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Walgreens Refuses to Clarify Decision to Stop Selling Abortion Pill in States Where It’s Legal

Meanwhile, boycott threats are growing.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Walgreens is dodging questions about its plans to stop selling the abortion pill even in states where the procedure is still legal, after coming under fire for caving to pressure from anti-abortion Republican officials.

The pharmacy chain had said in January it would seek certification from the Food and Drug Administration to dispense mifepristone, one of the medications used to induce an abortion. But Walgreens changed course a month later, following intense pressure from almost two dozen Republican attorneys general. It tried to make its position clear Monday night … except the company’s statement was anything but.

“Walgreens plans to dispense Mifepristone in any jurisdiction where it is legally permissible to do so,” the pharmacy chain said in the statement. “Once we are certified by the FDA, we will dispense this medication consistent with federal and state laws.”

The statement failed to specifically address Walgreens’ earlier announcement that it would not dispense the abortion pill in 21 states where Republican attorneys general had threatened legal action. Abortion is still legal in more than half of those states. Of the group, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and West Virginia have banned the procedure.

Alaska, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, and South Carolina currently allow abortion, either because the procedure is fully legalized or because a court has blocked an attempt to ban the procedure. Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, and Utah still allow abortion up to anywhere from six to 21 weeks into the pregnancy.

Walgreens’s promise not to sell mifepristone in Kansas is particularly egregious, as residents voted last summer to keep abortion protections in the state constitution but Republican lawmakers are currently working to override the will of the people.

Medication abortions make up more than half of all abortions in the United States, and are considered a crucial tool in maintaining access to the procedure since Roe v. Wade was overturned. Republican lawmakers are trying to make it harder to access abortion pills, such as in Texas, where an official introduced a bill last week that would compel internet providers in the state to block websites that sell or provide information on how to obtain the medication. Another lawmaker introduced a bill that would ban credit card companies from processing transactions for abortion pills.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday that his state “won’t be doing business” with Walgreens because it “cowers to the extremists and puts women’s lives at risk.” Walgreen stock dropped sharply after his announcement.

Calls to boycott the pharmacy have been growing online, including from documentary maker and activist Michael Moore.

The fact that Walgreens caved to Republican pressure, though, may not be all that surprising. The pharmacy chain has made several donations to anti-abortion groups in recent years, according to Popular Information.

Walgreens has donated more than $80,000 to the Republican Attorneys General Association, or RAGA, since 2020. All of the attorneys general who pressured the company over mifepristone are RAGA members.

Walgreens also donated a total of $123,500 during the 2022 midterms to 39 different members of Congress who received a failing grade from NARAL Pro-Choice America. Among those lawmakers are 12 co-sponsors of the Heartbeat Protection Act, a 2021 bill that would have banned abortion nationwide at six weeks, before many people even know they are pregnant.

Tucker Carlson Uses January 6 Footage to Tell Fox News Viewers Exactly What They Want to Hear

The protesters did nothing wrong. They just believe in the system. That’s what the cherry-picked clips show, anyway.

Tucker Carlson laughs
Jason Koerner/Getty Images

Two weeks ago, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy gifted Fox host Tucker Carlson exclusive access to 41,000 hours of surveillance footage from the January 6 attack on the Capitol. And on Monday night, Carlson, who has admitted he and his Fox colleagues constantly lie to their viewers, embarked on a new attempt to not just sanitize but validate a coordinated right-wing attack on America’s Capitol.

Carlson’s main contention revolved around the idea that, because the public has not seen every single second of January 6 footage, the already released footage showing violent insurrection is somehow invalidated. “It turns out there’s quite a bit of video you haven’t seen,” Carlson said. “Taken as a whole, the video record does not support the claim that January 6 was an insurrection—in fact, it demolishes that claim.”

“The protesters were angry: They believed the election they had just voted in had been unfairly conducted, and they were right,” Carlson proselytized. “In retrospect, it is clear the 2020 election was a grave betrayal of American democracy.”

Carlson clumsily treads between calling the protesters angry and betrayed and simply admirers of American history and democracy. “They were orderly and meek. These were not insurrectionists, they were sightseers,” Carlson proposed. “Protesters queue up in neat little lines. They give each other tours outside the speaker’s office. They take cheerful selfies and they smile. They are not destroying the Capitol,” he narrated. “They obviously revere the Capitol. They’re there because the election was stolen from them. They believe in the system.”

So these people are “protesters,” but they are actually just “orderly and meek sightseers.” And they are not “insurrectionists,” but they are also “angry” in the face of a “grave betrayal.” But they also “believe in the system.”

Got it?

Carlson also hosted The Washington Times’ Charlie Hurt to help peddle the lie that insurrectionists weren’t armed. Investigations and footage have already confirmed the rioters were armed with knives, Tasers, batons, brass knuckles, and even firearms like AR-15s.

Carlson got as granular in his lying as trying to claim “there is dispute over how Chansley [the QAnon Shaman] got into the Capitol building,” despite footage Carlson aired earlier clearly showing Chansley entering with the rioters who kicked the door in:

As expected, Carlson is using the footage to try diluting the reality of how violent the riot was. Perhaps it all came out of a coordinated hedge by McCarthy and Fox, in case Trump indeed returns to lead the party, a sort of, “Look, we cleaned up some of the January 6 mess for you!”–type offering. Maybe it was just a way for McCarthy to buy some favor from the network, given how hard it’s already been for him to manage his slim majorities and the varying interests within it.

Or, more straightforwardly, this is all motivated by the right wing simply not believing in facing consequences for its own actions. Consequences would imply wrongdoing, and this party, despite its proclamations, is not one to actually hold itself personally responsible for any violence it incites—whether it be on the Capitol, on trans people, or communities poisoned by train derailments. Regardless, the exclusive collab between the most powerful member of the House and the biggest media corporation in America is already making room for members of Congress to embrace the proposition:

Biden Releases a Tax-the-Rich Medicare Plan, in Direct Challenge to GOP

Biden’s new budget proposal will force Republicans to make their stance on Medicare funding clear for all to see.

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Joe Biden revealed plans to expand Medicare Tuesday, daring Republicans to renege on their promise during the State of the Union address not to cut funding for the program.

The president unveiled part of his budget, the full text of which is due out Thursday. Although his plan is not binding for Congress, it comes as lawmakers scramble to agree on a federal budget before the United States defaults on its debt in July.

Biden’s plan would extend Medicare into the 2050s, he explained in an op-ed in The New York Times. His budget would increase the Medicare tax rate to 5 percent from 3.8 percent on people who make more than $400,000 a year.

It would also let Medicare negotiate prices for a wider range of prescription drugs, an expansion of part of the Inflation Reduction Act. Negotiating drug prices would reduce the federal deficit by $200 billion, he said, which would then be invested back into the Medicare trust fund. Doing so would extend the program’s life by 25 years.

These are common-sense changes that I’m confident an overwhelming majority of Americans support,” Biden wrote in his op-ed.

But “if the MAGA Republicans get their way, seniors will pay higher out-of-pocket costs on prescription drugs and insulin, the deficit will be bigger, and Medicare will be weaker,” he warned. “The only winner under their plan will be Big Pharma.”

Republicans have long wanted—and tried—to cut social welfare programs. GOP lawmakers are currently threatening to hold the debt ceiling hostage until the federal budget is reduced, and Social Security and Medicare are on the chopping block.

Biden scored a big win during the State of the Union when he appeared to get Republicans to agree not to cut funding for Medicare or Social Security. Republicans have since tried to make it seem as if they never intended to gut the entitlements programs, despite widespread evidence to the contrary. His latest plan to expand the programs is a cheeky dare to the GOP.

But if the budget battle drags out too much longer, it will spell serious trouble for the United States. The government hit the debt ceiling in January, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that if the cap isn’t increased, the U.S. will default on its debt by the summer.

If that happens, the U.S. government won’t be able to make payments to Medicare or Social Security, nor will it be able to pay military salaries. Defaulting on the debt could also shock the economy, both domestically and abroad.

D.C. City Council Withdraws New Crime Bill after Democrats Cave to Right-Wing Fearmongering

The Democratic Party has done it again.

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Democratic Party’s moderate establishment has done it again. After it joined a right-wing fearmongering campaign against Washington, D.C.’s effort to update its over-100-year-old criminal codes, the D.C. City Council announced on Monday that it will withdraw the bill from consideration before it goes to the Senate.

In a letter addressed to Vice President Kamala Harris, who serves as chair of the Senate, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said that the Council will rework the criminal code legislation, an unprecedented move in the council’s history.

President Biden last week announced his desire to overturn the policy changes proposed by the D.C. City Council. He did so despite having called the “denial of self-governance” in D.C. “an affront to the democratic values on which our Nation was founded.” And Biden’s feeble decision opened up the door for even more Democrats to present themselves as equally cowardly:

“I’ll be voting the same way the president is,” said a senator elected to do more than just obediently follow marching orders—particularly ones that concede to misleading right-wing talking points. Citing “lowering penalties for carjackings,” Biden attempted to justify both supposedly supporting D.C. statehood and home rule while expressing to the world his willingness to subvert D.C. home rule.

“The death knell has been cast by the President’s indication that he would veto the bill,” Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.’s delegate to the House of Representatives, told The New Republic on Friday.

And Democratic operatives have been putting forth their best efforts to justify the ill-guided move. On Sunday, Lis Smith, former senior adviser for Pete Buttigieg’s campaign, asserted that Biden “judged [the bill] on its merits,” claiming that subverting the will of local officials presumably concerned with the welfare of their residents would allow “Democrats to show we take the issue of crime seriously.”

It’s surely reasonable for Smith to suggest that we should not ignore the real-life impacts of crime on people. But it is not quite fair to deem Biden’s decision entirely merit-based, nor to concede to right-wing fearmongering about what the bill sought to do: The D.C. criminal code reforms were not some flippant package that simply weakened criminal penalties.

As Mark Joseph Stern at Slate explained, the rejection of updating a 122-year-old criminal code may “make it harder for prosecutors to charge violent crimes,” as the code is full of ambiguous definitions of crime and irregular sentencing proportions associated with those definitions.

Moreover, the criminal code reforms did not—as the right wing has claimed and moderates have foolishly parroted—haphazardly reduce criminal sentences. The council tasked with updating the criminal code (staffed by legal experts, including representatives from the D.C. attorney general’s and U.S. attorney’s offices) used data from a decade’s worth of cases to align the code with the kinds of penalties judges were already sentencing people to.

“The criminal code actually raises the penalties on some crime, but it lowers the penalties on others. It’s very experiential,” said Norton. “It looks at what, in fact, has happened. Remember, it’s a 100-year revision.… Democrats defected on this bill.”

Stern described some of these revisions that have been misrepresented. For instance, the reforms take the current code’s single broad robbery statute, carrying a 15-year maximum penalty, and adds much more nuance to it—dividing the crime into armed and unarmed robbery and into degreed offenses, to avoid over-prosecuting smaller crimes while raising the threshold of violent, armed robbery to a 20-year maximum. For carjacking, Biden’s explicit concern, the code carries a ridiculous 40-year maximum. Judges are already not actually imposing such long sentences for this charge, so the code revises the threshold to be a 24-year maximum (still longer than most sentences actually doled out).

The bill also updated the court’s ability to stack offenses like building blocks. While maximum sentences for various stand-alone offenses might’ve gone down, the new codes would have defined many more offenses, and degrees of them, enabling courts to put together more proportional sentences relative to the hodgepodge of narrowly defined sentences they have now. For instance, in cases related to carjackings that also have a violent component, sentences would follow accordingly.

“Apparently, a large number didn’t want to look at this time like they were supporting a revised criminal code which actually lowered the penalties on some crimes, even though it raised the penalties on others,” said Norton.

The D.C. City Council itself voted unanimously in support of the bill—and voted 12–1 to override Mayor Muriel Bowser’s veto of it. Nevertheless, Republicans pounced on the bill last month, leading a vote to nullify the reforms. Moderate Democrats (like Representative Elissa Slotkin, the Democratic Party’s heir-apparent Senate candidate in blue-trifecta Michigan) joined the charade to subvert D.C.’s autonomy. Despite being overridden by her town council (democratically, unlike what Congress is now doing), Bowser has pleaded with Congress not to subvert D.C.’s autonomy.

The Senate vote is still scheduled for Wednesday, despite Mendelson’s letter, and the public will see in full view which Democrats will vote against the updated codes and which ones will still have the guts to not play along in the charade. Again, the codes did not even shift funding from policing toward community-based programming; all they did was dust off old criminal codes and make prosecution easier. Still, we wait with bated breath to see which members will have the stones not to entertain the farce.

The whole nonsensical affair comes amid a larger movement by the Democratic establishment to gin up crime concerns in the lead-up to 2024; perhaps to parry away any primary challenge to Biden.

Democratic political consultant James Carville has sprouted back up to tell the media why crime is the “front and center issue,” as if Democrats ever fail to focus disproportionately on it. “Look what happened in Chicago,” Carville said to NBC News, apparently referencing the ousting of incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Carville’s comments seem to give credence to tough-on-crime conservative candidate Paul Vallas, while completely erasing the other top candidate who beat Lightfoot: Brandon Johnson, a teacher who has made public safety a priority while rejecting the “so-called toughness that politicians or insiders have just been recycling over the past 40 years.”

Such brazen erasure is unsurprising from the man who amplified Republican attacks against Senator John Fetterman as a “silver spoon socialist”; suggested Nancy Pelosi should just pick the Democratic nominee for president instead of having a primary (this was just days after Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg led the Iowa primaries); and whose career record includes backing and helping lead the strategies for the losing presidential candidacies of John Kerry in 2004, Hillary Clinton in 2008, and Michael Bennet in 2020.

It is nearly three years since the murder of George Floyd spurred people of all backgrounds in this country into reflection, conversation, and even action. Democrats were given control of Congress and the White House just months after, as millions hoped for something, anything, that would indicate a genuine vision of public safety, of curtailing police brutality, and investing more directly in people.

But with the current leader of the party encouraging the rest of the Democrats to fall in line with a bad-faith Republican attack on D.C.’s autonomy, the conditions as they are now do not present a party willing to make that vision a reality.

Gavin Newsom Says California Is “Done” With Walgreens After Abortion Pill Stance

The California governor said the state will no longer be doing business with Walgreens.

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California Governor Gavin Newsom announced Monday that his state will no longer do business with Walgreens because the pharmacy chain decided not to dispense abortion pills.

Walgreens initially said in January that it would offer mifepristone, one of the medications used to induce an abortion. The Food and Drug Administration changed its rules to allow pharmacies in states that still allow abortion to dispense the drug. Pharmacies would need to get certified to do so because the FDA currently classifies mifepristone as a high-risk drug, despite the fact that there is no data backing that decision up.

Walgreens and CVS, two of the biggest U.S. pharmacy chains, said they would seek certification. But in February, Walgreens changed course following intense pressure from anti-abortion lawmakers and said it would no longer dispense mifepristone in 20 states with Republican attorneys general.

Newsom slammed the chain Monday, saying its decision “cowers to extremists and puts women’s lives at risk.”

Newsom did not say what he meant by ceasing to do business, for instance whether he would order all Walgreens locations in California to close. He also has yet to outline a plan for what happens after business with Walgreens stops, including making sure that the measure does not accidentally strand communities without an easily accessible pharmacy.

But Newsom is the first governor to take such a clear stance in favor of maintaining access to abortion, an important move as the right to the procedure is increasingly under attack.

Medication abortions make up more than half of all abortions in the United States and are considered a crucial tool in maintaining access to the procedure since Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Republican lawmakers are trying to make it harder to access abortion pills, for instance in Texas, where an official introduced a bill last week that would compel internet providers in the state to block websites that sell or provide information on how to obtain the medication. Another lawmaker introduced a bill that would ban credit card companies from processing transactions for abortion pills.

A federal judge will soon rule whether the FDA improperly approved mifepristone for sale, which could make it more difficult to purchase the medicine.

Elon Musk Spent the Entire Twitter Outage Complaining About Trans People and Spreading Misinformation

Priorities not really in order.

Marlena Sloss/Bloomberg/Getty Images

When links and photos stopped loading on Twitter Monday, platform owner Elon Musk was quick to assure users that the issue was only temporary and explain what had caused the problem.

Just kidding!

In the hour that Twitter was down, Musk was busy sharing misinformation and transphobic misogynistic opinions. He responded to two different tweets about a judge ruling USA Powerlifting had discriminated against a transgender athlete by banning her from participating in women’s competitions.

Musk complained the ruling was “extremely unfair to anyone with XX chromosomes” and said “civilization is going” nuts, alongside the peanut emoji.

He argued that Anthony Fauci had “egregiously betrayed the public trust” while overseeing the U.S. Covid-19 response and implied he would consider labeling CNN as “state-affiliated media.”

Musk also argued that changes to farming policy were “messed up” and would have no effect on combating climate change.

“Idiocracy is happening so fast,” he replied to a video clip of teenagers saying that farming was the primary driver of global warming.

When a user tweeted a quotation that said boys with higher IQs have less sex, Musk commented that finding was “super concerning.” The tweet Musk replied to did not have a source for the quotation, but it appears to come from a 2000 study called “Smart teens don’t have sex (or kiss much either).”

The full context of the study is looking at the link between intelligence level and sexual activity for teenagers from grades seven through 12. The study found that teens at both the high and low ends of the intelligence spectrum were less likely to have sex. The study also did not say whether teens weren’t having sex because they couldn’t find partners or because they were choosing to wait.

Musk has shown before he thinks he can trashpost his way out of crises, but it hasn’t been going so well. Advertisers have left the platform in droves since he took over, and every day there seems to be a new report of how he is trying—and failing—to keep Twitter afloat.

Twitter Is Crashing Like a Self-Driving Tesla

Thanks, Elon

Elon Musk holds a hand up in greeting
Marlena Sloss/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Links and photos shared on Twitter stopped loading Monday, amid reports of increasing chaos and decreasing ability to function within the company.

Images stopped displaying on Twitter, while anyone who clicked on a link got an error message that told them, “Your current API plan does not include access to this endpoint.” Thousands of people had reported issues across the platform, according to DownDetector.

Error message after clicking on a Twitter link
Screenshot via Twitter

An API, or application programming interface, allows multiple separate computer systems to communicate. Twitter’s API, as explained by Wired, “allows third parties to retrieve and analyze public Twitter data, which can then be used to create programmable bots and separate applications that connect to the platform.”

Twitter announced in early February that it would get rid of its free API in favor of a “paid basic tier,” which many said was because the company was running severely short on funds. Many users speculated Monday that Twitter ending the free API had caused its own system to crash. Third-party apps such as TweetDeck were also not working on Monday.

Others said the issue could be because the platform’s internal link shortener was down. Twitter said the issues were temporary but only said they were due to “an internal change that had some unintended consequences.”

But the crashing links are just the cherry on top of a truly horrendous Monday for Twitter owner Elon Musk, after the BBC reported that changes and layoffs he made have rendered the company unable to protect users from trolls, state-sponsored disinformation campaigns, and child sexual exploitation.

It was already known that hate speech flourished on Twitter under Musk. The social media research group National Contagion Research Institute found that in the 12 hours after Musk bought Twitter, use of the n-word increased almost 500 percent.

But the BBC, citing academic data and interviews with anonymous Twitter insiders, found that child sexual exploitation was on the rise and not reported to law enforcement at a sufficient rate. It also learned that targeted disinformation campaigns are going “undetected,” and accounts that follow misogynistic and abusive profiles have increased 69 percent.

Musk replied by essentially saying, “Sorry, not sorry.”

But the Tesla CEO has locked himself into a vicious cycle. Advertisers and users have left the platform in droves since he took over, forcing him to try to slash costs wherever possible. This includes firing employees, auctioning off everything in Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters, taking money from the Taliban, and apparently just not paying rent.

As a result, as the BBC found, Twitter has neither the funds nor the manpower to moderate content on the platform. Any efforts to do so are thwarted by the boss’s penchant for letting Nazis back online. As a result, more advertisers are turned off Twitter, leaving Musk scrambling all the more to make money.

Marjorie Taylor Greene Will Introduce Resolution Labeling Antifa a “Terrorist Organization”

Reminder that Greene was among the members of Congress who incited the January 6 attack on the Capitol

Marjorie Taylor Greene speaking
Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose conspiratorial record spans QAnon and Jewish space lasers to helping incite the January 6 attack on the Capitol, wants the government to recognize anti-fascists as terrorists.

Yes, in Greene’s mind: To be the opposite of a terrorist, to be a citizen in good standing, you’d have to be consequently the opposite of an anti-fascist.

On Sunday, videos circulated online showing what appeared to be construction equipment meant for Atlanta’s planned “Public Safety Training Center” (or as non-officers call it, “Cop City”) on fire, after reported clashes between protesters and the police. Greene reacted to the videos, calling it “domestic terrorism” and announcing her intention to lead a resolution to declare antifa a “terrorist organization” on Tuesday.

Atlanta’s police training center has been met with opposition since its approval in 2021, just shortly after the Black Lives Matters protests against police brutality that swept the country. Swaths of people, from environmental organizations and forest defenders to neighborhood associations and local schools, have come out strongly against the $90 million project. The proposal includes a shooting range and mock village, which earned it the nickname “Cop City.”

The proposed location for the police training center is an abandoned prison complex in the South River Forest; the old complex, the Old Atlanta Prison Farm, was allegedly host to “systemic abuse, torture, overcrowding, neglect, and racialized violence” throughout its history, and there is suspicion that “unmarked graves of prisoners exist on the grounds.”

The project has spurred all the more scrutiny after police in January shot and killed environmental activist Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, also known as Tortuguita, during a police raid of an encampment on site. Police say that Tortuguita shot at them, which prompted them to fire back. An officer was in fact hospitalized after being shot in the abdomen—but protesters contested the police’s claim and bodycam footage later revealed a cop saying, “You fucked your own officer up.” After initially claiming that no footage of the shooting existed, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation admitted five days later that footage of the shooting’s aftermath did exist.

In the footage, about 14 seconds of continuous gunfire can be heard, not a back-and-forth exchange of gunfire between Tortuguita and the police. Shortly after, a person is heard asking, “Is this target practice?”

This is the context in which Greene groups all those opposed to the bloated police project (environmentalists, students and teachers, everyday residents of the city) under the blanket term “antifa” and then calls for them to be labeled “domestic terrorists.” The always-suspicious Greene has expressed no skepticism about the police’s account of what some may deem state-sanctioned murder, but of course had plenty to say about burning construction equipment.

Bear in mind that while Greene calls for a “national divorce” and wants the government to recognize people opposed to fascism as “terrorists,” Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has said he will “never leave” and “always take care of” Greene.

16 Attorneys General Call Out Ron DeSantis for Plan to Collect Data on Trans Students

The plan contradicts “basic human rights,” the attorney generals said.

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A group of 16 attorneys general have called out Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for a plan to collect information on students who seek gender-affirming care on college campuses.

The governing body for Florida’s state university system, the Board of Governors, requested in January that higher education institutions submit reports on any students who go to campus health centers for gender dysphoria. The institutions would have to say whether people asked for, were referred for, or were provided with “sex-reassignment treatment” and how many people were diagnosed with a gender identity disorder. The reports are also supposed to include how many people underwent a gender-reaffirming surgery and a breakdown of patients by age.

“This information request may be intended to intimidate, and will actually intimidate, university administrators and health care providers and chill vulnerable students … from accessing necessary medical care,” the attorneys general wrote in the letter to DeSantis on Friday. “Public reports suggest that you may seek to use the information sought to eliminate funding for necessary gender-affirming health care for students.”

“Such actions jeopardize the health, safety and well-being of young people and their families, contravene well-accepted medical standards, unduly insert the state into the provider-patient relationship, violate students’ rights under federal law—including privacy—and offend basic human rights.”

DeSantis has cracked down on LGBTQ rights in his state, pushing through the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and banning transgender girls from playing girls’ sports. He cut off funding under Medicaid for gender-affirming treatment and asked the state board of medicine to ban any such treatment for people under 18.

The Board of Governors said that any information submitted would be kept anonymous, but asking for the students’ breakdown by age would help identify any organizations that provide gender-affirming treatment to younger patients.

In a similar vein, the Florida High School Athletics Association will require high school student athletes to tell their schools their sex assigned at birth. Critics worry the newly added question—and before it, a proposed requirement that students share details on their menstrual history—could be used to out transgender students.

The Board of Governors’ proposal is the latest in a wave of state-level policy moves targeting LGBTQ people, particularly trans people, across the country. Lawmakers usually argue they are trying to protect children’s well-being, but a study published in January found that trans and nonbinary teenagers who receive gender-affirming care have significantly less depression and anxiety and are more satisfied with their lives than before treatment. However, laws that single out trans people expose them to more violence.

DeSantis Disney Appointee Said Tap Water Could Be Making People Gay

Ron Peri is on the new oversight board for Disney World, and he has some interesting beliefs.

Ron DeSantis speaks at a podium and points with both index fingers
Octavio Jones/Getty Images

A member of the new Ron DeSantisappointed oversight board for Disney World thinks that tap water could be making people gay.

Disney World previously governed itself autonomously in the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which oversaw its own fire department, water systems, roadways, and building inspections around the theme park. But in 2022, after Disney’s then-chairman condemned Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, DeSantis retaliated by stripping the park of its governing powers.

On Monday, DeSantis signed a bill that allowed the autonomous district to continue, but installed a new oversight board consisting of five members, all appointed by the governor.

One of those members is Ron Peri, a former pastor and the head of The Gathering—a Christian ministry focused on outreach to men—with a long history of making homophobic and untrue comments, CNN reported.

During a Zoom discussion in January 2022, Peri shared his conspiracy theory about tap water.

“So why are there homosexuals today? There are any number of reasons, you know, that are given. Some would say the increase in estrogen in our societies. You know, there’s estrogen in the water from birth control pills. They can’t get it out,” he said. “The level of testosterone in men broadly in America has declined by 50 points in the past 10 years. You know, and so, maybe that’s a part of it.”

Peri did not specify what kind of points he meant, or what the pre-decline level had been. But chemicals in tap water making people gay is a popular conspiracy theory, pushed by people including Alex Jones. Testosterone levels in men have dropped in recent decades, but not by anything close to 50 percent. Researchers are unsure why the hormone has dipped, but there is no evidence that testosterone levels affect sexual orientation.

In the same call, Peri also called homosexuality “shameful” and “unhealthy.” In the past, he has called LGBTQ people “deviant” and blamed them for the fall of the Roman Empire.

In another Zoom discussion, Peri compared abortion to Holocaust-levels of genocide.

Another member of the new Disney World oversight board is Martin Garcia, a lawyer in Tampa Bay whose private investment firm donated $50,000 to DeSantis’s 2022 reelection campaign. DeSantis also appointed Bridget Ziegler, the co-founder of the conservative group Moms for Liberty, which has led the charge in banning books in schools, and the wife of the Florida Republican Party chairman.

State Democratic lawmakers have warned that the board could be used to further DeSantis’s political goals by blocking moves at Disney with which the governor disagrees. Representative Rita Harris used the example of Disney changing Splash Mountain to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

“Are we going to see board members vetoing projects that are considered to go against any governor?” she asked during the debate over the bill Monday. “Would the board then be able to push a company into changing their business model just so that they don’t misalign [with] them?”