Marjorie Taylor Greene deceptively tells Trump rally that Democrat ‘killings’ of Republicans have already started

Insider

Marjorie Taylor Greene deceptively tells Trump rally that Democrat ‘killings’ of Republicans have already started

Joshua Zitser – October 2, 2022

Majorie Taylor Greene waves to the crowd before she makes speaks during a Save America rally on October 1, 2022 in Warren, Michigan. Emily Elconin/Getty Images
Marjorie Taylor Greene deceptively tells Trump rally that Democrat ‘killings’ of Republicans have already started

Marjorie Taylor Greene spoke at a rally for Donald Trump in Michigan on Saturday night.

A video shows her accusing Democrats of murdering Republicans, saying the “killings” have already begun.

She referenced two local stories, neither of which appear to back the claim that Republicans are being hunted down.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene deceptively claimed at a rally for former President Donald Trump in Warren, Michigan, on Saturday that Democrats are murdering Republicans.

“I’m not going to mince words with you all,” Greene said. “Democrats want Republicans dead. They’ve already started the killings.”

Greene, who has repeatedly spread bizarre conspiracy theories, went on to reference two local news stories to support her baseless claim that Democrats are hunting down GOP voters.

“An 18-year-old was run down by a Democrat driver who confessed to killing the teenager simply because he was a Republican,” said Greene. The claim was met with boos from the crowd.

Greene appears to be referring to an incident in North Dakota in which a man fatally struck a teenager with his SUV. The 41-year-old suspect, who fled the fatal crash scene, told police that he believed the 18-year-old victim was “part of a Republican extremist group” and had been “threatening him,” per Dailymail.com.

However, North Dakota Highway Patrol Captain Bryan Niewind told Fox News that his department’s investigations have “uncovered no evidence to support the claim” that the murder had anything to do with politics or that the victim was a Republican.

Greene also referenced an 83-year-old woman in Michigan who was “shot in the back for advocating for the unborn.”

It refers to another local story in which a Michigan man reportedly shot an elderly pro-life volunteer who he said refused to leave his property. The unnamed canvasser got into a “screaming” match with the man’s wife over abortion, per Fox News. The Michigan man, speaking to News 8, said he shot the 83-year-old by “accident” after accusing her several times of trespassing.

It is not known whether the Michigan man is a Democrat. The elderly woman survived. Michigan State Police is investigating the incident.

Greene continued her speech by making additional incendiary remarks. “Joe Biden has declared every freedom-loving American an enemy of the state,” she said.

It was Trump who used this specific terminology, referring to President Joe Biden as an “enemy of the state” during a rally in Pennsylvania last month.

“We will take back our country from the communists who have stolen it and want us to disappear,” she continued. “We will expose the unelected bureaucrats, the real enemies within, who have abused their power and have declared political warfare on the greatest president this country has ever had.”

Insider contacted Greene for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

Kagan warns the Supreme Court must ‘act like a court’ to keep Americans’ faith

USA Today

Kagan warns the Supreme Court must ‘act like a court’ to keep Americans’ faith

John Fritze, USA TODAY – October 1, 2022

WASHINGTON – Associate Justice Elena Kagan isn’t waiting to get back onto the Supreme Court’s bench before posing some tough questions.

As the high court readied itself for another consequential term, Kagan used a series of public appearances to describe how she believes the court should function – and to warn that Americans will lose faith if the institution is viewed as another political branch.

It goes without saying that the former solicitor general and dean of Harvard Law School chose her words carefully, declining to cite by name the landmark decision in June  to overturn Roe v. Wade, for instance, or a major ruling days later that has left many gun regulations in states across the country on shaky ground under the Second Amendment.

But one need not squint too hard to see Kagan’s meaning.

“The court shouldn’t be wandering around just inserting itself into every hot button issue in America, and it especially, you know, shouldn’t be doing that in a way that reflects one ideology or one…set of political views over another,” she said Sept. 19 during a question-and-answer session at Salve Regina University in Rhode Island.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan addresses the crowd alongside Jim Ludes, vice president for strategic initiatives at Salve Regina University, during a visit to the school's campus on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022.
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan addresses the crowd alongside Jim Ludes, vice president for strategic initiatives at Salve Regina University, during a visit to the school’s campus on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022.

Roberts: Chief Justice defends Supreme Court’s legitimacy post-Roe

Guns: Trump banned bump stocks after deadly Las Vegas shooting. Now the issue is in the Supreme Court’s hands

“A court does best when it keeps to the legal issues, when it doesn’t allow personal political views, personal policy views to an affect or infect, its judging,” said Kagan, who was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2010. “And the worst moments for the court have been times when judges have allowed that to happen.”

Kagan made a nearly identical point a week earlier at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and again at an earlier event in New York.

Her remarks come after a term in which the court’s 6-3 conservative majority consistently decided the biggest cases – on abortionguns and religion – in ways that aligned closely to conservative political ideology. The rulings caused outrage on the left, led to protests outside some of the justices’ homes and sent the court’s approval rating into a tailspin.

Opinion: How should Republicans answer questions about abortion? Stand firm on the side of life.

The high court begins hearing cases during its new term on Oct. 3. On the docket so far: whether universities may consider race in admissions, whether certain matrimonial businesses may turn away customers seeking services for their same-sex weddings, and how much oversight state legislatures will have in setting the rules for federal elections

Only 28% of Americans have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the Supreme Court, down from 39% two years ago, according to a Marquette Law School poll in July.  That poll found that approval of the court had fallen to 38% compared with 66% in 2020.

Abortion: Alito dismisses criticism from global leaders of decision overturning Roe

Chief Justice John Roberts defended the court’s work last month, arguing that while its opinions are open to criticism from the public, the institution’s legitimacy shouldn’t be called into question “simply because people disagree with an opinion.”

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan participates in a panel discussion with Hari Osofsky, dean of the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, in the Law School's Thorne Auditorium, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022.
Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan participates in a panel discussion with Hari Osofsky, dean of the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, in the Law School’s Thorne Auditorium, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022.

In the abortion case, Roberts voted to uphold a Mississippi law that banned most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, but he – unlike the five other conservative justices – did not see the need to overturn Roe. The chief justice joined his conservative colleagues in the Second Amendment case.

“Lately, the criticism is phrased in terms of, you know, because of these opinions, it calls into question the legitimacy of the court,” Roberts said at a judicial conference in Colorado. “If they want to say that its legitimacy is in question, they’re free to do so. But I don’t understand the connection between opinions that people disagree with and the legitimacy of the court.”

That view has drawn pushback from critics who say it’s only partly about the outcome of individual cases. It’s also the case, they say, that the high court repeatedly upheld its  1973 Roe v. Wade decision until former President Donald Trump nominated and won confirmation for three justices, giving conservatives a super majority. Trump repeatedly promised to nominate judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Without mentioning Roberts, Kagan indicated her point was broader: That Americans need to have confidence the Supreme Court’s decisions are based on judicial philosophies and doctrines that are applied evenly – regardless of whether the outcome matches the party platform of the president who nominated the justices in the majority.    

“The thing that builds up reservoirs of public confidence is…the court acting like a court and not acting like an extension of the political process,” she said.

“I’m not talking about the popularity of particular Supreme Court decisions,” Kagan said at the Northwestern event last week. “What I am talking about is what gives the people in our country a sort of underlying sense that the court is doing its job.”

Facing a Dire Storm Forecast in Florida, Officials Delayed Evacuation

The New York Times

Facing a Dire Storm Forecast in Florida, Officials Delayed Evacuation

Frances Robles – October 1, 2022

Tristan Stout surveys damage to his father's boat after it was thrown across the street as Hurricane Ian swept over San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla. on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Jason Andrew/The New York Times)
Tristan Stout surveys damage to his father’s boat after it was thrown across the street as Hurricane Ian swept over San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla. on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Jason Andrew/The New York Times)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — As Hurricane Ian charged toward the western coast of Florida this week, the warnings from forecasters were growing more urgent. Life-threatening storm surge threatened to deluge the region from Tampa all the way to Fort Myers.

But while officials along much of that coastline responded with orders to evacuate Monday, emergency managers in Lee County held off, pondering during the day whether to tell people to flee, but then deciding to see how the forecast evolved overnight.

The delay, an apparent violation of the meticulous evacuation strategy the county had crafted for just such an emergency, may have contributed to catastrophic consequences that are still coming into focus as the death toll continues to climb.

Dozens have died overall in the state, officials said, as Ian, downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, moved through North Carolina and Virginia on Saturday, at one point leaving nearly 400,000 electricity customers in those states without power.

About 35 of Florida’s storm-related deaths have been identified in Lee County, the highest toll anywhere in the state, as survivors describe the sudden surge of water — predicted as a possibility by the National Hurricane Service in the days before the storm hit — that sent some of them scrambling for safety in attics and on rooftops.

Lee County, which includes the hard-hit seaside community of Fort Myers Beach, as well as the towns of Fort Myers, Sanibel and Cape Coral, did not issue a mandatory evacuation order for the areas likely to be hardest hit until Tuesday morning, a day after several neighboring counties had ordered their most vulnerable residents to flee.

By then, some residents recalled that they had little time to evacuate. Dana Ferguson, 33, a medical assistant in Fort Myers, said she had been at work when the first text message appeared on her phone Tuesday morning. By the time she arrived home, it was too late to find anywhere to go, so she hunkered down with her husband and three children to wait as a wall of water began surging through areas of Fort Myers, including some that were well away from the coastline.

“I felt there wasn’t enough time,” she said.

Ferguson said she and her family fled to the second floor, lugging a generator and dry food, as the water rose through their living room. The 6-year-old was in tears.

Kevin Ruane, a Lee County commissioner and a former mayor of Sanibel, said the county had postponed ordering an extensive evacuation because the earlier hurricane modeling had shown the storm heading farther north.

“I think we responded as quickly as we humanly could have,” he said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and his state emergency management director also said the earlier forecasts had predicted the brunt of the storm’s fury would strike farther north.

“There is a difference between a storm that’s going to hit north Florida that will have peripheral effects on your region, versus one that’s making a direct impact,” DeSantis said at a news conference Friday in Lee County. “And so what I saw in southwest Florida is, as the data changed, they sprung into action.”

But while the track of Hurricane Ian did shift closer to Lee County in the days before it made landfall, the surge risks the county faced — even with the more northerly track — were becoming apparent as early as Sunday night.

At that point, the National Hurricane Center produced modeling showing a chance of a storm surge covering much of Cape Coral and Fort Myers. Parts of Fort Myers Beach, even in that case, had a 40% chance of a 6-foot-high storm surge, according to the surge forecasts.

Lee County’s emergency planning documents had set out a time-is-of-the-essence strategy, noting that the region’s large population and limited road system make it difficult to evacuate the county swiftly. Over years of work, the county has created a phased approach that expands the scope of evacuations in proportion to the certainty of risk. “Severe events may require decisions with little solid information,” the documents say.

The county’s plan proposes an initial evacuation if there is even a 10% chance that a storm surge will go 6 feet above ground level; based on a sliding scale, the plan also calls for an evacuation if there is a 60% chance of a 3-foot storm surge.

Along with the forecasts Sunday night, updated forecasts Monday warned that many areas of Cape Coral and Fort Myers had between a 10% and a 40% chance of a storm surge above 6 feet, with some areas possibly seeing a surge of more than 9 feet.

Over those Monday hours, neighboring Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte counties issued evacuation orders, while Sarasota County announced that it expected evacuation orders to be in effect for the following morning. In Lee County, however, officials said they were waiting to make a more up-to-date assessment the following morning.

“Once we have a better grasp on all of that dynamic, we will have a better understanding about what areas we may call for evacuation, and, at the same time, a determination of what shelters will be open,” the Lee County manager, Roger Desjarlais, said Monday afternoon.

But forecasters with the National Hurricane Center were growing more explicit in their warnings for the region. In a 5 p.m. update Monday, they wrote that the highest risk for “life-threatening storm surge” was in the area from Fort Myers to Tampa Bay.

“Residents in these areas should listen to advice given by local officials,” the hurricane center wrote. New modeling showed that some areas along Fort Myers Beach were more likely than not to see a 6-foot surge.

Ruane, the county commissioner, said that one challenge the county faced was that the local schools had been designed to be shelters and that the school board had made the decision to keep them open Monday.

By 7 a.m. Tuesday, Desjarlais announced a partial evacuation order but emphasized that “the areas being evacuated are small” compared with a previous hurricane evacuation.

The county held off on further evacuations, despite a forecast that showed potential surge into areas not covered by the order. Officials expanded their evacuation order later in the morning.

By the middle of the afternoon, Lee County officials were more urgent in their recommendation: “The time to evacuate is now, and the window is closing,” they wrote in a message on Facebook.

Katherine Morong, 32, said she had been prepared earlier in the week to hunker down and ride out the storm based on the guidance from local officials. The sudden evacuation order Tuesday morning left her scrambling, she said, as she set out in her car in the rain.

“The county could have been more proactive and could have given us more time to evacuate,” she said. On the road toward the east side of the state, she said, she was driving through torrents of rain, with tornadoes nearby.

Joe Brosseau, 65, said he did not receive any evacuation notice. As the storm surge began pouring in Wednesday morning, he said, he considered evacuating but realized it was too late.

He climbed up a ladder with his 70-year-old wife and dog to reach a crawl space in his garage. He brought tools in case he needed to break through the roof to escape.

“It was terrifying,” Brosseau said. “It was the absolute scariest thing. Trying to get that dog and my wife up a ladder to the crawl space. And then to spend six hours there.”

Some residents said they had seen the forecasts but decided to remain at home anyway — veterans of many past storms with dire predictions that had not come to pass.

“People were made aware, they were told about the dangers and some people just made the decision that they did not want to leave,” DeSantis said Friday.

Joe Santini, a retired physician assistant, said he would not have fled his home even if there had been an evacuation order issued well before the storm. He said that he had lived in the Fort Myers area most of his life, and that he would not know where else to go.

“I’ve stuck around for every other one,” he said.

The water rushed into his home around dusk Wednesday night, and Friday, there was still a high-water mark about a foot above the floor — leaving Santini a little stunned. “I don’t think it’s ever surged as high as it did,” he said.

Lee County is now an epicenter of devastation, with mass destruction at Fort Myers Beach, the partial collapse of the Sanibel Causeway and entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble. With water mains broken, the county utilities agency has advised residents to boil their water.

President Joe Biden said Friday that the destruction from the storm was likely to be among the worst in U.S. history.

“It’s going to take months, years to rebuild,” he said.

The US Navy said ‘traces’ of jet fuel were found in the water on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. A sailor says the problem was way worse.

Business Insider

The US Navy said ‘traces’ of jet fuel were found in the water on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. A sailor says the problem was way worse.

Jake Epstein – October 1, 2022

Washing down on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz
Washing down on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.US Navy
  • The US Navy said it found only “traces” of jet fuel in the water on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.
  • But a sailor told Insider that they were exposed to an “unhealthy amount” of fuel and shared a photo as evidence.
  • They also said they didn’t immediately receive medical attention, despite health concerns.

The US Navy acknowledged recently that the water the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz uses to bathe and drink was contaminated by what it described as “traces” of jet fuel, but a sailor on the ship said the situation was worse than the service first let on.

The crew learned about two weeks ago that the water supply had a problem. Specifically, the water had become a troublingly discolored fluid with a bad smell, a sailor said. Testing found what the Navy said were “detectable traces” of hydrocarbons, a chemical component of jet fuel.

In a recent interview with Insider, a sailor aboard the ship described a situation that appears to be far worse than what was initially indicated by the Navy.

“We were exposed to an unhealthy amount of JP-5,” the Nimitz sailor, whose identity is known to Insider but is being withheld due to concerns about the possibility of retribution, said this week. JP-5, or jet-propellant-5, is a kerosene-based fuel that is used in military aircraft and is a go-to for the Navy’s carrier air wings.

Related video: The true cost of the most advanced aircraft carrier, USS Ford

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The sailor explained that although they and their shipmates drank and showered with the contaminated water, they were initially denied medical attention for issues that were believed to be related to their exposure to jet fuel.

After earlier Navy assurances there had been no ill effects, a spokesman for 3rd Fleet told Insider on Friday that five sailors have reported health issues that could be related to the contamination and that the ship’s leadership is monitoring the situation. In an overnight update, Insider was informed the number has since risen to 10.

Cmdr. Sean Robertson, a fleet spokesperson, told Insider on Friday that “if we receive any additional reports of potentially contaminated water, we will immediately investigate and take appropriate action to safeguard the crew.” The parents of the sailor Insider spoke with said at that time that the carrier’s medical team was still turning away some sailors.

Discovering jet fuel in the water

The sailor said they were first informed there was jet fuel in the water on the evening of September 16. A Navy spokesperson confirmed this date to Task & Purpose, one of the outlets that along with Navy Times first reported on the problem, and said that the crew “immediately took action.”

The sailor said that the ship’s commanding officer announced to the ship that night that jet fuel had been discovered in the water, stressing that the crew of roughly 3,000 should not drink it and that they should drink only distributed bottled water until they returned to port.

The sailor said that later that night, however, they were told by the ship’s executive officer and the commanding officer that the water was actually safe to drink and that there was nothing to worry about.

“It was not safe to drink,” the sailor said. “People believed the CO and XO, and people were showering in this stuff.”

On the morning of September 17, the aircraft carrier arrived at San Diego’s Naval Air Station North Island, and by noon, the carrier was connected to the local water supply. It wasn’t until that point that the Nimitz leadership reversed course again and said the water was actually unsafe to drink and shower in, the sailor said.

Throughout the night and through the morning, people were under the impression that the water was safe, despite indications that it wasn’t, the sailor said.

“Medical was refusing to see patients or acknowledge that anything going on with patients or different sailors had anything related to the JP-5,” the sailor said, adding that medical staff “refused” to note the JP-5 exposure in sailors’ records.

The Nimitz sailor said that one fellow service member was throwing up while another had a rash. In a separate interview with Insider, the sailor’s parents — whose identities are also known to Insider but are being withheld to protect the sailor — said they noticed their sailor had developed a dry cough after the exposure.

“Medical was telling us that it’ll just pass through you,” the sailor said. They said that after reviewing a safety data sheet, which has information about hazardous chemicals, and cross-referencing their jet fuel exposure, it was clear they should seek medical attention.

Sailors participate in a countermeasure wash down on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz
Sailors participate in a countermeasure wash down on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.US Navy
Testing the water

The sailor explained that when the ship’s water tanks were opened for inspection late on September 17, a “thick layer of JP-5 on top of the potable water” was found. The next step was trying to flush the jet fuel out of the system.

They said that starting the next day on September 18, crewmembers began conducting taste- and smell-tests of the ship’s water — a process that continued for at least the following 10 days and something the sailor described as a “big concern.”

Though Cmdr. Robertson did not say anything about taste testing, he did tell Insider that a “sniffer team” of Nimitz sailors has been tasked with checking out “hot spots,” areas with concerning odors.

The process described by the sailor involved filling and then dumping the water tanks and then sampling the water for jet fuel. In draining the tank, however, they frequently spotted the fuel leaving residue along the sides of the tank.

“So basically what we’re doing is draining the water out, filling it back up, and letting the JP-5 coat the sides of the tank,” the sailor said.

By September 21, the water on the carrier had been laboratory-tested twice.

A Navy official told Insider that an initial test of water samples from September 19 did not “detect measurable amounts of fuel hydrocarbons.” The official said more testing on water samples from the Nimitz’s potable water tanks on September 21, however, did reveal “detectable traces of hydrocarbons.” The Navy did not disclose the specific amount detected.

But the sailor rejected the notion that there were only “traces” of jet fuel, pointing to the “thick layer” of fuel they saw on top of the water in samples.

The aircraft carrier was supposed to depart San Diego late last week, but it ended up staying in port. The sailor speculated that this may have been because of media coverage and attention, which they said is what initially triggered the laboratory tests — not the crew’s suspicion that there was still jet fuel in the water.

To highlight the visible impact of the jet fuel contaminating the water, the sailor’s family provided Insider with a screenshot of a text exchange between the parents and the sailor.

A screenshot of a text exchange with a photo of a sample of what was identified as water from the USS Nimitz contaminated with jet fuel.
A screenshot of a text exchange with a photo of a sample of what a sailor said was water from the USS Nimitz contaminated with jet fuel.Courtesy photo

In the exchange is a photograph, shared with the sailor by a shipmate. The photo was taken shortly after it was first announced that there was jet fuel in the water, the sailor said, and appears to show a water sample — drawn from a water fountain — consisting of a thick, green, layer on the top and a murky, white layer on the bottom.

Working through the aftermath

The sailor said that as of this week, some of their fellow Navy sailors were still drinking and showering with the contaminated water because “we don’t have much of another option.”

The shore water looks clear and has gotten better, they said, but the smell and taste of jet fuel still lingers, as residual amounts continue to stick to the water tanks and piping.

“So the only way we can get all the contamination out of the tank is by completely draining it and scrubbing it, because the way JP-5 sticks to metal,” the sailor said.

Cmdr. Robertson told Insider in an email on Friday that the potable water system on the Nimitz continues to be evaluated so sailors get the “highest quality water” when the ship eventually leaves San Diego.

“The health and well-being of all of our Sailors is our top priority,” he added. “To that end, Nimitz leadership encourages the crew daily to report to medical immediately if they exhibit any illness or injury that could potentially be caused by exposure to contaminated water.”

As of Friday, Robertson said, 10 sailors have reported health issues that “could be associated with JP-5 ingestion, with no new reports in the last 24 hours.”

He said symptoms — which include headache, diarrhea, and rashes — were present between September 17 and September 26. None of those individuals are “currently reporting any symptoms that might be associated with JP-5 ingestion,” he said.

The parents of the sailor with which Insider spoke said in a separate interview that they have been reaching out to various lawmakers to try and voice their concerns, but they haven’t had much luck getting responses.

“Serving this country is a privilege,” one parent said. “But in return, I expect the leadership to support the soldiers and the sailors and to take care of them.”

Putin Has Left the World No Other Option But Regime Change

Daily Beast

Putin Has Left the World No Other Option But Regime Change

David Rothkopf – October 1, 2022

Photo Illustration by Erin O'Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty

Vladimir Putin must go.

His demented Kremlin speech Friday, during a ceremony in which he feebly asserted Russia was annexing portions of Ukraine, made the strongest case for the necessity of regime change in Moscow that any world leader has yet to make.

But it has been clear the Russian dictator must be removed from office for a long time now.

It has been clear because Putin’s actions and rhetoric demonstrate day in and day out that Ukraine can never be secure as long as he remains in office. It has been clear because none of Russia’s neighbors can be secure with a megalomaniacal lunatic next door who speaks of Russian empire and constantly threatens to rewrite the borders of sovereign states.- ADVERTISEMENT -https://s.yimg.com/rq/darla/4-10-1/html/r-sf-flx.html

Italy’s Far-Right Victory Is a (Small) Win for Putin

It has been clear because the world can’t be stable as long as the man who controls the planet’s largest stockpile of nuclear weapons is one whose power is unchecked at home, who shows such contempt for both international law and human decency, and whose ambitions are so untethered to reality.

Justice also requires that Putin leave office. He is a serial war criminal, one of the worst the world has seen in the modern era. He has laid waste to a sovereign nation. He is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands. He has embraced the language and practice of genocide. His armies have committed war crimes. Mass graves attest to his brutality. What is more, his crimes are not limited to the human suffering he has unleashed upon Ukraine. Other violations of fundamental laws and myriad atrocities can be traced to decisions he has made—from Russia’s leveling of Grozny in Chechnya to Russia’s active support for and participation in horrors in Syria; from the invasion of Georgia to Putin’s murderous campaign against dissidents within his own country.

Putin, for years, has provided evidence not only to international prosecutors but to every sentient being on the planet that he is not a legitimate leader. He does not deserve to be swathed in the protections normally accorded to foreign heads of state. He has no more claim on them than did past monsters—from Hitler to Saddam to Qaddafi, from Pol Pot to Milosevic.

The dead of Bucha and Melitipol or Izium make that case with their absence. So do the victims of Russian torture, of bombed hospitals, schools and train stations, of mass kidnapping, and of unceasing terror being visited by Russian missiles, artillery and troops upon innocents—victims of the misfortune of living next door to one of history’s most repulsive miscreants.

No one could listen to Putin’s rambling Friday rant and draw any conclusion other than the fact that the longer Putin remains in office, the greater the damage that he will do.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Russian President Vladimir Putin with Ukrainian regional separatist leaders attends the annexation ceremony of four Ukrainian regions at the Grand Kremlin Palace, September 30, 2022 in Moscow, Russia.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Contributor/Getty Images</div>
Russian President Vladimir Putin with Ukrainian regional separatist leaders attends the annexation ceremony of four Ukrainian regions at the Grand Kremlin Palace, September 30, 2022 in Moscow, Russia.Contributor/Getty Images

If the absurd spectacle of a “signing ceremony” asserting Russian control of Ukrainian territory featuring Kremlin stooges and nationalistic chants did not chill observers to the bone, then Putin’s belligerent language condemning “the enemy” in the West and his intimations that he might be within his rights to use nuclear weapons certainly should. He mocked international law. He condemned U.S. “satanism.” He called on Ukraine to negotiate but said that the fate of “Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson” was not on the table, that they would be parts of Russia “forever.”

When President Joe Biden said of Putin in May, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” it was followed by a swift “clarification” from the White House that the president “was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.”

But as we have gradually come to learn, Biden’s seemingly spontaneous comments on crucial issues of international policy to which he has devoted decades of study—whether they concern Putin or Taiwan—are not gaffes. They instead are expressions of common sense, acknowledgements of reality that diplomats may wish were unspoken, that cannot be the “official” policy of the U.S., but that are signs that the president understands clearly the reality on the ground and U.S. interests.

That is good because tiptoeing around the threat posed by Putin, hoping that accommodating him would lead to moderation in his behavior certainly has not worked. Indeed with every respectful, restrained response to Putin’s aggression or abuses, we have only seen an escalation of his offenses.

As Bad as the World Looks Right Now, It’s Actually Worse

The “measured” responses to his aggression of the Bush or the Obama years did not work. Nor did the slavering obsequiousness of former President Donald Trump. Indeed, the ostpolitik of Angela Merkel and the vacillations of French President Emmanuel Macron and other European leaders have actually aided and empowered Putin.

No doubt Putin’s allies—like the talking heads at Fox News, the leaders of the MAGA caucus on Capitol Hill, and Putinistas across Europe—will warn that to even speak of the need to remove Putin from office will provoke him, perhaps even lead him to unleash nuclear weapons in Ukraine or against the West. How do we know that? Because that was the response to Biden’s moment of public honesty and realism on this issue.

Many others, including some well-respected foreign policy experts, suggested we should not “corner” Putin with a public stance demanding his removal.

Some of those experts correctly observe that the U.S. has a checkered history seeking regime change. They argue that there are no good alternatives to Putin, and so getting rid of him might produce an even worse outcome, whether that is the chaos associated with a leadership void or a more dangerous leader.

But go back and listen to his Friday speech. It makes clear that we are well past the point where the dangers of his remaining in power are greater than the dangers that might be caused by his fall.

Further, removing the world’s autocrats and thug heads of state has actually not generally produced worse successors. That was certainly true in the cases of Hitler, Mussolini, Milosevic, Pol Pot, and many others.

Next, acknowledging that Putin must go is not the same as making regime change a matter of public policy. For governments it can (and largely should) remain an unexpressed goal.

That said, certain sanctions imposed on Russia should remain in place until Russia changes key policies and positions that are indelibly associated with Putin, which in effect will mean until Putin is gone. Certain defensive postures of the west should remain in place until the threat from Russia has abated. We can do more than we currently are to help covertly support Russia’s opposition, especially those whose values align with ours.

Perhaps most importantly, we can ensure that any sort of lasting Russian victory in Ukraine is not an option and that Putin’s terms will never be met, his aggression never rewarded.

With such policies, we can actively encourage the people of Russia to recognize that their country will not have a future as long as Putin remains in power. Putin is assisting on this front. By undertaking a massive military conscription campaign, one that may call up as many as one million troops, who will then be under-equipped, under-trained, and likely victims of a war they did not seek against neighbors who are not in any ways their enemies, he has already lit the fuse on a potential national backlash. Millions and millions of Russians will increasingly feel the pain and loss associated with Putin’s war in ways that they did not before, in ways that Russian propaganda cannot hide or dress up.

Putin’s Headed Toward Defeat in Ukraine. The Only Question Is How Bad a Loser He’ll Be.

Protests in Russia are already growing bolder.

Celebrities and business leaders are speaking out more clearly. How long will it be before the security services that surround and protect Putin begin to see the fact that he is a threat to their well-being, to their lives, to the futures of their families?

Accepting the reality that Putin must go is just common sense at this point. Recognizing that reality, we should embrace policies that encourage the conditions that will make it come to pass. We should also prepare for the consequences of such a change and make sure to send Moscow the message that Russia’s neighbors and the community of nations welcome a more responsible Russia—while also making clear that we are ready to defend ourselves against one that makes the mistake of continuing (or making worse) Putin’s policies.

As for making the case to the Russian people that they must act, we need not do that. Putin, with speeches like Friday’s and self-inflicted catastrophes like Ukraine, is already doing that far more persuasively than we could hope to do.

‘500-year flood’: Florida begins to assess Hurricane Ian’s catastrophic damage

Yahoo! News

‘500-year flood’: Florida begins to assess Hurricane Ian’s catastrophic damage

Dylan Stableford, Senior Writer – September 29, 2022

A day after Hurricane Ian made landfall in southwest Florida as a Category 4 storm, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday that the storm surge that came with it was “basically a 500-year flood event.”

“We’ve never seen a flood event like this,” he said during a news briefing in Tallahassee. “We’ve never seen a storm surge of this magnitude.”

More than 2.5 million people across the state were without power as search and rescue teams and first responders assessed the historic damage.

Motor homes in a flooded area with billowing smoke rising in the background.
Flooded streets in Fort Myers, Fla., on Thursday after Hurricane Ian caused widespread destruction. (Marco Bello/Reuters)

Large sections of the Sanibel Causeway, which connects the Sanibel Islands to the mainland, collapsed into the Gulf of Mexico.

DeSantis said the causeway and Matlacha Pass Bridge are “impassable” and are going to require “structural” rebuilds.

Lee County, which includes Fort Myers, was particularly hard hit. On NBC’s “Today” show, Mayor Kevin Anderson, who has lived in the city since the 1970s, said Ian was “by far the worst storm” he’d ever seen.

Boats damaged by Hurricane Ian are seen in Fort Myers, Fla.
Severely damaged boats in Fort Myers, Fla., amid other debris following the hurricane. (Giorgio Viera/AFP via Getty Images)

And there were conflicting reports of fatalities.

On ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said, “While I don’t have confirmed numbers, I definitely know the fatalities are in the hundreds.” DeSantis, though, said that that number was unconfirmed and based on the thousands of people who called to report rising water in their homes.

Later on CNN, Marceno said that there were five confirmed deaths and that “a couple thousand calls came through 911.”

“We got crushed,” he said.

The devastation was seen in other counties too. In Port Charlotte, in Charlotte County, the storm ripped part of a roof off a hospital’s intensive care unit, forcing staff and patients to evacuate to other floors.

A mangled spiral staircase in the brush next to a white pickup truck near the Sanibel Causeway.
A spiral staircase in the brush next to a pickup near the Sanibel Causeway. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

DeSantis said he spoke early Thursday with President Biden, who formally issued a disaster declaration and reaffirmed his commitment to use all available federal resources to assist in rescue and recovery efforts.

Biden was scheduled to receive a briefing on the response efforts at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington, D.C., Thursday afternoon.

Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm as it cut across the state Thursday morning, but officials warned that conditions remain dangerous.

In Kissimmee, Fla., just south of Orlando, multiple people were rescued from their cars in rising floodwaters. A military transport vehicle was used to bring people and their pets to safety.

In Volusia County, east of Orlando, a 72-year-old man died “after going outside during the storm to drain his pool,” the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post.

“The initial investigation indicates the victim was using a hose to drain the pool down a hill and into a 30-foot-wide canal, where a steep decline into the water was extremely soft and slippery due to the heavy rain,” the post read. “The Sheriff’s Office sends its sincere condolences to the victim’s family.”

Hurricane Ian could cripple Florida’s home insurance industry

ABC News

Hurricane Ian could cripple Florida’s home insurance industry

Alexis Christoforous – September 29, 2022

Hurricane Ian could cripple Florida’s already-fragile homeowners insurance market. Experts say a major storm like Ian could push some of those insurance companies into insolvency, making it harder for people to collect on claims.

Since January 2020, at least a dozen insurance companies in the state have gone out of business, including six this year alone. Nearly 30 others are on the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation’s “Watch List” because of financial instability.

“Hurricane Ian will test the financial preparedness of some insurers to cover losses to their portfolios, in particular smaller Florida carriers with high exposure concentrations in the impacted areas,” Jeff Waters, an analyst at Moody’s Analytics subsidiary RMS and a meteorologist, told ABC News. Waters said Florida is a peak catastrophe zone for reinsurers, and those with exposure will likely incur meaningful losses.

PHOTO: This aerial photo shows damaged homes and debris in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla.  (Wilfredo Lee/AP)
PHOTO: This aerial photo shows damaged homes and debris in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

More than 1 million homes on the Florida Gulf Coast are in the storm’s path, and while Ian’s track and severity can change in the coming days, one early estimate pegs the potential reconstruction cost at $258 billion, according to Corelogic, a property analytics firm.

Industry analysts say years of rampant and frivolous litigation and scams have brought Florida’s home-insurance market to its knees, with many large insurers like Allstate and State Farm, reducing their exposure to the state in the past decade.

MORE: What Hurricane Ian means for food and gas prices

“Insurers most exposed to the storm will be the Florida-only insurers, which we define as insurance companies with at least 75% of their homeowners and commercial property premiums written in Florida,” according to a report from Moody’s Analytics submitted to ABC News.

The state-run, taxpayer-subsidized Citizens Property Insurance Corp. stands to lose the most. As more local insurance companies in Florida have closed their doors, Citizens has seen its number of policyholders swell from 700,000 to more than 1 million in just the past year.

Florida state Sen. Jeff Brandes, a Republican from St. Petersburg and a vocal critic of Florida’s insurance industry, warns that if Citizens can’t pay its claims, Floridians should brace for assessments to go up on their own insurance policies under a state law that allows it to assess non-customers to pay out claims.

“Every policy holder in the state of Florida, home and auto, should be watching this storm very carefully because it could have a direct impact on their pocketbooks,” said Brandes. He predicts policy holders will see rate hikes of up to 40% next year as a result of Ian.

A spokesperson for Citizens tells ABC News that if their preliminary estimate of 225,000 claims and $3.8 billion in losses holds, the insurer of last resort would be in a position to pay all claims without having to levy a “hurricane tax” on residents.

Florida is already home to the highest insurance premiums in the U.S., something Charlie Crist, the former Florida governor running against incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis, blames on his opponent.

“Gov. DeSantis let these insurance companies double Floridians’ rates and they’re still going belly up when homeowners need them most. You pay and pay and pay, and the insurance company isn’t there for you in the end anyway,” Crist said in a statement Monday.

A spokesperson for DeSantis did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

In May, DeSantis signed a bipartisan property insurance reform bill into law that poured $2 billion into a reinsurance relief program and $150 million into a grant program for hurricane retrofitting. Among other things, it prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage based on the age of a roof and limits attorney fees on frivolous claims and lawsuits.

At a news conference Tuesday, DeSantis said a lot of the damage from Ian would be from flooding and storm surge. DeSantis said the danger with the Tampa Bay area is that the water has no place to go, noting that the area has close to 1 million residents enrolled in a national flood insurance program.

PHOTO: A man begins cleaning up after Hurricane Ian moved through the Gulf Coast of Florida on Sept. 29, 2022 in Punta Gorda, Fla. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: A man begins cleaning up after Hurricane Ian moved through the Gulf Coast of Florida on Sept. 29, 2022 in Punta Gorda, Fla. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)

Homeowner policies typically do not cover flood damage, and most homeowners located in a flood zone often get coverage from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Most private property insurance companies insure primarily for wind damage.

President Joe Biden on Thursday approved DeSantis’ request for a disaster declaration for a number of counties in the state. It includes grants for temporary housing and home repairs and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses.

MORE: Biden coordinates with DeSantis and Fla. officials, warns oil companies as Hurricane Ian hits

“The expense will be higher because of higher construction costs and overall inflation,” Denise Rappmund, the vice president of Moody’s Public Project and Infrastructure Finance Group, told ABC News. “FEMA is the key source of aid following a natural disaster, but much of the costs to repair and rebuild damaged property will be borne by property insurers who will benefit from $2 billion of state-funded reinsurance.”

Analysts say Hurricane Ian has the potential to be among the four costliest storms in U.S. history, mostly because Florida’s population has exploded in recent years.

No state in the eastern U.S. has grown faster in population than Florida in the past decade and the state’s fastest growing cities: Tampa, Fort Myers and Sarasota, are all in the storm’s path. Analysts warn that more people and more homes mean that a major storm could become more destructive and costly.

What is the healthiest fish to eat? What fish should I avoid?

USA Today

What is the healthiest fish to eat? What fish should I avoid?

Jacob Livesay, USA TODAY – September 28, 2022

Fish is generally a healthy food high in omega-3 fatty acids, which our bodies do not naturally produce, according to Healthline.

In addition to protein content, the American Heart Association says eating fish twice per week can also lead to better cardiovascular health.

But not all fish are equal. Some are much healthier than others, and there are also considerable environmental concerns related to contaminants like mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls.

Here are the best fish to include in your diet, as well as some to avoid.

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How to keep your cholesterol down: Foods, normal readings and more.

What is the healthiest fish to eat?

These are some of the healthiest fish for your diet, according to Healthline — though read further for more details on how to ensure you’re not contributing negatively to the environment:

  • Alaskan salmon
  • Cod
  • Herring
  • Mahi-mahi
  • Mackerel (other than king mackerel)
  • Perch
  • Rainbow trout
  • Sardines
  • Striped bass
  • Tuna (other than bluefin and bigeye tuna), especially canned light tuna
  • Wild Alaskan pollock
  • Arctic char

What foods are high in iron? Here’s some healthy, iron-rich options to add to your diet.

What are the worst fish to eat?

The worst fish to eat are those high in mercury, according to WebMD. Avoid these fish for that reason:

  • Imported swordfish
  • Imported marlin
  • Shark
  • Tilefish
  • King mackerel
  • Orange roughy

Some types of tuna, such as bluefin and bigeye tuna, may also be more likely to have higher levels of mercury, according to WebMD.

How to lower your blood pressure: Tips include limiting alcohol and table salt

What are the best fish to eat for the environment?

It’s important to think about sustainability, as well as the health implications of consuming fish with contaminants such as mercury or polychlorinated biphenyls. Fish healthy to eat and having minimal environmental impact, according to One Medical:

  • Troll-caught or pole-caught albacore tuna from the U.S. or British Columbia
  • Wild-caught salmon from Alaska
  • Farmed oysters
  • Wild-caught sardines from the Pacific Ocean
  • Farmed rainbow trout
  • Tank-farmed freshwater coho salmon from the U.S.

Cuba without electricity after hurricane hammers power grid

Associated Press

Cuba without electricity after hurricane hammers power grid

Andrea Rodriguez – September 27, 2022

A classic American car drives past utility poles tilted by Hurricane Ian in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A classic American car drives past utility poles tilted by Hurricane Ian in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Men lead their ox cart past a tobacco warehouse smashed by Hurricane Ian in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. Hurricane Ian tore into western Cuba as a major hurricane and left 1 million people without electricity, then churned on a collision course with Florida over warm Gulf waters amid expectations it would strengthen into a catastrophic Category 4 storm. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Men lead their ox cart past a tobacco warehouse smashed by Hurricane Ian in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. Hurricane Ian tore into western Cuba as a major hurricane and left 1 million people without electricity, then churned on a collision course with Florida over warm Gulf waters amid expectations it would strengthen into a catastrophic Category 4 storm. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Maria Llonch retrieves her belongings from her home damaged by Hurricane Ian in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Maria Llonch retrieves her belongings from her home damaged by Hurricane Ian in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Mercedes Valdez holds her dog Kira as she waits for transportation after losing her home to Hurricane Ian in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Mercedes Valdez holds her dog Kira as she waits for transportation after losing her home to Hurricane Ian in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

HAVANA (AP) — Hurricane Ian knocked out power across all of Cuba and devastated some of the country’s most important tobacco farms when it slammed into the island’s western tip as a major hurricane Tuesday.

Cuba’s Electric Union said in a statement that work was underway to gradually restore service to the country’s 11 million people during the night. Power was initially knocked out to about 1 million people in Cuba’s western provinces, but later the entire grid collapsed.

Ian hit a Cuba that has been struggling with an economic crisis and has faced frequent power outages in recent months. It made landfall as a Category 3 storm on the island’s western end, devastating Pinar del Río province, where much of the tobacco used for Cuba’s iconic cigars is grown.

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated and others fled the area ahead of the arrival of Ian, which caused flooding, damaged houses and toppled trees. Authorities were still assessing the damage, although no fatalities had been reported by Tuesday night.

Ian’s winds damaged one of Cuba’s most important tobacco farms in La Robaina.

“It was apocalyptic, a real disaster,” said Hirochi Robaina, owner of the farm that bears his name and that his grandfather made known internationally.

Robaina, also the owner of the Finca Robaina cigar producer, posted photos on social media of wood-and-thatch roofs smashed to the ground, greenhouses in rubble and wagons overturned.

State media said Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel visited the affected region.

Cuba’s Meteorology Institute said the city of Pinar del Río was in the heart of the hurricane for an hour and a half.

“Being in the hurricane was terrible for me, but we are here alive,” said Pinar del Rio resident Yusimí Palacios, who asked authorities for a roof and a mattress.

Officials had set up 55 shelters and took steps to protect crops, especially tobacco.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Cuba suffered “significant wind and storm surge impacts” when the hurricane struck with top sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph).

Ian was expected to get even stronger over the warm Gulf of Mexico, reaching top winds of 130 mph (209 kph) approaching the southwestern coast of Florida, where 2.5 million people were ordered to evacuate.

As the storm’s center moved into the Gulf, scenes of destruction emerged in Cuba. Authorities were still assessing the damage in its world-famous tobacco belt.

Local government station TelePinar reported heavy damage at the main hospital in Pinar del Rio city, tweeting photos of collapsed ceilings and downed trees. No deaths were reported.

Videos on social media showed downed power lines and cut off roads in the provinces of Pinar del Rio, Artemisa and Mayabeque. A hospital in Pinar del Río was damaged.

“The town is flooded,” said farmer Andy Muñoz, 37, who lives in Playa Cajío in Artemisa.

He said many people lost their belongings due to the storm surge.

“I spent the hurricane at home with my husband and the dog. The masonry and zinc roof of the house had just been installed. But the storm tore it down,” said Mercedes Valdés, who lives along the highway connecting Pinar del Río to San Juan y Martínez. “We couldn’t rescue our things … we just ran out.”

AP journalist Osvaldo Angulo in Pinar del Rio contributed to this report.

How a party of neo-fascist roots won big in Italy

Associated Press

How a party of neo-fascist roots won big in Italy

Nicole Winfield – September 26, 2022

FILE - Right-wing party Brothers of Italy's leader Giorgia Meloni, center-right on stage, addresses a rally as she starts her political campaign ahead of Sept. 25 general elections, in Ancona, Italy, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022. The Brothers of Italy party has won the most votes in Italy’s national election. The party has its roots in the post-World War II neo-fascist Italian Social Movement. Giorgia Meloni has taken Brothers of Italy from a fringe far-right group to Italy’s biggest party. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis, File)
Right-wing party Brothers of Italy’s leader Giorgia Meloni, center-right on stage, addresses a rally as she starts her political campaign ahead of Sept. 25 general elections, in Ancona, Italy, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022. The Brothers of Italy party has won the most votes in Italy’s national election. The party has its roots in the post-World War II neo-fascist Italian Social Movement. Giorgia Meloni has taken Brothers of Italy from a fringe far-right group to Italy’s biggest party. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis, File)
FILE - Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini, center, hands on hips, with members of the Fascist Party, in Rome, Italy, Oct. 28, 1922, following their March on Rome. The Brothers of Italy party, the biggest vote-getter in Italy's national election, has its roots in the post-World War II neofascist Italian Social Movement and proudly kept its symbol the tricolor flame as the visible and symbolic proof of its inheritance as it went from a fringe far-right group to the biggest party in Italian politics. (AP Photo, File)
Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini, center, hands on hips, with members of the Fascist Party, in Rome, Italy, Oct. 28, 1922, following their March on Rome. The Brothers of Italy party, the biggest vote-getter in Italy’s national election, has its roots in the post-World War II neofascist Italian Social Movement and proudly kept its symbol the tricolor flame as the visible and symbolic proof of its inheritance as it went from a fringe far-right group to the biggest party in Italian politics. (AP Photo, File)

ROME (AP) — The Brothers of Italy party, which won the most votes in Italy’s national election, has its roots in the post-World War II neo-fascist Italian Social Movement.

Keeping the movement’s most potent symbol, the tricolor flame, Giorgia Meloni has taken Brothers of Italy from a fringe far-right group to Italy’s biggest party.

A century after Benito Mussolini’s 1922 March on Rome, which brought the fascist dictator to power, Meloni is poised to lead Italy’s first far-right-led government since World War II and Italy’s first woman premier.

HOW DID POST-FASCISM BEGIN IN ITALY?

The Italian Social Movement, or MSI, was founded in 1946 by Giorgio Almirante, a chief of staff in Mussolini’s last government. It drew fascist sympathizers and officials into its ranks following Italy’s role in the war, when it was allied with the Nazis and then liberated by the Allies.

Throughout the 1950-1980s, the MSI remained a small right-wing party, polling in the single digits. But historian Paul Ginsborg has noted that its mere survival in the decades after the war “served as a constant reminder of the potent appeal that authoritarianism and nationalism could still exercise among the southern students, urban poor and lower middle classes.”

The 1990s brought about a change under Gianfranco Fini, Almirante’s protege who nevertheless projected a new moderate face of the Italian right. When Fini ran for Rome mayor in 1993, he won a surprising 46.9% of the vote — not enough to win but enough to establish him as a player. Within a year, Fini had renamed the MSI the National Alliance.

It was in those years that a young Meloni, who was raised by a single mother in a Rome working-class neighborhood, first joined the MSI’s youth branch and then went onto lead the youth branch of Fini’s National Alliance.

DOES THAT MEAN MELONI IS NEO-FASCIST?

Fini was dogged by the movement’s neo-fascist roots and his own assessment that Mussolini was the 20th century’s “greatest statesman.” He disavowed that statement, and in 2003 visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Israel. There, he described Italy’s racial laws, which restricted Jews’ rights, as part of the “absolute evil” of the war.

Meloni, too, had praised Mussolini in her youth but visited Yad Vashem in 2009 when she was a minister in Silvio Berlusconi’s last government. Writing in her 2021 memoir “I Am Giorgia,” she described the experience as evidence of how “a genocide happens step by step, a little at a time.”

During the campaign, Meloni was forced to confront the issue head-on, after the Democrats warned that she represented a danger to democracy.

“The Italian right has handed fascism over to history for decades now, unambiguously condemning the suppression of democracy and the ignominious anti-Jewish laws,” she said in a campaign video.

HOW DID BROTHERS OF ITALY EMERGE?

Meloni, who proudly touts her roots as an MSI militant, has said the first spark of creating Brothers of Italy came after Berlusconi resigned as premier in 2011, forced out by a financial crisis over Italy’s soaring debt and his own legal problems.

Meloni refused to support Mario Monti, who was tapped by Italy’s president to try to form a technocratic government to reassure international financial markets. Meloni couldn’t stand what she believed was external pressure from European capitals to dictate internal Italian politics.

Meloni co-founded the party in 2012, naming it after the first words of the Italian national anthem. “A new party for an old tradition,” Meloni wrote.

Brothers of Italy would only take in single-digit results in its first decade. The European Parliament election in 2019 brought Brothers of Italy 6.4% — a figure that Meloni says “changed everything.”

As the leader of the only party in opposition during Mario Draghi’s 2021-2022 national unity government, her popularity soared, with Sunday’s election netting it 26%.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE PARTY’S LOGO?

The party has at the center of its logo the red, white and green flame of the original MSI that remained when the movement became the National Alliance. While less obvious than the bundle of sticks, or fasces, that was the prominent symbol of Mussolini’s National Fascist Party, the tricolor flame is nevertheless a powerful image that ties the current party to its past.

“Political logos are a form of branding, no different than those aimed at consumers,” said Rutgers University professor T. Corey Brennan, who recently wrote “Fasces: A History of Rome’s Most Dangerous Political Symbol.”

He recalled that when Almirante made his final MSI campaign pitch to voters in the 1948 election at Rome’s Spanish Steps, he put the party’s flame symbol on top of the obelisk and illuminated it with floodlights.

“You can make whatever you want out of a flame, but everybody understood that Almirante was making a deeply emotional appeal to keep the spirit of fascism alive,” he said.

HOW DO ITALIANS FEEL ABOUT IT?

In general, the party’s neo-fascist roots appear to be of more concern abroad than at home. Some historians explain that by noting a certain historical amnesia here and Italians’ general comfort living with the relics of fascism as evidence that Italy never really repudiated the Fascist Party and Mussolini in the same way Germany repudiated National Socialism and Hitler.

While Germany went through a long and painful process reckoning with its past, Italians have in many ways simply turned a willful blindness to their own.

Historian David Kertzer of Brown University notes that there are 67 institutes for the study of the Resistance to Fascism in Italy, and virtually no center for the study of Italian Fascism.

In addition, Mussolini-era architecture and monuments are everywhere: from the EUR neighborhood in southern Rome to the Olympic training center on the Tiber River, with its obelisk still bearing Mussolini’s name.

The Italian Constitution bars the reconstitution of the Fascist party, but far-right groups still display the fascist salute and there continues to be an acceptance of fascist symbols, said Brennan.

“You don’t have to look very hard for signs,” Brennan said in a phone interview. “Fully a quarter of all manhole covers in Rome still have the fasces on them.”

DOES THAT MEAN ITALIANS SUPPORT FASCISM?

If history is any guide, one constant in recent political elections is that Italians vote for change, with a desire for something new seemingly overtaking traditional political ideology in big pendulum shifts, said Nathalie Tocci, director of the Rome-based Institute of International Affairs.

Tocci said the Brothers of Italy’s popularity in 2022 was evidence of this “violent” swing that is more about Italian dissatisfaction than any surge in neo-fascist or far-right sentiment.

“I would say the main reason why a big chunk of that — let’s say 25-30% — will vote for this party is simply because it’s the new kid on the block,” she said.

Meloni still speaks reverently about the MSI and Almirante, even if her rhetoric can change to suit her audience.

This summer, speaking in perfect Spanish, she thundered at a rally of Spain’s hard-right Vox party: “Yes to the natural family. No to the LGBT lobby. Yes to sexual identity. No to gender ideology.”

Back home on the campaign trail, she projected a much more moderate tone and appealed for unity in her victory speech Monday.

“Italy chose us,” she said. “We will not betray it, as we never have.”

Sabrina Sergi contributed to this report.