• Crosswalks Aren’t Enough to Keep Cars from Killing

    A "ghost bike" in Brooklyn, New York, marks the spot where a cyclist was killed.Mark Lennihan/AP

    Last week, Michael Weilert, a 13-year-old boy on a bicycle in Parkland, Washington, pressed a button to activate a blinking pedestrian signal, entered the crosswalk, and never made it to the other side of the street.

    The intersection where Michael Weilert was killed

    Google Maps.

    Weilert had the right of way, but one of the crosswalk lights was broken. A driver failed to yield, despite another car stopping at the intersection. The car struck Weilert, killing him.

    Still, officials implied that the victim was responsible. “He all of the sudden appeared in front of her car,” Trooper Robert Reyer of the Washington State Patrol told the News Tribune, “and she [the driver] was unable to stop.”

    Even though the driver failed to yield, she was not ticketed or charged, though the county prosecuting attorney could still press charges in the future. “Charges would only be forwarded if there was a criminal offense, such as being impaired and killing somebody, or driving in a manner that is, basically, reckless,” Reyer said. “We could completely exclude both. There was no impairment, and there was no reckless driving.” 

    As Weilert’s mother has pointed out, failure to yield is, by definition, reckless. She also noted that another driver had already stopped to allow her son to cross. “I can’t imagine knowing that someone is stopped—any car is stopped—at a crosswalk and you wouldn’t stop too. Just that behavior alone…is reckless,” she told local TV station KIRO 7. Now, she’s calling on the state to pass a law requiring crosswalk signs to flash red, so drivers know they need to stop.

    Reyer’s comments—and the lack of repercussions for the driver—are part of a larger infrastructure designed to allow cars to control the roads, even if it means imperiling pedestrians, cyclists, and wheelchair users.

    Seattle Bike Blog points out an effective way to reduce cars’ dominance: Eliminate community roads with multiple lanes of traffic. “Traffic engineers across the world have found that one lane in each direction with turns lanes where appropriate can carry a large number of vehicles per day far more safely,” Tom Fucoloro writes. Traffic engineers already know how to design roads to save lives. They just have to implement those changes.

    On the other side of the country, in Durham, North Carolina, Matt Simpson, a 40-year-old father, was killed in a crosswalk in awfully similar circumstances earlier this month. He was crossing the street—two lanes in either direction—on his bike, with his wife and two children in tow. He had the right of way, too. A driver ran the red light, struck Simpson, and left the scene of the crash. While authorities search for the suspect, safe streets advocates are calling for protected bike lanes and narrower roads that would encourage drivers to reduce speed.

  • Verizon Says Good Riddance to One America News

    Good night, sweet prince.Richard B. Levine/Levine Roberts/Zuma

    Verizon just dealt One America News, former President Trump’s favorite far-right “news” network, a death blow.

    Starting Saturday, Verizon Fios will stop carrying OAN, depriving the cable network’s 3.5 million subscribers of their daily dose of conspiracy-mongering bullshit. The move follows DirecTV’s decision to drop OAN earlier this year, robbing the network of its biggest revenue stream.

    As my colleague Ross Choma wrote at the time:

    From the beginning, the network has positioned itself far to the right of even Fox News, regularly featuring pundits who aren’t welcome on other channels and aggressively promoting stories involving conspiracy theories, including the Seth Rich conspiracy, COVID denialism, and anti-vaccine disinformation. OAN cemented its position as former president Donald Trump’s favorite network after the 2020 election by continuing to question the election results well after Fox and other major news networks declared Joe Biden the winner.

    Soon, OAN will be available only to a few hundred thousand subscribers to smaller cable providers and streaming providers—which still strikes me as a hell of a lot of people to be consuming this stuff.

    Verizon told the Daily Beast that it was dropping OAN because the network refused to agree to a new contract. But Dan Ball, host of the OAN program “Real America,” said on-air that Verizon had told his bosses, “We don’t think you’re a credible news organization, so we’re dropping you.” Only in the Bizarro World of OAN would the network’s patent lack of credibility be easier to admit than its refusal to agree to a contract. And only in the Bizarro World of OAN would Ball imply that he and his colleagues are pillars of journalistic integrity. “For any of you liberal activists online over at the Beast or Media Matters or all those stupid-ass liberal rags online that’s gonna take this segment, try to twist it, and say I’m out there, pleading for this, begging for that, blah blah blah,” he said, “do me a favor, will you folks please act like journalists for one damn minute?”

    I’m sorry, what?

    OAN’s Alison Steinberg had another final message: “If you’re watching this, and you’re laughing and scoffing because you think that you’re immune to what’s coming, you just wait. Enjoy your freedoms while you’ve still got ’em.”

  • Nancy Pelosi’s Proposed Taiwan Trip Is a Bad Idea, Even If She Doesn’t Go

    Patrick Semansky/AP

    Nancy Pelosi wants to visit Taiwan, which, if you know almost anything about the current state of US-China relations, is about the last thing Joe Biden’s administration wants. 

    Any US move regarding Taiwan is fraught with tension, due in part to the island’s unique diplomatic status. China has long considered Taiwan a breakaway territory—a position the United States purposefully does not accept or dispute. Though the United States continues to sell Taiwan weapons and send informal delegations to its leaders, few high-ranking US officials have visited the island since 1979, when Jimmy Carter officially recognized China’s Communist government for the first time.  

    Asked about Pelosi’s plan for a visit, Biden flatly said last week, “The military thinks it’s not a good idea right now.” Behind closed doors, his administration has “been working to spell out the potential risks of a visit in meetings with Pelosi and her team,” CNN reported

    Pelosi, who has long been critical of China’s repressive government, would be the first House speaker to visit Taiwan since Newt Gingrich, who himself urged Pelosi to go in a Fox News appearance this week. “She cannot allow the Chinese communist dictatorship to think that it can bully an American Speaker of the House,” he said. “And frankly, she ought to tell the Pentagon and the State Department to shut up.”

    The Biden administration certainly is not a fan of any move that may provoke China this summer, as Chinese leader Xi Jinping prepares for a momentous Party gathering in the fall that will likely cement him as leader for life. Facing domestic backlash over China’s controversial “zero Covid” strategy, “appealing to raw patriotism, particularly over Taiwan” might help Xi shore up support, the Associated Press explained

    Party mouthpieces have already suggested as much. Zhao Lijian, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson (and the subject of this great New York Times Magazine profile), said if Pelosi goes through with the visit, “China will take firm and resolute measures to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the US will be responsible for all of the serious consequences.” 

    What does that mean? Most likely, some display of force. Hu Xijin, another influential Party propagandist, took to Twitter to suggest that Chinese aircraft “accompany Pelosi’s plane” into Taiwanese airspace. 

    No matter the chatter from Beijing’s newly assertive diplomats, Pelosi’s visit would be pockmarked with trouble. If she goes through with it, Biden, who is set to speak to Xi this week, will have to navigate another diplomatic fracas at a time when Xi is emboldened to act aggressively toward the United States for domestic reasons. If she cancels the trip, China succeeds at its effort to isolate Taiwan and can keep stigmatizing outreach from other countries looking to do business there. 

    There is no easy option here and, as US-China relations grow worse, bad options will often be the only ones available. Lev Nachman, a fellow at Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, laid out the calculus well:

    The only inevitable aspect of this entire standoff is that Taiwan looks to be increasingly under threat of invasion. The New York Times reported Monday that Biden officials expect China “to move against” the island in the “next year and a half.” If that is the case, it may help if the top Democrat in the House and the Democrat in the White House got on the same page. 

  • At Least There’s Joni Mitchell

    Unequivocally good things don’t tend to happen these days. Moments so impervious to the horrors of modern-day living that they manage to break the sense that everything sucks. But such an event arrived when Joni Mitchell appeared at the Newport Folk Festival this weekend for her first full set in over two decades. 

    As you may recall, Mitchell has dealt with a series of illnesses in her later years, most notably a 2015 brain aneurysm. Her ability to perform has slowed. But the artist Brandi Carlile has stuck with her and, on Sunday, turned her concert into a Mitchell spectacle. (You can read more about their friendship here.)

    It’s rare to see anyone, let alone Mitchell, completely in their element, beaming and present, basking in whatever joy comes with knowing you’ve lived an extraordinary life. So please enjoy this performance of my personal favorite, “Both Sides Now.”

  • Jackie Robinson Made the Hall of Fame 60 Years Ago. His First Year in the Big Leagues Was Hell.

    Diamond Images/Getty

    Sixty years ago today, Brooklyn Dodgers superstar Jackie Robinson, who’d broken baseball’s color barrier just 15 years earlier, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In his induction speech in Cooperstown, New York, Robinson singled three people for helping him make it through that hellish first year with the Dodgers: team president and general manager Branch Rickey, his mother, Mallie, and his wife, Rachel.

    “I want to thank all of the people throughout this country who were just so wonderful during those trying days,” he added. “I appreciate it at no end. It’s the greatest honor any person could have and I only hope that I’ll be able to live up to this tremendously fine honor.”

    Robinson’s impressive play on the field speaks for itself: He was the National League’s most valuable player in 1949, and he helped lead the Dodgers to the World Series title in 1955. But he did that in the face of at-times viciously racist taunts from opposing players and fans who deeply wanted baseball’s first Black player in the modern era to fail, and to fail publicly.

    As Robinson wrote in Jackie Robinson: My Own Story, published in 1948, Rachel Robinson had warned him about his temper heading into that first spring training in 1947. “Because I was a Negro, I knew I had to remain calm all the time,” he wrote. “My wife also knew it, and she kept drilling the admonition into my mind. I guess she half-believed I was hot-headed, because she had been present several times when I had encountered discrimination and had seen me get so angry that I had almost blown up.”

    Robinson went on to describe what he calls “the first racial ‘incident,'” in a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies in Brooklyn that April:

    The Phillies, led by their very able manager, Ben Chapman, are great bench-riders. The first time I stepped up to the plate, they opened up full blast. “Hey, you black Nigger,” I heard one of them yell. “Why don’t you go back where you came from?” Then I heard another one shout: “Yeah, pretty soon you’ll want to eat and sleep with white ball players!” As the jockeying continued on this level, I almost lost my head. I started to drop my bat and go over and take a sock at one of them. 

    Robinson elaborated in a later autobiography, 1978’s I Never Had It Made: An Autobiography:

    For one wild and rage-crazed minute I thought, “To hell with Mr. Rickey’s noble experiment.” It’s clear it won’t succeed…I thought what a glorious, cleansing thing it would be to let go. To hell with the image of the patient Black freak I was supposed to create. I could throw down my bat, stride over to that Phillies dugout, grab one of those white sons of bitches and smash his teeth in with my despised Black fist. Then I could walk away from it all.

    Of course, he didn’t stomp over to the Phillies dugout and start a brawl. As he wrote in his first book, “I remembered Branch Rickey’s warning me of what I’d have to take without losing my temper. So I pretended I didn’t hear them. I gritted my teeth and vented some of my anger on a solid single.” 

    Robinson faced dozens of incidents like this through his first year in the big leagues. But by the end of 1947, he was baseball’s rookie of the year, and the Dodgers won the pennant.

  • The WHO Just Declared Monkeypox a Public Health Emergency

    Hollie Adams/Getty

    The World Health Organization declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on Saturday, with WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu citing a “clear risk of further international spread.”

    The WHO issued its declaration despite its emergency committee—charged with deciding on the emergency status—failing to reach a consensus.

    The monkeypox virus has spread mostly among men who have sex with men. Still, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has cautioned that people can contract the virus—which causes symptoms like a pimple-like rash, fever, headache, and chills—if they come in close contact with someone with monkeypox. So far, 2,891 cases have been confirmed in the United States, and more than 16,000 around the world. 

    In a throwback to the early Covid-19 era, experts have been discouraged by how slow the vaccination and testing processes have gone in the United States. As my colleague Jackie Mogensen wrote earlier this month:

    First, there’s the vaccine: As CNN reported on Thursday, there are approximately 1.5 million people who are eligible to receive Jynneos, a vaccine that protects against monkeypox and smallpox. So far, more than 132,000 doses have been distributed, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services, but health officials on the ground say it hasn’t been enough. “We got an allotment of 200 vaccines,” Dr. David Holland, the chief clinical officer of the Fulton County, Georgia, Board of Health, told CNN, “and the appointments for that went in about an hour and a half.”

    Similarly, New York Mayor Eric Adams has also said the city hasn’t received enough vaccine doses, even as it reportedly makes up about a third of all monkeypox cases nationwide. “While we appreciate the approximately 7,000 vaccine doses that have been sent to New York City thus far, and the approximately 14,500 vaccine doses we expect to receive by the end of the week, we urgently need far more to slow [the] spread and protect at risk populations,” Adams wrote in a letter to President Joe Biden on Monday. “Within less than 10 minutes of releasing new appointments for our vaccine clinics last week, all appointments were taken.”

    Obtaining monkeypox treatments and tests has also been a headache for local health officials. On Friday, the Washington Post reported that in order to prescribe the antiviral Tpoxx to patients, doctors say they must fill out dozens of pages of paperwork per patient. “There’s a ton of paperwork, there’s a ton of assessments that are required, there’s a tremendous amount that one has to do to be able to administer this drug to someone,” Roy Gulick, a New York City physician told the Post.

    HHS says it now has delivered more than 191,000 vaccine doses to states and city health departments, and that the federal government will have access to 6.9 million doses by the middle of 2023.

  • Josh Hawley, Caught Running Away From the Jan. 6 Mob, Says He Won’t Run From Liberal Critics

    Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP

    Sen. Josh Hawley, the Missouri Republican who infamously pumped his fist at the pre-riot Capitol crowd on the morning of January 6, said in an appearance at a conservative conference Friday night that he didn’t regret his actions—and that he wouldn’t “run” from a fight with his political foes. It was an unusual choice of words for a man who, in a primetime hearing just a day earlier, was revealed to have run away from the very mob that he had helped incite.

    “And I just want to say to all of those liberals out there and the liberal media, just in case you haven’t gotten the message yet: I do not regret it. And I am not backing down,” Hawley told a cheering crowd at Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit in Tampa, Florida. “I’m not gonna apologize, I’m not gonna cower, I’m not gonna run from you, I’m not gonna bend the knee.”

    In case you’ve forgotten, here’s Hawley’s January 6 highlight reel: 

    And as my colleague Tim Murphy wrote on Thursday:

    That broken form is the gait of a man finally reaping what he sowed. Was all of this a little gratuitous? I mean, sure. The committee has shown a knack for getting in a few extra punches on occasion. But it’s also sort of perfect—a postscript to the earlier image that completes the little parable: The Republican Party, or most of it anyway championed a dangerous movement it never truly controlled. Even those who are delusional enough to think they might some day lead it have been running from its wrath all along.

  • Fearing for Their Lives, Pence Security Team Called Family Members to Say Goodbye

    As Donald Trump watched live coverage of the attack on the US Capitol, Secret Service agents protecting Mike Pence on January 6 feared for their lives and called family members to say goodbye.

    The dramatic new details—revealed by an anonymous security official and aired during Thursday’s prime-time hearing— underscore the serious threat posed by the pro-Trump mob, as the former president refused to call off the violence. The committee on Thursday also presented chilling radio chatter of Pence’s security detail from that day, as they panicked over the vanishing window to escape the violence as the rioters advanced.

    “If we lose any more time, we may lose the ability to leave,” an agent is heard saying. “If we are going to leave, we need to do it now.”

    Earlier in the hearing, the committee presented testimony from then-White House counsel Pat Cipollone that he had repeatedly urged Trump to make a forceful statement condemning the rioters as the violence escalated. The damning accounts add to the mountain of evidence that Trump delayed stepping in, putting Pence—and Secret Service members—under serious threat of being killed.

  • Almost Every House Republican Just Voted Against Protecting the Right to Contraception

    AP

    Following the leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade, most Republicans stayed quiet. Others were quick to dismiss the “catastrophizing” that after Roe’s fall, other privacy rights long popular with the American public—including gay marriage and access to contraception—would soon be at risk. Well, lo and behold, it turns out those fears were justified; a bill seeking to codify the right to contraception, one of the most “morally acceptable issues” in the country, was almost unanimously rejected by Republicans in the House today. 

    Take a look at the 228-195 vote. Only eight Republicans joined Democrats in favor of the Right to Contraception Act, which seeks to enshrine the right to birth control without government restriction. The bill now goes to the Senate where it’s unlikely to get the support of the 10 Republicans needed in order to overcome the filibuster. Together, the measure and its all-but-certain demise stand as further confirmation that Roe’s end is just the beginning of the GOP’s extremist agenda.

    Such efforts to create an unequal society and destroy cherished rights shouldn’t come as any surprise. Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the majority opinion striking down Roe, has authored numerous opinions going after these rights. And recently, as my colleague Pema Levy explained, Justice Clarence Thomas outlined two strategies for ending marriage equality:

    Thomas has laid out two paths to achieve his social agenda. One, as the public quickly took note of, is to boldly overturn the cases that recognized the constitutional right to same-sex marriage and struck down bans on sodomy and contraception. This would allow state legislatures to prohibit these things outright. Thomas’ other strategy is more subtle, but it, too, would erode some of the rights we take for granted today, particularly marriage equality. Importantly, Thomas is not making an either/or proposition here; it’s clear that he wants to pursue both paths.

    The GOP’s goals to radically change American life have been in motion for some time now. Votes like today just make it official.

  • President Biden Has Covid

    Yuri Gripas/CNP/Zuma

    President Biden, 79, tested positive for Covid Thursday morning, the White House said in a statement.

    Biden is experiencing “very mild symptoms” and has begun taking the antiviral drug Paxlovid, according to Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. He has a dry cough and runny nose but no fever.

  • 16 Lawmakers, Including AOC, Arrested in SCOTUS Abortion Protest

    Tom Williams/Getty

    Nearly a month after Roe was overturned, House Democrats finally gave us the type of civil disobedience that such a crisis warrants.

    Today, 16 Democratic members of Congress—including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Andy Levin (Mich.), and Alma Adams (N.C.)—were arrested for blocking traffic during an abortion rights protest in front of the Supreme Court.

    Acts of civil disobedience are, by definition, attempts to gain attention. They can also be cathartic. Finally, we’re seeing legislators as outraged as many felt on the day of the Dobbs decision. 

    Conservatives, though, have already begun nitpicking the legislators’ performances, including accusing Ocasio-Cortez of pretending to be handcuffed. A video shows the congresswoman being escorted away from the protest by police. She holds her hands behind her back before raising her right fist in a gesture of political resistance. How can the New York Post proclaim that “AOC fakes being handcuffed” when she makes a deliberate gesture showing that she is not?

    Ultimately, AOC and her colleagues likely expected the derision from the right. And they got want they wanted in the end: widespread publicity of the symbolic shackling of reproductive rights by a rogue Supreme Court. Good.

  • How Many of Joe Manchin’s “Energy Sector” Donors Does It Take to Screw In an Apocalypse?

    Tom Williams/Congressional Quarterly via ZUMA Press

    On Friday, reports emerged that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-Wv.) torpedoed another climate change proposal and nixed Democrats’ plan to tax the rich. It’s the end of months of negotiations and the final death knell for the Biden agenda. Even centrists like Jonathan Chait in New York have said that Biden’s agenda has now, officially, failed

    After, I found myself reading a Politico summation of the Senator slash coal magnate‘s donors. It’s a lot of companies from the “energy sector.” That includes “donations from executives at Georgia Power, including the utility’s CFO Aaron Abramovitz, and from Dominion Energy CEO Robert Blue”; a maximum donation from “Energy services firm Concord Energy CEO Matthew Flavingave”; maximum donations from Southern Company Gas CEO Kim Greene and Harvest Midstream CEO Jason Rebrook”; a few thousand from “Southern Company’s chair and CEO Chris Cummiskey” and “three other company executives.” It goes on from there: thousands and thousands from gas, oil, energy types.

    Remeber: Sixty-five percent of Americans support increased climate change action by the government; sixty-four percent of Americans want to tax the very rich, including a majority of Republicans.

    After looking at the donations I happened to read a bit of political theorist Sheldon Wolin. He has a theory of “inverted totalitarianism.” Wolin’s theory posits that we’re turning into a  thinly veiled, autocratic “managed democracy,” in which people hold less and less power, as elite individuals and institutions gain more and more.

    Wolin’s argument is wide-ranging and comprehensive but as I was skimming through an essay he wrote on it, I found a couple of fun passages:

    Inverted totalitarianism, in contrast, while exploiting the authority and resources of the state, gains its dynamic by combining with other forms of power, such as evangelical religions, and most notably by encouraging a symbiotic relationship between traditional government and the system of ‘private’ governance represented by the modern business corporation. The result is not a system of codetermination by equal partners who retain their distinctive identities but rather a system that represents the political coming-of-age of corporate power.

    Fascinating. This too:

    Thee emergence of the corporation marked the presence of private power on a scale and in numbers hitherto unknown, the concentration of private power unconnected to a citizen body.

    Similarly, from our friend Wolin:

    At the same time that [World War II] halted the momentum of political and social democracy, it enlarged the scale of an increasingly open cohabitation between the corporation and the state. That partnership became ever closer during the era of the Cold War (l947-1993). Corporate economic power became the basis of power on which the state relied, as its own ambitions, like those of giant corporations, became more expansive, more global, and, at intervals, more bellicose. Together the state and corporation became the main sponsors and coordinators of the powers represented by science and technology.

    Check it all out here in full, if you have time. 

    Anyway, that’s my morning reading. Feels like there’s overlap, but I might just be projecting.

  • The House Just Passed Two Bills to Protect Access to Abortion

    Abortion rights demonstrators gather near the Washington Monument during a nationwide rally in support of abortion rights in Washington, D.C., on May 14, 2022. Yasin Ozturk/Getty

    Exactly three weeks after the Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the House of Representatives passed two bills aimed at protecting the right to abortion in the United States. Neither of the bills advanced on Friday is likely to succeed in the Senate.

    One of the bills, the Women’s Health Protection Act, passed 219 to 210 with one Texas Democrat, Rep. Henry Cuellar, voting with all House Republicans against the measure. The bill, which would legally grant medical professionals the ability to provide abortions to patients, passed in the House in September, but has been blocked in the Senate.

    The other measure, the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act, passed 223 to 205, would allow residents to cross state lines to seek an abortion. Three Republican House members—Reps. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, and Fred Upton of Michigan—voted with Democrats in favor of the bill. 

    Although both bills appear doomed in the split Senate, they come at a time that marks just the beginning of a long battle ahead for many pro-choice health care workers, lawyers, and activists in the US. For a full breakdown of the future of abortion, don’t miss our recent reporting package in partnership with Rewire News Group: “Where Do We Go From Here?

  • Republicans Respond to 10-Year-Old’s Abortion Case By Targeting Immigrants

    Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.J. Scott Applewhite/AP

    A 10-year-old-girl was raped and became pregnant as a result of that violence. That child, six weeks and three days into an unwanted pregnancy, then had to travel from Ohio to neighboring Indiana to receive abortion care after a six-week ban went into effect in her state following the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Two weeks after the story made headlines, a Columbus man, who is reportedly undocumented, was arrested and charged with the girl’s rape. Meanwhile, the Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita threatened the doctor who provided the abortion with criminal charges, even though it has since come to light that she complied with required reporting to the state. 

    It’s hard to think of a case that better encapsulates—and warns about—the devastating impact of doing away with a constitutional right to abortion and restricting access to reproductive care. But Republicans took a different perspective, eagerly running with claims that a very real, very sad story was a fabricated lie. And when that didn’t hold water, they switched to a favorite form of demagoguery: hating on immigrants. 

    The Columbus police arrested 27-year-old local resident Gershon Fuentes after he confessed to raping the child on at least two occasions, according to the Columbus Dispatch. As I wrote earlier this week:

    The case was first reported by the Indianapolis Star in a July 1 article quoting Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist. She said she had learned from a colleague in Ohio about a 10-year-old who was six weeks and three days pregnant. Ohio’s law bans abortions after six weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest.

    The story immediately went viral. And it led to appalling responses. South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem suggested a child in a similar situation in her state might be forced to carry the baby to term.

    The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial board cast doubt on the existence of the girl. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said it was “likely that this is a fabrication,” only to issue a statement after news of the arrest broke saying “we rejoice anytime a child rapist is taken off the streets.” 

    Rep. Jim Jordan was quick to refer to the case as “another lie,” but by Wednesday he had deleted the post and declared that Fuentes “should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”  When asked about the deleted tweet, Jordan said he had done so because “we learned that this illegal alien did this heinous crime.” Asserting that he had never doubted the girl, Jordan went on to say: “I doubted Joe Biden, which is usually a smart thing to do.” 

    Jordan wasn’t alone in trying to weaponize the apparent immigration status of the suspected rapist as a way to divert attention from the searing child tragedy at hand. “Where’s the conversation about an illegal person doing this?” Rep. Roger Williams of Texas said. “How do you defend this? How do you defend this guy who came over illegally, and we’ve got 5 million of them over here?” 

    One of the most extreme responses came from Jim Bopp, an Indiana lawyer and general counsel for the National Right to Life who crafted model legislation ahead of the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade and paving the way for stricter abortion bans. “She would have had the baby, and as many women who have had babies as a result of rape, we would hope that she would understand the reason and ultimately the benefit of having the child,” Bopp told Politico. “The bill does propose exceptions for rape and incest, in my model, because that is a pro-life position, but it’s not our ideal position. We don’t think, as heart-wrenching as those circumstances are, we don’t think we should devalue the life of the baby because of the sins of the father.”

    Other Republicans, however, appear to be less sure about how they feel or even surprised that a 10-year-old could, biologically, get pregnant. “I’m amazed a 10-year-old got pregnant. … You really wrestle with that,” said Rep. Bob Gibbs of Ohio, according to NBC News. “That’s a tough one.” Arizona’s Rep. Debbie Lesko said, “I don’t think I was even able to have children when I was 10 years old” and acknowledged that she struggled with the “moral question” of the case.

  • Republicans Doubted a 10-Year-Old Had to Travel for an Abortion. A Man Has Just Been Charged With Her Rape.

    Abortion rights advocates gather and march outside the Hamilton County Courthouse in Cincinnati, Ohio.Jason Whitman/NurPhoto/AP

    An Ohio man has been charged with the rape of a 10-year-old girl whose story became international news after she had to travel to Indiana to receive an abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning of Roe v. Wade. The news reaffirms the tragic consequences of what happens when states, like Ohio, enact strict abortion bans.

    The police arrested 27-year-old Columbus resident Gershon Fuentes on Tuesday after he confessed to raping the child at least on two occasions, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Fuentes is being held in the Franklin County jail on a $2 million bond.

    The case was first reported by the Indianapolis Star in a July 1 article quoting Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist. She said she had learned from a colleague in Ohio about a 10-year-old who was six weeks and three days pregnant. Ohio’s law bans abortions after six weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest. 

    The story immediately went viral. And it led to appalling responses. South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem suggested a child in a similar situation in her state might be forced to carry the baby to term. The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial board cast doubt on the existence of the girl.

    Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said it was “likely that this is a fabrication,” only to issue a statement after news of the arrest broke saying “we rejoice anytime a child rapist is taken off the streets.” 

    Last week, President Joe Biden mentioned the case when signing an executive order to protect abortion rights. “She was forced to have to travel out of the state to Indiana to seek to terminate the pregnancy and maybe save her life,” Biden said. “Ten years old—10 years old—raped, six weeks pregnant, already traumatized, was forced to travel to another state.” A 10-year-old girl, he added, shouldn’t “be forced to give birth to a rapist’s child.”

    The Columbus Dispatch reports that the Franklin County Children Services referred the girl’s case to the Columbus police on June 22 and that DNA material obtained at the Indianapolis clinic where she underwent the abortion on June 30 is being tested against samples from Fuentes.

  • How Likely Is It John Bolton Helped Do These Coups?

    John Bolton, in 2006, when he was U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.Kathy Willens/AP

    During CNN’s coverage of the January 6 hearings last night, John Bolton—the former national security adviser to Donald Trump and forever war hawk—casually revealed that he has helped the United States stage a coup. Why did he admit it? For the same reason, it seems, Bolton and fellow neo-cons do many things: to insist they are smarter than you.

    The moment came during a sloppy attempt to bigfoot host Jake Tapper, who had argued that one doesn’t necessarily have to be supremely intelligent in order to plan a coup. That prompted swift resistance from Bolton:

    As somebody who has helped plan coups d’etat—not here but you know [in] other places—it takes a lot of work. And that’s not what he [Trump] did.

    There’s been much debate over whether to call Trump’s actions related to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol a coup. (You can read some of that here and here.) So, it’s fascinating to see Bolton jump in with his identity politics-adjacent argument about it. (“As someone who has done a coup, I think…”)

    But, personally, I think a lot of the policing around the word “coup”—and whether Trump’s exceedingly dumb actions fit the definition—belie the fact that something can be both evil and lacking prestige. That a coup does not have to be planned by Harvard graduates and McKinsey consultants, even if that’s how America usually does these sorts of things. Hey, expanding our definition might even allow us to see the ways we are headed for illiberalism now.

    Later in the interview, Bolton clarified that he was referring to the 2019 American-led attempt to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. (At the time, as the Washington Post points out, Bolton denied that overthrowing Maduro was a coup, telling reporters, “This is clearly not a coup.”)

    Still, Bolton’s admission begs the obvious question: What other coups do you think Bolton helped plan?

    After all, Bolton has been within the orbit of Republican politics, and generally the apparatus of our state’s foreign policy missions, since the 1980s. He has served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. 

     

    I think a simple test will suffice to look into this: When did America do (or help do) a coup? And where was John Bolton during said coup?

    Iran

    When did America coup?

    In 1953, the CIA provided support to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq.

    Where was John Bolton? 

    Probably in Baltimore, where he grew up. Bolton was about six years old.

    Likelihood Bolton helped coup?

    Low. But he would later write about trying to get us to “bomb Iran” in the New York Times. (This is a kink by the way. He went to the Wall Street Journal to make the “legal case” for bombing North Korea.)

    Guatemala

    When did America coup?

    In 1954, according to Foreign Policy, the relationship between Guatemalan President Jacobo Árbenz and the US “soured” because land reforms potentially would harm a US-backed fruit company. As FP reported: The Navy blocked the coast while rebels the US helped arm ousted the president.

    Where was John Bolton?

    Still a child. Still, probably, in Baltimore.

    Likelihood Bolton helped coup?

    Low.

    Syria

    When did America coup?

    This was one wasn’t successful. But in 1956, and 1957, according to undiscovered documents the Guardian reported on in 2003, the US and other Western powers attempted to topple the Syrian government. In August 1957, Syrian forces surrounded the US embassy, saying they’d discovered a plot to get rid of the regime. At the time, President Eisenhower called it a conspiracy. Looks like it was real.

    Where was John Bolton?

    Still in Baltimore. Still not ten.

    Likelihood Bolton helped coup?

    Low, but he’s getting to his angsty teen years soon.

    Cuba

    When did America coup?

    After backing the dictatorial regime of Fulgencio Batista, the United States was more than a little miffed by the Communist victory of Fidel Castro in 1959. Throughout the Cold War, the CIA attempted to topple the new government. There were too many attempts to kill Castro by covert forces to even count. A blockade was imposed in 1962 to economically cripple and force regime change.

    Where was John Bolton?

    Still Baltimore. Becoming a teen.

    Likelihood Bolton helped coup?

    Still low. He’s just getting into high school in the 1960s. Would’ve been a hell of an extra-curricular! It is worth mentioning that in the early 2000s Bolton tried to say Cuba, like Iraq, had nukes. Also, in a famous speech called “Beyond the Axis of Evil,” Bolton wanted to include Cuba, Libya, and Syria as other nations worthy of Axis status. (You can read the speech here.)

    Congo

    When did America coup?

    In the early to mid 1960s, the United States was involved in covert actions within the Congo after it gained independence. Notably, in 1960, the nationalist and democratically elected president fell to a pro-Western military leader who, it was later discovered, was helped by the CIA. In the 1970s, the Church Commission revealed the extent to which the CIA was operating in the nation. The activities continued last until at least 1965.

    Where was John Bolton?

    Baltimore. He was in high school, running the Students for Goldwater campaign.

    Likelihood Bolton helped coup?

    Low.

    Vietnam

    When did America coup?

    In 1964, Congress passes the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. The United States will go to war in Vietnam. We’d been involved since the mid-1950s, but the tipping point allowed a full scale attack to fight Communist forces in the country.

    Where was John Bolton?

    Yale. Bolton is over eighteen and draft eligible. But, despite supporting the war, he avoided fighting by enlisting in the Maryland National Guard. He said he had “no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy.”

    Likelihood Bolton helped coup?

    In words? Kind of. In actions? No.

    Chile

    When did America coup?

    In 1973, General Augusto Pinochet overthrew Chilean president Salvador Allende via coup. The United States had a “long history of engaging in covert actions in Chile,” according to a US Senate report. But the government said there is “little evidence” that it was directly involved in the Pinochet coup. Many others still think of the “other 9/11” as firmly US-backed.

    Where was John Bolton?

    Yale. Bolton went there for both college and law school. In 1972, he was an aide to Vice President Spiro Agnew

    Likelihood Bolton helped coup?

    We’re getting closer!

    Nicaragua

    When did America coup?

    After the Sandinistas came to power, the CIA and the Reagan administration secretly worked to overthrow the regime throughout the 1980s. They supported the Contras. By the mid-1980s, as we have written in the past, “it had become abundantly clear that US policy was drowning Nicaragua in blood.”

    Where was John Bolton?

    In the 1980s, Bolton hopped between law firms and working for the United States government. He worked briefly in the Reagan administration. Later, Bolton would work on investigating the Iran-Contra affair—which was about giving money to the Contras from selling weapons to Iran.

    Likelihood Bolton helped coup?

    We don’t have direct connections or anything. But, yeah, he’s in the mix now.

    Panama

    When did America coup?

    During the administration of George H.W. Bush, the United States invaded Panama to overthrow dictator Manuel Noriega. The US had helped put him into power during the Cold War to fight Communism.

    Where was John Bolton?

    Bolton was Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs from 1989 to 1993.

    Likelihood Bolton helped coup?

    Hmm. Maybe!?

    Iraq

    When did America coup?

    In 1991, the United States invaded Iraq. This was a response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, and is generally called the first Gulf War.

    Where was John Bolton?

    Still at the State Department.

    Likelihood Bolton helped coup?

    He certainly would’ve been in some meetings at the time, right? He should be embarrassed if he wasn’t giving a war-monger presentation in there. In the 1990s, as the Atlantic reported, Bolton did advocate for Bill Clinton to send troops into Iraq again to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

    Afghanistan

    When did America coup?

    In October 2001, the United States begins military operations in Afghanistan. The war lasted until August 2021.

    Where was John Bolton?

    During the Bush administration, Bolton would serve as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control.

    Likelihood Bolton helped coup?

    Yeah, I would think he’d be involved in these conversations. (Plus, he was arguing last year that Biden should not have pulled out of Afghanistan—or at least I read it that way—in op-ed pages.)

    Iraq, another time

    When did America coup?

    In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq. Here is a lie by lie timeline of how we got there.

    Where was John Bolton?

    At the vanguard of the neo-con movement and a figure within the Bush administration. As an admin official, he was in charge of stoping the spread of WMDs. And he believed Iraq had them—and said so.

    Likelihood Bolton helped coup?

    He argued publicly Saddam had WMDs. He was ambassador to the United Nations from 2005 to 2006. And he was a core part of the neo-conservative milieu that went for these wars under the Bush administration. So, I dare to say yes.

    Libya

    When did America coup?

    In 2011, the United States and other Western powers intervened in Libya to overthrow leader Muammar Gaddafi.

    Where was John Bolton?

    Not in the administration.

    Likelihood Bolton helped coup?

    I guess ideologically, but this one goes out to Barack Obama who called it the “worst mistake” of his presidency.

    Venezuela

    When did America coup?

    In 2019, like Bolton admitted, he tried to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

    Where was John Bolton?

    In power.

    Likelihood Bolton helped coup?

    High.

  • Trump Will Say Literally Anything—Except “Vaccines”

    Sarah Palin and Donald Trump shake hands at a 2016 rally.Mary Altaffer, File/AP

    “Vaccine” is not a four-letter word, but don’t expect it to escape Trump’s lips anytime soon.

    The former president tiptoed around the word last night at an Alaska rally in support of right-wing Republican candidates, including former Gov. Sarah Palin, who is running for the state’s lone House seat. Trump attempted to take credit for the speed of vaccine development while taking a not-so-subtle dig at his base.

    “We did so much in terms of therapeutics and a word that I’m not allowed to mention,” he said, “But I’m still proud of that word, because we did that in nine months, and it was supposed to take five years to 12 years. Nobody else could have done it, but I’m not mentioning it in front of my people.”

    About 63 percent of Alaskans are fully vaccinated, but the percent of Republicans fully vaccinated is likely lower; nationwide, counties that voted for Trump in 2020 tend to have lower vaccination rates than those that voted for Biden. Trump might have been avoiding butting heads with Palin, who has said that she would get a Covid vaccine “over my dead body.”

    Trump didn’t extend that same cautiousness to the rest of his speech. He called Leon—no, Elon—Musk a “bullshit artist.” He called Sen. Lisa Murkowski—a moderate Alaska Republican who voted to convict him in his second impeachment trial—a “RINO” and “worse than a Democrat.” And in a rant about ISIS, he uttered a rare f-bomb, saying that he would “hit them in the fucking center.”

    Trump may not actually care about whether his supporters are protected from Covid, but he suggested that one day, they might come around to see the greatness of his accomplishments. On the vaccine issue, he said, “Someday, we’re gonna have to all sit down and have a little talk.”

  • DOJ Sues Arizona Over “Textbook Violation” of Election Law

    Ross D. Franklin/File/AP

    The Department of Justice filed a suit yesterday against an Arizona law that will require people to provide proof of citizenship to vote by mail or in federal elections. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke called the law a “textbook violation of the National Voter Registration Act.”

    Ever since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013—and even before—state legislatures across the country have found creative ways to roll back the right to vote, from instituting voter ID requirements to limiting mail voting to passing rigged election maps.

    Arizona has been at the forefront of one part of that movement: a push to require proof of citizenship to participate in elections—an onerous obligation that could prevent many Americans from casting their ballots. In 2004, it passed a ballot initiative that required prospective voters to provide documentary proof of citizenship in addition to completing the federal voter registration form. As Nina Perales of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund told NPR at the time, the proof of citizenship law sent voter registration plummeting 44 percent in the state’s most populous county—and 80 percent of people whose registrations were denied were non-Hispanic whites.

    In 2013, a Supreme Court decision written by Justice Antonin Scalia struck down that Arizona law. (Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.) That decision basically said that a state could not supersede the federal voter registration form—which requires only that prospective voters attest to their citizenship under penalty of perjury—by imposing additional requirements on people who wanted to vote in federal elections. States could, however, create their own requirements for participation in state-level elections. This created a class of federal-only voters who registered to vote in Arizona but did not provide documentary proof of citizenship by submitting documents like birth certificates or passports.

    But the Supreme Court’s decision didn’t stop Arizona from passing a law in March that requires people who want to vote in federal elections, or by mail, to prove their citizenship.

    And the Republican lawmakers who instituted this citizenship requirement knew it was unconstitutional. According to the DOJ filing:

    When voting to approve the bill in Committee, Vice-Chair of the Arizona House Rules Committee and House Speaker Pro Tempore Travis Grantham acknowledged that Congress and the Supreme Court had invalidated the State’s past efforts to impose DPOC on federal-only voters, but stated that trying again “is a fight worth having.”

    That doesn’t bode well for the law holding up in court. State Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who is running against a slew of other Republicans for the chance to take down incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in the general election, claimed that DOJ’s lawsuit was an attempt to allow undocumented immigrants to vote. This almost never actually happens.

  • It’s Not 2016

    This is a continuing investigation from the Mother Jones newsroom to determine whether it is the year 2016.

    Good morning. Despite disturbing recent reports that, for some, grievances from the Democratic primary for president from six years ago are the central vehicle to understand our modern political problems, we can confirm: It is not 2016. The year is 2022. You don’t have to tweet about Susan Sarandon.

    Yep, I’ll double-check. One moment…

    Sorry, unfortunately, it’s still not 2016.

    Apologies for any confusion about that. Just want to be clear. I checked. It’s not 2016.

    Hmm. Let me phrase it like this…

    According to a Mother Jones investigation, we can reveal it is not the year 2016.

    Our analysis found that is in fact the year 2022. While the primary debates of that year still feature prominently in the minds of some, experts agree: It’s not the best way to understand our current moment. It will turn your mind into mush-mush to narrow your view of American political history into a never-ending crusade about a single primary.

    Damn it.

    Hey, everybody, it’s not 2016!!

    I promise.

    I swear.

    Oh Jesus fucking Christ.

    If you notice signs that it seems like it is 2016 but think it is not, please let us know as we continue this investigation.