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Iran’s Team Refuses To Sing National Anthem at World Cup Opener

Amid nationwide protests in Iran, Iran's national team chose to stay silent during the national anthem before its game against England.

Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Members of Iran’s national soccer team made a statement to millions across the globe on Monday, as they refused to sing the national anthem during their match against England in Qatar’s World Cup.

The players’ dissent is the latest act of resistance against the government, amid monthslong nationwide  protests following the mid-September killing of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Jina Mahsa Amini. Amini was arrested by the country’s morality police for allegedly not wearing a hijab in accordance with government standards, and was killed in police custody.

While Iran’s players remained silent during the anthem, fans could be heard throughout the stadium booing and whistling to drown out the song. Spectators were seen sporting banners and clothes styled in the Iranian flag’s colors, reading “women, life, freedom,” which has become the main rallying cry for these protests.

During a press conference Sunday, Iranian team captain Ehsan Hajsafi expressed support for the anti-government protests, sharing condolences to families mourning lost loved ones.

Hajsafi began his comments saying “In the name of the God of rainbows,” in reference to a sentence said by nine-year-old Kian Pirfalak, who was killed last week amid protests in Izeh, Khuzestan, Iran.

Since the protests began, more than 380 people have been killed, including at least 58 children, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran.

The Iranian team’s statement comes against a government that has not only violently suppressed public protest, but also stifled dissent from public figures. Actresses, athletes, musicians, and others have all been targeted and even arrested for acts of solidarity with the protestors. Such pressure had forestalled the Iranian team from speaking out until now, fostering discontent from many Iranians.

Nevertheless, as they took to perhaps the world’s largest stage—where the risks of disobedience couldn’t be higher—the players of Iran’s national team spoke out anyway.

The Colorado Springs Shooting Suspect Is The Grandson of MAGA Republican Randy Voepel

The suspected gunman opened fire in a queer club in Colorado Springs, killing five people and injuring at least 25 others.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The gunman who opened fire in a queer club in Colorado Springs over the weekend is the grandson of a California MAGA Republican lawmaker, multiple media outlets reported Monday.

Anderson Lee Aldrich has been arrested for entering Club Q and shooting at clubgoers Saturday night, killing five people and wounding at least 25 others. Two patrons managed to stop him, taking his gun and hitting him with it to subdue him.

It has the trappings of a hate crime, but we are going to have to see what the investigation shows…to make a clear determination exactly what the motive was,” Colorado Springs mayor John Suthers said Monday.

Early reports indicate that Aldrich is the grandson of outgoing MAGA Republican California Assemblyman Randy Voepel.

Voepel drew serious condemnation last year, including calls for his removal from office, over his support for the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. “This is Lexington and Concord. First shots fired against tyranny,” Voepel told The San Diego Union-Tribune three days after the riot. “Tyranny will follow in the aftermath of the Biden swear-in on January 20th.”

This is not Aldrich’s first instance of violence. A year and a half prior to the shooting, he allegedly threatened his mother, Voepel’s daughter, with a homemade bomb. Neighbors had to evacuate while the bomb squad and crisis negotiators talked him down.

But there is no public record that he was charged with anything, nor that police or relatives tried to trigger Colorado’s “red flag” law that would have allowed authorities to seize any weapons or ammunition he had.

Had that law been triggered, it might have helped prevent Saturday night’s tragedy.

Aldrich is reportedly also a Mormon, a community with a long and fraught history of prejudice against LGBTQ people. Although the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints recently backed the marriage equality bill—which is headed to a final vote in the Senate—that support may be too little, too late.

It comes only a year after senior apostle Jeffrey R. Holland gave an inflammatory speech urging the Brigham Young University faculty and staff to take up metaphorical muskets in defense of their faith—including against same-sex relationships and marriage.

Scammer Elizabeth Holmes Sentenced to More Than 11 Years in Prison Over Theranos Fraud

Holmes was sentenced to 135 months for defrauding investors.

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Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos, a fraudulent health technology company, was sentenced to 11.25 years in prison on Friday. The sentence will be followed by 3 years of supervised release. Holmes faces the sentence for deceiving investors and endangering patients as she peddled fraudulent blood-testing technology.

Holmes’ sentence comes after being convicted on four counts of investor fraud and conspiracy in January. Holmes’ company, Theranos, purported itself to be creating revolutionary technology that could scan for hundreds of diseases with just a few drops of blood. But it was all a ruse.

Holmes had founded the company in 2003, beginning her quest to raise millions of dollars in funding for the idea. By the end of 2010, Holmes reportedly raised $92 million in venture capital.

After years of selling promises—putting together what was referred to as “the most illustrious board in U.S. corporate history”—Holmes took her product public. Partnering with Walgreens, Holmes began piloting the needles said to be able to test for afflictions including diabetes and HIV.

By 2014, Theranos was valued at $9 billion, having raised more than a whopping $400 million in venture capital. Her board included names such as former Defense Secretary James Mattis, and two former secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger and the late George Shultz.

And then came the bombshells. The Wall Street Journal revealed Theranos’ devices were giving inaccurate testing results, and that the company was using already-available technologies manufactured by other companies for its supposedly revolutionary testing. Thereafter, the dominoes fell.

In 2016, the government found one of Theranos’ labs to have faulty procedures and equipment—banning Holmes from operating a blood-testing service for two years. In 2017, Arizona filed suit against Theranos for selling over one million blood tests to Arizonans while misrepresenting information about them. In 2018, the SEC charged Holmes and the company’s former president Ramesh Balwani with fraud for taking over $700 million from investors while selling their faulty product.

Holmes’ lawyer had tried arguing for leniency, painting her client as a well-meaning entrepreneur and mother. Her efforts were bolstered by 130 letters submitted by family, friends, and colleagues—and even Senator Cory Booker.

Who Is Jack Smith? More on the New Special Counsel Investigating Trump

Smith has promised to “exercise independent judgement” in his investigation into Donald Trump.

JERRY LAMPEN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Jack Smith, the newly appointed special counsel to investigate Donald Trump, has a long history of investigating criminal cases.

Smith, who was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday to investigate Trump’s role in the January 6 attack and his handling of classified documents, has promised to “exercise independent judgment” in the case.

He started his career in the 1990s, first as a prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office and then in a similar position at the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn.

After almost two decades there, Smith moved to the Netherlands, where he oversaw war crimes investigations at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

He has also worked with the U.S. Department of Justice before, from 2010 to 2015, when he served as chief of the Public Integrity Section overseeing public corruption and elections-related investigations.

Since 2015, he has worked at the special court in the Hague investigating war crimes committed during the Kosovo War.*

During his previous tenure at the Justice Department, Smith and his team won two notable corruption cases. First, they won a conviction against former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell, but the Supreme Court overturned it.

They also won a conviction against former Arizona Representative Rick Renzi, who was sentenced to three years in prison. Trump pardoned Renzi in January 2021, part of a slew of eleventh-hour pardons during his last days as president.

* This piece originally misstated that Smith investigated war crimes committed during the Kosovo War during his time at the ICC. In fact, he began investigating these war crimes at a special court in 2015.

Trump Says New Special Counsel Investigation Into His Crimes Is “So Unfair”

Trump said he won't partake in the special counsel's investigation, as if it's up to him.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On Friday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the appointment of a special counsel to oversee investigations into former President Donald Trump’s efforts to stay in power after losing the 2020 election, and his illegal possession of classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.

Trump, for his part, says he’s not going to “partake” in the special counsel inquiry—as if it’s up to him.

“I have been going through this for six years—for six years I have been going through this, and I am not going to go through it anymore,” Trump told Fox News.

The twice-impeached, twice-popular-vote-losing former president’s comments come just days after his announcement for a third consecutive presidential run. “It is so unfair. It is so political,” he said about the inquiry.

Garland said he appointed a special counsel knowing that Trump would be seeking another term as president.

Jack Smith, a former assistant U.S. attorney and chief to the DOJ’s public integrity section, will guide the investigation into Trump’s possession of classified documents after leaving the White House, and whether he obstructed the government’s initial investigation into the case. Smith will also look into Trump and his allies’ efforts to interrupt the transfer of power following the 2020 election.

Smith said in a statement Friday that he intends to “conduct the assigned investigations, and any prosecutions that may result from them, independently,” and that “the pace of the investigations will not pause or flag” under his watch.

The case provides further kindling to the sparks burning within the Republican party.  “I hope the Republicans have the courage to fight this,” Trump warned, giving everyone in his party a chance to prove their loyalty or commit to distancing themselves from the former president. Republicans including Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene have already jumped in to defend Trump and attack President Joe Biden and the Justice Department.

Republicans Are Having a Total Meltdown Over News of the Special Counsel Investigating Trump

Of course they’re somehow talking about Hunter Biden again.

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As soon as Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to investigate Donald Trump, Republicans entered meltdown mode.

Garland announced Friday that he had appointed Jack Smith, a prosecutor at The Hague, to look into Trump’s role in the January 6 attack and his handling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

“Based on recent developments, including Trump’s announcement that he is a candidate for president in the next election, and the current president’s intention to be a candidate in the next election, I have concluded it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel,” Garland explained at a press conference.

Trump’s campaign immediately blasted the move, calling it a “totally expected political stunt by a feckless, politicized, weaponized Biden Department of Justice.”

And many far-right Republicans also went nuts.

Senator Ted Cruz accused President Joe Biden of using the Justice Department to “attack his political opponents.”

This is Trump derangement syndrome but this time with a gun and badge,” he said.

Representative Claudia Tenney said the investigation will move the department’s “focus even further away from the real threat to the rule of law: President Joe Biden’s role in Hunter’s corrupt enterprises.”

She wasn’t alone, as Senator John Cornyn also called for a special counsel to look into Hunter Biden.

Far-right news outlet Newsmax similarly demanded why there was “no special prosecutor for the Hunter Biden laptop?”

Smith, who has investigated war crimes committed during the Kosovo War, promised for his part to “exercise independent judgment.”

The outcry over Smith’s appointment shows that Trump still has loyal allies in politics, even if voters and many former backers seem to be turning on him.

Republicans Endorse RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel for Reelection, Doubling Down on Failing Agenda

A total of 101 Republican National Committee members signed a letter endorsing McDaniel.

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Republicans are doubling down on the strategy that helped the red wave crash.

In a letter released Friday, a total of 101 Republican National Committee members endorsed Chair Ronna McDaniel for reelection. Citing “the extremist consensus among Democrat Party elites,” they credit McDaniel for turning the RNC “into an aggressive and effective advocate for election integrity, including by engaging in over 80 lawsuits,” among other things.

The letter is proof that despite a growing number of Republicans speaking out against Trumpism, large segments of the GOP remain committed to the project.

McDaniel herself has long stoked election denialism. Under her leadership, the RNC spent at least $20 million to oppose Democratic efforts to make voting easier during the pandemic. Just a few months before the election, McDaniel posted an RNC-sponsored video fearmongering about voter fraud due to vote-by-mail expansions.

In November 2018, McDaniel pressed Arizona Senate candidate Martha McSally to be more aggressive in stirring doubt in the vote count of the election she lost to Kyrsten Sinema.

The RNC chair is also no stranger to Trumpian corruption. In 2020, ProPublica reported that the RNC gave six-figure contracts to companies linked to McDaniel’s husband and her political backers. In 2019, it was revealed that McDaniel was involved in a pay-to-play scheme that would net the RNC $500,000 in exchange for an ambassadorship to the Bahamas.

And if Republicans ever complain about “civility,” note that McDaniel spent the final days of the 2022 midterm campaign mocking now-Senator John Fetterman’s and President Joe Biden’s speech patterns. Fetterman had just suffered a stroke, and Biden grew up with a stutter.

Some may find it perplexing that Republicans are embracing the kind of conspiratorial agenda that made them lose before. The choice is not actually a result of the party embracing Trumpism over some reasoned, people-serving platform. Instead, this kind of hollow politics is all Republicans seem to have at their disposal. After all, 60 percent of committee members have endorsed McDaniel—and all she represents.

Trump-endorsed New York gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin has also expressed interest in running for RNC chair. A showdown between two Republicans trying to out-Trump each other will surely add to the GOP’s disarray.

Evangelical Christians Got Everything They Wanted From Trump, but They’re Still Complaining

Now that the Republican Party is turning on Trump, evangelical leaders suddenly aren’t happy with him either.

Olivier Douliery/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Donald Trump and Pastor Robert Jeffress greet guests at the Celebrate Freedom Rally in Washington, D.C. on July 1, 2017.

Evangelical Christians who previously backed Donald Trump are now accusing him of using them to further his own goals, after he gave them everything on their agenda.

Major figures in the community have said they don’t support Trump’s third bid for president and accused him of acting purely for personal gain in his previous runs. “He used us to win the White House. We had to close our mouths and eyes when he said things that horrified us,” Christian Zionist Mike Evans told The Washington Post.

Trump both campaigned and governed on a largely evangelical Christian platform. He moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem; he cracked down on immigration from majority-Muslim countries; and he appointed multiple conservative judges, including to the Supreme Court, which has swung sharply right.

He made good on his anti-abortion promises when the high court removed the nationwide right to the procedure in June. Many LGBTQ protections were rolled back under his watch, and during the June 2020 protests over George Floyd’s murder by police, he tear-gassed demonstrators so he could take a heavily posed picture with a Bible in front of St. John’s Church near the White House.

But Republican voters and the party in general have begun to turn on Trump, making it look less and less likely that he’ll be able to secure the Republican nomination in 2024. And as power slips from his grasp, evangelical Christians are souring on him too.

“The Republican Party is headed toward a civil war that I have no desire or need to be part of,” pastor and former Trump ally Robert Jeffress told Newsweek when asked if he would back the former president.

But should Trump get the nomination, “I will happily support him,” Jeffress added.

Human rights lawyer Qasim Rashid castigated the Christian leaders for their hypocrisy.

You knew exactly what you were doing when you excused his sexual abuse, his racism, his Islamophobia, his antisemitism, his white nationalism, his greed, & his corruption,” he tweeted. “You used him—and you lost.”

Adam Frisch Concedes, as Lauren Boebert Barely Holds Onto Colorado House Seat

The radical Republican squeaks by in a district that she and Trump both won by more than six points in 2020.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Colorado Democrat Adam Frisch conceded to Lauren Boebert on Friday, in what came to be a shockingly close race for the House seat in Colorado’s 3rd congressional district. While Frisch has conceded, the race is still subject to a required recount given how tight it is.

Boebert leads Frisch 50.1–49.1 percent, with 99 percent reporting.

The result comes after more than a week of poll-watching, as Boebert slowly clawed back to lead by just 551 votes at the time that Frisch conceded. The race was expected to be a safe one for MAGA Republican Boebert, and the slim margin caught most analysts by surprise.

Colorado had undergone redistricting since Boebert’s election two years ago, but the new maps were still slated to give her a comfortable advantage. FiveThirtyEight had projected that she was “clearly favored” to win the race, winning 97 times out of 100 in their election simulator. In 2020, Trump had won this district by eight points, while Boebert had won it by about six.

Boebert has a history of spreading conspiracy theories and refuting the results of the 2020 election. On January 5, 2021, the day before the Capitol riots and before she had actually been sworn into office, Boebert urged her Twitter followers to “remember these next 48 hours,” saying “these are some of the most important days in American history.” She referred to the riots as Republicans’ “1776 moment.”

Boebert also live-tweeted the riots, telling her followers exactly when members were locked in the House chambers and when Speaker Nancy Pelosi (whose husband was recently violently attacked by a right-wing extremist) was removed from the chambers. Later, at a Republican Party meeting, Boebert defended the rioters, saying, “We already see in Washington, D.C., you can’t petition your government, you’re an insurrectionist if you do that!”

Thereon, Boebert continued fanning the flames of election denialism, accusing Arizona of hosting widespread voter fraud. She voted against the certification of both Arizona’s and Pennsylvania’s electoral votes.

The Freedom Caucus communications chair has also adopted extremist positions like seeking to eliminate the Department of Education and hoping QAnon is real “because it only means that America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values.”

Frisch, coming into the race after serving on Aspen’s City Council for eight years, described himself as “moderate” and “pragmatic” on the campaign. He supported removing Pelosi as House speaker and opposed President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan.

Boebert’s shockingly slim win is yet another discouraging sign for Republicans amid an election that was predicted by many in the media to be a so-called “red wave.” The prediction continues to be invalidated.

Why Is Lindsey Graham Chaperoning Herschel Walker’s Interviews?

Graham is speaking for the Georgia Senate candidate in his interviews.

SETH HERALD/AFP/Getty Images

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham’s relationship with Herschel Walker is, simply put, a little weird.

On Thursday, Graham appeared on Fox News alongside the senatorial candidate. While Walker is the one running in Georgia’s January Senate runoff, it did not necessarily feel that way:

“[Warnock] supports abortion on demand, taxpayer-funded, up to the moment of birth,” Graham said falsely. “Herschel knows that’s wrong.” All the while, Walker sits in silence, nodding.

The moment is just that, one moment. But that Graham seems to be almost hand-holding Walker throughout the campaign is an appearance hard to shake. Especially as this instance is part of a larger, uncomfortable pattern of Graham instrumentalizing Walker.

Last month, Graham explained what Walker’s candidacy does for Republicans. “He changes the entire narrative of the left: We’re a party of racists,” Graham said. “Well, what happens when the Republican Party elects and nominates Herschel Walker, an African American, Black Heisman trophy winner? … It destroys the whole narrative.”

Last week, Graham, a white man, brought himself to tears while pleading with Fox News viewers to support Walker’s campaign, arguing if Democrats are allowed to “destroy” Walker and his family, “it will deter people of color from wanting to be a conservative Republican.” As if Walker is more of an abstract idea that influences people of color, rather than a human candidate for people to support.

(Graham neglects that Walker’s own family has criticized him. His son Christian has accused Walker of threatening to kill the family, forcing them to retreat “over 6 times in 6 months.”)

It is a spectacle to watch Graham’s behavior. It’s typical for a candidate to have campaign surrogates and shared media appearances. But it’s less than normal for a sitting senator to continually appear alongside a candidate, hand-holding them through questions and assuring the public that they’re a good conservative.