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Trump Has Raised Way Too Much Money on Those Weird NFTs

Someone created a real-time tracker of Donald Trump’s NFT sales, and it’s wild.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Sometimes the internet is a wonderful place. It looks like someone or some users at Dune.com, a website that allows users to make their own analytical tools, have created a real time tracker of former President Donald Trump’s NFT sales. 

As of my typing this, Trump has made more than $1 million off of nearly 4,000 holders and over 12,000 mints, according to the tracker. (A holder is someone who buys NFTs, and a mint is the NFT itself.)

To recap, Trump had been hyping up a big announcement over the past few days. Turns out it was a new series of NFT of Trump dressed up as a superhero... because of course it was.

It’s not immediately clear what Trump plans to do with the money, if the buyers think they’re actually effectively funding his latest presidential campaign, or really if Trump even knows what an NFT is. On the Collect Trump Cards website, it says that anyone who buys 45 cards gets a guaranteed “ticket to a dinner with the president.”

Under the website’s FAQ question, one question asks if profits from the NFTs will go to Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign. In a jargony response, the website says no.

“NO.  These Digital Trading Cards are not political and have nothing to do with any political campaign,” the FAQ section says. “NFT INT LLC is not owned, managed or controlled by Donald J. Trump, The Trump Organization, CIC Digital LLC or any of their respective principals or affiliates. NFT INT LLC uses Donald J. Trump’s name, likeness and image under paid license from CIC Digital LLC, which license may be terminated or revoked according to its terms.”

On Trump’s Truth Social social media site, he wrote that “These limited edition cards feature amazing ART of my Life & Career! Collect all of your favorite Trump Digital Trading Cards, very much like a baseball card, but hopefully much more exciting.”

Anyway, you can monitor these sales here.

House Approves Bill To Let Puerto Rico Decide Its Own Future

The House of Representatives voted to let Puerto Rico hold a binding referendum on whether to gain independence or become the 51st U.S. state.

ERIC ROJAS/AFP via Getty Images

The House of Representatives voted Thursday to let Puerto Rico hold its first-ever binding referendum on whether to gain independence or become the 51st U.S. state.

The bill passed 233-191. Puerto Rico voters will be able to choose whether to join the United States as a full state, to gain independence, or to gain independence with free association, meaning it would operate as a sovereign nation but receive certain benefits and funding from the U.S.

New York Representative Nydia Velazquez, the first Puerto Rican woman elected to the House, hailed the bill’s passage.

“It is an embarrassment to the United States—the United States that holds itself up as a leader of the free world, that stands up to the imperialist tyrants abroad, while keeping colonies in the Caribbean and the Pacific,” she told The New York Times. “Congress has the moral obligation to provide the necessary tools to transition to a new, postcolonial order.”

The bill now goes to the Senate, where it is unlikely to pass. Even with the Democrats keeping control of the chamber, the legislation will need 60 yes votes to advance, and Republicans have expressed opposition to the island nation gaining statehood.

Although the GOP’s official party platform supports statehood for Puerto Rico, the platform has not been updated since 2016. In the six years since, Republican legislators have backed away from the issue over concerns that Puerto Rico would elect more Democrats to Congress.

They may not have anything to worry about, though. Puerto Rico politics have seen a recent push in social conservatism. The island has also already held seven non-binding referendums on its political status, and none has produced a clear preference.

The last non-binding referendum was held in November 2020. Only about half of registered voters participated, with 53 percent voting for statehood and 47 percent voting against.

Trump Is Selling NFTs of Himself Dressed Up As Superman and Shooting Lasers Out of His Eyes

No, this isn't a joke.

Donald Trump raising a fist and making a weird face with a bunch of US flags in the background
Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Donald Trump unveiled a series of digital trading cards of his face, his first foray into NFTs, on Thursday, just in time for the holidays.

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are a form of digital artwork that exist solely online and come with proof of ownership. You can buy one of Trump’s for the low price of $99.

Trump had teased a “MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT” Wednesday, leaving many scratching their heads. He already announced he’s running for president. What could be more major than that?

Turns out, it’s digital collectibles!

The cards feature artistic renditions of scenes from Trump’s “Life & Career,” such as the time he stood outside Trump Tower, ripping off his suit to reveal a superhero suit à la Clark Kent/Superman and shooting lasers out of his eyes.

Screenshot/YouTube

Or the time he stylishly paired a red, white, and blue space suit with aviator sunglasses (watch out, Joe).

Screenshot/YouTube

And who can forget the time he fist-pumped while riding a red, white, and blue elephant?

Screenshot/YouTube

In a video message, Trump also said that there would be prizes given out including dinner or a Zoom call with him, autographed memorabilia, or a golf session at one of his clubs.

Trump announced you can buy the cards “with your credit card or crypto.” It’s an interesting time to decide to get into the cryptocurrency arena, however, considering the industry has been rocked by the collapse of crypto exchange FTX. Sam Bankman-Fried, who founded what was supposed to be a stable exchange, has been arrested and charged by the U.S. government with fraud.

Cryptocurrency’s value has dropped sharply across the board in recent months. Democratic Representative Brad Sherman on Tuesday described the sector as a “garden of snakes,” rife with opportunities for fraud and bad actors.

Washington Man Arrested for Threatening To Kill Members of Congress in Hundreds of Voicemails

The man allegedly left hundreds of threatening voicemails over the course of two years and continued despite warnings from law enforcement.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A 48-year-old Washington state man has been arrested and charged after he allegedly made threats against multiple members of Congress.

Mark Leonetti had allegedly threatened several Senate and House members, leaving hundreds of menacing, racist, antisemitic voicemails over the course of two years. He was charged with seven counts of making interstate threats, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

Leonetti’s relentless threats follow a national trend of heightened threats against members of Congress. According to the United States Capitol Police, cases involving “concerning statements and threats” spiked from 3,939 in 2017 to 9,625 in 2021.

“In this instance, Mr. Leonetti refused to stop his conduct despite contact with law enforcement and mental health personnel,” said U.S. Attorney Brown.  “We acted now because it has become clear it is the only way to safeguard the community and those serving it.”

One of Leonetti’s first threatening calls came in March 2021. “Am I here to kill [U.S. Senator 3] because I’m clinical. No, I’m not clinical. If [U.S. Senator 3] is delusional I’m still here to kill him, I’m not clinical,” the legal complaint’s transcription of one of Leonetti’s voicemails read.

The call prompted Capitol Police to investigate and subsequently work with the FBI to probe further. Investigators found that Leonetti had been previously visited by country mental health workers, and that the team stated Leonetti is paranoid schizophrenic.

Investigators made initial contact with Leonetti; there, he allegedly said he would try harming or killing “U.S. Senator 3” “only if justified.” In the rest of 2021 alone, Leonetti allegedly left over 400 voicemails to members of Congress of both parties.

As time went on, the voicemails only grew darker. “We’re going to barbecue your ass. We’re going to peel your ass inside out,” a September 2022 voicemail transcript reads. “I’m gonna murder you. It is justified,” read another from later that month.

Voicemails Leonetti left in October were even more vile, as he described particularly gruesome manners of inflicting violence on these members, and spewed vicious antisemitic threats—all of which will not be repeated here.

Leonetti left calls as recent as December 5, which again involved “murder” and “kill[ing].”

Don’t Listen to Any of the 2024 Polls on Trump

After weeks of warnings that Trump isn’t popular anymore, a new poll found that he’ll win a crowded Republican primary.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump would be the preferred Republican presidential nominee in a multicandidate race, a poll published Thursday by NPR found, a sobering revelation after weeks of predictions that Trump isn’t popular enough to win the next election.

The NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that 45 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents prefer Trump for the party’s nominee. Thirty-three percent favored Ron DeSantis, a mere 8 percent said they liked former Vice President Mike Pence, and 11 percent said they wanted someone else entirely.

But several polls published in the past few weeks reflected a different outcome.

A Wall Street Journal poll published Wednesday found that in a race between the two, DeSantis would win 52 percent of votes to Trump’s 38 percent among Republican primary voters. A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found that Trump’s approval rating among voters had hit its lowest point in seven years.

Only 31 percent of all registered voters viewed him favorably, although 70 percent of Republicans still like him.

Several YouGov surveys conducted in November had DeSantis leading Trump in a hypothetical primary. A poll released on December 1 showed DeSantis had dropped behind Trump, but only by six percentage points.

The results of these polls may seem contradictory, but here’s the thing: Political polls aren’t really good representations of what the entire country is thinking.

Such surveys tend to overrepresent people who are more active politically or in their community, according to the Pew Research Center. Polls also seek to capture how all adults in the country feel, while election results generally reflect only about 40 percent of public opinion for regular elections and 60 percent for presidential ones.

Polls massively missed the mark about the results of the 2016 and 2020 elections. For the recent midterm elections, polls consistently predicted there would be an overwhelming “red wave” that would see Republicans easily sweep control of Congress.

Instead, Democrats kept control of the Senate—even flipping a seat—and Republicans took control of the House of Representatives by just a few seats.

Which is all to say, it ain’t over til it’s over.

The College Student Tracking Elon’s Jet Had All His Twitter Accounts Suspended

Jack Sweeney had more than 30 Twitter accounts tracking rich people’s private jets. They’re all suspended, and so is his personal Twitter account.

Elon Musk laughing and holding a mic
CARINA JOHANSEN/NTB/AFP/Getty Images

The Twitter account tracking Elon Musk’s private jet may have been suspended Wednesday, but that won’t stop the person running it.

Jack Sweeney ran the account called @ElonJet, which tracked the location of the billionaire’s private plane. This information is publicly available on websites such as FlightAware.

But on Wednesday, the account was suspended, a month after Musk had promised not to do so in the name of “free speech.”

A few hours later, Sweeney’s personal account was also suspended, as were the more than 30 other accounts he runs that track the private jets of celebrities, including Mark Zuckerberg, Donald Trump, and Kim Kardashian.

And now Sweeney is ready for war.

The 20-year-old university student told Insider that he intends to keep tracking Musk’s jet on other platforms.

I mean, fuck this guy,” Sweeney said, referring to Musk, about the suspensions. “This is ridiculous.”

Before the additional suspensions, Sweeney had already confirmed to press that he is working on a website version of the tracker.

“It’s important to hold people accountable, no matter what side they’re on,” he told BuzzFeed News.

“Now I’m going to keep going forever,” he continued. “I guess I can’t let him win now.”

Sweeney said over the weekend that his account had already been “shadowbanned,” meaning its visibility had been restricted. In a series of tweets that went viral, he claimed that Twitter was suppressing his posts.

This is not the first time that one of Musk’s Twitter beefs has resulted in an account suspension.

Several comedians and actors were suspended for mocking the Tesla founder, while a few prominent liberal accounts were blocked (and ultimately reinstated) for no apparent reason.

Meanwhile, hate speech and abuse have flourished on the platform since Musk took over in late October.

Just Thousands of Votes Stopped Democrats From Keeping the House

A new report shows just how narrow Republicans’ margin of victory in the House really was.

Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images

While Democrats navigate a newly insecure 51–49 Senate, with Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s recent switch to independent, it’s worth revisiting how close they were to maintaining a majority in the House.

A new report from Inside Elections details how, in the five closest GOP House wins, the Republicans won by a combined measly 6,652 votes. Republicans’ gain of any seats at all came from just 22,370 votes, the combined margin of their nine closest victories.

The most razor-thin victory was Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert’s closing win over Democrat Adam Frisch. The far-right candidate, expected to win 97 times out of 100 in FiveThirtyEight’s election simulator, had won the district previously by six points. This November, she won by 546 votes—a 0.16 percent margin that triggered an automatic recount. (The Inside Elections report did not take into account Boebert’s even lower margin of victory after the recount, and we’ve updated the numbers in this piece accordingly.)

Elsewhere, in New York, the state Democrats allowed a disastrous string of losses, with two races being lost by less than one percent, including the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Sean Patrick Maloney.

A combination of state party mismanagement, a lack of strong top-of-ticket campaigning from reelected Governor Kathy Hochul, and a disadvantageous redistricting spurred by former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s appointed judges all contributed to New York Democrats’ disastrous results.

In total, New York Democrats lost six races in redistricted sections that voted for Biden in 2020. Next year, the balance of power in the House will be 222–213, with a Republican majority. Six seats the other way, not even counting any other close race Democrats lost, would have made it 216–219, letting Democrats keep their hold of the House.

Of course, Democrats won narrow races too. And these wins came not just from coasting off attacking MAGA candidates as such but actually doing the work of campaigning.

As Slate’s Alex Sammon points out, one of Democrats’ major upsets—Marie Glusenkamp Perez’s House win in rural Washington—benefited from a massive organic ground game. The operation came despite lackluster financial support from the DCCC (losing-candidate Maloney’s committee), which dismissed the race as a “reach.”

The balance is nevertheless tight. Kevin McCarthy still hasn’t corralled together 218 votes to claim the speakership. Maybe Democrats could compensate for their losses and, instead of constantly leveraging the left, pressure McCarthy—or another potential Republican speaker—for some favors in exchange for the gavel.

Federal Reserve Hikes Interest Rates up 0.5 Percent, Slowing Pace of Increases

More on what exactly the increase in the interest rate means

U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell speaks at a podium
Liu Jie/Xinhua/Getty Images
U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced an interest rate hike of 0.5 percent, easing up a bit after a series of much higher increases.

With inflation at a record high, the Fed has been scrambling to get interest rates high enough to discourage people from spending money, slowing the economy down in turn. The last four rate hikes have been 0.75 percent.

The risk is that growth will slow while prices and borrowing rates stay high, sending the economy into a recession. Fortunately, there have been some signs that inflation is finally starting to ease a bit. But Fed Chair Jerome Powell warned that while “it’s good to see progress … we have a long ways to go to get back to price stability.”

In a statement, the Fed pointed to supply chain issues and high food and energy prices due to Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine as main factors for inflation continuing to stay high.

But also, “recent indicators point to modest growth in spending and production. Job gains have been robust in recent months, and the unemployment rate has remained low,” the statement said.

Dean Baker, senior economist at the Center for Economic Policy and Research, answered five questions about what this means going forward.

1. What does the 0.5 percent interest rate increase mean for consumers?

The interest rate hike means that rates for credit card debt, mortgages, and car loans will likely go up, Baker said—albeit less than after the Fed’s last policy meeting in November.

Over the past year, the rate hikes have also slowed down the housing market. However, Baker noted, “the number of construction workers has not fallen” due to a backlog in unfinished construction projects.

Jobs numbers have stayed high, which is positive for consumers but has caused concern for some experts that the economy has not slowed sufficiently to avoid a downturn.

Baker also warned that the higher interest rates push up the value of the dollar too, “which makes our goods less competitive internationally.”

2. What has changed in the past month that gives the Fed enough confidence to start slowing rate hikes?

But it’s not all bad news: “Inflation is clearly slowing in many areas,” Baker said. The October and November consumer price index, or CPI, a key government measure of inflation, indicate that inflation finally seems to be slowing a bit.

Baker attributes this to supply chain issues getting resolved. Costs for appliances and used cars, as well as shipping, have fallen.

3. Now that the Fed has been hammering away at inflation, what changes can people expect to start seeing?

The Fed indicated in its statement that it will continue to reevaluate the economic situation to determine what moves are necessary to get and keep inflation under control.

“The Committee anticipates that ongoing increases in the target range will be appropriate,” the statement said.

Powell told reporters that “it’s our judgment today that we’re not at a sufficiently restrictive policy stance yet, which is why we say that we would expect that ongoing hikes will be appropriate.”

But Baker said he hopes Powell “will indicate that he is prepared to adopt a wait and see attitude and hold off on further rate hikes.”

“This should mean further declines in mortgage and other interest rates,” he said.

4. Can a soft landing still be achieved?

The Fed has been clear its goal is to achieve a so-called soft landing, or a decrease in inflation without tipping the economy into a recession. And fortunately, the chances of a soft landing “look very good right now,” Baker said.

Inflation has slowed, but employment levels have remained high. It may take a while to reach the central bank’s target of 2 percent inflation, “but the direction of change is clearly downward,” according to Baker.

5. What are the current chances of a recession?

As the likelihood of a soft landing goes up, the likelihood of a recession goes down. In Baker’s opinion, the chances of a recession are “well under 50 percent at this point.”

The U.S. economy will probably take a hit from weaker markets abroad, as Europe struggles with direct effects from the Ukraine war and China battles a massive spike in Covid-19. But Baker is optimistic that won’t be sufficient to tip the U.S. into a recession.

“The biggest risks are from another wave of Covid or a big flare-up in the war in Ukraine,” the said.

This article has been updated.

The Right Won’t Stop Comparing Ilhan Omar to a White Supremacist

No, actually, Ilhan Omar isn’t anything like white nationalist Nick Fuentes.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

People on the right seem unable to stop comparing Representative Ilhan Omar to white supremacists.

David Friedman, an adviser to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign who served under him as the U.S. ambassador to Israel, shared a tweet Tuesday that put the congresswoman on a level with Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes.

It is, of course, absolutely bananas to compare Omar and Fuentes. Since taking office in 2019, Omar—one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress—has been repeatedly accused of antisemitism.

In early 2019, she said the U.S.-Israel relationship was “all about the Benjamins,” a reference to $100 bills. Omar was accused of propagating an antisemitic trope that Jewish people use money for influence. When she heard the criticism, she “unequivocally” apologized for her language.

But the claim that Omar is an antisemite has continued, often fueled by bad-faith attacks on her criticism of Israel. She was accused of saying Jews hold dual loyalty, for example, when she was actually accusing U.S. politicians of being overly pro-Israel.

Fuentes, on the other hand, actively promotes antisemitic views, such as denying the Holocaust and praising Hitler. A white Christian nationalist, he has said Jews are not part of Western civilization because they’re not Christian, and he has expressed support for a Catholic autocracy in the U.S. He has spread Covid-19 conspiracy theories and embraced homophobic and transphobic stances.

He is also apparently now close with Kanye West, who said he sympathizes with Nazis and likes Hitler.

Friedman’s comments came after Representative Kevin McCarthy doubled down on his promise to remove Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee should he be elected speaker of the House, again accusing her of antisemitism.

A coalition of liberal Jewish groups pushed back on him, saying his decision was “based on false accusations that she is antisemitic or anti-Israel.”

“We may not agree with some of Congresswoman Omar’s opinions, but we categorically reject the suggestion that any of her policy positions or statements merit disqualification from her role on the committee,” the groups said in an open letter published Monday.

Leader McCarthy’s pledge seems especially exploitative in light of the rampant promotion of antisemitic tropes and conspiracy theories by him and his top deputies amid a surge in dangerous right-wing antisemitism.”

McCarthy has not explicitly condemned Trump for meeting with Fuentes last month, and actually defended the former president over it.

Omar has also hit out at McCarthy’s hypocrisy, saying on Twitter: “He does not care one bit about Jewish safety or any religious minority in our country.”

Power Substations Across the Country Keep Getting Attacked. What Gives?

A Homeland Security report warned that extremist groups have identified the electric grid as a “particularly attractive target.”

Two men in hard hats and a bunch of pipe/electric infrastructure looking things
Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
A view of the substation while work is in progress as tens of thousands were without power after an attack on two Duke Electric substations in Carthage, North Carolina, December 5

There have been at least 14 attacks on power stations across the country this year.

On December 3, two North Carolina power stations were struck with gunfire, leading to some 40,000 residents being without power, many of them for days.

Since mid-November, Oregon’s and western Washington’s electrical grids have been host to six attacks—some led by people with firearms—leaving customers experiencing brief outages in both states.

And in September, substations in Florida were targeted six times, with intruders forcing entry and tripping equipment that caused brief outages.

Federal agencies are becoming increasingly concerned amid the string of attacks. On December 2, the FBI co-issued a memo warning utilities about the attacks. North Carolina’s stations were attacked just a day later.

At the end of November, the Department of Homeland Security warned that “lone offenders and small groups” were continuing “to pose a persistent and lethal threat to the Homeland,” including on U.S. “critical infrastructure.”

In January, The Daily Beast obtained an earlier DHS intelligence report warning that extremist groups identified the “electric grid as a particularly attractive target given its interdependency with other infrastructure sectors.”

And earlier this month, CNN obtained a 14-page document circulating on Telegram that included a white supremacist instruction guide for how to conduct low-technology attacks that foment chaos, including attacking a power grid with firearms.

“When the lights don’t come back on … all hell will break lose [sic], making conditions desirable for our race to once again take back what is ours,” the document reads.

In February, three men pleaded guilty of plotting to attack substations with firearms; the trio were alleged white supremacists who had for years strategized how to incite civil unrest, a potential race war, and subsequently the second Great Depression.

The infrastructure connecting the nation is under increasingly high threat. And if enough light isn’t shined on what’s going on, we may soon lose that light, literally.