A New Jersey school bus driver was arrested Friday evening in Frankford for driving drunk with students on board, authorities confirmed to NJ Advance Media on Wednesday. Colleen Eutermarks, 49, of Wantage, was seen “driving erratically” on County Road 565 in Frankford just after 5 p.m., said New Jersey State Police spokesman Sgt. Alejandro Goez. State troopers stopped Eutermarks southbound at milepost 0.5, he added. After authorities determined Eutermarks was under the influence, she was arrested, Goez said. Eutermarks was charged with being under the influence, endangering the welfare of a ch...
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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) this week demanded prosecutions because people are purportedly attacking and mocking her "using Bible verses."
On Monday, Greene invited right-wing OAN correspondent John Hines to interview her about the defacement of an anti-transgender sign posted outside her congressional office.
The lawmaker stood next to the sign reading "There are TWO genders: MALE & FEMALE" and complained that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) refused to provide additional security.
"It seemed to be a pattern that started with seven of the different attacks and the attacks were against my Christianity," she told Hines. "They were stickers that would go up on the sign attacking me, mocking me using Bible verses."
"You've had protesters come to your office and just basically refuse to leave," Hines noted.
"Oh yeah, we've had all kinds of attacks," Greene agreed. "Sometimes I'm in here late at night and I may be here by myself and I don't feel safe."
Greene claims to have identified the person who defaced the sign as a staffer for Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-MA). But Auchincloss has declined to fire the staffer. The Department of Justice has also refused to press criminal charges.
Watch the video below from OAN or at this link.
A lawsuit brought by a Florida synagogue claims reducing access to abortion is not compatible with Jewish law, making it a violation of the constitutional right to freedom of religious expression. In the wake of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, does the lawsuit offer a template for other legal challenges?
A lawsuit filed on June 10 by a synagogue in Florida has challenged plans to limit abortions in the state on the grounds that it would violate religious rights and therefore be unconstitutional. The Jewish faith holds the right to an abortion to be inviolable.
The Florida bill is set to lower the maximum threshold for abortions from 24 weeks down to 15 weeks from July 1, with exceptions in instances where the medical procedure could save the life or prevent serious injury to the mother. It offers no exceptions for victims of incest, rape or human trafficking.
But these restrictions would infringe upon Jewish women’s right to abortion as guaranteed by their faith and are thus incompatible with the Florida constitution’s right to privacy and religious freedom, says the lawsuit, which was brought by Rabbi Barry Silver on behalf of the roughly 150 members of Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor in Palm Beach County.
“If a fetus poses a threat to the health or emotional well-being of its mother, at any stage of gestation up until birth, Jewish law not only entitles but requires the mother to abort the pregnancy and protect herself,” the suit argues.
‘The only alternative’
The suit was filed in advance of a long-expected ruling by US Supreme Court, which on Friday struck down the 1973 law that legalized abortion nationwide.
As the court overturned the Roe v. Wade ruling, it increased individual states’ powers to enforce their own abortion laws, with 26 conservative states now expected to introduce restrictions or outright bans on the procedure.
In Florida, for example, Governor Ron DeSantis quickly promised more restrictions to expand “pro-life protections” in the wake of the ruling, in addition to those already set to come into effect in July 1.
While some have celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision, others have bitterly opposed it. The US National Women’s Law Centre described it as an “extremist attack” on women’s rights, and US President Joe Biden has pledged his administration will do all it can to protect remaining abortion rights.
However, reversing the court’s decision would be practically impossible. According to Emma Long, associate professor of American history and politics at the University of East Anglia in the UK, there are only two ways to rescind a Supreme Court decision.
The first is to convince the court to overturn its own decision, something it has rarely done, which makes the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade extremely unusual. The second is an amendment to the US Constitution itself, which has only happened 17 times since 1791. And as Long says, “particularly on an issue this divisive, it’s just not going to happen”.
A single lawsuit brought in Florida against the state’s constitution (rather than the US Constitution) might thus seem like feeble resistance. But it draws on deep-rooted legal precedents: freedom of religious expression is a First Amendment right. Meanwhile, there is no mention of abortion in the Constitution, meaning constitutional laws around the practice are always interpretative.
Citing such an inalienable right as religion establishes the suit on “stronger legal ground” than trying to push for the creation of new laws to re-legalize abortion, Long said.
“Bringing a constitutional case is literally the only option, but it’s also a very clever legal move.”
A question of religion
Broadly speaking, Jewish law stipulates that life begins at birth and that until that point the mother’s life is prioritized. “So, in order to protect the health of the pregnant person, abortion is permissible and sometimes mandated,” said Samira Mehta, associate professor of women and gender as well as Jewish studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
The definition of what counts as a health threat varies between Jewish communities, with the congregation of L’Dor Va-Dor in Florida at the liberal end of the spectrum. But, Mehta said, there is agreement on the principle that abortion is a right. “And that it is a religious matter, not a decision for the state.”
Traditionally, US courts have been sympathetic to legal arguments made on similar constitutional grounds. Historically, minority religious groups have benefited from rulings that protected traditions not accounted for in general law. For example, a 1996 ruling allowed the use of the banned substance peyote exclusively in Native American religious ceremonies.
More recently, the balance of power has changed. “In the last 15 years or so, the Supreme Court has used religious freedom language to protect the rights of majority religious groups, particularly white evangelical Christians,” Long said.
This has led to cases that question the concept of who is a majority and who is a minority, such as those against legalizing gay marriage on the grounds it discriminates against groups who do not support marriage rights for all. While those cases were dismissed, others – namely around religion in schools – have been passed.
In the national discussion around rolling back abortion rights, the National Council of Jewish Women said on its website that the conversation was so dominated by the Christian right that it had “ignored Jewish voices”. In Florida, the L’Dor Va-Dor lawsuit says that new laws amount to “imposing the laws of other religions upon Jews”.
“What we are seeing is a very powerful minority of conservative, Protestant and Catholic Americans dictating something that conflicts with other people's deeply held religious beliefs,” Mehta says. “But religious freedom is something that is enshrined in American law for all Americans. So, what happens when people's rights bump up against each other?”
‘Not much else to lose’
The L’Dor Va-Dor lawsuit challenges the state’s constitution, meaning a win would only have legal implications within Florida. But success could pave the way for similar lawsuits in other states. It could also set the stage for other suits claiming First Amendment violations that could have national implications.
“There is potential in an argument that says the theological teachings prioritize the person who is pregnant,” Long said. “To be legally successful it would have to be framed very carefully, which is what conservatives have been doing very successfully to achieve their policy aims for several decades now.”
In fact, part of the uniqueness of the Florida suit is that it is a rare example of liberals using tactics normally deployed by conservatives to try to sway the courts towards their own values. “This is certainly a different angle and it’s really clever, given the way the court has been thinking about issues of religious liberty in the last decade and a half,” Long said.
Nonetheless, even though the Florida suit contains “an argument that should be taken seriously”, Mehta said it is anyone’s guess what the outcome might be. Most probable is that there will be no quick or easy victories for those fighting to regain abortion rights. Instead, they are likely to face legal obstacles, state-by-state battles and bitter divisions on either side.
“It's a deeply polarized environment,” Mehta said, adding that Jewish activists are also facing rising rates of antisemitism.
And the price of failure in Florida may be high. A loss would give other courts grounds to rule against similar cases, and could feel like another nail in the coffin for reproductive rights in the United States.
“It's high stakes in some ways,” said Long. “But you could argue that, given that Roe v. Wade has now gone, there’s not much else to lose by trying.”
Research revealed Monday that even if global temperatures fall after peaking this century, climate-related risks to wildlife "may remain for decades to centuries."
"Urgent action is needed to ensure we never approach, let alone exceed, the 2°C limit."
The study, published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, notes that "global average temperatures have already risen by 1.1°C above preindustrial levels and may rise up to 2.1-3.5°C by 2100 unless stronger mitigation action is taken."
The paper highlights that while nations worldwide have committed to the 2015 Paris climate agreement goals of keeping global temperature rise by 2100 "well below" 2°C with the bolder aim of limiting it to 1.5°C, many experts now anticipate an "overshoot" period this century, during which temperatures will exceed those targets before ultimately declining—as long as humanity pursues necessary actions like phasing out fossil fuels.
"We have investigated what will happen to global biodiversity if climate change is only brought under control after a temporary overshoot of the agreed target, to provide evidence that has long been missing from climate change research," explained study co-author Alex Pigot from the Center for Biodiversity and Environment Research at University College London.
"We found that huge numbers of animal species will continue to endure unsafe conditions for decades after the global temperature peak. Even if we collectively manage to reverse global warming before species are irreversibly lost from ecosystems, the ecological disruption caused by unsafe temperatures could well persist for an additional half-century or more," Pigot said. "Urgent action is needed to ensure we never approach, let alone exceed, the 2°C limit."
That message was echoed by lead co-author Joanne Bentley of the African Climate and Development Initiative at the University of Cape Town.
"Our study shows that should we find ourselves overshooting the 2°C global warming target, we could pay dearly in terms of loss of biodiversity, compromising the provision of the ecosystem services that we all rely on for our livelihoods," she said. "Avoiding a temperature overshoot should be a priority, followed by limiting the duration and magnitude of any overshoot."
Pigot, Bentley, and other researchers at the University of Cape Town examined more than 30,000 land and sea species around the world under a 2°C temperature overshoot scenario. They found that "for 35% of sites, the period of overshoot for biodiversity exposure is projected to be longer than the global temperature overshoot."
"After first exceeding 2°C in the 2040s, the global warming level returns to 2°C around 2100 (a temperature overshoot of 60 years)," the paper states, "but it takes a further 40 years for global marine and 70 years for global terrestrial biodiversity exposure levels to decline to the same exposure levels as the 2040s—making the duration of exposure for global marine and terrestrial biodiversity 66% and 115% longer, respectively, than the temperature overshoot."
"For many ecosystems, thresholds for irreversible impacts are expected to be exceeded even under a short overshoot duration," the study points out, warning that "regions of uncertain and no return to pre-overshoot levels of exposure mainly include the tropics, especially the Amazon, the tropical African coast, Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, and the Indo-Pacific."
Lead co-author Andreas Meyer said that "in the Amazon, this could mean replacement of forests with grasslands, and as a consequence, the loss of an important global carbon sink, which would have knock-on effects on multiple ecological and climatic systems as well as our ability to curtail global warming."
The paper asserts that "to reduce the risks to biodiversity, it is imperative that rapid and deep emissions cuts are implemented immediately."
Co-author Christopher Trisos issued a similar call to action. As he put it: "Our findings are stark. They should act as a wake-up call that delaying emissions cuts will mean a temperature overshoot that comes at an astronomical cost to nature and humans that unproven negative emission technologies cannot simply reverse."
The paper emphasizes that "the early timing of this mitigation action is critical for reducing long-lasting negative impacts on biodiversity because the magnitude and duration of any temperature overshoot may be grossly underestimated, due to high uncertainty about the feasibility of any large-scale deployment" of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) approaches, which "would likely involve strong trade-offs with biodiversity protection, water security, and agricultural production."
According to Bentley, "It is important to realize that there is no 'silver bullet' solution for mitigating climate change impacts."
"We have to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions," she said. "Many carbon dioxide removal technologies and nature-based solutions, such as afforestation, come with potential negative impacts."
The study comes as world leaders prepare for a December summit to finalize a global biodiversity framework. Advocates across the globe are demanding an ambitious agreement, declaring earlier this month that "the impending extinction of hundreds of thousands of species is a choice and by maintaining the status quo, governments are choosing extinction. This must stop."