Skip Navigation
Breaking News
Breaking News
from Washington and beyond

College Board Caves and Revises A.P. African American Studies Course After Backlash From the Right

The new curriculum has removed Black Lives Matter and prominent queer writers. It also suggests “Black conservatism” as an additional research topic for students.

Ron DeSantis speaks at a podium
Scott Olson/Getty Images

The College Board on Wednesday released an updated curriculum for its new Advanced Placement African American Studies course—and now missing are many Black writers and scholars on intersectionality, critical race theory, the queer experience, and Black feminism. Black Lives Matter is now optional in the new curriculum.

The New York Times first reported the news, which comes at the start of Black History Month.

The revision comes after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he wouldn’t allow the A.P. course in state schools, calling an earlier draft of the curriculum “woke indoctrination.” DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education specifically named six topics they took issue with: Black Queer Studies, Intersectionality, the Movement for Black Lives, Black Feminist Literary Thought, The Reparations Movement, and Black Struggle in the 21st Century. (He also complained that queer theory has nothing to do with Black history and is “pushing an agenda on our kids.”)

Many experts on those topics are now gone: bell hooks, the feminist writer and author of Feminism Is for Everybody; Kimberlé W. Crenshaw, a Columbia University law professor and pioneering scholar on critical race theory; Roderick Ferguson, a professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Yale University; and Ta-Nehisi Coates, the author and journalist who wrote the definitive case for reparations for slavery and the National Book Award–winning Between the World and Me.

In a new curriculum, the College Board also suggests “Black conservatism” as an optional research topic for students.

David Coleman, the head of the College Board, told The New York Times that the changes were not due to political pressure. “At the College Board, we can’t look to statements of political leaders,” he said. The changes came from “the input of professors” and “longstanding A.P. principles.”

DeSantis’s criticism of the A.P. course seemed to be a preview of the Florida governor’s attack on education. On Tuesday, he vowed to defund diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at state colleges and suggested requiring students to take a course on Western civilization.

As The New Republic’s Tori Otten wrote:

It’s part of a larger war the governor is waging against “woke culture.” This includes signing a law limiting what professors can teach about race and another that would require tenured faculty to receive performance reviews every five years. If they are not up to standards, which have not been specified yet, they could be let go (defeating the purpose of tenure). DeSantis has also blocked high schools from teaching an A.P. African American studies class.

Benjamin Netanyahu Says Not To Get “Hung Up” On Peace

In an interview strung with falsehoods and redirects, the Israeli prime minister told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he’ll “circle back” to the Palestinians.


As Israel continues to escalate its violent campaign against Palestinians, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined CNN’s Jake Tapper for an interview, in which the Israeli prime minister said he is not going to be bothered to get “hung up” on peace with Palestinians.

“If we wait for them, we’re not going to have peace,” Netanyahu said in the interview Tuesday evening, describing his plan to instead focus on other nations like Saudi Arabia first. “I think we’ll circle back to the Palestinians and get a workable peace with the Palestinians.”

In other words, Netanyahu’s grand master strategy is to delay addressing the devastating crisis Palestinians face, brought by the actions of the government he leads, because apparently Palestinians aren’t ready to come to the table to negotiate on not being occupied.

“I went around them (Palestinians). I went directly to the Arab states and forged, with a new concept of peace … I forged four historic peace agreements: the Abraham Accords,” he said.

When Tapper asked Netanyahu whether would be willing to give the right to vote to people residing in the West Bank or East Jerusalem, Netanyahu dodged the question and said he’s “willing to have them have all the powers that they need to govern themselves, but none of the powers that threaten us.”

Netanyahu also streamed lie after lie as he attempted to justify his proposal to weaken the Israeli judiciary by allowing a simple majority in the Knesset to overturn any Supreme Court decision. This would subject an independent supreme court to the party in power (thus making it no longer an independent).

Israel is currently led by the furthest right government ever, so such a plan would be all the more convenient for Netanyahu—especially as he himself seeks to evade accountability from his own corruption trial. Netanyahu’s justice minister, Yariv Levin, told the Israeli Knesset two weeks ago that the charges against Netanyahu “contributed to a very broad public understanding that there are failures that need to be corrected” in the judicial system.

The United States certainly has its own role in affirming Netanyahu’s nonsense. Beyond sending billions of dollars in military aid to Israel, the U.S. simply fails to recognize the humanity of Palestinians. Last week, Vedant Patel, spokesman of Biden’s State Department, refused to acknowledge that Palestinians are occupied. Israeli forces killed at least 35 Palestinians in just the first month of 2023.

Nikki Haley Expected To Announce 2024 Presidential Bid

Haley, a former South Carolina governor and Trump U.N. ambassador, previously said she wouldn’t run against Trump. She’s now expected to announce her bid on February 15.

Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Nikki Haley will run for president in 2024, The Post and Courier reported, a significant shift away from her previous stance that she would not compete against her former boss Donald Trump.

Haley is expected to formally announce her run on February 15, but the Post and Courier reported her intentions Tuesday night, citing an anonymous member of her “inner circle.”

The former South Carolina governor will join what is expected to be a crowded field for the Republican nomination. Haley is currently predicted to be one of at least three women, including South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and former Representative Liz Cheney, and one of at least two people of color, alongside Representative Tim Scott.*

Haley has been signaling her presidential ambitions for a while, despite making headlines in April 2021 for saying she “would not run if President Trump ran.” But in recent months, particularly since the start of January, she has been active on Twitter with posts either about how it’s time for a “new generation to lead” or about popular right-wing talking points, such as critical race theory and voting rights, aimed at winning over Trump’s base.

Haley was outspoken against Trump during the 2016 election, initially endorsing Senator Marco Rubio for president. But after Trump won, she happily accepted a position as United Nations ambassador and has become a loyal follower.

Haley spoke during the 2020 Republican National Convention in support of Trump. During her speech, she insisted, “America is not a racist country,” only to say immediately afterward that she and her family faced “discrimination and hardship” as Indian-Americans.

During the 2022 midterms, Haley called for Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock to be deported. (The state’s first Black senator was born in Savannah.)

Haley often plays up her Indian heritage as a sign that the GOP is not racist, falling into a familiar trap. From Herschel Walker not being allowed to speak in interviews and Byron Donalds being patted on the head when he voted for Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House, Republicans of color seem to just be political pawns.

* This post originally misstated Noem’s title.

Minnesota Becomes First State To Legally Guarantee Abortion Rights Since the Fall of Roe

Minnesota’s PRO Act codifies the “fundamental right” to reproductive health care, including abortion.

Tim Walz sits at a desk and holds a signed copy of the bill up for the cameras. About two dozen people (mostly women) cheer around him.
Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune/Getty Images
Surrounded by DFL legislators, Governor Tim Walz signs a bill to add a fundamental right to abortion access into state law on January 31.

One day after the Republican National Committee directed Republicans to go on offense” against abortion rights, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed a bill codifying abortion rights as a guaranteed right to Minnesotans. The legislation will shield residents from any looming Republican attacks, even those that come from the courts.

The Protect Reproductive Options, or PRO, Act codifies protections to reproductive health care, including abortion, birth control, sterilization, and family planning and fertility services. The act, just a page long, guarantees that “every individual has a fundamental right to make autonomous decisions about the individual’s own reproductive health.”

The new law comes as Minnesota Democrats now lead all three chambers of the government, as they maintained the state House and governorship, and took control of the state Senate in November. In a midterm election partially defined by backlash against the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the new narrow majority poetically codified abortion rights into state statutes.

Abortion rights were already protected in Minnesota after a 1995 Supreme Court decision deemed that the right to an abortion was protected by the state constitution’s right to privacy; the PRO Act further enshrines this right and serves to shield it from any potential future court decisions.

In the wake of the overturning of Roe, Minnesota is among 17 states (and D.C.) that have laws protecting the right to an abortion. In New York, which already has protections, lawmakers passed an amendment that would enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution; voters will have the final say as they vote on the amendment through a ballot initiative in 2024.

Ron DeSantis Vows To Defund Diversity Programs at Florida Universities

The new proposal would also require students to take a course on “Western civilization.”

Ron DeSantis waves and has his mouth open
Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Florida officials are on a tear to block school programs that they deem too “woke.” Governor Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday he plans to defund diversity, equity, and inclusion programs on state college campuses, as public school teachers are hiding their classroom libraries thanks to a new law.

DeSantis told a press conference he wants to see DEI, which he referred to as “bureaucracies,” “wither on the vine.”

These bureaucracies are hostile to academic freedom,” he said.

DEI programs are important in helping combat implicit bias and providing support for students or employees who are members of a minority community.

DeSantis’s plan would also require students to take core classes on the history and philosophy of Western civilization.

The proposal will go before the state legislature in March. It’s part of a larger war the governor is waging against “woke culture.” This includes signing a law limiting what professors can teach about race and another that would require tenured faculty to receive performance reviews every five years. If they are not up to standards, which have not been specified yet, they could be let go (defeating the purpose of tenure). DeSantis has also blocked high schools from teaching an A.P. African American studies class.

Meanwhile, also in public schools, teachers in at least two counties have been told to hide their classroom libraries, either by wrapping the bookshelves in paper or by removing the books entirely.

A state law passed last summer mandated that school libraries must offer books that are age-appropriate, pornography-free, and “suited to student needs.” The state Department of Education issued guidance earlier this month stating the law applies not only to school-wide libraries but also to teachers’ personal classroom collections. Teachers are required to vet all the books in their classrooms—as if they didn’t have enough on their hands—and could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine if any books violate the new, opaque rules.

But there is very little guidance on what exactly constitutes appropriate material, and the draconian approach has upset educators and students alike. Michelle Jarrett, the president of a state association that helps school library programs, warned that removing classroom libraries could be detrimental to students as they could fall behind on reading abilities.

Marie Masferrer, a board member of the Florida Association for Media in Education and a school librarian, told The Washington Post that at one school, “the kids began crying and writing letters to the principal, saying, ‘Please don’t take my books, please don’t do this.’”

Trump Pleads the Fifth More Than 400 Times in New York Fraud Case, Deposition Video Shows

New video shows Donald Trump invoking the constitutional right against self-incrimination hundreds of times.

Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Video released Tuesday by CBS News shows Donald Trump invoking the Fifth Amendment hundreds of times during his deposition last summer in the New York attorney general’s fraud case against him.

Letitia James filed a $250 million civil fraud suit against Trump, his company, and three of his adult children (Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric). In the footage from August, the former president is seated in a Manhattan conference room answering James’s questions. By CBS’s count, Trump pleads the Fifth more than 400 times over the course of the nearly four-hour interview.

Trump pleads the Fifth so many times that at one point, he is told he can simply say “same answer” to speed up the proceedings. He declines to answer questions about the involvement of two Trump Organization executives in the fraud scheme or about his longtime accounting firm, which said that decades’ worth of his financial statements are unreliable.

At the end, Trump reads a prepared statement in which he calls the lawsuit “very unfair” and says that “anyone in my position not taking the Fifth Amendment would be a fool, an absolute fool.”

The Trump Organization was found guilty of tax fraud and fined $1.6 million earlier this month. James’s civil suit seeks to shut the company down in New York and sanction the four accused Trumps.

Trump also appears to have lied in sworn court documents for the civil suit. The presiding judge ordered him to provide defenses to James’s suit, resulting in a document that The Daily Beast says “read like a joke.”

In the document, Trump says he wasn’t president of the Trump Organization during his term at the White House, despite previously testifying he was an “inactive president.” He also said he didn’t have a financial stake in a real estate company, even though he previously testified that he did. His own lawyer even tried to argue there is no formal entity known as the “Trump Organization.”

Meanwhile, Trump is also facing investigations into his involvement in the January 6 attack, his alleged mishandling of classified documents, and his businesses’ finances. He is being sued by the Capitol Police and Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police for allegedly inciting January 6, and by writer E. Jean Carroll for both rape and defamation. The Manhattan district attorney is presenting evidence to a grand jury this week that Trump allegedly paid hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

78 Percent of George Santos’s Voters Want Him To Resign

An overwhelming majority of Republicans in his district want him gone too.

George Santos walks outside as reporters surround him. He looks directly at a camera phone pointed at him.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Amid a continual stream of reports revealing how George Santos has lied about most, if not all, of his past, an overwhelming majority of his voters want him to resign.

Voters in New York’s 3rd congressional district want Santos to resign, at a margin of 78–13 percent, according to a Newsday/Siena College poll. That includes 89 percent of Democrats, 72 percent of independents, and even 71 percent of Republicans. Eighty-three percent of his constituents view him unfavorably.

The poll, released Tuesday, also showed a 2-to-1 margin of voters who say they voted for Santos now saying they would not have voted for him, had they known what they now know about the endlessly lying congressman.

What’s more, 71 percent of respondents said it was wrong for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to have seated Santos on two congressional committees; on Tuesday, Santos told his Republican colleagues he will temporarily recuse himself from serving on those committees while he remains under numerous investigations.

Santos insisted the recusal was his own decision, and also had little to say about the Siena poll showing his district’s voters overwhelmingly wanting him to resign:

While some Republican officials have called for Santos to resign, that momentary movement has trickled away. But in the meantime, this poll, coupled with Santos’s (voluntary or not) recusal, shows he’s not all in the clear yet.

At the same time, while Santos may face public pressure or moral quandaries (if those affect him), the basic political reality is that, unless Santos is forced out by the magnitude of something like an incriminating investigation, the narrow GOP House majority will want to hold on to Santos as long as they can.

Matt Gaetz Confronted With Video Receipts That He Sought a Pardon From Trump

The Florida representative denied the reports, despite under-oath testimonies.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

At least three people have testified under oath saying Representative Matt Gaetz asked former President Donald Trump for a preemptive presidential pardon regarding a Justice Department investigation into whether the Florida congressman had violated federal sex trafficking laws. Now Gaetz is saying all of those testimonies, provided under risk of perjury, are lies.

On Ari Melber’s MSNBC program Monday, Gaetz repeatedly denied asking for a pardon.

Melber showed Gaetz footage of former Trump officials who testified to the House select committee investigating January 6 that Gaetz had indeed asked Trump for a pardon.

John McEntee, who served as director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office in the Trump administration, also said Gaetz sought a pardon relating to the Justice Department investigation.

McEntee told the committee that Gaetz allegedly said “he did not do anything wrong but they are trying to make his life hell, and you know, if the president could give him a pardon, that would be great.” McEntee also recalled Gaetz saying he had asked Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows for a pardon.

Gaetz told Melber that he shared many conversations with McEntee “about pardons for other folks and different groups of people.”

Former Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson similarly told the committee that Gaetz “was personally pushing for a pardon.” She testified that “Mr. Gaetz had reached out to me to ask if he could have a meeting with Mr. Meadows about receiving a presidential pardon.” Hutchinson had also listed several other members, including Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert, and Scott Perry, who had all asked for pardons.

Gaetz told Melber that Hutchinson is “a known liar,” without specifying when exactly she has lied.

Former Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann also said Gaetz sought a pardon. “The general tone was we may get prosecuted because we were defensive of the president’s positions on these things. The pardon that he was discussing, requesting, was as broad as you could describe,” Herschmann said. “I remember he said, from the beginning of time up until today for any and all things.”

“I do not remember it the same way Eric Hershmann does,” Gaetz said. “I did have conversations with [him] about groups of people that could potentially receive pardons, even including some of the people who may have committed a technical violation of federal law but weren’t engaged in violence on January 6.”

“Was I asking something specifically for me and only me under those circumstances, the answer would be no,” Gaetz told Melber, with careful word choice.

Gaetz’s associate Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector, pleaded guilty to federal charges including a count of sex trafficking a child. No charges have been filed against Gaetz, however, and he has denied any involvement in the sex trafficking allegations.

George Santos Says He’s Stepping Down From House Committees Until Ethics Issues Are Resolved

The New York representative, who has admitted to lying about his background, says that he will temporarily recuse himself from his committee assignments.

George Santos
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Embattled congressman and serial fabulist George Santos told his House Republican colleagues Tuesday that he would temporarily recuse himself from his committee assignments, amid ongoing investigations into his past behavior.

Santos was assigned seats on the Small Business Committee and the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

A spokesperson for Santos has confirmed the news. “He has reserved to see it until he has been cleared up both campaign and personal financial investigations,” the spokesperson said.

Other Republican House members have also confirmed the news. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene told CNN the decision was Santos’s own: “He just felt like there was so much drama really over the situation, and especially what we’re doing to work to remove Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee.”

Santos, who appears to have fabricated the bulk of his background, is the target of multiple ethics probes and criminal investigations. Democrats and Republicans alike have called for him to resign. But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who needs all the votes he can get as his party holds a razor-thin majority, refused to penalize Santos for his lies and instead seated him on two committees.

Santos has repeatedly insisted he has done “nothing wrong,” but said Tuesday in closed-door meetings that he would not sit on the committees.

The freshman congressman’s falsehoods range from bizarre—he says he was a volleyball star at Baruch College, which has no record of him attending—to unethical, including that his grandparents fled the Holocaust, his mother died in the 9/11 attacks, and some of his employees were killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting.

Santos is facing multiple ethics complaints with the House Ethics Committee and the Federal Election Commission. He is also under criminal investigation in Brazil for fraud and at the New York state and county levels into his background and finances.

A recent report by Mother Jones found that many of the donors listed on Santos’s campaign finances reports do not seem to exist.

Santos could even face a Department of Justice investigation into his financial issues, including his dramatic increase in reported wealth and income, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars he loaned his campaigns from personal accounts, a potential violation of campaign finance law.

Santos has remained mum about the issues plaguing him, though, giving evasive responses to the more out-there accusations but refusing to address his professional background, his finances, or his apparently nonexistent animal charity.

GOP State Lawmakers Are Pushing a Slew of Dangerous Anti-Trans Bills This Week

The bills attack everything from gender-affirming care to birth certificates to trans kids in school.

A protester holds a trans flag and raises their left hand in the sky.

A slew of bills attacking transgender and LGBTQ rights will go up for debate across the United States this week.

State governments in Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia will hold hearings on bills covering everything from gender-affirming care to bans on drag performances.

Some of the bills will prevent trans people from changing their birth certificates to reflect their gender identity or will set a legal definition of gender that excludes them. In Iowa, the House Education Committee will discuss a bill that would require teachers to out transgender students.

Bills in Virginia, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Tennessee ban gender-affirming care for anyone under the age 18 and prohibit the use of public funds such as Medicaid for gender-affirming care for people over 18.

Proponents of anti-trans legislation argue they are trying to protect children. But as critics point out, it’s not about the kids—it’s about stopping anyone from transitioning. And if anything, bills such as these could make life more dangerous for young queer people, as protests against drag shows and even children’s hospitals have escalated.

“State lawmakers pushing anti-LGBTQ+ bills and spewing dangerous rhetoric towards our community has led to more stigma, discrimination, and ultimately, deadly violence—particularly against the transgender community,” Sarah Warbelow, the legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, told Salon.

Republicans have made it very clear that they are targeting women and gender minorities. The raft of cruel legislation comes just days after a Florida panel recommended requiring student athletes to give their menstrual history to their school. Meanwhile, on a national level, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives included transphobic policy items in the new rules package.