Roe-ing Against the Tide

Happy Wednesday! There are just 141 fun-filled days between now and baseball’s 2024 Opening Day—and your Morning Dispatchers are in the throes of postulating which team will land baseball’s greatest two-way player, Shohei Ohtani, in free agency. While this doesn’t technically count as an official “Let Us Know,” from now until a decision is made we will gladly accept all Shohei speculations and predictions in the comments. (As long as it’s not the Dodgers. That’s just unfair to the sport. – J.S.)

(Yesterday, a new report suggested the Chicago Cubs “may be the most aggressive team for [Ohtani’s] services.” -D.G.)

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Thousands of Gazans evacuated to southern Gaza between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. local time on Tuesday along a humanitarian corridor secured by Israeli Defense Forces—the same day that Israel observed a national day of mourning to mark one month since Hamas’ brutal terrorist attack that killed 1,400 Israelis. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected calls for a general ceasefire without Hamas’ release of the more than 200 hostages it holds, though he suggested he was open to “little pauses” in the fighting to allow humanitarian aid to enter the Strip. “If you care for yourselves and your loved ones, move South according to our instructions,” the IDF’s Arabic-language spokesperson tweeted. “You can be sure Hamas leaders have already taken care of their own needs.” Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday the Biden administration is preparing a $320 million transfer of precision-guided bombs to Israel. 
  • U.S. and NATO officials said on Tuesday their countries would no longer honor the Cold War-era Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe after Russia announced it was officially pulling out of the agreement. (Russia notably suspended its participation in the agreement in 2007.) The treaty, signed in 1990, set limits on the number of conventional (non-nuclear) military forces and weapons that NATO and the former Warsaw Pact could have on the continent between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains—designed to prevent either side from amassing forces for a quick attack. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom and Poland signed a nearly $5 billion deal for London to provide Warsaw with a next generation air-defense system as a deterrent against Russian aggression. 
  • Prime Minister António Costa of Portugal, a member of the country’s socialist party who has led the country since 2015, resigned unexpectedly on Tuesday as allegations of corruption against his administration intensified. Authorities searched government offices and issued an arrest warrant for four individuals—including Costa’s chief of staff—as the prosecutor general’s office investigates the administration’s handling of lithium mining and hydrogen projects. Portugal’s president may now either allow the Socialists to form a new government or dissolve the parliament and call for an early election.
  • David Weiss, the special counsel investigating President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday in a closed-door hearing, asserting once again that he has full authority over the case. Weiss’ opening statement—released publicly—suggested he would use his testimony to address his power to bring charges in the case against the younger Biden, and to rebut claims from whistleblowers that Justice Department officials had attempted to delay the process. After a plea deal fell apart earlier this summer, Weiss charged Biden with crimes related to owning a firearm while addicted to and using illegal drugs. 
  • Ohioans voted 57 t0 43 percent to enshrine abortion protections into their state constitution on Tuesday, passing a ballot initiative and demonstrating once again the motivating power of the issue of abortion at the ballot box. Virginia Democrats were projected to win control of the House of Delegates and maintain control of the state senate in Tuesday’s elections, while Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky (a Democrat) and Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi (a Republican) both won reelection.
  • Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday endorsed former President Donald Trump—her former boss during her time as White House press secretary—for the 2024 GOP nomination for president. “It’s not a question between right versus left anymore. It’s normal versus crazy, and President Biden and the left are doubling down on crazy,” she said. “The time has come to return to the normal policies of the Trump era which created a safer, stronger, and more prosperous America, and that’s why I am proud to endorse Donald Trump for President.” Also on Monday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, describing him as someone who “can win” the 2024 election, unlike Trump.
  • The super PAC associated with former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan—who chairs the No Labels organization—released an ad criticizing both Democrats and Republicans on foreign policy and positioning Hogan as a Reaganesque figure who will secure “peace through strength.” The ad may be a signal the No Labels group is looking to mount a third-party presidential bid.
  • The House of Representatives on Tuesday night voted 234-188 to approve a resolution censuring Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib for “promoting false narratives” related to Hamas’ October 7 attacks on Israel. Republican Rep. Richard McCormick of Georgia, who filed the measure, cited a social media video recently posted by Tlaib using the phrase “from the river to the sea,” which many believe calls for the eradication of the state of Israel. A total of 22 Democrats voted in favor of the censure, while four Republicans voted against.
  • Local officials in Los Angeles said a 69-year-old Jewish man, Paul Kessler, died earlier this week after he fell backwards and hit his head on the pavement on Sunday in a “physical altercation” with a pro-Palestinian protester over the Israel-Hamas war. The protester involved reportedly stayed with Kessler and told officials he had called 911. The Ventura County sheriff said Tuesday there had been conflicting reports from witnesses about what occurred prior to Kessler’s fall, and had not ruled out the possibility Kessler was the victim of a hate crime.

Abortion Still a Winner for Dems at the Ballot Box 

Kentucky's incumbent Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear is joined by his wife, Britainy Beshear, Kentucky Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman, and his family as he delivers his victory speech to a crowd at an election night event at Old Forrester's Paristown Hall on November 7, 2023 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen Cohen/Getty Images)
Kentucky's incumbent Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear is joined by his wife, Britainy Beshear, Kentucky Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman, and his family as he delivers his victory speech to a crowd at an election night event at Old Forrester's Paristown Hall on November 7, 2023 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen Cohen/Getty Images)

As has become a predictable tradition, the national media’s coverage previewing yesterday’s state elections emphasized how they could be a harbinger of what’s to come in next year’s presidential contest. Various races were described as a “national litmus test” or a “preview of 2024”—and while off-year elections can be over-analyzed, last night delivered a clear takeaway: Abortion remains a winner for Democrats at the ballot box and a liability for Republicans.

Following a run of state-level victories for abortion access in Kansas, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Michigan, Democrats continued that streak yesterday in state elections and ballot initiatives across the country. Ohio voters passed an amendment enshrining abortion rights into their state constitution, and though abortion wasn’t directly on the ballot in Kentucky or Virginia, elections in both states delivered Republican losses and Democratic gains following campaigns that featured a focus on the issue.

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