Donald Trump, Alvin Bragg (Trump photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP, Bragg photo by Alex Kemp/AFP)
Anti-Trump demonstrators far outnumbered the pro-Trump demonstrators Tuesday morning outside the Manhattan Criminal Court where the former president is rumored to be charged as early as Wednesday, Politico reported.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is investigating Trump over a hush-money payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels during Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.
According to Politico, around 20 anti-Trump demonstrators were on scene, chanting, “No one is above the law," and, “Alvin Bragg do your job!”
Jurors heard what was believed to be the final witness Monday, and no votes have yet been taken after Trump's prediction this weekend that he'd soon be indicted.
"Across the street from the anti-Trump rally, five supporters of the former president walked around holding signs including one that highlighted liberal billionaire George Soros support for Bragg, a common right-wing talking point," Politico's report stated. "Trump has used a $500,000 donation from a political action committee funded by Soros that was part of a nationwide effort to help elect progressive district attorneys."
Speaking to Politico, Trump supporter Philippe Lejeune said, “I wish more people had shown up."
One Trump supporter who showed up later in the afternoon dressed as the infamous QAnon shaman joined other Trump supporters in a shouting match with the other side. But according to Politico, the tension soon died down.
“I am not worried about Trump supporters engaging in any violent activities. I am completely against violence. I am worried about ANTIFA showing up or anyone in masks and you aren’t sure who they work for,” Lejeune said.
One anti-Trump protester said she also expected the event to be peaceful.
“I’m not nervous, we’ve been protesting Trump since 2015. We’ve dealt with many of the Trump protesters. We disagree with them but our group is non-violent. We don’t escalate, we deescalate,” said Jamie Bauer, 64.
"At least two more related events were scheduled for Tuesday — a march of MAGA supporters from Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan to the downtown courthouse and a separate small caravan of pro-Trump cars was expected to drive from Long Island to Lower Manhattan," Politico reported.
Claims the US government has secretly retrieved crashed alien spacecraft and their non-human occupants are hardly new. They are firmly entrenched in post-war American UFO lore and conspiracy theory, inspiring the most famous narrative in ufology: the “Roswell incident”.
Now, however, journalists Leslie Kean and Ralph Blumenthal have injected fresh vigor into these aging claims – apparently with the Pentagon’s approval.
In an article for science and technology news site The Debrief, they report the US government, its allies, and defense contractors have retrieved multiple craft of non-human origin, along with the occupants’ bodies.
Additionally, they report this information has been illegally withheld from US Congress, the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office established by the US Department of Defense in 2022 to look into UFOs, and the public.
What are the claims?
The primary source for the new claims is former US intelligence official David Grusch.
of exotic origin (non-human intelligence, whether extraterrestrial or unknown origin) based on the vehicle morphologies and material science testing and the possession of unique atomic arrangements and radiological signatures.
Grusch’s claims are supported by Jonathan Grey, who works for the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, where he focuses on analysis of unidentified aerial phenomena. Grey told Kean and Blumenthal:
The non-human intelligence phenomenon is real. We are not alone […] Retrievals of this kind are not limited to the United States.
How credible are the claims?
Kean and Blumenthal are credible and accomplished reporters on UFOs.
In 2017, writing with Helene Cooper for the New York Times, they revealed a secret US$22 million Pentagon UFO research program. That article did much to initiate a wider rethinking about UFOs, avoiding stereotypes, stigma and sensationalism.
Most of the subsequent “UFO turn” in US defense policy and public discourse has focused on images and eyewitness testimony of anomalous airborne objects. Now, Kean and Blumenthal may have brought anomalous objects themselves – and even their supposed non-human occupants – into the conversation.
David Grusch’s claims have reached the public through a multi-pronged media effort.
Shortly after the Debrief article, Australian journalist Ross Coulthart’s interview with Grusch appeared on US news network News Nation. Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, Christopher Mellon, has also published an article in Politico calling for greater transparency.
This looks a lot like an orchestrated effort to convince the public (and US Congress) something much more substantial than “things in the sky we can’t explain” is going on.
Approved by the Pentagon?
Grusch seems to have followed Pentagon protocol in publishing his information. Kean and Blumenthal write Grusch:
provided the Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review at the Department of Defense with the information he intended to disclose to us. His on-the-record statements were all “cleared for open publication” on April 4 and 6, 2023, in documents provided to us.
What does that mean? A Prepublication and Security Review is how the Pentagon confirms information proposed for public release is reviewed to ensure compliance with established national and Department of Defense policies, and to determine it:
contains no classified, controlled unclassified, export-controlled, or operational security related information.
If Grusch’s information is true, it is surely both “classified” and “operational security related”. So why would the Pentagon approve its publication?
If Grusch’s information is false, it would probably not qualify as classified or operational security related. But this raises another question: why would the Pentagon approve the publication of an unfounded conspiracy theory about itself?
Doing so would likely mislead the public, journalists, and Congress. It would also undermine the Pentagon’s own attempt to understand the unidentified aerial phenomena problem: the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office.
has not discovered any verifiable information to substantiate claims that any programs regarding the possession or reverse-engineering of extraterrestrial materials have existed in the past or exist currently.
Grusch has an explanation for this apparent ignorance. When it comes to unidentified aerial phenomena investigations, he says, the US government’s left hand doesn’t know what its right is doing, with:
multiple agencies nesting [unidentified aerial phenomena] activities in conventional secret access programs without appropriate reporting to various oversight authorities.
Timothy Good’s classic 1987 exploration of UFO investigations, Above Top Secret, described similar bureaucracy.
Nested activities and segregated knowledge
The notion of “nested” unidentified aerial phenomena activities, segregating knowledge within vast bureaucracies, is partly what makes Grusch’s claims both intriguing and (for now) unverifiable.
If this is the case, organisations focusing on unidentified aerial phenomena, such as the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office, may operate in earnest and report transparently on the best information they have. Yet they may also be deprived of information essential to their activities.
This would make them little more than PR fronts, designed to create the impression of meaningful action.
In the absence of direct experience of unidentified aerial phenomena, most of us rely on information about them to form our beliefs. Scrutinising how this information is produced and distributed is essential.
US government activity in this area will continue. Congressman James Comer, chair of the House Oversight Committee, has said he will hold a hearing on UFOs in response to Grusch’s allegations.
The first evidence of a virgin birth in crocodiles has been reported in a captive American crocodile, Crocodylus acutus, who was housed on her own for 16 years in a zoo in Costa Rica. She laid a clutch of 14 eggs, of which seven seemed viable and were artificially incubated. The eggs failed to hatch and the contents of six of them were indiscernible. But one contained a fully formed foetus, genetically identical to its mother, showing no evidence of input from any males.
This isn’t the first case of a virgin birth in the animal kingdom. Baby lizards, snakes, sharks and birds, including the California condor, have all been documented hatching from unfertilized eggs.
How do we explain virgin births?
Species can reproduce either sexually, combining genetic material from two parents, or asexually. Our ancient ancestors were asexual and essentially made clones of themselves. Plants reproduce in a similar way, including splitting, budding and fragmenting.
However, this produces lots of organisms that are genetically identical, and a lack of genetic variation means that individuals cannot adapt to changing conditions. If the environment is bad for one member of a species, it is bad for all, and could lead to extinction.
Sexual reproduction in species such as humans needs sperm to fertilize eggs and create an embryo. In terms of evolution, sexually reproducing species are thought of as being more advanced, as their offspring are genetically diverse, with unique gene combinations from their parents.
Virgin births are a form of asexual reproduction as they do not require genetic information from sperm. But, unlike other forms of asexual reproduction, they need an egg. Unfertilized eggs are often produced by females – you may have had unfertilised eggs for breakfast this morning from a domestic hen – and if unfertilized eggs aren’t eaten, they eventually perish. But there’s an exception. Virgin births, known as parthenogenesis, happen when an unfertilized egg develops into an embryo.
It won’t necessarily be genetically identical to the mother though – this depends on how the egg cell develops. Parthenogenic young can be either full or half clones of the mother. Half clones are produced when embryonic cells split in half before multiplying. Full clones are created when an embryo multiples whole cells.
So half clones have even less genetic diversity than full clones. Not only do they lack the genetic diversity of organisms created in sexual reproduction but they only inherit half of their mother’s genetic diversity.
Some species, termed facultative parthenogens, alternate between sexual and asexual reproduction. They rely mainly on sexual reproduction, but can use asexual reproduction if necessary.
Virgin birth, which usually results in female offspring, is thought to be triggered in several situations. For example, when there aren’t many males around. This is often reported in captive animals, including the bonnethead shark, where animals are kept in single-sex enclosures.
Passing on genes
Even when there are males around, females may still use parthenogenesis. For example, last year a female zebra shark hatched several young with DNA that did not match any of the males in the Chicago aquarium where she lived, baffling researchers. Perhaps the female simply didn’t fancy the males she lived with.
If environmental conditions are poor, asexual reproduction involves less effort than sexual reproduction, because the female doesn’t need to waste time and energy finding a mate. For example, many cases of parthenogenesis have been discovered in geckos, snakes and lizards that live in dry and harsh climates such as high altitudes.
Female animals can also reproduce asexually to take advantage of a favorable change in conditions. The spiny-cheek crayfish is native to the US but was introduced to Europe where the climate is more moderate. It invaded many European waterways by reproducing asexually. Although many invasive species are bigger and stronger than the locals, parthenogenesis is another factor that can contribute to their success.
Genetic testing technology that can identify parthenogenesis more readily is helping researchers discover that more and more species are capable of virgin births. The revelation of parthenogenesis in the American crocodile suggests there is a common ancestral link between the archosaurs, or ruling reptiles, which include dinosaurs, pterosaurs (flying reptiles), birds and crocodiles. As parthenogenesis occurs in the birds and crocodiles, it is possible that dinosaurs had virgin births too.
The virgin mother crocodile is eerily reminiscent of a scene in Jurassic Park when scientists claim there is nothing to worry about, that they can control the park’s population by ensuring all the dinosaurs are born female, so there won’t be any young produced naturally.
But in the words of the film’s chaos theory expert, Dr Ian Malcolm (played by Jeff Goldblum): “life finds a way”.
The judge initially assigned to oversee the classified documents case against former President Donald Trump will likely be subject to a recusal request from the Department of Justice, an expert said Friday.
Judge Aileen Cannon was initially assigned, ABC reported. She's a Trump appointee who was previously humiliated by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals for her earlier actions around the case when she tried to block the FBI from reviewing documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.
Daniel Uhlfelder, who ran an unsuccessful race for Florida attorney general in 2022, said he expects the recusal request was inevitable given her previous involvement.
Cannon appointed a special master last year to review materials seized from Trump's Mar-a-Lago last year, then tried to block the FBI from reviewing documents saying, "A future indictment, based to any degree on property that ought to be returned, would result in reputational harm of a decidedly different order of magnitude."
She was overturned by Florida's Court of Appeals.
“The law is clear,” Judge William Pryor wrote for the unanimous panel from the Eleventh Circuit. “We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant. Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so. Either approach would be a radical reordering of our caselaw limiting the federal courts’ involvement in criminal investigations. And both would violate bedrock separation-of-powers limitations.”
Uhlfelder asked if the Justice Department prosecutors would move to have Cannon recused.
"If it does and is successful, case will likely be transferred to Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks, who is also in [West Palm Beach]. Trump unsuccessfully tried to recuse him before," he tweeted Friday.