Pro-Palestinian campus protests and Baltimore fights Dali ship owners: Morning Rundown

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A judge considers whether Donald Trump violated a gag order by calling key figures in his hush money trial ‘’sleaze bags.’’ Arrests escalate tensions at campus Gaza protests. And a study shows how the definition of “old age” is shifting.

 Here’s what to know today.

Judge will weigh if Trump violated gag order before witness testimony continues

Image: Opening Statements Begin In Former President Donald Trump's New York Hush Money Trial
Angela Weiss / Pool via Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump’s trial to determine whether he falsified business records is set to pick back up with more testimony from former American Media chief David Pecker. But first, Judge Juan Merchan will consider whether Trump should be held in contempt over a series of posts on Truth Social calling Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels ‘’sleaze bags’’ that prosecutors argue violated a gag order. 

The hearing to consider whether Trump violated rules follows a day of opening statements from both sides. It marked the first time time New York prosecutors have laid out their case against Trump. They told a story of a “criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election.” And that “he covered up that criminal scheme by lying in his New York business records over and over and over again,” said Michael Colangelo, a lawyer with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office.

Colangelo also quoted from the widely publicized “Access Hollywood” tape, which caught Trump on a hot mic saying he could grope women without their consent because “when you’re a star, they let you do it.”

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Trump attorney Todd Blanche went straight to trying to tear apart the prosecution’s story. He said there was “nothing wrong with trying to influence an election.” He added, “It’s called democracy.”

Blanche also alleged adult film star Stormy Daniels was trying to “extort” money from Trump, and that ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was waging a vendetta against him. Here’s what else happened on the fifth day of the trial.

Trump was seen with his eyes closed as Merchan began the day by running through rote procedural matters. He began to focus more intently on key players in the room when opening statements began, and became even more animated when Pecker, the prosecution’s first witness, took the stand.

As senior politics reporter Jonathan Allen wrote in an analysis: Trump’s “entire demeanor changed over the course of a day, hinting that he plans to be an active participant in this trial going forward.” Read the full analysis here. 

Senate holds key test vote on Ukraine aid

The Senate is expected to vote to advance the House-passed package that includes $60 billion in aid to Ukraine and a provision that could lead to a nationwide ban on TikTok. The package also includes $26 billion in aid to Israel and humanitarian relief in Gaza, in addition to $8 billion for security in Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific. 

This afternoon’s vote isn’t on final passage of the bill, but is instead about whether senators can reach a deal to quickly vote to pass the bill the same day, or whether they will have to wait until tomorrow. The outcome of the vote is nonetheless a key indicator of whether the legislation has enough support to head to President Joe Biden’s desk. If it passes, TikTok’s China-based parent company will have nine months — or the president could extend it to a year — to sell the popular social media platform or be banned in the U.S. Here’s what else to know.

Arrests at NYU, Yale as campus protests escalate

NYPD arrests Pro-Palestinian protesters as demonstrations spread from Columbia University to others
Fatih Aktas / Anadolu via Getty Images

New York police said they were “ready” to take Gaza war protesters into custody again at the request of New York University if demonstrators refused to leave. The statement came hours after several arrests were made last night. The number of people arrested, as well as the charges against them, were not available.

See also  Russian and Belarusian athletes barred from participating in opening ceremonies of Paris Olympics

The tensions at NYU coincide with escalating campus protests across the U.S. over the war in Gaza. Forty-seven protesters at Yale University were arrested earlier yesterday. Classes at Columbia University will be hybrid for the rest of the spring semester, the school’s provost said, in light of recent protests. Here’s what else happened.

More on the tensions at college campuses: 

  • Some faculty members at Morehouse College have raised concerns about plans for President Joe Biden to deliver a commencement address there next month.

A study considers the question: When does ‘old age’ begin?

Group of carefree mature friends having fun while dancing and singing on a party during summer day by the pool.
skynesher / Getty Images

People’s definition of “old age” seems to be skewing later and later, according to a new study, which asked people about their perceptions of age over the course of 25 years. The study found that people in their mid-60s believe old age starts at 75. But the older people got, the later they thought old age began. The generation in which participants were born also influenced their perception.

Experts say there is one important caveat to the research, which was published in the American Psychological Association’s Psychology and Aging journal. The study’s participants lived in Germany, where life expectancy has risen in the past few decades. But U.S. life expectancy declined from 79 in 2019 to 76 in 2021, which could skew the study’s results elsewhere.

Still, experts say the study offers insight into how people’s perspectives on aging change as they get older.

Baltimore battles Dali ship owners in bridge collapse

The City of Baltimore is seeking a jury trial in its effort to hold the owners of the Dali cargo ship liable for the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. In new court filings, Mayor Brandon Scott and the Baltimore City Council argued that Grace Ocean Private Ltd. and Synergy Marine Pte Ltd. “put a clearly unseaworthy vessel into the water.” The city also said the companies’ effort to limit responsibility for the vessel and the cargo’s value at $43.6 million is “substantially less than the amount that will be claimed for losses and damages” from the March 26 crash that killed six construction workers. The Port of Baltimore generated over $70 billion last year alone, the city said. 

The city alleges that the alarms on the Dali sounded “even before leaving the port,” but the ship left anyway. The court filings also take aim at crew members, accusing the companies of staffing the ship with people who lacked proper skill or training. 

Politics in Brief

Pennsylvania primaries: A key contest in the fight for control of the Senate, a moderate Republican put to the test and a district where the war in Gaza is front and center. Here’s what to watch for in the Pennsylvania primaries. 

EMILY’s List: As Trump moves closer to selecting his running mate, a major Democratic abortion rights advocacy group is focusing its annual “On Notice” list on “extremist” candidates. 

RFK Jr.’s influence: Trump has recently stepped up his efforts to brand third-party presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as left-wing and Biden’s problem. It’s a sign that he and his allies are worried that Trump may have more to lose from Kennedy’s presence on the ballot.

Supreme Court: Conservative justices appeared skeptical about a challenge to an Oregon city’s ordinances that punish homeless people for camping on public property when they have nowhere else to go.

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Staff Pick: Pastor vows to fight Satan’s influence in Metropolis

As I drove toward the city of Metropolis, Illinois, earlier this month, a billboard invited me to visit the “Home of Superman.” The small town, which shares a name with the city from DC Comics, is known for welcoming outsiders. But that reputation has been tested in recent months, as a local Christian pastor has rallied his congregation to stand against “evil” forces that he says have been encroaching on their community, via the public library.

The conflict — what some are calling “a battle for the soul” of Metropolis — follows a national pattern of Christian conservatives waging what they view as a spiritual battle inside libraries, as they seek to restrict access to LGBTQ-affirming books. But unlike comic books and the Bible, the story I found in Metropolis did not break along obvious ideological lines or black-and-white depictions of good and evil. — Mike Hixenbaugh, senior investigative reporter

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See also  Baltimore bridge collapse calls attention to growing Latino labor force and risks they face

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