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  • Abortion Advocates in Baltimore Protest the Supreme Court’s Leaked Roe Opinion

    Emily Hofstaedter/Mother Jones

    Late on Tuesday afternoon, a quiet but determined crowd began to gather outside the federal courthouse in Baltimore in a show of support for abortion rights. Like many others around the country, the protesters had organized after a draft opinion, published in Politico last night, showed that the Supreme Court is on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade. They held signs saying, “Abortion is healthcare,” “Bans off our bodies,” and “We will not go back.” 

    “This fundamental right that has been in place for decades is at the precipice of being rolled back,” Maryland state Sen. Shelly Hettleman told the crowd as it grew. “What we have also learned is that elections have consequences…It matters who is setting those laws in each state. It matters who is in Congress. Tomorrow, if the Senate of the United States decided to protect our right to choice, it could do so.” Other speakers described the latest developments as “shocking” and “heartbreaking.” 

    “It is devastating to potentially lose Roe, but this is something that we have been seeing and preparing for for a long time,” said Lynn McCann, co-director of the Baltimore Abortion Fund. “So while it hurts, we are also here to acknowledge that Roe has never been enough for thousands of people.” Maryland has already been taking steps to anticipate a post-Roe world: Last month, the state legislature voted to allow more health professionals to perform abortions and to ensure that abortion care will be permanently covered by the state’s Medicaid program. McCann said that if Roe were overturned, Maryland could be a hub for people seeking abortions from neighboring states like Pennsylvania and West Virginia, where Republicans are working to restrict the procedure. 

    One protester, Brian Appel, brought his two daughters, eight-year-old Sophia and four-year-old Beatrix. The girls held signs in front of their sunscreen-smeared faces that read, “Abortion is Normal.” Appel said he worries about what the future will look like for his daughters. “They might one day choose to get an abortion, and we don’t want that to be mixed up with any political debate,” he said. “My wife and I are expecting a baby, and we were really proud when my oldest daughter said, ‘I just want to make sure it’s your choice to have it.’” 

  • It’s Official: Trump-Endorsed J.D. Vance Has Won the Ohio Senate Primary

    Joe Maiorana/AP

    J.D. Vance, the Peter Thiel-ally and Hillbilly Elegy author, has won the highly contested Republican Senate primary in Ohio. Vance’s victory over a group of Ohio politicians, including former State Treasurer Josh Mandel and state Sen. Matt Dolan, is more evidence that Donald Trump’s towering influence over the Republican Party has yet to abate. 

    At the start of his campaign, Vance shocked the media by adopting an explicitly Trumpian persona and an agenda that mirrored the former president’s policy positions. Vance initially struggled in the polls, hampered, in part, by his reputation as an erstwhile anti-Trumper. However, he became the frontrunner virtually overnight after beating out his opponents to receive Trump’s coveted endorsement and maintained that status through the election. If you’re curious to read more about his transformation, here’s a non-comprehensive list I pulled together of his craziest statements. 

    Vance will now advance to the general election, where he’ll take on moderate Democrat Tim Ryan. Although Ryan remains broadly popular among Ohioans, he faces a steep uphill battle in the increasingly red state. 

  • Outraged Protesters Descend on Lower Manhattan to Rally for Abortion Rights

    Mark Helenowski/Mother Jones

    A noisy crowd of many hundreds converged on downtown Manhattan’s Foley Square Tuesday evening, one day after a Politico bombshell revealed the Supreme Court was poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.

    “Abortion is a human right, not just for the rich and white!” they chanted, banging drums and brandishing brightly colored signs, one that read, “My arms are tired from holding this sign since the 1960s.”

    The rally, outside the barricaded steps of the federal courthouse near City Hall, was just one of a number of snap demonstrations called from coast to coast, channeling an eruption of outrage after the draft decision became public. Hannah Jacobs, a 29-year-old lawyer from Jersey City, told our Senior Digital Producer Mark Helenowski that this was her first-ever protest: “A group of men that are 70, 80-years-old—who have lifetime appointments, that have not been voted into office—should not have a say over whether I choose to have a baby or not.”

    “They’re not ‘pro-life,’ they’re ‘pro-birth’,” she said. “As soon as the baby comes out, they don’t give a damn who that baby is, they don’t give a damn about the mom, they don’t give a damn about health care… they just want to exert control over our bodies.”

    Mark is on the ground talking to attendees. Here’s what he is seeing and hearing:

  • Elizabeth Warren on Codifying Roe: “They Just Need to Do It.”

    Rod Lamkey/CNP/Zuma

    “The United States Congress can keep Roe v. Wade the law of the land,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said in a brief but heated interview recorded in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday by Willy Lowry of the National. “They just need to do it.”

    Warren joined the growing chorus of pro-choice politicians who support codifying Roe as national law. But doing so with an evenly divided Senate would likely require a vote to reform the filibuster, which Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) seem unwilling to do.

    “Republicans have been working toward this day for decades,” Warren said. “They have been out there plotting, carefully cultivating these Supreme Court justices so they could have a majority on the bench who would accomplish something that the majority of Americans do not want.”

    According to a 2021 Pew Research Center poll, 59 percent of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

  • Susan Collins Is Surprised That Conservative Justices Are Doing What Everyone Knew They Would

    Tom Williams/Congressional Quarterly/Zuma

    Susan Collins, the Republican senator from Maine who purports to support abortion, is surprised that the hard-right conservatives she voted onto the Supreme Court are willing to overturn Roe v. Wade.

    “If this leaked draft opinion is the final decision and this reporting is accurate, it would be completely inconsistent with what Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office,” she said in a statement.

    Let me put it another way: It sounds like Gorsuch and Kavanaugh lied to Collins to win her vote, and Collins was gullible enough to believe them.

    The nominees used vague language concerning Roe during their confirmation hearings. Gorsuch called it “settled law”—“in the sense that it is a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court.” (Tell me something I didn’t already know.) Kavanaugh was even vaguer, calling it “settled as precedent.” Collins implied today that both justices made clear to her in meetings that they would not end Roe. Well, wrong. Now, the justices’ willingness to overturn settled law is all but confirmed.

    For years, Collins, like many of us following the news at home, seems to have been clinging to the hope that maybe the Supreme Court would respect precedent, despite the conservative legal movement’s long and obvious battle to someday overturn Roe. “So I think that a lot of people on the left and pundits have been wrong about how the court has respected precedent,” she said last year on CNN. “I think they will look at precedent and reach their decision.”

    Precedent looks to have flown out the window when Samuel Alito wrote in his leaked draft opinion, “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled…Roe was egregiously wrong from the start.”

    Forgive us for holding out faith in our judicial overlords—after all, we didn’t vote to confirm them, and those of us who don’t happen to live in a handful of swing states are next to powerless in deciding the makeup of the Supreme Court. But no one who has been paying attention to conservative attacks on reproductive rights over the last, say, five years, is at all surprised about this outcome. Collins has been representing Maine in the Senate since 1997. This was always conservatives’ endgame. Collins was always too willfully ignorant to see it.

    At least Collins did more than Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the other stalwart Republican senator who claims to stick up for abortion rights. All she could muster up was anger about The Leak.

  • Workers at Second Staten Island Amazon Location Reject Union Bid

    John Nacion/Action Press/Zuma

    To cap off a disappointing day for Amazon labor organizers, workers at a second Staten Island Amazon warehouse have overwhelmingly voted not to form a union.

    Following an aggressive union-busting campaign from Amazon that included mandatory anti-union presentations, the workers voted 380–618 against the union on Monday. The election was disheartening for labor activists in light of last month’s union victory at another Staten Island warehouse. (Amazon is now challenging the results of that election with the National Labor Relations Board.)

    The union effort had garnered the support of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who attended a rally at the warehouse last week. The union’s demands included a $30 minimum hourly wage, longer breaks, and an end to the company’s productivity quotas.

    Last year, workers tried and failed to unionize at an Amazon location in Bessemer, Alabama. The National Labor Relations Board called for a do-over of that election, arguing that Amazon had interfered with the vote. The results of the March vote remain too close to call.

  • After a Week on Strike, Stanford Nurses Just Approved a New Contract

    Photo courtesy of Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement

    After a week-long strike, the union representing nearly 5,000 nurses at Stanford Health Care and the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital has voted to approve a new, three-year contract with the hospitals. The nurses plan to return to work on Tuesday.

    Both the hospitals and the nurses union, the Committee for the Recognition of Nursing Achievement, hailed the agreement as a success. “CRONA’s new contracts represent an enormous victory for nurses at Stanford and Packard, who have been fighting tirelessly for improved work and patient care conditions,” union president Colleen Borges, said in a statement. “We have won improvements across all the priorities nurses identified at the beginning of our contract campaign.” Eighty-three percent of the union voted in favor of the contract.

    The nurses began striking on April 25 after weeks of negotiating with the hospitals. As my colleague Emily Hofstaedter wrote last month:

    To avoid burnout and to continue to offer care during the chaos of the pandemic, the nurses say they need more staff, better mental health resources, better pay, and more paid time-off. More than ninety percent of the 5,000 nurses who belong to the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement (CRONA) union at the two hospitals voted for the strike. 

    According to the union statement, the new contract includes greater access to mental health care and wage increases of seven percent in 2022, five percent in 2023, and an additional five percent in 2024. Under the agreement, nurses in the union will be able to pre-schedule an additional week of vacation, among other benefits.

    Late last month, just a day before the action started, I spoke with one of the nurses who voted to authorize the strike. She told me:

    It’s very disappointing to be called health care heroes, and have all of this verbal praise lavished on us for the last two years, and then when it comes time to actually follow up those lovely sentiments with actions, it’s not there. And people are fed up with it. It’s time to put your money where your mouth is.

    When I followed up with the nurse via text on Monday, she said she is “very pleased” with the contract and is excited to go back to caring for patients. “I think both sides made substantial compromises and as a result we got a contract that works for nurses and the hospital. Change happens incrementally and we gained significant improvements with this new contract.”

    According to the union, the new contracts are a symbolic action as much as a tangible one, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. As union vice president Kathy Stormberg said in a statement, the agreements “acknowledge our immense value” as health care workers. “Hospitals across the country must step up their support for nurses, and we stand together with nurses nationwide to fight for a healthcare system that truly values nurses and our expertise.” 

    This piece has been updated to include a comment from a nurse.

  • Report: Amazon Hearing Could Overturn Staten Island Union Vote

    Workers at a Staten Island Amazon warehouse celebrate their union win.Karla Ann Cote/NurPhoto/Zuma

    Amazon’s efforts to quash the Amazon Labor Union at its Staten Island warehouse appear to be gaining steam.

    After the union won a historic election last month, Amazon outlined 25 objections to the results. The company requested a do-over. Today, Reuters reported that the National Labor Relations Board is set to hold a hearing that could overturn the win.

    The victory, a first for a union at an Amazon facility in the United States, was monumental. As my colleague Noah Lanard wrote, it upended “basic assumptions about what’s usually needed to win a union election.” But, as he also reported, the aftermath of a first contract negotiation and the bureaucracy of legal challenges will be daunting. Amazon’s pushback will continue.

    Among other complaints, Amazon argued that the NLRB’s Brooklyn office intimidated workers to vote for the union. Reuters notes that this is why the case has been transferred to the Phoenix region, away from the Brooklyn office. The Phoenix office’s director, Cornele Overstreet, said in a filing that Amazon’s evidence “could be ground for overturning the election.”

    The two parties can begin presenting evidence on May 23.

    “We want our employees to have their voices heard, and in this case, that didn’t happen—fewer than a third of the employees at the site voted for the union,” an Amazon spokesperson told Reuters. The union won with 55 percent of the vote; turnout was 58 percent.

    “While the ALU is disappointed in any delay by Amazon in its bargaining obligations we remain confident that all of Amazon’s objections will ultimately be overruled,” ALU attorney Eric Milner said.

    Meanwhile, workers at another Staten Island warehouse are awaiting the results of their union vote.

  • Trump Warns of “Dangerous Fruit” in Sworn Deposition

    Brian Cahn/ZUMA

    A looming recession, rising Covid cases, war in Ukraine.

    It can certainly feel as though anxiety is baked into every bit of life these days. But our collective uneasiness seems to have missed a more mundane source of true danger: evil fruit. The stuff is downright lethal, according to Donald J. Trump, particularly when hurled at you. 

    “You can get killed with those things,” Trump said in a sworn deposition responding to protesters who allege that Trump’s security team had assaulted them outside of Trump Tower in 2015.

    When a lawyer representing the protesters asked if Trump recalled once instructing his supporters to “knock the crap” out of anyone they spotted “getting ready to throw a tomato,” the former president said that yes he did, but was only partially serious. (You can  imagine the relief from Trump’s lawyers here.) But when it came down to it, Trump insisted that a flying tomato does indeed justify the use of physical force: “To stop somebody from throwing pineapples, tomatoes, bananas, stuff like that, yeah,” he said.

    More from Trump on killer fruit from the deposition’s transcript, which was made public on Tuesday:

    “It’s very dangerous stuff. You can get killed with those things… I wanted to have people be ready because we were put on alert that they were going to do fruit. And some fruit is a lot worse than—tomatoes are bad by the way. But it’s very dangerous… they were going to hit—they were going to hit very hard.

    A fear of fruit isn’t exactly a surprise from a man who identifies germs, sharks, windmills, and stairs as sources of trouble. It’s the stuff he isn’t worried about—climate change, hydroxychloroquine, Vladimir Putin, the future of democracy itself—that give me real pause.

  • Oklahoma’s Governor Signs Six-Week Abortion Ban Into Law

    Sean Murphy/AP

    Update May 4, 2:37 pm ET: Oklahoma’s Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed the Texas-style abortion ban prohibiting people from obtaining the procedure after six weeks. The law, which went into effect immediately, will also allow private citizens to sue individuals who “perform or induce an abortion.”


    On Thursday, the Oklahoma House passed a bill that would ban abortions after six weeks. The bill, which was already approved by the state Senate, would take effect immediately after being signed by the governor. 

    The legislation is just the latest attack on abortion rights in Oklahoma, which also recently passed a bill that would make it a felony to perform an abortion starting in August. But abortion providers in the state say they’re even more concerned about this new legislation—both because it would take effect immediately and because it will be more likely to survive a legal challenge. In an interview before the bill passed, Dr. Christina Bourne, the medical director of Trust Women, which operates abortion clinics in Oklahoma and Kansas, described it as “truly terrifying.” 

    The Oklahoma Heartbeat Act is a copycat version of the Texas Heartbeat Act, which allows private citizens to sue anyone who performs an abortion after six weeks. Like the Texas Heartbeat Act, the Oklahoma version allows anyone to bring a suit against any person who “performs or induces an abortion” or “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.” The Texas bill, which went into effect last September, has so far stood up to legal challenges and drastically curtailed abortion access in the state. (At the six-week mark, many patients aren’t even aware that they are pregnant.) 

    Since last fall, as many as 45 percent of the patients who have been unable to seek abortions in Texas have been coming to Oklahoma, according to the University of Texas at Austin. Trust Women, one of only four abortion clinics in the state, has been fielding more than 100 calls an hour since September. 

    That surge has caused wait times at Trust Women to go up from a few days to four weeks, and the clinic has even had to turn away some patients. Trust Women has also had to eliminate services like STI testing and gender-affirming care due to the high demand. But Bourne emphasized that, just as abortion providers have adapted to the influx of patients from Texas, they will do their best to adapt to the Oklahoma bill. Trust Women’s Kansas clinic is already doing construction to expand its capacity for an anticipated influx of patients from Oklahoma and other states in the region that may continue to restrict access. The clinics are “not letting these restrictions win,” Bourne said. “I feel like that’s what makes folks in abortion so unique, is our deep flexibility and creativity, and we’re in this to keep doing this work.”

    The Oklahoma Heartbeat Act is part of a wave of new anti-abortion legislation that has passed this year in anticipation of a major Supreme Court decision that could gut or overturn Roe v. Wade. But even with Roe still in place, the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act will be devastating to access in Oklahoma—and, because Oklahoma has been a hub for people from Texas seeking abortions, the entire region. “In these areas, Roe is no longer offering us protection,” Bourne said. “We’re essentially working in a post-Roe era here.”

  • Here’s How DeSantis and Florida Republicans Just Violated Disney’s Civil Rights

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks moments before signing the Parental Rights in Education bill on March 28, 2022, in Shady Hills, Florida. Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times/TNS/ZUMA

    On Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his Republican allies revoked Disney’s longstanding tax privileges in the state in retaliation for the company’s opposition to the right’s anti-LGBTQ culture war. In doing so, Florida Republicans have violated Disney’s civil rights.

    This collision of conservative policies—anti-LGBTQ panic and tax breaks—came after Disney criticized Florida’s new anti-LGBTQ education law. Its critics know it as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

    The law prohibits teaching about sexual identity and sexual orientation in some Florida classrooms. In response, Disney called for the law’s repeal and paused its political donations in Florida. Next, DeSantis rushed through a measure to deprive Disney World of its designation as special tax district, which has allowed Disney to self-govern its massive Florida theme park for 55 years. DeSantis said Disney’s opposition to the bill “crossed a line.” 

    “Once upon a time Disney was a great partner with the state of Florida,” Republican state Rep. Jackie Toledo said. “Shamefully, Disney betrayed us.”

    But retaliating against someone for exercising their First Amendment rights is a violation of that person’s civil rights. Even if that “person” is Disney.

    “It is a violation of the First Amendment for the government to punish a corporation because of the company’s expressed viewpoints on political issues,” says Adam Winkler, a constitutional law specialist at UCLA School of Law and the author of We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights. “I think that we will see legal challenges to this. And I think there will be constitutional challenges to it.”

    Florida might argue that Disney doesn’t have a right to a special tax privilege that other companies don’t receive. But under Supreme Court precedent from 1972, the government cannot rescind a privilege once granted for improper reasons such as retaliation for political speech. And Disney’s actions—both its statements and its decision to pause its donations—are protected First Amendment activity.

    Over the last century, the Supreme Court has extended civil rights to corporations, insulating them from government reprisal for exercising those rights. It wasn’t long ago that Republicans were cheering this trend. “Corporations are people,” Mitt Romney famously said as a presidential candidate in 2012. The party also helped usher in the era of massive corporate political giving with the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which secured corporations’ rights as political donors under the First Amendment, and backed the Hobby Lobby decision, which recognized some corporations’ religious beliefs. These rulings had significant downsides for American democracy. 

    “There is the irony that conservatives for the last 20 years have been emphasizing that corporations have rights too and should be able to spend money to influence electoral politics,” notes Winkler. “And yet, now they’re trying to punish a company for trying to influence politics.”

    Interestingly, it shows something progressives have often not discussed, too. Other Supreme Court rulings on corporate rights, including the landmark press freedom case New York Times Company v. Sullivan, have helped maintain democratic norms. Autocrats use their control over the private sector to wield power, erode democracy, and stifle protest. But because of rulings like Citizens United Disney at least has the option to fight back on constitutional grounds.

    “This whole situation highlights one of the hidden benefits of recognizing corporations to have rights, that corporate rights also serve as a check on government tyranny,” says Winkler. “If corporations did not have rights, then the government could run roughshod over corporations, and restrict their freedom of speech and profoundly hurt and harm democracy.” 

    Disney may have crossed DeSantis. But it’s DeSantis who crossed the line.

  • Yes, Our Video Shown at Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Hearing Was Accurate

    John Bazemore/AP

    Today, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) had to testify at an administrative hearing in Atlanta about her alleged involvement in the Capitol riot—and even answer for a video we unearthed of her endorsing political violence.

    When Mother Jones’ video of MTG was played during the hearing as evidence, Greene’s lawyer said incredulously, “Mother Jones? I’m sorry, I’m not going to rely upon them to give an accurate depiction.” (That lawyer, by the way, is the guy responsible for Citizens United.)

    Anyway, here’s an “accurate description” of what brought Greene to the stand: A small group of voters in her district has argued that she should be ineligible for reelection because of a section of the 14th Amendment that forbids members of Congress who have taken part in an insurrection to run for office.

    It’s a legal long shot. But the hearing makes Greene the first Republican member of Congress to testify under oath about January 6.

    Greene asserted, “My words never ever mean anything for violence.” Still, one illustrative moment came when Greene was asked, “Did you advocate to President Trump to impose martial law as a way to remain in power?” She responded, “I don’t recall.”

    A version of this article first appeared in the Mother Jones Daily, our newsletter that cuts through the noise to help you make sense of the most important stories of the day. Sign up for free here!
  • I Hoped the Low-Rise Jeans Trend Would Die Fast. I was Wrong.


    If I were a naive 22-year-old in the early aughts, looking at pictures of Paris Hilton wearing pants with a two-inch inseam I would think, “That’s hot.” For those who are around that age now, who were infants at the time and eager to replicate the iconic look that appears to be making a significant comeback, a few words of warning: You don’t know the misery of those trousers. Your upper derriere, exposed to the cold winds of a middle-school math class, just waiting to be poked from behind by Tyler with a pencil. Wilton could not make a pan that created a muffin top more perfect than the one enforced by a low-rise jean. And then there are the physical demands. I believe that my repetitive musculoskeletal injuries are from tugging my shirt down to meet that low-rise all day long. (Now that I think of it,  if you were a teenager back then, you may deserve some type of hardship compensation.) 

    And now, despite all the obvious discomfort, once more the low-rise trend seems to be returning. It’s happened before as a 2018 article in The Cut warned, describing them as “the masochistic trouser of choice.” Fast forward to earlier this month, Refinery29 reported that second-hand retailer thredUP tracked a 50% increase in searches for low-rise jeans at the beginning of 2021. Now the runways are making that official. From the comfort of my home in February—Black History Month and Fashion Month—I scrolled TikTok and the runway looks made it clear: model after model came by with pants slung across the hips and a cute little crop on top.

    Early Y2K is back. 

    Usually every twenty years, a trend gets recycled so we are overdue for a return to the early aughts. The nostalgia urge has been exacerbated by the pandemic, the invasion of Ukraine, not to mention the crisis of democracy at home and abroad—all conspiring to make this time feel so turbulent.

    Researchers say nostalgia is a dynamic that demonstrates people are looking for peace and refuge. Gen Z has been hit the hardest by all these forces, just as their lives were supposed to take off, the pandemic shut them down. Their already media-heavy lives were forced into being almost completely virtual as they finished school and started jobs online during the pandemic. “While we love the internet, the pandemic’s grave effect on in-person interaction has made the digital world basically all we have,” Michael Pandowski of Gen Z marketing firm Crimson Connection told Insider. “So we feel nostalgic for a time before the internet had become so omnipresent.

    Paris Hilton could be considered the Queen of the Y2K Low-Rise jean.

    Jean-Paul Aussenard/ Getty Images.

    But nostalgia for some can be a trigger for many, especially hip-huggers for us Millennial gals. These pants are not just another pair of jeans, but signifiers of the fraught messages of sexuality and body image that were so pervasive at the time. The pant was hypersexualized and threatened to “reveal-all” while at the same time, defying and embodying the cult of purity culture. Remember, this was the time of the Bush administration pushing abstinence-only sex education.

    Journalist and digital expert Gabrielle Korn put it much better than I ever could in InStyle, “These mixed messages of chasteness and performative sexiness set the stage for low-rise jeans,” she writes, “they weren’t just trendy, they were ubiquitous.” She recalls that the boys in her class—and in mine, and probably in the classes of most other girls who were in middle and high school at the time—would try to throw pennies down the pants. The pants seem to represent a time when there was an invitation for boys (and men) to do anything they wanted to with girls (and women) with no consequences. (Remember Justin Timberlake at the Superbowl?) 

    These pants were popular before the body positivity movement went mainstream, when Supersize Me scolded everyone about their eating habits, and when the nightly news showed B-roll of fat people walking down the streets in an effort to drum up fear over the “Obesity Epidemic”—not to mention some cheap and degrading laughs. And well, these pants were holding onto nothing if you were blessed with even modest amounts of flesh. 

    In some ways it makes perfect sense that low-rise jeans are yet again making a comeback; it might be a way of announcing someone is “done” with the extreme comfort of pandemic anti-fashion fashion. We are ready to discard our sweatpants, damnit, and maybe even vulnerable enough to show our more zaftig bodies. The waistlines on today’s runways are more inclusive of different proportions. Does this mean these jeans are for absolutely everyone, no matter what the BMI? Maybe. And maybe all the “Tylers from math class” have learned that the jeans are not an invitation for inappropriate contact. If that’s the case, maybe they aren’t so bad after all. 

  • The Week It Became Obvious: The Biden Admin Is Over Making Covid Decisions


    What the hell am I supposed to do now?

    In a pandemic defined by more than two years of cascading public health failures and egregiously botched messaging, the past week has managed to outflank previous moments of Covid confusion.

    On Monday, a Trump-appointed judge—who legal experts now say has a fundamental misunderstanding of public health laws—struck down the CDC’s rule mandating masks on public transportation, instantly setting cellphones aglow in notifications. Nearly all carried some variation of the same caveat: “It is not immediately clear when the order will go into effect or what this means for people currently traveling.” Still, videos of cheering passengers shouting “finally!” quickly started circulating.

    As airlines and local municipalities struggled to move forward, it initially appeared as though the White House would welcome the decision and move on. That seemed understandable given that the administration had been set to lift the mandate early next month. (Did you even know that was the plan, by the way?)

    But, then, in the next 48 hours, the Justice Department reversed course, announcing that they intended to appeal Mizelle’s ruling—if the CDC wanted it to. (It did.) Somewhere in between, President Biden effectively told reporters that we’ve entered the choose-your-own-adventure phase of the pandemic. The Covid policy for the US—as it has been for many states for over a year—is simple: Figure it out yourself.

    Locally, the confusion continued to spill out.

    In the wake of Monday’s ruling, Uber and Lyft announced that masks would no longer be required, which prompted some cities, including New York, to remind passengers that they make the rules—not Silicon Valley. As of Friday, New York subways are still requiring masks as well. In the Bay Area, BART initially announced that face coverings would still be required though safety officials would no longer enforce the rule. Actually, scratch that. A whole new mandate will be introduced next week. Elsewhere on Caltrain and Muni, go ahead and run mask-free.

    One would like to believe that more than two years into the pandemic, we’d be a helluva lot better at this public health messaging thing. But this isn’t to necessarily lament the latest evidence that nope we still very much suck at this. What’s emerged in the past week is the sinking feeling that the Biden administration has surrendered to bad faith decisions that fly in the face of a society that cares for people in different circumstances from their own. Sure, the DOJ is now taking steps to appeal. But it took nearly two days for the administration to signal that a fight was even worth having. Meanwhile, the emerging Covid policy appears to be one that’s abandoning its responsibility to make it easier to avoid exposure.

    Cases are down—by a lot. But a whole swath of the population remains unvaccinated, many not by choice, and in some of the most populated areas of the country, cases are indeed ticking back up. And who will pay the most when for our collective capitulation? In line with every phase of this disaster, underserved communities. As public health experts Lucky Tran and Oni Blackstock wrote for the Washington Post in the wake of Mizelle’s ruling:

    Many workers do not have paid sick leave, making lost days of work because of covid more burdensome for low-income Americans. Moreover, suspending all precautions risks exacerbating existing covid inequities by race and income.

    Pundits and even the CDC itself are emphasizing that it’s up to individuals to make their own choices about how to protect themselves depending on their risk tolerance. But this narrative goes against the foundation of public health. When a virus capable of serious illness is so widespread and not everyone has equal access to tools to protect themselves, the best way to keep everyone safe is through collective policies.

    As I’m sure you can tell by now, I’m supportive of keeping mandates in place. (I have an unvaccinated roommate, my 7-month-old son.) But even my pro-mask stance struggles under the weight of confusing rule-making and the impression that the government is making consequential decisions on the fly. Then again, I guess that’s been a pretty consistent theme after all.

    The issue, the one we’ve known for years, is that, of course, every person thinks differently about how they have to balance their needs (and desires) with the collective. The question now is: Whose freedom matters more? It’s complicated and difficult. Now I just wish I had more than a mask to protect myself from the freedom-loving asshole who’ll be sure to remind me that masks are over—didn’t I know that?

  • Report: Bernie Might Run Again in 2024 if Biden Drops Out

    Sanders supporting striking Kellogg workers in December 2021.Carlin Stiehl/AP

    In case you missed it, a memo given to the Washington Post says Sen. Bernie Sanders might run again for president, but only if Joe Biden decides not to himself.

    According to the documentwritten by Faiz Shakir, manager of Bernie’s Sanders 2020 campaign—Sanders “has not ruled out another run for president” if Biden forgoes a reelection bid. Sanders’ spokespeople did not deny the veracity of the document or shoot down the plan (for now). After the election, Sanders had said it was unlikely he’d launch another bid.

    Perhaps this is coming out because Biden is not doing so great in the polls. As you might have heard in every national publication, it is expected the Democrats will be drubbed in the 2022 midterm elections. But it’s even worse for Biden, it seems. Currently, only about 41 percent of Americans approve of him, according to an average calculated by FiveThirtyEight. Back in February, just 21 percent of Democrat-leaning voters in one poll said they would choose the incumbent to be the party’s 2024 nominee. (Sanders, in the same survey, was down at 14 percent.)

    Sanders in recent months has cheered the historic unionization of a Staten Island Amazon warehouse. He’s proposing a big fat tax on corporate profits to rein in inflation. And, yes, he’s going after the monopolization of baseball!

    For some, this all seems ridiculous. Why the affection for Bernie? If that’s you, here’s a great profile from my colleague Tim Murphy titled, simply, “Frontrunner,” from when it looked like Sanders could win the nomination. Here’s Tim in February 2020:

    [Sanders has] engendered real loyalty in his supporters that has helped him weather an up-and-down campaign. No one raises more money from more people, and in the first two states, no one has been able to summon more people to do the work on the ground of getting out the vote for him. Their work meant that while Sanders didn’t realize all the gains he’d envisioned, he didn’t fall off either like some of his colleagues [in the primary]

    Sanders set out to build and consolidate his coalition by ‘centering,’ as Ocasio-Cortez likes to put it, the kinds of working people who stand to benefit from his economic agenda. In October [2020], I caught Sanders at a youth enrichment center outside Charles City, Iowa, the same weekend he’d led a series of high-profile rallies with Ocasio-Cortez—big flashy events at an arena, a college campus, and a conference center. The man who introduced him, to a crowd of a few dozen people off a two-lane road, wasn’t a nationally prominent politico or a state rep or even a county commissioner. His name was Steven Zimmer, he told the room. And he was a gas station clerk at Hy-Vee.

    That’s basically it. The Sanders campaign felt like it lifted people up. Maybe he won’t run in 2024. Perhaps Biden will run again. And overall it’s probably not great that so many old people are still the totems of the party. But we’ll have to see.

    Either way, as law, I have to remind you: Bernie ran a 4:37 mile in high school. Sick.

  • A New List of Crazy Shit Trump Did, According to Fiona Hill

    Trump being normal with other world leaders.Michael Kappeler/DPA/Zuma

    Last weekend, we were graced with a whole new batch of foibles of the Trump administration, this time from the perspective of onetime adviser Fiona Hill and couched in a New York Times Magazine article titled “This Was Trump Pulling a Putin.”

    You might remember Hill’s emergence on the national scene during the first impeachment of former President Donald Trump. An expert on Russia, she had worked under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and testified on Trump’s plan to use foreign policy to try to get dirt on his political opponents (namely, the Bidens).

    A good chunk of Draper’s story is about how Hill believes January 6 was presaged by Trump’s policies toward Putin. It recounts Hill’s belief that not only Trump’s but Bush’s and Obama’s policies toward Putin set the stage for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    I have my doubts on these fronts, which seem both Trump and US-centric. Still, it’s worth reading Draper’s piece to get a glimpse at just how ridiculous former President Trump’s dealings with Vladimir Putin actually were—and all the other wacky shit Hill says she witnessed during Trump’s tenure.

    A few choice tidbits, all according to Hill:

    • Upon meeting Hill for the first time, she says Trump mistook her for a secretary (she was the senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council) and “became angry that she did not immediately agree to retype a news release for him.”
    • Trump informed Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan that most Americans’ idea of Turkey comes from the prisons in Midnight Express: “Bad image—you need to make a different film.”
    • Trump would ask to send magazine articles to the likes of Erdogan and French president Emmanuel Macron if the stories included flattering pictures of the leaders. Often, the text of the article was anything but. That didn’t matter: Trump wanted to make sure that his peers on the world stage knew when they were “looking strong.”
    • In a conversation with former German chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as “Senator Pocahontas.” Merkel was aghast.
    • Trump did his shtick about hating windmills—to the prime minister of Norway.
    • Trump didn’t see why Crimea shouldn’t be a part of Russia. They speak Russian there, after all.

    A lot of the wild things that happened during the Trump administration do not get much attention because many find the discussion of the Russia investigation, and connections with Russia, overplayed and boring. I get it. But sometimes that means you miss out on Trump telling a Turkish president to make a movie.

  • Wimbledon’s Russia Ban Is a Huge Net Loss

    A spectator holds a Russian flag during a tennis match between Russia's Daniil Medvedev and Croatia's Marin Cilic during the 2021 Wimbledon.Alberto Pezzali/AP

    Wimbledon, England’s historic tennis competition, announced Wednesday it would ban players from Russia and Belarus. The ban had been foreshadowed last month when British sports minister Nigel Huddleston suggested that Russians be barred from the tournament unless they provide “some potential assurance that they are not supporters of Putin.” 

    The announcement followed several other sporting bans put in place since Russia invaded Ukraine in February: FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, suspended Russia from all international competitions, while the Boston Marathon barred runners from Russia and Belarus, which Russian leader Vladimir Putin has used as a staging ground for his attack on Ukraine.  

    Now, I can understand the impulse to show solidarity with Ukraine and, certainly, to target punishment at Putin and his cronies—people like Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. But there is something almost dystopian about assigning collective guilt to all Russians. Only hours after the invasion started, antiwar protests broke out across Russia, including in Putin’s hometown of Saint Petersburg. In just one day of protests, roughly 5,000 Russians were arrested

    Among those challenging Putin’s war: the same athletes Wimbledon plans to ban. Take Russian tennis star Andrey Rublev, who wrote “No War Please” on a television camera after a competition. His countryman Daniil Medvedev, formerly the No. 1 ranked player in the world, called for “peace all over the world” after the invasion. Do those statements meet Wimbledon’s standard? What does?

    Even if Rublev and Medvedev had kept silent, is it really fair for Wimbledon to assign them blame? Any person with loved ones in an authoritarian country understands the risks of speaking out. It takes bravery to resist an autocratic thug like Putin, but most people aren’t in a position to compromise their family’s safety. When I reported on protests against the Chinese government during the Winter Olympics in Beijing, I was surprised to hear some debate among activists over the wisdom of speaking out. Not all protesters expected athletes to risk their personal safety to challenge China’s increasingly repressive state. 

    The best way to deny legitimacy to authoritarian rulers is not to demand loyalty tests from their residents, but to demand that corporations stop whitewashing the regime’s excesses. When Olympic sponsors trip over themselves to not condemn China’s human rights abuses or FIFA grants a World Cup bid to a petrostate using slave labor, it does far more harm than a single Russian athlete staying quiet about Putin.

    The sporting world is awash with corruption and skullduggery. The way to change that isn’t through blanket bans, but in denying the financial benefits and prestige that come from giving authoritarian governments a spot at the table in the first place.

  • Tesla to Racism Lawsuit: You’re Acting Like Elon Musk

    Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

    As Elon Musk engages in a very public and increasingly combative effort to take over Twitter—a battle that has produced endless headlines and annoying tweets—the problems at his other little venture, Tesla, have escalated. On Monday, the multi-billion dollar electric cars company blasted a lawsuit accusing Tesla of ignoring years of rampant racism at its primary factory as being merely a “quick publicity stunt.”

    California’s Department of Fair and Equal Housing, the state agency suing Tesla, “conducted a bare-bones ‘investigation’ without interviewing key witnesses, requesting key documents, or ever stepping foot in the Fremont facility,” Tesla wrote in a new filing, Bloomberg reports. The company is also accusing DFEH of “abandoning its founding purpose” in order to score headlines.

    As my colleague Edwin Rios reported in February, California’s lawsuit came after a lengthy, three-year investigation—and the allegations are astounding. They include Black workers getting harassed with racist slurs such as the n-word and “porch monkey.” On a daily basis, Black workers were also allegedly forced to confront racist writing left on factory walls.

    Nonetheless, on Monday, Tesla went on the offensive, claiming in effect, that DFEH was acting like Tesla’s founder—a man whose career is littered with attention-seeking, headline-making, and ultimately unsubstantiated trolls.

    Meanwhile, Tesla and Musk are fighting another thorny lawsuit from shareholders over Musk’s 2018 tweets about taking Tesla private. According to a court filing on Friday, a judge ruled that Musk tweeted this despite knowing this was in fact not true. 

  • Alex Jones’ Infowars Files for Bankruptcy Amid Sandy Hook Lawsuits

    Jose Luis Magana/AP

    Companies affiliated with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, including right-wing outlet Infowars, filed for bankruptcy protections on Sunday. The move comes after Jones lost numerous defamation lawsuits for falsely claiming that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax. 

    The bankruptcy filing could pause civil cases against the companies, which include not only Infowars, but Infowars Health (a store that sells nutritional supplements) and Prison Planet, an outlet for British YouTuber and proponent of “new right” (read: nativist) ideology, Paul Joseph Watson.

    After the 2012 mass shooting claimed the lives of 26 people, including 20 first graders, Jones falsely described the victims and their parents as “crisis actors” participating in a conspiracy to allow the government to seize guns. Due to Jones’ lies, the parents of the victims were inundated with harassment and death threats. According to the New York Times, the family of Sandy Hook victim Noah Pozner currently lives in hiding due to the persistent harassment they’ve experienced since the shooting. 

    Jones later walked back his claims after multiple parents filed defamation lawsuits against him, blaming his earlier beliefs on a “form of psychosis.” 

    In September 2021, Jones lost two defamation lawsuits in Texas after a judge ruled that he had engaged in “persistent discovery abuses” by failing to turn over important documents related to the case, noting that “an escalating series of judicial admonishments, monetary penalties, and non-dispositive sanctions have all been ineffective at deterring the abuse.” In November, Jones lost an additional lawsuit in Connecticut for failing to turn over documents.

    It’s unclear what ultimate effect the bankruptcy filing will have, but according to CNN, it could allow the companies to stay in business by giving them a path to offload debts they can’t afford. The Sandy Hook families and their lawyers have previously accused Jones of siphoning off $18 million to shell companies to avoid having to pay damages. 

    “Alex Jones is just delaying the inevitable: a public trial in which he will be held accountable for his profit-driven campaign of lies against the Sandy Hook families who have brought this lawsuit,” said Christopher Mattei, a lawyer for the Connecticut plaintiffs, in a statement to CNN.

    Texas jurors were scheduled to meet this month to determine how much Jones owes the plaintiffs. An additional trial in Connecticut is scheduled to begin in September.

  • Now We’re Getting Rid of Masks on Planes—Just as Covid Is Spiking Again

    Nam Y. Huh/AP

    Gear up for another round of mass pandemic chaos.

    Not even a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended its masks mandate for public travel—a move that reflected rising Covid trends from the BA.2 subvariant—a federal judge in Florida has struck down the order, sending airlines and other public transportation hubs into confusion.

    It wasn’t immediately clear on Monday how soon masks would no longer be required or whether the Biden administration would seek to appeal. (My colleague Jeremy Schulman happened to be boarding a plane when he was alerted to the court ruling and has promised to keep us abreast of how the surprise change will affect compliance!)  In her ruling, Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle wrote that the CDC’s order exceeded the statutory authority and violated administrative law.

    The CDC had previously extended the federal mask mandate to stay in effect until May 3 in order to monitor how the omicron subvariant BA.2 would transpire across the country. (Coincidentally, the requirement had been set to expire today.) The Northeast in particular has seen cases tick up significantly, with New York and New Jersey seeing average daily cases climb by an alarming 64 percent over the past week.

    For transportation workers concerned about the rising numbers Monday order is likely to come as a distressing development. But it could also be welcomed by some, particularly airline staff, who have been under immense pressure since the start of the pandemic to get anti-mask passengers to comply with CDC rules. Personally, I see this as potentially setting the stage for a whole new wave of conflicts, with those opposed to masks confronting those who still choose to wear them.

    Either way, don’t say I didn’t warn you. More chaos ahead. Beep beep!

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