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Atlanta City Council Approves $67 Million for Cop City, Dismissing Mass Opposition

The funding approval for the gargantuan police facility comes after police killed a Cop City protester and arrested others en masse.

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Environmental activists march through a preserved Atlanta forest that is scheduled to be developed as a police training center, on March 4.

More than 15 hours of public comment and protesting. More than 230 comments against Cop City, just four in favor of it. And still, at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, the Atlanta City Council voted 11–4 to approve $67 million in taxpayer money to raze down forest land and build a gargantuan police facility for a force that has killed a protester in cold blood and arrested dozens more on the grounds of having muddy shoes.

Police accountability: the unicorn of American society.

Only four city councilmembers, Liliana Bakhtiari, Jason Dozier, Keisha Waites, and Antonio Lewis, had the stones to heed the will of thousands of their constituents and vote against the funding.

The vote approved $31 million in public funds for construction, while green-lighting a provision that requires the city to pay $36 million over a 30-year period ($1.2 million per year) for the facility. The vote came after nearly 16 hours of hundreds of residents insisting the city reject the project’s bloated funding package. Chants of “Stop Cop City!” and “Vive vive Tortuguita!” rang off the walls of Atlanta City Hall.

The latter chant was in reference to Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, known as Tortuguita, who was shot and killed by Atlanta police in January. Contrary to the police’s claims that the officers only shot after being shot at first, an independent autopsy found Tortuguita’s hands were raised during the shooting. Even worse, police shot Tortuguita at least 57 times.

Fifty-seven times.

Then in March, dozens of people were indiscriminately arrested at a music festival organized by protesters, many of them charged with domestic terrorism. The protesters were detained on accusations of participating in vandalism and arson at a construction site that was over a mile away from where the music festival was being held. Many were arrested and denied bond on the grounds of having muddy shoes (they were all in a forest, where it had rained), or being “part of the team” because they were wearing black.

And last week, Atlanta police used a heavy-duty police truck and hordes of riot police to arrest just three individuals who had been helping organize bail funds and legal support for protesters. The trio were arrested on charges of “money laundering” and “charity fraud,” though there has been no public evidence of any mishandling of funds raised to support arrested protesters.

While granting bond for the organizers, the judge did not appear compelled by the prosecution. “I don’t find it very impressive,” he said. “There’s not a lot of meat on the bones.”

Trump Begs Judge to Stop Second Defamation Case From E. Jean Carroll

The argument Trump’s team is using to get this case thrown out is beyond twisted.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump thinks that one of E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuits against him should be dismissed because he was only found liable for sexually abusing her, not raping her.

Trump was unanimously found liable in May for sexual abuse and battery against Carroll in the mid-1990s, and for defaming her in 2022 while denying the assault. Carroll has two more defamation lawsuits against Trump pending: one from 2019 and one from last month after he bashed Carroll during the CNN town hall.

But Trump and his legal team argued Monday that he couldn’t have defamed Carroll in 2019, because he was technically telling the truth when he denied raping her.

“The operative question in this case is, and has always been, whether a rape occurred in the Bergdorf Goodman dressing room,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in the court documents. The jury “found that one did not.”

Carroll accused Trump in her 2019 memoir of raping her in the Manhattan Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s. She initially sued him twice for defamation: first in 2019, when he said she made up the rape allegation to promote her book, and again in November for posts he made about her on social media.

A New York jury unanimously found Trump liable of sexual abuse and battery against Carroll and of defaming her in 2022. They recommended she be awarded a total of $5 million in damages.

Carroll is not the only woman to accuse Trump of sexual assault, but her case was the first to make it to a courtroom. Trump continues to vehemently deny all of the allegations, and launched fresh vitriol at Carroll during the disastrous CNN town hall last month. So Carroll sued him for defamation again.

Carroll’s lead lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, rejected Trump’s claim that he hadn’t defamed Carroll, referring to the unanimous verdict in the recent trial. “The jury believed E. Jean Carroll when she testified that Trump sexually abused her. As a result, the jury concluded that Trump knowingly lied about Ms. Carroll when he claimed otherwise,” Kaplan said in a statement Monday.

This is not the first time a member of Trump’s inner circle has tried to get the 2019 lawsuit thrown out. Last week, the judge denied an attempt by Trump ally James H. Brady, who argued that the former president was being unfairly treated because he is a “white Christian.”

Of Course a Mar-a-Lago Worker Drained the Pool Into Room Where Surveillance Video Was Kept

Amazing timing on this one.

Jane Barlow/PA Images/Getty Images

There’s been a flood of evidence coming out about Donald Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate—and now there is also flooded evidence.

A resort employee drained the pool last October, straight into a room full of computer services used to store surveillance footage from around the property, CNN reported Monday, citing anonymous sources. It is unclear whether the room was intentionally flooded, but smart people generally try to drain water away from buildings.

You can see here just how far the pool is from the main property:

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Federal prosecutors for special counsel Jack Smith, who is investigating Trump over the classified documents, have asked at least one witness about the flooded room. They were told that none of the equipment was damaged (have they tried putting the servers in rice, just in case?).

The timing of both the flood and the news report are remarkable. The server room was flooded just two months after FBI agents raided Mar-a-Lago and seized hundreds of classified documents. Prosecutors had subpoenaed surveillance footage before the raid, and they requested more video afterward, in order to determine how the documents were moved around the property.

At least two dozen people have been subpoenaed to testify in the investigation, ranging from resort employees to members of Trump’s inner circle. One person who spans both categories is Trump’s valet, Walt Nauta. Notes from Trump’s lawyer Evan Corcoran reveal that both Trump and Nauta knew exactly where and when Corcoran was planning to search for documents at Mar-a-Lago. Nauta had previously testified that Trump asked him to move boxes out of the storage room, both before and after they knew the Justice Department was seeking the return of classified documents.

According to Corcoran’s notes, Nauta had offered to help him look through the boxes in the storage room, which Corcoran declined. But Corcoran took breaks during the multiday search, leaving the storage room unattended multiple times. Prosecutors are reportedly possibly investigating whether Nauta knew exactly what was in the boxes he was moving.

Another employee who has been subpoenaed is a maintenance worker who helped Nauta move the boxes of classified documents. The maintenance worker is the same person who flooded the server room, according to CNN’s sources.

CNN’s story broke the same day that Trump’s legal team met with the Justice Department to argue that the former president should not be charged for keeping classified material after leaving office. They gave no indication of how the meeting went, but Trump took to Truth Social after, demanding to know “HOW CAN DOJ POSSIBLY CHARGE ME, WHO DID NOTHING WRONG.”

Smith has been circling ever closer to Trump, and many experts are speculating that he will issue criminal charges soon. In the meantime, Trump has plenty to keep him busy: He is under investigation in Georgia for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and he was indicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records for paying hush money to porn actress Stormy Daniels.

Trump was also found civilly liable for sexually abusing and defaming writer E. Jean Carroll—and two weeks ago, she sued him for defamation again over comments he made about her during a CNN town hall.

Florida Republicans Admit They Made a Big Mistake With Anti-Immigrant Law

Republicans are trying to convince immigrants that the law was just to “scare” people, nothing more.

Aerial view of a bee farm, with boxes everywhere. One man stands in the midst of it.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
A bee farm in Arcadia, Florida

Florida Republicans passed a bill criminalizing the transport of undocumented people into Florida, requiring hospitals to ask about immigration status on intake forms, invalidating out of state driver’s licenses or other forms of government ID issued to undocumented people, and preventing local governments from issuing identification cards to undocumented people.

Now, after sparking backlash among thousands of immigrants (who make up a great deal of Florida’s economy), some Florida Republicans are trying to backpedal and do damage control.

On Monday, Representatives Alina Garcia, Rick Roth, and Juan Fernandez Barquin appeared at an event sponsored by Hialeah Mayor Esteban Bovo, also a Republican. The trio, all of whom voted to pass the anti-immigrant bill, clumsily attempted to appeal to the thousands of people their party has alienated.

“This bill is 100 percent supposed to scare you,” said Roth. “I’m a farmer, and the farmers are mad as hell. We are losing employees. They’re already starting to move to Georgia and other states. It’s urgent that you talk to all your people and convince them that you have resources, state representatives, and other people that can explain the bill to you,” he added, essentially begging Florida’s labor force to not leave the state that cares little for them.

“This is more of a political bill than it is policy. It does give more police state powers going forward to deal with immigration, but still this is mainly a political bill,” Roth concluded incoherently. It’s just politics and messaging, but also it ramps up the police state, but also it’s just all politics. OK.

“We had the best president in my life, the last 30 years, and I’m still supporting Donald Trump,” Roth continued. “I love my governor. He’s the greatest governor,” he said of Ron DeSantis, who led the charge to pass a bill stigmatizing and targeting the some 772,000 undocumented workers, students, and community members in Florida.

“I really didn’t prepare anything,” Garcia said while beginning her remarks, adding that she agreed with everything Roth said. “This is a bill basically to scare people from coming to the state of Florida, and I think it’s done its purpose.”

The pleading by Republicans who are reaping what they sowed comes after Latin American truck drivers began rallying behind calls to strike and not enter Florida, while thousands of workers and families have marched across the state protesting the bill and threatening to leave the state.

A spokesperson for Barquin provided a statement after publishing, assuring that the Florida representative does not see the bill as a mistake, or some messaging bill. “During [the] forum, some of my colleagues dismissed SB 1718 as merely a ‘scare tactic,’” Barquine says. “I, in no way, share their opinion.”

“I voted for this bill, support this bill, and applaud our Governor for making this a priority,” Barquin said.

This post has been updated.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Spends an Hour Sucking Up to Elon Musk in Twitter Space

Instead of explaining why he’s running for president, RFK Jr. used the Twitter space to lavish compliments on Elon.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Leading anti-vaccine activist and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. spent almost an hour heaping praise on Elon Musk Monday during a Twitter Space meant to discuss his campaign.

Kennedy announced in April that he would join Marianne Williamson in running against Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination. An environmental lawyer, Kennedy has promoted the scientifically discredited link between vaccines and autism since 2005 and founded an anti-vax advocacy group.

Musk had proposed the Twitter Space so Kennedy could talk about his campaign platform. But the first 50 minutes of the conversation consisted almost entirely of Kennedy praising Musk for how he has run Twitter and fought back against “censorship.”

“I just want to tell you how much I admire you for that and how grateful I am on behalf of my country,” Kennedy said. “You would come here from another country and be a key instrument for rescuing American Democracy and freedom of speech.”

Kennedy specifically mentioned the so-called Twitter Files, which Musk released in December, claiming to have proof that the social media platform had previously censored Republicans.

“I was so surprised and delighted when you did that on your own,” Kennedy said of the files’ release, “and clearly you’ve been portrayed as somebody [with] this sinister agenda, but you’re doing step after step that is not in your self-interest and that is clearly designed to protect freedom of speech.”

Kennedy talked about how his personal Instagram account, and that of his anti-vax organization, were blocked for sharing misinformation. He insisted that his posts only contained real facts and said parent company Meta initially refused to reinstate his account. His profile was allowed back online after he announced he was running for president.

If Kennedy has embraced Musk’s version of free speech, then we should all be very worried. Musk doesn’t love free speech—he actually blocked certain content on Twitter during Turkey’s recent election—so much as the unfettered ability to say whatever you want, regardless of its effect on the rest of society. That’s why hate speech has spiked dramatically since he took over Twitter.

Musk has let Nazis back online, and posts that contain abusive, homophobic, and antisemitic language have proliferated—sometimes thanks to Musk himself. It would be even more dangerous to have a president who doesn’t see an issue with that.

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.

Sean Rayford/Getty Images

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.