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Your Tuesday Briefing: A Mass Shooting Near Chicago



Good morning. We’re covering a mass shooting near Chicago, Russia’s new strategy in eastern Ukraine and the trial of a mysterious Chinese tycoon.

At least six people have been killed in a mass shooting at an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Ill., an affluent, mostly white suburb north of Chicago. The police said at least two dozen more people were injured yesterday. Here are live updates on the shooting.

Police officers recovered a gun and are searching for a suspect. A perimeter was put in place around the downtown area. The police said the gunman had used a rifle and shot from a rooftop.

“By all means, at this point, this appears to be completely random,” a top law enforcement official said.

Context: Top Biden administration officials are concerned with the stubborn, postpandemic rise in violent crime. Both Republicans and some leading Democrats, like Mayor Eric Adams of New York City, are embracing a law-and-order approach before the midterm elections.

Background: Warm weather typically signals an onslaught of violence. In recent years, holidays like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July have proved deadly. Here are live updates from the holiday.

Moscow now controls large parts of Ukraine’s Donbas region. Russia’s victories in the strategic cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk gave it complete control over Luhansk, the first province to fall to Moscow since it took over Crimea in 2014.

The development is a key victory in Russia’s reframed strategy after its stinging defeat around Kyiv, the capital, in the spring. It also demonstrates the success of Moscow’s grinding strategy based upon incremental advances with an overwhelming amount of backing — often in the form of artillery.

Among Ukrainians, a creeping sense of resignation is mounting. But as Russia turns its focus farther inside Ukraine, it is unclear how long its forces can sustain the taxing assault. Here are live updates.

Details: Ukrainian soldiers say that Russian shelling lasts for about five days before Russian forces begin testing Ukrainian lines with foot soldiers and tanks.

Support: U.S. veterans are training Ukrainians near the front lines, despite warnings from the Pentagon.

Dissent: A flurry of high-profile arrests in Russia suggests the Kremlin is further silencing opposition voices.

Five years ago, the tycoon Xiao Jianhua mysteriously disappeared from a luxury hotel in Hong Kong.

Now, Xiao, a Chinese Canadian billionaire, has been put on trial. The Chinese authorities have not released details of the charges against Xiao, once a trusted financier to Beijing’s political elite. Over time, Xiao built a fortune worth as much as $5.8 billion, thanks in part to his high-level political connections.

For years, there was no official word about his whereabouts. The secrecy surrounding Xiao’s case may be related in part to the sensitivity of the information he probably holds.

Analysis: Xiao’s case epitomizes the ruling Communist Party’s efforts to rein in an earlier era of freewheeling capitalism and crack down on the debt-fueled excess that drove China’s recent economic growth.

Background: At one point, Xiao owned stakes in more than 30 Chinese financial institutions. But Tomorrow Group, the holding company behind Xiao’s sprawling business empire, eventually became so big that it threatened the stability of China’s financial system.

Context: Xi Jinping’s campaign against corruption has targeted other tycoons. Lai Xiaomin, the former chairman of a financial firm, was executed last year. Xi also sought to rein in the country’s powerful tech titans, including Jack Ma, the charismatic founder of the e-commerce firm Alibaba.

The photographer Tanveer Badal traveled with a renowned Egyptologist to the pyramids of Giza. Unexpectedly, it rained. The photos are stunning.

My colleague Dodai Stewart spent five days traveling to each of New York City’s five boroughs. Everywhere she went, she wondered: What’s the vibe right now?

“Even though the coronavirus pulled the emergency brake and forced the city to a screeching halt, New York soon lurched right back into motion,” Dodai writes. Optimism is in the air.

“It feels like everybody is trying to rush and do things for ‘just in case,’” said Yolanda Hopson, a 55-year-old Bronx resident sitting serenely on her shaded stoop. “Everybody is living on ‘just in case’ now.”

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Denzel Washington’s 7 Best And 7 Worst Movie Roles Ranked




After his critically acclaimed role in 1989’s “Glory,” Denzel Washington appeared in the lackluster buddy comedy film “Heart Condition,” with the late great Bob Hoskins. In the film, a bigoted white police officer (Hoskins) undergoes a heart transplant after suffering a major heart attack. When he wakes up, he’s surprised to find his new heart previously belonged to a recently deceased Black lawyer (Washington), who visits the officer as a ghost to persuade him to investigate his murder.

It’s a silly setup for a film, and unfortunately, the movie does little to set itself apart from any other buddy cop film that came out around the same time. Instead, it relies too heavily on its mediocre, downright unfunny screenplay, completely failing to capitalize on the considerable talent and chemistry of its two main co-stars.

Roger Ebert probably summed “Heart Condition” up best in his review, saying, “The movie is all over the map, trying whatever seems to work at the moment.” Poorly received in 1990, it frequently occupies the lowest spot on ranked lists of Washington’s films, with many seeing it as a forgettable footnote in an otherwise unforgettable career.

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Biden Dismisses Voter Fraud, but Justice Department Keeps Prosecuting It




The Biden administration’s Justice Department successfully prosecuted election fraud cases last month in Pennsylvania and Louisiana, even as the president has spent much of his term so far asserting that voter fraud is a myth.

Federal prosecutors in individual U.S. attorney’s offices also have brought separate cases in Arizona, North Carolina, and New York during President Joe Biden’s administration.

At the same time, though, Biden ratcheted up rhetoric against state reforms aimed at preventing voter fraud.

Late last year, the White House issued a press release touting plans to “restore and strengthen American democracy” and improve “voting rights.” Part of that effort by the Biden administration included “combating misinformation and disinformation” that could “sow mistrust” in elections. 

‘Exceedingly Rare’

In January, Biden spoke in Atlanta to promote congressional Democrats’ legislation to federalize elections and blasted a Georgia measure aimed at preventing voter fraud. 

The president, referring to the contested 2020 election in which he defeated incumbent Donald Trump, criticized those who were “sowing doubt [and] inventing charges of fraud.”

During his State of the Union address in March, Biden again ripped Republicans’ state legislation to prevent voter fraud, saying: “In state after state, new laws have been passed, not only to suppress the vote, but to subvert entire elections. We cannot let this happen.” 

In July 2021, during a speech in Philadelphia, Biden said the “denial of full and free and fair elections is the most un-American thing that any of us can imagine.”

In August 2021, senior Biden White House officials issued a report criticizing state proposals for election reforms and argued: “An often-cited reason for these bills and laws is voter fraud, yet voter fraud is extremely rare.” 

Louisiana Vote-Buying Case

Last month, two former officials in Amite, Louisiana, pleaded guilty as federal prosecutors pursued their roles in a conspiracy to pay or offer to pay voters for casting ballots in a federal election. 

Court documents said former Amite Police Chief Jerry Trabona, 72, and former Amite City Council member Kristian Hart, 49, paid voters in Tangipahoa Parish to vote in open primary and general elections in 2016 in which they were candidates, according to a Justice Department announcement. 

Trabona and Hart admitted that they agreed to pay voters during the contests, prosecutors said. Because federal candidates appeared on the same ballot, the matter gained the stature of a federal case. 

The former police chief and former council member are scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 1. They face up to five years in prison on each of the three counts. 

“We must have fair elections, free from the taint of corruption, to ensure a fully functional government,” U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans, who oversees the Eastern District of Louisiana, said in a formal statement. 

Former Congressman Pleads Guilty in Philadelphia

In Philadelphia, former Rep. Michael “Ozzie” Myers, 79, pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to deprive voters of civil rights, bribery, obstructing justice, falsifying voting records, and conspiring to illegally vote in a federal election.  

“Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. If even one vote has been illegally cast or if the integrity of just one election official is compromised, it diminishes faith in [the] process,” U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced

“Votes are not things to be purchased and democracy is not for sale,” Williams said. “If you are a political consultant, election official, or work with the polling places in any way, I urge you to do your job honestly and faithfully.” 

Myers, a Democrat, represented Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District for two terms in the late 1970s, but resigned in disgrace in 1980 as part of the broad “Abscam” bribery scandal.  

Myers was convicted and sentenced to federal prison. After his release in 1985, he became a political consultant.

The former congressman admitted to coordinating plots to fraudulently stuff ballot boxes for specific Democratic candidates in Pennsylvania elections in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. 

Myers’ guilty plea came after several others in the conspiracy pleaded guilty last year. The investigation began in 2020 under the Trump administration’s Justice Department and continued during the Biden administration. 

Myers admitted in court to bribing Domenick J. DeMuro, a judge of elections for the 39th Ward, 36th Division, in South Philadelphia. Judge of elections is a title held by some election workers in the city. 

DeMuro pleaded guilty in May 2020. Myers admitted to bribing DeMuro to add votes illegally for certain Democrat candidates in primary elections. 

Some of these candidates were running for judicial office and their campaigns had hired Myers. Others were his favored candidates for federal, state, or local offices. 

Myers solicited “consulting fees” from his clients, then used portions of these funds to pay DeMuro and others to tamper with election results, prosecutors said.

The payments from Meyers ranged from $300 to $5,000 per election. According to the Justice Department, DeMuro added fraudulent votes on a voting machine, also known as “ringing up” votes, for Myers’ clients and preferred candidates, 

Myers also admitted to conspiring to commit election fraud with Marie Beren, a former judge of elections for the 39th Ward, 2nd Division, in South Philadelphia. 

Beren pleaded guilty in October 2021. Myers admitted to giving Beren directions to add votes to his preferred candidates. Myers said that, on almost every Election Day, he drove Beren to a polling station to open up. During the drive, he advised Beren which candidates he was supporting, so that she knew which ones should get fraudulent votes. 

Beren also would advise in-person voters to support and cast fraudulent votes for Myers’ preferred candidates on behalf of voters whom she knew would not or did not show up to vote. 

On a given Election Day, federal prosecutors said, Myers would talk to Beren by cell phone while she was at the polling station about the number of votes cast for his preferred candidates. She would report to Myers. 

If voter turnout were high, Beren would add fewer fraudulent votes in support of Myers’ preferred candidates. 

Prosecutors said that Beren and her accomplices from the Philadelphia Board of Elections would falsify polling books as well as the List of Voters and Party Enrollment for the 39th Ward, 2nd Division, by recording the names, party affiliation, and order of appearance for voters who actually had not showed up at the polling station to cast a ballot. 

Arizona Surprises

In March, a federal judge sentenced Joseph John Marak, of Surprise, Arizona, to 30 months of supervised probation and fined him $2,400 for making a false voter registration application, a felony offense. 

Already a convicted felon, Marak, 62, wasn’t eligible to vote in Arizona, but voted in six federal elections there, federal prosecutors said. 

In January, Marak pleaded guilty to submitting a voter registration application and falsely certified the statement, “I am not a convicted felon.” 

In August 2011, Marak was convicted of 18 felony counts in U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of North Carolina for crimes unrelated to voter fraud charges in Arizona. He was sentenced to 72 months in prison for the North Carolina felonies. 

Based on the fraudulent registration, prosecutors said, Marak voted in elections from 2015 through 2020. 

State laws differ on allowing convicted felons to vote. 

“If you wish to vote in Arizona following a felony conviction, please speak first with your local County Recorder to fully understand the process for restoring your voting rights,” U.S. Attorney Gary Restaino, of the District of Arizona, said in a written statement.

Restaino noted that his office has prosecuted multiple voter fraud cases. 

“This is the second voter fraud case we’ve charged in the last year, and the first arising out of the 2020 election cycle,” Restaino said. 

In February, a federal judge sentenced Marcia Johnson, 70, of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, to one year of supervised probation and fined her $1,000. Johnson pleaded guilty to one count of voting more than once, a felony. 

Iranian Election Meddling

In November, federal prosecutors in New York unsealed an indictment charging two Iranian nationals with involvement in a cyber-enabled campaign to intimidate American voters. 

Seyyed Mohammad Hosein Musa Kazemi, 24, and Sajjad Kashian, 27, obtained confidential voter information from at least one New York state election office website, according to the Justice Department.

Federal prosecutors said the two Iranian nationals also sent threatening email messages to intimidate and interfere with voters; created and disseminated a video containing disinformation about purported vulnerabilities in election infrastructure; and attempted to access, without authorization, the voting-related websites of several states. 

Prosecutors also alleged that Kazemi and Kashian successfully gained unauthorized access to a U.S. media company’s computer network. If not for successful FBI and company efforts to mitigate the threat, prosecutors said, the pair would have used the media outlet to promote false claims after the election.

“As alleged, Kazemi and Kashian were part of a coordinated conspiracy in which Iranian hackers sought to undermine faith and confidence in the U.S. presidential election,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, of the Southern District of New York, said in a formal statement, adding:

Working with others, Kazemi and Kashian accessed voter information from at least one state’s voter database, threatened U.S. voters via email, and even disseminated a fictitious video that purported to depict actors fabricating overseas ballots.

In September and October 2020, the Justice Department said, the two indicted Iranian nationals and other conspirators attempted to compromise 11 state election websites, including those providing voter registration and information services. The Iranians downloaded information on about 100,000 separate voters. 

Claiming to be members of the right-wing militant group known as the Proud Boys, prosecutors said, members of the conspiracy sent false Facebook messages and emails to congressional Republicans and others associated with Trump’s 2020 campaign, as well as to journalists. 

The two Iranians told Republicans that Democrats planned to “edit mail-in ballots or even register non-existent voters,” prosecutors said. 

Noncitizen in North Carolina

In November, a federal grand jury in Raleigh charged a North Carolina man with passport fraud, voting as a noncitizen, and falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen in order to register to vote.

Federal prosecutors said that Garbant Piquant, 53, a resident of Garner, North Carolina, used a false Virginia birth certificate as proof that he was a native-born citizen. 

Federal investigators checked records and determined that the Virginia birth certificate didn’t exist. Instead, they found Piquant’s birth certificate in the Bahamas. 

Prosecutors said he voted in Wake County, North Carolina, primary and general elections from 2018 through 2020. 

Trouble in Troy

In June, a city council member in Troy, New York, pleaded guilty to casting absentee ballots in two other people’s names. She resigned from the council as part of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors. 

Kimberly Ashe-McPherson successfully ran for reelection to the Troy City Council in 2021, first in the primary and then in the general election.  

In her guilty plea, Ashe-McPherson, 61, admitted that in the primary election, she voted by absentee ballot in the name of another person. 

In the general election, she admitted, she voted by absentee ballot in the names of two others. 

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state. 

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Florida gator hunting starts with expanded time, weapons | Ap




ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s alligator hunting season started Monday with new rules expanding the time and weapons that can be used.

The new rules expanded alligator hunting to 24 hours a day, instead of the previous 17 hours a day, primarily at night and early morning, that had been allowed.

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Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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