Skip Navigation
Breaking News
Breaking News
from Washington and beyond

Los Angeles School Workers Begin Strike, Shut Down Second Largest District in the Country

The strike halts classes for more than 566,000 students in California.

Scott Heins/Getty Images

On Tuesday, a union representing 30,000 Los Angeles school custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, special education assistants, and other school staff members began a three-day strike, halting classes for more than 566,000 students.

Members of the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, Local 99 are conducting the strike after almost a year of negotiating with the Los Angeles Unified School District. Local 99 members currently make an average salary of $25,000, with many of them working part-time. Workers are asking for increased hours for part-time workers, a 30 percent wage increase, and a $2 per hour additional raise for the lowest-paid among them. The living salary for a single adult—not even with a child—in Los Angeles is around $44,000.

Members of United Teachers Los Angeles, or UTLA, a union representing some 35,000 teachers, are also striking in solidarity with the workers. The UTLA is separately undergoing its own contract negotiations; the union terminated its contract with the district earlier in March, so members have more freedom to stand alongside their SEIU comrades. Teachers are seeking raises of about 20 percent, and more resources to support students, including for immigrant students and high-need community schools.

Los Angeles teachers had previously conducted a strike in January 2019, shutting down classes for six days. The teachers were demanding smaller class sizes, increased staff, and higher wages. Such demands have been sweeping across the country from West Virginia and Oklahoma to Arizona and Colorado, as teachers grow tired of having to work multiple jobs, pay for some of their own supplies, and watch poorly funded schools fail their students.

The Pro-Trump Protest Was So Small Organizers Are Pretending They Wanted It to Be “Low-Key”

The protests supporting Donald Trump ahead of his possible indictment didn’t quite go to plan.

Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images
A supporter of former President Donald Trump covers her ears near a counterprotest near the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Brag and the New York County Criminal Court on March 20.

Protesters descended on Manhattan to support former President Donald Trump, just as he predicted—if he predicted a group of only about 50 people.

Trump predicted over the weekend that he will be indicted Tuesday by a Manhattan grand jury for his role in paying adult film star Stormy Daniels hush money during his 2016 presidential campaign. He urged his followers on Truth Social to “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”

But on Monday night, only about 50 protesters showed up outside the Manhattan Criminal Court.

One of the organizers, New York Young Republican Club president Gavin Wax, told Politico that the protest was intentionally small because it was organized “last minute” and was meant to be “low key.”

“We weren’t sure we even wanted to come out because some people don’t like us, but we are here to show that there is support for President Trump in the bluest area in the country, here in Manhattan,” Wax said, despite the fact that he’d predicted a crowd of 150 to 200 people earlier that day.

Another organizer said the club had “vetted” all the attendees ahead of time to keep any potential “bad actors” out—which says a lot about Trump supporters if only 50 made the cut.

Wax also advised against protesting further on Tuesday and said people should instead wait until later in the week.

New York law enforcement has been rushing to shore up security plans ahead of the potential indictment—understandably, given what happened the last time Trump urged his followers to turn out for him, on January 6, 2021, in Washington.

But it’s unclear how many Trump supporters actually want to take to the streets on his behalf this time around. There have been some calls to action besides the New York Young Republicans’, but most people seem to be wary of demonstrating.

The nearly 1,000 arrests made since January 6 seem to have played a role in discouraging similar unruliness. Those arrested in connection with the riot have racked up large legal bills, and many say they feel Trump abandoned them. Others, including Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, have spread a conspiracy theory that the insurrection was fueled or set up by undercover law enforcement informants, and that any protests this week could be similarly used against Trump supporters.

This isn’t the first time that Trump or his supporters have struggled to raise a major show of support. Back in November, just before the midterms, an intimidating group of six right-wing activists showed up to protest one of President Joe Biden’s speeches.

South Carolina Abortion Bill Loses Co-Sponsors After Death Penalty Backlash

Palmetto State women may soon be free of the fear of execution, as a treat.

Sean Rayford/Getty Images
An abortion rights demonstrator holds a placard expressing her opinion outside the South Carolina Statehouse.

South Carolina Republican lawmakers are backpedaling away as fast as possible from a bill that would make abortion punishable by the death penalty, one of the strictest anti-abortion measures that has been proposed since the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization last year.

The South Carolina Prenatal Equal Protection Act, which was introduced in mid-February, would have established that human life begins at fertilization. It further held that an abortion could be considered a homicide. In South Carolina, a person convicted of murder is subject to the death penalty or a minimum of 30 years in prison.

But the bill has become too hot for even some of its supporters to handle. Of the bill’s 24 original co-sponsors, nine have yanked their support in the past few weeks, following a massive outcry on social media. Several explained they did not want to criminalize people who get abortions. One, Representative Brandon Guffey, claimed he had not read the bill thoroughly before signing on.

“I did not read into the bill far enough to be aware that it included death penalty,” he said in a Facebook post. “I read through it, but I did not click on the code that it linked to stating that a woman should get the death penalty.”

Guffey pulled his name from the list of sponsors on Thursday. In his Facebook post, he explained he is “pro life but that includes the life of the mother.” He also said he supports other bills that restrict abortion access in South Carolina.

The Prenatal Equal Protection Act has yet to be considered by a committee, but one representative told NBC News that party leadership had made clear the measure was “dead on arrival” and would never make it to the House floor. Republican Senator Shane Massey, the Senate majority leader, also tweeted last week the bill had “zero chance of passing.”

South Carolina currently allows abortion up to 20 weeks; Republicans in the state have tried repeatedly since Roe v. Wade was overturned to cut back access to the procedure. The state Senate passed a bill in February that banned abortion after six weeks, before many people even know they are pregnant, but included exceptions for rape, incest, fatal fetal anomalies, and the pregnant person’s life—up to a generous 12 weeks.

Republican-led states have been rushing to restrict abortion access since the Supreme Court rolled back the nationwide right to the procedure. Some states seem to be competing for who can pass the strictest measures, while others are trying to actively circumvent the will of the people in banning abortion.

That this draconian South Carolina bill is shuddering slowly to a halt is a welcome development, but it’s also a pretty grim reminder of how low the bar has become that “not sentencing people to death for getting a normal medical procedure” is good news.

California Will Cut Insulin Costs by 90 Percent, Capping Price at $30

“People should not be forced to go into debt to get lifesaving prescriptions,” said Governor Gavin Newsom.

Francine Orr/Getty Images
Dr. Tanya Spirtos, president-elect of the California Medical Association, speaks with Governor Gavin Newsom following a press conference. Newsom just announced that the state has landed a contract with a company to produce insulin.

California will cap costs for insulin at $30, and it will begin manufacturing Naloxone, a nasal spray that helps reverse opioid overdoses.

Governor Gavin Newsom broke the news on Saturday, announcing that the state struck a contract with manufacturer CIVICA to make 10 milliliter vials of insulin that can cost up to $300 available to California residents at $30.

“People should not be forced to go into debt to get lifesaving prescriptions. Through CalRx, Californians will have access to some of the most inexpensive insulin available, helping them save thousands each year,” said Newsom.

CIVICA, a nonprofit generic drugmaker, aims to combat drug shortages and price spikes by producing generic medicines that are more affordable and accessible. The company is backed by various insurers, philanthropies, and—as in its deal with California—state partnerships.

Coupled with his insulin announcement, Newsom detailed his Naloxone policy as part of a broader “master plan” to tackle the fentanyl and opioid crisis, which includes a “crackdown” on drug trafficking and efforts to “raise awareness.” Newsom’s proposed 2023 budget includes $79 million to further distribute Naloxone and another $4 million to make fentanyl test strips more widely available. These millions don’t include Newsom’s plans to begin manufacturing the Naloxone nasal spray in-state. California’s Health and Human Services Agency is working with CIVICA to find a suitable manufacturing facility, according to a release.

Newsom’s moves follow news that pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly will cap its insulin costs to $35 per month. Naturally, these are consequential changes for many people who rely on this drug. But insulin does not, in fact, cost enough to be priced at $300 in the first place—or perhaps even at $35. As Charlotte Kilpatrick noted in these pages, it is peculiar that the fates of millions of patients’ lives and bank accounts are up to the whims of pharmaceutical companies at all—especially in America, where people pay an average of 256 percent more for medication than people in 32 other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries.

Moreover, if Newsom could move beyond a partnership to a fully state-owned manufacturing apparatus, he could guarantee a roughly $10 cost for insulin. At the moment, however, this is an important measure of relief coming for thousands of Californians—and Newsom’s decision may spark further rethinking about how much insulin, as well as health care more generally, should cost in this country.

Biden Vetoes Anti-ESG Bill, Accomplishing the Barest of Minimums for Climate Change

The president nixes GOP legislation that would have thrown a barrier between investors and their money managers.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

On Monday, Biden issued his first veto since taking office, shutting down a narrowly passed Republican bill that would have stopped the administration from simply encouraging money managers to consider climate change when making investment decisions for their clients.

Biden’s Department of Labor issued a rule toward money managers, stating they could weigh climate change and other environmental, social, and governance, or ESG, factors as they handled retirement investment portfolios. Biden’s rule overturned a rule made under Trump that limited the ability of managers to consider such factors; Biden’s rule, while encouraging managers to consider ESG, still mandates that managers operate in the best interest of clients. So the rule at its core was just a suggestion—a directive that the government welcomes even the appearance of capital being directed toward more ethical destinations so long as fiduciary obligations to investors are met.

Republicans, buttressed by their cause to include everything that remotely seems related to racial, social, or environmental justice in their broader war on “wokeness,” have since attached ESG to their broader onslaught on what they oxymoronically refer to as “woke capitalism.” The House voted 216–204 to roll back the rule, and Democrats Joe Manchin and Jon Tester subsequently joined Senate Republicans to pass the adjoined Senate resolution to overturn the rule.

Biden’s veto comes on the same day that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, released its report issuing a warning about the world being on the final brink of a point of no return in locking in a too-high global temperature increase. One of the myriad solutions the IPCC noted was a redirection of capital from fossil fuels to climate mitigation and environmental protection.

At the same time, it’s worth noting that “sustainable investing” is not even close to what’s needed to address climate catastrophe. The practice, at best, redirects funds that would’ve gone to fossil fuel firms and the like, potentially paving the way for consequential innovation that might help green the economy. It is perhaps more realistic to refer to the practice as a marketing tool—a flimsy label companies can use to greenwash their practices. So while the Republican onslaught against ESG could be seen as conservatives not even wanting the bare minimum in taking on climate change, their actions can also be viewed as a means of hyperfixating on a relatively inconsequential solution to climate change in order to distract from the deeper debates over climate mitigation, as well as the tougher policy choices that need to be made.

Missouri Becomes Latest State to Attempt a Ban on Gender-Affirming Care

The state’s attorney general pulled the trigger on an emergency order despite the fact that the legislature is currently debating a bill.

Valerie Plesch/Getty Images
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey

The Attorney General of Missouri issued an emergency regulation Monday banning gender-affirming care for minors, skipping over the legislative process in a massive power grab.

The Missouri state legislature is already considering a bill that would ban certain medical procedures, including puberty blockers and hormone therapy, for transgender Missourians under the age of 18. Monday’s emergency regulation by Attorney General Andrew Bailey would effectively ban such care until the bill passes or fails.

The regulation claims that “because gender transition interventions are experimental, they are covered by existing Missouri law governing unfair, deceptive, and unconscionable business practices, including in administering healthcare services.”

The measure requires an 18-month waiting period before starting care, during which potential patients must be screened for “mental health comorbidities” and autism. The text also describes questions about gender identity as a “social contagion,” the idea being that young people are only questioning their identities because they see other people do it, not because they might have an authentic reason to do so.

“As Attorney General, I will protect children and enforce the laws as written,” Bailey said in a statement. “I am dedicated to using every legal tool at my disposal to stand in the gap and protect children from being subject to inhumane science experiments.”

The cruel irony, of course, is that providing gender-affirming care to trans and nonbinary teenagers decreases the amount of depression and anxiety they feel. It also makes them less likely to consider suicide. Moreover, targeting LGBTQ people through legislation, as many Republicans are doing across the country, only demonizes the community and puts them at an increased risk of violence.

Reporter and trans rights activist Erin Reed slammed Bailey’s measure as a “power grab,” and pointed out that many mental health issues could be solved simply by providing gender-affirming care.

Howard Schultz Will Step Down From Starbucks to Spend Less Time Getting Owned by Union Organizers

His decision to end his third stint running the coffee chain comes days before he is expected to testify before a Senate committee.

Melina Mara/Getty Images
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz drinks an espresso.

Turns out the third time is not the charm for Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who announced Monday that he was stepping down two weeks early from the helm of the coffee chain.

Schultz began serving his third term as Starbucks chief last April and was due to finish on April 1, 2023. He had served as the company’s CEO twice before, from 1986 to 2000 and again from 2008 until 2017. He briefly flirted with the idea of running for president before returning to Starbucks for what he said would be his last time.

Schultz spent the majority of his most recent tenure trying to thwart Starbucks’s nascent union organizing drive and attempting to pivot to non-fungible tokens several months after everybody else. His announcement also comes a little more than a week before he was due to appear in front of a key Senate labor committee.

“As I turn Starbucks over to you now, know that you have my utmost confidence, trust and love. You are all the future of Starbucks,” Schultz said in an open letter to the company’s other leaders.

“The world needs Starbucks—and Starbucks needs all of you,” he added, which is an objectively weird thing to say about a coffee company.

Schultz had come under intense scrutiny during his third stint as CEO for alleged union-busting tactics. At least 420 Starbucks locations nationwide have launched unionization efforts, 285 of which were successful. Another 40 elections are ongoing.

Over the past year, Starbucks has shuttered multiple locations, some of which were either unionized or reportedly forming a union. The company fired more than 100 union leaders, some of whom were reinstated only after a federal judge ordered Starbucks to do so. And when Starbucks representatives finally met with union members in October, after months of delays, they walked out after just a few minutes because they disliked that some union members had called in over Zoom.

Senator Bernie Sanders called earlier this month for the chamber’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which he chairs, to vote to subpoena Schultz over the union-busting allegations.

“The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed over 75 complaints against Starbucks for violating federal labor law and there have been over 500 unfair labor practice charges lodged against his company,” Sanders said in a statement at the time.

“A multi-billion dollar corporation like Starbucks cannot continue to break federal labor law with impunity.”

Schultz agreed to testify less than a week later, before the vote was held. He will still have to appear in front of the committee, even though he is no longer Starbucks’s CEO.

Days After Biden Approves Willow, IPCC Says That Current Fossil Fuel Production Will Doom Us All

It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.

Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

On the two-decade mark since America’s invasion into Iraq, the fate of scores of people are yet again subject to whether liars, cheaters, and profiteers will win the day.

With regard to the future of our planet, we’re running out of time, but not options, to ameliorate the climate crisis, according to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, in their latest report released Monday.

The report is the result of over six years of work done by thousands of scientists and experts to holistically understand both the challenges posed by the climate emergency, as well as our remaining capacity to address that challenge—and maybe even leave the world a little better off.

In 2018, thousands of scientists worldwide worked with the IPCC to warn about the need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. The effort was geared toward elucidating what kind of catastrophe threatened ourselves and future generations, and how we could accomplish limiting the damage, if not forestalling it completely. Now, five years later, the IPCC warns it is “likely” that warming will exceed that limit; projected emissions from existing fossil fuel infrastructure without any wind down will push us over the edge. If it often feels like we’re being constantly warned that “we need to change now before it’s too late,” or “it’s almost too late,” well, the IPCC is now officially telling us: “We are on the final brink of being too late.”

According to the report, multiple points of inquiry suggest that mitigation policies have led to observable reductions in “global emissions.” That is to say, the science is pretty straightforward: Take things seriously, and emissions will indeed go down. It’s the type of rudimentary beauty of science that Bill Nye would applaud.

Instead of heeding this basic guidance, or coming to terms with the fact that we literally cannot afford to build up any more fossil fuel–spewing operations, the United States—from which many other nations will get their example on how to pursue climate mitigation—just approved Willow, a massive Alaska oil-drilling project that will produce the equivalent of roughly two million cars’ worth of carbon pollution every year. President Joe Biden’s approval of the project breaks explicit promises he made for no more drilling and impresses no one except fossil fuel executives who will likely use their considerable wealth to flout the Biden administration.

What’s especially mind-boggling (in an appreciative of human ingenuity kind of way, but also a sort of maddening shock at how unseriously we’re taking climate change) is that we have all the technological and strategic tools at our disposal to accomplish the needed climate mitigation.

But so much of what rules everything around us—that is to say: cash—incentivizes the further extraction of fossil fuels in spite of the science that explicitly demonstrates that this is little more than a profit-motivated death drive. The IPCC found that public and private finance still flows much more into fossil fuels than into climate adaptation or mitigation; so we’re literally subsidizing fossil fuel executives making out like bandits while they destroy our planet.

Ultimately, the IPCC report tells us, citizens of this beautiful planet, that there are choices we collectively can make to take care of one another—so long as the worst interests above us don’t get to keep dictating our lives. The approval of Willow may feel discouraging, but there are also scores of people even now still fighting against it. As Mr. Rogers reminds us, when we see scary things in the news, we ought to look for the helpers. And helpers indeed are more abundant than the culprits of all the scary news: It’s high time—and perhaps the only time left—for us to know and embrace that fact.

Undercover Officers Were Sent to Investigate a Drag Show in Orlando, for Some Reason

Agents in attendance saw nothing lewd to report. The state is trying to punish the venue anyway, amid Gov. Ron DeSantis’s anti-LGBTQ crackdown.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Undercover Florida state agents attended a Christmastime drag show in Orlando to prove that children were being exposed to obscene performances—only to report back that no such thing occurred.

The agents were part of the packed crowd who watched A Drag Queen Christmas at the Plaza Live theater in Orlando on December 28. They recorded the performance on state-issued phones and took pictures of the crowd. Only three minors were in attendance, all accompanied by adults. The agents subsequently reported that nothing indecent had happened during the show, The Miami Herald reported Monday.

“Besides some of the outfits being provocative (bikinis and short shorts), agents did not witness any lewd acts such as exposure of genital organs,” the agents’ report said.

But in February, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation filed a complaint against the nonprofit that runs Plaza Live, accusing the venue of exposing children to sexual content. The complaint seeks to strip the theater of its liquor license, a move that could put it out of business.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has been pushing an anti-LGBTQ agenda as he positions himself for what’s anticipated to be a presidential run, had previously warned any venues that hosted the touring show A Drag Queen Christmas that his administration would seek legal action against them. He has also mentioned the possibility of having child protective services investigate parents who take their children to drag shows. A Drag Queen Christmas required individuals under the age of 18 to be accompanied by an adult in order to attend.

DeSantis has also moved to strip the Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation and the Hyatt Regency in Miami of their liquor licenses for allegedly allowing children to attend the drag show. The complaint against the Hyatt Regency did not provide any evidence that minors had been in attendance other than one blurry photograph of a person’s face.

Former Florida Democratic legislator Carlos Guillermo Smith told the Herald the agents’ report proves the “moral panic” about drag shows is a “hoax.”

“What you see here is the governor sending in investigators and then dismissing what the investigators have to say because it doesn’t fit into his narrative,” Guillermo Smith said. He noted that the state doesn’t regulate what movies parents show their children.

“It’s more evidence that all of this … is contrived, it’s politically motivated,” he said. “And it’s not about protecting children. It’s part of an ongoing effort to marginalize LGBT people and their allies.”

DeSantis has declared war on anything he deems to be “woke,” particularly LGBTQ rights. He enacted the state’s famous “Don’t Say Gay” law, banned transgender women from playing women’s sports, and vowed to defund diversity, equity, and inclusion programs on college campuses.

He is also part of a larger trend of Republicans demonizing drag queens and trans people. Many on the right say that attacking the LGBTQ community is a means to protect children, but their actions actually put people—including children—at an increased risk of violence.

Trump Is Handling His Potential Indictment With His Typical Sagacity and Grace

New York City officials brace for chaos this week as the former president tries to whip his supporters into a frenzy.

A close-up of President Donald Trump, pointing in the distance.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Gird your loins: Former President Donald Trump hasn’t even been indicted yet, but this week is already shaping up to be chaotic.

Trump predicted over the weekend that he will be indicted Tuesday by a Manhattan grand jury for his role in paying adult film star Stormy Daniels hush money during his 2016 presidential campaign. He urged his followers on Truth Social to “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”

New York Police Department officials and officers for the Criminal Courts Building in Manhattan began preparing as early as last week for a possible indictment and arraignment, The New York Times reported. On Sunday, police officials and two public safety aides from the mayor’s office met to discuss security plans in the event of protests.

It’s unclear how many Trump supporters will actually take to the streets on his behalf this time around—though there is an obvious precedent for concern: In 2021, when Trump urged his followers to attend a rally in Washington on January 6, the enormous mob ended up storming the U.S. Capitol.

This time, however, even his staunchest supporters have been more subdued. There have been some calls to action, with the New York Young Republican Club saying it will hold a “peaceful protest” Monday evening in Manhattan. Other groups have urged people to protest outside Mar-a-Lago, creating a protective barrier against any authorities who might arrive to arrest Trump. And there have been some calls online for violence against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is coordinating increased security for himself and one of his top aides.

But the nearly 1,000 arrests made since January 6 seem to have turned off many people from similar unruliness. Those arrested in connection with the January 6 riot have incurred heavy legal fees, and many say that they feel Trump abandoned them. Their experience has likely made more people wary of turning out en masse to face off against law enforcement at the former president’s behest.

Even Ali Alexander, an organizer of the “Stop the Steal” movement that propagated Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was rigged, warned the former president’s supporters to stay away from New York City.

“You have no liberty or rights there,” he tweeted. “You will be jailed or worse.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a big-time Trump toady, has also discouraged protests. “I don’t think people should protest this, no,” McCarthy told reporters Sunday. “We want calmness out there.”

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, another die-hard Trump loyalist, seemed to imply that protests would do no good. “How many Feds/Fed assets are in place to turn protest against the political arrest of Pres Trump into violence?” she tweeted Sunday, spreading a conspiracy theory that the January 6 riot was fueled or set up by undercover law enforcement informants.

Other Trump supporters have cited this conspiracy as a reason to stay away from a potential New York demonstration.

But Greene and other Republicans are still backing Trump. House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan and other GOP leaders are preparing to demand that members of Bragg’s office testify before Congress, Politico reported. Green also called for Bragg to testify, insisting the charges against Trump were “fake” and intended to be “used in Democrat ads.”

Trump will likely keep track of who supports him through the indictment—and wield that on the campaign trail, if he’s able to get there. Over the weekend, members of his inner circle attacked Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, considered the favorite to take on Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, for not immediately denouncing the indictment.

Pro-Trump radio host John Fredericks tweeted at DeSantis: “You have to choose between your Wall Street gangster-bankster big donor hedge fund open border benefactors—or us.”

On Truth Social, Donald Trump Jr. told people to “pay attention to which Republicans spoke out against this corrupt BS immediately and who sat on their hands and waited to see which way the wind was blowing.”

DeSantis claimed Monday that Bragg was unfairly weaponizing his office against Trump. But the burgeoning purity test is a further sign of divisions in the Republican Party, as lawmakers struggle to choose between DeSantis and Trump.