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Oklahoma Republicans Passed a Bathroom Bill. Now, a Trans Kid Is Dead.

Nonbinary teen Nex Benedict died after being violently attacked in their school bathroom.

Candles are set on top of the nonbinary and pride flags
Gerardo Vieyra/NurPhoto/Getty Images

One day after a transgender Oklahoman teen hit their head on the floor while getting attacked in their school bathroom, they were dead.

Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old from Owasso, Oklahoma, was the victim of transphobic torment from school bullies that started at the beginning of the 2023 school year, just a handful of months after the state signed into law a transgender bathroom ban, mandating that students use restrooms that match the sex listed on their birth certificates.

The bullying reached an apex on February 7, according to Benedict’s family, when three older girls beat Benedict and another transgender student in the girls’ bathroom. The fighting left Nex bruised, with wounds on their face and eyes and scratches on the back of their head, reported The Independent.

Benedict’s mother, Sue Benedict, told the publication that she was furious the school didn’t call an ambulance or the police. To add insult to injury, the school then informed her that the bloodied teen—a straight-A student who enjoyed drawing, reading, and taking care of the family cat—would be suspended for the next two weeks.

Instead, Benedict collapsed on their family’s living room floor the following day. When EMTs arrived, they discovered that Benedict had stopped breathing. They were declared dead that evening.

Tragically, it’s not the first time that Owasso has punished one of its LGBTQ+ members. In April 2022, one of Benedict’s teachers at Owasso High School, Tyler Wrynn, was featured in a video by Libs of TikTok, a far-right account run by professional agitator Chaya Raichik whose other posts have led to multiple bomb threats across Oklahoma. In the clip, Wrynn told his students that he was proud of them, and encouraged them to love themselves despite outside pressures, adding that “if your parents don’t accept you for who you are, fuck them.” Following Raichik’s post, Wrynn became the subject of harassment and death threats, and after fiery local backlash, resigned from the district—much to the disappointment of Benedict.

“Nex was very angry about it,” their mother told the Independent.

Oklahoma is one of 11 states in the nation that have legislation on the books regulating bathroom access, which conservatives have framed as a student safety issue. But that flies in the face of the data. More than three quarters of transgender students across the country—76 percent—reported that they felt unsafe at school because of their gender, according to a 2021 GLSEN report. They were also five times more likely to be threatened or attacked while at school than their peers, according to data from The Trevor Project.

LGBTQ+ advocates within the state have made no qualms about placing the blame of Benedict’s death on Raichik’s inflammatory and hateful posts and Oklahoma’s lawmakers.

“We want to be clear, whether Nex died as a direct result of injuries sustained in the brutal hate-motivated attack at school or not, Nex’s death is a result of being the target of physical and emotional harm because of who Nex was,” wrote Freedom Oklahoma in a statement.

Meanwhile, Raichik’s influence will only continue to grow in the state. In January, the provocateur found a new role of authority within Oklahoma, landing herself a cushy government position supervising school libraries and deciding which books students in the state will be allowed to read.

Republicans’ Star Hunter Biden Witness Is an Epic Disaster

As if it wasn’t bad enough already, ex-FBI informant Alexander Smirnov admitted he has ties to Russian intelligence.

Kent Nishimura/Getty Images
House Oversight Chair James Comer

Republicans’ main witness in their efforts to impeach Joe Biden has already been charged with lying to the FBI. Now he has also admitted to having ties to Russian intelligence officers.

Alexander Smirnov, a longtime FBI informant with ties to Ukraine, had claimed to have proof of Biden and his son Hunter accepting bribes from a Ukrainian oligarch. Republicans repeatedly touted Smirnov’s claims in their quest to impeach the president. But last week, the Justice Department announced that it was charging Smirnov with making a false statement and creating a false record related to the bribery allegation.

Now, in a detention memo filed Tuesday, the Justice Department revealed that Smirnov confessed that Russian intelligence officers helped him smear Hunter Biden.

“During his custodial interview on February 14, Smirnov admitted that officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing a story about” the younger Biden, the filing said.

Smirnov also told the FBI that he had had repeated contact with a Russian official who, as Smirnov told it, was “the son of a former high-ranking Russian government official, someone who purportedly controls two groups of individuals tasked with carrying out assassination efforts in a third-party country, a Russian representative to another country, and … someone with ties to a particular Russian intelligence service.”

Smrinov initially tried to spread the Biden Ukrainian corruption story just before the 2020 election, but Justice Department prosecutors are warning that Smirnov’s “misinformation” goes far beyond that.

“He is actively peddling new lies that could impact U.S. elections after meeting with Russian intelligence officials in November,” they said in the filing.

The memo notes that Smirnov himself reported several meetings with Russian officials as recently as December 2023.

The charges against Smirnov are the latest major fail in Republicans’ attempts to impeach Biden, which has been nothing but a comedy of errors. For almost a year, the GOP has insisted that Biden and his son are guilty of corruption. Republicans have not produced a shred of concrete evidence of their claims, but they have repeatedly upheld accusations from a supposedly credible but confidential FBI source (whom we now know is Smirnov) as reason enough to keep investigating the president.

Last July, Senator Chuck Grassley released the FBI materials, over the bureau’s objections, related to the bribery accusations. But the documents showed nothing.

Meanwhile, all of the other witnesses that Republicans have called, claiming that their testimony will blow the case wide open, have instead debunked every single accusation against the Biden family.

Hunter Biden Slams Special Prosecutor for Confusing Sawdust With Cocaine

Well, this is more than awkward.

Hunter Biden speaks outside at a lecturn with several mics
Tierney L. Cross/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Hunter Biden’s attorneys argued on Tuesday that U.S. Attorney David Weiss’s investigation into their client included some major factual errors, including mistaking a pile of sawdust for cocaine.

In a court filing, the law team challenged that what the Department of Justice’s discovery revealed cannot be taken “at face value.”

In previous filings, Weiss had accused the president’s son of taking a picture of several lines of cocaine. But Biden’s team says otherwise, claiming that Biden not only didn’t take the photograph, but that the picture doesn’t depict cocaine at all.

Instead, the picture shows three lines of sawdust, jokingly propped by a carpenter who took the photograph and sent it to Biden’s then psychiatrist, Dr. Keith Ablow, who in turn sent it to the junior Biden.

“Mistaking sawdust for cocaine sounds more like a storyline from one of the 1980s Police Academy comedies than what should be expected in a high-profile prosecution by the U.S. Department of Justice,” the team wrote in its retort.

A court document sharing the image also included the texts from Ablow, who wrote, “This one in my office is of lines of sawdust sent to me by a master carpenter who was a coke addict. I told him that, ultimately, he would have to choose between his art and his drug. He sent me the photo and a message that said, ‘Made my choice.’”

“Hope you do, too,” Ablow added.

Photo of three lines of sawdust arranged up in an M

The new documents also accuse the special counsel of being swayed by Alexander Smirnov, whose entire testimony about the Biden family’s connection to Ukrainian company Burisma Holdings was blown up last week when he was indicted by the DOJ for lying to prosecutors.

“The Smirnov allegations infected this case,” Hunter’s lawyers wrote, arguing that the special counsel threw out Biden’s plea deal while following Smirnov “down his rabbit hole of lies.”

“Lo and behold, some seven months later, the Special Counsel finally figured out that Mr. Smirnov was lying—which should have been obvious to everyone, certainly by August 2020 when DOJ closed the investigation,” they wrote.

MAGA Candidate Says Women Need Help With Strollers, Not Abortion

Ohio’s Bernie Moreno has outdone himself in his latest comments.

Joe Maiorana/AP Photo

A Republican candidate for Ohio senator believes that women don’t actually need abortions, just someone to lift heavy things such as strollers for them.

Entrepreneur Bernie Moreno is one of three men running to face off against Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown in the fall. During a discussion with all Republican primary candidates Monday night, the moderator asked the men for their stance on abortion and reproductive rights.

Moreno said his daughter had recently flown home after visiting him. “Mom carrying what looks like an F1 team-worth of equipment,” Moreno said. “People helped her on that plane. Helped put the stroller away, helped her with her seat.”

“Those are the kinds of things that we can do,” he said. “Let’s be a pro-mom, pro-family policy.”

So apparently, Moreno has just volunteered to personally help every parent lift heavy strollers and navigate logistically complicated situations.

In all seriousness, Moreno is technically not wrong. If Republicans are going to force people to have children, then lawmakers need to put systems in place to help care for those children. Unfortunately, the GOP seems dead set on making childrearing harder.

Republicans nationwide are cutting back on free school lunch programs for lower-income families. And Moreno’s fellow Ohio Republicans have banned gender-affirming care for transgender and nonbinary teenagers, despite the fact that those treatments help reduce depression and suicidality in LGBTQ children.

Moreno may also find that his opposition to abortion is pretty unpopular with Ohio voters. In November, people overwhelmingly voted to enshrine abortion protections in the state constitution. The result was a massive blow to Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who had championed the anti-abortion side of the referendum and who is running against Moreno for the Republican Senate nomination.

Trump’s Christian Nationalist Friends Have a Horrifying Plan for a Second Term

Christian nationalist allies of Donald Trump are preparing for Trump’s return to the White House.

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Russell Vought, Trump’s former Office of Management and Budget director

Apart from Donald Trump’s objectives, political operatives surrounding the GOP front-runner have their own policy goals. At the top of the list? Infusing Christian nationalism into the heart of his next term.

Behind the hidden agenda is Trump’s former director of the Office of Management and Budget, Russell Vought, who runs the influential conservative think tank the Center for Renewing America. Over the last several years, Vought—who has been rumored to have a good shot at becoming chief of staff should Trump win a second term—has increasingly adopted the ideology that Christian nationalists are under attack.

Documents by CRA staff list several Christian nationalist-oriented goals as a part of the think tank’s top priorities in a second Trump term, reported Politico Tuesday. Other contributions to the list included invoking the Insurrection Act in order to stamp out dissenting protests and creating other ways to expand Trump’s presidential power.

But Vought also serves as an adviser to the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025, which has proposed a flurry of other objectives for a potential second term, including repealing policies that help LGBTQ+ people and single mothers, on the basis that these laws threaten “Americans’ fundamental liberties.”

Vought’s simmering extremism has been influenced by a yearslong partnership with Christian nationalist William Wolfe. Vaught has publicly lauded Wolfe’s work on “scoping out a sound Christian Nationalism,” saying he’s “proud” to be a part of it.

But some of Wolfe’s proposals for the next presidency somehow skew even more radical. In a since-deleted December post on X, Wolfe called for an end to surrogacy, sex education in schools, and no-fault divorce—though that might have a hard time gaining muster in an increasingly divorced Congress, and under Trump who is on his third marriage.

Wolfe has claimed that the government should expand its child support laws by forcing men “to provide for their children as soon as it’s determined the child is theirs.”

“Christians should reject a Christ-less ‘conservatism,’” he wrote in another post on X, “and demand the political movement we are most closely associated with make a return to Christ-centered foundations. Because it’s either Christ or chaos, even on the ‘Right.’”

A paltry attempt to dismiss the Politico report by The Washington Examiner boiled the policy issue down to its theological core for so-called social conservatives: “Are there eternal and transcendent principles that must inform lawmaking? Or is sheer political will and power the only measure of what is right policy since man is the ultimate arbiter of good and evil?”

Samuel Alito Is Mad You Can’t Be Bigoted Toward Gay People Anymore

The Supreme Court justice is back to complaining about LGBTQ people in a recent opinion from the court.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is complaining that people who oppose homosexuality were being unfairly branded as bigots, despite that being a dictionary definition of bigotry.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear a case about whether it is legal to exclude potential jurors based on their religion. The case stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Jean Finney, who is lesbian, against her longtime employer, the Missouri Department of Corrections, for workplace discrimination and retaliation due to her sexuality. During jury selection for the trial, which Finney won, her lawyer asked the judge to remove three jurors who had expressed beliefs that homosexuality is a sin. Finney’s lawyer argued their religious beliefs would bias them against LGBTQ people.

The state of Missouri appealed the decision, arguing that the jury selection process had been discriminatory on religious grounds. An appeals court sided with Finney, ruling the jurors had been eliminated due to their beliefs about homosexuality, not because they were Christians. Missouri appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, which declined Tuesday to hear the case.

In a statement, Alito said he agreed with the decision not to hear the lawsuit, but warned he felt the case was a harbinger of greater danger.

The appeals court ruling “exemplifies the danger that I anticipated in Obergefell v. Hodges,” Alitio wrote, referring to the landmark 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized marriage equality.

“Namely, that Americans who do not hide their adherence to traditional religious beliefs about homosexual conduct will be ‘labeled as bigots and treated as such’ by the government,” he said. “The opinion of the Court in that case made it clear that the decision should not be used in that way, but I am afraid this admonition is not being heeded by our society.”

For what it’s worth, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a “bigot” as “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (such as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.” That kind of sounds like someone who believes that gay people will go to hell.

Conservatives have been blatantly trying to chip away at marriage equality in recent years, including the far-right members of the Supreme Court. After overturning Roe v. Wade, Alito’s fellow extreme Justice Clarence Thomas urged the court to “revisit” other rulings, including Obergefell and Griswold v. Connecticut, which struck down bans on contraceptives for married couples.

Trump Spent His Final Hours as President in a Feud with Snoop Dogg

Great to see Trump’s priorities were in order as his presidency came to a close.

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
Trump looks on as Snoop Dogg speaks at Comedy Central’s “Roast of Donald Trump” on March 9, 2011, in New York City.

In the waning hours of Donald Trump’s presidency, his mind wasn’t lingering on the violent insurgency he had helped perpetuate on January 6, his fake elector scheme to overturn the general election results, or the transfer of power to his successor, Joe Biden. Instead, according to former administration officials, Trump’s mind was consumed by one thing: Snoop Dogg.

“Well, fuck him,” Trump moaned, according to administration officials interviewed by Rolling Stone.

Just hours before Biden’s inauguration, old tensions between Trump and Snoop D.O. Double G had resurfaced, nearly eviscerating the “love and respect” that the two had developed over the second half of Trump’s term while working together on executive clemency for federal prisoners, according to the magazine. That included clemency for one of Snoop’s close friends, Death Row Records co-founder Michael “Harry-O” Harris, who had been refused several appeals in his decades-long sentence on cocaine trafficking–related and attempted murder charges.

But certain administration staffers were skeptical of the president’s sudden soft shoulder on criminal reform, and worked instead to compile a report on the mud that Snoop had slung at the president in the first half of his term, including a music video in which Snoop performed a symbolic execution on a Trump clown, and 2018 comments from the rapper that derided the president and his sycophantic followers as “racist.”

In an instant, the report squashed any good will with the temperamental leader of the free world, ushering in a phase that a former White House official simply described as “chaos.” On January 18, 2021, Trump instructed his aides to remove Harry-O’s name from the clemency list and to toss his paperwork as punishment for Snoop’s past burns.

It took the work of activists, Snoop’s team, and some of Trump’s closest aides to quell the tirade via unreleased documentary footage from the free Harry-O campaign showcasing some of Snoop’s recent, more positive comments on the former game show host. It seemed to work.

On January 19, 2021, Harris got word that he’d be a free man.

“That’s great work for the president and his team on the way out,” Snoop Dogg reportedly said during a call, according to a January 20, 2021, article from Rolling Stone.

But all has not been forgotten—or forgiven. The prolific West Coast rapper has not endorsed Trump in his 2024 race for the White House, and “those close to him say they would be stunned if he ever did,” the magazine reports. Still, some cards have been left on the table. In an interview published by London’s Sunday Times, the rapper repeated himself: “I have nothing but love and respect for Donald Trump.”

Donald Trump Could Be Sued a Third Time by E. Jean Carroll

E. Jean Carroll’s lawyer is warning Donald Trump, who apparently just can’t keep his mouth shut.

E. Jean Carroll smiles
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

E. Jean Carroll’s lawyer has warned that they could sue Donald Trump a third time, because apparently owing $88.3 million isn’t enough for the former president.

Trump owes Carroll the massive amount for sexually abusing her in the mid-1990s and then defaming her twice when denying the assault. Trump is apparently unable to accept his fate, most recently insisting at a rally on Saturday that he doesn’t know who Carroll is.

When asked Monday night about his comments, Carroll’s lawyer Shawn Crowley appeared to hint that a third lawsuit was possible.

“We’re watching, we’re listening,” she told MSNBC. “We had really hoped that, as I think the jury found, that $83 million would maybe be enough to convince him to keep E. Jean Carroll’s name out of his mouth. Apparently, he showed us this weekend that he really cannot control himself and that maybe it wasn’t.”

Carroll revealed in her 2019 memoir that Trump raped her in the Manhattan Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s. She subsequently sued him twice: The first lawsuit was for the assault and for posts he made about her on social media in 2022. Last spring, a jury unanimously found Trump liable of sexual abuse and defamation, and ordered him to pay Carroll $5 million in damages.

The second lawsuit, which went to trial in January, was over Trump’s allegations in 2019 that Carroll had made up the rape allegation to promote her book. And then, hours after he was found liable for sexual abuse, he went on CNN and repeated comments about Carroll that had just been deemed defamatory. The jury in that case awarded Carroll a total of $83.3 million in damages.

Trump has said he will appeal the rulings, and his lawyers have launched a desperate and so far unsuccessful bid to have the cases thrown out. But more than anything, Trump appears hell-bent on getting Carroll to sue him a third time for the exact same thing. Just minutes after the most recent verdict was handed down, Trump continued to share negative posts about Carroll on Truth Social.

Of Course Elon Musk’s Twitter Suspended Alexei Navalny’s Wife

Yulia Navalnaya saw her account on X (Twitter) disappear just 24 hours after creating it.

Yulia Navalnaya looking downward
Yulia Navalnaya

The widow of Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, on Tuesday was temporarily banned from X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, for reasons still not clear.

On Monday, Yulia Navalnaya shared a powerful, nine-minute video accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of killing her husband and of hiding the body in an effort to wait for the poison to disappear. Navalnaya pledged to continue her husband’s fight.

“They are cowardly and meanly hiding his body, refusing to give it to his mother and lying miserably while waiting for the trace of” poison to disappear, Navalnaya said, according to a translation by SkyNews.

But less than 24 hours later, she was booted off the platform. X did not cite a reason for her dismissal other than “violating the X rules,” though her dismissal came after the company’s private owner, Elon Musk, spent a year aggressively insisting the platform be a bastion of free speech, to the point of allowing white supremacists and antisemites to run freely.

By Tuesday morning, and after pressure from her political allies, Navalnaya was back online.

Navalnaya has long skirted the political spotlight that came with being the family of one of Putin’s greatest dissidents, but her husband’s death four days ago inside the country’s notoriously brutal Arctic Polar Wolf penal colony has suddenly rocked that reality. In a video posted to the platform, Navalnaya urged other Russians to join her and continue to fight back against the Russian government.

“In killing Aleksei, Putin killed half of me, half of my heart, and half of my soul,” Navalnaya said. “But I have another half left—and it is telling me I have no right to give up.”

“I will continue the work of Alexei Navalny.”

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Putin, called Navalnaya’s accusations “unfounded” and “insolent.”

Parkland Survivor Trolls Trump’s Sneaker Venture in an Awesome Way

Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg bought a website domain referencing Trump’s desperate grift.

Trump yells in the background with a gold sneaker in the foreground
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Gun control advocate David Hogg has found a clever way to capitalize on Donald Trump’s newly launched sneakers.

Trump unveiled the garish kicks, which his fans can find at GetTrumpSneakers.com, on Saturday at Sneaker Con in Philadelphia. If the website name seems a bit awkward, it may be because Hogg quickly snapped up the more obvious choice: ShopTrumpSneakers.com.

Hogg, a survivor of the 2018 Parkland school shooting and a co-founder of the gun control advocacy group March for Our Lives, announced his purchase on Saturday. The URL leads to a page called The Shotline, which Hogg explained allows people to send an automated call to their member of Congress urging gun law reform.

“The twist is the person who makes the call is a victim of gun violence,” Hogg said. The website uses A.I. technology to recreate the victims’ voices for the automated call.

As of Tuesday, almost 72,000 calls have been sent through The Shotline.

Thank you to team trump for being dumb enough to not pay the $12 for the website,” Hogg tweeted Monday night, celebrating his website’s success. “I’ll give it to you for a small donation of $1 million to March For Our Lives.”

Trump launched his sneaker line the day after he was hit with a $354 million ruling for committing real estate–related financial fraud in New York state. Before he can appeal the ruling, Trump would first have to pay the entire amount plus interest, which could add as much as an additional $100 million.

Not to mention the fact that Trump owes $88.3 million to E. Jean Carroll for sexual assault and defamation, $400,000 to The New York Times, and thousands of dollars in other legal fees and fines. That’s a lot of sneakers.

Trump has positioned himself as staunchly anti–gun control. Just two weeks ago, he spoke at an event organized by the National Rifle Association. The NRA was a major supporter of Trump during his first term, and the group appears ready for a second act.

The former president swore that if he is elected, he will immediately undo all of the Biden administration’s gun regulations.

“Every single Biden attack on gun owners and manufacturers will be terminated my very first week back in office, perhaps my first day,” Trump told the crowd, promising that “no one will lay a finger on your firearms.”