Skip Navigation
Breaking News
Breaking News
from Washington and beyond

Florida Passes Bill to Protect Billionaires if Their Exploding Rockets Kill People

Florida lawmakers have some good news for Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

Veronica G. Cardenas/Bloomberg/Getty Images
The SpaceX South Texas launch site in Boca Chica Village in Brownsville, Texas, on September 26, 2020

Millions throughout America are trying alternative diets: plant-based, paleo, low carb. And now there’s a new group of people whose meals mainly consist of boots: practically the entire Florida legislature.

Florida lawmakers, on both sides of the aisle, have sent a bill to Governor Ron DeSantis that would expand legal immunities to protect private space companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX or Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin when workers suffer injuries or even die. The Spaceflight Entity Liability Bill broadens when space companies are exempted “from liability for injury to or death of a crew resulting from spaceflight activities.”

Florida’s move to expand liability protections comes as billionaires’ rockets keep exploding and more and more private companies are taking wealthy passengers on interstellar adventures. An analysis by the Florida state Senate admits outright what the entire point of the legislation is: “This bill has the potential to limit the cost of litigation to businesses engaging in spaceflight activities.”

The bill  mandates “crew” and participants alike fill out a waiver that grants legal immunities to space companies in cases of injury or death.

It also expands the definition of “spaceflight entity” to include any entity authorized to conduct spaceflight activities, beyond ones that are solely associated with the United States Federal Aviation Administration. It cuts out language ascribing liability to spaceflight entities for damage caused from “inherent risks” of spaceflight activity; instead, the bill broadens the scope of liability immunity to include all spaceflight activities.

Moreover, the bill amends language that orders entities to be liable for injury if they had actual knowledge, or reasonably should have known, of risks. The new language only orders legal liability for “actual knowledge” of risks, meaning there is no longer any expectation for companies to be responsible for damages from risks they “reasonably should have known” about.

The bill passed the state Senate 39–0 and the state House 107–5. The overwhelmingly bipartisan move to grant special legal protections to bloated companies run by some of the richest people in the world is mirrored by how much these entities donate to politicians of both parties.

Musk’s SpaceX has spent some $8 million in lobbying efforts since 2020 and donated another $1 million to members of both parties during the 2022 election cycle alone. Bezos’s Blue Origin has spent some $6.3 million in lobbying efforts since 2020, while sending just over half a million dollars to members of both parties during 2022.

Three GOP States Are Pushing Radical Abortion Bans on the Same Day

North Carolina, South Carolina, and Nebraska are all desperately trying to pass bans at the last minute, despite recent failures.

Allison Joyce/Getty Images
A protest against the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health on June 24, 2022, in Raleigh, North Carolina

Republican-majority legislatures in Nebraska, North Carolina, and South Carolina are all trying Tuesday to ram through extreme abortion bans at the last minute, despite recent failures.

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, abortion has been legal in Nebraska until 20 weeks and in South Carolina until 22 weeks, although both states have multiple restrictions, such as a mandatory 24-hour waiting period and biased counseling aimed at running out the clock. Abortion is also currently legal in North Carolina until 20 weeks. If the bills pass, particularly the Carolinas’ measures, they will have wide-ranging negative consequences for abortion access.

The Nebraska legislature failed last month to overcome a filibuster against a six-week abortion ban after two anti-abortion senators voted “present.” Republicans are now pushing a 12-week abortion ban instead, as part of an anti-trans bill restricting gender-affirming care. One of the senators who helped kill the previous ban, Republican Merv Riepe, could once again prove to be the crucial swing vote.

A six-week ban also died in the South Carolina legislature in late April, after all of the female senators, who span the political spectrum, banded together to filibuster the measure. The bill had looked unlikely to make it back to the floor because there weren’t enough days left in the legislative session. But Republican Governor Henry McMaster called lawmakers back for a special session to consider multiple measures, including an abortion ban.

A new six-week ban has now made it through the state Senate and goes Tuesday before the House, where Democrats have filed 1,000 amendments to try and block the measure from reaching a final vote. If an amended bill passes the House, it will need reapproval by the Senate before it goes to McMaster for his signature.

The North Carolina state legislature will also convene Tuesday to vote to override a veto on a 12-week abortion ban. Democratic Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the bill over the weekend, cheered on by hundreds of abortion rights supporters.

But state Republicans have just enough votes to override the veto, after Representative Tricia Cotham switched parties. If they succeed, the bill will go into immediate effect. The measure technically bans abortion after 12 weeks, but in reality, the window could be much shorter. People would also only be allowed to get a medication abortion until 10 weeks of pregnancy, and to get one, they would have to go to three separate, in-person appointments that are 72 hours apart.

While any of the bills passing would be a huge blow to reproductive rights, the measures in the Carolinas would absolutely decimate abortion access in the South. North Carolina in particular has become a haven for people seeking out-of-state abortions. Taken in conjunction with Florida’s six-week abortion ban, abortion access could be practically wiped out for a huge swathe of the United States.

Rudy Giuliani Is a Raging Alcoholic and Sexual Predator, Says New Lawsuit

A quick look at how many times times the words “force,” “abuse,” “rape,” and “drunk” come up in the bombshell lawsuit.

Rudy Giuliani
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

According to Rudy Giuliani, “Black guys hit women more than anybody else does … and so do Hispanic guys—it is in their culture,” and “Jews want to go through their freaking Passover all the time, man oh man. Get over the Passover. It was like 3,000 years ago.”

The comments are just the cherry on top of a vile ice cream sundae of allegations about the former New York City mayor and Trump lawyer. A new $10 million lawsuit accuses Giuliani of making these comments, as well as promising to pay a woman a $1 million annual salary to work as his associate, and instead raping and abusing her over the course of two years. The suit adds that Giuliani was constantly drunk, was open about efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and that he plotted to go in with Donald Trump on selling off pardons at $2 million a pop.

The 70-page lawsuit goes to great detail in explaining Giuliani’s alleged behaviors, down to specific dates and locations; the defendant and victim, Noelle Dunphy, reportedly has a trove of recorded conversations to back up her allegations.

From allegedly abusing Dunphy and being constantly drunk to making vile comments about public figures and pretty much every single culture, the lawsuit levels a slate of disturbing accusations against the longtime Trump lackey.

Here’s a taste of the scale and degree of what Giuliani is being accused of in the massive $10 million lawsuit, through word count:

  • Abuse, abused, abusive, abusing: 33
  • Alcohol, alcoholic, alcoholism: 11
  • Drink, drinking, drinks, drinker, drunk: 16
  • Force, forcing, forced, forcible: 21
  • Harass, harassing, harassment, harassed: 47
  • Intoxicated: 9
  • Jew, Jewish: 3
  • Pressure, pressuring: 11
  • Rape: 4
  • Scotch: 4
  • Sex: 35
  • Sexual, sexually, sexualize, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual harassment: 87
  • Wage: 19

Elon Musk Goes Full Antisemite After George Soros Dumps Tesla Shares

The Twitter CEO did not take the news well at all.

Elon Musk
Clive Mason/Formula 1/Getty Images

Elon Musk has gone all in on the classic conservative antisemitic trope of blaming George Soros for everything, seemingly all because the older billionaire sold his Tesla stock.

Soros’s family office, Soros Fund Management, bought up stock in the electric car maker over the course of 2022, holding a total of 132,000 shares by the end of the year. Then the fund capitalized on Tesla’s impressive 68 percent jump in value this year, selling off its entire Tesla stake in the first quarter of 2023, according to reports on Monday.

Soros Fund Management also sold some of its stake in electric vehicle start-up Rivian Automotive, but apparently Musk still took the sales personally. “Soros reminds me of Magneto,” he tweeted late Monday, referring to the X-Men villain.

When journalist Brian Krassenstein pushed back, arguing Soros has “good intentions” but gets attacked for his political affiliation, Musk came back with some full-throated antisemitism.

You assume they are good intentions. They are not. He wants to erode the very fabric of civilization. Soros hates humanity,” said the outgoing Twitter CEO.


Soros declined to comment on the matter when contacted by The New Republic.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that either a conservative has blamed Soros for something completely unrelated to him or that Musk has pushed antisemitism. Republicans love blaming Soros for anything and everything. One recent example is when they blamed him for former President Donald Trump being indicted.

As for Musk, he has let Nazis back onto Twitter, as well as Kanye West. Musk ultimately had to re-ban West, who now goes by Ye, after the musician proudly proclaimed that he loves Hitler. Musk himself also shared a Nazi photo while urging people to vote Republican in the 2022 midterm elections.

Trump-Era Special Counsel Ends Probe of Russia Investigation in Total Bust

Four years of investigations, zero new charges

 Special Counsel John Durham
Ron Sachs/Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images
Special Counsel John Durham

A Trump-era special counsel’s four-year-long investigation into the FBI over its probe of possible ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign ended Monday with a whimper instead of the previously promised bang.

Special prosecutor John Durham was appointed in 2019 by then–Attorney General William Barr to look into possible misconduct by the FBI during its investigation of Trump-Russia ties. Trump promised at the time that Durham would uncover the “crime of the century.”

Instead, in a more than 300-page report released Monday, Durham sharply criticized the FBI but failed to bring about the raft of criminal convictions the previous administration had expected. Durham accused the FBI of launching its investigation based on “raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence.” He also said investigators relied on “confirmation bias” instead of considering evidence that would have cleared Trump.

Over the course of Durham’s entire investigation, his team only charged three people. A former FBI lawyer pleaded guilty to altering an email the bureau cited when applying to eavesdrop on an ex-Trump campaign aide. The other two defendants, a lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and an analyst for a Russian American think tank, were both acquitted of charges of lying to the FBI.

Barr appointed Durham shortly after special counsel Robert Mueller completed his investigation into allegations that Trump and Russia had colluded to rig the 2016 election. Mueller, by comparison, issued about 36 criminal charges, including for half a dozen Trump associates. He determined that Russia had intervened in the election for Trump, which the campaign welcomed, but that it had not actively colluded with Team Trump.

The FBI first began investigating the allegations of collusion in July 2016, but there were multiple revelations of flaws in the probe. Durham’s own investigation dug into these mistakes, but by the time he released his report on Monday, the Justice Department had already examined those issues and the FBI had made dozens of corrective actions.

This is not the first time the Republicans have touted an investigation that turned up a whole lot of nothing. House Republicans have been investigating President Joe Biden and his family for months but have been unable to provide any actual evidence linking Biden to any wrongdoing. And Monday morning, House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer revealed that one of their top informants has gone missing.

Rudy Giuliani Is a Disgusting Creep (Who Also Tried to Sell Pardons)

A new lawsuit against Giuliani has some horrifying details—of how he allegedly raped an employee and how he plotted to undermine our democracy.

Rudy Giuliani
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Former New York City Mayor and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani allegedly promised to pay a woman a $1 million annual salary to be his close associate, and instead raped and abused her over the course of two years. He was allegedly constantly drunk, plotted to sell pardons to criminals, and made racist and antisemitic comments. And he also apparently never paid the woman he abused for months on end.

The litany of disturbing accusations come in a $10 million lawsuit buttressed by phone records, thousands of emails, and recorded conversations, all brought by the victim, Noelle Dunphy. The bombshell lawsuit reveals in great detail how Giuliani sexually assaulted his employee and, at the same time, how he has long been planning to undermine our democracy.

Dunphy’s lawsuit states that Giuliani allegedly first met her in 2016, in the lobby of the Trump Tower. The Trump lawyer asked her details about her life and suggested his interest in hiring her. Three years later, Giuliani sent Dunphy a Facebook message and friend request.

Incredibly odd timing, but Dunphy was coincidentally looking for a job. Soon enough, Giuliani offered her a proposal that seemed too good to be true: Be his director of business development for the Giuliani Companies and also his personal executive assistant—all for a $1 million salary.

But it all came with one strange provision: Her pay would have to be deferred, and her employment kept a “secret” until Giuliani’s divorce proceedings finished up. Giuliani apparently claimed his ex-wife and her legal team were monitoring his finances and so he was somehow limited in his financial decisions; moreover, his ex-wife would “attack” and “retaliate” against any female employee he would hire.

A final attachment to the offer? After Giuliani found out Dunphy was a domestic abuse survivor, he offered to represent her pro bono in any legal matters related to her case.

According to the lawsuit, the grossness immediately ensued. Literally after the interview, Giuliani made Dunphy come to a meeting with his team and Ukrainian associates to discuss her work with the company. During that meeting, Giuliani drank excessively and pressured Dunphy to join along. Afterward, Giuliani told his bodyguard to buzz off, so he could have some private time with Dunphy in the backseat of a limo serviced car.

Once alone, Giuliani kissed Dunphy and asked if he could come into her home; she declined and thanked him for the job. But before the goodbye could happen, Giuliani leaned even further in, saying that since the pair would be working from different locations, he would like it if Dunphy sent him flirtatious photos. After Dunphy finally escaped, Giuliani still called her five times that same evening.

And that repellent first day characterized much of what was to come. The lawsuit’s allegations are too numerous to detail, but here are just a few disturbing accusations.

On many occasions, as soon as four days into the job, Giuliani forced Dunphy to give him oral sex; he often made this demand while he was on the phone with high-profile individuals, including then–President Donald Trump. He forced Dunphy to begin working at his apartment, rather than the Giuliani Companies office. He demanded that “she work naked, in a bikini, or in short shorts with an American flag on them that he bought for her.” Even when apart, he directed Dunphy to remove her clothes and would meanwhile visibly touch himself.

Giuliani rapidly grew more possessive, texting Dunphy things like “You’re mine,” and “Nobody will ever have you now,” and even giving her a battery pack for her phone so she had no excuse not to be at his beck and call. Soon, he forced Dunphy to have sexual intercourse with him; he allegedly would not take “no” for an answer. He also wholly disregarded Dunphy’s boundaries as a domestic violence survivor, imposing his interest in BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism) onto her on numerous instances. And during sex, he called her a “cunt,” a “bitch,” and “Rudy’s slut.”

“I think of you as my daughter. Is that weird?” he once asked Dunphy while sexually abusing her.

Outside of the constant sexual abuse and surveillance, Giuliani told Dunphy that if she knew anyone in need of a pardon, he and Trump were going in on selling them for $2 million a pop. He confided in her various plans to try to overturn the 2020 election results if Trump lost the election, including spreading the theory that “voter fraud” occurred.

And Giuliani’s abuse wasn’t limited to Dunphy, according to the lawsuit. Giuliani also made numerous inappropriate comments about other women. He told Dunphy of his being in love with three or four women, including his attraction to a 20-year-old employee more than 50 years younger than him. He apparently fantasized about her, and kissed her on the lips but did not “consummate” the relationship. He “just could not control” himself around her, he said, in a recorded conversation.

Beyond being a sex pest and cartoonish criminal, Giuliani also apparently was a Luddite; he had to have Dunphy explain to him what a podcast was.

When all was said and done, by the time Giuliani fired Dunphy two years later, she alleges she was paid only $12,000 of what should’ve been $2 million—for the job she was told she was getting.

The vile extent of Giuliani’s alleged behavior is, again, too long to list here. A final taste of what else he reportedly said: He used the word “fag” to refer to actor Matt Damon. He mocked Senator Elizabeth Warren, saying: “Pocahontas was a really hot babe, and Warren does not look like a babe. She looks like a person in search of a gender.” He also later said he was “very hot” for Warren. He stated that he would “get in trouble with underage girls” if they were 16 but looked 20. He implied that Jewish men’s penises were inferior, due to “natural selection.” He told Ms. Dunphy that “black guys hit women more than anybody else does … and so do Hispanic guys—it is in their culture.” He said, “Jews want to go through their freaking Passover all the time, man oh man. Get over the Passover. It was like 3,000 years ago. The Red Sea parted: big deal. It’s not the first time that happened.” And he made comments about “freakin Arabs” and Jews.

To Giuliani, it seems, the most praiseworthy people are 16-year-old girls he could get away with sexually harassing.

Again, the lawsuit alleges that recordings for a lot of these comments exist, so expect this story to only get worse from here on out.

Helen Gym Is Not Here to Tinker Around the Edges

The progressive Philadelphia mayoral candidate wants you to reimagine what it means to build a movement.

Philadelphia mayoral candidate Helen Gym seated with a bookcase behind her
Samantha Laub /AL DÍA News/Getty Images
Philadelphia mayoral candidate Helen Gym

“The only thing that is fixed or that could be fixed is the idea that you stay silent when everything is happening around us.… Our task is to not stay silent.”

This is what Helen Gym told The New Republic Sunday, just hours before she took the stage alongside Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at a rally with over 1,000 attendees.

Gym is among a crowded field of candidates vying to earn the Democratic nomination for Philadelphia mayor during Tuesday’s primary. Recent polls have shown Gym tied with at least two other candidates, and a whole front-runner’s worth of voters who remain undecided.

But what makes Gym’s candidacy distinct is her track record for challenging conventional modes of thinking—whether on preventing crime; building safer communities; or what it means to be an activist, a teacher, or a politician.

The Philadelphia race follows the victory of Brandon Johnson in Chicago’s mayoral election, in which the former educator himself won a platform that reimagined public safety.

Gym spoke with TNR about what brought her to the race at all, her long history fighting for her neighbors, and why relentless action in the face of stacked odds is not “blind hope” but rather just building capacity to fight bigger and bigger battles.

Prem Thakker: How are you?

Helen Gym: That’s a hard question. I feel good. No, we feel really great. Today is a great day. It’s been a great weekend.… People are energized. People are listening, paying attention. They’ve been watching debate. You know, it’s great.

P.T.: Do you listen to music, and if so, what have you been listening to lately?

H.G.: Oh, I do … I’m obviously a Lizzo fan of course. About Damn Time. About Damn Time is our song.

P.T.: Could you tell me about your time as a teacher, what you learned about the city during that time, and how that propelled you further into activism?

H.G.: Yeah, I don’t see those as being separate, just to be clear. I mean, one of the things that I think I really loved about teaching was that it just opened up a world of activism. I would obviously teach during the day, but right after school I get on the 47 bus and take it 10 miles or so into Chinatown, where I would be working at Asian Americans United to stop communities from being displaced, to make sure that people’s civil and voting rights were upheld, and to have an even bigger space to talk about education and healthier families and strong communities and neighborhoods.

Teaching also opened me up to a broader national movement. I joined national-level organizations, including some which are now defunct, but national-level organizations that were really focused on teaching and learning curriculum, vibrant, multiethnic curricular practices. You know, how teachers can lead from the classroom, as well as being the friend of a classroom, and real investment in young people. So to me the classroom was my profession, but teacher activism was my life. And I helped start a citywide education newspaper during that time. I joined the founding board of an arts organization that is still in existence today. And then, of course, continued to actively mobilize in Chinatown and with immigrant communities that were fighting mass detention and deportation as well as mass incarceration. In other words, education never felt limited. It felt like it was just an expansive introduction to a world of hope and activity and change.

P.T.: You use the words “hope” and “expansive.” That speaks to this seeming upsurge of candidates from all over the country—whether it’s Jamaal Bowman, or Brandon Johnson, or you—former educators who, in coming from the education system, seem to hold this sort of intimate understanding of how we perhaps are failing children, or how we could be doing even better for them or giving them more hope, or by building our school system, we could build a better future. I wonder if you’ve thought about that pattern.

H.G.: Definitely. And, can I just add to this, Congresswoman Hayes, who was Teacher of the Year, out of Connecticut. And Latoya Cantrell, who is the mayor of New Orleans. She didn’t come out of education and teaching, but she came out with a strong identity as a mother and an activist, post-Katrina. I think what is very clear is that for many of us … I believe that building the care and keeping of children and, by extension, their families, communities, and neighborhoods, as well as the public institutions that serve them are fundamental to our politics.

If you can leave a child behind, right, if you can deny them a functioning public school, arts and music opportunities, a roof over their heads, you will leave behind their parents, you will leave behind their neighborhoods, and you will ultimately leave behind that city. And I think many of us who have dedicated our lives to building stronger youth and families understand that this is not an education agenda. It is an economic security agenda. It is a public safety agenda. It is a, you know, city revitalization agenda, and that’s what we’re trying to lead with. I think we have gotten some things twisted about what actually drives the American economy, what helps cities grow, and what builds a resilient and prosperous and safer community. And that is actually by investing in children and families, and the institutions that surround them. And people who have like, understood that, rather than just using it as a platform talking point, are increasingly winning in local offices all the way up to the federal level, and I think that’s a good thing. I think that’s a healthy thing.

P.T.: You’ve been active for so many years now. I wonder if you reflected on perhaps how you’ve evolved over time … who you were before, who you are now, what worldviews you’ve refined over time throughout your activism and time teaching in the community?

H.G.: I learned very early on that our politics never started with politicians. They always started with us. And that is because, in times of crisis, when encountering people who had the power, the title, and the money to actually effectuate change, I often saw the least amount of creativity and too often the least amount of courage. And I never got that when I was organizing in communities. In communities, you found a clarity of purpose, a level of prioritization, and the need for urgent action that I never got out of City Hall, state legislatures, or Congress. And we need that kind of clarity of purpose, that sense of energy, and that sense of urgency right now. Our politics are stuck, and we get them unstuck by mobilizing at the local level and seeing real concrete changes happen.

Certain things pop up in the media now and then, and movements last. So, for me, I’ve always been invested in the sustainability of movements, growing new leadership, expanding out. One of the most important things that I think is particularly needed within the progressive movement is an ability to deliver concrete outcomes at scale that actually make a difference in people’s lives. I wanted to show that somebody who came out of real community struggle and was driven by the need for transformation had to deliver when I got into office. That’s how we ended a state takeover and put nurses and counselors and social workers back into our schools and led a $500 million initiative to really repair and build schools inside and out. That’s how I was able to deliver safe drinking water to every child in every school; how we created the most successful eviction prevention program in the country that slashed evictions by almost 70 percent during the pandemic, kept over 50,000 people housed, and distributed $250 million in rent assistance; that’s how we expanded labor rights for 130,000 hourly workers who needed a fair advance schedule. We’re not here to tinker around the edges.

P.T.: This sort of ambition seems all the more relevant in a race like many other city elections, in which crime permeates throughout so much of it. How have you navigated such a race, and what do you think a victory like yours would signal, as you’re proffering this different vision of how to address crime and public safety—and reimagining and transforming it in a way?

H.G.: Yeah, so first, I’m very clear that my work got started around safety. You know that a lot of our work was about safety and creating a sense of community safety, for neighbors and people who are long left out of those conversations. My work got started with victims of crime and victims of hate crime, for example. I was on the ground almost 15 years ago to turn around a public high school that was considered one of the most dangerous in the country, and we were able to turn it around in less than two years, with a real, energized level of work that changed the culture within this school and the school district. Retrained teachers and educators that made sure that safety is a whole city mission. So to me, this conversation about what keeps us safe is not different from the work that I have been doing. So much is on the line, and so much of our resources are going toward things which have been limited in their ability to actually not just react to crime but to prevent it. I’ve been very clear: Violence is rooted in disinvestment. And thus a safety mission must be rooted in investment.

That’s why we’ve talked about an absolute, immediate response to crime, but I’ve called for a state of emergency on gun violence, which approaches it from a public health perspective. I talked about promoting more detectives so we can actually solve cases, fixing our 911 response time, and taking a targeted look at individuals who are, in the past, violent, and making sure that we take illegal guns off the streets. But I’m also very clear that the investment agenda is also about a real emphasis on mental health resources and an expanded effort to really deliver 24/7 citywide crisis response units, so we can deal with concerns around mental health, homelessness, and addiction. I talked about a guaranteed jobs plan for youth in particular, so that we can get young people onto a path for opportunity. And I’ve talked about a real investment in our public schools over the next 10 years. So we can actually modernize them and make them be an anchor institution in neighborhoods and communities, and an affordable housing plan that actually is about affordability for residents and not just for developers.

P.T.: Have you thought back to any moments, whether throughout the campaign or beforehand, when you’ve seen success in changing someone’s mind and introducing them to the sort of convention-changing way that you’re introducing?

H.G.: I mean, in some ways, like, that is sort of my whole body of work, I think—going into a situation where the politics are pretty monstrous and trying to transform the ways in which people see one another. 

I think back to a time when we were fighting the construction of a stadium in Chinatown. It was like one of our first big really at-scale battles. And we were doing all these different public forums and everything like that, and odds were obviously stacked against us. You had the mayor, the governor, you had Major League Baseball, and all City Council and moneyed interests lined up … and you had a largely immigrant, non-English-speaking community on the other side. And I remember at one of our public forums, a very young person came up to me, who was in college, and asked me, “Do you think you’re doing the wrong thing, by giving people hope that something could happen?”

And I think what I said was that nothing is actually fixed in this world, and the only thing that is fixed or that could be fixed is the idea that you stay silent when everything is happening around us. And I said that our task is to not stay silent, and to continue to exhort for our world … even when all the odds are stacked against us, then it’s even more important to imagine a world that people deserve and that people need right now. And I think that that is a root of—it’s not a blind hope—it is taking action and teaching us how to build our capacity to continue to take on bigger and bigger things.

And, you know, I’m not sure if he actually bought that. But I will say: We did win.

P.T.: What do you see as not only the spirit of Philadelphia, but also the aspiration?

H.G.: We’re the original city of rebels and revolutionaries, and we are here to write a blueprint for a new city and ultimately for this nation that’s centered around the needs of people in communities. Nobody fights harder for Philadelphia than Philadelphians themselves. And I think that is why we are the city that we are, and it’s pretty fucking awesome.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Someone Entered a Democratic Congressman’s Office With a Baseball Bat

The growing political violence in this country is a serious threat.

Represenative Gerry Connolly speaks with reporters
Zach Gibson/Getty Images
Representative Gerry Connolly from Virginia

A person wielding a baseball bat attacked two staffers at a Virginia Democratic representative’s office on Monday, after they couldn’t find the congressman himself, the latest in a trend of violence that seems to be targeting liberal political figures.

Gerry Connolly said the assailant had initially asked for him when they entered his office. Connolly was at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a food bank, so the assailant turned on the office staff, hitting one senior aide in the head with the metal bat and an intern on the side, according to CNN’s Manu Raju. It was the intern’s first day on the job.

Connolly said the attacker was in police custody and that both members of his team had been hospitalized with “non-life threatening injuries.”

“Right now, our focus is on ensuring they are receiving the care they need,” he said in a statement, which did not include more details about the attacker or what may have motivated them. But the U.S. Capitol police identified the suspect as Xuan Kha Tran Pham, a 49-year-old resident of Fairfax, Virginia.

Pham reportedly sued the CIA last year, claiming the agency had been “wrongfully imprisoning [him] in a lower perspective based on physics.” He alleged he was being “brutally tortured…from the fourth dimension” and sought $29 million in damages, as well as to be “cured” by an unspecified form of technology.

His complaint matches beliefs held by conspiracy theorists, many of whom claimed they are being secretly surveilled and psychologically tortured using nonexistent technology. The CIA moved to dismiss the trial last month, but Pham ended up representing himself in court.

This attack marks the fifth attack on a political figure on the left—and the third to injure someone—in recent memory. Michigan alone has seen two attempts, starting in 2020 when four men plotted to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer because of the Covid-19 safety restrictions she had implemented. They also thought she would tighten gun regulations. In March, the FBI arrested a man for plotting to kill all Jewish Michigan elected officials, including state attorney general Dana Nessel.

Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul had to get emergency surgery on his skull in October after a man broke into the couple’s San Francisco home and, upon failing to find the former House speaker, attacked her spouse with a hammer. Paul Pelosi appears to be recovering.

And just a few weeks ago, a man was arrested for allegedly committing arson at two mosques in Minneapolis and vandalizing Representative Ilhan Omar’s district office, as well as a patrol vehicle assigned to a Somali city police officer and a marketplace known locally as the Somali Mall. None of this, of course, includes the pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats and Trump critics in 2019, or the targeting of Democratic members of Congress during the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

All of these attacks, or attempted attacks, have been on left-leaning political figures. Meanwhile, their right-wing colleagues have either remained silent or actively pushed conspiracy theories and crude jokes about the attempts on people’s lives. In doing so, they are only condoning political violence—and potentially encouraging people to keep trying.

One such Republican is Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin. He condemned the attack on Connolly’s office, tweeting that “violence does not belong in our political system.”

“We’ve seen this against our legislative branch and it has no place in our Commonwealth,” Youngkin said.

But the day that Paul Pelosi was attacked, Youngkin used the assault as the punchline to a joke. “There’s no room for violence anywhere, but we’re going to send her back to be with him in California,” he said of Nancy Pelosi. Youngkin sent a personal note to Pelosi to apologize, but only after weeks of backlash.

This story has been updated.

Ron DeSantis Signs Bill Launching All-Out Assault on Academic Freedom

The new law goes after DEI, certain university degrees, and even how professors can talk about race and gender.

Scott Olson/Getty Images
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill Monday that launches the greatest attack on academic freedom yet.

The new law prohibits state universities from spending state or federal funds on diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, which are widely recognized as crucial in combating implicit bias and providing support for students or employees who are members of a minority community. The measure also dramatically limits what professors can teach about race and gender and bans degrees in gender studies and critical race theory.

Moreover, students would be required to take classes on the history and philosophy of Western civilization, which many scholars recognize as coded language for white supremacist ideology.

“If you look at the way this has actually been implemented across the country, DEI is better viewed as standing for discrimination, exclusion, and indoctrination,” DeSantis said during a press conference at the New College of Florida, in Sarasota. “And that has no place in our public institutions. This bill says the whole experiment with DEI is coming to an end in the state of Florida.”

His decision to hold the signing at the New College was particularly significant—and petty. The New College is a historically liberal enclave, not just in deeply red Florida but also in the county where it is located. The college’s board of trustees was overhauled in early January when DeSantis appointed six new conservative members. The very next month, the board ousted New College President Patricia Okker and installed Christopher Rufo, a DeSantis loyalist.

The college’s students have repeatedly protested DeSantis and his ultraconservative policies, and Monday was no different. The demonstrations against the new anti-DEI law were so loud that they could be heard during the signing ceremony.

DeSantis is desperate to establish himself as the new standard-bearer for the right wing, but he’s doing so at the cost of his constituents. Many of his policies are hugely unpopular in the state, but he’s forging ahead for political clout. Just last week, he signed a bill that will allow doctors and health insurance companies to deny care to anyone they want.

Kyrsten Sinema Thinks You Need Bougie Hotels and Limousines to Run a Marathon

And she’s using campaign funds to expense it all.

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senator Kyrsten Sinema has a history of making questionable choices for personal gain. And now she seems to be strategically planning campaign fundraisers to justify bougie travel and accommodation expenses for personal competitions.

A new report from The Daily Beast found that Sinema raised $16,000 in campaign donations from a small group of Massachusetts-based donors in April 2022. That same month, her campaign paid nearly $8,500 for a stay at the Ritz-Carlton. Though the campaign filing did not specify which Ritz location, Sinema tweeted a photo of herself and a friend posing in a Ritz hotel room after finishing the Boston Marathon.

And it’s not the only time Sinema appears to have planned a fundraiser in the same place she was going to run a race. The Daily Beast found at least six other such instances since 2019, such as in May that year, when Sinema competed in a marathon in Ventura County, California. In the two weeks around the race, she raised $21,000 from PACs and donors in the state, while her campaign spent $400 on lodging in Santa Barbara.

Other campaign expenses include more than $5,200 on limo service in Boston in October 2021, when Sinema merely attended the Boston Marathon. She coincidentally held a fundraiser that month that raised $36,000 from Massachusetts donors.

The Federal Election Commission bars political candidates from using campaign funds for any expenses unrelated to running for or holding public office. By allegedly tacking fundraisers on to her race travel, Sinema is technically not breaking any rules. But her behavior is definitely shady.

“It is one thing to ask donors for money to support your campaign and get your message out to voters, it is another to ask them to bankroll your personal life,” Brendan Fischer, deputy executive director for the watchdog group Documented, told The Daily Beast. But “if an officeholder is using donor dollars to subsidize their lifestyle or finance personal expenses, then campaign contributions pose a much greater risk of corruption.”

Fischer also pointed out that athletes plan far in advance for big races, making it “highly unlikely that Sinema’s fundraising activity was scheduled as the priority,” according to the Beast.

We also already know that Sinema seems to prioritize her race training above everything else. Another Daily Beast report from December found that Sinema’s training regimen appears to take up the bulk of her time. Citing an internal memo and anonymous former staffers, the report found that Sinema should be considered unreachable during her daily training sessions. Races are scheduled into her calendar, and she requires an hour-long massage and two 45-minute physical therapy sessions each week. Actual senatorial duties are confined to specific time blocks each week.

Sinema has proudly declared she doesn’t stand for anything. She seems to have undergone a political 180 since reaching Capitol Hill, voting against measures she campaigned on, such as raising the minimum wage, and switching political affiliation to independent in what was widely seen as an attempt to improve her reelection chances.

So maybe it’s not that she doesn’t stand for anything. Maybe it’s that Sinema only stands for herself.