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Republicans Move to Gut Climate Funding Amid Heatwaves, Floods, and Smog Storms

Ted Cruz and his Republican colleagues want to defund efforts to stop climate change, even as their constituents suffer.

Senator Ted Cruz
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
Senator Ted Cruz

Millions of Americans have been enveloped in throat-scratching smog, have lost their homes and livelihoods in catastrophic floods, and have been facing extreme heat bubbles that have left people collapsing and even dying. Meanwhile, Republicans are working even harder to defund efforts to stop climate change.

While most of the conservative political establishment has proven wholly disinterested in even pretending to care about climate change—at the behest of their big fossil fuel and transportation corporate donors—Senator Ted Cruz and his Senate Commerce Committee GOP colleagues are leading a new charge to roll back climate funding in Biden’s proposed 2024 budget.

Fox reports that the Republican senators are pushing a memo to reject funding provisions focused on “equity” and “environmental justice” at agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and National Science Foundation (NSF).

Equity and environmental justice are the kinds of goals you may imagine an admirable comic book superhero pursuing (and there are indeed examples!), not something that elected American officials should be railing against.

But perhaps that helps clarify who society’s villains are.

NOAA’s goals, for instance, like building a “climate-ready nation” that can support underserved coastal communities—and ensure that people of all stripes are taken care of—was apparently too much for Cruz. The out-of-touch senator called such basic objectives “ancillary progressive causes,” revealing his disdain for millions of Americans.

The Republican-led memo also railed against NASA’s DEI office and its Earth Science program’s interest in helping the aviation community reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 (a bare minimum goal for pretty much every industry if we still want to have a healthy planet for our children).

“NASA should not become a plaything for anti-fossil fuel environmentalists,” the senator aka corporate puppet wrote in the memo. “The Committee would like to see funding for these missions targeted at worthy scientific enterprise and not the advancement of political agendas,” he added, while advancing Republicans’ own corporate-friendly political agenda.

Cruz’s committee also attacked funding requests to support agricultural practices that decrease emissions. In other words, they’re standing in the way of the government supporting farmers and ranchers in decreasing their impact on the very same environment their livelihoods depend upon.

And the Republicans also couldn’t stand the idea of investing into affordable, more environmentally-friendly housing, or sustainable clean water or transit systems, saying that the goals apparently have “virtually nothing to do with NSF’s statutory responsibilities.”

The NSF was established by Congress seven decades ago to promote the progress of science; advance the nation’s health, prosperity, and welfare; and secure the national defense. All goals directly related to climate resiliency and environmental protection. But no surprise Cruz cares little about any of that.

As of writing, there are over 113 million Americans—more than a third of the country—under extreme heat alerts. A heat wave in Florida has had the ocean reaching the hottest level on record, with some waters clocking in at hot tub-like temperatures.

Over the past month, before the planet reached the hottest week recorded ever, at least 25 Texans have died in the sweltering heat (all constituents of Ted Cruz, who is fighting tooth and nail to turn the heat up more). That death toll is likely just the beginning of the damage we may experience in the weeks to come.

The drastic heat comes while thousands of homes and businesses have been swept away by disastrous flooding in Vermont and New York—with rainfall coming in at a faster rate than even Hurricane Irene.

All of which has followed an ominous smog storm induced by climate change-aggravated wildfires. The omnipresent smog cloud, which enveloped most of America, seemed to be a foreboding warning of all the aforementioned disasters—and what else might be next.

But rest assured, amid all this, Ted Cruz and his Republican colleagues are doing everything they can to make it all worse.

Millionaire Disney CEO Whines That Writers’ Demands Are Not “Realistic”

Disney Chief Bob Iger says workers who want fair pay are expecting too much.


Disney CEO Bob Iger, who is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, says the current Hollywood strike for fair pay is “unrealistic.”

The Writers Guild of America has been on strike since May, and SAG-AFTRA, the actors union, is poised to join them as soon as Thursday. Among their contract demands are adjustments to compensation to account for streaming services, and the promise that they will not be replaced by AI.

“It’s very disturbing to me,” Iger told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Thursday morning. “There’s a level of expectation that they have, that is just not realistic. And they are adding to the set of the challenges that this business is already facing that is, quite frankly, very disruptive.”

Iger said he respects the right of unions to “get as much as they possibly can in compensation for their people,” but people have to be “realistic about the business environment, and what this business can deliver.”

For context, Iger’s estimated net worth in 2019 was $690 million. And that number has likely only gone up. At the time of the Forbes estimate, Disney was paying him a salary of $65.6 million.

Iger left Disney in 2021, but returned the following year. He was paid $15 million in 2022, despite only starting in November. He could earn up to $27 million this year.

His words also ring a little hollow considering that several Hollywood studios boasted about rising profits just days after the writers guild went on strike. Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount saw millions of dollars in streaming profits, while Apple reported revenue in the billions. Meanwhile, writers are being paid pennies in residuals, or their share of the payments for every time an episode of their show gets streamed.

Hollywood executives have also said their plan is to simply let the strike continue until the writers run out of money and have no choice but to go back to work. “The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses,” one executive told Deadline, speaking anonymously. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has publicly denied the allegations.

Blow to GOP: New York Court Orders New Map That Could Help Dems Retake House

2024 is going to look very different.

Kevin McCarthy purses his lips
Win McNamee/Getty Images
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy

New York Democrats helped the party narrowly lose the House majority by dropping the ball on a slate of races in the last election—and now we have Republicans like George Santos in Congress. But beyond their own mismanagement, redistricted maps drawn by a conservative court stacked by former Governor Andrew Cuomo didn’t help. Now, those maps may be on their way to getting redrawn.

On Thursday, a New York appeals court ordered new congressional maps, turning the pressure even higher on Republicans who fear a fizzled midterm performance may carry over into 2024. In the last election, the current maps at least helped them flip four House seats.

But the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court has ordered the bipartisan Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) to redraw the congressional lines.

The saga surrounding New York’s redistricting stems back to 2014, when residents voted to adopt a constitutional amendment that banned gerrymandering and instituted the IRC to help create fair maps. The commission met last year to draw district lines, but was unsuccessful in completing its work—the party deadlock left the commission’s work in gridlock. Consequently, the Democratic-led legislature took over and drew its own maps.

Republicans sued, and the Cuomo-stacked state Court of Appeals overturned the maps and gave the district-making authority to its own appointed special master. The resultant maps are what helped Republicans make unlikely gains in the blue state.

The court’s Thursday decision responds to a lawsuit filed by Democrats last year arguing that the special master-drawn maps were temporary, and that the commission has to complete its work in drawing maps.

And with their ruling, the commission indeed has its authority once more to draw the maps; and if there is again a deadlock, the legislature now has authority to finish the job. Republicans are appealing the decision, and while the Court of Appeals ruled against the Democrats’ maps last year, the outcome may not hold again this year. The court’s makeup is different, and is now chiefed by Judge Rowan D. Wilson, who himself dissented against the decision last year.

The implications of the case ought not be understated. An array of Republicans—like Santos, or Representatives Mike Lawler and Anthony D’Esposito—in districts that voted for Biden may have a much more difficult time defending their seats come 2024.

New “Insurrection Barbie” Ad Mocks Ted Cruz for Mad Obsession With Children’s Doll

A new ad goes after the Texas senator for caring more about the Barbie movie than his own constituents.


An anti-Ted Cruz group is calling the Texas senator out for focusing more on the Barbie movie than actual issues affecting his constituents.

Cruz has led the charge among Republicans branding the forthcoming Barbie film as Chinese propaganda. One scene of the film has a map in the background that appears to include the so-called nine-dash line, a much-disputed division of territory in the South China Sea. China has used the nine-dash line to mark its controversial territorial claims in the region.

You need to see the map to understand how absurd Cruz’s complaint is. While Vietnam has banned the film over the map, the Philippines has decided to allow the movie because the “cartoonish map” actually only shows a “make-believe journey” of Barbie Land (half of Asia is missing!).

In honor of the senator’s new obsession, the Lose Cruz PAC unveiled a collection of Cruz-inspired Barbies in an ad on Thursday. “Since Ted Cruz is more focused on attacking Barbie than doing his job, we’re launching a new collection of Barbies inspired by his (lack of) work!” the group tweeted.

The dolls include “Insurrection Barbie,” who destroys democracy; “Podcaster Barbie,” who spreads the MAGA agenda; and “Cancun Barbie,” who literally flies away from her responsibilities.

In addition to hating on Barbie, Cruz has tweeted in recent days about opposing transgender rights, about how politicized the FBI and Justice Department are, and about how “woke” President Joe Biden’s climate agenda is.

The last one is particularly ironic given that Texas is currently boiling under a heat dome, which is sending temperatures as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Analysts say the record temperatures are likely due to climate change.

Florida GOPer Outdoes DeSantis, Calls Insurer the Woke “Bud Light” of Insurance Companies

After another insurance company left Florida, Republicans want to blame anything but climate change.

Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
A property near Fort Myers Beach, Florida damaged after Hurricane Ian.

Florida’s chief financial officer is threatening to investigate and even fine Farmers Insurance for pulling out of the state—which he insists is due to wokeness, not climate change.

Farmers announced Tuesday that it will stop issuing new policies in Florida, and will not renew certain existing home, automobile, and umbrella policies throughout the state. The move will affect about 100,000 policies, nearly a third of Farmers’ business in Florida. The company explained that the decision was “necessary to effectively manage risk exposure.”

Floridians have seen their insurance costs skyrocket as the state gets hammered by climate change. A longer and stronger hurricane season has flooded the Sunshine State and destroyed homes and businesses. It’s quickly getting too expensive for insurance companies to keep reimbursing people for damages.

But Florida’s CFO Jimmy Patronis, a Republican, doesn’t think climate change is the problem.

“I sincerely believe that with today’s actions, Farmers Insurance is well on its way to becoming the Bud Light of insurance,” he said in a statement posted to Twitter, seemingly blaming the insurance company for being too woke.

“I have asked my team to put their heads together in holding Farmers Insurance accountable to Florida policy holders,” Patronis said. “I want additional scrutiny on this company.”

He said that his team would begin reviewing complaints against Farmers, which he threatened could result in a government investigation and even fines unless the carrier reverses course and stays in Florida.

Patronis was referring to Bud Light’s campaign with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. The business partnership infuriated people on the far right, who accused the beer maker of going “woke” and said they would switch to drinking other beers. Mulvaney revealed earlier this week that she has left the U.S., because she no longer feels safe in the country due to the right-wing backlash and the lack of support from Bud Light.

But Farmers is not the first insurance carrier to leave Florida. Bankers Insurance, and Lexington Insurance both withdrew from the state since last year.* Governor Ron DeSantis and state lawmakers tried to make their state more appealing to carriers by passing a law that makes it harder to sue insurance companies and budgeting $3 billion to help with hurricane season. However, DeSantis separately vetoed funding for infrastructure and drainage improvements in areas that experienced heavy flooding during Hurricane Ian in 2022.

Farmers made no mention of lawsuits in its decision to leave Florida. Republicans “need to own this failure,” Florida House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell said Wednesday.

* This piece originally misstated the insurance companies that have already exited Florida.

RFK Jr. Campaign’s Crazy New Low: Strategic Farting by Climate Denialist

“I’m farting!” yelled the man, as he in fact farted in the middle of the press dinner.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Turns out Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign is just full of hot air.

On Tuesday, the presidential candidate attended a press dinner on the Upper East Side of New York. But as Page Six reported, what began as an attempt to boost RFK Jr.’s campaign “descended into a foul bout of screaming and polemic farting.”

The magazine writes that an event guest had asked Kennedy about the environment. And that’s all it took to provoke “apparently drunk gossip columnist-turned-flack Doug Dechert, the host of the event,” who in a spurt of fury screamed: “The climate hoax!”

And that was then enough to wake up apparently “sleeping happily” art critic Anthony Haden-Guest, who all of a sudden opened his eyes and called Dechert a “miserable blob.”

“Shut up!” he barked at Dechert.

And chaos ensued. The duo rallied back and forth; Dechert continued on his soused rant, while Haden-Guest berated him as “f–king insane,” and “insignificant.”

Throughout it all, Page Six notes, Kenndy sat back and watched calmly—perhaps seeing value to both sides of the discourse.

But the stalemate apparently was unsatisfactory for Dechert. Page Six writes that “Dechert sensed the need for a new rhetorical tack, and let rip a loud, prolonged fart while yelling, as if to underscore his point, ‘I’m farting!’”

The whole room was stunned, unsure about what to do, and whether the plastered host was letting one loose at Haden-Guest, or at the concept of global warming generally.

“Regrettably, we may assure readers that there was no room for doubt that the climate changed in the immediate environs of the dinner table,” Page Six noted.

Kennedy kept his about-face, as another guest soon tried to change the subject. Nevertheless, another round of yelling was sparked right after, the longtime contemporaries going at each other once again.

On Wednesday, Dechert told Page Six “I apologize for using my flatulence as a medium of public commentary in your presence,” adding that he wished to be referred to as either a “gallivanting boulevardier” or a “beer-fueled sex rocket.”

Even then, the gallivanting boulevardier told the magazine that he has “zero tolerance for the climate hoax scam nonsense in any venue that I am personally funding.”

Kennedy—former member of Riverkeeper and the National Resources Defense Council, and founder of the Waterkeeper Alliance—has positioned himself as a climate change man-in-arms, but the evening embodied the incoherencies of his campaign. While previously throwing his support behind much-needed mass action like the Green New Deal, Kennedy posted a video just this week saying that “free markets are a much better way to stop pollution,” advancing the claim that climate change is “being used to control us through fear.”

Meanwhile, people across the nation remain in justifiable despair at the continued inaction on climate change. Just ask Vermonters or New Yorkers who lost their homes and livelihoods to this week’s disastrous flooding, or Texans and Floridians who have fallen ill or even lost loved ones to the sweltering heat, what they’re more afraid of: everything they’ve lost from climate destruction, or the government actually doing something about it.

Joe Biden Has Dementia? Watch This Embarrassing Jim Jordan Fox News Hit

Jim Jordan’s rants about the FBI are becoming incoherent.

Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Representative Jim Jordan

Is Jim Jordan OK?

The Ohio representative was at a total loss for words Wednesday night while trying to explain his ridiculous investigation into the supposed politicization of the FBI.

The powerful House Judiciary Committee, which Jordan chairs, held a hearing on Wednesday during which angry Republicans grilled FBI Director Christopher Wray on a variety of pressing issues, including Hunter Biden’s laptop, if the bureau is shielding the Biden family, and whether the FBI is specifically targeting Donald Trump. Wray categorically denied all of their accusations.

Jordan appeared on Fox News to discuss the hearing. But when trying to push back on Wray’s claims to host Sean Hannity, Jordan suddenly was unable to string a sentence together.

He blamed his stumbling on feedback interference from his earpiece. But another reason could be that Jordan simply had nothing of actual value to say.

Republicans have repeatedly insisted that the FBI has become far too politicized, and that it unfairly targets Trump while failing to investigate President Joe Biden. Some lawmakers have even called to defund the FBI and the Department of Justice for their supposed bias. But the House GOP’s investigation into Biden, spearheaded by Jordan ally James Comer, has yet to produce any actual proof of wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, Trump has been charged with business fraud for his alleged role in making hush money payments to Stormy Daniels. He also has been charged with keeping national defense information without authorization, making false statements, and conspiring to obstruct justice. And he is still under investigation in Washington, D.C., and Georgia for his role in trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

As California Representative Ted Lieu pointed out during the hearing, “We don’t have a two-tiered system of justice. We have one Department of Justice that goes after criminals regardless of party ideology.”

Teacher Who Criticized “Rainbowland” Song Ban Is Being Fired

Cancel Culture? The Wisconsin teacher is being fired for complaining about the district banning kids from singing the Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus song.

Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus sing on stage
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

A Wisconsin first-grade teacher is being fired for speaking out against her school district for banning her kids from singing a song about rainbows and togetherness.

On Wednesday, the Waukesha School District voted 9-0 to fire Heyer Elementary teacher Melissa Tempel, who was first put on leave in April and has been in limbo ever since.

The drama first began in March, after Tempel’s students were barred from singing “Rainbowland”—a Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton hit collaboration about hope, positivity, and love—at their first-grade concert. Administrators cited a district-wide policy on items “that may be considered political, controversial, or divisive,” as grounds to ban the song from being sung at the concert.

The administrators applied the policy to a song whose lyrics go like this:

All the hurt and the hate going on here (It needs to stop here)

We are rainbows, me and you

Every color, every hue

Let’s shine through (through)

Together, we can

Start livin’ in a rainbowland

Tempel tweeted about the ban, which brought massive public attention to the Waukesha School District. Shortly thereafter, Tempel was placed on administrative leave, with very little information made available to the public. Administrators have cited her initial public complaints about the ban as against school policy, which apparently prevents teachers from saying anything about administrators mysteriously censoring kids from singing about love and hope.

“I am deeply concerned that Ms. Tempel was removed from her classroom for standing up for them and what she knows is right,” a parent from Tempel’s class said at the time.

The issue all stems from Waukesha’s Board Policy 2240, “Controversial Issues in the Classroom,” which set guidelines for when the district would “permit” a so-called “controversial issue” to be introduced in the classroom. Along with the innocent Cyrus and Parton song, the policy has also been applied to bar students, teachers, and even classroom walls from donning rainbow designs, because of their association with the LGBTQ community. The over-policing has stirred up concern among parents and teachers alike who have found the policy to be repressive.

Officials may have set off claims for a First Amendment case. Tempel had previously said she would pursue such a claim against the district, after Superintendent Dr. Jim Sebert first recommended her termination back in May.

“I cannot allow others to be intimidated into silence,” she said at the time. “These are matters of public concern that the Waukesha Community has a right to know about and I stand by my decision to share the impact of Policy 2240 with the public. I will rest easy every night knowing that I did what was right for children.”

Rupert Murdoch Has a New Favorite Republican Candidate for 2024

The Fox News emperor is fed up with Ron DeSantis and has set his sights elsewhere.

Rupert Murdoch close-up
Rupert Murdoch

Despite initially crowning Ron DeSantis as the next Republican presidential nominee, Fox News emperor Rupert Murdoch has started to sour on the Florida governor. In fact, he may have already moved on to someone new.

In a weird twist, Murdoch reportedly backs Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin for 2024, according to a New York Times report published Wednesday. Youngkin, meanwhile, has publicly said he has no intention of running.

When DeSantis first unveiled his campaign two months ago, Fox News led the charge in painting him as the successor to Donald Trump. It would make sense why Fox News had gone off Trump, considering that spreading his lies about the 2020 election has already cost them nearly $800 million in lawsuits—with more on the way.

But DeSantis hasn’t really taken off. Although he’s technically the runner-up to Trump, the two candidates are miles apart in terms of actual poll numbers. Murdoch has begun to voice doubts in private conversations that DeSantis can pull off a win, Rolling Stone reported Tuesday.

Coverage of DeSantis on Fox News and in the newspapers that Murdoch owns has shifted. Where there were once softball questions, now there is Maria Bartiromo straight up asking DeSantis, “What’s going on with your campaign?”

“They are transactional and can smell a loser a mile away,” a Fox insider anonymously told Rolling Stone, referring to the Murdoch family and other Fox executives.

Youngkin, however, is perhaps exactly what people like Murdoch hoped DeSantis would be.

Both men are just as conservative as Trump. In some ways, they’re even further right. But where DeSantis is awkward and robotic, Youngkin won the gubernatorial race in a Democratic leaning state. He is less cringey and flagrant in his embrace of the right-wing agenda, such as fighting “wokeness” and opposing abortion and LGBTQ rights. But he’s still dangerous.

But Youngkin said in April that he is “wholly focused on the Commonwealth of Virginia.” So the Murdochs may be stuck with DeSantis after all.

Trump Supporter Sues Fox for Destroying His Life With January 6 Conspiracy

Ray Epps is suing the network for defamation.

Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Fox already shelled out $787.5 million in a defamation lawsuit to avoid further interrogation into its ranks—and now it’s being sued for defamation once again.

Ray Epps, a Trump supporter who has been bizarrely propped up by conspiracy theorists as being the leader of an FBI plot to incite the January 6 insurrection, filed a lawsuit against Fox on Wednesday, accusing the company and former host Tucker Carlson of defamation.

Figureheads on the right—including Carlson—have long been propagating the unfounded notion that the January 6 attack was essentially an “op” put on by federal agencies. Epps has been a central victim to the conspiracy.

The two-time Trump voter did take part in demonstrations in the nation’s capital on January 5 and 6. He was even seen on camera urging a crowd to march and enter the Capitol with him, though he apparently never got inside. At other points, he was seen urging for calm as things turned violent. Not the kind of behavior of someone looking to cleanly incite and entrap rioters.

Nevertheless, Epps has become a target in the years since. On numerous occasions, Carlson whipped up the focus on Epps, directing the ire of his millions of viewers to the Arizona man.

“Fox’s lies about Epps reached hundreds of millions of people and caused enormous harm to Epps,” the lawsuit reads, accusing Fox of running a “years-long campaign spreading falsehoods” about Epps that “destroyed” his life.

Epps is described as a formerly “avid and loyal Fox viewer and fan of Mr. Carlson’s,” whose presence at the January 6 attack at all was inspired “by the lies broadcast by Fox asserting the election had been stolen.”

The conspiracy theory has become popular among Republican lawmakers, some of whom even cited it in a House judiciary hearing just hours before the lawsuit was announced.

The new lawsuit follows Fox’s whopping $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, after the network was sued for its lies surrounding the 2020 election and voting systems like Dominion’s. It also comes after the network also reached a $12 million settlement with former producer Abby Grossberg, who accused Fox of hosting a workplace environment rife with discrimination and rampant sexism, and of coercing her into providing false testimony in the Dominion case.

Meanwhile, the network still faces a gargantuan $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit from Smartmatic USA, another voting systems company that alleges Fox made “over 100 false statements and implications about the company.”

“Dominion’s litigation exposed some of the misconduct and damage caused by Fox’s disinformation campaign. Smartmatic will expose the rest,” Smartmatic attorney J. Erik Connolly said in April. “Smartmatic remains committed to clearing its name, recouping the significant damage done to the company, and holding Fox accountable for undermining democracy.”