California Cops Violently Attacked a Black Man Who Was Filming Them

“I felt the asphalt just cutting in my face,” said Kwesi Guss, the man who the officers attacked.

Police officers assaulted and detained a California man who was filming them earlier this month, a clear violation of his right to document public police actions.
Kwesi Guss, who is Black, witnessed the end of a police chase in Richmond, California, involving a separate individual who had been speeding. That person had pulled over near a parking lot, and was in the process of turning himself in to police.
Guss, who has filmed police activities in the past, pulled out his cell phone to do so again. That’s when another police vehicle pulled up next to him, video of the incident shows. The officer driving that vehicle ran behind it, then toward the scene, running into Guss in the process, who appeared unable to respond fast enough to the action.
“Get out of the fucking way,” the officer told Guss, according to reporting from The San Francisco Chronicle.
After the Richmond Police Department officer hit him and yelled at him, Guss reportedly replied, “Shut your bitch ass up.”

Video then shows the officer, who was several yards past Guss by this point, turn his attention back toward him. As the officer approached Guss, he started backing up. But the officer violently shoved him anyway.

[embedded content]

Guss appeared to yell something again, which resulted in the officer shoving him a second time. At no point in the video does Guss physically provoke the officer in any way.
The officer persisted in his physical aggression, shoving Guss a total of five times before another bystander, an unidentified woman, tried to intervene. At this point, a second officer who was already at the scene came over to assist the officer assaulting Guss.
Guss is then grabbed and handcuffed. One of the officers kicked him in the ankle, forcing Guss to the ground.
“I felt the asphalt just cutting in my face,” Guss told the Chronicle, adding that he suffered abrasions on his face and bruised ribs, and that his handcuffs were so tight they cut into his wrist.
In the nearly four years since Minneapolis police choked George Floyd to death as he begged for his life, police brutality appears to have increased. In 2020, the year of George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent nationwide uprisings, police killed 1,155 people. In 2023, that number increased by nearly 8 percent, with police killing 1,247 people, according to figures from the Police Violence Report.
Indeed, police killed more people in 2023 than in any other year over the past decade. The vast majority of these killings began with police responding to suspected nonviolent offenses or situations in which no crime was reported, with police killing 109 people after stopping them for a traffic violation.

Read More

Far Right Billionaires Are Waging a War to Capture State Courts

As state courts continue to hear cases related to abortion bans and protections across the country, following the overturn of Roe v. Wade, these institutions have come even more into the crosshairs of a few ultra-wealthy extremists who want to codify and impose their personal religious beliefs on all of us via binding law.
In April and May of this year, Arizonans and Floridians saw their reproductive rights limited by decisions handed down by their respective state supreme courts, but that isn’t the end of the story. Democrats in Arizona have since spearheaded legislation that Gov. Katie Hobbs (D-Arizona) signed to repeal the draconian 1864 near-total abortion ban their court deemed constitutional. And Floridians will likely decide in November on a ballot initiative that would guarantee them broader abortion access, counteracting their supreme court’s greenlighting of a near-total abortion ban.
Some state courts, like those in Arizona and Florida, have assailed our reproductive and other rights, but others have also played a crucial role in protecting our freedoms, like in Pennsylvania, Montana, Kansas, and elsewhere. The new key role of state courts in determining the state of reproductive justice for its citizens post-Roe has made these institutions an even larger target for regressive forces seeking to roll back our freedoms.
A new report by True North Research demonstrates that some of the key national actors who helped hand-pick and back the nominations of the right-wing majority on the U.S. Supreme Court — who are likewise tied to groups litigating court cases to turn back our rights — have also sought to capture state courts to further advance their regressive agenda.
Leonard Leo, the Federalist Society and the Florida Supreme Court
Right-wing attorney Leonard Leo is the central figure in the long-term campaign to capture the federal and state judiciaries and to install people on the bench who oppose reproductive freedom and corporate regulation. Leo co-chairs the board of the Federalist Society, a group created over 40 years ago with the help of then-professor Antonin Scalia and others to create pathways to power for “conservative and libertarian” lawyers. For years, Leo was the executive vice president of the Federalist Society.

In 2019, The Washington Post detailed how Leo’s network raised more than $250 million to capture the U.S. Supreme Court and change the law, a figure that True North tallied as nearly $600 million from 2014-2021. It later became public that, in 2020, Leo received the largest known political advocacy donation in history when right-wing billionaire Barre Seid transferred $1.6 billion to the “Marble Freedom Trust.”
[State courts] have come even more into the crosshairs of a few ultra-wealthy extremists who want to codify and impose their personal religious beliefs on all of us via binding law.
Leo’s role as Trump’s judge-picker is well documented and known by the public. However, lesser known is Leo’s long-standing effort to derail merit selection at the state level and control who sits on various states’ highest courts, as covered in True North’s new report.
Florida is no different. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed five of the state Supreme Court’s seven sitting justices and Leo has played an outsized personal role advising DeSantis on his judicial appointees, just as Leo hand-selected for former President Donald Trump three of the sitting U.S. Supreme Court justices who comprise part of the court’s far right majority. (Leo also helped install the other two.) A 2019 review by People’s Parity Project State Courts Manager Billy Corriher found that Florida was one of eight states with a Supreme Court dominated by justices with close ties to the Federalist Society.
Groups that have close Leo ties were also amicus filers or represented amicus filers in the Florida abortion case, such as Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and its 501(c)(3) Charlotte Lozier Institute; Concerned Women for America; Holtzman Vogel (representing American Cornerstone Institute); and First Liberty Institute (representing National Institute of Family and Life.)
The groundwork laid for DeSantis to remake the Florida Supreme Court began in 2001, when Gov. Jeb Bush, a Federalist Society contributor who has publicly defended Leo, signed into law legislation that gave the governor more control over the state’s judicial nominating commission, diminishing the power of the state bar over the court’s composition. While a push to fully eliminate merit selection failed, “the result [was] that Florida’s judicial selection process has shifted away from the collaborative [state bar]-governor process, which has been the hallmark of merit selection, to a system closer to a gubernatorial appointment process,” according to a 2006 research article in The Justice System Journal. Before 2001, the Florida Bar Association (FBA) appointed three lawyers to every nine-member Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC), of which there were 26 in the state (one for each circuit and district court of appeal and the state supreme court). The governor appointed three of the other JNC commissioners (lawyers or non-lawyers), and the six commissioners jointly selected by the governor and the FBA chose the other three commissioners. For vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court and the five district courts of appeal, as well as interim vacancies on state trial courts, the JNC would then vet applicants and create a slate of three to six candidates for the governor to select from to fill the vacancy.
The Justice System Journal study also explained that the post-2001 selection process skewed far to the right-wing, “as perhaps intended.” Zero judges chosen by the Judicial Nominating Commission reported Federalist Society membership right before the shift, and eight self-reported Federalist Society membership, in addition to membership in other far right religious groups, by January 2004.
Leonard Leo’s Long-Standing Effort to Capture State Courts
Leo’s influence over the Supreme Court in Florida and other states is the fruit of a long-standing effort by Leo and the Federalist Society, part of which has been assailing merit selection of judges, in order to install far right judges in key state-level positions of power.
Anti-abortion billionaire Dick Uihlein, who inherited the Schlitz brewing fortune, waded deep into the effort to capture state courts with the 2022 launch of his own state-focused super PAC, Fair Courts America.
In the 1990s, Leo’s work at the Federalist Society included efforts to undermine the American Bar Association (ABA), a legal group full of corporate lawyers that assesses the quality of judicial candidates based on their professional qualifications. In early 2001, Leo and the Federalist Society succeeded in getting George W. Bush to bounce the ABA from evaluating federal judicial candidates before nomination, at the same time as the Federalist Society was beginning to play an informal but powerful role in screening potential nominees.
Within weeks Leo and the Federalist Society also began to focus on assailing how justices on state Supreme Courts were chosen. In March 2001, the Federalist Society co-sponsored a forum on judicial selection to attack merit selection of judges titled “Picking State Judges: Who and How?” Of course, now we know the answer to the questions he posed: Who? By Leo. How? With the dark money resources he would later accumulate through the access provided by his post at the Federalist Society.
From this work Leo began to heavily target the “Missouri Plan,” the signature merit selection system for judges that was adopted by more than 30 states to protect the judicial selection process from undue and rank partisanship, where candidates for the state’s highest court are vetted by an independent judicial nominating commission, which then sends the governor a slate of well-qualified potential appointees to pick from. The Federalist Society would subsequently create a “Judicial Elections White Paper Task Force,” which issued findings attacking merit selection and nonpartisan elections.
An illuminating example of the Federalist Society’s state court work is in Missouri itself. In 2007, Leo and his allies lobbied Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt, pressuring him to “return the names” of the judicial candidates chosen by the merit selection committee who were two Democrats and a moderate Republican, as reported by ProPublica. After the governor held firm, Leo began backing a group dubbed “Better Courts for Missouri” led by a recent law-school graduate and former clerk for a Federalist Society judge (who was also cousin of right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh) named Jonathan Bunch. (Bunch is now president of Leo’s for-profit CRC Advisors and Leo’s potential successor at Marble Freedom Trust, which was funded by the Leo-tied Wellspring Committee and the former Judicial Crisis Network.) Bunch’s operation sought to replace the state’s three-person judicial selection commission with seven people selected by the governor and approved by the right-wing legislature.
Bunch also filed a ballot initiative petition to give the governor control of the judicial selection commission and supported other legislative changes, all of which failed. But Bunch was hired to work with Leo at the Federalist Society on state court reforms nationally. From 2008-2010, Bunch was director of state courts at the Federalist Society.
He was also later tapped by Leo to help direct some of Leo’s outside operations while they worked together at the Federalist Society, resulting in Bunch receiving substantial amounts of money. Ultimately, when Leo left the Federalist Society in 2020, Bunch went with him to CRC Advisors, a for-profit PR firm that has worked with Leo for years, including on his state court efforts.
CRC Advisors is now the beneficiary of millions in transfers of cash from nonprofit groups that Leo directs Marble money and other major funding to, which then turn around and hire CRC Advisors. This has led to complaints and an investigation, although Leo, through spokesmen, has stated that he has done no wrong.
While right-wing special interests, many tied to Leo, continue to assail merit selection in states like Kansas and Oklahoma, big money also continues to play an increasingly large role in states that elect judges.
Who Are the Other Bad Actors Trying to Capture State Courts in 2024?
In 2024, the U.S. is likely to see some of the most expensive state judicial elections in history. Right-wing special interests have their sights set on state court elections in states like Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina and Ohio, among others, where courts continue to be a political battleground and will have the final say over millions of Americans’ access to reproductive freedom, fair elections, fair maps, fair trials, and more.
One of the most prominent groups spending to influence state judicial elections is the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), which deploys ads in state court races via its “Judicial Fairness Initiative.” The Initiative’s sole funder is RSLC. Leo does not work for RSLC, but his Concord Fund (formerly the Judicial Crisis Network) has been one of the largest funders of RSLC in recent years, contributing more than $10 million since 2014. The group has frequently deployed a “million-dollar cash bomb” tactic, running a last-minute, scorched-earth style campaign in state judicial races against judges who often cannot raise enough money, or have enough time to counter such last-minute attacks designed to aid the Initiative’s preferred candidates.
Beyond Leo, billionaires Dick Uihlein, Charles Koch and Jeff Yass will likely continue to heavily target these state judicial seats in order to impose their personal agendas as binding law, as they have in past elections.
Anti-abortion billionaire Dick Uihlein, who inherited the Schlitz brewing fortune, waded deep into the effort to capture state courts with the 2022 launch of his own state-focused super PAC, Fair Courts America (FCA). According to True North’s report, FCA has raised more than $10 million from Uihlein and his Restoration PAC. It used this war chest to influence a myriad of state court races and also to attack progressive prosecutors in Florida and other states. FCA spent heavily in the Wisconsin and Pennsylvania Supreme Court races in 2023 (the FCA-backed candidates lost in both states). FCA has already spent over $600,000 earlier this year in the Alabama Supreme Court Republican primary backing failed challenger Bryan Taylor, who said that “embryos were human beings whose lives begin at fertilization” and thus entitled to the same rights as minor children.
True North’s report also details fossil fuel billionaire Charles Koch’s active role in influencing state courts. In addition to funding RSLC and the Federalist Society, Koch’s Americans for Prosperity — the flagship group launched by Koch as part of his dizzying network of tax-exempt groups — has spent big to influence state supreme courts in Florida, as well as in Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.
Leo, Koch, Yass, Uihlein, and the other regressive forces seeking to impose their personal religious beliefs as law know that our reproductive and other rights will now be won or lost in state courts, as they were in Florida. The public should too.
Lisa Graves, True North’s executive director, contributed to this story.

Read More

Greg Abbott Declares Open Season on Protesters in Texas

Bob Daemmrich/ZUMA Press Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters. On Thursday, purportedly on the advice of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott formally pardoned Daniel Perry for his 2020 murder of Garrett Foster at a Black Lives Matter…

Read More

The “Good Deal” Trump Allegedly Offered Oil Execs Might Be Worth $110 Billion

Then President Donald Trump with Harold Hamm, CEO of North Dakota’s largest oil company, at a 2019 industry conference.Evan Vucci/AP This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. A “deal” allegedly offered by Donald Trump to Big Oil executives as he sought $1 billion in campaign donations could save the industry…

Read More

North Carolina’s Protest Crackdown Now Includes a Ban on N95s

Mother Jones; Probal Rashid/Zuma; Unsplash Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters. North Carolina Republicans are pushing legislation that would remove the state’s health exemption to laws banning masks in public, citing protestors’ wearing them in pro-Palestine campus rallies. If the state GOP’s “Unmasking Mobs…

Read More

Seventy Years After ‘Brown,’ School Segregation Persists

Seventy years after the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional, school segregation persists throughout the country.

In May 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that separating students based on their skin color violated the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and nullified the nineteenth century “separate but equal” tenet.  

Since its official end, the evidence for school segregation’s socioeconomic costs has mounted. Research shows that segregation widens the achievement gaps among students of color and harms their educational experience.

“Racial segregation is harmful,” a 2022 Stanford study noted, “because it concentrates minority students in high-poverty schools.”

Aiming to make the best out of this grim reality, national organizations and activists have advocated for building and sustaining community schools. For instance, in 2019, United Teachers Los Angeles compelled the city’s Unified School District to open thirty such schools, and Philadelphia partially pays for its twenty community schools through a beverage tax. 

Woven into the fabric of the community, these schools tend to reflect the local population, incorporate its culture, enable students to walk or ride their bikes to school, and make it easier for parents and legal guardians to get involved. 

As with the harms of segregation, the positive effects of community schools are backed up by research. Evidence shows community schools reduce absenteeism, mend behavior, and boost learning and graduation rates. 

Other benefits include providing “safe havens” for low-income kids, hosting after-school and weekend activities, helping school districts meet such needs as space for professional development, and doubling as youth centers.

Community schools “can operate as a hub,” noted the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution, “not just of services, but of engagement, learning, and collaborative approaches that the entire community can take part in.”

I spent the 2008-09 school year filming daily activities in Duval Elementary, a community school on the economically disadvantaged east side of Gainesville, Florida. I had heard of the school’s academic success, and I wanted to document its story.  

In 2003, Duval went from a grade of F to an A on its average high-stakes state-standardized test scores. And it maintained its academic excellence through 2008. When I walked in the door for the first time, I felt shocked to see that while the faculty and administration were racially diverse and middle-class, the students were 99 percent Black.

As a community school, Duval served as a lifeline to its students, 95 percent of whom qualified for universal free meals. For a large proportion of them, getting consistent nourishment meant having to go to the school cafeteria on weekends and holidays, as well. 

Duval kept its doors open to the students’ parents and legal guardians, too. Math and reading teacher Gloria Jean Merriex—the protagonist of my documentary, Class of Her Own, offered Saturday test-prep sleepovers to third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders, as well as evening classes to adults. 

“She invited any parent who wanted to come in and check on their kid or what not,” Anthony Guice, father of one of Merriex’s former students, says in the documentary. 

Living and working in the community enabled Merriex to forge a two-way connection with parents. 

“She sometimes used to go by their house, especially a lot of kids that are really going through a lot,” says Guice, who showed up at Merriex’s classroom nearly every day after his nightshift, initially to sharpen his math skills and ultimately to help her manage class sizes of up to fifty students.

Merriex reinvented instructions for vulnerable children and played a crucial role in the school’s state standardized test success. It was the community school structure that empowered her to rewrite the curriculum to meet her students where they were, practice tough love, and infuse her lessons with hip-hop, dance, and church-choir-like chanting. 

Her innovations paid long-term dividends to her students, many of whom went on to college and professional careers. They also contributed to Duval’s unprecedented success, which brought in a great deal of additional funding. In 2005, the school became an arts academy. It stood as a beacon of light and a source of pride for an underserved community.

But that proved short-lived. In 2008, Merriex died of a diabetic stroke at the age of fifty-eight. In 2009, Duval failed the state standardized test. In 2015, it shut down. 

East side residents have told me that Duval’s closing has left a gaping hole in the community. 

A recent proposal to the School Board of Alachua County calls for transforming the former Duval building into a cultural youth center.

The lesson for our educational system is clear: While continuing to strive for school desegregation, support community schools. They may provide one of our best opportunities for education equity.

Read More

Obtaining Abortions Is Even Harder If You’re Undocumented in a State With a Ban

This year’s abortion bans in Florida and Arizona — following an older near-total prohibition in Texas — threaten to make the procedure virtually unattainable for undocumented people living in those states.
Texas outlawed abortions after six weeks of pregnancy in 2021, and banned the procedure almost entirely after Roe v. Wade was overturned in June 2022. Florida’s six-week ban, which outlaws the procedure before many people discover their pregnancies, took effect May 1.
Things in Arizona are less clear cut. In April, the state’s supreme court upheld a near-total ban from 1864. Although the court has paused enforcement of the ruling pending a Supreme Court challenge, and the legislature recently repealed the law, it may still temporarily take effect in late September since the repeal will not have any legal force until 90 days after the legislature adjourns for the year. Until then, abortion in Arizona is outlawed after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
People in these three states seeking abortions after the legal cutoffs have few options: traveling to a state where the procedure is legal, finding an out-of-state service to mail them abortion pills — which is medically safe but legally tenuous — or finding community-based networks that would do the same. But pursuing these avenues is substantially more difficult for undocumented people. In most states, limits on what kind of government identification they can carry means they cannot have driver’s licenses. (Today, that option is only available in 18 states and Washington DC.) This can make it far more difficult to leave a state for care.
Travel can also create legal and immigration risks for undocumented people. Florida and Texas recently passed laws specifically banning transporting undocumented people into those states. The Texas law, which is currently blocked in court, would allow police to arrest people they thought had illegally entered the state, and pending legislation in Arizona would do the same if enacted. (That bill is likely to be vetoed by the state’s Democratic governor.)

An alternative to travel — ordering abortion pills online — could be seen as a violation of laws in all three states that prohibit the provision of abortion through telemedicine.
Even heated public rhetoric can create a culture of fear that discourages people from seeking health care, including abortions. “We’re looking at a system where already immigrants face huge barriers toward accessing health care — higher uninsured rates, less connection to the health care system overall — compounded by immigration-related fears,” said Samantha Artiga, director of racial equity and health policy at KFF, a nonpartisan health policy research organization. “It compounds the challenges significantly when accessing services is going to require additional steps, be it traveling out-of-state, be it figuring out how to use telehealth services.”
There is no reliable data about how many undocumented people seek abortions, nor how many have been denied care because of their states’ bans. Texas and Florida are home to more than a million undocumented people between the two of them; only California has a larger undocumented population. In both Texas and Florida, about 5 percent of women ages 15 through 44 — what’s commonly considered “reproductive age” — are undocumented, according to data analyzed by the Pew Research Center. In Arizona, about 4 percent are.
In all three of those states, the vast majority of undocumented people are Latinx. (In general, abortion bans disproportionately affect Latinx Americans, including citizens and permanent residents.) According to the Migration Policy Institute, a think tank, about half report speaking English “not well” or “not at all,” which can make it incredibly difficult to navigate out-of-state travel or varying states’ abortion laws, because information is often only available in English.
It’s already hard for undocumented people living in Florida to access local clinics without driver’s licenses. It will be even harder for them to cross state lines if they can’t speak English, said Dr. Chelsea Daniels, an ob-gyn who works at multiple Florida-based Planned Parenthood affiliates, and who has cared for undocumented patients.
“The privilege that comes with having a driver’s license or passport can’t be overstated,” Daniels said.
The confluence of abortion and immigration laws has created “an absolute state of fear,” said Ray Serrano, director of research and policy at the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, deterring some from seeking care at all.
At a Woman’s Choice in Jacksonville, even before the state’s six-week abortion ban took effect, employees had been forced to refer a handful of undocumented patients out of state for care: those who weren’t able to get an abortion before the 15-week cutoff that was in effect prior to May 1. Now, with the six-week ban in effect and more Floridians leaving the state for pregnancy-related procedures, they anticipate the share will grow.
Undocumented patients have relied on a handful of groups for help with travel: some organizations offer volunteer drivers, and another called Elevated Access works with non-commercial pilots who fly people to other states. But coordinating that kind of travel is difficult and takes time, pushing patients further into pregnancy.
“It’s one of those things that would come into play that would — I don’t want to say 100 percent restrict their access, but would cause their access to be delayed even further,” said Gabby Long, the hotline director at A Woman’s Choice.
The logistics of this kind of travel are complex, said Serra Sippel, interim executive director of the Brigid Alliance, which provides practical support to people who need to travel for abortions, particularly people later than 15 weeks into pregnancy.
If someone cannot legally drive, her organization has provided extra funding for a companion who can take over driving responsibilities. In other cases, they’ve purchased bus tickets for clients, asking local abortion funds to make sure that the route does not include any immigration checkpoints. A bus ride from Miami to Virginia — the closest state where abortion remains mostly legal and does not require a multi-day waiting period — can take about 23 hours, or about 8 hours longer than driving a car.
But with the new bans in effect — particularly in Florida, where 84,000 abortions were performed last year — the burden on these support groups will intensify, straining their ability to coordinate travel at such a specific level.
“The efforts to help people have been helping them on a case-by-case basis,” said Usha Ranji, associate director for women’s health policy at KFF. “Whether they are scalable and sustainable — that seems really difficult, and I think we know that they don’t reach everybody who is in need.”

Read More

Ron DeSantis Signs Bill Weakening Climate Regulations, Expanding Fossil Fuel Use

Critics lambasted the governor for enacting policies that are “not acting in the best interests of Floridians.”

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation on Wednesday that will weaken climate regulations and expand fossil fuel use in the state, even as Floridians experience the increasingly devastating effects of global warming.
Although Florida Republicans passed several regulations in 2008 to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis, they have since dismantled those regulations piece by piece.
The legislation signed by DeSantis this week expands the use of natural gas, limits regulations on gas-based appliances, and reduces regulations on gas pipelines in the state. It also eliminates requirements for government agencies to hold meetings in hotels across the state to discuss the effects of the climate crisis, and ends requirements that those agencies consider climate-friendly products when making necessary purchases, like fuel-efficient vehicles.
The legislation goes into effect on July 1. While it will not affect the growth of solar power in Florida, it does limit other renewable energy sources in the state, including the “construction, operation, or expansion of certain wind energy facilities & wind turbines.”
The new law was widely condemned by climate advocates.

“This purposeful act of cognitive dissonance is proof that the governor and state Legislature are not acting in the best interests of Floridians, but rather to protect profits for the fossil fuel industry,” Yoca Arditi-Rocha, executive director of the nonprofit CLEO Institute, told NBC News.
Indeed, during DeSantis’s short-lived presidential campaign this past year, he was one of the top recipients of oil and gas money on a list that includes both elected officials and presidential candidates.
In a post on X shortly after he signed the legislation, DeSantis claimed he was“restoring sanity” and “rejecting the agenda of the radical green zealots.” The move comes as Florida is increasingly seeing the effects of the climate crisis firsthand, including deadly and higher-intensity hurricanes, extreme heat that is breaking global records, and worsening toxic algae blooms.
If left unaddressed, the effects of the climate crisis in the Sunshine State are only going to get worse. Sea levels are predicted to rise between 1-4 feet in the next century. Flooding and hurricanes will likely become even more destructive, with higher windspeeds resulting in greater casualties and property damage. Meanwhile, higher temperatures will reduce the yields of a number of important crops for the state and take a toll on people’s health, particularly vulnerable populations like children and the elderly.

Read More

Israeli Settlers Destroy Food and Damage Trucks in Gaza Aid Convoy

Aid agencies are running out of food in southern Gaza amid Israel’s ongoing offensive in Rafah and the shutdown of the two main border crossings in the south. Some 1.1 million Palestinians are on the brink of starvation, according to the United Nations, while a “full-blown famine” is taking place in the north. Meanwhile, some Israelis have been blocking aid from reaching the Gaza border, including a violent attack on trucks carrying humanitarian relief through the occupied West Bank earlier this week, when settlers threw food packages on the ground and set fire to the vehicles at the Tarqumiyah checkpoint near Hebron. “They did whatever they want,” says Israeli lawyer and peace activist Sapir Sluzker Amran, who documented the attack on the aid convoy. She says Israeli soldiers appeared to be working with the settlers, refusing to intervene. “They were just standing aside like there is nothing that they can do, like it’s normal, what’s happening.”
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Aid agencies are running out of food in southern Gaza amid Israel’s ongoing offensive in Rafah. The World Food Programme says it’s run out of stocks in Rafah and has suspended food aid distributions there for several days. No food has entered the two main border crossings in southern Gaza for more than a week, since the Israeli assault on Rafah began and Israeli forces seized control of and closed the border crossing with Egypt. Some 1.1 million Palestinians are on the brink of starvation, according to the U.N., while a full-blown famine is taking place in the north. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said today, quote, “The impact is devastating for over 2 million people.”
AMY GOODMAN: This comes just days after Israeli settlers blocked aid trucks headed to Gaza through the occupied West Bank from Jordan. Footage of the incident shows settlers raiding the aid trucks, throwing food into the road and setting fire to vehicles at the Tarqumiyah checkpoint near Hebron in the occupied West Bank. Palestinian truck drivers say they fear for their lives after the attack.

ADEL AMER: [translated] We went to the checkpoint, and after the check, we were surprised to see settlers on the roundabout of the checkpoint. They damaged the cars. They tore the tires off the trucks. They threw the contents of the truck on the ground. We gathered some of the products and sent some of those products on to a bulldozer and sent them to sheep farms. Around 15 trucks were damaged. Their haul was damaged. Windows of the trucks were broken. Some drivers were beaten. Some of the products were thrown away, and the whole loss for Hebron is around $2 million.

AMY GOODMAN: At a White House press briefing Monday, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan was asked by reporters about the attack on the aid convoy.

JAKE SULLIVAN: It is a total outrage that there are people who are attacking and looting these convoys coming from Jordan, going to Gaza to deliver humanitarian assistance. We are looking at the tools that we have to respond to this, and we are also raising our concerns at the highest level of the Israeli government. And it’s something that we make no bones about. This is completely and utterly unacceptable behavior.

AMY GOODMAN: The attack on the aid convoy was the culmination of weeks of Israeli settlers attempting to block aid trucks from reaching Gaza.
For more, we’re going to Tel Aviv to speak with Sapir Sluzker Amran, an Israeli human rights lawyer and peace activist who documented the attack on the aid convoy right near Hebron. She’s the co-director of Breaking Walls, an intersectional feminist grassroots movement.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Sapir. It’s so good to have you with us. If you can describe exactly what took place, how you ended up there when the Israeli settlers attacked the aid convoy, and what exactly they did to the convoy and to you?
SAPIR SLUZKER AMRAN: Thanks, and thank you so much for having me. Before we get into details, just to say from Tel Aviv that we are calling for ceasefire and safe return of the hostages, and hope to see this war ending as soon as possible and not seeing another one.
So, I came on Monday. It was after a few months where they’re organizing those kinds of actions, those looting actions. Settlers and their supporters, they are organizing in those WhatsApp groups, getting notifications from inside information, actually, to know where the trucks are going and coming from, and then trying to block them or to loot and destroy the entire food on the trucks. And when I came on Monday, it was to — I wasn’t sure. It was trying to document — it was after seeing those footages, those videos that they published a few months now, trying to organize groups. But people were afraid. And they should be afraid, because they’re coming with guns and knives and axes even. And the police and the IDF is totally on their side and not protecting us. But when I was there, I came to document and to understand a bit what’s going on.
And then, after they had this, like, first round of looting the convoy there, they started to go to another crossing in order to see if there was more trucks there, because they got an inside information again that there might be other trucks a few minutes’ drive from that crossing. I was there with another activist, and we went to the drivers of the trucks to see if we can help. And they were very surprised. They didn’t understand why there were Jewish people, Israelis, that want to help them. It took them a minute to understand that we are Arabs, but not Palestinians, we are Arab Jews, and we are with them. So, we started to pack everything again on one of the trucks. And we almost finished, and then they came back, more people — I think there were around few dozens, and then it became almost 150 people. At that time, they did whatever they want.
So, I want to be specific. This event, I got a message on WhatsApp that this event’s starting, and they’re asking people to come around 9:30 in the morning. They were there on their way. So they were there at 10 a.m. I came at 12:00. I left, though, for my own safety. Around 3 p.m., there were dozens of people, and people kept coming. So, it happened for hours. There were a few soldiers there without a supervisor. They didn’t know what to do. They were just going around, maybe two policemen, and that’s it. And what the settlers did is tearing up the entire food that was there. There were bags of rice, bags of sugar and instant noodles in bags. And they did it in a way that we cannot repair it. They did it in a way that they were tearing everything down, jumping on the instant noodles so we cannot save it. And, yeah, that was the situation.
We saw a lot of families there. I think that the youngest person that was there was maybe 3 years old, a kid with his father, like it was like a fun day, a festival day, and more teenagers that were there. And they did whatever they want. They laughed, they enjoyed, and they said it was the best action that we had ’til now. It was in Tarqumiyah crossing. And I think many came because it’s in the area of the settlers, so it was very easy for them just to be first and to hold those trucks.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, Sapir, could you talk about what the settlers did specifically to you, what happened to you? And then explain who the settlers are and what their justification is for doing that, for disrupting the aid convoys and destroying all the aid. They say that the aid is helping Hamas, and they want to obstruct its delivery until the hostages are released. Who are the settlers? And do they have any connection to the government?
SAPIR SLUZKER AMRAN: Yeah. So, I think, just to say, I’m not the story here. Yes, I will share that I was injured. One of the settlers — so, I was — I’m not sure how, but I couldn’t stand aside when I saw them running again, going on the trucks with sugar bags, going on the trucks with their knives and weapons and axes and all kinds of sharp objects and tearing down everything. And I couldn’t. And I started to run towards them and document it and tell them, “Please, stop. Stop. What are you doing? This is food. This is food. Like, you have to understand, inside of ’48, inside Israel, we have more than 2 million people that are under the poverty line. This is food. We have, an hour from now, people that are hungry. They can be your family that are hungry an hour from here.” And they didn’t care about it.
So I went on the truck and tried to stop them. And I called and I screamed on the IDF. There were like very young soldiers. I told them, “Come! Come and help me! This is your role! This is not my role! Come and help me! I can’t do it on my own!” And my friend was documenting it and trying also to talk with them and trying to stop them while they were doing it. And they tried to prevent her to photograph. And she managed to do it anyway.
So, when I was on the truck, yeah, one of the settlers, in front of an IDF that was right next to us, he kind of slapped me extremely hard, and then he was trying to escape. The police was there. The police took him. I told them, “I want to press charges.” They said, “No,” and they hid him so I couldn’t document him, even though I have his photo and the video. And then, after 10 minutes, he came back, like nothing was happened. So they took him only to protect him, not for something else.
And I was the only one that the government, that the IDF, the police, asked for to see an ID. All that time, they didn’t ask anyone from them, from the settlers, to get out of this area, that it was like a parking lot — only us, only the two of us, just the two of us. And they were just sitting there or standing there while I was telling them, “You’re standing right here. You see someone with a knife. That person, a teenager, took a knife at me.” I told them, “You see him. At least take the knife. At least take the knife so, like, he won’t attack me.” And they didn’t care about it. They were just standing aside like there is nothing that they can do, like it’s normal, what’s happening.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Sapir, we only have a few minutes left —
AMY GOODMAN: — and we want to know: Who are these Israeli settlers? Who are the people that destroyed the aid truck?
SAPIR SLUZKER AMRAN: Yeah, so, those are the people, settlers, that are, you know, living in the settlements. They’re Orthodox Jews. They’re from the national Zionist Jewish stream, Zionist stream. They have many supporters in government. They are the government. It’s not that they’re supporters.
And we know that yesterday — I want to say something like that right now I can show you — I can add you right now, Amy, to a WhatsApp group, because they’re organizing right now to do it again. So, they have this information. No one is trying to stop them. I think maybe it’s not clear that nothing has changed from Monday. They are still doing it. I don’t know what is showing on the international media, what the Israeli government is publishing. But they are doing it right now, with their names, with their numbers, and they don’t care about presenting even theirselves and documenting theirselves, because they know that nothing is going to happen to them, no circumstances, no objects, and nothing will happen at all.
So, they are connected to the government. We know that some of them are working with the government. We know that some of them — I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re funded from the government. We have MKs, members of the parliament, the Israeli parliament, that are supporting it and coming to those actions. We have someone that is a CEO of a right-wing organization that just got, a few months ago got — he has a photo with one of the MKs, the chairman of the Knesset, giving him a diploma to thank him for his service to Israel. OK? So, they are — last week, it was the mayor of one of the big cities in the south of Israel. They are the blood, and they are part of it. What you are doing is just, we can call it, privatization, privatization of the violence, which means that the government know. They hide because of the U.S. They have to pretend that they are obeying international law. But, in fact, they don’t want to. So they have these kids, they have these settlers, they have their supporters, that they are part of their political parties, and also they’re also funding them, to tell them, “Go to this crossing and handle it.”
SAPIR SLUZKER AMRAN: So, that’s why the police is not intervening, because the police belongs to Ben-Gvir and those kinds of people. So, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Sapir Sluzker Amran, I want to thank you so much for being with us, Israeli human rights lawyer and peace activist, who went to the Tarqumiyah crossing in Hebron to document the attack on a Gaza-bound aid convoy by Israeli settlers. She’s also the co-director of Breaking Walls, an intersectional feminist grassroots movement.
We had this in The Times of Israel: Israeli extremists mistook, on Wednesday, two days after the attack on the convoy she described — they mistook a regular commercial truck traveling in the West Bank for a convoy carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza and attacked the vehicle. The vigilantes set a fire in the road, dumped the truck’s contents onto the pavement and assaulted the Palestinian driver. Video from the scene showed the driver lying on the street bloodied.
When we come back, we’ll talk with Human Rights Watch about their new report on Israeli forces attacking humanitarian aid convoys in Gaza. The group has also documented Russian forces executing surrendering Ukrainian soldiers. We’ll go to Kyiv to speak with the HRW representative, and we’ll look at ethnic cleansing in Sudan. Back in 20 seconds.
AMY GOODMAN: Voices of some the hundred university professors and faculty and their allies from higher education institutions across New York, gathering yesterday at Grand Central Station during rush hour to sing and read out a joint letter from faculty across a number of schools calling for an end to genocide in Gaza.

Read More