Petra (Jordan) (AFP) - For over two millennia the ancient city of Petra has towered majestically over the Jordanian desert. Today its famed rose-red temples hewn into the rockface lie empty and silent.As the novel coronavirus spread around the world, Jordanian authorities imposed a lockdown, and the last tourists left on March 16, a day before the Hashemite kingdom closed its borders."It's the first time I've seen this place so empty. Usually there are thousands of tourists," said Nayef Hilalat, 42, who has worked as a guardian at the ancient archaeological site for a decade. "Every year at th...
It was announced Wednesday that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will be stepping down at the end of the term. The move comes as a surprise because he recently penned a book talking about not wanting his seat to be a political one.
The Court has increasingly grown more radical and far-right due to appointees from former President Donald Trump and one justice denied to former President Barack Obama in 2016. Breyer's resignation won't change the makeup of the court, however.
President Joe Biden expects to make the announcement officially on Thursday. During the 2020 campaign, Biden said that he would nominate a Black woman, a demographic that has never been represented on the top court.
\u201cI committed that if I\u2019m elected as president and have the opportunity to appoint someone to the courts, I\u2019ll appoint the first Black woman to the Court. It\u2019s required that they have representation now \u2014 it\u2019s long overdue.\u201d - @JoeBiden— Andrew Weinstein (@Andrew Weinstein) 1643217938
Former federal prosecutor Joyce White Vance noted that Republicans like Sen. Mitch McConnell have kept an open vacancy on the Court for a year so they could steal it but then rushed through another one after voting in the 2020 election had already started.
McConnell refused to confirm a justice in an election year (2016) & rushed one thru after voting started in 2020. Looking forward to his straight-faced argument against confirming ahead of the midterm elections.https://twitter.com/neal_katyal/status/1486383812497928195\u00a0\u2026— Joyce Alene (@Joyce Alene) 1643216673
The announcement was met with cheers by many who have been hoping that Breyer would retire and give a Democratic president and Senate the ability to ensure another liberal jurist can remain on the court.
Hallefuckinglujah \u2014 Stephen Breyer is retiring from the Supreme Court!https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/supreme-court/justice-stephen-breyer-retire-supreme-court-paving-way-biden-appointment-n1288042\u00a0\u2026— Miranda Yaver, PhD (@Miranda Yaver, PhD) 1643216584
A Biden appointee would not change the court's ideological balance, but would enable him to refresh its liberal wing with a much younger jurist in the lifetime post.https://twitter.com/dnlbrns/status/1486382305258221575\u00a0\u2026— Jan Wolfe (@Jan Wolfe) 1643216696
See other comments below:
Kyrsten Sinema about to come out here claiming to be a Black woman and criticize the administration for not nominated her.— Elie Mystal (@Elie Mystal) 1643217348
Wolf reports that Biden and Breyer will announce this as early as tomorrow. And Breyer won\u2019t leave until a nominee is confirmed— Manu Raju (@Manu Raju) 1643217112
Yes, we can all name other Black women that we very much like. But assuming that Biden is going to do things by the most obvious book, and nominate a justice who has spent their career being a judge, this is your list.— Elie Mystal (@Elie Mystal) 1643217017
Justice Breyer is retiring from the Supreme Court. We need a strong, pro-democracy pick to protect and expand voting rights and free and fair elections.— Marc E. Elias (@Marc E. Elias) 1643217435
California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger would be a fitting replacement for Justice Breyer.https://twitter.com/joshnbcnews/status/1486382464511746051\u00a0\u2026— Renato Mariotti (@Renato Mariotti) 1643217627
With Breyer stepping down, here are your names: \n\nKetanji Brown Jackson: D.C. Circuit\nLeondra Kruger: California Supreme Court\nMichelle Childs: South Carolina District Court— Elie Mystal (@Elie Mystal) 1643216810
HUGE NEWS\n\nSupreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is retiring\n\nWe need a brilliant, young progressive jurist for Supreme Court\n\nAnd there has NEVER been a Black woman on #SCOTUS\n\nI'd love to see @Sifill_LDF follow in the footsteps of Thurgood Marshall, but doubt she'll be the pick https://twitter.com/elienyc/status/1486385153438064641\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/vNYlgJAbGo— Adam Cohen Lawyers for Good Government #DemCast (@Adam Cohen Lawyers for Good Government #DemCast) 1643217940
Given Biden's promise to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court, names like Ketanji Brown Jackson, Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, Tiffany Cunningham, Eunice Lee, Holly Thomas and Michelle Childs, who have all been tapped by Biden for appeals courts, are going to make the rounds.— Jacqueline Thomsen (@Jacqueline Thomsen) 1643217609
You can be sure that the White House has already done extensive memos and research on the leading candidates, esp Krueger and Ketanji-Brown, but now they will have to do more personal and probing inquiries, with their participation.— Harry Litman (@Harry Litman) 1643217874
Top Mark Meadows aide Ben Williamson met with the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S.
CNN.com cited sources familiar with the meeting saying that the former West Wing staffer was present during the attacks.
"One source says his meeting with the select committee was conducted virtually and lasted between six and seven hours," said the report.
Meadows, by contrast, has refused to cooperate with the committee after turning over thousands of documents. Meadows said in his opposition to the subpoena that the requests were "overly broad" in what they sought. The House then voted to hold Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress. The Justice Department hasn't moved on the charge, however.
Despite the existence of safer alternatives, toxic "forever chemicals" linked to a wide range of health problems are found in most products labeled stain- or water-resistant, from rain jackets and hiking pants to mattress pads, comforters, napkins, and tablecloths.
"We need urgent action at the state and federal levels to solve the PFAS crisis, including by quickly stopping its use in products we wear and use in our homes."
That's according to Toxic Convenience, a new study released Wednesday by Toxic-Free Future, which analyzed 60 commonly used items to highlight the "hidden costs of forever chemicals in stain- and water-resistant products" across three categories: outdoor apparel, bedding, and table linens.
The Seattle-based nonprofit research and advocacy organization found that 72% of the 47 stain- or water-resistant products it tested contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
PFAS are a class of synthetic compounds known as "forever chemicals" because they don't break down—polluting people's bodies and the planet for years on end. Scientists have linked long-term exposure to PFAS—identified at unsafe levels in the drinking water of more than 200 million Americans and detected in 97% of blood and 100% of breast milk samples—to numerous adverse health outcomes, including cancer, reproductive harm, immune system damage, and other serious issues.
Notably, all 13 of the products tested by Toxic-Free Future that were not marketed as stain- or water-resistant were found to be PFAS-free.
"Our testing finds continued, unnecessary use of the toxic chemicals known as PFAS in outdoor clothing and home furnishings like bedding and tablecloths," Erika Schreder, study author and science director for Toxic-Free Future, said in a statement.
"When companies use PFAS to make products stain- or water-resistant," said Schreder, "they are using chemicals that contaminate homes, drinking water, and breast milk with highly persistent chemicals that can cause cancer and harm the immune system."
Over a quarter of the studied products that were marketed as stain- and/or water-resistant appeared to be free of PFAS—demonstrating that alternative compounds are available and sparking calls for swift regulatory action to improve workplace and consumer safety.
"Some companies are using PFAS-free alternatives, but until regulations ban PFAS in products, these dangerous chemicals will continue to be used in our raincoats and bedding," said Laurie Valeriano, executive director of Toxic-Free Future. "We need urgent action at the state and federal levels to solve the PFAS crisis, including by quickly stopping its use in products we wear and use in our homes."
Manufacturers have been using a combination of PFAS, including compounds currently banned in other countries, the analysis revealed. While newer PFAS were present, researchers also discovered that nearly three-quarters of the products tainted with forever chemicals tested positive for older PFAS—already prohibited in the European Union and phased out by major U.S. manufacturers.
"It is time to stop this terrible injustice, hold manufacturers accountable, and urgently establish national and international bans for the entire class of PFAS," said Pamela Miller, executive director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics and co-chair of the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN). "PFAS contamination of the Arctic poses a particular threat to the health of Indigenous peoples who are reliant on traditional foods as essential to their physical, spiritual, and cultural sustenance."
The products analyzed by Toxic-Free Future were purchased from 10 large retailers: Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Costco, Dick's Sporting Goods, Kohl's, Macy's, REI, Target, TJX, and Walmart. According to the group, which conducted tests for total fluorine and PFAS at independent scientific laboratories, forever chemicals were found in at least one item sold by each corporation.
"Rain jackets shouldn't cause cancer—but for some of us, that just might be the case," said Emily Donovan, co-founder of Clean Cape Fear. "These companies sold a convenience product to consumers without fully disclosing the toxic trade-off."
"In my region of North Carolina, our drinking water has been severely contaminated from the manufacture of PFAS chemicals," added Donovan. "No one's drinking water should be contaminated for a rain jacket."
The analysis comes amid a national campaign pressuring REI and other retailers to ban PFAS in outdoor gear and other textiles.
Since November 2021, more than 60,000 REI customers have signed petitions and sent e-mails urging REI's CEO and board to take action on PFAS. Last month, a coalition of more than 100 local, state, and national organizations sent a letter imploring REI—which also happens to be facing a union drive in Manhattan—to catalyze an industry-wide shift away from the entire class of PFAS.
"Retailers, like REI, can stop contributing to this toxic trail of pollution by ensuring the products they sell are free of PFAS," said Mike Schade, director of Toxic-Free Future's Mind the Store program. "As a company committed to sustainability and one of the biggest outdoor retailers in the U.S., REI has a responsibility to lead the outdoor industry away from these toxic chemicals."