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Ron DeSantis’s Racism Just Won Him a Big Lawsuit in Florida

The Florida chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine is suing Governor Ron DeSantis for violating free speech rights.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
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A Palestinian student advocacy group is taking to the legal system to fight back against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s efforts to kick them off student campuses.

On Thursday, the University of Florida chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine announced that it is suing DeSantis, Chancellor Ray Rodrigues, University of Florida President Ben Sasse, and other university leaders for “violating their [First] Amendment rights,” according to a statement by the nonprofit Palestine Legal.

The lawsuit, filed by Palestine Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union, stems from an unusual action taken by the state government last month, in which Rodrigues issued a letter calling for all chapters of the pro-Palestine group to be “deactivated,” claiming that they were providing “material support” to a “terrorist organization.”

Florida State’s chapter, however, argues that it has little to do with the national group or the statements it makes, according to the lawsuit.

SJP has just two chapters left in all of Florida: Florida State University and the University of North Florida.

“As students on a public college campus, we have every right to engage in human rights advocacy,” said Florida State’s chapter in a statement. “We know we have First Amendment rights in school and we’re bringing this lawsuit to make sure the government doesn’t silence us or others like us.”

Florida’s suppression of the local chapter is part of a larger national crackdown on the Palestinian advocacy group. Last month, the Anti-Defamation League and the Brandeis Center, both Jewish nonprofits, issued letters to nearly 200 university presidents across the country calling for an investigation into Students for Justice in Palestine.

Meanwhile, DeSantis has made his own stance on the protests abundantly clear.

On November 8, at the GOP presidential debate in Miami, DeSantis bragged that he had “deactivated” the group.

“We’re not gonna use tax dollars to fund jihad,” he said.

DeSantis also used the platform to openly threaten international students here on visas.

“If you are here on a student visa as a foreign national, and you’re making common cause with Hamas, I’m canceling your visa and I’m sending you home, no questions asked,” said DeSantis.

“Local chapters of student groups cannot be punished for their association with national organizations—nor can the government selectively punish and censor student groups for engaging in speech it doesn’t like or agree with,” said Palestine Legal.

Tennessee City Walks Back Ban on Public Homosexuality … Kind Of

The new vaguely worded language still poses a threat to LGBTQ rights.

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The Tennessee city of Murfreesboro has revoked its ban on public homosexuality, but the rules it still has in place continue to unfairly target LGBTQ people.

Murfreesboro passed an ordinance in June banning “indecent behavior,” including “indecent exposure, public indecency, lewd behavior, nudity or sexual conduct.” The ordinance specifically mentions Section 21-72 of the city code, which states that sexual conduct includes homosexuality.

The city agreed on November 2, following a court order, to remove the mention of homosexuality from the city code, but the change has not yet been codified. Journalist Erin Reed reported that the amended code will go into effect on Friday. But as of publication, homosexuality is still listed as an act of public indecency on the Murfreesboro municipal code website.

Murfreesboro Code of Ordinances

Meanwhile, the June ordinance is still in effect and being used to unfairly target the LGBTQ community. An ACLU-backed challenge to the ordinance has already been launched, but that hasn’t stopped city officials from implementing the measure.

While the indecency ordinance does not specifically mention LGBTQ people, it is similar to the many drag bans passed across the country, all of which were ultimately blocked in court. The ordinance relies on overly vague language to frighten people into self-policing, and it hides behind the justification of “public decency” and protecting children. And the way it has been implemented makes it clear that the ordinance’s intended target is LGBTQ people.

City police also have the right to enforce the ordinance, meaning the rules are up to individual interpretation. As long as the city code still officially says homosexuality is banned, a strict or more conservative officer could target LGBTQ people.

Last week, the Rutherford County steering committee met to discuss removing all books that might potentially violate the ordinance from the public library. Murfreesboro city officials have already used the ordinance to ban four books that discuss LGBTQ themes.

In October, the organizers of BoroPride, the city’s Pride festival, won a court order barring Murfreesboro from enforcing the ordinance against Pride events. The court order also required that the city remove the mention of homosexuality from its public indecency code.

“Of course, they only did that after the judge slapped them down,” BoroPride volunteer Matt Ferry told the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. “The problem is that the mayor and the city manager keep equating LGBTQ+ with actual sex predators, which couldn’t be further from the truth.”

“It’s hurting our LGBTQ+ community,” Ferry said. “It’s intimidating them. They were already afraid to come out in the open in Murfreesboro. This is going to make it worse.”

Trump Has a Cuckoo New Plot to Take Revenge on Michael Cohen

Donald Trump is trying to retaliate against his former fixer ahead of a major trial.

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Donald Trump’s revenge spree against his former fixer Michael Cohen continued last month with a formal demand for Cohen to turn over all his personal devices.

Despite Cohen’s bombshell testimony in Trump’s $250 million New York bank fraud trial last month, this latest request is specific to the former president’s hush-money case, in which Trump faces 34 felony counts for falsifying business records related to paying off porn star Stormy Daniels in the waning days of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

On October 17, Trump’s legal team filed a formal demand for Cohen to give them “all documents and communications regarding the topics below that are stored on any medium under your possession or control, including but not limited to phones (including encrypted messaging applications), tablets, computers, and hard copy,” according to documents obtained by The Daily Beast.

District Attorney Alvin Bragg Jr.’s team argues that the tactic amounts to “witness intimidation” and could result in Trump disseminating sensitive texts, photos, and documents stored on Cohen’s cell phone. They are asking the judge to intervene, the outlet reported.

Trump has denied all wrongdoing and is seeking to dismiss the case outright, calling it a “discombobulated package of politically motivated charges” that interferes with his 2024 campaign to retake the White House.

Prosecutors have argued that reasoning shouldn’t hold any influence on the criminal proceedings.

“Defendant repeatedly suggests that because he is a current presidential candidate, the ordinary rules for criminal law and procedure should be applied differently here. This argument is essentially an attempt to evade criminal responsibility because [the] defendant is politically powerful,” prosecutors said on Thursday, according to ABC News.

The trial is slated to begin on March 25, though that date could be changed if it gets in the way of Trump standing trial over his involvement in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to the judge.

Elon Musk Hits a New, Creepy Antisemitic Low

“You have said the actual truth.”

Kirsty Wigglesworth/WPA Pool/Getty

Elon Musk has endorsed a virulently antisemitic conspiracy theory that Jewish people are getting what they deserve after pushing “diabolical hatred against whites.”

The blowup started with one user posting an ad on X, formerly known as Twitter, urging antisemites who believed “Hitler was right” should stop hiding behind a digital cloak of anonymity.

Then one user emerged with a neo-Nazi talking point, pegging Jewish communities for pushing alleged racism against white people.

“Jewish commun[i]ties have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them,” posted X user @breakingbaht. “I’m deeply disinterested in giving the tiniest shit now about western Jewish populations coming to the disturbing realization that those hordes of minorities that [they] support flooding their country don’t exactly like them too much.”

“You want truth said to your face, there it is,” they added.

“You have said the actual truth,” Musk responded.

The comments are disturbingly in line with the antisemitic “great replacement” theory touted by the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooter, Robert Bowers. 

After more than an hour of intense backlash, Musk reframed his comments with another post, claiming only to be chastising the Jewish nonprofit organization the Anti-Defamation League, an organization he threatened to sue earlier this year for monitoring hate speech on X.

“The ADL unjustly attacks the majority of the West, despite the majority of the West supporting the Jewish people and Israel. This is because they cannot, by their own tenets, criticize the minority groups who are their primary threat. It is not right and needs to stop,” the entrepreneur added.

But far-right users are already chuffed by Musk’s engagement, adding their own prejudice into the mix.

“Judaism is extremely anti European,” wrote one user.

Another responded by retweeting his earlier comments claiming that if it weren’t for Jews, “we’d enjoy our 90% White countries. But they want their nation while destroying our sovereignty.”

The billionaire’s comments were also retweeted by Nick Fuentes, a Hitler-loving, self-proclaimed white supremacist who once analogized the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust to cookies being baked in the oven.

Musk has an extensive history of leveraging his social media platform to spread controversial and problematic stances. Recently, the world’s wealthiest man has agreed with posts purporting that “‘decolonization’ is the woke version of jihad” and posted that they should “drop the “A” and go with Defamation League” after the Anti-Defamation League released a poll indicating that hate speech against Jews had risen by 61 percent on X since Musk’s takeover.

(Unfortunately) More on Elon:

First Jewish Member of Congress Joins Calls for Cease-Fire in Gaza

Becca Balint joins more than 30 other members of Congress calling for a cease-fire amid Israel’s war on Gaza.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc/Getty

Representative Becca Balint on Thursday became the first Jewish member of Congress to call for a cease-fire in Gaza, joining a steadily growing number of Democrats demanding peace.

A total of 32 lawmakers have now called for a cease-fire. Balint joins 30 other representatives and just one senator, Dick Durbin.

What is needed right now is an immediate break in violence to allow for a true negotiated cease-fire,” Balint wrote in a column for VTDigger. “One in which both sides stop the bloodshed, allow critical access to humanitarian aid and move towards negotiating a sustainable and lasting peace.”

“I’m one generation removed from the horrific trauma of the Holocaust, which impacted my family and reshaped the world. Like me, there are thousands of American Jews that share a deep emotional connection to Israel because of what it meant for the survival of the Jewish people in the face of extermination,” Balint said.

“This same history also drives so many of us to fight for the protection of Palestinian lives. I do not claim to know how to solve every aspect of this decades-long conflict. But what I do know is that killing civilians, and killing children, is an abomination and categorically unacceptable—no matter who the civilians are, and no matter who the children are.”

It’s notable that Balint is the first Jewish lawmaker to call for a cease-fire, in part because her words add weight against any arguments that supporting Palestinian civilians is somehow antisemitic. But it’s also significant that she called for a cease-fire before her fellow Vermonter Senator Bernie Sanders.

Sanders has remained silent on a cease-fire, despite huge amounts of pressure from his supporters. More than 300 Democratic National Convention delegates who backed Sanders during his 2016 and 2020 presidential runs urged him Wednesday to introduce a resolution calling for a cease-fire. Three weeks ago, nearly 300 of his former campaign staffers also called on Sanders to support a cease-fire.

Congress has been overwhelmed by the outpour of public support for a cease-fire. Democrats reportedly are telling their staff to let calls from voters go to voicemail while the party forms an official opinion.

President Joe Biden has so far resisted calls for a cease-fire, though, telling reporters last week that there was “no possibility” of one. Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer participated in a March for Israel rally on Tuesday. One of the speakers was far-right evangelical Pastor John Hagee, a known antisemite who once claimed Jews were responsible for the Holocaust. Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who last month suggested that civilians in Gaza are legitimate targets, also attended the rally.

On Wednesday, Democratic Representative Brad Sherman spread dangerous misinformation when he described a protest calling for a cease-fire “pro-terrorist.”

More than 11,100 Palestinian civilians, more than half of them children, have been killed in Israel’s ongoing retaliation to Hamas’s October 7 attack. The fighting has also killed at least 39 journalists and other media workers and more than 100 United Nations employees.

Ohio Republicans Cook Up Yet Another Sinister Plan After Losing Abortion Vote

Ohio Republicans are doing everything they can to roll back reproductive rights.

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A protest in Dayton, Ohio, in October 2019

Ohio Republicans are considering a bill that would incentivize donations to anti-abortion facilities, just a week after residents voted to protect abortion rights in the state Constitution.

The state Senate Finance Committee discussed a Republican bill on Tuesday that would give tax credits to people who donate to “qualifying pregnancy resource centers.” There are more than 175 such facilities in Ohio, although only donations to nonprofit centers would qualify for the tax credit. The bill proposes Ohio credit a total of up to $10 million.

Pregnancy resource centers, also called crisis pregnancy centers, are run by anti-abortion activists with the intention of convincing people not to get an abortion. The centers, which are often faith-based, do provide some resources for pregnant people. But they don’t provide a full range of reproductive health care and are instead meant to “scare, shame, or pressure” patients out of getting an abortion. They also often spread harmful misinformation, such as saying that the abortion pill is reversible.

There are more than 2,500 crisis pregnancy centers in the U.S., according to the Crisis Pregnancy Center Map, an organization that works to share accurate information about the fake clinics. Crisis pregnancy centers outnumber actual abortion facilities by nearly three to one.

The Ohio bill comes a week after residents voted overwhelmingly to enshrine abortion rights in the state Constitution. The bill would make it appealing to donate to anti-abortion facilities and could drown out pro-abortion donations. This could render the amendment moot: Protecting reproductive rights doesn’t mean anything if Ohioans can’t access the proper care.

Since their landslide loss last week, Republicans seem to be working overtime to circumvent democracy. This week’s bill is their second attempt post vote to overthrow the will of the people. Just two days after the election, a group of Republican state representatives proposed blocking the courts from implementing the amendment.

And that’s not even taking into account everything Republicans did to try to stop the vote from happening at all. In August, they tried to raise the threshold for constitutional amendments to a 60 percent vote instead of a simple majority.

When that failed, the Ohio Ballot Board voted 3–2, along party lines, to change the text of the amendment on the ballot to a Republican-authored summary littered with inflammatory and fearmongering language.

We Officially Have a Resolution to Expel George Santos (Again)

Minutes after the House Ethics Committee released its report on George Santos, a member of Congress announced a resolution to expel him.

Representative George Santos
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Representative George Santos

The effort to oust disgraced Representative George Santos has new fervor, with several congressmen calling for Santos’s removal following the release of a bombshell ethics report.

Representative Michael Guest, chair of the House Ethics Committee, said he is planning to file another motion to expel the New York Republican, moments after the release of an ethics report that found “substantial evidence” that George Santos violated federal criminal laws.

“I do intend to file tomorrow a motion to expel from Congress and the pro forma session, and then we’ll work with leadership to try to see when they intend to bring that to the floor,” Guest told Politico’s Olivia Beavers.

Representative Robert Garcia also announced on Thursday that he would introduce a privileged resolution to expel Santos.

Several representatives in both parties who voted against expelling Santos earlier this month have also changed their minds, including Jamie Raskin, Greg Murphy, Kelly Armstrong, and Dusty Johnson.

New York Representatives Marc Molinaro and Nick LaLota, two of Santos’s earliest critics, have again called for his removal.

The House Ethics Committee’s 56-page report found that Santos blew campaign funds on personal expenses, including Botox injections and trips to Atlantic City with his husband. He also appropriated campaign funds into a personal account to spend on OnlyFans, an online content service primarily used by sex workers.

The report discredited Santos’s origin story for his wealth. Instead of finding evidence supporting what Santos claimed was an influx of money from previously held high-level finance jobs, the report found that Santos was “frequently in debt, had an abysmal credit score, and relied on an ever-growing wallet of high-interest credit cards to fund his luxury spending habits.”

Confusing his financial history was also a part of the plan, the report contests. To cover his tracks, Santos crafted a “fictional” financial narrative surrounding what he called his “family’s firm,” the Devolder Organization. Yet that group turned out not to be a financial institution but an LLC that almost exclusively received bank deposits and transfers from other accounts operated by Santos.

“At nearly every opportunity, he placed his desire for private gain above his duty to uphold the Constitution, federal law, and ethical principles,” the report read. “Santos sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit.”

The bipartisan House Ethics Committee said that Santos should be publicly condemned for his actions, which the report notes were “beneath the dignity of the office and … brought severe discredit upon the House.” They opted against recommending any sanctions against Santos, predicting that the process would have dragged on for months, reported Roll Call.

In a sprawling online statement, Santos rejected the report wholesale, condemning it as a “disgusting politicized smear” while demanding a constitutional convention.

The fabulist congressman also noted he would not be seeking reelection in 2024, claiming his family “deserves better than to be under the gun from the press all the time.”

Ethics Report: George Santos Used Campaign Funds on OnlyFans and Botox

Who thought OnlyFans would show up in a House Ethics Committee report?

Anna Moneymaker/Getty

The House Committee on Ethics released its long-awaited report on serial fabulist George Santos Thursday, and every single line is more damning than the last.

Santos, a freshman representative, has caused nothing but controversy since he took office. He fabricated the vast majority of his personal and professional background, and in October, he was federally indicted for financial fraud and identity theft.

“The evidence uncovered by the Investigative Subcommittee (ISC) revealed that Representative George Santos cannot be trusted,” the report stated. “At nearly every opportunity, he placed his desire for private gain above his duty to uphold the Constitution, federal law, and ethical principles.”

The ISC warned that Santos’s “lies go far beyond inaccuracies on a resume.” The report lays out clearly (and sometimes hilariously) how Santos repeatedly used his campaign to solicit donations, only to use that money for personal expenses. He filed false financial statements and continuously lied to voters, donors, and even his staff members.

One section details how Santos deposited campaign funds into his personal account. He then spent the money on designer goods, makeup, and “smaller purchases at OnlyFans.” Santos also spent campaign money on “spa services and/or cosmetic procedures,” including Botox.

Santos has repeatedly faced questions about the source of his money. He claimed he worked high-level finance jobs and had a family business.

In reality, according to the report, “Representative Santos was frequently in debt, had an abysmal credit score, and relied on an ever-growing wallet of high-interest credit cards to fund his luxury spending habits.”

The report also noted that “at no point does Representative Santos appear to have owned a Maserati, despite telling campaign staff otherwise.”

The ISC warned that the worst part of Santos’s repeated fabrications is that the “fraud on the electorate is ongoing.”

“He continues to propound falsehoods and misrepresentations rather than take responsibility for his actions,” the report concluded.

Democratic Representative Robert Garcia submitted a privileged resolution to expel Santos immediately after the report was released. Democrats had already submitted a motion to censure Santos over the summer, but they ultimately shelved the measure.

New York Representatives Marc Molinaro and Nick LaLota also called for Santos to be removed in light of the ethics report. The two freshman Republicans were some of the first members of the GOP to demand Santos resign when news of his serial lies first broke. They also co-sponsored a motion to expel Santos in October, but the measure failed to pass a vote.

“George Santos is a total fraud who stole an election to get to Congress. Now, his election should be invalidated by the House using its Constitutional expulsion powers,” LaLota told Politico reporter Olivia Beavers.

In addition to misusing campaign funds and lying about his employment history, Santos has falsely claimed that his grandparents were Holocaust survivors, his mother died in the 9/11 attacks, and four of his employees were killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting. He also lied about founding an animal rescue charity and producing the disastrous Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.

Santos has been federally charged with 23 counts of various types of financial fraud. He pleaded not guilty to the initial 13 in May, and he has denied the additional 10 that were filed in October in a superseding indictment. Earlier this year, he also agreed to a deal with Brazilian authorities investigating him for financial fraud so he could avoid prosecution.

Read the full House Ethics Committee report on George Santos here.

“Pro-Terrorist”: Dem Congressman Smears Protesters Calling for Cease-Fire in Gaza

Representative Brad Sherman actively spread misinformation about the protest at the Democratic National Committee headquarters.

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California Representative Brad Sherman

U.S. tensions surrounding the Israel-Hamas conflict are continuing to boil.

On Wednesday, a Democratic congressman opted to describe a lock-on protest at the DNC calling for a cease-fire in Gaza with inflammatory language, snubbing it as “pro-terrorist.”

“Was just evacuated from the #DNC after pro-terrorist, anti-#Israel protestors grew violent, pepper spraying police officers and attempting to break into the building,” said California Representative Brad Sherman on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Sherman immediately received blowback online from journalists and protesters alike, who categorically refuted the claims in Sherman’s post and argued that the mass-recorded event at the Democratic National Committee headquarters illustrated no evidence of protesters spraying police, but rather the other way around.

“Yeah, Sherman is wrong. I was outside the building and saw a USCP officer spray protesters, not vice versa,” responded Semafor’s David Weigel, linking a video that shows officers shoving and spraying an aerosol into a tightly packed crowd several times before walking into their own line of fire.

“They blocked the entrances; they didn’t try to storm the offices,” Weigel continued in another post.

A Democratic strategist also questioned the validity of a statement issued by Capitol Police following the protest, which noted that officers were “treated for injuries—ranging from minor cuts to being pepper sprayed to being punched.”

“So did the police at the DNC protest injure … themselves?” posted senior Democratic strategist Waleed Shahid, who had previously worked for Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, sharing a clip documenting a Capitol Police officer hitting another officer in the back while setting up a metal blockade.

Protest organizers estimate that at least 90 people were injured in the clashes with police.

The war between Israel and Hamas is now halfway through its sixth week. Only 31 members of Congress have called for a cease-fire, and a report indicated that many Democratic congressmen are actively ignoring phone calls from constituents asking for a cease-fire.

Gaza’s Health Ministry has reported that more than 11,100 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict so far—or one out of every 200 people—with most of the dead being women and children. Approximately 240 hostages still remain in Gaza after Hamas’s October 7 attack, killing 1,200 people.

Oops! Another State Is Investigating Trump’s Fake Elector Scheme

Nevada’s attorney general is looking into a slew of people who tried to falsely cast votes for Donald Trump in 2020.

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Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald

Nevada’s attorney general is investigating six Republicans, including the state Republican Party chair, who pretended to be state electors in 2020 to hand the election to Donald Trump.

Democratic state Attorney General Aaron Ford had previously said he would not investigate the case. But in recent weeks, investigators from his office have begun asking witnesses about the six operatives’ efforts to present themselves as legitimate electors, Politico reported Wednesday.

Ford has kept the investigation relatively quiet. Neither he nor his office has yet to publicly comment on the probe.

After Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election, Republicans in seven highly contested states launched attempts to overturn the results. GOP operatives signed certificates falsely stating they were the state’s Electoral College representatives and tried to claim that Trump had won their state.

Many of the fake electors were highly ranked state Republicans. The Nevada fake electors included Nevada GOP Chair Michael McDonald.

Nevada is now the fourth state to launch an investigation into the fake electors scheme. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel charged 16 people in July with felonies for pretending to be 2020 electors. The accused include state Republican Party co-chair Meshawn Maddock and state Republican National Committeewoman Kathy Berden.

There are also investigations going on in Arizona and Georgia, where Trump and his allies have also been indicted for trying to overturn the state’s 2020 election results. The other states where Republicans tried to overthrow the results—New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—have yet to publicly announce whether they will probe the fake elector plot.

The plan to use fake electors was initially thought of by lawyer Kenneth Chesebro, who was indicted in Georgia, and then eventually taken over by Trump lawyer John Eastman. An internal memo reveals that Chesebro knew his “bold, controversial strategy” would “likely” be rejected by the Supreme Court.

But the point of Chesebro’s plan was not actually to pass legal and judicial scrutiny. Instead, the goal was to increase the spotlight on the baseless claims of voter fraud and to give Trump’s campaign more time to win its multiple lawsuits challenging the vote results. Judges threw out every single one of those lawsuits because they had no basis.