• North Carolina House Passes Revised Mask Ban

    A person with pale skin and red curly hair looking to the side, wearing a blue surgical mask and a watermelon kippah.

    Mark Bialek/Zuma

    On Tuesday, the North Carolina GOP Representatives passed a mask ban on private property in a crackdown on protesters, even as a new subvariant of coronavirus spreads across the United States. The vote was 69 for the measure and 43 against It now goes to the governor’s desk.

    Last week, the House of Representatives modified the bill to allow “a medical or surgical grade mask for the purpose of preventing the spread of contagious disease,” keeping some aspects of the health exemption for mask-wearing. But, on public or private properties, like at grocery stores or at a workplace, people can be required to remove masks if requested.

    The bill, which was drafted in response to people wearing masks at Pro-Palestinian protests and encampments, can be passed by the General Assembly even if Democratic Governor Roy Cooper vetoes it through an override.

    Democrats in North Carolina spoke against the bill before the vote. Democratic State Rep. Maria Cervania also said that the bill says people can only wear masks for contagious diseases, which ignores people who need to wear them for allergies or are immunocompromised. Later, Democratic State Rep. Pricey Harrison said she’s nervous about not being allowed to wear a mask for her asthma and is also worried about people of color being targeted for mask-wearing.

    Many healthcare professionals have expressed concerns that their patients would not be able to stay safe against the spread of Covid-19 and other infectious diseases. Dr. Diana Cejas, a University of North Carolina pediatric neurologist who survived cancer and a stroke, told Mother Jones last month:

    “Some of our legislators have made the argument that this ban won’t apply to those of us who mask for medical reasons, but I think that we all know that won’t be true. We already face scrutiny and outright harassment at times for the ‘crime’ of trying to protect ourselves from illness, particularly us disabled and chronically ill people of color and those with other marginalized identities.”

    Some types of masking are still allowed, like costume masks on Halloween.

  • Hunter Biden Convicted on Federal Gun Charges

    Hunter Biden is a suit, with a blurred background

    Hunter Biden arrives to federal court on June 6, 2024.Matt Slocum/AP

    On Tuesday, a federal jury in Delaware convicted Hunter Biden of three felonies related to federal gun crimes. In 2018, while in recovery, the now-president’s son wrote on paperwork for a gun purchase that he did not abuse illegal drugs. President Joe Biden said last week that he would not pardon his son if he was convicted.

    During the trial, Biden’s former romantic partners spoke about his struggles with crack cocaine addiction. His daughter also said she could not vouch for his sobriety at the time he purchased a firearm. Biden’s defense attorney argued that Biden did not lie when he said he was not abusing illegal substances, as he was sober and recovering at the time. The jurors, it appears, were not convinced by those assertions.

    The defense attorney’s arguments do bring up a contentious issue: When can someone struggling with addiction or past institutionalization for mental health be considered safe enough to purchase a firearm? Mental health professionals can play a role in these decisions, but as psychiatrist Dr. Paul Appelbaum told me recently, that determination can be complicated:

    When you’ve got a process for restoring gun rights, at some point down the road, these will frequently involve evaluation by a psychiatrist or another mental health professional to assess the extent to which an individual remains sufficiently dangerous to themselves, or to other people, that it would be unwise to restore their gun rights.

    There are no good assessments of approaches that provide certainty with regard to a person’s likelihood of using a gun in an inappropriate way in the future, so mental health professionals are often in a difficult situation.

    Hunter Biden faces another federal trial later this year on unrelated tax fraud charges.

  • Report: After Promising to Halt Bomb Shipment, Biden Moving to Send $1 Billion More in Weapons to Israel

    Black and white cutout of President Joe Biden, wearing aviator sunglasses and giving a thumbs up, on a blue background.

    Mother Jones; Lenin Nolly/Sipa USA/AP

    After officials repeatedly warned that they would consider stopping the flow of weapons to Israel if it pressed forward with a ground invasion into Rafah, the Biden administration announced it would nonetheless attempt to send more than $1 billion in additional weapons to Israel, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday night, citing congressional officials.

    The Journal reports that the latest package “includes the potential transfer of $700 million in tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles, and $60 million in mortar rounds.” Congress will have to approve the latest package.

    The latest announcement comes as something of an about-face for the White House: Just last week, President Biden made headlines after he told CNN that he would stop shipping certain weapons to Israel if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proceeds with a major ground invasion of Rafah—which Israeli forces have already seemingly begun, leading nearly 450,000 people to flee the area since May 6, according to the latest numbers from the United Nations. 

    White House Spokesperson John Kirby added Thursday that Biden does not believe “smashing into Rafah” will help take out Hamas. Nonetheless, Israel is reportedly moving in. The Washington Post on Tuesday reported that Israeli tanks are coming closer to urban areas; yesterday, State Department Spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters, “We do not want to see a major operation into Rafah, and we have not seen one yet that we would take issue with.”

    On Sunday, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken confirmed on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the US recently halted the delivery of 3,500 so-called “dumb bombs” to Israel. But Blinken made clear that the administration was still allowing most weapons exports.

    A displaced Palestinian girl from Rafah played this week in a building destroyed by Israeli warplanes.

    Abed Rahim Khatib/dpa/ZUMA

    Representatives for the State and Defense departments, and the White House, did not immediately respond to requests for comment and questions about how they will ensure Israel uses the latest round of weapons in compliance with international humanitarian law and President Biden’s recent comments.

    Last Friday, the State Department released a delayed report examining the Israeli army’s conduct and use of US provided-weapons. The department found that “it is reasonable to assess” that Israel has deployed the weapons “in instances inconsistent with its [international humanitarian law] obligations or with established best practices for mitigating civilian harm.” That report also said American officials “do not currently assess that the Israeli government is prohibiting or otherwise restricting the transport or delivery of U.S. humanitarian assistance” to Gaza—though that’s at odds with the experiences of more than 20 humanitarian organizations operating on the ground.

    Netanyahu, for his part, refuses to face the reality of the humanitarian toll of the war on civilian Palestinians, arguing that a continued military operation is essential to defeat Hamas. “The humanitarian catastrophe that has been spoken of has not been realized, nor will it,” he said in a statement today. 

    Workers on the ground paint a different picture. Twenty aid groups signed onto a letter today condemning world leaders’ failures to act to stem the humanitarian crisis and halt the Israeli invasion into Rafah, writing that “further advancement of the military invasion…will lead to the total collapse of lifesaving services.”

    The International Rescue Committee said Tuesday that its emergency medical team was supposed to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing on Monday but was unable. “What we are witnessing in Rafah is nothing less than a humanitarian catastrophe,” Kiryn Lanning, IRC team lead for the occupied Palestinian territory, said in a statement. “The ongoing Israeli bombardment, combined with the closure of the Rafah crossing, has led to critical fuel shortages and severe movement restrictions, paralyzing all humanitarian operations.”

    The U.N. Secretary-General called yesterday for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and for the release of all hostages,” and said the Rafah crossing should be re-opened immediately to allow for “unimpeded humanitarian access throughout Gaza.” 

    In the meantime, as a volunteer nurse at Rafah’s only maternity hospital told me last week, medical professionals are scrambling to care for injured patients, pregnant people, and vulnerable newborns with a shortage of basic supplies and fears for their safety.

    “There is no safe place in Gaza from a healthcare perspective—and beyond,” she said.

  • Trump Wants to Deport Pro-Palestine Protesters—and GOP Lawmakers Are Filing Bills to Make It Happen

    Collage with Donald Trump on the left in black and white and a pro-Palestine student protest on the right.

    Mother Jones; Matt Rourke/AP; John Lamparski/NurPhoto/Zuma

    At a rally in Wildwood, New Jersey on Saturday, former President Donald Trump made many questionable comments.

    He called Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg “Fat Alvin.” He claimed migrant children “don’t speak English.” And he said that, if he’s re-elected, he will deport pro-Palestinian, antiwar protesters.

    “When I’m president, we will not allow our colleges to be taken over by violent radicals, and if you come here from a violent country and try to bring jihadism, or anti-Americanism, or antisemitism to our campuses, we will immediately deport you. You’ll be out of that school,” Trump said, to the crowd’s cheers. (You can watch the full comments for yourself at the 1:30:41 mark.) 

    This is not the first time Trump has made similar promises: Back in the fall, he said he “will implement strong ideological screening for all immigrants,” and that those who “sympathize with jihadists” and “want to abolish Israel…[are] not coming into our country.” He added: “We aren’t bringing in anyone from Gaza.” 

    The comments come amid Republican-led efforts to brand all anti-war protesters as supporters of terrorism and a continued push to criminalize protest. 

    Last week, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) re-upped an effort he first made last fall to deport protesters who have “endorsed or espoused the terrorist activities of Hamas” or other anti-Israel terrorist organizations. Rubio wrote a letter to the secretaries of the State and Homeland Security departments to initiate “expedited deportation proceedings” for participants in “antisemitism and pro-Hamas protests.” Earlier this month, Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-Tx.) introduced what her office calls the “Hamas Supporters Have No Home Here Act,” which would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to allow for the deportation of people “charged with any crime related to their participation in pro-terrorism or antisemitism rallies or demonstrations.” 

    These efforts seem to ignore the reality on the ground: As my colleagues and I have reported, many protesters and organizers have said they condemn antisemitism and have insisted that gatherings on campuses—including some in which administrators have called the cops—have been peaceful

    Some of those on the right condemning all anti-war protesters have gone beyond calling for enforcement. Last month, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said people “who get stuck behind the pro-Hamas mobs blocking traffic” should “take matters into your own hands to get them out of the way.” (He later claimed he wasn’t endorsing violence.) And earlier this month, Cotton introduced a bill called the “No Bailouts for Campus Criminals Act” that would make anyone convicted of a crime in connection with a campus protest ineligible for student loan relief.

    It’s hard not to see these latest measures as more bad faith attempts by the right to criminalize protest, as my colleague nia t. evans has written, and to  dismiss participants as “outside agitators.” But the real danger this time lies in the fact that the presumptive GOP nominee is also in on it—and that the latest efforts fit squarely within his extremist anti-immigrant agenda.

  • Tribal Leaders Ban Gov. Kristi Noem From 20 Percent of South Dakota

    Ron Sachs/CNP/Zuma

    Gov. Kristi Noem has had a tough stretch…of her own making. 

    Ahead of the publication of her new book last week, No Going Back, the South Dakota Republican has been on a clean-up tour after it emerged that she included an anecdote about killing her own puppy and another that falsely boasted of meeting North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. In interviews promoting the book, Noem snapped at reporters who asked about the inconsistencies and suggested President Biden’s dog should also be killed.

    This weekend, new challenges emerged for Noem closer to home. As of Friday, six of South Dakota’s nine tribes have voted to ban her from their lands, according to the Associated Press, which reports that the off-limits area amounts to 20 percent of the state. Members of the Yankton Sioux Tribe unanimously voted to bar Noem on Friday, citing comments she made earlier this year alleging, without evidence, that “some tribal leaders…are personally benefiting from the cartels being there,” and that Native “kids don’t have any hope” and “don’t have parents who show up and help them.” 

    Earlier this week, the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe banned Noem. The Oglala, Rosebud, Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux tribes previously enacted bans, according to the South Dakota Searchlight

    “How dare the Governor allege that Sioux Tribal Councils do not care about their communities or their children, and, worse, that they are involved in nefarious activities?” Oglala Sioux tribe President Frank Star Comes Out said last month.

    Noem also angered tribal leaders by showing up uninvited to an April meeting between the tribes and the federal government, an appearance one tribal leader blasted as a “publicity stunt,” the Searchlight reported. 

    A spokesperson for Noem did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Mother Jones on Sunday. But as political scientist Cal Jillson told the AP, the latest feud may be to Noem’s benefit.

    “I’m sure that Gov. Noem doesn’t mind a focus on tensions with the Native Americans in South Dakota,” Jillson said, “because if we’re not talking about that, we’re talking about her shooting the dog.” 

  • Virginia Board Votes to Rename Schools Back to Honoring Confederate Military Leaders

    A worker attaches a rope as they prepare to remove the statue of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson from its pedestal on July 1, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Steve Helber/AP

    After the 2020 police killing of George Floyd, dozens of schools bearing names that honored Confederate figures renamed themselves. The move came against a flood of similar efforts aimed at addressing the nation’s stark racial disparities—at least on paper.

    But nearly four years to the day of Floyd’s death, a Virginia school board appears to have changed its mind. On Friday, the Shenandoah County Public School Board voted to restore the names of two public schools—Mountain View High School and Honey Run Elementary School—to their original names; Mountain View will return to being called Stonewall Jackson High School, and Honey Run Elementary School will return to the name Ashby-Lee Elementary School. They appear to be the first schools in the country to make the reversal.

    These original names honor Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Turner Ashby, three Confederate military leaders who led the fight to preserve the right to enslave people in the United States. The reinstatement of the schools’ original names comes as GOP-led states, including Virginia, seek to severely strip down Black history and diversity initiatives from their schools.  NBC News reports that the Coalition for Better Schools, a local conservative group, was behind the push to restore the Confederate names. (A similar initiative was unsuccessful in 2022.) 

    “We understand that the decision to rename these schools was made in response to discussions surrounding Confederate symbols,” the group wrote in a letter to the board last month. “However, we believe that revisiting this decision is essential to honor our community’s heritage and respect the wishes of the majority.”

    Community members, Democratic politicians, and activists alike have condemned the vote as a step backward. 

    “As Richmond’s Mayor, I have worked to remove the last remaining relics of the Confederacy from our city,” tweeted Mayor Levar Stoney. “This decision rolls back progress in our Commonwealth.”

  • On the Anniversary of Family Separation, the Heritage Foundation Hosted the Policy’s Intellectual “Father”

    Tom Homan, a Fox News contributor and former Trump Administration Head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/AP

    On May 7, 2018, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions officially announced the Trump administration’s infamous “zero tolerance” policy. “If you are smuggling a child,” Sessions said, “then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law.” The idea was to deter would-be migrants from coming to the United States by ripping families apart. At least 1,780 children had already been separated by that point, according to government records. But it was not until that day six years ago that the hallmark draconian measure of the Trump era was given a public rollout.

    Standing next to Sessions that day was Tom Homan, Donald Trump’s acting director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The intellectual “father” of the idea of separating families to deter migration, Homan was among the Homeland Security officials who first floated the extreme measure as a way to tackle the 2014 migrant family crisis during the Obama administration. (Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson rejected the proposal.) “Most parents don’t want to be separated,” Homan told the Atlantic‘s Caitlin Dickerson. “I’d be lying to you if I didn’t think that would have an effect.”

    Today, on the anniversary of the “zero tolerance” policy, Homan was again on public displaya speaker at a Heritage Foundation event called “Securing the Border and Keeping Americans Safe: How Illegal Immigration Leads to Preventable Crime.” It was meant to draw on a false trope linking immigrants to criminal activity and violence. (Evidence shows that immigrants are less likely than US citizens to commit crimes.)

    Homan, a career law enforcement officer, now leads a homeland security consulting firm and is a fixture on Fox News and other right-wing media outlets. In his office, he keeps a framed Washington Post article that said he was “really good” at deporting people. Homan is also helping lay the groundwork for a potential second Trump presidency’s mass deportation plans. “We’re going to do it the way we’ve always done it—professionally and well-planned—and we take the worst first,” he said on The Joe Piscopo Show earlier this week. Homan then added a caveat: “No one is off the table.” 

    At Heritage, Homan condemned sanctuary cities as “sanctuaries for criminals” and referenced the murder of Laken Riley, a 22-year-old Georgia nursing student who was killed by a Venezuelan migrant who entered the United States unlawfully. The case quickly became a political flashpoint on the right and even prompted President Joe Biden to make “an illegal” remark during the State of the Union address, which he later regretted. “Do we want to talk about family separation?” Homan said, referencing Riley’s he added: “They buried their children. That’s the separation.” 

    The 5,000 families forcibly separated under Trump and who are still living through the consequences of the zero tolerance policy might disagree with Homan’s assessment. In some cases, parents are still waiting for reunification after having been away from their children for years. As a result of a settlement agreement reached last year, some families are entitled to apply for temporary lawful status and work authorization in the United States. They may also have another shot at applying for asylum, but without access to legal counsel, the odds are stacked against them. As one advocate told me: “the actual physical reunification—it’s just one of a long process of healing and rebuilding.” 

    Decrying the Biden administration’s border policies as the “biggest national security failure I’ve seen in this country in my lifetime,” Homan also parroted claims not supported by facts that most immigrants arrested by ICE under the previous administration had criminal records and that the Trump years saw the most secure border in history. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, he said, “should have been impeached two and a half years ago.”

  • A Family Member Finally Shows Up to Donald Trump’s Hush-Money Trial

    Victor J. Blue/AP

    The first criminal trial of a former US president is underway, with Donald Trump facing 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to hush-money payments allegedly made in 2016 to cover up an affair he had with adult film star Stormy Daniels. Here’s the latest—the key updates and absurd moments—from the historic trial.

    Threats of jail time. Rants. “Trout” mouth.

    Donald Trump’s criminal trial in Manhattan, which pairs a former US president with tawdry tabloid behavior, has produced several key moments. But until today, one feature commonly seen in criminal trials regardless of a defendant’s celebrity status—the physical presence of a family member—proved elusive. 

    So who finally showed up? The honor goes to son Eric Trump, who on Tuesday, became the first Trump family member to physically appear with the former president in the historic hush-money trial. My colleague Russ Choma was in the room, so I asked him if the presence of a loved one seemed to have any noticeable effect on Trump. His answer was no.

    “It doesn’t look like it’s perked Trump up. He still looks extremely sullen/sleepy,” Russ responded on Slack, confirming another day of Trump Snooze Watch.

    “Eric has been sitting and watching big screens in the courtroom when information is put up. He sits in court like a normal person.”

    Sounds good. But I asked Russ for some more color. Here’s what he kindly replied before turning his attention to more important things than my pestering:

    Trump has spent the entire time sitting slumped low in his chair, and he appears to have his eyes closed the whole time, and occasionally looks like he’s startling, just sort of twitching, but I can’t say with authority that he’s sleeping, but he looks very sullen at least. He has occasionally chatted with his lawyers, or shook his head, but largely seems to be very quiet and subdued. Had no apparent reaction to being found in contempt.

    So there you have it. A family member, who certainly is not his wife, finally showed up—and Trump still struggled to keep his eyes open. 

  • John Cage Would Want You to Listen to Columbia’s Pro-Palestinian Protesters

    Julia Malakie/AP

    John Cage, the influential composer and artist, is dead. So it’s technically impossible to know with absolute certainty how he would feel about the pro-Palestinian encampment at Columbia University.

    But the question emerges after New York Times columnist John McWhorter, a music humanities and linguistics professor at Columbia, wrote that he was forced to stop students from playing Cage’s 4’33—a seminal work that’s effectively four minutes and 33 seconds of silence (though Cage-heads might disagree with that description)—because of the demonstrations. According to McWhorter, that silence, which would have made room for the chants outside, would have inflicted cruelty on his students, some of whom he identified as Israeli and Jewish American.

    But for people familiar with Cage’s work, McWhorter’s argument appeared antithetical to the spirit of 4’33. Cage’s conception of silence, though heavily and often debated, went beyond the idea of serene nothingness. See, for example, his explanation of listening to traffic: 

    To see how Cage would have felt about his name being invoked in a piece that essentially browbeats antiwar protests, I reached out to Professor Philip Gentry, a musicologist at the University of Delaware who wrote a book on Cold War politics and American music that touches on Cage’s politics. His response, which has been lightly edited for clarity:

    Ironically, Cage once attended lectures at Columbia University, with the Zen Buddhist scholar Daisetz Suzuki. He frequently told a story of how Suzuki would leave the classroom windows open in nice weather, and the sounds of planes flying into LaGuardia would drown out the lecturer’s voice—but there was a lesson to be learned in that. 

    The idea of 4’33” is to provide a frame for listening to the sounds of the world as a piece of music. Sometimes this means the sounds of nature, but most often it is the sounds of people. At the premiere in 1952 in Woodstock, NY, the initial sounds were of the forest surrounding the concert hall. By the end of the four and a half minutes, however, those natural sounds were drowned out by audience members who began to complain. Supposedly, one person stood up to shout, “Good people of Woodstock, let’s run these people out of town!” Cage was thrilled. 

    I suspect John Cage would have been equally pleased to know that a performance of 4’33” at Columbia in 2024 could contain, in addition to the sounds of the HVAC system and students breathing and shuffling their feet, the chaotic noise of the encampment outside the window. Whether or not he would have agreed with the protestors—he was a life-long anarchist who tended to sniff at student protests—he absolutely would have embraced that wide world of sounds. And while I can’t speak for them, it sounds like McWhorter’s students might have been subtly encouraging him to open his ears up a little wider as well.

  • The Biggest Misconception From Trump’s Historic Jury Selection

    Former president Donald Trump awaits the start of proceedings at Manhattan criminal court.Yuki Iwamura/AP

    Last week, Justice Juan Merchan pulled off an impressive feat in the New York Supreme Court’s criminal division: He finished empaneling 18 jurors in the first-ever criminal trial of a former president.

    This was not easy. Donald Trump’s first criminal trial—of the four he faces in the coming months—concerns 34 counts of falsifying business records, including a reported hush money payment he made to pornstar Stormy Daniels to cover up an alleged affair, in an attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

    In putting together a jury, Justice Merchan needed to find, somehow, a group of New Yorkers who felt they could not only be impartial about Trump, but also deal with the spotlight—which is to say, potential abuse from the defendant or his followers. Justice Merchan has imposed a gag order on Trump talking about certain people involved in the case to this end. But the former president has repeatedly seemed to violate this by criticizing Merchan’s family and several witnesses. Tomorrow, there will be a contempt of court hearing.

    It was exactly this type of behavior from Trump, and its potential blowback for jurors, that led Justice Merchan to also order an anonymous jury. Not that this has all played out smoothly. When two of the initial jurors were excused over concerns about the potential public disclosure of their identities, the press’s potential role in that exposure became a talking point.

    With all this mayhem, as we enter the first days of the next phase of the trial, there are key moments from the jury selection that should be remembered that might have been missed.

    Most importantly, there has been one big misconception—that this selection process had culled from the jury anyone who had an opinion of Trump. That wasn’t the case. Striking a juror for simply knowing of or having an opinion of Trump was not an option.

    Instead, jury selection highlighted Trump’s ubiquity in America. This is in part a reflection of the venue—the city of New York—but it’s also about Trump’s celebrity. As many prospective panelists entered the courtroom, they stretched their necks to get a look at the famous defendant, and one woman even giggled and put her hand over her mouth after realizing which trial she was summoned for.

    In a departure from usual practice, Justice Merchan asked each new panel of prospective jurors to raise their hands if potential jurors felt they couldn’t be fair or impartial; he excused those who did without further questioning. This approach dispatched over half the jury field each time. The survivors completed a rigorous questionnaire and an interview, called voir dire, further nixing potentially biased Manhattanite jurors.

    At one point in the process, Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass said, “Everyone and their mother has an opinion about this case.” In the vetting process, we heard many of them.

    Over the past week, more than 100 New Yorkers have had an inadvertent opportunity—a legal requirement, in fact—to tell Trump to his face exactly how they feel about him, without fear of response or retribution from the former president. A great many of them, prospective and now permanent jurors alike, expressed explicit distaste.

    Liking or disliking Trump is not a basis for striking a juror who says he or she can be fair and follow the evidence and the instructions of the court. And both prosecution and defense have only so many “peremptory” strikes—that is, strikes of jurors who may be qualified but seem unattractive from the party’s perspective. So eventually, that means admitting a lot of people with opinions. And, unsurprisingly in Manhattan, those opinions seem to tilt heavily in a dislike-of-Trump direction.

    One prospective juror, an amateur boxer who told defense attorney Susan Necheles that back in 2016, she felt that Trump’s “devout” followers were emboldened by his rhetoric to make “homophobic and racist comments” and discriminate against her “as a woman.” Several other prospective jurors clarified social media posts and memes on their pages excoriating Trump. One such post said he “actually is the devil.”

    “I’ve got opinions, yeah,” said another prospective juror when asked about her opinion of Trump, “I’m born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.” She spent her whole life hearing about Trump, and even once saw him and Marla Maples, Trump’s second wife and mother of Tiffany Trump, shopping for baby things. Some of her family lives in Trump buildings. Before Trump’s face became a fixture on TV screens across America, he made himself a staple of city life. (“You just don’t get more New York than that,” the TV show “Sex in the City” had explained when Trump appeared during a cameo.)

    Those potential jurors were excused, but the jurors who made it into the final 18 should give the defense little comfort. Juror 5, for example, said that while she’s “not a political person” herself, as a person of color she has friends who have strong opinions on Trump. Juror 11 will likely present an even bigger problem. She said she doesn’t like Trump’s “persona” or “how he presents himself in public,” calling him “very selfish and self-serving,” an attribute she “[doesn’t] really appreciate… in a public servant.” She added: “It’s not my cup of tea.” When Necheles tried to clarify whether she was saying that she doesn’t like Trump, Juror 11 simply responded: “Yes.”

    Some commentators have suggested that Trump might find a guardian angel in Juror 2, the only one to have admitted to following Trump on Truth Social and to getting his news from the platform. But the media consumption graphic only tells part of the story. “I read basically everything,” Juror 2 said. “I follow Truth Social posts from Trump on Twitter. I do follow Michael Cohen, Mueller She Wrote, and some more.” He said that Trump has done some good for the country, but added “it goes both ways.” (That doesn’t sound exactly like a MAGA diehard.)

    Rolling Stone reported that Trump is so incensed over the past week that he is reaching levels of anger that are “maxed out, even for him,” citing allegations of his courtroom napping and unflattering courtroom artist sketches.

    Having sat through the entire jury selection process, I suspect he has other reasons to be worried—18 to be exact.

  • John Bolton to Vote for Dick

    Supporters cheer remarks by Vice President Dick Cheney at a rally in 2004. To our knowledge, John Bolton was not in attendance.ANN HEISENFELT/AP

    On CNN, John Bolton, a former national security adviser to Donald Trump and rabid war lover who wants to bomb Iran and North Korea (among others), revealed that he is voting for a write-in candidate in 2024.

    “I might as well say it now,” Bolton said, “I voted for Dick Cheney [in 2020]. And I’ll vote for Dick Cheney again this November.”

    Why would Bolton do this? “Because [Cheney] was a principled Reaganite conservative, and he still is,” Bolton told the CNN viewers. Bolton then went on to explain that age is no longer a factor, allowing him to vote for a man who is 83 years old. And he continued, in a bit of a joking tone, to say that if he could sway the nation toward a write-in campaign for Cheney to prevent either Biden or Trump from being president, he would. Bolton also noted that someday he might vote for Cheney’s very hawkish, very anti-Trump daughter, former Rep. Liz Cheney.

    This isn’t the first time Bolton admitted something on TV a bit randomly. In 2022, he argued that one has to be smart to do a coup—and that he, John Bolton, would know because he’d helped do some coups. We tried to narrow down which adventure in American imperialism Bolton might have been referring to here.

  • On Fox News, the Eclipse Is—Somehow—About Migrants

    Mother Jones illustration; Fox News; Rafael Pacheco/La Nacion/ZUMA

    In a few hours, millions of people across North America will seize the rare opportunity to (hopefully safely) observe a total solar eclipse, when the moon covers the sun and darkens the skies for a few minutes. The Great American Eclipse will stretch from Mexico through parts of Texas all the way to Maine and into Canada, drawing curious beholders from as far as Beijing to Indianapolis. 

    During such moments, one could be led to ponder things greater than our mere human experience: the cosmos, fate, and the vastness of the universe. Or, if you’re Fox News, you could do this:

    “A rare celestial event collides with a policy failure on the ground,” anchor Dana Perino told viewers. “The southern border will be directly in the path of totality today when the moon covers the sun for nearly four minutes.” The eclipse, co-anchor Bill Hemmer then added, represents “a real opportunity for smugglers and cartels and migrants to come right in.” 

    The truth about the “opportunity” is a bit less chaotic. There have been warnings of heavy traffic at both the border in the north and south because (of course) people are traveling to see the eclipse. There’s nothing particularly esoteric or conspiratorial about border-crossers making moves to try and catch a glimpse of the astronomical phenomenon.

    Still, that didn’t stop Fox. They showed a map of the total eclipse’s path that transitioned into images from the weekend of supposed migrants in New Mexico, a Fox News reporter talked about “suspected cartels’ scouts and coyotes watch[ing] from a mountain above.” 

    Fox News wasn’t alone in making the wild connection between the eclipse and migration to the southern border. In a segment with Arizona Sheriff Mark Lamb, a Republican running for the US Senate, a Newsmax host asked if the over three-minute darkness following the eclipse posed “any concern that there could be a rush on the border during that time.” Sheriff Lamb, a frequent guest on the right-wing media circle and harsh critic of the Biden administration’s border policies, gave the only conceivable answer: “Look, it gets dark every night.” 

  • Trump Helped Overturn Roe. Now He Wants to Run Away From the Consequences.

    Mother Jones illustration; Shawn Thew/CNP/ZUMA

    Donald Trump wants to pretend he isn’t to blame for the devastating consequences of overturning of Roe v. Wade—even as he boasts about being responsible for the momentous Supreme Court decision.

    In a more than four-minute-long video released on Truth Social this morning the presumptive Republican nominee attempted to clarify his nebulous stance on abortion rights. It remained confounding.

    Trump took credit for overturning Roe and said he wants to leave abortion rights “to the states,” seemingly rebuking prior reporting that he’d support a 16-week national ban if re-elected. (Trump didn’t specifically say what he’d do if Congress passed a national ban and sent it to his desk as president). He also insisted on his support for exceptions for “rape, incest and life of the mother”—but didn’t make clear how he’d square that with his insistence on states’ rights to come up with their own abortion policy. (The Trump campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment seeking clarification on these points.)

    This is, for all intents and purposes, a mish-mash of policies that sound fine but do not actually make sense in practice.

    After all, it’s thanks to Trump—who appointed three of the five Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe—that 14 states have enacted almost total bans on abortion. And in 2016, the former president said there “has to be some form of punishment” for women who have abortions.

    Trump also failed to acknowledge that abortion opponents, including many Republicans, are currently seeking to dramatically restrict access to medication abortion at the Supreme Court, and have also floated invoking the Comstock Act—a 19th-century anti-obscenity law that remains on the books—to enact a federal ban on abortion. (The campaign also didn’t respond to a request for comment on Trump’s stance on these issues.) 

    So, Trump’s much-hyped “statement on abortion” didn’t actually clarify much at all: he’s essentially saying that, if re-elected, he wants to preserve the status quo, which is his doing, and has resulted in abortion bans spreading throughout the country. 

    In fact, let’s review just some of what that decision has wrought: 

    • Children as young as 10 years old who have gotten pregnant as a result of rape have been forced to give birth, or cross state lines to get an abortion; 
    • Women like Kate Cox in Texas, and their doctors, have been forced to shoulder legal risk and take legal action in their quests to obtain abortions in light of life-threatening health emergencies;
    • As I’ve reported, advocates who support victims of domestic and sexual violence have been left in the lurch and without information on all their options to help survivors; 
    • IVF access has been imperiled, affecting couples who are trying to have kids.

    But listening to Trump, you wouldn’t know any of this: he tried to cast Democrats as extremists through a litany of lies: 

    • He claims “all legal scholars, [on] both sides, wanted and, in fact, demanded” Roe be overturned. This is demonstrably false, as evinced by the ‘friend of the court’ briefs legal scholars filed in the Dobbs case urging the court not to overturn Roe
    • He says Democrats “support abortion up to, even beyond, the ninth month,” including through what he called “execution after birth.” Federal data shows more than 90 percent of abortions take place in the first trimester, and data from the states shows that third-trimester abortions are exceptionally rare. Most of the time, people get third-trimester abortions because they received new information about the pregnancy or faced barriers to obtaining an abortion earlier in their pregnancy. By “execution after birth,” it’s unclear what Trump was referring to (we asked his campaign), but it’s likely he’s talking about a procedure that’s already outlawed at the federal level. 
    • He insists that, thanks to Dobbs, “now that we have abortion where everybody wanted it from a legal standpoint” and that his stance on abortion supports “the will of the people.” But polling shows the majority of Americans disapproved of Dobbs and that most think abortion should be legal in all or most cases. This is probably why so many ballot measures that have put the question of abortion rights directly to voters post-Dobbs has passed

    As Ammar Moussa, the director of rapid response for President Biden’s re-election campaign, pointed out in a post on X: “Donald Trump is endorsing every single abortion ban in the states, including abortion bans with no exceptions. And he’s bragging about his role in creating this hellscape.” 

    Trump, essentially, wants to have it both ways: he wants credit for Dobbs, while also ignoring its consequences and casting Democrats as extremists. And it seems to be working. Polling has showed voters don’t necessarily hold Trump responsible for overturning Roe. But they should: in the video, Trump said that he’s “proudly the person responsible” for the Dobbs decision.

    Still, for the far-right that isn’t enough. Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, said the organization is “deeply disappointed in President Trump’s position.” 

    “Saying the issue is ‘back to the states’ cedes the national debate to the Democrats,” Dannenfelser said in the statement. 

    Ultimately, Trump didn’t announce anything new today—he just affirmed what we already know: abortion rights are currently left to the states, he won’t take ownership of the confusion and mayhem that Dobbs has wrought, and he’ll keep spreading false information about abortion. And, perhaps most importantly: abortion rights are on the ballot this November. 

  • Greg Abbott Accuses Biden of Using Migrants as “Political Pawns”

    Eric Gay/AP

    It seems like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott could use a dictionary. 

    Why? Because on Sunday, the Republican went on Fox News and accused President Joe Biden of “using illegal immigrants as political pawns.” And given his own record, it is unclear if understands what the word means. 

    Chessboards aside, Oxford Languages says a pawn is “a person used by others for their own purposes.” This, of course, describes how Abbott has himself treated migrants who have crossed the border into Texas.

    Since 2022, he bussed thousands of them to Democratic-controlled New York City and Washington, D.C. The arrival of more than 150,000 migrants in New York since that time has created a humanitarian crisis that the city government has struggled to adequately manage, leaving many migrants bearing harsh conditions and stuck in shelters.

    New York City Mayor Eric Adams has sued more than a dozen charter bus contractors that helped transport the migrants to the city under Abbott’s direction, alleging that the companies violated the city’s Social Services Law, which requires that anyone who brings “a needy person from out of state” to New York City to cover the resulting expenses. Last month, one of the bus companies agreed in court papers to halt transporting migrants from the southern border to the city, Politico reported

    But this week, when Abbott came to New York for a Republican fundraiser, he made it clear he has no plans to stop sending migrants to New York for his own purposes—at least for as long as Biden remains president. “We are going to have to maintain this process until we get a new president this next November who will secure the border for the United States of America,” the governor told the gathering, according to Gothamist.

    Late last year, Abbott signed a law making undocumented immigration into Texas a state crime and allowing state law enforcement officials to arrest undocumented immigrants anywhere inside its boundaries. The issue is wrapped up in litigation, with Biden’s Department of Justice arguing that the law violates the Constitution, which “assigns the federal government the authority to regulate immigration and manage our international borders.”

    The reason behind Abbott’s rhetoric isn’t hard to pin down: Draconian anti-immigration policies—including separating children from their parents—have become a cornerstone of today’s GOP, who don’t actually seem interested in funding border security, given that Republican lawmakers recently blocked a bipartisan bill to do just that. 

    While Abbott’s threat to keep busing immigrants north could further burnish his anti-immigrant credentials, it pales when compared to another he made earlier this year. As I reported in January, he told a right-wing radio host that “the only thing that we are not doing is we’re not shooting people who come across the border—because, of course, the Biden administration would charge us with murder.”

    That’s what we’d call using immigrants as political pawns. 

  • José Andrés: IDF Airstrikes Deliberately Targeted Aid Workers, “Systematically, Car by Car”

    Palestinians transporting the bodies of employees from the World Central Kitchen killed in an Israeli airstrike, according to the Hamas-run Gaza government media office.Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/AP

    World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés accused Israel on Wednesday of deliberately targeting the organization’s seven aid workers killed in an airstrike on Monday, “systematically, car by car,” rejecting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claims that they were unintentionally killed.

    “This was not just a bad luck situation where ‘oops’ we dropped the bomb in the wrong place,” Andrés told Reuters in an exclusive interview.

    At one point, the celebrity chef and humanitarian appeared emotional and holding back tears as he described the “friends” who were killed by Israeli missiles after delivering more than 100 tons of food to a warehouse in Gaza. Andrés said the Israel Defense Forces had been aware of the convoy’s activity before the attack and that the hit vehicles were clearly labeled with WCK’s logo.

    According to Andrés, the vehicles had “very defined” and “colorful” logos indicating they were aid workers. “It’s very clear who we are and what we do,” said Andrés, adding that they were in a “deconflicting zone, in an area controlled by IDF.”

    “They [knew] that it was our teams moving on that road…with three cars.”

    Since the attack on Monday, Netanyahu has promised that “an independent, professional and expert body” would investigate the airstrikes. But speaking to Reuters, Andrés called for a separate investigation into the airstrike led by the United States and other home countries where the aid workers had come from.

    In a phone call with Netanyahu on Thursday, Biden declared that continued support for Israel would be contingent on whether Israel takes further steps to protect the lives of civilians, stating that an “immediate ceasefire is essential.” Shortly before Monday’s attack, the Biden administration had signed off on more than 1,000 500-pound bombs and 1,000 small-diameter bombs to be transferred to Israel, according to CNN

  • Easter Falls on Trans Day of Visibility This Year. The Right Blames Biden.

    A protestor wears the transgender flag while standing in the Missouri Statehouse.

    Charlie Riedel/AP

    Across social media, right-wing posters are complaining that President Joe Biden has usurped Easter. “Joe Biden just proclaimed that ‘Transgender Visibility Day’ is on Sunday,” once-presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy posted on X, “I wonder how he came up with that date.”

    Except Biden, of course, did not come up with this date, he just issued a pretty standard proclamation recognizing it. (His administration also recently issued proclamations recognizing National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, Cesar Chavez Day, and Care Workers Recognition Month.)

    Trans Day of Visibility has fallen on March 31 since it was created in 2010 by Rachel Crandall-Crocker, the executive director of Transgender Michigan. Crandall-Crocker recently told NPR she was hoping the day would be an opportunity for the trans community to come together and feel joy. That mission is important as ever as legislation across the country takes aim at the rights and safety of trans people, some of which, as my colleague Henry Carnell reported, cites anti-trans reporting coming from our country’s largest and most important newspaper, the New York Times

    Meanwhile, Easter can fall on any Sunday from late March to mid-April. So basically, Easter falling on Trans Day of Visibility is no different from when Hannukah fell on Thanksgiving in 2013. Which was actually pretty cool! My mom got custom boxes of mints that commemorated “Thanksgivukkah,” and we had latkes with our turkey, which is a delicious combination and a concept I think we as a culture should revisit. And sometimes my birthday falls on Mother’s Day, which is less cool because it should really be about me, but then again, my mom was here first.

    Point being, sometimes two holidays are on the same date. And Biden does not control the calendar or whatever forces dictate when Easter comes. So have a lovely Easter, and a lovely Trans Day of Visibility, and while you’re at, it remember what Crandall-Crocker learned from organizing the latter: “I changed the world. You don’t have to be perfect. Come and change it along with me.” 

  • In Alabama, Abortion and IVF Helped Flip a Red Seat in a Special Election

    Marilyn Lands flipped a seat in the Alabama legislature by campaigning on abortion rights.Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post/Getty

    On Tuesday, Alabama provided even more evidence of what we already know to be true: Abortion rights win elections

    Democrat Marilyn Lands won a special election for an Alabama state House seat, flipping a Republican-held seat by campaigning on abortion rights in the deep-red state that bans abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest. Lands won 62 percent of the nearly 6,000 votes cast, while her challenger, Republican Teddy Powell, won 37.5 percent, according to the unofficial election night results from the Alabama Secretary of State. The candidates were running to replace Republican David Cole, who resigned last year after he was arrested on a voting fraud charge. (Lands ran against Cole in 2022 and lost by just under 1,000 votes, or about 7 percentage points—making her win last night all the more significant.)

    Lands—a licensed professional counselor whose website says her “Christian values deeply influence her life and work”—campaigned on repealing the state’s abortion ban, as well as expanding Medicaid, investing in community mental health resources, and improving the local economy and education. Days after the state Supreme Courts decision threatening IVF last month, Lands released a campaign ad in which she and another Alabama woman, Alyssa Gonzales, each shared their personal stories of getting emergency abortions following nonviable pregnancies. For Lands, it happened 20 years ago; for Gonzales, it happened after the Dobbs decision was handed down in 2022. 

    “We will not stand by and watch our most basic human rights be stripped from us,” Lands says in the ad.  

    Tuesday’s election results once again demonstrated the far-reaching effects that abortion bans can have in galvanizing voters in decisive elections around the country. The trend can be directly traced to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling, which was repeatedly cited throughout the Alabama Supreme Court decision that effectively banned IVF procedures. (The Alabama Legislature subsequently passed a bill, which the governor signed, to protect IVF access, but it didn’t address the legal status of frozen embryos.) 

    While Alabama is reliably red—and the state legislature remains majority Republican—Lands’ district, the state’s 10th District, has been a battleground: Trump won it by only one percentage point in 2020, the Washington Post reported, while he won the state by more than 35 percentage points. Voters told the 19th earlier this month that they were going to vote for Lands because of her stance on abortion and reproductive rights. 

    Lands told local CBS affiliate WHNT that she saw her victory as “a victory…for women, for families,” adding that she wanted to “repeal the bad ban on no-exceptions abortion” and “protect IVF and contraception.” 

    “It feels like the start of a change here, and I think we’ll see more change in 2026. I think Alabama is changing,” she said.

    Former Alabama Sen. Doug Jones (D) agreed, telling CNN that the results were “a huge win for Alabama, not just for Democrats.”

    Lands’ win seems to send a clear message—one that advocates have been trying to send President Biden and other Democrats for some time: it’s reproductive justice that wins elections in the post-Roe era. And as long as Republicans’ anti-abortion policies continue to harm pregnant people—including those who aren’t seeking abortions—they’ll likely continue losing to Democrats like Lands.

  • A List of Weird Stuff the Right Connected to the Baltimore Bridge Collapse

    Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed early Tuesday after a support column was struck by a vessel.Karl Merton Ferron/The Baltimore Sun/ZUMA

    Early Tuesday morning, a massive cargo ship struck a structural pillar of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, collapsing the 1.6-mile-long bridge into the Patapsco River. The stunning collapse shut down the Port of Baltimore, one of the country’s busiest, and launched a search for at least six construction workers believed to be missing. 

    Amid the frantic rescue mission, Fox News, similarly aligned conservative news outlets, and fringe characters wasted no time tying the collapse to some of their favorite right-wing talking points. Here are a few.

    Border “crisis”

    In an interview with Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fl.), Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo appeared to suggest a “wide open” immigration policy at the border could be a factor here. Her rationale? The cargo ship had been flying under a Singaporean flag.

    Drug-addled employees

    Over on Newsmax, Conservative Political Action Conference chairman Mike Schlapp invoked everything from “drug-addled employees” to Covid lockdowns while discussing the collapse. “We have to wake up as a country and realize that we have too many people who aren’t ready to do these jobs,” Schlapp, who conceded that he was not an expert on the situation, said.


    In a crossover that no one asked for, Alex Jones repeated a post from accused human trafficker Andrew Tate to speculate, without evidence, that foreign agents deliberately launched a cyberattack targeting US infrastructure.

    “Everything so far indicates that this was a terrible accident,” President Biden said in a brief this afternoon. “At this time, we have no other indication—no other reason to believe there was any intentional act here.”


    This succinct message, from a man running for Congress in Florida, is not parody. It is a conservative obsession.

  • A Whistleblower, a Sudden Death, and the Most Dangerous Prison in California

    Inmates walk through the exercise yard at California State Prison Sacramento, near Folsom. This season of ‘On Our Watch’, featured on this week's episode of Reveal, follows in the footsteps of a whistleblower officer, whose tragic death helps uncover the secrets hidden inside the most dangerous prison in California.

    After graduating from the academy to become a California correctional officer, Valentino Rodriguez thought he’d be joining a supportive brotherhood, committed to protecting the incarcerated, with honesty and accountability. But upon starting his job at the high-security New Folsom facility in Sacramento, Rodriguez reported encountering personal harassment while witnessing inmate mistreatment inside the most dangerous prison in California.

    As time went on, Valentino wasn’t just a correctional officer; he also became a whistleblower. Valentino died just days after he had spoken up about corruption and abuse by his fellow officers.

    This week’s episode of Reveal delves into the confusion surrounding his sudden death after an apparent overdose at age 30. Was it connected to the prison? His family still isn’t satisfied with how the tragedy was investigated, and years later, Valentino’s death has also raised questions from the FBI and his mentor in the elite investigative unit where they both worked. The episode features reporting by Sukey Lewis, Julie Small, and their On Our Watch investigative team at KQED, as they meet Valentino’s father, Val Sr., who begins to share evidence he’s collected surrounding his son’s death. As Lewis tells us during the episode, “He wants to understand what happened to his son and why and who’s responsible. But instead of finding answers, Val Sr. just keeps finding more questions.”


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    A post shared by KQED (@kqed)

    This season of On Our Watch, parts of which are featured on this week’s Reveal, delves into Rodriguez’s experiences, the culture of silence in the prison, and the aftermath of his death. Through interviews with Valentino’s wife Mimy, texts from his phone, and disciplinary records, the reporters uncover harassment and disproportionately high rates of force at the facility compared with other California prisons.