Skip Navigation
Breaking News
Breaking News
from Washington and beyond

Ron DeSantis Bans Credit Card Companies From Helping Track Gun Criminals

The Florida governor seems determined to sign as many dangerous bills as possible into law.

Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

Just weeks ago, Ron DeSantis made it legal in Florida to conceal-carry a gun without a permit, training, or even a background check.

And on Friday, he signed a bill to prevent credit card companies from tracking the sale of firearms and ammunition. The bill stops companies from helping track suspicious weapons purchases—an increasing concern while the United States is flooded with random shootings and mass shootings essentially every few hours.

Instead, DeSantis in rapid succession has made it easier for potentially violent people to conceal-carry guns with abandon, while making it more difficult for law enforcement to proactively respond when those carriers may have nefarious intentions.

Companies found in violation of the bill will be fined up to $10,000.

Credit card companies had expressed willingness to adopt the gun-tracking practice, which pretty much involves ascribing a distinct four-digit “merchant category code” for sales at gun businesses. Such codes are already used to distinguish purchases from oft-frequented places like grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants.

Consequently, while DeSantis claims the bill is a defense against big government, it really is just a stake he is laying on the issues of guns. If he was really so concerned about government overreach or mass data surveillance, he would ban the use of such codes outright. But the very limited purporting of principle is DeSantis’s entire brand. Also this week, he again escalated his war against Disney and its monorail, going not against universal corporate immunities or misdeeds but just Disney specifically—because he doesn’t like that it spoke out against his infamous and repressive “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Russia Wants to Build a Safe Space for Conservative Americans to Move To

The village would also be open to Canadian conservatives upset by the politics in their country.

A man shovels snow outside his home
A village outside Moscow

Russia is pining to build on its budding relationship with American conservatives—literally.

Amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, and the American Republican Party splitting on its support for the defending nation, Russian authorities apparently are launching construction of a special village outside Moscow dedicated to conservative-minded Americans and Canadians.

State outlet RIA Novosti reported the news Thursday. Timur Beslangurov, a Russian immigration lawyer, said the village would harbor the likes of some “200 families [who] want to emigrate for ideological reasons.”

That’s not all, apparently. Beslangurov claims tens of thousands of people with no Russian roots would like to move to Russia.

“The reason is the inculcation of radical values: Today they have 70 genders; it is not known what will happen next,” he said.

The Russian lawyer claimed that some of those tens of thousands want to move to Russia because they are traditional Catholics who “very strongly believe in the prophecy that Russia will remain the only Christian country in the world.”

According to the lawyer, the future expats would help fund the village.

Beslangurov’s remarks—manifesting from lazing in an armchair and letting late-night fruitcake programming blare mindlessly at you—mirror the broader posturing of Russia’s government as “traditional” in comparison to the West’s supposed loose liberalism. The red-in-the-face finger-pointing at America has led to some pretty exaggerated propaganda in the past:

On the other hand, Americans are in fact expressing increased desires to flee the United States—not because there are “70 genders” or too many vegetarians, but because of relentless and widespread attacks on abortion rights and LGBTQ people’s civil rights.

Conversely, Russia’s own “traditional” posturing has resulted in policies like policing the “demonstration” of LGBTQ “behavior,” banning Russians from suggesting that being gay is “normal,” and outlawing all forms of media that could be seen as promoting such “propaganda” (violations of the law could incur punishments up to $33,000 in fines, while nonresidents could be expelled from Russia). None of this includes the growing crackdown on free speech, especially when it comes to criticism of the government and the invasion of Ukraine.

Not a very warm environment for non-Russians to move to.

Good Luck: Judge Orders Trump to Attend Lecture on Not Harassing Witnesses

Trump has a “long-standing history” of attacking people in his legal cases, prosecutors said.

Donald Trump speaks with a mic in front of him
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump will have to attend a hearing specifically to be told to stop trying to intimidate witnesses.

The judge presiding over Trump’s Manhattan criminal case, on the alleged payment of hush money to Stormy Daniels, issued a protective order Monday stating that the people involved in the lawsuit are not allowed to share evidence from the case on social media. Prosecutors initially sought the order shortly after Trump was arrested, arguing he has a “long-standing history” of attacking people involved in his legal disputes.

For good measure, on Thursday, Judge Juan Manuel Merchan also scheduled a hearing for May 23, to make sure Trump understands the rules. During the virtual hearing, Merchan will go over the restrictions of the order with Trump and make clear that if the former president breaks the restrictions, he risks being held in contempt of the court.

The hearing date was set just days after Trump was found liable for sexual abuse and battery against writer E. Jean Carroll in the mid-1990s, and for defaming her when she accused him of assault decades later. He owes her $5 million in damages.

During the trial, Trump repeatedly attacked Carroll on social media, earning him multiple rebukes from the judge presiding over that case, including on the day of the verdict. The next day, Trump participated in an absurd town hall event with CNN, during which he repeatedly insulted Carroll and decried the legal process. Carroll is reportedly weighing whether to sue him for defamation again in light of his comments during the town hall.

Merchan said he was not issuing a gag order because “the last thing I want to do is infringe on [Trump’s] or anybody else’s First Amendment rights.”

Trump is facing 34 counts of business fraud in Manhattan for his alleged role in hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels. Separately, he is under investigation in Georgia for his actions following the 2020 presidential election, as well as for his role in the January 6 insurrection and for his alleged mishandling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Conservatives: It’s “Anti-Hero” to Arrest Daniel Penny for Killing Jordan Neely

The mental gymnastics needed to justify a 15-minute choke hold are wild.

A woman riding the subway looks at a protestor carrying a “Justice for Jordan Neely” poster walking on the platform.
Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images
A protester in the New York City subway on May 8

The right is jumping to the defense of Daniel Penny, somehow arguing that arresting someone for manslaughter is actually “pro-criminal.”

Penny surrendered to New York City authorities on Friday for a charge of second-degree manslaughter, after he was filmed placing Jordan Neely in a fatal choke hold on the subway for 15 minutes.

Since the announcement of charges against Penny, right-wing figures have advanced ludicrous and vicious ideas about it all, claiming the arrest of Penny to be unjust—the most bizarre among them being that to arrest Penny is to be pro-crime.

“It’s pro-criminal, it’s anti-hero,” Fox host Greg Gutfeld said on Thursday. “It’s time for us to get this progressive pro-crime ideology to walk the plank,” he continued, implying that Neely, the person who was strangled to death, was the real criminal.

Jack Posobiec retweeted a claim that society is now a “sinking ship” because “morally upright chads like Daniel Penny” have to submit to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (the far-right’s favorite boogeyman for Trump-related reasons).

Numerous other right-wing and conspiratorial figures, like Mike Cernovich and Collin Rugg, have stuck to a broader line of calling the killer a “good Samaritan.” They are advancing the notion—sans brain or soul—that Penny’s arrest symbolizes the state punishing an individual for being a hero and for sticking up against evil.

The continuous smearing of Neely, a man already dead, follows Fox’s previously cruel coverage of the murder: They laugh, encourage jeering, and blame the murder on anything but the actual culprit.

If there’s anything repressive or authoritarian about this case, it’s not that someone is being charged for killing. It’s our reaction to the already senseless killing of a homeless man who embodies the millions of people our society fails and leaves in the dust. Just days ago, the police arrested a journalist trying to record them violently repressing people protesting that Penny—who, again, was caught on film killing someone—had not yet faced consequences.

There are corrupt power structures to be confronted in our society; do try looking for the ones that pit you against your fellow human beings, the ones happy for you to assume the worst in others who are more like you than you realize.

Alabama Republicans Want to Charge People Who Get Abortions With Homicide

House Bill 454 would take Alabama’s anti-abortion laws to the next level.

Protestors participate in a 2019 rally against bans on abortions in Montgomery, Alabama.
Julie Bennett/Getty Images
A pro-abortion rally in Montgomery, Alabama, in 2019

Alabama Republican lawmakers have introduced a bill that would charge people who get abortions with homicide, an outrageous move that mimics similar bills in other states.

Abortion has been banned in Alabama since Roe v. Wade was overturned, with exceptions only to save the life of the pregnant person. The new bill leaves those exceptions in place.

But the measure, which was introduced in the House Tuesday, would expand the definition of “person” to state that life begins at fertilization. This would allow prosecutors to charge anyone who gets a nontherapeutic abortion with homicide.

The bill’s sponsor said that the measure was not meant to criminalize people seeking abortions but to deter people from trying to get an abortion in the first place. Classifying abortion as a homicide would significantly deter people from seeking the procedure, but it could also put their health at risk.

A study published in November by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found that abortion bans at both the state and national level will result in significant increases in maternal mortality rates. The United States already has the highest rate of maternal mortality among developed nations, according to the World Population Review.

Frighteningly, this is not the first time that a state has tried to classify abortion as homicide. Republicans in Kentucky and Georgia introduced similar bills in February, and South Carolina Republicans introduced a bill in February that would have made getting an abortion punishable by the death penalty. All three of these bills were deemed so extreme that even other state Republicans condemned them.

These measures are also hugely unpopular among voters. The vast majority of Americans support abortion access, as they have repeatedly shown at the ballot box. But Republicans keep forging ahead with restrictions on human rights.

Elon Musk Is the Only One Happy About New Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino

Linda Yaccarino, the reported new Twitter CEO, agrees with the far-right online a whole lot.

Linda Yaccarino speaks with a "Variety" mic in her hand
Isaac Brekken/Variety/Penske Media/Getty Images
Linda Yaccarino

Elon Musk’s pick for the new Twitter CEO is perhaps as jacked-up on the conspiratorial far-right happy gas as he is.

Linda Yaccarino, the former global advertising chief for NBCUniversal and a former Trump appointee, had reportedly been in advanced talks for the role. She resigned from her role at NBC on Friday, just hours before Musk announced that she indeed would take on the job as CEO.

“Looking forward to working with Linda to transform this platform into X, the everything app,” Musk tweeted, seeming to reference a new brand rehaul for Twitter.

And a cursory look through her Twitter activity reveals how complementary she would be to Musk’s regime.

The likely new Twitter CEO follows just some 1,161 accounts; among them are rabid far-right conspiracy theorists and stochastic terrorists, including Chaya Raichik, Jack Posobiec, Sidney Powell, Catturd, Ron DeSantis, and Michael Shellenberger.

Of course, who one follows on Twitter doesn’t necessarily indicate everything about them personally. Her Twitter likes, however, indicate that she does indeed like the content coming from these actors:

Outside of Twitter, in 2018, Trump appointed Yaccarino to serve a two-year term on the administration’s council of Sports Fitness and Nutrition.

At the same time, however, some far-right consumers of this conspiratorial garbage are actually alarmed by Yaccarino’s appointment, because she’s an executive chair of the World Economic Forum—something Musk himself has spread suspicion toward.

These and other users are also concerned with the fact that Yaccarino encouraged people to get Covid-19 vaccines, and even that she applauded NBCUniversal management for taking steps to pursue “social justice and equality” and for progressing toward hiring “50% of women and 50% people of color.”

Despite any concerns with Yaccarino having taken a vaccine or supporting corporate social justice causes, if she does indeed become Twitter’s next CEO, it will be with Musk’s blessing. Musk purported to be a centrist in the past, before becoming more and more reactionary in his self-made echo chamber. His fans have gladly stood by him, while he’s leeched off whatever money he can come by, mainly from the online right-wing bubble. And for many of those in the blue-check army who may be upset by Yaccarino’s appointment because she seems not far-right enough, Musk’s word is often God’s word for them anyhow—so she’ll be just fine on that end.

But alas, if her Twitter activity gives any indication of what most of her more substantive beliefs are on information and truth, Twitter more broadly will not be fine.

This post has been updated with breaking news.

Donald Trump Is Now Selling Merch Mocking CNN Over That Disaster of a Town Hall

The former president’s campaign team is already capitalizing on the lie-ridden town hall.

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

CNN’s town hall with twice-impeached, criminally indicted, convicted sexual abuser Donald Trump was a glorified campaign rally, and the former president is already capitalizing on it.

Trump’s presidential campaign unveiled a new T-shirt for sale to mark the occasion, tweeting that the town hall was “so masterful that many are now saying CNN should be renamed TNN—the Trump News Network.

And the merch is objectively bad: It’s a white shirt featuring a picture of Trump wearing pixelated meme sunglasses, above the words “This is TNN.”

This isn’t Trump’s first foray into bizarre merch. Remember the NFTs? At least President Joe Biden understands what good meme merch should look like.

The bigger problem, of course, is that CNN gave Trump its platform in the first place. It was a blatant grab for viewers and buzz, which didn’t even work. An average of just 3.1 million viewers tuned in to the town hall, a mere sliver of the eyeballs Trump could attract during his time in office.

All the town hall did was legitimize Trump as a candidate. He spent the entire time spouting lies, misogynistic attacks, election conspiracy theories, and insults at anyone who tried to fact-check him. Countless people in the news media, including CNN employees, have slammed the town hall and the network for hosting it.

CNN went so far as to try to make the event as easy as possible for Trump. Before the town hall, the network reportedly told the audience, “Please do not boo, please be respectful.” They were allowed to applaud, though. Aside from this having big “Please clap” energy, it also provided positive reinforcement to everything Trump said, when his words really should have been met with fact-checks and horrified silence.

And in the end, all CNN has to show for it is egg on its proverbial face.

What Is Ron DeSantis Hiding Beyond His Travel Records?

The Florida governor has signed a bill blocking all details about his travel, including where he goes and who he goes with.

Ron DeSantis
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill that would shield all of his past and future travel records from public access, a measure widely slammed as an attempt to hide his movements.

The new law, which DeSantis signed Thursday, will block reporters from accessing information about how and where DeSantis and other government officials travel, as well as who they travel with. Details about whether DeSantis used a state plane or a private plane will be retracted. The law, the first of its kind, will also keep secret visitor logs to the governor’s mansion and his office.

DeSantis has previously claimed the law is necessary for his security, but critics argue that he’s just trying to keep secrets. Former state Representative Ben Diamond called the measure “outrageous.”

Floridians’ hard earned taxpayer dollars should not go to pay for Ron DeSantis’s campaign junkets,’’ he tweeted. “But we will never know now that his legislative cronies made his travel records retroactively exempt from public disclosure.”

Ben Wilcox, the research director and co-founder of the good government organization Integrity Florida, told Insider that DeSantis’s argument that the law is necessary for his protection “strains credulity.”

“How else can we know whether the travel was an appropriate use of public funds and hold those responsible accountable?” Wilcox asked.

When the bill passed the state legislature last week, House Democratic Caucus Leader Fentrice Driskell slammed the measure as a “blatantly obvious” attempt to make it easier for DeSantis to travel outside Florida and “raise his profile” ahead of his widely expected presidential campaign.

DeSantis should “resign as governor and go back to being a private citizen” if he didn’t want his travel records to be public, Driskell said. “As long as he’s in office, he should be open and honest about where he’s going, when, and who is with him. Floridians have a right to know what their governor is doing, and that includes these travel details.”

DeSantis has been on multiple trips, both domestic and international, which many suspect double as a warmup for a presidential run. Questions are rising about whether taxpayer funds have been used to pay for his travel, and now we may never know.

Florida Republicans have been clamping down on freedom of information, both in state schools and journalism. They also introduced bills that would have made it easier to sue journalists for defamation, as well as require paid bloggers who write about elected officials to first register with the state. Neither of these bills made it to a full vote.

The flip side of these crackdowns is that DeSantis is very bad at dealing with media scrutiny. He apparently short-circuited when asked about his terrible polling numbers, and he also freaked out when asked about his time working as a Navy lawyer at Guantánamo Bay.

CNN Trump Town Hall Audience Was Told “Please Do Not Boo”

If CNN really wanted to know what Republican voters think of Trump, why did it set rules like this?

Donald Trump
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Apparently CNN told the audience of its diet Trump campaign rally that they could definitely applaud but they absolutely could not boo.

CNN has been catching rightful flak—even internally—for hosting its absurd town hall event with twice-impeached, criminally indicted former President Donald Trump one day after he was also found liable for sexual abuse and defamation.

And now it seems that CNN somehow found a way to make it all worse.

Puck reports that before the town hall, CNN entreated the audience: “Please do not boo, please be respectful.” They were however allowed to applaud.

Such instruction, beyond the possibility that CNN did not actually try to get a balanced audience of Trump supporters and genuinely “undeclared” voters, may explain why the town hall appeared more like a Trump lovefest and less like an earnest exploration of whether a criminal and sexual abuser deserves to be president (this is needlessly generous: The answer is “no”).

Those defending CNN’s town hall—like Anderson Cooper—argue that the audience represented half the country (fact check: false; only 74 million people, or 22.5 percent of America, voted for Trump in 2020). But not every single one of them would have approved of Trump smearing the woman he was just found liable for sexually abusing and defaming, doubling down on the radical election lies that have only dampened Republicans’ performance since, or saying more lies than truths in such a short amount of time.

But we didn’t get to hear if the audience opposed any of this, because CNN didn’t let them express it.

The defenses of the town hall assume we have no awareness of who Trump is and what many of his supporters have tolerated, if not actively encouraged. But what many, not least myself, actually have no awareness of is why a news network would so eagerly host a farcical event under the guise of holding power to account and then beg the audience only to cheer for the power in question.

House Republicans Pass Immigration Bill That Would Completely Destroy Asylum Process

There are a number of cruel provisions that would limit who can actually claim asylum.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy

House Republicans passed a bill Thursday that would destroy the process to gain asylum in the United States.

The measure, which has been slammed by immigrants’ rights advocates, passed by a vote of 219–213, with just two Republicans joining all of the Democrats to oppose it. The bill squeaked through hours before the expiration of Title 42, the pandemic-era public health emergency measure that allows officials to turn away anyone at the border, regardless of whether they are seeking asylum.

The bill is unlikely to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, and the White House has also vowed to veto it on the off chance it does. But the bill has a number of hard-line measures that show exactly what Republicans would do if they ever retake control of both chambers.

To start, the bill would require Customs and Border Protection to hire and train 22,000 more agents. It would also require the secretary of homeland security to resume construction of the border wall, a key policy under Donald Trump. The secretary would also have power to block any immigrant from entering the U.S. if doing so is deemed “necessary in order to achieve operational control over” the border. While current Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is unlikely to use this power, the secretary in a future Republican administration very well could.

Migrants who have passed through another country on their way to the U.S. and did not first seek asylum along the way could be considered ineligible for asylum. Once they reach the U.S., people would have to seek asylum at a designated port of entry, instead of crossing the border at any point. This effectively limits who can claim asylum to Mexicans, Canadians, or anyone lucky enough to have a tourist visa to those countries. The bill would also generally expand the reasons someone could be deemed ineligible for asylum.

Under current law, children cannot be detained longer than 20 days. But the bill would revise anti-trafficking laws to allow migrant children to be detained with their parents for the entirety of their immigration court process. Immigration officers could also let unaccompanied children withdraw their asylum applications, “even if the child is unable to make an independent decision to withdraw the application.”

The bill would also increase requirements for business owners to verify that potential employees have permission to work in the U.S., which would make hiring migrant workers less desirable. This could take a massive toll on the U.S. economy, which is already facing a worker shortage and historically has relied heavily on immigrant workers.

Republicans insist that this bill will solve the problem at the border, one of their favorite political talking points. But Democrats warn that the measure does nothing to address the root causes of the huge wave of migration the U.S. is currently facing.

How do they propose to address our broken, fragile immigration system?” asked House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. “They continue to bend the knee to the former twice-impeached president of the United States of America in terms of their policy proposals.”

“The Republican approach is anchored in xenophobia and fanning the flames of hatred and distrust and of irresponsible policies that will do nothing to solve the problem.”