Ceasefire Negotiations Again Sputter Between Israel and Hamas

Happy Tuesday! In perhaps the wildest literary twist of the modern era, it turns out that tortured 21st-century American poet Taylor Swift is, according to Ancestry, distantly related to the tortured 19th-century American poet, Emily Dickinson. How’s that for a mashup?

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • In a unanimous decision on Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that states do not have the power to remove presidential candidates from the ballot on the grounds that they may have engaged in insurrection or rebellion, holding that only Congress has such authority. Former President Donald Trump will therefore remain on the ballot in Colorado and other states that attempted to remove him on the grounds that he violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment with his involvement in the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. The ruling did not touch the questions of whether Trump “engaged in insurrection” on January 6 or if the president is considered an “officer of the United States.” Though the ruling was backed by all nine justices, four—the three liberals on the bench as well as Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whom Trump appointed—argued that the majority opinion was too broad. However, Barrett also criticized her liberal colleagues for writing their own concurring opinion, insisting that the justices agreed on the essential question. “In my judgment, this is not the time to amplify disagreement with stridency,” she wrote. “The Court has settled a politically charged issue in the volatile season of a Presidential election. Particularly in this circumstance, writings on the Court should turn the national temperature down, not up.” 
  • NATO began military drills in the Nordic countries of Norway, Sweden, and Finland on Monday, bringing together more than 20,000 troops from 13 countries—including the U.S.—for cold-weather exercises lasting two weeks. The Norwegian-led exercise will include its largest-ever Finnish contingent, expanding due to the recent accession of Finland and, soon, Sweden
  • French lawmakers voted on Monday to enshrine the right to an abortion in the nation’s constitution—the first country in the world to do so. The constitutional change easily cleared the three-fifths majority of both houses needed to pass the measure by more than 200 votes. Many lawmakers who opposed the change did so because they felt the constitutional amendment was unnecessary, given the strong existing support for abortion access in the country. Abortion was legalized in France in 1975, and the procedure is allowed for any reason until 14 weeks of gestation, which this new measure will not change.
  • Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira—who was arrested last April for leaking dozens of classified Pentagon documents on the messaging app Discord—pleaded guilty on Monday to six counts of willful retention and transmission of classified information relating to national defense under a plea deal that would have the 22-year-old serve a 16-year jail sentence. “Jack Teixeira will never get a sniff of a classified piece of information for the rest of his life,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Josh Levy. 
  • Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, pleaded guilty to perjury on Monday, admitting he lied under oath during the testimony he gave as part of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ civil fraud case against the former president and his associates, including Weisselberg. He will go to prison for five months; it’s the second time Weisselberg has faced jail time in relation to his activity for the Trump Organization, after he served three months of a five-month sentence for evading taxes on nearly $2 million in income, including fringe benefits, from the company. 
  • Former President Donald Trump won the North Dakota Republican caucuses on Monday, bringing in 84 percent of the vote and capturing all 29 of the state’s delegates. Trump now has 273 delegates to former Ambassador Nikki Haley’s 43 heading into today’s Super Tuesday contests.
  • Sen. John Thune of South Dakota formally entered the race to become the next Senate Republican leader on Monday, joining Sen. John Cornyn of Texas in the contest to replace Sen. Mitch McConnell, who will officially step down from his leadership position in November. Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who told The Charlie Kirk Show that he was “seriously considering” running for McConnell’s job, met with Trump last night.
  • The European Commission—the EU’s executive body—fined Apple nearly $2 billion Monday, accusing the company of “abusing” its control over the App Store to set unfair rules for Spotify and other music streaming services. According to the EU, Apple’s policy, which keeps developers from informing users about cheaper subscription prices available outside the App Store, amounts to “unfair trading conditions.” This is the largest antitrust fine the EU has ever imposed on a tech company, and Apple has said it will appeal the decision.
  • Budget airlines JetBlue and Spirit called off their planned $3.8 billion merger on Monday after a federal judge in January blocked the union on antitrust grounds, siding with the Justice Department in a lawsuit to halt the merger. JetBlue, which had planned to acquire the struggling Spirit, will instead pay $69 million to Spirit—and $400 million to Spirit’s shareholders—to end the deal.

Another Hostage Negotiation Falters

Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz departs the White House after meeting with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on March 4, 2024. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz departs the White House after meeting with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on March 4, 2024. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Israeli war cabinet member and opposition leader Benny Gantz met with Biden administration officials in Washington, D.C., on Monday to discuss Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza. In a perceived slight, Gantz did not inform Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of his planned trip, Israeli media outlet Ynet reported on Friday, prompting Netanyahu to clarify to Gantz—and perhaps his Western allies—that “the state of Israel has only one prime minister.”

It’s been a week since President Joe Biden, in an ice cream shop with late-night host Seth Meyers, predicted a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas before the end of the weekend. Negotiations in Egypt, however, are on the verge of collapse, with Israel holding back its delegation after Hamas refused to release a list of surviving hostages. Meanwhile, as the humanitarian crisis worsens in Gaza, the U.S. has begun airdropping aid to civilians living in the terrorist-controlled enclave, and leaders have more forcefully begun calling on both Israel and Hamas to come to an agreement.

Exactly 150 days since the war began, Israel continues its mission to eradicate the Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists from Gaza—and though the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have made significant progress, cells have survived underground. “Hamas is in a much weaker position now than they were two months ago,” Greg Brew, an Iran analyst at Eurasia Group, told TMD. “But they are still holding onto a significant number of hostages, and they do feel that they’re in a position to negotiate a ceasefire. So they’re not going to surrender. And so long as there is resistance on the Israeli side to a deal that preserves Hamas in Gaza, reaching any kind of ceasefire is going to be very difficult.”

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