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“Unnecessary and Cruel”: Georgia Senate Passes Bill Banning Gender-Affirming Care for Trans Kids

The bill now goes to the desk of Republican Governor Brian Kemp.

A heart made from transgender flag stickers outside
Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe/Getty Images
A heart made from transgender flag stickers

The Georgia Senate passed a bill Tuesday banning gender-affirming care for minors and criminalizing medical workers who provide that care.

The bill passed by a vote of 31–21 and now goes to Governor Brian Kemp, who is likely to sign it. The measure passed the state House of Representatives last week.

If it becomes law, the bill will ban hormone therapy and transition-related surgeries for anyone under the age of 18. It was amended in the House to include civil and criminal penalties for health care workers who provide gender-affirming care.

The Human Rights Campaign condemned the bill as “unnecessary and cruel.”

“When medical associations representing 1.3 million doctors say that age-appropriate, gender-affirming care is medically necessary for trans and nonbinary youth, who are these politicians to say that they know otherwise?” HRC State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley said in a statement.

These extremist lawmakers have been told what this harmful bill will do, and now the families of transgender youth in Georgia will be the ones who have to live with the consequences. This is cruel and unconscionable legislation, designed only to hurt marginalized kids.”

Major medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, support giving gender-confirming care to children, deeming it medically necessary and even lifesaving.

The cruel irony of Georgia’s bill, part of a nationwide effort by Republicans to curtail LGBTQ rights, is that its supporters insist they are protecting children. But gender-affirming care actually decreases the amount of depression and anxiety that trans and nonbinary teenagers feel. It also makes them less likely to consider suicide.

What’s more, by targeting LGBTQ people through legislation, Republican lawmakers are only demonizing the community and exposing them to more violence and hatred.

Kemp has not commented recently on the gender-affirming care ban, but he has previously signed a law banning transgender girls from playing girls’ sports.

Kevin McCarthy Dismisses Potential Trump Indictment As “Political” Witch Hunt

The House speaker’s claim comes right after he begged Trump supporters to please not protest if in an indictment really happens.

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The investigation into Donald Trump’s alleged hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels is all just some frivolous and unjust “political” exercise, but also nobody should protest an indictment if it happens. This is Kevin McCarthy’s running line, as the twice-impeached former president and current leading 2024 Republican candidate faces potential arrest.

McCarthy was asked Tuesday by CNN’s Manu Raju about allegations that Trump falsified business records to cover up a hush-money payment to Daniels, a porn actress he reportedly had an affair with. Rather than answer the question, McCarthy demurred, talking instead about Hillary Clinton, attacking the Manhattan District Attorney’s office handling the case, and interestingly not even disputing the actual core of the allegations themselves.

“This was personal money. This wasn’t trying to hide. This was seven years ago, statute of limitations,” said McCarthy. “And I think in your heart of hearts you know too that you think this is just political. And I think that’s what the rest of the country thinks. And we’re kind of tired of that.”

The comments came after McCarthy urged people on Monday to not protest the possible indictment. “I don’t think people should protest this, no,” he said. “I think President Trump, if you talk to him, he doesn’t believe in that either.”

“PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!” Trump had urged on Truth Social on Saturday, in an all-caps rant on George Soros–funded nefariousness and “ILLEGAL LEAKS” from the DA’s office. (Trump himself was the one who leaked the coming potential indictment.). Later that same day, Trump posted again, saying that “IT’S TIME!!!” as he warned about the nation being in a “STEEP DECLINE,” due to “EVIL & SINISTER PEOPLE” in power. “PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!!” Trump called to his loyal supporters.

The call to protest naturally raised concerns, given the last time Trump’s supporters heeded the call to protest (read: attack the Capitol). But apparently not for McCarthy.

“I think the thing that you may misinterpret when President Trump talks, when someone says that they can protest, he’d probably be referring to my tweet, ‘educate people about what’s going on,’” McCarthy said on Trump’s posts. “He’s not talking in a harmful way. And nobody should.”

McCarthy purported to be frustrated with questions about Trump and his crimes during a House issues retreat, instead of questions about policy. But framing the Republican Party as one interested in solving material problems is difficult when it’s simply the party of “No” when it comes to government action—and hyperfocused on couching its opposition to such action through meaningless terms like “Wokeism.” After all, House Republicans have spent more energy trumping up their select subcommittee “on the Weaponization of the Federal Government,” than on any of their supposed initiatives to manage good governance. 

The line McCarthy is fumbling between can be seen in real-time. McCarthy was asked if Trump is still the leader of the Republican Party. “In the press room, for all of you, he is,” he retorted. Curiously, at a different point, McCarthy also referred to Trump as already being a “nominee for president.”

Fox Producer Says Network Bullied Her Into Giving Misleading Info in Dominion Case on 2020 Election

The producer for Maria Bartiromo and Tucker Carlson said she became a scapegoat thanks to a culture of “poisonous and entrenched patriarchy.”

A person walks past the Fox News headquarters. The wall reads: "How do you Fox News?" alongside a giant QR code.
A person walks past the Fox News Headquarters at the News Corporation building in New York City on March 9, 2023.

A Fox News producer has sued the media company, alleging its lawyers coerced her into giving misleading testimony in the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit against the network. The move, she argues, is due to a culture of “poisonous and entrenched patriarchy” that targets female staff.

Abby Grossberg has worked at Fox for the past four years, primarily on Maria Bartiromo’s shows. Last year, she began working on Tucker Carlson’s nightly show. In court documents filed Monday night in New York and Delaware, Grossberg accused network lawyers of trying to set up her and Bartiromo as scapegoats for Fox’s decision to repeatedly air falsehoods about Dominion Voting Systems and election fraud.

Grossberg said the attempt was the result of systemic misogyny and discrimination at Fox. “That’s what the culture is there,” she told The New York Times. “They don’t respect or value women.”

The lawsuit describes rampant sexism throughout Fox News: Grossberg said network executives described Bartiromo as a “crazy bitch” and “menopausal.” When Grossberg started working on Carlson’s show, his office was decorated with pictures of then–House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a revealing swimsuit.

Grossberg alleges that Carlson’s top producer asked her if Bartiromo and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy were having a sexual relationship, and that Carlson’s staff regularly made antisemitic jokes and misogynistic comments. When she reported to HR that two male producers harassed her, Grossberg says she was reprimanded instead for not doing her job.

Grossberg also said that Bartiromo’s show was so short-staffed that she was often the only employee working on it, meaning they had no bandwidth to fact-check what Bartiromo said on air. In her deposition in the Dominion Voting lawsuit, Grossberg was asked whether she cared that the claims made on Bartiromo’s show were true or false.

“No. Because we didn’t know if they were true or false at the time,” she said. She answered “no” when asked if it was important to correct a false claim made on air.

Grossberg now says that she was “coached by and intimidated by” Fox lawyers to make these and other similar statements regarding the network’s coverage of the 2020 election. She told CNN she wanted to “expose the lies and deceit” that she saw at Fox.

“It’s constant,” she said. “Ratings are very important to the shows, to the network, and to the hosts. It’s a business and that’s what drives coverage.”

Fox has countersued Grossberg to block her from sharing information that could cause the network to “suffer immediate irreparable harm.” A network spokesperson also said the company had hired an outside investigator to look into Grossberg’s accusations, which they claimed “were made following a critical performance review.”

Fox News has been hit for years with multiple accusations of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment, particularly for female employees.

The network’s executives and star hosts have also admitted in sworn testimony that they know they spread falsehoods about the 2020 election—but continued to do so, and to give airtime to members of former President Donald Trump’s inner circle.

Grossberg is coming forward as the network faces two major defamation lawsuits: one from Dominion, which is seeking $1.6 billion in damages, and another from electronic voting machine company Smartmatic, which is seeking $2.7 billion.

We can, of course, take some of her claims with a grain of salt. It does not take a full production team to fact-check that the 2020 election was not stolen, for example. Grossberg has now openly admitted that she knew Fox was spreading lies during her years working there.

Los Angeles School Workers Begin Strike, Shut Down Second Largest District in the Country

The strike halts classes for more than 566,000 students in California.

Scott Heins/Getty Images

On Tuesday, a union representing 30,000 Los Angeles school custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, special education assistants, and other school staff members began a three-day strike, halting classes for more than 566,000 students.

Members of the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, Local 99 are conducting the strike after almost a year of negotiating with the Los Angeles Unified School District. Local 99 members currently make an average salary of $25,000, with many of them working part-time. Workers are asking for increased hours for part-time workers, a 30 percent wage increase, and a $2 per hour additional raise for the lowest-paid among them. The living salary for a single adult—not even with a child—in Los Angeles is around $44,000.

Members of United Teachers Los Angeles, or UTLA, a union representing some 35,000 teachers, are also striking in solidarity with the workers. The UTLA is separately undergoing its own contract negotiations; the union terminated its contract with the district earlier in March, so members have more freedom to stand alongside their SEIU comrades. Teachers are seeking raises of about 20 percent, and more resources to support students, including for immigrant students and high-need community schools.

Los Angeles teachers had previously conducted a strike in January 2019, shutting down classes for six days. The teachers were demanding smaller class sizes, increased staff, and higher wages. Such demands have been sweeping across the country from West Virginia and Oklahoma to Arizona and Colorado, as teachers grow tired of having to work multiple jobs, pay for some of their own supplies, and watch poorly funded schools fail their students.

The Pro-Trump Protest Was So Small Organizers Are Pretending They Wanted It to Be “Low-Key”

The protests supporting Donald Trump ahead of his possible indictment didn’t quite go to plan.

Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images
A supporter of former President Donald Trump covers her ears near a counterprotest near the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Brag and the New York County Criminal Court on March 20.

Protesters descended on Manhattan to support former President Donald Trump, just as he predicted—if he predicted a group of only about 50 people.

Trump predicted over the weekend that he will be indicted Tuesday by a Manhattan grand jury for his role in paying adult film star Stormy Daniels hush money during his 2016 presidential campaign. He urged his followers on Truth Social to “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”

But on Monday night, only about 50 protesters showed up outside the Manhattan Criminal Court.

One of the organizers, New York Young Republican Club president Gavin Wax, told Politico that the protest was intentionally small because it was organized “last minute” and was meant to be “low key.”

“We weren’t sure we even wanted to come out because some people don’t like us, but we are here to show that there is support for President Trump in the bluest area in the country, here in Manhattan,” Wax said, despite the fact that he’d predicted a crowd of 150 to 200 people earlier that day.

Another organizer said the club had “vetted” all the attendees ahead of time to keep any potential “bad actors” out—which says a lot about Trump supporters if only 50 made the cut.

Wax also advised against protesting further on Tuesday and said people should instead wait until later in the week.

New York law enforcement has been rushing to shore up security plans ahead of the potential indictment—understandably, given what happened the last time Trump urged his followers to turn out for him, on January 6, 2021, in Washington.

But it’s unclear how many Trump supporters actually want to take to the streets on his behalf this time around. There have been some calls to action besides the New York Young Republicans’, but most people seem to be wary of demonstrating.

The nearly 1,000 arrests made since January 6 seem to have played a role in discouraging similar unruliness. Those arrested in connection with the riot have racked up large legal bills, and many say they feel Trump abandoned them. Others, including Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, have spread a conspiracy theory that the insurrection was fueled or set up by undercover law enforcement informants, and that any protests this week could be similarly used against Trump supporters.

This isn’t the first time that Trump or his supporters have struggled to raise a major show of support. Back in November, just before the midterms, an intimidating group of six right-wing activists showed up to protest one of President Joe Biden’s speeches.

South Carolina Abortion Bill Loses Co-Sponsors After Death Penalty Backlash

Palmetto State women may soon be free of the fear of execution, as a treat.

Sean Rayford/Getty Images
An abortion rights demonstrator holds a placard expressing her opinion outside the South Carolina Statehouse.

South Carolina Republican lawmakers are backpedaling away as fast as possible from a bill that would make abortion punishable by the death penalty, one of the strictest anti-abortion measures that has been proposed since the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization last year.

The South Carolina Prenatal Equal Protection Act, which was introduced in mid-February, would have established that human life begins at fertilization. It further held that an abortion could be considered a homicide. In South Carolina, a person convicted of murder is subject to the death penalty or a minimum of 30 years in prison.

But the bill has become too hot for even some of its supporters to handle. Of the bill’s 24 original co-sponsors, nine have yanked their support in the past few weeks, following a massive outcry on social media. Several explained they did not want to criminalize people who get abortions. One, Representative Brandon Guffey, claimed he had not read the bill thoroughly before signing on.

“I did not read into the bill far enough to be aware that it included death penalty,” he said in a Facebook post. “I read through it, but I did not click on the code that it linked to stating that a woman should get the death penalty.”

Guffey pulled his name from the list of sponsors on Thursday. In his Facebook post, he explained he is “pro life but that includes the life of the mother.” He also said he supports other bills that restrict abortion access in South Carolina.

The Prenatal Equal Protection Act has yet to be considered by a committee, but one representative told NBC News that party leadership had made clear the measure was “dead on arrival” and would never make it to the House floor. Republican Senator Shane Massey, the Senate majority leader, also tweeted last week the bill had “zero chance of passing.”

South Carolina currently allows abortion up to 20 weeks; Republicans in the state have tried repeatedly since Roe v. Wade was overturned to cut back access to the procedure. The state Senate passed a bill in February that banned abortion after six weeks, before many people even know they are pregnant, but included exceptions for rape, incest, fatal fetal anomalies, and the pregnant person’s life—up to a generous 12 weeks.

Republican-led states have been rushing to restrict abortion access since the Supreme Court rolled back the nationwide right to the procedure. Some states seem to be competing for who can pass the strictest measures, while others are trying to actively circumvent the will of the people in banning abortion.

That this draconian South Carolina bill is shuddering slowly to a halt is a welcome development, but it’s also a pretty grim reminder of how low the bar has become that “not sentencing people to death for getting a normal medical procedure” is good news.

California Will Cut Insulin Costs by 90 Percent, Capping Price at $30

“People should not be forced to go into debt to get lifesaving prescriptions,” said Governor Gavin Newsom.

Francine Orr/Getty Images
Dr. Tanya Spirtos, president-elect of the California Medical Association, speaks with Governor Gavin Newsom following a press conference. Newsom just announced that the state has landed a contract with a company to produce insulin.

California will cap costs for insulin at $30, and it will begin manufacturing Naloxone, a nasal spray that helps reverse opioid overdoses.

Governor Gavin Newsom broke the news on Saturday, announcing that the state struck a contract with manufacturer CIVICA to make 10 milliliter vials of insulin that can cost up to $300 available to California residents at $30.

“People should not be forced to go into debt to get lifesaving prescriptions. Through CalRx, Californians will have access to some of the most inexpensive insulin available, helping them save thousands each year,” said Newsom.

CIVICA, a nonprofit generic drugmaker, aims to combat drug shortages and price spikes by producing generic medicines that are more affordable and accessible. The company is backed by various insurers, philanthropies, and—as in its deal with California—state partnerships.

Coupled with his insulin announcement, Newsom detailed his Naloxone policy as part of a broader “master plan” to tackle the fentanyl and opioid crisis, which includes a “crackdown” on drug trafficking and efforts to “raise awareness.” Newsom’s proposed 2023 budget includes $79 million to further distribute Naloxone and another $4 million to make fentanyl test strips more widely available. These millions don’t include Newsom’s plans to begin manufacturing the Naloxone nasal spray in-state. California’s Health and Human Services Agency is working with CIVICA to find a suitable manufacturing facility, according to a release.

Newsom’s moves follow news that pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly will cap its insulin costs to $35 per month. Naturally, these are consequential changes for many people who rely on this drug. But insulin does not, in fact, cost enough to be priced at $300 in the first place—or perhaps even at $35. As Charlotte Kilpatrick noted in these pages, it is peculiar that the fates of millions of patients’ lives and bank accounts are up to the whims of pharmaceutical companies at all—especially in America, where people pay an average of 256 percent more for medication than people in 32 other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries.

Moreover, if Newsom could move beyond a partnership to a fully state-owned manufacturing apparatus, he could guarantee a roughly $10 cost for insulin. At the moment, however, this is an important measure of relief coming for thousands of Californians—and Newsom’s decision may spark further rethinking about how much insulin, as well as health care more generally, should cost in this country.

Biden Vetoes Anti-ESG Bill, Accomplishing the Barest of Minimums for Climate Change

The president nixes GOP legislation that would have thrown a barrier between investors and their money managers.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

On Monday, Biden issued his first veto since taking office, shutting down a narrowly passed Republican bill that would have stopped the administration from simply encouraging money managers to consider climate change when making investment decisions for their clients.

Biden’s Department of Labor issued a rule toward money managers, stating they could weigh climate change and other environmental, social, and governance, or ESG, factors as they handled retirement investment portfolios. Biden’s rule overturned a rule made under Trump that limited the ability of managers to consider such factors; Biden’s rule, while encouraging managers to consider ESG, still mandates that managers operate in the best interest of clients. So the rule at its core was just a suggestion—a directive that the government welcomes even the appearance of capital being directed toward more ethical destinations so long as fiduciary obligations to investors are met.

Republicans, buttressed by their cause to include everything that remotely seems related to racial, social, or environmental justice in their broader war on “wokeness,” have since attached ESG to their broader onslaught on what they oxymoronically refer to as “woke capitalism.” The House voted 216–204 to roll back the rule, and Democrats Joe Manchin and Jon Tester subsequently joined Senate Republicans to pass the adjoined Senate resolution to overturn the rule.

Biden’s veto comes on the same day that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, released its report issuing a warning about the world being on the final brink of a point of no return in locking in a too-high global temperature increase. One of the myriad solutions the IPCC noted was a redirection of capital from fossil fuels to climate mitigation and environmental protection.

At the same time, it’s worth noting that “sustainable investing” is not even close to what’s needed to address climate catastrophe. The practice, at best, redirects funds that would’ve gone to fossil fuel firms and the like, potentially paving the way for consequential innovation that might help green the economy. It is perhaps more realistic to refer to the practice as a marketing tool—a flimsy label companies can use to greenwash their practices. So while the Republican onslaught against ESG could be seen as conservatives not even wanting the bare minimum in taking on climate change, their actions can also be viewed as a means of hyperfixating on a relatively inconsequential solution to climate change in order to distract from the deeper debates over climate mitigation, as well as the tougher policy choices that need to be made.

Missouri Becomes Latest State to Attempt a Ban on Gender-Affirming Care

The state’s attorney general pulled the trigger on an emergency order despite the fact that the legislature is currently debating a bill.

Valerie Plesch/Getty Images
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey

The Attorney General of Missouri issued an emergency regulation Monday banning gender-affirming care for minors, skipping over the legislative process in a massive power grab.

The Missouri state legislature is already considering a bill that would ban certain medical procedures, including puberty blockers and hormone therapy, for transgender Missourians under the age of 18. Monday’s emergency regulation by Attorney General Andrew Bailey would effectively ban such care until the bill passes or fails.

The regulation claims that “because gender transition interventions are experimental, they are covered by existing Missouri law governing unfair, deceptive, and unconscionable business practices, including in administering healthcare services.”

The measure requires an 18-month waiting period before starting care, during which potential patients must be screened for “mental health comorbidities” and autism. The text also describes questions about gender identity as a “social contagion,” the idea being that young people are only questioning their identities because they see other people do it, not because they might have an authentic reason to do so.

“As Attorney General, I will protect children and enforce the laws as written,” Bailey said in a statement. “I am dedicated to using every legal tool at my disposal to stand in the gap and protect children from being subject to inhumane science experiments.”

The cruel irony, of course, is that providing gender-affirming care to trans and nonbinary teenagers decreases the amount of depression and anxiety they feel. It also makes them less likely to consider suicide. Moreover, targeting LGBTQ people through legislation, as many Republicans are doing across the country, only demonizes the community and puts them at an increased risk of violence.

Reporter and trans rights activist Erin Reed slammed Bailey’s measure as a “power grab,” and pointed out that many mental health issues could be solved simply by providing gender-affirming care.

Howard Schultz Will Step Down From Starbucks to Spend Less Time Getting Owned by Union Organizers

His decision to end his third stint running the coffee chain comes days before he is expected to testify before a Senate committee.

Melina Mara/Getty Images
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz drinks an espresso.

Turns out the third time is not the charm for Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who announced Monday that he was stepping down two weeks early from the helm of the coffee chain.

Schultz began serving his third term as Starbucks chief last April and was due to finish on April 1, 2023. He had served as the company’s CEO twice before, from 1986 to 2000 and again from 2008 until 2017. He briefly flirted with the idea of running for president before returning to Starbucks for what he said would be his last time.

Schultz spent the majority of his most recent tenure trying to thwart Starbucks’s nascent union organizing drive and attempting to pivot to non-fungible tokens several months after everybody else. His announcement also comes a little more than a week before he was due to appear in front of a key Senate labor committee.

“As I turn Starbucks over to you now, know that you have my utmost confidence, trust and love. You are all the future of Starbucks,” Schultz said in an open letter to the company’s other leaders.

“The world needs Starbucks—and Starbucks needs all of you,” he added, which is an objectively weird thing to say about a coffee company.

Schultz had come under intense scrutiny during his third stint as CEO for alleged union-busting tactics. At least 420 Starbucks locations nationwide have launched unionization efforts, 285 of which were successful. Another 40 elections are ongoing.

Over the past year, Starbucks has shuttered multiple locations, some of which were either unionized or reportedly forming a union. The company fired more than 100 union leaders, some of whom were reinstated only after a federal judge ordered Starbucks to do so. And when Starbucks representatives finally met with union members in October, after months of delays, they walked out after just a few minutes because they disliked that some union members had called in over Zoom.

Senator Bernie Sanders called earlier this month for the chamber’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which he chairs, to vote to subpoena Schultz over the union-busting allegations.

“The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed over 75 complaints against Starbucks for violating federal labor law and there have been over 500 unfair labor practice charges lodged against his company,” Sanders said in a statement at the time.

“A multi-billion dollar corporation like Starbucks cannot continue to break federal labor law with impunity.”

Schultz agreed to testify less than a week later, before the vote was held. He will still have to appear in front of the committee, even though he is no longer Starbucks’s CEO.