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North Carolina Becomes the Latest Victim of a Far-Right Scam

North Carolina has caved to a conservative campaign to rollback DEI policies nationwide.

Two female students (one white, one black) walk in front of a building at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
Eros Hoagland/Getty Images

Handing a major win to a manufactured conservative campaign to dismantle safeguards for equality, the governing board of North Carolina’s 17 public university systems on Thursday banned its diversity, equity, and inclusion policy.

The move follows a last-minute plea from lawmakers, students, and business leaders who gathered at the state legislature on Wednesday to urge against the ban and extol the virtues of DEI programs.

“Our world has become so different, and it’s changing so rapidly, and North Carolina is evolving alongside these global changes,” state Representative Maria Cervania said during the last-minute meeting on Wednesday. “Our businesses know this. They’ve told us they want a workforce that can keep up with our new, globalized world. DEI is actually the best program that’s helping equip our students for that.”

North Carolina’s Board of Governors unanimously approved the university DEI policy in 2019, according to local news outlet WRAL. Following the anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests of 2020, conservatives have sharpened their knives to dismantle hallmarks of racial progress. Those attacks resulted in a manufactured crisis over critical race theory arguing it’s bad to teach college students factual—but ugly—U.S. history. Soon after, the same people targeted DEI by arguing it’s “reverse discrimination,” a concept which does not exist.

North Carolina’s Board of Governors—which initially approved their DEI policy unanimously—plans to replace DEI with a new policy that prohibits universities from “endorsing pro-diversity views—or any other social or political messaging,” WRAL reported Wednesday, an all-or-nothing claim that, if precedent is any indicator, will more than likely only be enforced in one direction.

Mike Johnson Spews Racist “Great Replacement” Screed

The House speaker is openly embracing a conspiracy theory loved by mass shooters.

House Speaker Mike Johnson speaking
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The Speaker of the House just echoed a racist conspiracy theory—one that has inspired mass shooters and hate crimes.

On Fox News Thursday morning, Mike Johnson expounded on the “Great Replacement” theory—the idea that Democrats and other elites are allowing mass illegal immigration to displace white people and create a loyal voting base.

“Why would the president allow this? Because they wanted to turn these people into voters. That’s plain. And they want to change the outcome of the Census in six years. It sounds sinister, and it is, and they’ve exacted untold damage on the country,” Johnson said.

The theory has been cited by several mass shooters, notably the man who murdered 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, two years ago and a shooter who killed 20 at an El Paso Walmart in 2019. And Johnson is not the first conservative to parrot this kind of bigotry. Every so often, right-wing influencers like to bring it up, particularly during election years, causing like-minded politicians to quickly repost it. TV host Tucker Carlson has helped fuel it, and members of Congress like Representatives Elise Stefanik and Matt Gaetz, as well as Senator J.D. Vance have all repeated it. Recently, Elon Musk has amplified the theory to his millions of followers on X (formerly Twitter).

As the man third in line to the presidency, Johnson should know better than to push this racist ideology, but he’s alluded to undocumented immigrants voting before, despite having no proof. Leaving aside the moral issues with the theory, the Biden administration has also deported many undocumented immigrants, with his immigration policies even being attacked from the left.

It’s telling that Johnson has mentioned this theory at a time when his party is in disarray, and as he’s trying to shore up support from the far-right with an eye on November. Today’s leaders of the Republican Party think that racist immigration stances are the way to political victory, even though that’s been thoroughly disproven.

Trump Says He Can Free Wrongly Imprisoned Reporter—but Won’t

The former president boasts that, if reelected, he'll use his close friendship with Vladimir Putin to free Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who has been imprisoned in Russia for more than a year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles wryly as he looks into Donald Trump's eyes as Trump is blathering on about something or other.
MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin having a moment in 2017.

Donald Trump believes that his close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin would lead to the freedom of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who has been imprisoned in the country for over a year—but he’s apparently not willing to use that power unless he wins another term.

“Evan Gershkovich, the Reporter from The Wall Street Journal, who is being held by Russia, will be released almost immediately after the Election, but definitely before I assume Office,” Trump wrote on Truth Social on Thursday. “He will be HOME, SAFE, AND WITH HIS FAMILY. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, will do that for me, but not for anyone else, and WE WILL BE PAYING NOTHING!”

To an extent, Trump’s approach is nothing new: Republicans have been interfering in diplomatic efforts undertaken by Democratic presidents for decades to bolster their electoral chances. What is novel, however, is that Trump is openly sabotaging President Joe Biden’s efforts to bring a wrongly detained American journalist home.  

In 1968, then-presidential candidate Richard Nixon employed Anna Chennault to undermine Vietnam peace talks that were taking place in Paris, delaying the end of the war and bolstering the former vice president’s chances of taking the White House. Twelve years later, in a successful bid to dampen President Jimmy Carter’s chances for re-election, former Texas Governor John Connally met with Middle Eastern leaders in 1980 to strategically delay the release of American hostages being held in Iran until after the presidential election. Doing so practically helped contribute to Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory, and ushered in a new era of conservatism under President Ronald Reagan.

Regardless of the precedent, Trump is employing Gershkovich in a cynical, disturbing, and dehumanizing manner. In the former president’s version of events, Gershkovich is not a man being wrongly held in prison by one of America’s adversaries, but a political prop being used to advertise Trump’s close relationship to Vladimir Putin. If Trump really can help free Gershkovich he should do it now—not in six months. Or never. 

Joe Biden’s DOJ is Coming for Ticketmaster’s Neck

The Justice Department has announced a major lawsuit against Ticketmaster and Live Nation. This could change everything.

A hand holds a phone that reads "Ticketmaster"
Gabby Jones/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Thursday filed a massive antitrust lawsuit against Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation, accusing them of holding an illegal monopoly on live event tickets and driving up prices.

The suit comes after Ticketmaster crashed and prevented people from purchasing tickets to Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour—inadvertently exposing the ticketing giant’s monopoly on the shows—and argues that Ticketmaster acted like a Mafia don for venues and artists alike by requiring lengthy exclusive contracts, threatening lost revenue if they use other ticket sellers, and preventing artists who don’t use Live Nation services from performing at venues with Live Nation contracts.

Attorneys general from 30 states filed the lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday, overseen by U.S. attorney general Merrick Garland, who released a statement announcing the lawsuit:

We allege that Live Nation relies on unlawful, anticompetitive conduct to exercise its monopolistic control over the live events industry in the United States at the cost of fans, artists, smaller promoters, and venue operators. The result is that fans pay more in fees, artists have fewer opportunities to play concerts, smaller promoters get squeezed out, and venues have fewer real choices for ticketing services. It is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster.

Dan Wall, Live Nation’s executive vice president for corporate and regulatory affairs, refuted the suit’s premise, arguing Live Nation’s revenue has declined due to competition and that the suit will have no impact on ticket prices. He included a graph to belay his point, showing the ticket retailer’s revenue significantly lower than that of tech giants Apple, Meta, and Google.

“It was evident in our discussions with the DOJ Front Office that they just did not want to believe the numbers. The data conflicted too much with their preconception that Live Nation belongs in the ranks of the other “tech monopolists” they have targeted,” Wall wrote. “It is also clear that we are another casualty of this Administration’s decision to turn over antitrust enforcement to a populist urge that simply rejects how antitrust law works.”

The Justice Department allowed Live Nation and Ticketmaster to merge in 2010 despite bipartisan opposition to it—so long as they didn’t retaliate against venues for using other vendors for 10 years. A 2019 department investigation found Live Nation repeatedly violated that agreement.

Idiot MAGA Congressman Makes George Santos Look Like a Genius

Republican Representative Andy Ogles was just caught in a huge financial scandal.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Trump stooge and Republican Representative Andy Ogles has been caught in a major ethics scandal of his own making.

According to 11 amendments that he filed to his campaign finance reports on Wednesday, Ogles didn’t actually loan his campaign $320,000, as he previously claimed. That begs the question: Where did the money come from?

In November, the Tennessee congressman was found to have some irregularities in his campaign reports, thanks to an investigation by a Nashville TV station, NewsChannel 5. Among them was a $320,000 loan to his campaign from himself, even though his personal finance reports didn’t show a place where such a loan could have originated—not even a personal bank account.

In his amendments, Ogles says that his campaign loan was actually $20,000 instead of $320,000, a sizable oversight, and raises the question of what explains the inconsistencies. Former Representative George Santos is currently facing criminal charges for inflating campaign fundraising numbers—after also reporting he loaned himself a sizable amount of money. Santos was later found to have spent campaign dollars on casino trips, Botox treatments, and OnlyFans payments. Is Ogles hiding something like Santos?

It’s not an outlandish question, as the two have one glaring similarity: making up parts of their past. Ogles claimed to have studied policy and economics at Middle Tennessee State University and calls himself an economist, but only has one community college economics course under his belt, which he barely passed. He later claimed on a 2009 résumé to have a degree in international relations, but NewsChannel 5 found that his major was actually liberal studies—a hilarious degree for a Republican politician.

Although Ogles’s lies aren’t nearly as outrageous as Santos’s whoppers, he also has another possible financial crime on his résumé: $25,000 raised supposedly to build a garden in memory of his stillborn child. Except that the garden was never built, and Ogles refuses to say what happened with the money. With a history of lies piling up in his short congressional career, perhaps a criminal investigation of Ogles is necessary.

Why Top Democrats Are Turning on Chuck Schumer

House Democrats—including former Speaker Nancy Pelosi— are furious about a planned visit from Benjamin Netanyahu.

Nancy Pelosi, wearing a blue pantsuit and pearls, smiles and looks off into the distance in front of an American flag.
Zach Gibson/Getty Images
Nancy Pelosi in mid-October

House Democrats are coming out against a plan to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a joint session of Congress, with some of the party’s top brass joining the choir.

House Speaker Mike Johnson is pushing Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to sign on to a formal invitation to the Israeli leader, with the two leaders currently negotiating over an invitation. That has been complicated by a half-dozen Democratic lawmakers openly condemning the oddly timed speech, calling it a “political gesture.”

Minnesota Representative Dean Phillips told Axios that Netanyahu is “dividing this country … in a similar way he’s divided Israel, and I think that’s awfully dangerous.”

“I can only imagine the personal and political conflict facing Leader Schumer,” Phillips added.

Those who have spoken out against the invitation include Phillips, as well as Representatives Dan Kildee and Scott Peters. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had previously called on Netanyahu to resign, simply said “no” to the prospect of Schumer extending a personal invitation to the Israeli leader.

House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Jim Himes felt that Netanyahu’s attention would be better used elsewhere, telling Axios that Bibi “should be focused on freeing hostages, not on charming legislators.”

The open call to bring Netanyahu to the U.S. Capitol comes mere days after the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him, charging the Israeli prime minister and three Hamas leaders with “crimes against humanity” committed in Gaza. Those charges have stood out for several lawmakers, even though the United States is not a member of the ICC.

“I think it’s a strange time to invite Netanyahu; it’s a really divisive kind of move,” Peters told Axios.

Kildee also alluded to the charges, telling the publication that he didn’t believe it was a “good time” to bring Netanyahu.

“Let’s not complicate an already complicated situation,” Kildee said.

MAGA Supreme Court Votes to Make Gerrymandering Much Worse

Meanwhile, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito was caught with a second insurrectionist flag.

Samuel Alito
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Insurrectionist flag addict Samuel Alito and five other conservative justices delivered a long-awaited Supreme Court opinion about racial gerrymandering on Thursday, determining that a racially gerrymandered redistricting map in South Carolina is actually not about race at all.

The Supreme Court has typically rejected districts drawn with race as a predominant factor—but according to the majority’s decision, written by Alito, that’s not the case with the South Carolina district the ACLU previously depicted as a two-headed dragon that cut across multiple neighborhoods using 2020 census data to minimize the impact of the Black vote.

A federal court agreed with the ACLU in January 2023, ordering South Carolina to redraw its 2021 enacted congressional map. South Carolina appealed the decision, kicking it up to the conservative-controlled Supreme Court.

The 2023 federal decision unanimously agreed that state legislators “may not use partisanship as a proxy for race.” The decision handed down by the Supreme Court Wednesday nuked that opinion by essentially deciding everything is partisan, thereby negating the issue of race entirely: “Where race and politics are highly correlated, a map that has been gerrymandered to achieve a partisan end can look very similar to a racially gerrymandered map,” the absurd decision reads.

The decision further claims that because the ACLU didn’t provide a hypothetical “rational” map to show what non–racially gerrymandered redistricting would look like, it failed to prove that the racist gerrymandering was not done in “good faith”—a new precedent for racial gerrymandering cases that the Supreme Court has never required before.

All liberal justices dissented, with Kagan apparently sneaking a reference to an inverted flag flown outside Alito’s home in January 2021 into her dissent.

Twitter screenshot

Nikki Haley Savagely Dragged Over Her Trump Endorsement

Haley says she’ll vote for Trump in November. And everyone is rightfully calling her out for it.

Nikki Haley looks off camera
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Nikki Haley once warned that Trump becoming the Republican presidential nominee would be “suicide for our country” and that “everything Trump touches turns to chaos.” But on Wednesday, she forgot all of her own dire warnings and stated she plans to vote for him in November. Unfortunately for her, the internet never forgets.

Speaking at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think-tank she chairs, Haley said, “Trump has not been perfect on these policies, but Biden has been a catastrophe. So I will be voting for Trump.”

“As a voter, I put my priorities on a president who’s going to have the backs of our allies and hold our enemies to account, who would secure the border, who would support capitalism and freedom, who understands we need less debt not more debt,” Haley said, while stopping short of a full-throated endorsement.

“That’s not Donald Trump. That’s not his record in office,” former Trump national security adviser John Bolton shot back at Haley’s explanation during an appearance on CNN.

The internet did what the internet does and resurfaced clips of criticisms Haley previously made against Trump in response to her announcement.

Many decried her heel turn as an act of cowardice, adding hers to the ranks of similar pivots from Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. While some speculated Haley’s vote was an effort to nab a vice presidential spot, Trump reportedly released an email Wednesday night announcing, “Nikki Haley not under VP consideration! But, I wish her well …”

“There goes her reputation, permanently,” one user posted in response to news of Haley’s vote.

“Nikki Haley’s transformation is almost complete. The only thing left to do is shoot a puppy,” another mused.

Haley’s choice to kiss the ring angered her supporters, many of whom rallied behind her in protest against Trump’s extreme agenda.

“Stop with the bullsh!t,” wrote former RNC chairman Michael Steele. “You could have said this on the day you suspended your campaign. Continue to support you?! The people who voted for you will not be voting for Trump. That was the point. I wish I could say I am disappointed. I am not even surprised.”

The Biden campaign renewed its invitation to Haley voters to join their campaign, which Biden first issued in March after Haley announced the end of her presidential campaign.

“Nikki Haley voters, Donald Trump doesn’t want your vote. I want to be clear: There is a place for you in my campaign,” Biden wrote at the time.

Watch: Ted Cruz Loses It When Asked if He’ll Accept Election Results

Notably, the Republican senator refused to answer the question.

Ted Cruz at a lectern speaks and gestures as if he is angry about something.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senator Ted Cruz won’t admit whether he’ll accept election results that show Joe Biden winning in November.

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins asked Cruz the question point-blank Wednesday night.

“You were the first senator to object to the votes. In 2024 will you certify the election results? Do you plan to object or will you accept the results regardless of who wins the election?” Collins asked.

Cruz immediately tried to dodge.

“So, Kaitlan, I gotta say, I think that’s actually a ridiculous question,” the Texas senator replied. The exchange then became a long back-and-forth, in which Cruz denied that the question was yes-or-no, and asked whether Collins had ever asked a Democrat that question. Collins mentioned how Trump refused to allow a peaceful transfer of power, and Cruz even glossed over the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot, claiming, “We did have a peaceful transfer of power. I was there on January 20. I was there on the swearing-in.”

“Barely,” replied Collins.

Cruz still refused to commit to accepting the results, claiming that there could be voter fraud.

“Look, if the Democrats win, I will accept the result, but I’m not gonna ignore fraud,” Cruz said, again adding a giant caveat to his answer.

The segment ended with a pointed remark from Collins. “Senator Ted Cruz—no answer to that question. Thank you very much.”

Watch the entire exchange here:

Cruz faces a tough reelection campaign against Democratic Representative Colin Allred, a former football player, but is probably worried about drawing the ire of Trump and the Republican base. Republicans are repeatedly dodging the question of accepting a Biden win in November, especially those who are in the running for vice president. Some Republican candidates have even alluded to supporting violence.

Are You Serious?! Samuel Alito Flew Yet Another January 6 Flag

The “Appeal to Heaven” flag was spotted last summer at his vacation home in New Jersey.

Samuel Alito
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Samuel Alito in 2019

It turns out that the upside-down flag flown at Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s Virginia home after the January 6 insurrection wasn’t the only time one of his properties nodded to the election denialism of Donald Trump’s supporters.

The “Appeal to Heaven” flag flew last summer at Alito’s vacation home in New Jersey, according to The New York Times. Also known as the Pine Tree flag, it originated as a symbol of the American Revolution but became a symbol of Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” movement—including one carried by rioters at the Capitol building.

Several photos acquired by the Times showed the flag hanging outside of Alito’s residence on Long Beach Island on four separate dates between July and September 2023.

The revelations cast further doubt on Alito’s excuse for flying an upside-down American flag at his home in Alexandria, Virginia, on January 17, 2021: He blamed his wife, telling Fox News that she had hung it upside down “for a short time” after an anti-Trump neighbor hurled insults at her.

Democrats have since called for Alito to recuse himself from cases related to the 2020 election, and introduced a resolution Tuesday to censure the “shameless” justice for what they call “beyond poor judgment,” arguing that Alito had violated the court’s ethics and invited questions about the court’s impartiality.