s second Black mayor. The Rev. Al Sharpton made waves with his civil rights activism, while against that backdrop Hakeem Jeffries, a Brooklynite and future Democratic House leader, was beginning his career.

Mr. Warnock found work at Abyssinian, the spiritual home of the late Representative Adam Clayton Powell Jr. that has long been associated with Black civic engagement. It was during that time, as he absorbed the influences of Mr. Powell and Mr. Butts, that he believes running for Congress first crossed his mind, he wrote in his 2022 memoir, “A Way Out of No Way.”

He was living in New York when his brother was sentenced to life in prison in a nonviolent drug-related offense involving an F.B.I. informant, a seismic event in Mr. Warnock’s life that profoundly shaped his views of the criminal justice system. (His brother was released from a federal prison in Georgia in 2020.) And as episodes of police violence convulsed the city, Mr. Warnock came to believe that “it didn’t make much sense for us to be talking about justice in the classroom and singing about it in church if we weren’t willing to get in the struggle in the streets.”

He was arrested at a protest against police brutality as he honed his activism, the first of a few civil disobedience arrests in later years.

Mr. Warnock, who declined an interview request, grew up in Savannah, Ga., giving his first sermon at age 11, and headed to New York soon after graduating from Morehouse College. He struck his peers at the progressive Union Theological Seminary, in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights, as notably driven.

“He had a kind of seriousness of purpose and kind of like a clarity of career path that at that age I almost couldn’t imagine,” said Beth Stroud, a classmate who is now a lecturer at Princeton.

She and other classmates also described Mr. Warnock’s sense of humor. One night, she recalled, a group tried on each other’s eyeglasses — and one participant noticed no discernible difference upon trying on Mr. Warnock’s.

“After saying he wore them so he wouldn’t look so young and people would take him more seriously,” she added in an email, Mr. Warnock humorously demonstrated how the glasses could punch up a reading. “He said something like, ‘Our Scripture reading this morning is …’ and put them on with a flourish, as if to see the Bible more clearly.”

Ruby Washington/The New York Times

Asked about that anecdote, Michael J. Brewer, a spokesman for Mr. Warnock, replied, “Reverend Warnock wears prescription eyeglasses.”

Dr. Stroud and Mr. Warnock studied under the Rev. Dr. James H. Cone, a founder of Black liberation theology, which emphasizes the experiences of the oppressed. “We were all thinking about politics all the time, not necessarily in the sense of electoral politics,” she said, but, “if we believe in liberation, if we believe in God’s love for all people, how do we realize that in our work?”

At Union — and through his friendships with Dr. Stroud, who is a lesbian, and with other gay people — Mr. Warnock reconsidered church teachings opposing homosexuality, he wrote in his memoir. And at Abyssinian, Mr. Warnock plunged more directly into the world of New York politics and activism as he rose from intern minister and youth pastor to assistant pastor.

Abyssinian has long occupied a prominent place on the New York political landscape, propelled by leaders like Mr. Powell and Mr. Butts, the preacher who was deeply involved in civic issues and navigated relationships with a diverse array of politicians.

As an assistant pastor, Mr. Warnock publicly criticized the Giuliani administration’s implementation of a workfare program — which required welfare recipients to work for benefits — and made an impression on a number of elected officials himself, as well as on Mr. Butts.

“He could laugh easily, he could smile,” Mr. Butts told NY1 in 2021. “That made it possible for him to impress upon people the importance of an issue.”

C. Virginia Fields, the former Manhattan borough president and a member of Abyssinian, said that Mr. Warnock was regarded as part of a “bench” of future leaders.

“I don’t think he ever expressed it that way — that ‘I’m interested in running for office,’” she said. But “those of us in the political arena certainly saw him as someone one day running.”

Ruby Washington/The New York Times
Ruby Washington/The New York Times

Republicans, especially in his previous campaign, have used Mr. Warnock’s career and past sermons to try to paint him as radically left wing, characterizations that drew criticism from Black pastors.

This year, the Walker campaign has also slammed him over the housing allowance he receives from Ebenezer and over alleged conditions and eviction threats at an apartment complex with ties to that church. Mr. Warnock has called the allegations a “desperate” effort to attack Ebenezer. A representative for the complex told The New York Times that no evictions had been carried out since 2020.

His previous Republican opponent, then-Senator Kelly Loeffler, noted that Abyssinian had hosted Fidel Castro in 1995, and claimed that Mr. Warnock had “celebrated” and “welcomed” Castro to the church.

Mr. Warnock’s team did not respond directly when asked whether he attended the Castro event but pointed to fact-checks disputing Ms. Loeffler’s statement. A spokesman previously told PolitiFact that Mr. Warnock “doesn’t agree with the dictator’s beliefs and actions” and that Mr. Warnock was not making decisions at the time about who spoke at the church. The fact-checking outlet determined there was no evidence to Ms. Loeffler’s claims.

Stephen Lawson, who served as a top Loeffler campaign aide and advises a pro-Walker super PAC, said that Mr. Warnock’s time at Abyssinian was “part of a larger life story for him that helps kind of illustrate his beliefs.” Mr. Lawson cast those beliefs as left-wing and relevant to independent voters. “Part of me wishes that Herschel’s campaign would try to tell that story a little bit more,” Mr. Lawson said.

David A. Paterson, who was New York’s first Black governor and who met Mr. Warnock while representing Harlem in the State Senate, noted that Republicans have struggled before to define Mr. Warnock as outside the mainstream.

He is not “demanding that we turn the whole system upside down,” Mr. Paterson said. “I think he really seeks equality.”

Abyssinian Baptist Church in 1988.Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

A series of stunning incidents of police brutality galvanized him to protest injustice more forcefully. In 1999, Amadou Diallo, an unarmed Guinean immigrant, was killed by officers who fired 41 shots, less than two years after another Black man, a Haitian immigrant named Abner Louima, was brutalized at a Brooklyn police precinct.

“Those real awful examples of police brutality that were happening in the city at the time kind of called a group of us into the public square,” Ms. Baker said.

After the Diallo shooting, Mr. Warnock went to a protest where, he wrote, he was arrested for the first time, shared a police van with then-Representative Eliot Engel and was quickly released. In his memoir, he described a scene in which groups of protesters “crossed the line of demarcation” and were arrested.

“He was not a activist that would do it every day like I would, but he would take a moral stand,” said Mr. Sharpton, who was heavily involved in organizing major protests after the Diallo shooting.

Mr. Sharpton described Mr. Warnock as “the guy that wanted to be a bridge between those of us that were active” and those who did not engage in civil disobedience. “He understood both worlds,” Mr. Sharpton added.

Just over two decades after that arrest, Mr. Warnock returned to Abyssinian for the eulogy.

“So much of who I am, and what I’ve become and what I’ve managed to do — and, as we say in Georgia, what I’m fixing to do again” — he owed to working with Mr. Butts, he said.

“I got a few things happening down in Georgia,” he told the New York audience. But, he added, “I had to be here.”

Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.

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Teams focused on politics performed worse at World Cup – FIFA’s Arsene Wenger

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AL RAYYAN, Qatar – Speaking in his capacity as FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, Arsene Wenger insinuated that teams which made political statements early in the World Cup saw their on-field performance suffer as a result.

The comments came at a media briefing for FIFA’s Technical Study Group, in which Wenger and Jurgen Klinsmann shared the group’s findings from the group stage.

 

In response to a question about the impact of the truncated preparation period in advance of the tournament, Klinsmann spoke about the importance of being able to “mentally and physically” adapt to the challenges of playing during a break in the European season and in the Middle East.

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“If you struggled to adapt, to come here and for whatever reason — especially mentally — were not able to adapt yourself to everything you find here and how dynamic this World Cup is, you will struggle,” Klinsmann said. “And you will get a negative surprise like we saw with Germany, we saw with Denmark and other teams.”

Those comments prompted Wenger to jump in.

“I would just add that the teams who were not disappointing with their first game performance — because when you go to the World Cup, you know not to lose the first game — are the teams who have experience,” Wenger said. “They have results in former tournaments like France, like England, like Brazil. They played well in the first game. And the teams, as well, who were mentally ready, like Jurgen said, that [had] the mindset to focus on competition and not on the political demonstrations.”

Though Wenger did not mention Germany by name, it was a clear reference to Klinsmann’s home country, who lost their opening game to Japan, before which the players placed their hands over their mouths during the pregame on-field photo. The gesture came in response to threats from FIFA to seven European teams that they would face sanctions if they wore the “OneLove” armband symbolising diversity and tolerance.

Wenger did not expand upon how he reached that conclusion, nor did he clarify if the comments represented his personal opinion or that of the committee he was on stage representing.

“Of course it’s important for us to do a statement like this,” Germany striker Kai Havertz told ESPN postmatch. “We spoke about the game, what we can do, and I think first it was the right time to do to show the people that — yeah we try to help wherever we can. Of course FIFA makes it not easy for us but we tried to show with that thing.”

Added Germany coach Hansi Flick: “It was a sign from the team, from us, that FIFA is muzzling us.”

After losing the first match, 2-1, despite outshooting Japan 26-to-12, Germany responded with a 1-1 draw against Spain and a 4-2 win against Costa Rica, but did not advance.

Earlier in the briefing, Klinsmann assigned blame for Germany’s elimination to the lack of a productive No. 9.

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Ministers decline request to testify on Afghan aid blockade as desperation grows

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Three Liberal ministers have declined invitations to testify in the Senate as the upper chamber probes why Canada still won’t allow humanitarian workers to help in Afghanistan.

Aid groups say Ottawa has told them that paying people in Afghanistan or buying goods there could lead them to be prosecuted under anti-terrorism laws.

Many of Canada’s allies have found carveouts so that aid workers don’t get charged with supporting the governing Taliban, which is designated as a terrorist group.

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has no explanation for why Canada hasn’t fixed the issue.

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The Senate’s human-rights committee will launch hearings into the issue on Monday and invited three ministers to attend, but all of them said they had prior commitments at the time of the planned meetings.

The United Nations says six million Afghans are now categorized as being at risk of famine, while another fourteen million are in critical need of food.

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