A second cache of classified documents
Aides to President Biden have found additional classified documents at a second undisclosed location associated with the president. Republicans reveled in the new disclosures, accusing him of hypocrisy in calling Donald Trump irresponsible for hoarding sensitive documents at his private club and residence in Florida.
It is not clear where or when the records were recovered. But Biden’s aides have scoured various places since November, when his lawyers discovered a handful of classified files, including briefing materials on foreign countries, as they closed a think tank office in Washington. The Justice Department is reviewing the discovery to determine how to proceed.
Under government regulations, access to classified documents is limited to people who are currently authorized to see them, and the materials must be securely stored to limit the risk of exposing sensitive information. The Presidential Records Act says official documents in the White House should be turned over to the National Archives when an administration departs.
Context: Unlike Trump, who resisted returning the records stored at Mar-a-Lago and failed to fully comply with a subpoena, Biden’s team appears to have acted swiftly and in accordance with the law, immediately summoning officials from the National Archives to retrieve the files. The archives then alerted the Justice Department, according to the White House.
Israel’s hard-right agenda gains steam
Less than two weeks into its tenure, Israel’s new right-wing government has taken quick steps toward reducing the Supreme Court’s influence over Parliament, entrenching Israeli control of the West Bank and giving some far-right ministers greater control of military matters related to the occupation of Palestinian territories.
The program started by Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, has quickly exacerbated splits in Israeli society. Critics of the prime minister and his allies fear that the agenda threatens Israel’s democratic institutions, its relationship with the Jewish diaspora and its efforts to form new ties with Arab neighbors like Saudi Arabia, as well as long-ailing hopes for a Palestinian state.
Currently on trial for corruption, Netanyahu has presented his plans as the legitimate program of an elected government. He has also portrayed the push for judicial changes as a valid attempt to limit the interference of an unelected judiciary over an elected Parliament. His critics say it is a constitutional coup.
Background: Returning to power for a third time, Netanyahu now heads a government that is Israel’s most right-wing and religiously conservative administration ever, bringing together far-right parties supported by settlers and ultra-Orthodox parties that have vowed to reshape Israeli society.
A shake-up in Russia’s military
Russia again reshuffled its military command in Ukraine as its forces struggled to make progress, replacing its top commander with a Kremlin insider who had helped to orchestrate the invasion.
Under Gen. Sergei Surovikin, who is being replaced, the Russian military largely switched to a defensive mode and began launching missile and drone attacks against Ukraine’s energy grid. Russian forces have struggled in the continuing offensive for Ukraine’s east. For weeks, the front lines have been largely static.
Analysts said that the replacement of Surovikin with Valery Gerasimov, a Kremlin apparatchik, showed that Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader, remained focused on projecting stability rather than on improving the military outlook. Some nationalist military bloggers compared the reshuffling to a game of musical chairs among Moscow’s ineffectual military old guard.
Quotable: “They have taken someone who is competent and replaced him with someone who is incompetent, but who has been there a long time and who has shown that he is loyal,” a senior researcher at the RAND Corporation said.
The world produces about 400 million metric tons of plastic waste each year, according to a U.N. report. About half has been tossed out after a single use.
In a 24-hour experiment, the journalist A.J. Jacobs tried to live without plastic to see what we can’t do without and what we may be able to give up.
Jeff Beck, the celebrated guitarist for such bands as the Yardbirds and the Jeff Beck Group, has died at 78.
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The view from Johannesburg
Here’s what to watch out for in Africa this year, from our Briefings writer Lynsey Chutel.
Elections that bring change: Nigeria will elect a new leader on Feb. 25. In the race are a longtime governor, a perennial presidential candidate and a businessman who is popular with young people. The vote could be a test of whether young Africans can reshape the political landscape and inspire change in other African countries holding elections this year, like Zimbabwe.
Choppy economic waters: During a global economic downturn, the world’s poorest suffer. In sub-Saharan Africa, slowing economic growth in 2023 could raise poverty levels, the World Bank warned this week. A shrinking global economy will also mean less infrastructure investment as countries struggle to keep the power on and pay off crippling debt.
More reality TV: Nigeria’s “Big Brother Naija” hit streaming records across Africa during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. The latest spinoff is a South African-Nigerian “Big Brother” mega-show that will begin airing next week.
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