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Cornel West Announces Presidential Bid … as a People’s Party Candidate

Why did Cornel West, one of the eminent thinkers of our time, choose to run with this party?

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Cornel West is among the eminent thinkers and voices of our time. Speaking truth to power while synthesizing a politics driven by love and solidarity and care for those you share society with are hallmarks of West’s legacy. And that’s why it is puzzling that he has announced his campaign for president under the banner of the not so aptly named People’s Party.

“In these bleak times, I have decided to run for truth and justice, which takes the form of running for president of the United States as a candidate for the People’s Party,” West announced in a video on Monday. “I enter in the quest for truth, I enter in the quest for justice. And the presidency is just one vehicle to pursue that truth and justice, what I’ve been trying to do all of my life.”

“I come from a tradition where I care about you. I care about the quality of your life, I care about whether you have access to a job with a living wage, decent housing, women having control over their bodies, health care for all, the escalating of the destruction of the planet, the destruction of American democracy. Democracy creates disruption. It creates an eruption. It creates an interruption wide from below, the energies of everyday people is manifest,” West said in trademark fashion.

West, born in Oklahoma before the civil rights era, has been an outspoken voice who has bridged the schools of socialist tradition to Christianity and spiritualism more broadly. He carries a history of fierce advocacy for racial and economic equality, and a strong rejection of blaming material or social misery on the marginalized, as opposed to the elites and structural forces actually responsible.

And he is now running on a party ticket that purports to embrace similar ideals but has had trouble on the execution side of things. While the party began in 2017 with noble roots to form a new political party independent from corporate money and influence, it has been mired in troubling allegations, as well as broader organizational dysfunction.

Numerous sources have corroborated sexual harassment allegations against party founder Nick Brana. Last year, former party member Paula Jean Swearengin told journalists Eoin Higgins and Jordan Chariton that she had witnessed Brana try to force himself onto former party executive director Zana Day, who confirmed the allegations herself. Numerous party board members were apparently forced out for encouraging investigations into the allegations and questioning whether Brana was still fit to lead the party.

“We were removed [from the board] because we were concerned about Nick remaining in his position,” one former board member, Regina Clarke, said. “As the investigation went on, it was clear there was sexual harassment going on; for other alleged acts, there was debate on whether it was harassment or extended further.”

After the allegations were made public, the party’s social media accounts attacked and smeared those questioning the party leadership’s actions.

Other former party volunteers and members have accused the party leadership of lacking democratic organizational processes, having opaque finances, and being generally disrespectful, manifesting sometimes in ableism and racism.

As of now, the People’s Party has ballot access in barely a handful of states. The party’s central website has little direction for those interested in joining the party’s effort to gain ballot access elsewhere, nor to organize and elect candidates on a local level. The policy platform includes six admirable goals, but with little more than a few sentences related to each plank.

West’s decision to run with the party calls into question his instincts, and perhaps even his intentions. It’s not as if he had to run with this party. The Green Party was an option, at least in terms of ballot access. He also could have run as a Democrat, to give Democratic voters another real option to choose or to put more pressure on Biden to engage with West’s arguments. So too could he have used the party as a vessel to expose even more traditional Democratic voters to his legacy and vision for better politics.

Instead, West is lending credence to an organization that has not earned it, while hamstringing his own electoral potential. In carrying his presidential candidacy through the auspices of the People’s Party, West will have to mobilize a movement and build a political apparatus in the arms of a party that has seldom exhibited a sustained ability to do either.

Ron DeSantis Says Woke Seven Times in 26 Seconds in Wildly Out of Touch Remarks

The Republican presidential candidate went on a rant about the “woke mind virus” at a campaign event.

The war on woke is putting me to sleep.

On Saturday, Ron DeSantis joined a slew of other 2024 Republican contenders at Iowa Senator Joni Ernst’s “Roast and Ride,” an annual Iowa Republican fundraising event.

While there, the Florida governor delivered remarks about his vision for the party—one that has clearly gone so well for it over the past few years.

In this clip alone, DeSantis said “woke” seven times in some 26 seconds.

Of note is that DeSantis’s own general counsel has defined the term “woke” as “the belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them.” While it’s obviously clear the far right uses “woke” as a catchall for anything they don’t like (which usually refers to anything contrary to white, conservative, capitalist-glorifying ideals), it’s funny to imagine a candidate who purports himself to be a hardscrabble guy denying the possibility of systemic issues in America needing to be addressed.

Kind of hard to be a populist if you disagree with the notion that systems of power need to be confronted.

Meanwhile, Republican frontrunner and DeSantis role model Donald Trump, who once sold an entire line of woke merchandise, now says he doesn’t like the term.

If that all wasn’t enough, DeSantis also seems to have copied his brave “war on woke” remarks from a famous speech against fascism, an ideology he has embraced.

American historian Heather Cox Richardson noted that DeSantis’s speech exhibited sharp similarities to Winston Churchill’s remarks during World War II, in which the British prime minister spoke about the relentless struggle against fascism. “We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…”

Marjorie Taylor Greene Constituent Compares Her to Woman Who Lied About Emmett Till

A Georgia voter bravely confronted the representative for her racist views.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

A constituent confronted Marjorie Taylor Greene and compared her to Emmett Till’s accuser—and the Georgia representative responded by doubling down on racist comments about a Black colleague.

During a town hall on Friday, a Black woman stood and said Greene’s claim that she felt “threatened” by Representative Jamaal Bowman was just as “reckless” as Carolyn Donham’s accusation against Till.

Donham, who died in April, accused Black teenager Till of whistling at her and accosting her in 1955. Donham later admitted to lying and making Till’s offense seem more extreme, but not before her then-husband and brother-in-law lynched Till in response. They were acquitted but later confessed to the murder in a magazine interview. Till’s killing helped galvanize the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.

“You had no business saying, ‘Oh, he’s so big, oh, I feel so—like he’s gonna hurt me!’” the constituent continued, over boos from the crowd. “That’s the same thing Carolyn Donham said that got Emmett Till killed, and that was reckless.”

“You did a reckless thing, and if anything happens to Jamaal Bowman, it’s gonna be on your hands.”

The constituent was referring to Greene’s claim that Bowman led a mob to surround her car in April when she went to New York to support former President Donald Trump while he was criminally indicted. In reality, the people were counterprotesting Trump supporters and were unrelated to Bowman.

Greene later said Bowman yelled at her and called her a white supremacist, which she took “great offense to.” She also said he was “aggressive” and that she felt “threatened,” playing up the “scary Black man” stereotype.

At the town hall, Greene doubled down, insisting that Bowman “came with a crowd and brought a crowd around my car,” to the point that security officials had to shepherd Greene into her vehicle.

Greene also said that Bowman calling her a white supremacist was a “horrible thing to say” and that it was “derogatory and it’s wrong.” She also said it wasn’t about skin color but about a woman feeling threatened by a much larger man.

All of that is pretty rich coming from a woman who has repeatedly spread harmful conspiracies about Jewish people, Muslim people, people of color, and LGBTQ people. It’s also ironic that Greene claims to fear a “mob,” given how she has called for sedition and encouraged the violent January 6 mob.

Showtime Mysteriously Pulls Documentary on Ron DeSantis’s Role in Guantánamo

A Vice episode was set to dig into DeSantis’s time as an officer at torture camp Guantánamo Bay. It was quietly dropped.

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Just over a week after Ron DeSantis announced his bid for president, Showtime has mysteriously pulled an investigative episode into the Florida governor’s time working at the infamous Guantánamo Bay detention facility.

The Hollywood Reporter reports that the documentary (episode 4 of Vice’s fourth season), “The Gitmo Candidate & Chipping Away,” was slated for May 28 but was instead replaced with repeat programming. Now the June 4 episode is marked as episode 4.

Mentions of the episode have reportedly been erased from Showtime’s website and press portal, as if the episode has not been rescheduled but removed entirely.

“We don’t comment on scheduling decisions,” a Showtime spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter.

“As with all current affairs programming, there can be scheduling changes, and we are very much still in discussion about the scheduling of this episode,” a Vice representative said, offering little other clarity. “We are proud of our reporting and of our continuing partnership with Showtime.”

The episode certainly did not bode promisingly for DeSantis. “Seb Walker investigates allegations from former Guantánamo Bay detainees that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis witnessed acts condemned by the United Nations as torture during his past service at the controversial detention camp as a Navy JAG officer,” an episode description read.

DeSantis has drawn intense scrutiny surrounding his time as a U.S. Navy lawyer overseeing “investigative tactics” (torture) at Guantánamo. It’s a background the presidential candidate has been extremely cagey about, emotionally lashing out at the press (shocker) when asked about it.

DeSantis had come to Guantánamo while detainees were conducting hunger strikes in protest of their treatment; DeSantis was tasked with dealing with it.

What did that entail? Well, DeSantis has openly talked about force-feeding as among the mechanisms officers like him would recommend to prison guards. The Florida governor was sent to Guantánamo the same year three inmates died, at the time a record high of deaths in one year at the prison facility. Official reports, including from DeSantis himself, rule the deaths as suicides; many, including a former guard, dispute the idea.

Two former Guantánamo detainees, Abu Sarrah Ahmed Abdel Aziz and Mansoor Adayfi, have both come out with their dark recollections of DeSantis and his real role at the camp.

Aziz said DeSantis promised over and over again to make sure senior officials heard of prisoner’s complaints of abuse. Instead, conditions got even worse.

“It was a face I could never forget. I had seen that face for the first time in Guantánamo, in 2006—one of the camp’s darkest years when the authorities started violently breaking hunger strikes and three of my brothers were found dead in their cages,” Adayfi wrote in Al Jazeera.

Adayfi recalls an instance of being force-fed and seeing DeSantis watching from behind a fence, “smiling and laughing with other officers as I screamed in pain.”

Nikki Haley Really Thinks the “Women’s Issue of Our Time” Is Trans Kids Playing Sports

The Republican presidential candidate used her CNN town hall to scapegoat trans kids.

Chris Christie
Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Presidential hopeful Nikki Haley believes that the biggest issue for women right now is transgender girls playing girls’ sports.

During a CNN town hall on Sunday, Haley blasted the idea of letting trans girls play on girls’ teams and grossly blamed inclusive sports policies for the high number of teenage girls who considered suicide last year.

“I mean, the idea that we have biological boys playing in girls’ sports, it is the women’s issue of our time,” Haley told CNN, which continues to let Republicans push extreme views and falsehoods on air.

How are we supposed to get our girls used to the fact that biological boys are in their locker rooms? And then we wonder why a third of our teenage girls seriously contemplated suicide last year?”

Haley’s comments are both offensive and factually incorrect. It has been scientifically proven that trans women and girls do not have a biological advantage over cisgender women and girls. Athletic ability varies from person to person, no matter their gender.

Haley also insists that girls need to be protected, a common argument among Republicans. Many of the laws banning trans people from playing on teams that match their gender identity do not address trans boys. This implies that cis women are weak and need extra protection, while also pushing the dangerous stereotype that trans women and girls are really just sexual predators. In reality, trans people—both men and women—are four times more likely than cis people to experience violent assault, including sexual violence.

While Haley was mostly correct that a third of teenage girls have considered suicide (the study was for 2021, not 2022), she vastly oversimplified and wrongly attributed the reason. The authors of the study, which was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, did not cite any one reason for the spike in suicidal ideation among girls. But they said that Covid-19 may have increased people’s anxiety and sense of isolation.

The study also found that teen girls of color were more likely to consider suicide than white girls, and LGBTQ girls were more likely to consider suicide than heterosexual ones. Other studies have found that girls are experiencing increased rates of bullying, threats of sexual violence, actual sexual violence, and anxiety from social issues. So if anything, stances like Haley’s could actually increase rates of suicidal thoughts among teenage girls, because they make trans girls feel alone.

Norfolk Southern Files Motion to Dismiss Lawsuit Over Ohio Train Derailment

After the disastrous train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, the rail giant says it is not responsible.

David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Five months after the disastrous Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, the rail giant is looking to dismiss a mass class action lawsuit it faces.

Norfolk Southern is seeking to shut down the case, which is in fact a consolidation of over 30 separate lawsuits filed against the railroad company.

“The first car to derail did not belong to Norfolk Southern,” the company’s legal team claimed in its motion to dismiss the slate of lawsuits, filed Friday evening. “Nor did Norfolk Southern construct the wheel bearing that allegedly ‘overheated’ and ‘caused the train to derail.’”

“And Norfolk Southern,” the memo continued, “as a common carrier, was required by federal law to transport vinyl chloride, a hazardous chemical with numerous industrial uses.”

In the motion, Norfolk Southern’s lawyers labored to argue that the plaintiffs’ array of claims fell short. “Norfolk Southern is committed to making things right,” the memo read, listing off efforts the company says it has pursued to assist the community: “millions of dollars” in financial aid, committing to create a health care fund, a property fund for homeowners who sell their homes, and a water-testing fund.

“Plaintiffs’ claims are based on conduct that Norfolk Southern allegedly undertook in this heavily regulated environment,” the company’s legal team continued, arguing that the claims against the company “would unreasonably burden railroad transportation” in general. In other words, how could Norfolk Southern be responsible when regulation of the industry already exists?

The finger-pointing legal argument is risible when you recall that Norfolk Southern has funneled some $100 million into politics since 1990, buying deregulation (yes, the same regulatory atmosphere the company now points to as giving it immunity). The company was a big proponent of rolling back an Obama-era rule that could have required trains, like the one that derailed in Ohio, to use updated electronic brakes instead of Civil War–era ones, for example.

East Palestine residents to this day report a range of troubling symptoms, including rashes, bloody stools, and vomiting bile. Some also say that Norfolk Southern is denying relocation assistance claims or reimbursements for expenses like chemical exposure tests—leaving people to pay out of pocket for it all. After the derailment, the company also reportedly left dozens of maintenance workers out to dry, directing them to clean up the crash site without giving them personal protective equipment.

The motion to dismiss the lawsuit comes after the Supreme Court followed the lead of conservative members of Congress in weakening the Clean Water Act, opening up even further avenues for corporations to try evading legal responsibility for their own disastrous actions.

In the meantime, Norfolk Southern also faces a since-consolidated lawsuit brought by both the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, and the state of Ohio.

“No community should have to go through what East Palestine residents have faced,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said in March upon the agency’s lawsuit filing. “With today’s action, we are once more delivering on our commitment to ensure Norfolk Southern cleans up the mess they made and pays for the damage they have inflicted as we work to ensure this community can feel safe at home again.”

Utah School District Bans the Bible for “Vulgarity” and “Violence”

The book was banned after a complaint that highlighted how easy it is to get books banned in schools now, thanks to Utah law.

Pascal Deloche/Godong/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

A Utah school district has banned the Bible for younger students after someone complained that it contained too much sexual content—in an interesting twist on the book bans sweeping the country.

Utah passed a controversial law last year intended to remove “sensitive material” from school libraries and classrooms. The law defines “sensitive material” as subjects that are pornographic or indecent. Anyone can request that a book be reviewed by a committee for propriety. School librarians and teachers saw a huge spike in review requests after the law was passed, mainly for books that dealt with racial justice, gender ideology, and LGBTQ representation.

In December, someone filed a review request with Davis School District officials for the Bible. The challenge specifically mentioned Utah Parents United, a conservative parents rights group that backed the book ban law. The person’s name was redacted when the request was shared with the local news outlet KSL.

“I thank the Utah Legislature and Utah Parents United for making this bad faith process so much easier and way more efficient. Now we can all ban books and you don’t even need to read them or be accurate about it. Heck, you don’t even need to see the book!” the person said in the request, highlighting the ridiculous nature of book bans.

The person referred to the Bible as “one of the most sex-ridden books around” and pointed out the text mentions incest, bestiality, prostitution, genital mutilation, and rape. They included a list of examples.

“You’ll no doubt find that the Bible … has ‘no serious values for minors’ because it’s pornographic by our new definition. Get this PORN out of our schools!”

Davis School District officials decided last week to remove the Bible from elementary and middle school libraries. It would still be available in high school libraries “based on age appropriateness due to vulgarity or violence,” the school district communications director Christopher Williams told KSL.

Someone filed an appeal to the decision on Wednesday, asking that the Bible be made available to all age groups. State Representative Ken Ivory said in March that the challenge to the Bible was “a backhanded slap to parents that are simply trying to keep a healthy learning environment for all students in the schools.”

The decision about the Bible comes after reports of Florida schools banning a host of materials that all deal with racial justice, including the movie Ruby Bridges, the graphic novel Little Rock Nine, and The Hill We Climb, the poem read at Joe Biden’s inauguration.

As the person who challenged the Bible highlighted, the solution isn’t to unilaterally ban books. The solution is to learn from them so we can do better.

Ohio Republicans Introduce Bill to Make Guns Tax-Free

In a nation drowning in mass shootings, Ohio Republicans want people to be able to buy guns like duty-free airport gifts.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty Images
AR-15-style weapons on display

In Ohio, there are no background checks required for handgun purchases, people can carry guns without concealed-carry permits, guns don’t have to be securely stored away from children, and domestic abusers are allowed to keep carrying their weapons—even when facing restraining orders. But that’s not enough for the state’s Republican lawmakers, who now want to allow people to buy guns tax-free.

House Bill 189, introduced by state Representative Al Cutrona, would remove sales taxes from guns and ammunition and give gun and ammunition manufacturers tax incentives.

The tax-free purchases would give gun buyers even more privileged status than they already have in a country where guns come before children’s lives. “Rights guaranteed to us in the Bill of Rights should not be taxed,” Cutrona said on the bill, justifying the notion of people paying their fair share of taxes on everything but machines meant explicitly for killing.

Internalizing the flimsy logic too: “Life” and “liberty” are also invoked in the Bill of Rights; both are taxed every day by the number of mass shootings in this country—268 so far this year, four of which were in Ohio in the last week alone. So too are they taxed by virtue of our environments being poisoned by fossil fuels or people’s liberties being infringed through mass incarceration and the police state. One wonders if Cutrona would use his strained logic there as well.

On gun manufacturer incentives, the bill explicitly aims to offset the federal excise taxes these companies (like many other industries) are subject to. In other words, Ohio Republicans want to fill the pockets of massive corporations that should be facing further, not less, regulation. Shame, given Ohio’s East Palestine has been in the front seat of witnessing the consequences of such a dynamic.

The push by Ohio Republicans follows a shocking exhibition of gun violence across the country, on both small and large scales. Kids have been shot for playing hide and seek or accidentally ringing the wrong doorbell; on a larger scale, mass shootings have left cities like Nashville, Tennessee, and Louisville, Kentucky, in shock. Nevertheless, Republicans persist in their acceptance, and embrace, of such senseless, preventable death.

Does Trump Still Have a Classified Document?

A classified Pentagon document on a potential attack on Iran is suddenly unaccounted for.

James Devaney/GC Images

Former President Donald Trump may still have a classified document, one that details a potential Pentagon plan for attacking Iran.

Federal prosecutors for special counsel Jack Smith, who is investigating Trump for his alleged mishandling of classified documents, obtained an audio recording of a meeting held in July 2021, during which the former president essentially admitted that he knows he can’t declassify documents at will. He brags explicitly about having kept a classified Pentagon plan to potentially attack Iran, and the sound of rustling papers can be overheard, as if Trump were waving that document around.

That meeting took place six months before Trump’s legal team sent 15 boxes of records and classified documents back to the National Archives, and more than a year before the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago, seizing more than 100 documents.

But now, no one can find the Iran document.

Trump’s attorneys handed over material related to the document in mid-March, in response to another federal subpoena, CNN reported Friday, citing anonymous sources. But the legal team was unable to find the actual document in question.

Prosecutors were already skeptical that Trump had returned all of the classified documents he took. The special counsel’s team even reportedly asked a judge last year to hold Trump in contempt until he handed over all documents, but the judge declined. Trump’s team instead hired two outside people to search his properties again.

It is entirely unclear where the Iran document is, or if it was already returned to the government in one of the many boxes taken from Mar-a-Lago. Considering it lays out a plan to attack a foreign nation, it sounds like a pretty important document. Maybe someone should have kept closer tabs on its whereabouts.

Trump has been getting a lot of heat in recent weeks, as new reports continue to surface that he knew that he wasn’t supposed to keep classified documents and that he couldn’t classify them at will. But when asked about the recording during a Fox News town hall on Thursday, Trump denied all wrongdoing.

“I don’t know anything about it,” Trump said. “All I know is this: Everything I did was right.”

Elon Musk Calls to Imprison Therapists Helping Trans Kids

The Twitter CEO suggested throwing the medical professionals in jail, shortly after vowing to lobby for the criminalization of gender-affirming care.


Elon Musk wants to criminalize gender-affirming care, and he supports imprisoning any therapists and medical professionals involved.

The Twitter CEO on Friday morning promoted a transphobic documentary produced by the petulant, vicious, and dull extremist commentator Matt Walsh.

“Every parent should watch this,” said Musk, the global elite whose own daughter disowned him.

But that wasn’t enough. Amid his  bowing down to the far-right mob, which he so desperately wants to earn the approval of, Musk called gender-affirming care for people under the age of 18 “a major problem” that he will be “actively lobbying to criminalize.”

Far-right “thinker” Jordan Peterson hopped on to Musk’s tweet, adding his vision for what that regime would look like: “Prison. Long term. Without parole. No mercy,” he said, adding that he’d subject the therapists who support this medical care to such policing.

“Absolutely,” Musk responded.

Screenshot via Twitter

This is how the CEO of Tesla, which used to celebrate Pride Month, is beginning it this time. “Musk’s words are not an empty threat, as anti-trans bills, many criminalizing medical professionals, are sweeping across the nation in state legislatures everywhere.”

Reminder once again that the richest man in the world is not taking on the rich and powerful. He is not only doing the bidding of power-hungry governments but welcoming and promoting content that punches down on some of the most marginalized among us.