• An Iranian Journalist Who Reported on Mahsa Amini’s Death Is Now in Solitary Confinement

    A photo of Mahsa Amini displayed at a protest in Berlin, GermanyMarkus Schreiber/AP

    An Iranian journalist who reported on the death of Mahsa Amini has been thrown into solitary confinement, with no information about the charges against her, amid a major crackdown on the press in the country.

    Niloufar Hamedi, a reporter at the Tehran-based Shargh newspaper, was among the first to write about Amini, 22, who fell into a coma and died on September 16 after Iran’s morality police apprehended her and brought her to a “re-education” center for not wearing her hijab properly. Authorities say Amini died after a heart attack, but her family says she had no prior health problems and accuse the police of beating her.

    The 22-year-old’s death ignited massive protests across Iran, organized primarily by women, whose rights have been heavily restricted since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Her name has also gained global recognition, with world leaders condemning her death and the subsequent violence toward protesters. “We call on the Iranian authorities to hold an independent, impartial, and prompt investigation,” experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council said in a statement last week.

    Hamedi took a photograph that went viral of Amini’s grief-stricken parents hugging in the hospital, according to the news site IranWire, which wrote about the reporter’s incarceration on Monday. At least 18 journalists have been arrested in Iran since the demonstrations began, according to the nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists. Press freedom groups have called for their immediate release. “They were doing their jobs,” the Association of Iranian Journalists said in a statement. The country has also experienced a near internet shutdown and disruptions to phone and social media networks that have made it more difficult to share news. “[T]he Iranian authorities are sending a clear message that there must be no coverage of the protests,” the Middle East desk of Reporters Without Borders, another nonprofit, said in a statement. “We demand the immediate release of these journalists and the immediate lifting of all restrictions on Iranians’ right to be informed.”  

    The protests in Iran began with demands to end the mandatory hijab laws that likely led to Amini’s death, but the demonstrations have grown to more broadly oppose Iran’s leaders and clerical establishment. Thousands of people in dozens of cities have taken to the streets, with Kurdistan as the epicenter of dissent: Amini was Kurdish, part of a Sunni Muslim ethnic group that has long suffered under Iran’s Shiite government and has waged a separatist movement for decades.

    Nationwide, at least 1,200 people have already been arrested in connection to the demonstrations, according to CNN, which cited a report from state-backed news agency Tasmin. Dozens of protesters have reportedly died at the hands of security forces.

    Hamedi, the journalist who took the photograph, was arrested by Ministry of Information agents last Thursday, according to IranWire, and is now being held in Evin Prison. Other arrested journalists may also be stuck in isolation, a way for authorities to keep them separate from the political prisoners in the prisons’ general population units. In any case, they and other protesters likely face brutal conditions in incarceration: One Iranian woman told the BBC that she was detained in a small room with 60 women, with no space to sit or move. “They said we could not use the bathroom, and that if we got hungry we could eat our stools,” she said. “After almost a day, when we shouted and protested inside the room, they started threatening us that if we didn’t keep quiet, they would rape us.”

    Hamedi’s husband, Mohammad Hossein Ajorlou, was reportedly able to talk with his wife on Monday, and says she is trying to stay calm in solitary as she waits for more information about her case.

  • Rail Bosses Said No to Paid Sick Leave—So We’re Still on Track for a Strike

    Paul Hennessy/SOPA/Zuma

    Earlier this month, when railroad workers threatened to strike over “grueling” conditions—like formal discipline for taking any time off at all—the Biden administration brokered a tentative deal, avoiding a work stoppage that could have crippled supply chains and cost the US billions of dollars a day. Crisis averted.

    Or not. As more details of the deal come to light, it’s unclear that union members—who have to vote on the deal—will get on board. Workers had complained of weeks on call without a day off, overwork after staff cuts, and underpayment amid high inflation. One engineer told my colleague Noah Lanard that workers were “just fighting for the basic right to be able to be people outside of the railroad”—not for the $10 million–plus pay packages of top rail CEOs.

    The current proposal offers raises, limits the rise of health care premiums, and tweaks a tight scheduling system used to cut staffing. But the sticking point in negotiations has been sick time. Despite rail workers’ unpredictable schedules, they’re penalized for sick days, medical visits, and family emergencies. The consequences of the strict sick-day policy can be fatal: In June, the Washington Post reported, a locomotive engineer died when he suffered a heart attack on the job—after postponing a doctor’s visit because he’d been called into work.

    The tentative agreement removes penalties for up to three routine medical visits a year—but only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays, and only if scheduled 30 days in advance. As some union members pointed out to the New York Times, you can’t always know a month ahead of time that you’ll need care, and unions already often manage to undo the discipline workers receive after unpaid leaves for health care.

    Formalizing the deal will be an uphill battle. As the Post points out, some 115,000 union members have to ratify the contracts to avoid a strike. Two major unions haven’t accepted the agreement, and a third, smaller one already rejected it, aiming to make improvements by the end of September. The remaining votes are expected to take place across the following two months.

  • Liz Cheney: I’ll Quit the GOP If Trump Runs Again

    Bob Daemmrich/Zuma

    House Rep. Liz Cheney, the lame-duck Wyoming Republican and longtime anti-Trumper, said this weekend that she’ll leave the Republican Party if it nominates Donald Trump a second time.

    “I’m going to do everything I can to make sure he is not the nominee,” Cheney said at the Texas Tribune Festival on Saturday. “And if he is the nominee, I won’t be a Republican.” She pledged to oppose Kari Lake, her party’s Trump-backed, election-denying contender to govern Arizona—even if it meant campaigning for a Democrat.

    Still, Cheney’s attitude toward the Democratic Party is at best lukewarm. She didn’t concede that she wanted Democrats to keep control of the House after the midterms, and criticized the Biden administration’s “bad policies.” As my colleague Tim Murphy has pointed out, Cheney spent years demonizing Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and endorsed Trump before his movement ousted her: “By the time she decided that orange man, in fact, bad, the damage had long since been done.”

    “Donald Trump is the only president in American history who refused to guarantee a peaceful transition of power,” Cheney said Saturday. That the GOP “has refused in the months since then to stand up to him,” she continued, “does tell you how sick the party is.”

    After being ousted from House Republican leadership, losing her primary to a self-styled witch who relishes environmental destruction, and hearing that the Wyoming GOP no longer calls her a Republican anyway, Cheney is locked in an identity crisis, unable to shake the shackles of her party affiliation. Given what she’s been through, another Trump primary win seems like an arbitrary line in the sand.

  • “Sets This History Right”: David Corn’s “American Psychosis” Is a Hit

    Drew Angerer/Getty

    This week, my colleague, DC Bureau Chief David Corn, released his new book, American Psychosis: A Historical Investigation of How the Republican Party Went Crazy. And early reviews are coming in.

    “I have been dying to read [American Psychosis] since I heard it was coming out,” MSNBC host Rachel Maddow raved during Monday night’s broadcast. “What David Corn is writing about—in his irreducible, ineffable David Corn way—is this cautionary tale for what’s happened today. And also a reminder that we’ve dealt with some of these dynamics before.”

    During the hand-off with MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell, Maddow added: “[Corn is] a great journalist. I love the way he thinks. I love the way he writes. I’m so glad he’s done a super-readable, modern history of the right… We just need smart, digestible history about this stuff right now.”

    David also appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss the book’s main point: For over 70 years, the GOP has been exploiting and encouraging far-right extremism. That is, it didn’t start with Donald Trump. David noted he was particularly interested in the response of host Joe Scarborough, a recovering Republican, to the book’s account of the dark side of the GOP. “It was never this bad. How did it get this bad?” asked Scarborough.

    Watch David’s response:

    Other praise for American Psychosis is coming in. MSNBC’s O’Donnell noted that with American Psychosis, David “did the full homework to take us all the way back to where it really begins.”

    “It’s important and compelling,” journalist Jonathan Alter said. “And true!”

    Mary Trump observed, “In his brilliant new book American Psychosis, David Corn reveals the historical roots of our current crises and the GOP’s decades-long descent into extremism and paranoia. An important, timely, and excellent read.”

    But wait there’s more. 

    Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the Illinois Republican who sits on the January 6 committee, said, “The name American Psychosis is perfect for the moment we’re in.”

    The book quickly landed on the Amazon bestseller list ahead of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. (Yes, that’s still a bestseller.)

    And don’t miss David’s description of his new book in the latest edition of Our Land, his exclusive, twice-weekly newsletter that delivers a no-BS analysis of the news of the day. (Make sure you sign up here!):

    I just realized that the subtitle is a bit of a misnomer, for the book, which chronicles how the GOP has encouraged and exploited right-wing extremism for at least seven decades, shows that the Republican Party has always been somewhat crazy—at least since World War II. That is, if you define “crazy” as the acceptance and promotion of irrationality, bigotry, paranoia, conspiracy theories, and other elements of fanaticism. This has been part of the Republican brand and its strategy since the Red-baiting days of Nixon and McCarthy. Donald Trump just placed it front and center and made the red meat even bloodier. If you want a taste—of the book, not the red meat—check out the cover-story essay adapted from American Psychosis in the latest issue of Mother Jones here. As I researched the history of the GOP’s dance with extremism, I came to see that an article could not do it justice. It took an entire book.

    One point from the book that seems especially relevant these days is that the GOP and the right has long employed a diabolical and demagogic tactic: accusing Democrats and liberals of purposefully seeking to destroy the United States. This was the heart of McCarthyism. Americans—who happened to be Democrats—were actively in league with the evil Soviets and plotting to bring about the downfall of the nation. McCarthy wasn’t referring to a small spy ring here or there. He pointed his crooked finger at the whole class of elites and Democratic officials, including members of the Cabinet. It was a lie, but millions believed him. Ronald Reagan embraced the New Right and the religious right that each denounced liberals, Democrats, and gay people for scheming to demolish America and Christianity. Both George Bushes did the same with the Christian Coalition, led by Pat Robertson who pushed the loony, antisemitic conspiracy theory asserting that a cabal of bankers, top government officials, the Rothschild family, and others were conniving to impose a one-world, collectivist dictatorship on the entire planet to assist Lucifer. The tea partiers—endorsed and exploited by John Boehner and other Republicans—declared that Obama was a secret Muslim socialist conspiring to annihilate the US economy so he could then impose a dictatorship. (Death panels! Concentration camps!) Trump in the 2020 election assailed Joe Biden for joining with antifa, Marxists, radicals, Black Lives Matter activists, and others to drive the country into “far-left fascism.” In each of these instances, Republicans vilified Democrats as internal and subversive enemies aiming to raze America. The threat within—it’s been a common theme for Republicans for decades. We see it today, as the right pushes panics over CRT and the Great Replacement Theory and accuses Democrats of pedophilia.

    Spending over a year researching and writing American Psychosis has bolstered my belief in the importance of understanding history. In retrospect, this pattern—and others—is obvious. But once you recognize and acknowledge it, the task of countering such reckless and irresponsible political warfare becomes a tad easier. As I’ve noted before, at the start of this project I didn’t envision this book being so timely and relevant. Yet as a debate has ensued over the role of MAGA extremism in the GOP and the value of dubbing Trumpism a fascist—or semi-fascist—enterprise, this history provides a crucial context for this moment and for figuring out what should be done.

    Grab a copy of American Psychosis at a bookstore near you. Or we recommend heading over to Bookshop.org, which represents independent booksellers. And of course, there’s always Amazon

    Happy reading!

    (Just to let you know, we have an affiliate deal with Bookshop.org, so if you click and buy through that link, a small share of the proceeds supports our journalism.)

  • Tina Peters Can’t Keep Her Mouth Shut

    Thomas Peipert, File/AP

    Tina Peters—the Republican Colorado county election official who tried to prove that the 2020 election was stolen by allegedly orchestrating a plan to copy election software from voting machines—is in big trouble.

    Last week, the election-denying Mesa County clerk (who lost her bid for the state’s top election position) pleaded not guilty to a slew of felony and misdemeanor charges related to her alleged breach of her office’s election equipment.

    As I wrote in June, here’s what is Peters supposedly did:

    In an effort to prove that the election had been rigged against Donald Trump, Peters attended an election equipment software update and obtained copies of election information, which later wound up online, according to an indictment…To perpetrate the scheme, Peters allegedly used a local IT consultant’s ID card without his knowledge. Peters has been charged with three misdemeanors and seven felonies, including conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation and identity theft.

    The wise thing to do, when charged with seven felonies, would be to lie low and listen to your lawyers. But Peters, who is not known for her competence, just can’t stop talking to the press.

    In June, she told the New York Times that Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) had “encouraged me to go forward with the imaging” of the voting machine data. While Boebert denies this, it’s difficult to understate just how reckless this comment is for someone accused of illegally copying election information.

    But that’s not all. After her arraignment last week, Peters appeared on MyPillow guy Mike Lindell’s TV network to announce that she had been subpoenaed by former Dominion Voting Systems director of product strategy and security Eric Coomer in his defamation case against Lindell. After Coomer posted a series of anti-Trump messages to Facebook, conspiracy theorists accused him of rigging the election on Biden’s behalf. Coomer is now suing the biggest proponents of the conspiracy theory, including Lindell, for defamation. But the ongoing litigation hasn’t stopped Peters from repeating the very lies that are landing her allies in court.

    “Eric Coomer, I won’t even call him a gentleman, I will call him antifa,” Peters said. “He was the one that was in charge of the patents for the algorithm that is inside the Dominion voting machine and actually bragged on an antifa call that he was a member of that he would make sure that Trump wouldn’t get in, that he made effing sure of it.” That alleged “antifa conference call” probably never happened, according to a Denver District Court judge. Instead, it was likely fabricated by podcaster Joe Oltmann before being amplified by Peters and Lindell.

    Typically, when you’re subpoenaed in a defamation case, you don’t go on television repeating the very claims over which the case has been filed. But, again, Tina Peters is anything but typical.

    Her trial will begin March 6, 2023.

  • Abolish the Monarchy, But Keep This Goat

    You've heard a lot about the Queen's corgis. But we need to talk about the goats.Ben Birchall/PA Wire/AP

    Apologies, Brits: The only royal bloodline I care about is that of the Kashmir goats that have been roaming the Scottish seaside since the 1800s.

    After the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the world has debated the need for keeping the monarchy around. I am anti-monarchy. But I have a confession to make. I am smitten with Shenkin the royal goat.

    This morning, I saw a photo of Shenkin leading the 3rd battalion of the Royal Welsh in a procession for the King’s proclamation at Cardiff Castle. Shenkin, it turns out, is the battalion’s official mascot—and carries the rank of lance corporal. He is also very beautiful, and very fashionable.

    The royal goat tradition dates back to the Revolutionary War and the Battle of Bunker Hill (1775), when a wild goat purportedly led a group of Welsh soldiers from the battlefield. Yes, this irks the Bostonian in me. But we wound up securing our independence, the goat’s intervention notwithstanding. I can forgive the goat his indiscretion.

    Now, the military goats are selected from a herd that lives in Llandudno, Wales, descended from a flock which was said to be a gift from the Shah of Persia to Queen Victoria. Goat selection is apparently an intensive process, requiring the devotion of a full-time Goat Major who trains the kid.

    And Shenkin is quite the trainee, according to the Royal Welsh Museum:

    The most recent recruit is Fusilier Shenkin IV of the 3rd Battalion who is a Kashmir goat and was selected from the royal herd on the Great Orme Country Park in 2018. The army, along with an RSPCA vet, set out to find the next Shenkin, but it was no easy task as it took four weeks and many attempts to catch this cheeky kid! Shenkin IV was taken to Maindy Barracks in Cardiff for six months of training which included day trips to Cardiff city centre to get him used to crowds and noise. He made his first official public debut at the National Armed Forces Day in Llandudno on June 30th 2018.

    Shenkin is not the only royal goat. Different battalions have their own mascots. A notable one is the 1st battalion’s William Windsor, who made a name for himself when he got cheeky and tried to headbutt a drummer at Queen Elizabeth’s 80th birthday parade. (He was briefly demoted for “lack of decorum,” but he was promoted again a few months later.)

    After he retired in 2009, William Windsor was replaced with a five-month-old kid. A Wikipedia page that doesn’t appear to have been substantively edited in more than a decade cites a BBC article from 2009 and notes that William Windsor’s successor “will receive a ration of two cigarettes per day, which he eats, but will not be permitted Guinness until he is older.”

    The monarchy? I could take it or leave it. But we cannot let the royal goat tradition die. I’d go to war to defend it.

  • People Are Getting Arrested for Peacefully Protesting the Monarchy

    Lafargue Raphael/ZUMA

    In the days following the “astonishing moment” when a cloud vaguely resembling the recently departed Queen Elizabeth popped up in the heavens, many on both sides of the Atlantic have giggled over the notion of a king in the 21st century. Others, aghast at the lighthearted ridicule of the British monarchy, descended into racist tirades. Here at Mother Jones, we largely respected the loss of a notable 96-year-old woman while acknowledging the United Kingdom’s self-inflicted global irrelevance, as well as the general weirdness in how we as a society consume celebrity death.

    But the official ceremonies surrounding King Charles, which entailed solemn proclamations and the observance of centuries-old traditions, have produced sufficient reason to start singing: abolish the monarchy. Let’s take a look at what happened on Sunday.

    The Guardian reports that two protesters who had been peacefully registering their disapproval of all things royal were arrested, with one woman in Edinburgh charged with “breaching” the peace for holding a sign that read, “Fuck imperialism, abolish the monarchy.” The other, Symon Hill, said he was arrested for shouting, “Who elected him?” as King Charles’ official proclamation was announced. Hill has reportedly since been de-arrested but more continue to be getting into trouble with the police.

    Outside the halls of Buckingham Palace, the arrests come amid increasingly anti-democratic tendencies in the UK and elsewhere. But these instances go beyond your run-of-the-mill turns at authoritarianism to land in the kingdom of downright deranged. Handcuffing folks for saying some mean words about the king? That’s absurdly medieval, certainly anti-modern, and once again an example of the anachronism—even immorality— featured in a country clinging dearly to royal spectacles in 2022. 

    It’s unclear how the new king feels about the arrests. And no one expects Charles, who finally got his chance to ditch the title of longest-ever king-in-waiting, to burn the whole thing down because we say so. But perhaps he could channel the 21st century and denounce the recent arrests? And while we’re at it, do as my colleague Tim Murphy suggests here and arrest the real baddie: Prince Andrew. 

  • We Now Interrupt Nothing to Bring You News of the Queen’s Death

    NURPHO/AP

    The news of Queen Elizabeth’s death sent off a wave of tributes, shitposts, and denunciations for the departed monarch from people around the world. We all waved goodbye; Ireland even did it with just its middle finger.

    As I watched the outpouring of grief and antipathy, one thing was notable: our inability to shut up.

    Historically, when major news happens, the broadcast is stopped for a special announcement. A reverent halt begins. Now, the opposite appears to have swallowed that tradition. Major news sparks a worldwide bang in the content machine. The queen’s death did not stop us. It got us started—and now we’re in frenetic overdrive.

    Our entire new way of intaking information can basically be summed up in this video:

    House beats go bang, queen dead, house beats go bang bang.

    Often, this social media overload is bemoaned as the decline of culture. I’m not sure about that. But it should at least be noted that if the queen had died in 1992 I don’t think you’d have outlets, celebrities, your mom’s friend all locked in an arms race to best each other in reverence or hatred. And so major news events, and especially this one, have secretly been extremely revealing. How we have consumed the queen’s death is how we consume everything: All at once, at high volume, jammed next to all the other things going on. 

    Gawk, below, at how the major news event had to be commented on, in some way, by everyone, despite many having nothing to actually say. Behold our new world. Graceless? Maybe. But it is good to know nothing will stop us—no death, no tragedy—from being dumb idiots. That’s what life is all about.

  • Masks Are Now Optional on New York City Transit

    Anthony Behar/Sipa USA/AP

    If you ride the bus or take the train in New York City, you can say goodbye to your mask.

    New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced today that masks are no longer required on mass transit, marking the end of an era for one of the last nationwide.

    Compliance was already low, and some New Yorkers say the change won’t make much of a difference. Still, others are concerned that the state has been too quick to let its guard down with the virus still circulating.

    Hochul has also caught flak for the public messaging campaign accompanying the announcement. The “mask optional” signs are a play off a previous ad campaign that encouraged proper mask usage.

    The decision brings New York in line with the federal government, whose nationwide airplane and public transit mask mandate was overturned in April. Now, will San Francisco be next?

  • Obamas Return to White House for First Portrait Unveiling in Ten Years

    Sam Stein/ MSNBC

    Barack and Michelle Obama returned to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Wednesday for the unveiling of their official White House portraits.

    “Barack and Michelle, welcome home,” President Joe Biden told the former first couple in the East Room where members of  Congress, former Obama-era staffers, and other high-profile attendees gathered to celebrate the long-awaited unveiling. The crowd could be heard audibly gasping when the paintings were finally revealed. 

    “Nothing could’ve prepared me more for being president than being at your side for eight years,” Biden continued. “Being elected twice, you’ll be known as one of the most consequential presidents in history, with one of the most consequential first ladies.” The president also highlighted the creation of the Affordable Care Act and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals while speaking endearingly of their famous friendship. 

    “This is a gift to the Obama presidency and to their legacy. You were always there for me. I remember you were there with me when my son passed. I’ll always appreciate that eulogy.”

    The paintings were created by Robert McCurdy and Sharon Sprung. Keeping with tradition, the Obamas handpicked the artists.

    Today’s unveiling marks the first time the White House resumed the tradition since 2012. Started by Jimmy Carter in 1978, the unveiling typically sees presidents hosting the ceremony for their immediate predecessor, regardless of party. But Donald Trump, a man who’s never been shy about breaking political customs, refused to host it.

    In their remarks, the Obamas thanked both artists and reflected on what they hoped these portraits would mean for future generations. 

    “Presidents so often get airbrushed. They even take on mythical status, especially after you’re gone and people forget all the stuff they didn’t like about you,” said Obama. “But what you realize as you’re sitting behind that desk, is that what I want people to remember about Michelle and me is that presidents are human beings just like everyone else.”

  • The New Climate Denialism Laughs at the Idea of Taking Trains

    PSG's Kylian Mbappe, left, and PSG's head coach Christophe Galtier, right, laugh about the idea of taking a train.Thibault Camus/AP

    Here is a neat encapsulation of a common approach to climate denial.

    At a press conference on Monday, a reporter asked the coach of Paris St. Germain—one of the largest soccer clubs in the world and one funded by Qatar—about the club’s decision to take a private jet the 240 miles from Paris to Nantes. The coach, Christopher Galtier, looked at Kylian Mbappe, the star of PSG seated beside him, and they exchanged glances like two smirking boys in church. Then, Mbappe laughed. Mbappe folded over laughing, his head almost hitting the table. Galtier giggled.

    The coach then brought the press in on the joke and said, “This morning we talked about it with the company which organizes our trips and we’re looking into traveling on sand yachts.”

    Ha-ha.

    The clip spread. Mbappe and Galtier have been chastised to take the crisis more seriously. Of course, despite the chuckles, it is not ridiculous to ask if a train would be more appropriate, not to mention efficient. Nantes is less than two hours to Paris by rail. In an hour, a private jet can emit—according to the Washington Post—2 metric tons of CO2; a typical US car emits 5 tons in a year.

    And yet why did even asking the question to Mbappe and Galtier provoke such laughter?

    On one hand, the barely mad scolds among us, like French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, can criticize them for their lack of gravitas at the “least opportune moment.” You can say they did not know better. It was all a mistake. Move on. Consider the train, mes amies?

    But that misses a much larger point. That laugh inadvertently reveals a great deal about what it means to think about the drastic changes in our lives as the world copes with catastrophic climate change.

    PSG is owned by Qatar, the largest natural gas producer in the world. The funds controlled by the state have generated money from energy trades to not only fund a country but also to buy the biggest club in France and lubricate talks with FIFA, allowing the country to host a World Cup in the winter so the games could be played in and around its capital Doha. The only reason Qatar is a geopolitical power is because it profits from an energy system that causes climate change. Add to that, the pervasive and overwhelming power of the super rich. A petro-state buying a club and making it so affluent that it travels like Kylie Jenner to go across town is the perfect distillation of how the literal jet set has embraced a new cult of climate-denying.

    What Mbappe and Galtier have accidentally but correctly intuited is the idea of asking the likes of them to take a train is a farce. The reason they don’t travel by train is completely logical, it is absurdly logical, it is laughably logical: They don’t have to. In fact, they don’t have to do anything they don’t want to do—greater good be damned. It’s one of the many benefits of being loaded: To live free.

    And that, for me, is the more relevant version of climate denialism. Corporations, the wealthy—and, let’s face it, even the rest of us—hope that a warming world will not have to lead to any actual change structured as a demand on our lives. Did PSG ever consider taking the train? No. Of course not. They will have to be forced.

    As always, we will be told it is illogical—or ridiculous or not pragmatic—to dream of the rich and the powerful altering their actions when others, with far less, make multiple sacrifices without a choice. And so this lesson is broader. The laugh is just the highly rarified version of a New Jersey investment banker fighting congestion pricing in Manhattan so he can drive at only a social cost, not a personal one. You don’t have to argue with “the science,” to diminish the fact that the result is the same: A denial of the realities of human behavior causing climate change.

    Sure, the older version of denialism endures, the version that insists on believing away the coming harm by suggesting that there is no harm at all. The classic performance by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) holding a snowball in 2014 sums it up. He’s explaining that, actually, it isn’t getting hotter at all.

    But Inhofe’s gag, and ethos, can be pushed away through data, spreadsheets, graphs, and articles noting “experts agree” that climate change is getting bad. There is a scientist ready to say no. There is a flood on the news.

    The assumptions of Galtier and Mbappe and PSG generally are not so easily changeable. The denialism on showcase Monday is not one that can be disproved.

    Which is to say that laugh I think can stand in for so much naturalization. It can substitute as a broader assumption that we all must change as a the warming planet causes havoc, but within the winnowed parameters of our unequal world. Don’t be crazy. PSG is not taking the train.

    Let them fly jets—and eat the world, too.

  • The PGA Continues Its War on the Saudi-Backed LIV Golf

    Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., waves while former President Donald Trump points to her while they look over the 16th tee during the second round of the Bedminster Invitational LIV Golf tournament in Bedminster, N.J., July 30, 2022. Republicans ranging from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to Marjorie Taylor Greene defended Trump against an unprecedented FBI search. AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File

    The PGA handed out another year of bans for rebellious professional golfers participating in LIV Golf, the Saudi-Arabian-backed golf tournament on Saturday. It is the latest round in bickering in the usually staid and controversy-averse world of golfing.

    On the one side is the longtime professional golfing behemoth, the PGA, which has run (or at least sanctioned) virtually all professional golf tournaments of note for decades. As elitist and lacking in diversity as any professional sporting organization, the PGA has recently found itself largely on the right side of the sporting world’s moral outrage lately with the arrival of LIV Golf, a ‘rebel’ golf organization that has tried poaching big names.

    The alleged lure of the LIV is that the fields of golfers are smaller—no need to watch people trying to become elite golfers, you can just watch people who are already winners—and it’s not as stuffy. For example, this weekend LIV announced players can wear shorts while they golf. Wild stuff. And, probably more important for the issue at hand, all of the purse sizes for the tournaments are absurdly large, as much as $20 million, and some players, like Tiger Woods (who turned down the invitation) were offered hundreds of millions of dollars to compete. In other words, if you’re a good golfer, are tired of people telling you what to do and you just want big bucks, the LIV tournament can be super appealing.

    The downside is that it’s funded by the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund, which has led to lots of awkward situations. Phil Mickelson, the most prominent of the defectors, was quoted last year acknowledging he knew how unsavory the people he was taking money from were—but that he didn’t care.

    “We know they killed [Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay,” Mickelson told an interviewer. “Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”

    There are also Trump ties. The LIV is holding its season finale at former president Donald Trump’s aging Doral golf course which the PGA abandoned for regular use when Trump launched his political campaign. LIV Golf also held a tournament this summer at Trump’s Bedminster golf course, which, after the January 6 insurrection, was dropped by the PGA as host of the PGA Championship.

    The fact that Trump agreed to hold a golf tournament sponsored by Saudi government money so close to New York City rankled families and survivors of the 9/11 attacks, who Trump had once professed to support. Despite protests outside the gates of the tournament, Trump took the opportunity to say he no longer was sure who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, after years of explicitly blaming the Saudis. 

    To the advances of the LIV, the PGA has responded by pumping up salaries for golfers who stay loyal and taking a strict hardline on any who leave. The latest move extends the ban on LIV golfers who refuse to repent through 2023.

  • Why Did My 3-Year-Old Paint Donald Trump Wearing a Purple Jester’s Hat?

    My oldest daughter is in preschool. Her favorite activity is painting. Mostly, she paints dinosaurs and ocean creatures. This week, she painted an “underwater triceratops.” And then an “underwater tyrannosaur.” She brought them to school and showed her friends. Her teacher said the paintings were “very good.” I’m proud of her.

    Sometimes she paints other things. She recently went through a big outer space phase. One day, she proudly came into our room and taped a picture on the wall. She said it was planets. “There’s Venus and Saturn and Jupiter,” she said.

    I looked at the painting. I did not see Venus or Saturn or Jupiter. I saw Donald Trump wearing a purple jester’s hat. Seriously. Look at this. It’s such a good picture of Donald Trump wearing a purple jester’s hat, you can practically see the crimes he’s committing. I mean, sure, you have to use your imagination a little bit. But that is definitely the 45th president of the United States. And now it’s the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning.

    Donald Trump

    Orange man bad

    My kid

  • A Teacher Told Students How to Access Banned Books. A State Official Wants Her License Revoked.

    A collection of banned books at the Central Library, a branch of the Brooklyn Public Library system. (AP Photo/)Ted Shaffrey/AP

    Last month, a 10th grade English teacher in Oklahoma committed a cardinal sin for the modern American right: encouraging students to read banned books. Now, state Education Secretary Ryan Walters is calling for the revocation of her teaching license.

    The saga began on the first day of school, when 34-year-old teacher Summer Boismier covered her classroom library in red paper and labeled the collection, “Books the state doesn’t want you to read.” Boismier included a QR code directing students to the Brooklyn Library’s Books Unbanned initiative, which allows teens around the country to access e-books that might have been removed from the shelves of their school libraries. Boismier said that she hid her book collection because her school district had asked teachers to individually review—or cover up—books that might run afoul of a new state law that limits the way race and gender can be taught in schools.

    A parent complained. Boismier resigned. And that was the end of the story—until the Oklahoma education secretary, who is running to become the state’s superintendent of public schools, decided to bring the attack on teachers’ liberties to a whole new level.

    In a letter released Wednesday, Walters accused Boismier of “providing access to banned and pornographic material to students.” He also inaccurately described her as having been fired; she resigned voluntarily. Most outrageously, he requested that the state Board of Education revoke Boismier’s teaching certificate—a punishment typically reserved for teachers who have committed crimes.

    There’s no word from the current head of the state Board of Education on whether he’ll heed Walters’ call. Still, the announcement is a chilling reminder of the ongoing attacks against our nation’s already overworked, underpaid, and desperately needed teachers.

  • Public Support for Unions Just Reached Its Highest Point Since 1965

    Jay Mallin/ ZUMA Press

    As union activity continues to make headlines, more Americans are coming around to the idea that protecting workers’ rights is a good thing—maybe even a great thing. A new Gallup poll shows that public support for unions is now at a whopping 71 percent, the highest the research firm has seen since 1965.

    According to Gallup, union support has been steadily rising since 2009 but saw a significant uptick during the pandemic when the lack of labor protections for workers suddenly labeled as “essential” came into sharp focus, shifting the dynamic between bosses and their staff. Now amid increased bargaining power, unions are experiencing something of a golden moment.

    “The low unemployment rate that developed during the pandemic altered the balance of power between employers and employees, creating an environment fostering union membership that has resulted in the formation of unions at several high-profile companies,” Gallup concluded.

    Since the pandemic started, the conversation around workers’ rights has gained traction. From fast food to retail, employees at companies like Amazon and Starbucks have been organizing to unionize distribution centers and individual storefronts across the country, with mixed results. (You can read our series on how workers got fed up and started fighting here.) Riding on the national momentum, fast food workers in California just had a major breakthrough after the state Senate this week passed the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act. The legislation, which now heads to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk, would create a statewide council of workers, union advocates, industry representatives, and state officials to be responsible for raising wages and standardizing working conditions for more than 500,000 fast food workers in the state. 

    Still, while support for unions may be rising, union participation remains low. According to Gallup, 84 percent of Americans live in a household without union members; only 11 percent of those polled said they were “extremely interested” in union membership.

  • California’s Fast-Food Workers Just Got One Step Closer to a Major Labor Win

    Mindy Schauer/MediaNewsGroup/Orange County Register/Getty

    The California state legislature passed a first-of-its kind bill on Tuesday that would establish a council to set minimum wages and working conditions for the state’s more than half a million non-unionized fast food employees.

    The bill, AB 257, passed the state Senate 21–12. Now, it heads to the desk of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has not announced whether he’ll sign it. The fast-food industry and the California Restaurant Association strongly oppose the bill.

    As my colleague Noah Lanard wrote earlier this month:

    AB 257 resembles what is known as “sectoral bargaining,” a process by which workers negotiate collective bargaining agreements that apply to entire industries. The practice has been used to great effect in countries like Germany and Denmark, but it is not permitted under American labor law. Instead, workers here must negotiate contracts that cover individual companies, or parts of companies such as an individual store or warehouse.

    The California bill would establish…a council composed of fast-food workers and their advocates, industry representatives, and state officials. Together, they would be responsible for determining minimum wages, along with hours and working conditions, across California’s fast-food industry.

    The Senate vote came after intense negotiations in which the bill’s critics managed to eliminate provisions that would allow the council to establish sick-leave or paid-time-off benefits. Joint liability, which would force franchisors to hold some responsibility for conditions at individual store locations, was also axed.

    Still, if the bill becomes law, it will be a major victory for a labor movement that has struggled to notch legislative wins at the national level.

  • Hoo, Boy. Breitbart’s New Hunter Biden Movie Trailer Is Out and WTF?!

    British actor Laurence Fox as Hunter Biden, in the new Breitbart-produced movie, "My Son Hunter", a preview for which posted to Truth Social on Friday night.My Son Hunter/Twitter

    About a year ago, my colleague Dan Friedman reported that Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s ne’re-do-well lawyer and chaos agent, was having a rough time catching a break… in the movie business.

    The project, Dan wrote, was “a documentary advancing discredited allegations about Joe and Hunter Biden’s involvement in Ukraine during the Obama administration.” As MoJo reported in 2020, Giuliani had been trying to drum up a cool $10 million for a film that could act as a campaign “kill shot” on Biden, according to one source.

    But it’s a tough biz. Nothing ultimately came of the project, aside from some bad footage. But it did attract the interest of investigators at the FBI, who wanted to know if the former New York City mayor had violated foreign lobbying rules. The creatives eventually fled the project after squabbling over money and vision. “The thing I took away from it was, ‘Jesus, these guys are morons,’” one of them explained.

    Oh, Hollywood.

    But fear not, movie buffs. Rudy couldn’t get his Hunter venture off the ground, but another group of filmmakers appears to have finally pulled it off. On Friday night, a trailer for My Son Hunter, a Breitbart-produced film directed by Die Hard actor and CPAC stalwart Robert Davi, dropped on Trump’s financially embattled media platform, Truth Social.

    As incredulous as I was, I’m sorry to confirm it’s real: As Breitbart itself explains, the film represents the company’s “expansion into film distribution” (shudder) and is “a crowdfunded project inspired by the investigative reporting of Peter Schweizer and Breitbart News.” (Full-body shudder).

    The film, a febrile fictionalization of the many Hunter Biden conspiracy theories, stars British actor Laurence Fox as Hunter. Fox was a noted anti-lockdown activist and ivermectin-enthusiast back home, and also ran a failed bid to become the mayor of London. Schweizer is the conservative author of Clinton Cash, who has worked with Steve Bannon for years. His less successful follow-up book included reporting on Hunter Biden.

    As for the trailer: I suppose it’s trying to give me Succession or House of Cards, but with palpably strong “this has got to be a parody, right?” vibes. I guess this is the sinister underbelly that far-right types have feverishly imagined for years? Gangster boss Joe and his partying son, doing deals with a syndicate of international criminals—Chinese, Ukrainian, others. The film appears to have some arty fantasy sequences showing the Biden gang throwing around actual cash. (Unsurprisingly, it’s also deeply cruel in its mocking depiction of addiction.)

    Just when you thought that was dispiriting enough: Some of the actors break the fourth wall to address the audience to inform us about how bad all this is. “What’s happening in there?” a campy agent-type, played by The Mandalorian actress Gina Carano, says directly into the camera. “Joe’s in on it.”

    Pass the popcorn, and then the vomit bag.

  • The Republicans Are Lying (Quite Pathetically) About Student Debt Forgiveness

    Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), would-be champion of the working class.LM Otero/AP

    Those silly congressional Republicans are at it again. Over the past couple of weeks, they’ve unleashed a torrent of misinformation, claiming that $80 billion of new IRS funding included in the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act would be used to hire 87,000 new agents (many armed!) who would go after middle-class taxpayers. As I pointed out the other day, this isn’t merely dishonest—it’s dangerous.

    Now they’re lying about the Biden administration’s plan to cancel $10,000 to $20,000 in student debt for individuals earning less than $125,000 annually ($250,000 for couples). Somehow, the Republicans have interpreted this move as a bailout of rich elites at the expense of good, hard-working people.

    It’s interesting that Republicans are so up in arms about a supposed bailout of the “elite” by ordinary folks, given the top-heavy tax cuts they rammed through Congress in 2017. We sure didn’t hear many Republicans complaining about that $800 billion in pandemic loan forgiveness, most of which benefitted the wealthiest 20 percent of Americans. Lawmakers from both parties have ignored the way our vast federal subsidies for retirement savings skew to the top. (Average tax-advantaged savings for the wealthiest 10 percent of households are 125 times that of the least-wealthy 50 percent of households.) 

    But Biden’s loan relief won’t look like that. Consider the distribution of student debt: According to the Federal Reserve’s latest (2019) Survey of Consumer Finances, people from the least-wealthy 25 percent of the US population were by far the most likely to have outstanding student debt. They also owed the most of any other group (median: $32,000). Within the wealthiest 10 percent, less than 6 percent of people had student debt, vs. 36 percent of those in that bottom quartile.

    In fact, the less wealthy you are, the greater the odds you’ve got student debt. 

    Also, per the Fed data, more than 30 percent of Black Americans had outstanding student debt, compared with 20 percent of whites—and the Black debtors owed $5,000 more on average. The Department of Education estimates that 90 percent of the debt relief will go to people making less than $75,000 a year. It would seem this program is a win for Real America, though perhaps Jim Jordan had someone else in mind when he tweeted.

    Now, it is true, as Rick Scott tweeted (apparently from his yacht), that federal student loan forgiveness won’t fix the problem of inflated college costs.

    But the administration has acknowledged this, and insists it is working to address the problem. 

    Another line of Republican criticism is that forgiving debt is unfair to people who came before and were obligated to pay it off… 

    But the same could be said of any policy that directly benefits some people and not others. By Kennedy’s logic, tax credits that encourage the purchase of electric cars are unfair to people who bought EV cars without such credits. He could just as easily argue that giving women the vote was unfair because women in the past were denied it. And then there’s this:

    In any case, let’s conclude with this hot take from a boisterous young fellow who has never really had to earn a living, and whose family is known for fleecing workers, vendors, consumers, and the federal government.

  • This Is The Worst Rush Week Video I’ve Seen This Year

    These people should not be allowed to say words in unison.Tim Stepien/The Palm Beach Post/Zuma

    Perhaps you’ve heard of Laura Loomer, the 29-year-old Republican hoping to unseat incumbent Rep. Daniel Webster in today’s congressional primary in Florida. Loomer, who is Jewish, openly hates Muslims and has said that she would “fight for Christian nationalism.”

    In 2019, she achieved the impressive feat of getting banned from CPAC for harassing reporters. Over the years, she has been banned from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, PayPal, GoFundMe, and Venmo.

    And these boomers love her:

    The half-hearted chanting, the matching T-shirts, and the generally unsettling nature of this video reminded me of rush week videos, in which members of college Greek life groups try to enlist new members. These boomers for Loomer particularly brought to mind this infamously creepy sorority recruitment video:

    The moral of the story is clear: White people should never chant.

    (If you’re on a picket line, you get a pass.)

  • Instagram Is Trying to Ruin the Only App That Doesn’t Make Me Want to Die

    Hello, it's me. The author.Getty

    Plenty has been written on Instagram’s steady march to humiliation, its transformation from a crown jewel of the Metaverse to the place where coolness dies. Where elder millennials still post sunsets paired with tortured quotes. The place to get inundated with performance, far-flung D-list influencers “eligible for commission,” and whatever else is spat out by “the algorithm”—now a tired catchall for complaints about existing on the internet.

    But instead of cleaning house, the perennially panicked, overpaid folks at Instagram appear hellbent on extending its reputation for stealing good ideas. This time, it’s BeReal. Speaking to the Verge, the company confirmed that it is indeed testing a feature resembling BeReal, but appeared to stress that it’s just an internal trial. Whether it jacks another app remains to be determined.

    But while this development may strike some as inevitable, I can’t help but feel pathetically annoyed over the potential destruction of what I have privately declared as the last stop in my social media journey. BeReal—the Paris-based app that alerts users once a day, at an unpredictable time, to post a photo of whatever they’re doing—is where I’ve turned for exactly the kind of dumb inanity that such a description signals. I’ve limited my audience to exactly four close friends, three of whom have since formed the equally inane, grammatically challenged, group chat titled, “WHEN WILL GET TO BE REAL,” as a sort of motivating reminder that I’m posting among those who will not judge; I can be as “authentic” as possible—again, whatever that means anymore. While some have hailed it as a form of defiance from “surveillance capitalism,” I tend to enjoy it because it’s deliriously stupid and simple to use. My selfies are some of the ugliest photos I’ve ever committed to the internet.

    It’s early days and therefore the app remains exceedingly janky, almost Web 2.0-ish. Participation is just once a day, and if you’re not in the mood, you are free to ignore the alert. It’s the anti-time suck, and for now ad-free, though I’m fully aware that no one creates the app of tomorrow without a keen eye toward making a buck—or a billion.

    Still, the news that Instagram is testing something called “IG Candid Challenge”—a name already dripping in Google Slides, vulture-speak—feels frustrating to me. But maybe that’s the oldest-millennial response I could have. Feelings over a social media platform? Sure sounds lame.