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The College Student Who Tracked Celebrities’ Private Jets Is Now Tracking Ron DeSantis

The new Twitter account was created just days after DeSantis signed a law blocking his travel records from the public.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
Scott Olson/Getty Images

The college student known for tracking Elon Musk’s private jet on Twitter has now set his sights on Ron DeSantis, days after the Florida governor signed a bill blocking public access to his travel records.

Jack Sweeney ran the account called @ElonJet, which tracked the location of the billionaire’s private plane using public information. At one point, Sweeney ran more than 30 accounts tracking celebrities’ private jets. All of those accounts, as well as Sweeney’s personal profile, were suspended in December.

Sweeney has since gotten back online and begun to rebuild his empire. He still tracks Musk’s jet, posting public data with a 24-hour delay to abide by Twitter’s updated privacy policy that prohibits sharing someone’s live location. And on May 19, Sweeney posted the first tweet on @DeSantisJet.

The account tracks a jet owned by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, again with a 24-hour delay. Sweeney tweeted on the account Monday that although that plane is used for official state-related travel, there is no guarantee that DeSantis is necessarily on it.

As others have noted DeSantis also gets rides on political donors planes for personal matters. If we become aware of these flights, it will also be shared here,” Sweeney added.

Sweeney told The New Republic he decided to set up @DeSantisJet because of the increasing attention on and interest in the Florida governor, who is expected to formally announce his 2024 presidential candidacy this week.

When his accounts were suspended in December, Sweeney told BuzzFeed News he felt it was “important to hold people accountable, no matter what side they’re on.”

The account’s first tweet came one week after DeSantis signed a bill blocking reporters from accessing information about how and where DeSantis and other government officials travel, as well as who they travel with. Under the new law, the first of its kind, details about whether DeSantis used a state plane or a private plane will be retracted. The measure will also keep secret visitor logs to the governor’s mansion and his office.

DeSantis has a bit of an ivory tower in Florida, as his Republican Party controls both chambers of the state legislature. The state GOP has pushed bills that shield DeSantis from media scrutiny and target people who could potentially write negative things about him. It hasn’t worked out well in the grander scheme, as he continues to get slammed for being awkward or overly aggressive in front of the national press.

This post has been updated.

Why Is Tim Scott Even Running?

The South Carolina Republican wants to lead a party that has no concern for people who look like him.

Tim Scott
Win McNamee/Getty Images

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott is running for president. The longtime South Carolina politician made his announcement Monday at a rally in his hometown of North Charleston, after officially filing last week with the Federal Election Commission.

“Joe Biden and the radical left are attacking every single rung of the ladder that helped me climb,” Scott said Monday, as his party threatens either cutting social security and Medicare services for millions of poor people, or upending the American economy. “And that’s why, I’m announcing today, that I am running for president of the United States of America.”

Scott joins a notably diverse Republican primary field, including Vivek Ramaswamy, radio host and failed Gavin Newsom–recaller Larry Elder, and another South Carolina political veteran, Nikki Haley. This also means Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, joins a slate of candidates vying to lead a party that has no committed concern for people who look like them.

Scott has generated a good deal of support from his colleagues; Senators Joni Ernst, John Cornyn, John Barrasso, and Lindsey Graham have all expressed enthusiasm for his run. Senator Mike Rounds committed to backing Scott’s run last week. And on Monday, while making his announcement, Scott was joined by Senator John Thune, the second-in-command of the Republican caucus.

Scott first began his political career serving on the Charleston County Council for 14 years. In 2009, Scott was elected to the state House, becoming the first Republican African American to do so in over 100 years. He then went on to become the representative for South Carolina’s first congressional district, becoming the first African American Republican elected to Congress from South Carolina in 114 years. And in 2012, then-Governor Haley herself announced she would appoint Scott to the state’s junior senator position; he became the first African American to be a southern senator since Reconstruction.

But aside from these milestones, Scott is offering virtually nothing new in the already crowded Republican primary.

He has refused to disavow Donald Trump, who since announcing his bid has vowed to destroy the constitution, become the first former president to be criminally indicted, and been found liable for sexual abuse. On abortion, too, he falls in line with some of the most radical in his party: endorsing the idea of a 20-week national ban.

Last month, Scott announced his exploratory committee for president in a video in which he looked back at the Civil War: “the defining moment” of whether the country would “truly be one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

“America’s soul was put to the test, and we prevailed,” Scott claimed. His nod to the Civil War was fascinating, given the ensuing failure of Reconstruction, and the mass backlash to the African American South Carolina Republicans that made it so Scott became the first in over a century to join in their footsteps.

“I know America is a land of opportunity, not a land of oppression,” Scott said. “I know it, because I’ve lived it.”

Scott did indeed come from a working background. He grew up in a divorced household, in which his mother worked long days to support his family. Scott’s claim about his family—repeated again during his announcement Monday—represents a common conservative belief: because one individual’s luck and hard work aligned, that proves that all people have access to the same outcomes. A logic that only makes sense if you have no knowledge, or concern, for how broader systems operate.

Scott has at times tried to address these systems, but just barely. After the murder of George Floyd, for example, he introduced the “Justice Act,” purported to address police reform and “systemic issues affecting people of color.” Nevertheless, while drafting such legislation, Scott insisted, time and again, that America is not a racist country. The bill, which did not address qualified immunity, never moved forward.

It is great that Scott was able to lift himself out of tough conditions. It’s a shame that he, alongside Haley and other Republicans of color, insists on America’s greatness by citing his own success in spite of the slate of racial and economic struggles he has faced, while also pretending those struggles are not systemically hurting people who look just like him.

8 More Women Join Lawsuit Against Texas Abortion Ban, Saying It Almost Killed Them

“What happened to these women is indefensible and is happening to countless pregnant people across the state.”

A woman holds up a pro-abortion protest sign
Sergio Flores/Getty Images
Protesters hold up signs during an abortion rights rally on June 25, 2022 in Austin, Texas.

Eight more women joined a lawsuit against the state of Texas on Monday, arguing that the state’s extreme abortion restrictions endangered their health or their lives when they experienced pregnancy-related medical emergencies.

Five women initially sued the Lone Star State in March. A total of 15 people—both patients and doctors—have now signed on to the suit, saying that the laws are unclear and put people’s well-being at huge risk. Texas had implemented a near-total abortion ban in September 2021, even before Roe v. Wade was overturned.

State laws prohibit anyone from getting an abortion unless the pregnant person’s life is at risk. There are no exceptions for a fetus developing an anomaly that would prevent it from surviving past birth, one of the major issues in the lawsuit. Texas doctors who conduct abortions could face life in prison and fines of up to $10,000, meaning that few are willing to discuss giving or referring someone for an abortion.

“Abortion bans are hindering or delaying necessary obstetrical care,” the lawsuit states. “And, contrary to their stated purpose of furthering life, the bans are exposing pregnant people to risks of death, injury, and illness, including loss of fertility—making it less likely that every family who wants to bring children into the world will be able to do so and survive the experience.”

“Medical professionals are now telling their patients that if they want to become pregnant, they should leave Texas.”

One of the plaintiffs, Amanda Zurawski, testified before Congress in April about the toll her state’s abortion laws took on her life. “I nearly died on their watch,” she said of her senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn.

Zurawski’s water broke less than halfway through her pregnancy, but she couldn’t get an abortion because her fetus still had a heartbeat. She went into septic shock before she could get an abortion in the emergency room.

Another plaintiff, Kylie Beaton, learned that her baby’s head was growing abnormally fast, but its brain was not developing properly and likely never would. Even though the baby was unlikely to survive past birth, she couldn’t get an abortion in Texas. The law delayed her care, making it too late for her to seek an abortion out of state, and Beaton was forced to carry the pregnancy to term. She had to deliver via emergency C-section because of how big the baby’s head was, and he died just a few days after he was born.

Some plaintiffs had their water break incredibly early. Others developed fatal fetal anomalies, and one developed Mirror syndrome, where both she and her fetus retained too much fluid and were both at risk of death. They were all denied abortions.

“What happened to these women is indefensible and is happening to countless pregnant people across the state,” Molly Duane, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive rights, said in a statement. “The Texas government must answer for their laws that have nearly killed these women and that put more lives at risk every day.”

Minnesota Governor Vows to Legalize Marijuana: “I Trust Adults to Make Their Own Decisions”

Tim Walz and the Democratic Party in Minnesota are making real progressive changes in their state.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz
Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The center of Democratic efficacy is not in New York or California—it’s in the Midwest. Minnesota has spent its entire legislative session notching progressive win after win, from becoming the first state to codify abortion rights after the fall of Roe, to guaranteeing free meals for every Minnesota public and charter school student.

And now, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz is vowing to sign the marijuana legalization bill passed by the state legislature.

“I served on the Veterans Affairs Committee in Congress for a dozen years, and we passed the first piece of legislation on medicinal cannabis to help us move away from the opioid addictions that we saw with our returning soldiers. And we know that prohibition doesn’t work,” Walz reasoned on Sunday. “And with the issues of contamination of fentanyl, and xylazine and things we’re seeing show up on street cannabis, it doesn’t make any sense. And so we’re gonna allow people to grow it at home.”

Walz’s answer was steeped not just in practical logic, but in convincing philosophical terms that embody what a winning case for the party is: emphasizing freedom to, and not just freedom from.

“I trust adults to make their own decisions. We’re talking about freedoms. You make [your] own health care decisions in Minnesota. We’re not going to tell you how to deal with your children. We’re going to allow teachers to teach. We’re not going to ban books,” Walz said. “We’ll have it legally—the regime will be in place to make sure that it’s safe, the things that are being sold to folks, and we’ll use the resources from the tax revenue to help educate people on addiction which we know is ravaging, you know, people across the country.”

States like Florida and Texas have earned much-deserved scrutiny for their extremely oppressive legislative sessions. Minnesota and other midwestern states warrant their own contrasting recognition: of Democrats running on popular progressive policies, delivering on them, and bettering the lives of millions.

Editor’s Pick

Marjorie Taylor Greene, Who Loves Demonizing Drag Queens, Now Defends Drag-Wearing Boyfriend

The Georgia representative has built a career demonizing drag queens and queer people generally. Oh how the turntables.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has gone out of her way to attack drag queens, is now defending her drag-wearing boyfriend.

Greene has been dating Brian Glenn since late last year. Glenn currently works as a programming director for the conservative Right Side Broadcasting Network, but from 2013 to 2015, he was an anchor for a local Dallas, Texas, news station. A video posted to Twitter on Sunday shows him in drag for a morning segment. It is unclear when the segment originally aired.

I’m kicking the shoes off,” Glenn says in the clip, sporting a curly blonde wig, a pink dress, gloves, and a purse.

“I may keep the pantyhose on. It does feel kind of good, actually,” he adds, which is blatantly untrue (just ask anyone who’s had to wear pantyhose for an extended period of time).

Both Glenn and Greene have shared the video on social media, with Greene tweeting that she was “literally lol’ing.”

Glenn “dressed in drag for morning news in Dallas years ago reporting on an upcoming local theatre production and the morons over at Patriot Takes think this is an attack,” she said on Twitter. “The left is so stupid.”

Greene has repeatedly attacked drag performances of any kind, at one point calling them “indoctrination” and saying it should be “illegal” for children to attend. She has likened supporting the LGBTQ community to grooming children, and even suggested that people who support drag queens should be considered “domestic terrorists.” She and other far-right people seeking to ban drag in public insist that their efforts are to protect children.

Well, her boyfriend’s news segment presumably did not include a warning for any minors who might be watching, so people under the age of 18 were likely able to see such obscene content.

The actual problem for Republicans does not seem to be drag, but who is dressed in drag. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee wore drag in high school, but he signed the country’s first law banning drag performances in public (that law was blocked by a judge). Criminally indicted Representative George Santos dressed in drag in Brazil, but he has fully embraced the GOP’s anti-LGBTQ stances. And now Glenn, who works for a far-right, openly Trump-supporting news network.

The issue actually at play is LGBTQ people who live their lives openly and do not fall in line with whatever Republicans deem acceptable.

Nebraska Passes Double-Whammy Bill Banning Abortion and Trans Kids’ Health Care

The bill is expected to be signed into law by Republican Governor Jim Pillen.

Nebraska state Senator Merv Riepe chats with fellow Senator Jane Raybould at the Nebraska state Capitol

The Nebraska state legislature passed a bill Friday banning abortion after 12 weeks and gender-affirming care for minors, a double-whammy of curbing human rights.

The anti-abortion, anti-trans bill passed the House by a vote of 33–15 and now heads to the desk of Governor Jim Pillen, who has said he will sign it. The measure initially passed the Senate on Tuesday, when lawmakers also voted 33–15 to add the abortion ban as an amendment to the existing gender-affirming care bill.

The rotunda and gallery were packed with people protesting against the bill, chanting so loudly that lawmakers struggled to hear each other. At one point, when Republican Senator Kathleen Krauth began speaking, protesters erupted so loudly that security cleared the gallery. Demonstrators threw tampons onto the chamber floor before they were escorted out.

“Nothing I say matters in this chamber, so I am going to say the unvarnished truth,” Senator Machaela Cavanaugh said during the final debate. “This place is morally bankrupt, that you are playing political games with parents and children in this state to get something. It’s gross. It’s vile.”

The Nebraska legislature failed last month to pass a six-week abortion ban, after two typically anti-abortion senators voted “present.” Republicans then pushed the 12-week ban by folding it into the anti-trans bill.

The measure will ban abortion after 12 weeks. Exceptions would only be made for rape, incest, or to save the pregnant person’s life. The bill would also prohibit people under 18 from receiving puberty blockers, hormone therapies, and genital or nongenital surgeries. Genital surgeries are not performed in Nebraska, but Republicans have banned them anyway.

The state’s chief medical officer—who is simply an ear, nose, and throat specialist appointed by the Republican governor—would be able to set rules and regulations that would allow gender-affirming medications in certain situations. The bill’s supporters say this is a compromise, but critics worry this authority could be used to create a blanket ban instead of more flexibility.

State Democrats, led by Cavanaugh and Senator Megan Hunt, have sought to block anti-trans legislation by filibustering every single bill that came up during the legislative session. But they were finally defeated on Friday.

AOC Dunks on McCarthy: If You Want To Cut Spending, What About No Yacht Tax Breaks?

If Republicans really want to do something about the debt, here’s one place to start.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Ting Shen/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy and Republicans have been staunch in risking global default by demanding the government cut social services and make working people’s lives harder. On Friday, as Republicans continue to drag their feet on allowing the government to raise the debt limit, McCarthy tweeted another of his stubborn aphorisms:

And indeed, Washington could spend less. For instance, America’s 2024 proposed military budget is some $842 billion—$100 billion more than 2022, and $26 billion more than 2023. But if America isn’t ready to confront its inflated military budget yet, there is one very easy solution, as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez noted:

The most outlandishly rich have long benefited from tax breaks and loopholes that maintain and even expand such vulgar levels of wealth. But twice-impeached, criminally indicted, and liable for sexual abuse former President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax bill opened up those channels more. It brought such wild provisions, including allowing the full price of private jets to be deducted in the first year.

A poignant example of how this came into practice is in the tale of longtime Republican donor Mori Hosseini, who made his fortune as a homebuilder in Florida. After spending $19.5 million on a private jet in 2017, he netted nearly $8 million in tax savings immediately, ProPublica reports. And that was just to start out with.

Soon enough, Hosseini, a close advisor to Ron DeSantis, taxied the governor and his family around like a friend giving another a ride. In 2019, ProPublic notes, Hosseini’s jet carried DeSantis’s wife Casey from Tallahassee to Jacksonville for a fundraiser hosted by—and this is not made up—a defense contractor.

Ted Cruz Thinks It’s Hilarious That He Booked It to Cancun During That Deadly Texas Storm

More than 240 of his constituents died. But to Ted Cruz, it’s all a little punch line.

Matthew Staver/Bloomberg/Getty Images

In February 2021, just one month after Ted Cruz failed to lead an effort to overturn the certification of the presidential election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania, millions of people in his home state of Texas were suffering without power during a historical and deadly winter storm. Cruz, however, was on his way to Cancun to soak in a little sun, while his constituents struggled to stay warm enough to keep breathing.

It’s a legacy that will stay with Cruz, but amid the escalating viciousness of his party, he has been able to shed the association ever so slightly. However, on Friday, he gave us a reminder of how cartoonishly callous he most certainly is.

It’s all a joke. The pain, the suffering, the heightened contradictions his departure from his constituents revealed—it’s all just funny to him.

At least 246 people died in that storm, one of the worst natural disasters in Texas’s history; victims ranged in age from less than 1 year old to 102. People were stuck in the snow, some were unable to obtain necessary medical treatments, others were found dead alone in rural communities with little support.

In Houston, The New York Times reported, an Ethiopian immigrant died in her idling car, inside her garage, where she sat while charging her phone.

“She tried to drink water,” said Negash Desta, a relative of the deceased, Etenesh Mersha. “After she told her friend she couldn’t talk anymore, there was no response after that.” Her daughter was found dead, while her husband and son were hospitalized.

Recall too: resorting to finding power wherever one could (at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning), going out into the cold for help, dying alone—all of it was happening amid the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

And still. To Ted Cruz, the human suffering, the real-world implications of an energy policy so reliant on fossil fuels, of a government system that can leave so many to die such cold, lonely deaths—it’s all a little punch line.

No, Hotels Aren’t Evicting Homeless American Vets Because of Migrants

The story was shared by Fox, the New York Post, and more. Because whenever the right can blame migrants, facts come second.

Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis/Getty Images
A migrant who was bused to New York from the Texas border in January.

“Homeless vets are being booted from NY hotels to make room for migrants: advocates,” a New York Post headline from last week read. “New York Hotels Evicting Homeless Veterans to House Migrants,” Newsweek said days later, joining in the outrage. “As many as 20 homeless veterans were booted from hotels in upstate New York to presumably make room for the influx of migrants,” Fox told its audience shortly thereafter.

And it turns out, the whole story was made up.

Mid Hudson News reports that seven homeless men have come forward and revealed they were recruited to pretend to be veterans who were displaced from a hotel—with the subtext being that migrants were taking their spots—all so a nonprofit organization could pull off a mass fraudulent scheme on the entire country.

The men told the outlet they were part of a group of 15 who were directed by the Yerik Israel Toney, or YIT, Foundation to pretend to be veterans kicked out of the Crossroads Hotel in Newburgh, New York. The men were recruited at a homeless shelter, where they were promised $200 along with food and alcohol. All they had to do was take a trip to participate in a discussion on homelessness with an elected official. After agreeing, the men were all loaded up into vehicles and moved to a diner, where they met the lead fraudster: Sharon Toney-Finch, the founder of YIT. She told them to order whatever they wanted from the menu.

“We ate like kings,” one of the men said. “Sharon introduced herself and told us we could have whatever we wanted and she would pick up the tab.” After the royal meal, Toney-Finch took them to the parking lot and laid out the real plan: Go to a meeting and act like they were veterans displaced from their hotels to make room for migrants.

The storyline was a hook, line, and sinker for the right: A hotel kicked out American veterans to make room for an influx of migrants being shipped to the town. A media firestorm quickly slammed officials for a completely made-up occurrence.

Republican Assemblyman Brian Maher even denounced the hotel by name, going on to attack the federal government’s dealings with migrants and asylum-seekers. “So the Biden administration, Governor Hochul, and the city of New York, they all have a part in this, and it’s a total embarrassment,” Maher said on Fox & Friends First. “It’s a slap in the face to veterans, to citizens of New York in this country, who are really being cast aside to allow for asylum-seekers to come here.”

Maher spoke highly of Toney-Finch, perpetrator of the fraudulent story. “Sharon spoke out, and now she’s getting hate messages. She asked me to handle this interview today because she wants to focus on the veterans,” Maher said on Fox’s airwaves. “And by the way, one of these veterans, 30 years old, he was there for the Afghanistan pullout. For me, one of the most embarrassing moments for our country in our history. And after getting home, he was kicked out of this hotel trying to reintegrate back into our society.” Maher even appealed to the public to donate to the YIT Foundation.

But pulling on one lie opened up another and another. Toney-Finch used a $37,800 hotel receipt as proof she paid for the veterans’ housing herself. But a hotel manager found “no veteran organizations” in the system. “There were no, absolutely no, veterans that were staying here that were asked to leave because of, you know, the migrants that were coming to stay here. Nobody was evicted. That’s for sure.”

Maher pressed Toney-Finch to provide bank records proving that her nonprofit was paying for hotel housing for the veterans. Soon thereafter, Toney-Finch admitted to him that perhaps things were not as they seemed. Maher, for his part, has said he simply took Toney-Finch and the “veterans” at their word.

Thousands of people across the country were duped, misled, and had any potential biases and prejudices further inflamed by this story. And again, it was all made up. But Fox, the New York Post, Newsweek, and a horde of other outlets ran with it anyway.

“We are disgusted, but not surprised, to learn that the New York Post’s front-page story pitting homeless veterans against asylum-seekers was a complete lie,” said Aaron Narraph Fernando, of populist grassroots organization For the Many. “This fake story of George Santos proportions has already made its way into the national media and kicked up a storm of anti-immigrant hatred. It has turned local residents against migrants, sending xenophobic, racist outrage toward asylum-seekers who are simply trying to make a new home for themselves in Newburgh.”

Kevin McCarthy Can’t Control His Own Party on Debt Ceiling Talks

The pause on the debt ceiling negotiations is further proof that the House speaker isn’t the real leader of his caucus. Donald Trump still is.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Bipartisan negotiations on the debt ceiling abruptly stopped on Friday after Donald Trump Kevin McCarthy said Republicans weren’t getting enough concessions.

Democrats and Republicans have been locked in a protracted battle over the debt limit, which the GOP has indicated it’s willing to hold hostage in order to reduce government spending. But with the United States just weeks away from defaulting on its debt, President Joe Biden has been meeting with party leaders to try and find a solution. There appeared to have been some progress this week.

But on Friday, Republicans pulled the plug on a meeting shortly after it began. “It’s time to press pause because it’s just not productive,” Representative Garret Graves told reporters.

He said the talks have become “just unreasonable,” and it was not clear when they would start again.

McCarthy backed up what Graves said, telling reporters, “We’ve got to get movement by the White House, and we don’t have any movement yet. So, yeah, we’ve gotta pause.”

AP White House reporter Chris Megerian first tweeted the news that negotiations had ended at 11:28 a.m.

Just 18 minutes before, guess who was posting on Truth Social that Republicans should stop negotiating until all of their ridiculous demands were met?

The farthest-right members of the Republican Party are fully in control. The House Freedom Caucus had already called Thursday for “no further discussion” on raising the debt ceiling until the Senate passes the GOP’s budget bill. And by Friday morning, their wish became reality.

Remember that just three days ago, McCarthy said he’d be willing to continue meeting with the Biden administration “until this gets done.”

The Freedom Caucus members are some of Trump’s staunchest supporters in Congress, and they were also McCarthy’s biggest obstacle to the speakership. He made multiple concessions to the group in order to win the gavel, and now he is entirely beholden to them. And the country will pay the price.