Trump Says Mar-a-Lago Home in Florida Raided by FBI

Former U.S. President Donald Trump said FBI agents have raided his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.  

“My beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,” Trump said in lengthy statement Monday evening. 

“After working and cooperating with the relevant government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate,” he said.  

Trump did not say why the raid took place. The Justice Department did not immediately comment on Trump’s statement. 

The former president accused the government of “prosecutorial misconduct,” saying the raid amounts to the “weaponization of the Justice System.” 

“Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before,” he said.  

Trump said FBI agents even broke into the safe in his home.  

The developments come as Trump has been preparing for a potential presidential run in 2024, possibly setting himself up for a rematch against President Joe Biden. He accused Democrats of “desperately” not wanting him to run again. 

The Justice Department has been investigating the removal of official presidential records to Trump’s Florida estate at the conclusion of his presidency. It is not clear if the raid has anything to do with that investigation. 

Trump has previously said he agreed to return certain records to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, calling it “an ordinary and routine process.” 

The Justice Department also has been investigating efforts by allies of Trump to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.  

The department has not announced whether it will seek criminal charges against Trump in that investigation. 

Some information in this report comes from The Associated Press and Reuters. 

 

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Lawyer: Giuliani Won’t Testify Tuesday in Georgia Election Probe

Rudy Giuliani will not appear as scheduled Tuesday before a special grand jury in Atlanta that’s investigating whether former President Donald Trump and others illegally tried to interfere in the 2020 general election in Georgia, his lawyer said. 

A judge last month had ordered Giuliani, a Trump lawyer and former New York City mayor, to appear before the special grand jury Tuesday. 

But Giuliani’s attorney, Robert Costello, told The Associated Press on Monday that Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who’s overseeing the special grand jury, had excused Giuliani for the day. 

Nothing in publicly available court documents indicates that Giuliani is excused from appearing, but McBurney has scheduled a hearing for 12:30 p.m. Tuesday to hear arguments on a court filing from Giuliani seeking to delay his appearance. In a court filing Monday, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis asked the judge to deny Giuliani’s request for a delay and to instruct him to appear before the special grand jury as ordered. 

Willis opened an investigation early last year, and a special grand jury with subpoena power was seated in May at her request. 

Last month she filed petitions seeking to compel testimony from seven Trump advisers and associates, including Giuliani. Because they don’t live in Georgia, she had to use a process that involves getting a judge in the state where they live to order them to appear. 

New York Supreme Court Justice Thomas Farber on July 13 issued an order directing Giuliani to appear before the special grand jury on August 9 and on any other dates ordered by the court in Atlanta. 

Giuliani’s legal team last week asked Willis’ office to delay his appearance, saying he was unable to travel because of a medical procedure. That request was rejected after Willis’ team found evidence on social media that he had traveled since his medical procedure. 

A Giuliani attorney then clarified to Willis’ team that Giuliani is not cleared for air travel, but Willis still refused to postpone his appearance, the motion says. 

In her Monday court filing, Willis wrote that her team had obtained records indicating that between July 19 and July 21, Giuliani bought multiple airline tickets, including tickets to Rome, Italy, and Zurich, Switzerland, for travel dates between July 22 and July 29. Willis said her team offered to provide alternative transportation — including bus or train fare — if Giuliani wasn’t cleared for air travel. 

Giuliani had also offered to appear virtually, for example by Zoom, his motion says. 

“It is important to note here that Mr. Giuliani is no way seeking to inappropriately delay or obstruct these proceedings or avoid giving evidence or testimony that is not subject to some claim of privilege in this matter,” the motion says, noting that Giuliani had appeared virtually before the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and testified for more than nine hours. 

“Mr. Giuliani is willing to do the same here under conditions that replicate a grand jury proceeding,” the motion says. 

In the petition for Giuliani’s testimony, Willis identified him as both a personal attorney for Trump and a lead attorney for his campaign. 

She wrote that he and others presented a Georgia state Senate subcommittee with a video recording of election workers that Giuliani alleged showed them producing “suitcases” of unlawful ballots from unknown sources, outside the view of election poll watchers. 

Within 24 hours of that hearing on Dec. 3, 2020, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office had debunked the video and said that it had found that no voter fraud had taken place at the site. Nevertheless, Giuliani continued to make statements to the public and in subsequent legislative hearings claiming widespread voter fraud using that debunked video, Willis wrote. 

Evidence shows that Giuliani’s appearance and testimony at the hearing “was part of a multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump Campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere,” the petition says. 

 

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Nonprofits Launch $100M Plan to Support Local Health Workers

A new philanthropic project hopes to invest $100 million in 10 countries, mostly in Africa, by 2030 to support 200,000 community health workers, who serve as a critical bridge to treatment for people with limited access to medical care.

The Skoll Foundation and The Johnson & Johnson Foundation announced Monday that they donated a total of $25 million to the initiative. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, which will oversee the project, matched the donations and hopes to raise an additional $50 million.

The investment seeks to empower the front-line workers that experts say are essential to battling outbreaks of COVID-19, Ebola and HIV.

“What have we found out in terms of community health workers?” said Francisca Mutapi, a professor at the University of Edinburgh, who helps lead a multiyear project to treat neglected tropical diseases in multiple African countries. “They are very popular. They are very effective. They are very cost effective.”

On a recent trip to Zimbabwe for research, Mutapi described how a community health worker negotiated the treatment of a parasitic infection in a young child who was part of a religious group that doesn’t accept clinical medicine.

“She’s going to the river, getting on with her day-to-day business, and she notices that one of the children in her community is complaining about a stomachache,” said Mutapi.

The woman approached the child’s grandmother for permission to bring the child to a clinic, which diagnosed and began treating the child for bilharzia. That would not have happened without the woman’s intervention, Mutapi said.

Ashley Fox, an associate professor specializing in global health policy at Albany, SUNY, said evidence shows community health workers can effectively deliver low-cost care “when they are properly equipped and trained and paid – that’s a big caveat.”

Though the current number of these workers is not well documented, in 2017, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that the continent required 2 million to meet health targets. Many of these workers are women and unpaid, though The Global Fund advocates for some sort of salary for them.

“It’s hard to think of a better set of people that you would want to be paying if you think about it from both the point of view of creating good jobs as well as maximizing the health impact,” said Peter Sands, the fund’s executive director.

The Global Fund, founded in 2002, channels international financing with the aim of eradicating treatable infectious diseases. In addition to its regular three-year grants to countries, it will deploy these new philanthropic donations through a catalytic fund to encourage spending on some of the best practices and program designs.

Last Mile Health, part of the Africa Frontline First health initiative, has worked with the Liberian government to expand and strengthen its community health program since 2016.

In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, former Liberian president and Noble Peace Prize recipient, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, convened Last Mile Health and other organizations to grapple with a response.

“We were all kind of seeing the Deja vu moment of recalling back to a couple of years ago where Liberia was beset by this tragic epidemic of Ebola,” said Nan Chen, managing director of Last Mile Health. “And as President Sirleaf reminded us: the tide was turned when we turned to the community.”

Along with the other organizations that specialize in the financing, research and policy of public health, they set about designing an initiative to expand community health programs and to capitalize on the attention the pandemic brought to the need for disease surveillance.

The catalytic fund is the result. “I think the pandemic has shone a light on the critical role of these health workers,” said Lauren Moore, vice president of global community impact at Johnson & Johnson.

Don Gips, CEO of the Skoll Foundation, emphasized that these workers also can raise early warnings that benefit people everywhere.

“It’s critical not just for delivering health care in Africa, but this is how we’ll also catch the next set of diseases that could threaten populations around the world,” said Gips, who is also the former U.S. ambassador to South Africa. 

Last Mile Health won a major donation from the Skoll Foundation in 2017 and has also received large donations from the Audacious Project from TED and Co-Impact, another funding collective. The organization’s co-founder, Raj Panjabi, now serves in the Biden administration.

“What philanthropy has noticed about Last Mile Health is that we were not only taking direct action on the problem by actively managing community health worker programs, but that we were seeing our innovation adopted in national policy at scale,” said James Nardella, the organization’s chief program officer.

SUNY’s Fox and other experts say linking the work of community health care workers to the national health system is a priority, along with securing sustainable funding for their programs.

The Global Fund said it will assist countries with the design of proposed community health care worker expansions over the next year.

Chen acknowledged there is no silver bullet for the issue of sustainability.

“Part of the work that organizations like Last Mile Health have to do is to sit in that discomfort and wrestle with it, with our partners, with donors, until we incrementally squeeze out the solution here,” Chen said.

Mutapi said eventually governments must fund the programs themselves and she argued the experiences of places like Zimbabwe and Liberia with community health workers could benefit people in other contexts as well.

“Actually, having lived on Scottish islands, which are inaccessible,” she said, the innovation of community health workers is “something that actually can be exported to Western communities that are remote because that connection between a health provider and the local community is really important for compliance and for access.” 

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Five Southern African Countries Kick-Start Elephant Census

Five southern African countries, with more than half the continent’s elephants, are conducting a first-ever aerial census to determine the elephant population and how to protect it. 

Light aircraft will fly simultaneously across the plains of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe — in a conservation area known as the Kavango-Zambezi Trans-frontier Conservation Area (KAZA) — in an exercise that will run until October 20.

KAZA is home to an estimated 220,000 elephants, and the five countries are keen to know the exact figures and the animals’ distribution patterns. 

More than 130,000 of the animals are found in Botswana, which has the world’s largest elephant population. 

Botswana’s National Parks and Wildlife director, Kabelo Senyatso, said the population count will be key in the management of the elephants. 

The data primarily will be used to guide decision-making by the five partner states, Senyatso said, including land-use planning, managing human-elephant conflict, hunting, and tourism.

Senyatso said the exercise is critical for a region with a high number of trans-boundary elephants. 

“It is important that as managers of the resource, we have a clear understanding of where they are and how they are distributed across the landscape,” Senyatso said. “It is an exciting project, the first of its kind. We expect the data on the patterns to be analyzed starting early 2023 such that by quarter one of 2023, we would already be having preliminary data that we can share with the public and for our decision-making.”      

KAZA’s executive director, Nyambe Nyambe, said the elephant count will determine a scientific approach to the management of the elephant populations.      

“It is highly anticipated that it will generate science-based information on the population distribution and other factors and is a reaffirmation of the KAZA partner states’ commitment to the joint pursuit of science-led conservation supported by accurate and reliable data,” Nyambe said. “The results from this survey will become the cornerstone for the long-term protection and management of Africa’s largest trans-boundary elephant population.”     

Botswana-based conservationist Map Ives said revealing the elephant migration patterns across the five countries’ borders is key. 

“We hope to see what the results come up with,” Ives said. “What we will be interested in seeing is not only how many elephants there are but the distribution, therefore, and what the likelihood of those elephants moving between countries is. We know that this population is one single contiguous population.”          

While elephant populations are increasing in the KAZA region, elsewhere on the African continent the numbers are decreasing due to loss of habitat and poaching. 

 

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Australia to Permit Offshore Wind Farms 

Offshore wind farms are to be permitted for the first time in Australia. The Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen has declared part of the Victoria coast an offshore wind zone and a 60-day community consultation process will soon begin.

The Australian government has designated the country’s first offshore wind zone, which gives developers permission to increase their planning and consultation for wind farm projects.

Australia currently has no offshore wind generation, which was seen as too expensive and hard to build compared to onshore wind or solar projects.

The Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen says there is no time to lose.

“We are way behind the game, way behind the rest of the world in producing wind off our coastline. Again, we have a lot of catching up to do. Offshore wind is jobs-rich and energy-rich,” he said.

The first official offshore wind zone is off the Gippsland coast in the state of Victoria. There are plans to install up to 200 wind turbines, with the closest located 7 kilometers from the coastline. It would be one of the world’s largest wind farms. Construction could begin in 2025.

Other areas will follow off the coasts of New South Wales, Tasmania and Western Australia.

Erin Coldham, the acting chief executive of the Danish-owned Star of the South wind project in the Bass Strait in Victoria, says the project will help reduce Australia’s reliance on fossil fuels.

“In the region where we are looking to put a project in Gippsland, it is a region that has been generating power for over 100 years and been working in the offshore oil and gas business. But those communities know those opportunities will not be around forever. So, there is a really strong sense of enthusiasm for technologies like offshore wind to continue that tradition into the future,” said Coldham.

Wind turbines have been identified as a key part in Australia’s plan to generate more than 80% of its energy needs with renewable sources by 2030.

In 2020, 24% of Australia’s electricity came from renewable energy, up from 21% in 2019.

Solar is Australia’s largest source of green power. A quarter of Australian homes have rooftop solar systems — the highest uptake in the world.

But despite this, Australia has been one of the world’s worst per capita emitters of greenhouse pollution. Coal and gas still generate most of its electricity. Analysts have said that for years it has been regarded as a climate laggard.

But that perception is now changing.

For the first time, Australia has a legislated target to cut greenhouse gas output.

Last week, new laws were passed by the federal parliament in Canberra that will cut carbon emissions by 43% by 2030.

 

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At Least 100,000 Expected for NASA’s Moon Launch

Sold-out hotels. Excitement that seems to grow by the day. The potential for hundreds of thousands of visitors, support staff, and more.

These are just a few of the factors being calculated into preparations for Artemis I, the first launch of NASA’s moon-focused Space Launch System rocket slated for Aug. 29. Standing 322 feet tall, it promises to be the biggest, most powerful rocket to launch from the Space Coast in years – bringing with it a level of excitement to match.

All told, Space Coast officials are expecting at least 100,000 visitors for the rocket’s first window, which includes opportunities on Aug. 29, Sept. 2, and Sept. 5 (Labor Day). Currently, T-0 on Aug. 29 is set for 8:33 a.m. ET. Pad 39B will host.

The rocket is part of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to put humans back on the moon sometime this decade. That starts with the uncrewed Artemis I mission and its plan to take an Orion capsule on a four-to-six-week journey to the moon and back. Artemis II will do the same with astronauts, then Artemis III will put two astronauts on the surface sometime after 2024.

Hotels and tourism

The Space Coast isn’t a stranger to launch day crowds. During the space shuttle era that ran through 2011, half a million or more visitors would sometimes flood the area, scooping up hotel rooms and packing local businesses.

Since then, crowds have been smaller, but still significant. Even during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, thousands still flocked to Brevard County to see launches.

Some of the recent SpaceX Crew Dragon launches, which take astronauts to the International Space Station from KSC, have drawn between 100,000 and 250,000 visitors, according to Peter Cranis, executive director of the Space Coast Office of Tourism. It wouldn’t be a stretch to expect more than 100,000 for Artemis I.

“I think the crewed launches and these Artemis launches are going to be of equal interest to people,” Cranis said. “I would expect certainly over 100,000, if not more, coming for that.”

As of June, Cranis said, Brevard County had 10,734 hotel rooms and 4,500 vacation rental units. Each unit can obviously accommodate more than one person, but those numbers likely won’t be impacted by spectators driving from Orlando, for example, to see the launch without staying overnight.

Speaking to the greater launch cadence, Cranis said Artemis also supports his office’s efforts at marketing the Space Coast. Both KSC and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station have hosted 32 launches this year, a pace not seen since the 1960s.

“Our marketing line is we’re the only beach that doubles as a launch pad and now that’s a message we can put out there because the frequency is so elevated,” he said. “Being known for that is something that makes us special among our peers who obviously have beaches to promote, but no space program.”

Just glancing at hotel room listings shows a rapidly dwindling supply among those that haven’t been sold out.

The space-themed Courtyard by Marriott Titusville – Kennedy Space Center is one of the area’s newest hotels. Completed this year and opened to the public in April, it boasts views of KSC and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station pads and even has a rooftop “Space Bar” specifically for launch viewing.

All the Courtyard’s rooms, along with the Space Bar, are sold out for Artemis I.

“We’ve had more and more people discover the hotel since it opened in April, with steadily increasing room bookings and patronage of The Space Bar on the roof,” said Glen White, director of corporate communications for Delaware North. The company franchised the Courtyard hotel brand and paid for the project.

“We also anticipate having people book rooms and visit the Space Bar to feel the excitement of seeing Artemis on the launch pad in the days leading up to launch,” White said.

Delaware North’s main Space Coast operation is the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, which is expecting to sell out its Artemis day offerings.

“We are expecting capacity crowds at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for the upcoming Artemis launch,” said Therrin Protze, the visitor complex’s chief operating officer. “(The visitor complex) will offer special Artemis launch viewing packages that will include some of the closest public viewing opportunities with distinctive experiences like live commentary from space experts and access to select exhibits and attractions.”

Artemis I’s launch ties in with the complex’s recently opened “Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex” exhibit, which focuses on the future of spaceflight. Inside the new exhibit is a scale model of the SLS rocket, a flown Orion capsule similar to the one on Artemis I, and other items like a ceiling-mounted SpaceX Falcon Heavy booster.

The visitor complex’s tickets for Artemis I viewing will go on sale 11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2, at the Kennedy Space Center website.

Kennedy Space Center and media

Crowds gathering to see the launch as spectators aren’t the only visitors expected on the Space Coast. Hundreds of media members from around the world have signed up to cover the liftoff, too.

KSC’s public affairs team confirmed at least 700 media have signed up so far, a figure that dwarfs typical launches and is closer to crowds seen during the space shuttle program. Heather Scott, a spokesperson for the Space Force’s Space Launch Delta 45, said the military branch will also be pitching in to help manage media.

“The growing sense of energy and excitement that has been steadily building around Kennedy and among our workforce in the last year is tangible,” said Mike Bolger, director of KSC’s Exploration Ground Systems. “A sense of anticipation is growing daily as we close in on launching this amazing rocket and spacecraft.”

From an employee perspective, launch day car passes that can be used to bring personal vehicles – and family and friends, in most cases – are highly sought after.

And it’s not just about launch day viewing: employees not directly working on Artemis have been handling non-critical items for those who are, even going as far as buying their lunch to help free up time.

“Our teams are laser-focused on walking SLS and Orion through the final steps before its maiden flight around the moon, but the excitement across the center is palpable,” KSC Director Janet Petro said. “You can see it in peoples’ faces, you can hear it in their voices, and when we all stand together with our eyes to the sky on launch day, I don’t think there will be a feeling in the world like it.”

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