COLUMBIA, S.C. — During a visit to the State House on Tuesday, civil rights icon Rev. Jesse Jackson said South Carolina should hold the nation’s first presidential primary in future years.Jackson, a Greenville native, told members of the S.C. Legislative Black Caucus that Iowa and New Hampshire, which currently are home to the first and second presidential contests, have populations that are not representative of America.“Iowa and New Hampshire amounts to a white primary in 2020,” Jackson said. “The South is not in the forefront, as it should have been.”The civil rights activist, who marched w...
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White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre issued a statement Tuesday calling Idaho’s abortion laws “extreme and backwards” in response to a memo issued by the University of Idaho cautioning employees not to provide reproductive health counseling to students, including abortion, or risk losing their jobs or face criminal prosecution.
“To be clear, nothing under Idaho law justifies the university’s decision to deny students access to contraception. But the situation in Idaho speaks to the unacceptable consequences of extreme abortion bans,” Jean-Pierre said in the statement. “The overwhelming majority of Americans believe in the right to birth control, as well as the right to abortion, without government interference.”
The university’s general counsel sent the memo to all employees on Friday, advising that Idaho law prohibits university employees from promoting, counseling or referring someone for an abortion, and prohibits the institution from dispensing drugs classified as emergency contraception except in cases of rape. The memo was intended to help UI staff understand the complexity of a law passed in the 2021 session of the Idaho Legislature dubbed the No Public Funds for Abortion Act. The University of Idaho and other public schools across Idaho are subject to the law since they are state-funded institutions.
University of Idaho spokesperson Jodi Walker said the memo was intended to help employees understand the legal significance and possible ramifications of the law, which includes individual criminal prosecution.
“While abortion can be discussed as a policy issue in the classroom, we highly recommend employees in charge of the classroom remain neutral or risk violating this law,” Walker said in an email to the Sun. “We support our students and employees, as well as academic freedom, but understand the need to work within the laws set out by our state.”
White House official: U.S. Supreme Court decision created a runway for birth control bans
University officials were told in the guidance not to dispense birth control unless it comes from student health facilities that are contracted through Moscow Family Health, and not to provide condoms except to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
An official with President Joe Biden’s administration told the Idaho Capital Sun the university’s memo is indicative of a larger trend across the country of Republican officials expressing support for contraception bans, including banning Plan B.
At the time the bill passed the Idaho Legislature, one of the state’s leading anti-abortion organizations — the Idaho Family Policy Center — supported it as a way to ensure “abortion providers do not have unfettered access to students at public schools, colleges and universities,” according to a statement from 2021.
“Our hard-earned tax dollars should never be spent on promoting abortion,” said Idaho Family Policy Center President Blaine Conzatti in a statement at the time. “(The act) will help create a culture of life in Idaho by making sure taxpayers do not subsidize something as morally problematic as abortion.”
Conzatti told the Capital Sun in July that he supports banning Plan B and other types of emergency contraception as well as IUDs, because he said anything that can end life after conception is problematic.
The White House official said the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June paved the way for more restrictions.
“We’re seeing similar efforts pop up in various states across the country, and it’s part of a very disturbing trend that the Supreme Court created a runway for, and Republican officials are taking advantage of to go even further than some of the laws we’ve already seen,” the official said.
The official pointed people concerned about the issue to a website launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services summarizing reproductive rights across the country with links to resources and updated information.
“It’s important (for people) to identify medical professionals that have all the information about their reproductive rights and reproductive choices,” the official said.
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Bullies are always the biggest cowards underneath their blustery exteriors, we know that. But it is satisfying nevertheless when some of the biggest jerks of the GOP prove the point. So it was Monday, when the Texas Tribune reported that Ken Paxton, the bellicose attorney general of Texas, fled a subpoena like it was a magical mirror that reflects the state of a viewer's soul. All credit to the process server, Ernesto Herrera, for his plain-written but evocative affidavit describing the response he got from Paxton, who talks tough on Twitter but ran when facing a man simply asking if he could hand him a stack of papers.
"As soon as he saw me and heard me call his name out, he turned around and RAN back inside the house through the same door in the garage," Herrera describes. He then observed Paxton's wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, get in a black Chevy and leave the back door open while she started it. "A few minutes later I saw Mr. Paxton RAN from the door inside the garage towards the rear door behind the driver side," he writes. At which point the couple peeled away from the house, leaving the subpoena on the driveway where Herrera had placed it.
Paxton, who likes to issue threats about filing frivolous lawsuits against President Joe Biden, is trying to avoid a lawsuit from a group of abortion funds. The groups are defending their right to help patients who need to leave Texas, where abortion is banned, in order to get care. Under the Texas "bounty hunter" law, it's not just illegal to perform an abortion, but anyone who helps a patient can be sued for "abetting" an abortion. This means abortion funds can't give abortion patients money to leave the state without risking being sued by bitter ex-boyfriends, nosy mothers-in-law or sadistic bullies using the power of the Texas attorney general's office.
The law, the funds say, "violates Plaintiffs' rights to freely travel, freely associate, freely speak, and freely support members of their communities through financial assistance."
Showing up in court to deal with this lawsuit does not sound nearly as scary as, say, having to wait for your miscarriage to go septic before doctors are allowed to treat you, as Texas is forcing hospitals to do. It's certainly not as scary as being told you must bear a rapist's baby, as Texas does not have a rape exception in its law. It's not even as scary as seeing that positive pregnancy test when you're a sophomore in college, and you have no idea how you're going to make it all the way to New Mexico to get an abortion.
But Paxton, whose feelings were clearly hurt by the Texas Tribune reporting on the Great Chevy Escape, decided it was time to tweet through the shame. He claims that he feared for his life, seeing that man wave legal documents at him.
"[T]hey're attacking me for having the audacity to avoid a stranger lingering outside my home and showing concern about the safety and well-being of my family," he whined on Twitter, after arguing that "conservatives have faced threats to their safety."
\u201c@TexasTribune It\u2019s clear that the media wants to drum up another controversy involving my work as Attorney General, so they\u2019re attacking me for having the audacity to avoid a stranger lingering outside my home and showing concern about the safety and well-being of my family.\u201d— Texas Tribune (@Texas Tribune) 1664244974
According to the sworn affidavit filed by Herrara, Angela Paxton had opened the door when he knocked and "explained to her that I was trying to deliver important legal documents." She told him her husband was on the phone, so Herrara waited. When Paxton finally made his run towards the Chevy, Herrara "loudly called him by his name and stated that I had court documents for him."
Is it plausible that the top lawyer in Texas, a man with a law degree from the University of Virginia, does not understand what a subpoena is or that it is delivered by a process server? Of course not. These are just the mewling excuses of a man caught giving Missouri's Sen. Josh "Running Man" Hawley stiff competition for the prize of Biggest Republican Wiener.
Of course, Paxton isn't just a standout when it comes to being lily-livered. He's also an enormous bully, even by Republican standards. But like most cowardly bullies, he clearly prefers his victims to be as vulnerable as possible. It's not just his sadistic posture towards pregnant patients seeking medical care. He also has it out for poor people who want health care, suing the Biden administration for trying to get them into Medicaid. He also loves punishing people of color for voting, by siccing teams of investigators on people who rarely have done anything more serious than accidentally filling out a form wrong.
Paxton especially likes to pick on children. He's been waging war on trans kids, calling gender affirmation care "so-called sex change procedures" and threatening to remove kids from their families for being trans. He and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott have been forcing Child Protective Services to harass families with trans kids, falsely claiming it's "abuse" to accept a child's gender identity. In doing so, Paxton simply makes up facts to justify his bigotry.
The documents Paxton wrote to defend attacking trans kids "ignore established medical authorities and repeat discredited, outdated, and poor-quality information," a team of medical experts from Yale and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center explained in May. The report is so bad and so full of disinformation they wrote, "it is difficult to believe that the opinion represents a good-faith effort" and "is, rather, motivated by bias and crafted to achieve a preordained goal: to deny gender-affirming care to transgender youth."
Even before his 5-yard dash to avoid paperwork, Paxton epitomized the cowardly bully. He's got a long and tawdry history of inflicting pain on vulnerable people, but always from afar so he doesn't have to look in their eyes while he attempts to destroy their lives. He gets to write the paperwork. It's other people he sends to arrest grandmothers for writing down an address wrong on a voter registration form, to deny a miscarrying woman treatment, or to tell parents they are under investigation for loving a trans kid. Still, these paperwork bullies of the GOP are so ubiquitous it's easy to forget sometimes the depths of their pusillanimity. At least, that is, until some dude shows up waving a stack of papers at the Texas AG, and he runs like Jesus finally showed up to have a word about the cruelty he's been passing off as Christian morality.
Residents of Florida's Gulf Coast on Tuesday boarded up their homes, packed up their vehicles and headed for higher ground as Hurricane Ian drew near, threatening to bring a deadly storm surge and more than a foot of rain to some areas.
Before heading to Florida, Hurricane Ian slammed into Cuba, forcing evacuations, cutting power to hundreds of thousands of people and swamping fishing villages.
Some 2.5 million Floridians were under evacuation orders or warnings with the sprawling storm on track to make landfall as a Category 3 hurricane on Wednesday evening somewhere along the Gulf Coast. A Category 3 storm features maximum sustained winds of up to 129 miles per hour (208 km per hour).
The area south of Tampa near Sarasota was the most likely place for the eye to come ashore, the National Hurricane Center said on Tuesday afternoon, while stressing that it was too early to be sure. That region - home to miles of sandy beaches and scores of resort hotels - is a favorite with retirees and vacationers alike.
"I know I should be scared of this one, but I'm too busy to be scared. I just know we have to go," said John O'Leary, a jazz pianist from Tampa, said as he and his wife loaded food, water and family photos into their car before heading to his mother's house in Palm Harbor, 25 miles (40 km) to the west.
O'Leary, 36, was one of the thousands of motorists to hit the road as they fled low-lying areas in hopes to avoid potentially life-threatening storm surge that, according to forecasters, could reach 12 feet (3.7 meters) in the Sarasota area.
"There's still uncertainty with where that exact landfall will be, but just understand, the impacts are going to be far, far broader than just where the eye of the storm happens to make landfall," Governor Ron DeSantis said.
Melissa Wolcott Martino, a retired magazine editor, also heeded the warnings as she hurried to pack her vehicle with her valuables, two cats and a rabbit early Tuesday morning ahead of the hurricane.
"I wasn't particularly scared until I saw the storm track this morning," Martino, 78, said as she prepared to go to her son's house north of Tampa. "It looks like the eye will come right over our house. Now I'm scared, so we're leaving."
If Ian strikes Tampa, it would be the first hurricane to make landfall in the area since the Tarpon Springs storm in 1921.
Despite the warnings and orders, some residents refused to evacuate. "I'm staying put," said Vanessa Vazquez, 50, a software engineer in St. Petersburg. "I have four cats and I don't want to stress them out. And we have a strong house."
It also may prove to be one of the costliest as the latest simulations show the estimated cost from storm damage and other impacts ranging from $38 billion to more than $60 billion depending on the exact track and intensity, Enki Research said on its blog on Tuesday.
CLOSINGS, POWER OUTAGES
Three dozen school districts were either closed Tuesday or planned to be closed by Wednesday, according to the Florida Department of Education. Many of the schools are also used as shelters during the storm and its aftermath.
The St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport - located on a vulnerable peninsula east of Tampa Bay ceased operations at 1 p.m. on Tuesday and the Tampa International Airport will shut down at 5 p.m. The Orlando International Airport has no plans to close but officials say they are monitoring the storm.
Tampa Electric warned customers to be prepared for "extended outages." The company will institute a "targeted interruption" of service to a part of downtown Tampa on the western edge of the city. That area has already been evacuated.
Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa, opened 45 evacuation shelters, where more than 600 people and their pets have checked in so, Emergency Management Director Tim Dudley said.
Disney World closed several attractions ahead of the storm while the National Football League's Tampa Bay Buccaneers relocated to Miami, where they will practice this week ahead of their game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
(This story has been refiled to correct a typo in 'threatening' in the first paragraph)
(Reporting by Shannon Stapleton in Tampa and Brendan O'Brien in Washington; Additional reporting by Maria Alejandra Cardona in Tampa, Tyler Clifford in Washington and Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Frank McGurty and Lisa Shumaker)