Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) has said that Republicans may consider a nationwide ban on abortion if the party wins control of Congress in the upcoming midterm elections.
Johnson told reporters in an interview with The Washington County Daily News that he “completely agree[s]” with the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and upend abortion protections across the country.
“I’ve written up pretty much all I need to say on that decision,” he said, adding that he believes the matter should be decided on by states.
But Johnson also raised the possibility of a Republican-controlled Congress enacting a nationwide abortion ban in the future.
“Maybe Congress can take a look at what the states have done and say ‘we probably ought to place this limit here,’ based on new information or whatever,” he said.
Johnson, who is up for reelection this fall, is currently trailing his Democratic challenger Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes by seven points, according to a recent Marquette University Law School poll.
Abortion will likely play a pivotal role in Wisconsin’s senatorial election this fall, as Johnson’s views on abortion contradict the views of most of his constituents. According to the same poll, 66 percent of Wisconsinites believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while just 30 percent believe it should be illegal.
Johnson’s voting record in favor of abortion restrictions and his past statements on the issue — including bragging about helping to appoint the justices that undid Roe — could prove to be a liability in the upcoming election.
Due to the Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this year, Wisconsin has reverted back to an 1849 statute on abortion that bans the procedure at all stages of pregnancy. Under the statue, residents can only get an abortion if their health is at risk, with no exceptions for rape or incest.
Several Republican lawmakers have spoken about the possibility of imposing national bans on abortion should the party win control of Congress in the midterms. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) has expressed interest in imposing a nationwide 15-week ban on abortion, for example, while other GOP lawmakers are crafting proposals that would ban the procedure after the first sign of cardiac activity. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has also expressed support for a nationwide ban.
Anti-abortion views could hurt Republicans at ballot boxes across the country this fall. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Health Tracking Poll from July, 55 percent of Americans say that abortion access is a “very important” issue for them in deciding which candidate to vote for, while 19 percent say it is a “somewhat important” issue. Only 25 percent say it is “not too important.”
Democrats have been using the possibility of a nationwide abortion ban in their campaign messaging, including Johnson’s opponent, Barnes.
“Ron Johnson just came out in favor of a federal abortion ban,” Barnes’s campaign said on Twitter last week. Johnson is “doing everything he can to drag us back in time” to strip people “of their rights and freedoms, he added.
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On a scorching Saturday morning in downtown Ithaca, New York, the Starbucks on the Commons, a large pedestrian shopping area, should have been open for business, serving up ice-cold frothy drinks. Yet the storefront was dark: A note posted in the window stated only, “Our Store is Temporarily Closed,” with no further explanation. But to a handful of members of the Ithaca chapter of Democratic Socialists of America, who had come to the Starbucks with flyers and picket signs in tow, the reason was obvious: Ithaca Solidarity Day. (Disclosure: The author is a member of the New York City chapter of Democratic Socialists of America.)
August 6 was supposed to be a day of protest for supporters of Starbucks Workers United (SWU), the group that has helped organize unions at more than 200 Starbucks stores nationwide. Earlier this year, Ithaca, a small city with large contingents of college students and free-spirited hippies, distinguished itself as the first U.S. city where all Starbucks stores had gone union.
It appears that’s why, on Solidarity Day, Starbucks decided not to open its main downtown location. The low-key demonstration migrated to the only other remaining Starbucks in Ithaca, tucked into the corner of a strip mall several blocks away. But Starbucks had apparently prepared for protests there as well, shutting down counter service and allowing only drive-thru orders. Union supporters were effectively preempted from undertaking the planned solidarity action — pointedly ordering cups of water, on which workers would scrawl pro-labor phrases like “union strong.”
But the handful of workers and local activists outside were undeterred. Outside the store’s entrance, they passed out flyers to passersby, telling them that Starbucks were “union busters” and were cracking down on pro-union employees.
Asked what it was about Ithaca that had enabled SWU to sweep all the local Starbucks locations, Virgil Taylor, a young union member with hot-pink hair who had worked at the Commons location, said, “Ithaca’s resilient; we come together — no matter what, people will come together in Ithaca.”
With the unionization wave spreading rapidly through hundreds of Starbucks stores nationwide, workers have cited safety issues, low pay, erratic scheduling and understaffing as reasons for joining a union. At the height of the pandemic, workers became especially concerned about inadequate health protections and pay as frontline workers were called back to work in person. As Starbucks has waged its own campaign of anti-union messaging — with meetings and text messages touting Starbucks’s pay and benefits and suggesting that unions could actually worsen their labor conditions — workers have added anti-union intimidation and propaganda to their grievances.
Some workers who have helped organize their stores say they have been unfairly disciplined, had their hours cut or been dismissed in retaliation. Others have quit in frustration.Earlier this year, Ithaca distinguished itself as the first U.S. city where all Starbucks stores had gone union.
Taylor said he was planning on quitting soon, but remained committed to the union and his coworkers, who had seen their hours dramatically cut back in recent months: “I stuck around because I wanted to make sure that we weren’t going to get even more fucked on hours, because we’re closing because of lack of staffing. All the people kept quitting left and right.”
Ben South, a former shift supervisor at a recently closed Starbucks on College Avenue in Ithaca, was fired in early August. (The union charges that his firing was retaliatory, though the formal reason cited by the company was his tweeting about transphobia, according to the union.) Seeing his coworkers get mistreated by management has affirmed his determination to keep organizing.
“We [the workers] saw a lot of turnover as they ramped up their union-busting tactics. And that’s what made me stay there,” South said. “We saw very supportive union partners, [and] people who didn’t even really care about the union, get pushed out. They just don’t care. … They just want to make it as hard of a place to work [as possible] … until nobody supports the union anymore.”
“There is this narrative that we’re treated really well and that we have it really good, but it’s just not true,” said Stephanie Heslop, a barista at the strip mall Starbucks who showed up for the day of action on her day off, wearing a Starbucks Workers United shirt (emblazoned with a clenched fist holding a shaker cup). She believes Starbucks is denying her a promotion to shift supervisor because she has been a vocal advocate for the union. “A part-time job that pays $16 an hour and gives you free Spotify is not enough to live on,” she said. “And the fact that … they are consciously trying to make our lives harder when we are the ones who make the billions in profit for this company … is appalling.”
South noted that Starbucks “shoot[s] themselves in the foot” by encouraging its local outlets to operate as “family stores,” regularly circulating workers across locations. When workers began reaching out to SWU in hopes of unionizing, they could draw on the personal connections they had made at the other locations. Though each Ithaca store held its own union election, about 79 workers at all three stores voted together on April 8.
That’s why SWU members bristle at one of the typical anti-union talking points that is used by management: that a union would be a “third party” that would interfere with the company’s relationship with its workforce.
“Literally, I’ve worked at some form of Starbucks for seven years,” South said. “So I didn’t come in here to corrupt anybody. I came in here to make this place safe for my coworkers. And that’s what’s going to happen.”
He pointed out that not all of his coworkers voted for the union, but now that SWU represents all the Starbucks workers in Ithaca, they might come around when they realize the union is defending their rights, too. “When we need to be there for them, we’ll be there for them. And sometimes that’s what it takes to make people realize who’s actually on their side. Unions are about workers, not about politics,” he said. “So working-class issues are not conservative, they’re not liberal, they’re not leftist. And when you show someone how bad the death grip of capitalism is, when they feel that, the rhetoric that they’ve been fed for years goes away pretty quickly.”
Meanwhile, Starbucks, which did not respond to Truthout’s request for comment, seems to be trying to undermine the inter-store unity. In early June, Starbucks abruptly closed its College Avenue store, leading to the displacement of about 30 workers, as well as subsequent protests and calls for a boycott. The closure followed a one-day strike over what the workers called a major safety hazard involving an overflowing grease trap. The union alleges that the move was aimed at stamping out the union, though it says the company claimed the grease trap was the pretext for the closure. In mid-August, Starbucks came to an agreement with the union to transfer the store’s workers to Ithaca’s two other Starbucks locations. But SWU, which is part of Workers United, an affiliate of Service Employees International Union, is still pursuing an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), alleging that the store was shuttered without consulting the union, in order to deter organizing.“When you show someone how bad the death grip of capitalism is, when they feel that, the rhetoric that they’ve been fed for years goes away pretty quickly.”
The union has filed more than 250 unfair labor practice charges alleging that Starbucks has used threats of discipline, discriminatory enforcement of workplace policies, withholding raises and benefits, and other coercive measures to discourage union activity, all while refusing to bargain in good faith with the union. The union claims that Starbucks fired more than 75 workers this year in retaliation for organizing. (However, a district judge in Memphis, Tennessee, recently ordered several workers to be reinstated.) NLRB regional offices have issued 20 official complaints against the company nationwide so far, according to SWU, which is assisting with the litigation.
But NLRB cases can take months to litigate, so in the meantime, SWU is driving a pressure grassroots campaign to leverage Starbucks’s own marketing image as a hip, progressive lifestyle brand in order to shame the company and garner sympathy from the coffee-drinking public. The union has reported more than 55 Starbucks strikes in 17 states.
South said that worker-organizers seek to leverage Starbucks’s reputation as a progressive company — with its promises of college scholarships for baristas and charity grants for Global South coffee farmers — by exposing the contradictions in its labor practices. Many of the college students and faculty who constitute a large portion of Ithaca’s population are especially sensitive to the corporate hypocrisy. The same tension between socially conscious consumers and exploitative companies that market themselves as liberal-minded has helped garner public support for other union drives at retail giants like Apple and Trader Joe’s.
“People see through it,” South said. “The most important part is that customers are seeing through it. And Starbucks doesn’t listen to anything but money. So now that all these workforces are mobilizing in industries that depend on the money and support of people that come in, I think it’s going to be a really different landscape for workers in about a year or two.”
As their work environments grow more hostile, local Starbucks workers believe that many of the original union supporters may ultimately be pushed out of the job. But those who remain involved still want to build the union into a permanent Ithaca institution. “I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” Heslop said, “and maybe the best thing I’ll ever do in my life. But it’s also very, very hard.”
Heslop sees the union as the local vanguard of a bigger struggle for social justice. “There is massive inequality and catastrophic climate change, all kinds of bad things happening,” she said. “And we need to change things, and we need people to fight back. …I’m a very small part of it, but I’m a part of it. And that is very meaningful to me.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci helped guide the U.S. through the COVID crisis, and earlier in his career played a key role in the response to AIDS. He has served under seven presidents.
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There are dozens of outstanding questions about Donald Trump’s bizarre decision to abscond with boxes of unauthorized and classified documents when he left the White House and we don’t have any idea why he refused to return many of them when the National Archives and the FBI asked for them back. All we do know is that the FBI was forced to issue a subpoena, which Trump defied, and finally had to get a search warrant to retrieve the documents.
The speculation about his motives run from the former president just wanting to take classified material as a souvenir to show off to his friends or sell as memorabilia to possible blackmail of foreign leaders. (Apparently, presidents get highly classified intelligence on allies and adversaries alike.) The most alarming reporting suggested that the documents contained nuclear secrets. This seemed unlikely until this piece by Josh Kovensky at Talking Points Memo reminded me that Trump has a “special interest” in nuclear weapons, believing himself to be an expert because his uncle taught at MIT. Now it doesn’t seem so outlandish. Trump was bragging in his final year that the U.S. had developed some secret new nuclear program at his direction which he couldn’t reveal. So, who knows? He may have actually stolen something truly dangerous.
It remains to be seen if the law will catch up to Trump this time. It’s coming down on him from several directions but according to news reports Trump is thrilled about the whole thing because it’s raising lots of money and it has his supporters up in arms and fired up to fight for him. It also has him at the forefront of the political news which always makes Trump happy. According to NBC News, it’s all made him rethink his need to announce his presidential campaign before the midterm elections. As of now, he remains inclined to wait.
The biggest reason for celebration in Trumpworld no doubt is the fact that the search has necessitated that his would-be rivals all back off their plans to challenge him, at least for the moment. Once Trump activated the MAGA cult they had little choice, proving once again that Trump still has a stranglehold on the GOP. Everyone from former vice president Mike Pence to North Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Virginia Gov. Glenn Younkin issued shrill denunciations of the FBI after the documents were siezed.
Trump’s top rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who, in another political world would have jumped on the news to condemn Trump as damaged goods, immediately went to bat for him calling the FBI search “another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the regime’s political opponents.” (If anyone knows about weaponizing agencies against enemies, it’s Ron DeSantis.) Polls showed that Trump got a 10 point bounce over DeSantis with GOP primary voters after the FBI search.
The pressure to back up the Dear Leader is so intense that notorious podcaster Alex Jones, clearly out of the loop, rapidly backed down from his ill-timed endorsement of DeSantis over Trump:
Getting some blow-back after he announced Thurs that he was backing Desantis over Trump now, Alex Jones issues an “emergency message” to Trump, saying he was simply trying to persuade him to change his position on the vaccines with some tough love. pic.twitter.com/eDjiUgNc1I
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) August 21, 2022
It’s easy to see why Trump is feeling relieved. Over the summer it appeared that his followers were getting restive and his potential opponents were starting to make their moves. The Mar-a-Lago “raid” changed that dynamic.
Others, however, aren’t so sure this is the big winner Trump thinks it is. One worried friend of Trump told NBC:
“He may get closer to the prize but in reality, he’s slipping…It seems like the net is surrounding him more and more, and his ability to dance around these things is going to get more challenging,” this ally said. “It’s a double-edged sword.”
That net is not just the legal problems. Trump believes that it’s always better when he’s in the news, no matter what the reason, but he never seems to understand that while he may thrill his following, he also motivates the opposition. A new poll released this past weekend shows that the GOP is facing some unexpected headwinds going into the fall election — largely because of the January 6 hearings:
— digby (@digby56) August 22, 2022
It’s certainly possible that the numbers include some Republicans who see the Big Lie about the 2020 election as a “threat to democracy” but the changes in enthusiasm argue that this is primarily attributable to Democrats:
According to the survey, 68% of Republicans express a high level of interest in the upcoming election — registering either a “9” or “10” on a 10-point scale — versus 66% for Democrats.
That 2-point GOP advantage is down from 17 points in March and 8 points in May.
The pollsters consider that to be the result of the Supreme Court’s decision to overrule the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in June. But since abortion shows up as the top issue for only 8% of respondents, it’s clear that it’s not the only reason for the surge in interest. “Threats to democracy” coming in as the most important issue is the big change. Democracy is on the ballot and that’s not good news for Donald Trump.
Just as important, with all the “fundamentals” about the economy, President Biden’s approval rating etc., Trump’s constant attention-grabbing, his legal troubles, his rallies, his endorsements, the drumbeat of Trump, Trump, Trump, has turned the midterm election from a standard referendum on the president to a choice between the undisputed leader of the Republican Party and the leader of the Democratic Party. And while it’s true that Biden’s popularity numbers are low, Trump’s are even worse:
New @nbcnews poll finds little positive movement in voters’ opinions on economy, Biden job approve, RD/WT plus generic ballot is R+2. Best thing going for Dems right now, Trump more unpopular than Biden (-19 vs. -8).
— Amy Walter (@amyewalter) August 21, 2022
As I’ve said before, Trump is the gift that keeps on giving — for Democrats. If he’d kept a low profile, cooperated with the FBI and shut his mouth, this election might have been the cakewalk they all expected it to be. But with the hearings and Dobbs and Trump endorsing a crop of fascist weirdos, it looks like it’s going to be a real race. If Democrats actually save their majority this fall they should send Trump a case of Diet Coke and a very nice thank-you card.
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Biden administration officials have reportedly been attempting to assure their Israeli counterparts that a U.S. return to the Iran nuclear accord is not “imminent,” despite apparent signs of progress toward a final agreement in recent days.
Axios’s Barak Ravid reported over the weekend the Biden administration has told Israel that it “hasn’t agreed to new concessions with Iran” and that the U.S., European nations, and Iran are not on the verge of a deal, even after Tehran engaged with and offered its response to what E.U. leaders characterized as a “final” offer.
The U.S. has yet to formally respond to the E.U. text or Iran’s written reply.
The nuclear talks, which have proceeded haltingly for months, are aimed at bringing the U.S. back into compliance with an accord that former President Donald Trump violated in 2018, escalating tensions with Iran and risking all-out war.
“A deal might be closer than it was two weeks ago but the outcome remains uncertain as some gaps remain. In any case, it doesn’t seem to be imminent,” an unnamed U.S. official told Axios, offering a description of the message that Biden administration officials have conveyed to Israel.
While some Israeli officials have expressed support for a revived deal during internal discussions, the Israeli government has publicly opposed any return to the Iran nuclear accord and threatened to attack Iran in a purported attempt to stop the country from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Iran insists it is not trying to build a nuke.
A final accord would involve the U.S. lifting at least some of the sanctions that have hindered Iran’s coronavirus response and badly damaged its economy. In exchange, major constraints would be placed on Iran’s nuclear activity.
On Monday, Iran accused the U.S. of stalling progress toward an agreement, with a spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry saying that “the Americans are procrastinating and there is inaction from the European sides.”
#Iran’s FM spox: we’re witnessing procrastination from the American side as they have yet to officially hand in their response to the EU.. we acted in time and showed we’re acting responsibly.. there’s been relatively good progress but everything must be agreed. #JCPOA pic.twitter.com/tMjFWc0uil
— Maziar Motamedi (@MotamediMaziar) August 22, 2022
Biden spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday, a conversation that touched on “joint efforts to deter and constrain Iran’s destabilizing regional activities,” according to a White House readout of the call.
Middle East analyst Sina Toossi wrote on Twitter Sunday that he hopes the European leaders “pressed Biden to revive the Iran deal.”
“The E3 leaders talking directly to Biden on Iran — which is a rare act — seems to indicate that Washington’s initial response to the Iranian proposal last week is not positive,” Toossi added. “Europe stands to play a decisive role in convincing Biden to not lose this opportunity for a deal.”
The airline hosted the Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars tour last week to celebrate Coleman's anniversary of earning her international pilot's license in 1921.
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