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Yusef Salaam, of Central Park Five, Wins NYC Council Primary

The exonerated member of the Central Park Five said of his election victory: “I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.”

Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Stonyfield
Yusef Salaam

Thirty-four years after being indicted by both the media and the criminal justice system, and sent to jail for a crime he never committed, Yusef Salaam of the Central Park Five has won the New York City Council primary elections, almost guaranteeing he will serve for the same city government that oversaw his unjust imprisonment.

Salaam was one of five Black and Latino teenagers falsely accused of assaulting and raping a white female jogger in Central Park in 1989. Now, decades later, after spending nearly seven years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Salaam is poised to represent his home district of Harlem, one of the most historic neighborhoods in New York City, and one that overlooks the north end of Central Park itself.

“This campaign has been about our Harlem community, who has been pushed into the margins of life and made to believe they were supposed to be there,” Salaam said on election night. “Having to be kidnapped from my home as a 15-year-old child, to be launched in the belly of the beast, I was gifted to turn that experience into the womb of America. I was gifted because I was able to see it for what it really was: a system that was trying to make me believe that I was my ancestors’ wildest nightmare. But I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.”

Running for the city’s ninth district, which includes Harlem, Salaam far outpaced a field that included two elected officials currently representing the neighborhood. The race was the only one in which Mayor Eric Adams made an endorsement, backing state Assembly member Inez Dickens, who currently trails Salaam by over 25 points.

While the election was a primary race, Salaam is all but guaranteed to be elected to the council come November.

Since being released from his false imprisonment, Salaam has become a motivational speaker and board member of the Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to fighting against wrongful convictions and bettering the criminal justice system.

In 1989, amid the apprehension of the Exonerated Five, former President Donald Trump bought full-page advertisements in all four of New York City’s major newspapers, including The New York Times, calling to “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY.” He has still not apologized for doing so, even while all five of the individuals wrongfully arrested have been proven innocent.

In March, after twice-impeached Trump faced his first of now two criminal indictments, Salaam released a one-word response: “Karma.”

This article has been updated.

Trump Incriminates Himself Further in Absurd Reaction to Classified Docs Tape

Asked about his voice on the recordings, he replied, “My voice was fine. What did I say wrong?”

Donald Trump
Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Getting away with crimes is difficult enough, but it’s even harder when you compulsively say out loud in very clear terms that you did them. Such is the lesson Donald Trump is learning, after the release of an audio recording corroborating the federal accusations the twice-impeached former president faces for stealing classified government information and flippantly showing them off to an array of non-cleared individuals.

Indeed, though the twice-indicted and liable for sexual abuse former president has the right to remain silent, he’s never really exercised that, has he? And the pattern continued during an interview with Fox News on Tuesday.

“I had a whole desk full of lots of papers, and mostly newspaper articles, copies of magazines, copies of different plans, copies of stories having to do with many, many subjects,” Trump said. “And what was said was absolutely fine, and very perfectly, we did nothing wrong. This is a whole hoax.”

As a reminder, Trump was indicted on 37 counts for mishandling classified documents, and is accused of even being “personally involved” in packing up boxes full of classified information as he departed the White House for Mar-a-Lago, where the boxes were then hidden everywhere from the ballroom to the bathroom. He allegedly showed the documents—sourced from agencies including the CIA and NSA—to staff members, writers, and even a representative of his PAC.

Court documents cited one recording in particular in which Trump allegedly showed individuals without security clearance “highly confidential” and “secret” documents related to a Pentagon plan for a potential attack on Iran. He notes in the recording he “could have declassified” them had he still been president. CNN released the recording in full on Monday, corroborating what the indictment already detailed: Trump is heard showing “a big pile of papers … off the record … [from] the Defense Department” to individuals without clearance.

Pretty straightforward, yes? You’d think. Yet Trump’s defense now involves doubling down, saying indeed he had tons of papers, copies of different plans, and it was all “absolutely fine, and very perfectly.”

That wasn’t enough though. Asked about his own voice on the recordings, Trump’s ego still somehow activated against the logic of the actual question. “My voice was fine. What did I say wrong?” he asked, before addressing the actual stakes of the question: whether he’s a criminal.

“We have a lot of papers, a lot of papers stacked up. In fact, you hear the rustle of the paper,” Trump assures us. Why, exactly, he’s reminding the public that he had “a lot of papers” and encouraging them to wonder what those “papers” were is unclear.

If it’s all to be performance art, Trump’s conclusion that “nobody said I did anything wrong other than the fake news, which of course is Fox too,” is a nice cherry on top.

GOP Presidential Candidate Tries to Save Face After Asking “What’s a Uyghur?”

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez admitted he’s never heard of the Uyghur people or the Chinese government’s crimes against them—then tried to take it back.

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Republican presidential candidate and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez

Republican presidential candidate Francis Suarez is so qualified for the job, with such an extensive foreign policy repertoire, that he has simply never heard of a Uyghur before.

The Miami mayor declared his 2024 bid for president earlier this month, prompting nearly everyone to ask, “Who’s that?” And he only embarrassed himself further on Tuesday, during a radio interview with conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt.

Hewitt asked the GOP candidate about his campaign’s stance on China’s human rights violations against the Uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority. China has built mass internment camps in the Xinjiang province, where most Uyghurs live, and more than a million Uyghurs (as well as other religious minorities) have been detained in the last few years. The United States has classified the mass persecution and targeting as genocide.

But Suarez seems to have no idea about any of it, or even about “what” a Uyghur is.

When asked about the Uyghurs during the radio show, Suarez was completely stumped. The exchange went like this:

Hewitt: Will you be talking about the Uyghurs in your campaign?

Suarez: The what?

Hewitt: The Uyghurs.

Suarez: What’s a Uyghur?

Hewitt:  OK, we’ll come back to that. Let me, you won’t be, you’ve got to get smart on that.”

Later in the interview, Suarez said, “You gave me homework, Hugh. I’ll look at a—what’s it called, a weeble?”

“The Uyghurs,” Hewitt repeated yet again. “You really need to know about the Uyghurs, mayor.”

“Uyghurs, I’m a good learner, a fast learner,” Suarez responded, seemingly making a joke of it all.

The mayor later tried to do damage control, blaming the mishap on lack of familiarity with the pronunciation Hewitt used.

“Of course, I am well aware of the suffering of the Uyghurs in China. They are being enslaved because of their faith. China has a deplorable record on human rights, and all people of faith suffer there. I didn’t recognize the pronunciation my friend Hugh Hewitt used,” Suarez said in a statement.

Hewitt, of course, used the common English pronunciation of the word.

Again, none of this should be a surprise to a presidential candidate. Both of the last two presidential administrations have accused China of committing genocide and crimes against humanity against the Uyghurs. The Chinese government has been accused of physical and mental torture, mass sexual assault, mass sterilization, and mass detention with the goal of changing people’s identities and religious beliefs.

Minnesota Republican Absurdly Blames Global Warming on Pride Month

Minnesota state Senator Eric Lucero would like to turn back the clock on LGBTQ rights.

Katie McTiernan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

There are an estimated 24 million people who identify as LGBTQ in America—a likely undercount, as more and more people grow comfortable embracing themselves. And yet, despite that progress, Republicans like Minnesota state Senator Eric Lucero are working overtime to turn back the clock.

“GLOBAL WARMING,” Lucero began in a tweet on Monday. “Our Creator hates PRIDE, and each of us as the creation will be held to account for our choices, eventually.”

“The 7-color natural rainbow is a reminder of His promise to never again enact worldwide judgment by WATER. The next worldwide judgment will be by FIRE.”

Neither the Bible nor any ancient religious text says anything about Pride Month, a modern-day celebration dedicated to people’s ability to love and live freely and wholly.

Deep theology aside, if there is a God or gods, they would likely be less concerned with their creations feeling the warmth of love, than, say, their creations degrading other creations around them.

As in, Lucero’s invocation of climate change as some sort of threat promised by God in response to “PRIDE,” might (shocker) be missing the mark of what God (or gods) is (or are) actually concerned with. Maybe, just maybe, the idea that global warming is spurred by relentless greed (an actual universally accepted sin) is more convincing than the idea that God is making the globe hotter because people are loving freely.

Lucero’s foolishness ought not be lost as Minnesota hosts some of the worst air quality in the world at this very moment due to wildfires made worse by climate change.

Not to be seen as an aberrant comment, Lucero’s tweet adds to a growing pathetic and creepish track record.

Last year, Lucero tried spreading fake rumors that schools were harboring litter boxes in bathrooms and uniforms with tails to accommodate kids who identify as cats.

On January 6, 2021, Lucero spoke at a “Storm the Capitol” rally in St. Paul, in support of the riots on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. seeking to overturn the 2020 election results. “We are at the threshold of a Civil War … we need to purge. We need to pull the weeds,” one of Lucero’s fellow speakers said to the crowd.

Lucero, if nothing else, is a robotic outrage automaton, like many of his contemporaries. A day after Chaya Raichik posted a tweet displaying her complete lack of reading comprehension:

… Lucero tweeted essentially the exact same thing, showcasing his blithering desperation to be just like the other cool kids who see understanding words as a suggestion for, not a necessity to, daily life:

The Right Is Weirdly Hyperfixated on Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Muscles

A video of the presidential candidate has sent the far right into a tizzy.

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Over the weekend, videos of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. exercising circulated the internet. Groaning and glistening while donning tight jeans and no shirt, the presidential candidate earned the approval of an interesting array of people, namely far-right media and Twitter’s blue-check army.

“Getting in shape for my debates with President Biden!” Kennedy tweeted alongside a video of him squeezing through nine non–fully extended pushups.

“That’s a fit boy,” a voice said behind the camera.

Another video showcased Kennedy struggling through a similarly lackluster set of inclined bench presses at what appears to be a whopping 115 pounds—certainly nothing to dismiss on its own, but maybe not a performance to so excitedly cheer for if Kennedy’s body was as herculean as some have made it out to be (this was “his last drop set of the day,” the video tweeter assured the public).

Anyhow, the lovefest ensued.

The posts have also been part of a smear campaign against a prominent scientist who has been targeted for his support of vaccines. The implication being: Why trust a normal-looking scientist who supports vaccines when you have this red, meaty anti-vaxxer (who definitely doesn’t instead inject himself with steroids) right in front of you?

RFK Jr. prides his campaign on being health-centered in a way that no other candidate is, hence his latest strategy to showcase himself as uniquely fit relative to Biden (curiously, the comparison to the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, has not been made by RFK Jr. or many of his ogling fans). But having a balanced diet and embracing physical activity certainly do not preclude someone from also taking rigorously studied vaccines against diseases that have killed millions of people.

Such revolutionarily basic logic unfortunately might not penetrate the force field humming around the freethinkers who have been led to believe that freethinking means free of thinking.

The sweaty Kennedy content was imposed so forcefully onto people’s Twitter timelines, it would not have been surprising if Elon Musk himself was juicing the numbers. And that might not be the only juicing relevant here. While Kennedy has prided himself on standing against vaccines researched and scrutinized by thousands of scientists around the world, one might not be out of bounds to question the particular puffiness of his stature.

It’s not bad for someone to take steroids, especially if they are proven to support one’s physical or mental health, or longevity. If only that logic would be extended to the millions of transgender people in this country, instead of for instance, Kennedy insinuating that chemicals in water are turning them trans.

FBI Knew Proud Boys Were Prepping to “Kill People,” Did Nothing

A new Senate report savages the FBI and DHS for ignoring pre–January 6 intel.

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A new report out Tuesday morning from a Senate committee rips the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security for ignoring “a massive amount of intelligence information” in the weeks leading up to the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

In one egregious example, the report from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee charged that the bureau overlooked a December 2020 tip that members of the Proud Boys were gearing up to be in Washington on the day Congress voted to certify Joe Biden’s victory and that their “plan is to literally kill people,” in the report’s language. Numerous social media posts warned of violence erupting, including some that used language like “burn the place to the ground” (with respect to the Capitol) and, from a member of the Oath Keepers group: “There is only one way in. It is not signs. It’s not rallies. It’s fucking bullets!”

In addition to that, the social media company Parler, a platform favored by MAGA-land, directly sent the FBI a number of posts that it found alarming. According to the report, one read: “This is not a rally and it’s no longer a protest. This is a final stand where we are drawing the red line at Capitol Hill.… Don’t be surprised if we take the #capital [sic] building.”

And yet, with all those warnings and more, on the very morning of January 6, as Donald Trump was preparing to give his “fight like hell” speech, the FBI announced that there were “no credible threats at this time,” as the AP reported Tuesday morning.

“Our intelligence agencies completely dropped the ball,” said Senator Gary Peters, Democrat of Michigan and committee chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. “Despite a multitude of tips and other intelligence warnings of violence on Jan. 6, the report showed that these agencies repeatedly—repeatedly—downplayed the threat level and failed to share the intelligence they had with law enforcement partners.”

FBI officials have previously testified that they knew of no such intel. The report seems to contradict that completely. Maybe people just found it hard to believe that armed citizens would storm their Capitol building with the literal intent of killing members of Congress (and the vice president).

And, of course—maybe some people in the FBI suspected it might happen but didn’t disagree with the mob that the election was stolen. Whatever’s behind the failure, it’s a historic and humiliating one.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Right-Wing Theory That Would Have Upended Elections

The ruling on the “independent state legislature theory” is a blow to election deniers everywhere.


The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down the controversial “independent state legislature theory,” in a serious win for democracy.

The court voted 6–3 in the case Moore v. Harper to knock down the fringe right-wing legal theory, which would have given state legislatures broad, virtually unchecked authority to oversee federal elections.

The Supreme Court had been asked in the case to decide whether North Carolina’s Supreme Court had the power to throw out the Republican-controlled legislature’s congressional maps.

Last year, the state Supreme Court deemed the maps an “egregious and intentional partisan gerrymander” meant to favor Republicans—and court-drawn maps were instead used for the 2022 election.

North Carolina Republicans argued that under the Constitution’s elections clause, the state legislature has the ultimate authority over election laws, not the courts, and they wanted their gerrymandered map reinstated.

But the Supreme Court handily rejected their argument, writing: “The Elections Clause does not vest exclusive and independent authority in state legislatures to set the rules regarding federal elections.”

Had the court ruled differently, election deniers throughout the country would likely be rejoicing. In its most extreme form, the independent state legislature theory could allow state legislatures to bypass state courts and governors’ vetoes when it comes to election law, giving them virtually unchecked authority with no checks and balances. It could even allow state legislatures to certify presidential electors who were not approved by the voters. Unsurprisingly, the theory was one that Donald Trump and his allies used to try to overturn the 2020 election.

This story has been updated.

Fox News Enters Its Post–Tucker Carlson Era

Its ratings have rebounded, and it has finally found its Tucker Carlson replacement.

John Lamparski/Getty Images

When Fox News fired Tucker Carlson in April, the network entered a tailspin. It had parted company with stars before—most notably Bill O’Reilly, after Fox News and the longtime host settled lawsuits with five women who had accused him of sexual misconduct—but always bounced back. Fox News, the thinking both inside and outside the network went, was bigger than its stars and could make or break them more or less at will.

This time was different, however. Carlson was a different type of Fox anchor: Less glued to the GOP establishment, he played a vital role in pushing nativist and far-right narratives into the mainstream. At the same time, Fox had genuine, if significantly smaller, competitors on its right; viewers had real alternatives, something that hadn’t always been the case. After Carlson departed the network, its rankings tanked. There were calls for boycotts and, most absurdly, allegations that Fox News had “gone woke.” In May, the ratings for Carlson’s 8 p.m. slot fell by more than 50 percent; the network’s prime time fell by about 40 percent. Fox News was in a genuine crisis.

At the end of June, that crisis seems to largely be over. The network’s ratings have rebounded, although they haven’t come close to what they were before Carlson’s defenestration. Last week, Fox News dethroned MSNBC—which had taken the top of the leaderboard during its right-wing competitor’s tailspin—averaging 1,536,000 viewers to MSNBC’s 1,397,000 in prime time. (CNN continued to lag behind with 800,000 viewers.) And on Monday, Fox News announced it was shaking up its post-Carlson lineup. Jesse Watters, who got his start doing racist “comedy” videos on O’Reilly’s show and has since become a star as the resident doofus on Fox News’s The Five, will take over Carlson’s old 8 p.m. show. Greg Gutfeld’s painfully unfunny late-night show, Gutfeld!, will move to 10 p.m.

Both hosts use the guise of comedy to push reactionary views. Both are also painfully unoriginal and predictable, using the same complaints about wokeness and crime again and again in predictable ways. Unlike with Carlson, you’ll never be surprised—even if you will occasionally be shocked—by what they say. That’s the point. Fox News’s brass grew frustrated with Carlson because they couldn’t control him. Carlson would stray—sometimes far—from Republican orthodoxy on a number of issues. He didn’t try to disguise his bigotry, as Watters and Gutfeld often do, with the possibility that they’re joking. He would push back at efforts to control him. Fox News executives don’t have to worry about Watters and Gutfeld. They are good soldiers who will follow the company line.

The Supreme Court May Preemptively Ban a Federal Wealth Tax

Given the recent ethics questions about justices’ interactions with billionaires, it’s an interesting case to take on.

Robert Alexander/Getty Images

The Supreme Court took up a case on Monday that could make it nearly impossible for Congress to pass a federal wealth tax, giving the justices an opportunity to torpedo a major Democratic policy proposal before it can be enacted. The plaintiffs who brought the case have all but urged the court to do exactly that.

In Moore v. United States, the justices will consider whether a provision of former President Donald Trump’s tax-reform law in 2017 violated the Sixteenth Amendment, which allows Congress to collect federal income taxes. As part of a complex restructuring of federal corporate tax laws, the 2017 law imposed a one-time “mandatory repatriation tax” on American taxpayers who owned more than 10 percent of a foreign corporation.

Charles and Kathleen Moore, the titular plaintiffs, owned 11 percent of an Indian farm-equipment company when the 2017 law went into effect. Thanks to the provision in question, they paid roughly $15,000 in additional taxes the following year. The Moores filed a lawsuit against the federal government and argued that the tax was unconstitutional because their partial ownership of the company did not count as “income” under the Sixteenth Amendment.

The lower courts rejected that argument, however, and ruled that the tax had essentially targeted years of deferred foreign income. That prompted the couple to ask the Supreme Court to intervene. While the case hinges on a tax passed by Trump and a Republican-led Congress, the petition invited the justices to use it to prevent Democrats from imposing a federal wealth tax in the future.

“This is no idle threat,” the Moores said in their petition for review, referring to a federal wealth tax. They cited proposals by the Biden administration and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden to tax billionaires based on their assets, none of which have passed Congress. “There is every reason for the Court to resolve the pivotal constitutional question of realization now, when its judgment can inform lawmakers and stands to head off a major constitutional clash down the line,” the couple told the justices.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed published in 2021, two of the Moores’ lawyers also declared unambiguously that the lawsuit “stands to slam shut the door on a federal wealth tax like the one Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to enact.” They made a direct pitch to “the courts” to hear the Moores’ case “now” to make it easier to block a wealth tax in the future.

“If the courts confirm the Sixteenth Amendment’s limited reach now, that would relieve them from having to do so in a politically explosive case directly challenging a wealth tax,” the two lawyers concluded. “The courts would do well to remind Congress at this opportune time that its taxing power is not without limits.”

The Justice Department had urged the justices to reject the case, noting there was no split on the issue in the lower courts and arguing that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had correctly applied the relevant precedents. On the wealth-tax question, the government also pointedly noted that the Supreme Court does not have the constitutional power to issue advisory opinions about hypothetical legislation that has not been enacted into law by Congress.

Debates over a wealth tax’s constitutionality are not new, of course. After Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren made her proposal to enact one as a centerpiece of her 2020 presidential campaign, more than a few legal scholars argued that such a tax would not fall within the Sixteenth Amendment’s parameters. (Warren and other wealth-tax proponents disagree.) If Congress implemented such a tax in the future, a legal challenge to it in the courts would be virtually guaranteed.

The court’s decision to hear the Moores’ case also comes at an awkward time for the justices, to say the least. ProPublica and other major news outlets have reported extensively on Justice Clarence Thomas’s fruitful relationship with Harlan Crow, a billionaire and GOP megadonor, in recent months. Last week, the publication also reported that Justice Samuel Alito went on a free luxury fishing trip in Alaska in 2008 with billionaire Paul Singer, who gave the justice a free ride on his private jet to get there. Both Thomas and Alito have denied that they acted improperly by not disclosing the billionaires’ gifts on their annual financial-disclosure forms; Alito even took to the Wall Street Journal’s op-ed section to defend himself.

Only four votes are needed for the justices to take up a particular case. The court does not disclose how the justices vote on petitions for review, so it is not known if Thomas or Alito voted to hear the Moores’ lawsuit. Americans will get a clearer perspective on their views in the case when the court hears oral arguments in the fall term. As the justices wrestle with rapidly declining public esteem and multiple ethics controversies, taking up a case that could protect billionaires from wealth taxes before Congress can even pass them is an interesting choice.

Guess Who’s Targeted in Ron DeSantis’s First Major Policy Address?

LGBTQ people? Authors of banned books? Those seeking abortions? Close, but not quite.

Ron DeSantis
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis gave his first major policy address as a presidential candidate on Monday. The economy? Tax cuts and deregulation? How to revive manufacturing? How we’re all part of one glorious shining city on a hill?

You haven’t been paying much attention to the governor if you thought any of those things. The nominees for topic of his first presidential policy address were, of course, LGBTQ people, librarians, teachers, those seeking and providing abortions; but the lucky winner this morning? Undocumented immigrants.

In a nutshell, DeSantis is promising to be worse than Donald Trump on immigration.

According to CNN, DeSantis, who spoke at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Eagle Pass, Texas, vowed to dispatch the military to the border and commence a “mass detention and deportation” (CNN’s words) of undocumented immigrants. He also pledged to end birthright citizenship and, yes, Build. The. Wall.

“For decades, leaders from both parties have produced empty promises on border security, and now it is time to act to stop the invasion once and for all,” DeSantis said. “As president, I will declare a national emergency on day one and will not rest until we build the wall, shut down illegal entry, and win the war against the drug cartels. No excuses. We will get it done.”

His camp also took one of its first shots at Trump over the weekend by tweeting: “Trump ran on this same promise in 2016, but ended up deporting fewer illegals than Barack Obama.”

As governor, DeSantis has banned sanctuary cities, sent Florida law enforcement and National Guard officers to the Texas border, and cracked down on workforce immigration violations. And of course there were his famous stunts where he sent undocumented immigrants by plane to Martha’s Vineyard and Los Angeles to troll the libs.

So this will be the heart of DeSantis’s campaign, although presumably LGBTQ people and librarians and abortion-seekers will all have their day in the Sunshine State sun, as it were. That is, assuming his campaign lasts long enough. He’s slipping in the polls against Trump, and Politico posted a piece Monday morning about a serious political etiquette gaffe he pulled in New Hampshire that offended those notoriously delicate Granite State “how things are done” sensibilities (he scheduled an event there at the same time as a previously scheduled Trump event, in front of some kind of important Republican women’s group).

So maybe the people he’s targeting don’t need to be so scared.