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See the Great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017 – Michael Zeiler

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See the Great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017

Your guide to the total solar eclipse

Michael Zeiler

Genre: Astronomy

Price: $2.99

Publish Date: May 1, 2016

Publisher: Great American Eclipse, LLC

Seller: Great American Eclipse, LLC


Nature’s grandest spectacle is a total eclipse of the Sun and for the first time in several decades, a total solar eclipse is coming to the United States in 2017. “See the Great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017” is a richly illustrated and clearly written book that gives prospective eclipse viewers all the information needed to safely view the eclipse. The book is written in non-technical language that anyone can understand. Inside are sumptuous graphics that explain the essentials plus over 20 pages of detailed maps of the best places to go. The book includes a description and photos of the magnificent spectacle of a total solar eclipse, a summary of how eclipses occur, a short history of eclipses seen in America, scientific results from eclipses, strategies to successfully view the eclipse, and 18 pages of gorgeous and detailed maps for finding a perfect spot to view the eclipse.  This book is an essential planning resource as well as a memento for this celestial event. The book topics are: ✔︎ The Splendor of Totality ✔︎ How to safely view the eclipse ✔︎ Sun, Moon, Earth ✔︎ Types of solar eclipses ✔︎ Timeline of the eclipse ✔︎ Strategy for success on eclipse day ✔︎ Great places to view the eclipse ✔︎ Science from solar eclipses ✔︎ Historical solar eclipses across America ✔︎ How dim is sunshine on outer planets? ✔︎ Solar eclipse facts ✔︎ Totality across America ✔︎ Path of totality ❁ Oregon  ✔︎ Path of totality ❁ Oregon & Idaho   ✔︎ Path of totality ❁ Idaho & Wyoming  ✔︎ Path of totality ❁ Wyoming & Nebraska  ✔︎ Path of totality ❁ Nebraska, Kansas & Missouri ✔︎ Path of totality ❁ Missouri & Illinois  ✔︎ Path of totality ❁ Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, & North Carolina  ✔︎ North American Eclipses Past and Future

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See the Great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017 – Michael Zeiler

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Senate Intelligence Committee Gets Ready to Start Dishing Out Subpoenas

Mother Jones

Michael Cohen is in the news again. Not for this:

But because he’s been “invited” to testify before the Senate committee investigating the Trump-Russia connection:

I declined the invitation to participate, as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad and not capable of being answered,” Cohen told ABC News in an email Tuesday.

After Cohen rejected the congressional requests for cooperation, the Senate Select Intelligence Committee voted unanimously on Thursday to grant its chairman, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, and ranking Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, blanket authority to issue subpoenas as they deem necessary.

Martin Longman didn’t expect this:

It’s still a bit premature to be effusive or unreserved in my praise here. But I have to give credit where it is due. The Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee have shown courage here and real indications of seriousness. I wouldn’t have predicted it but I’m willing to acknowledge it now.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has historically been more serious and bipartisan than most committees, so this is probably not quite as surprising as it seems. Nonetheless, it’s good to see some confirmation that there are still a few redoubts of integrity in Donald Trump’s Washington DC.

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Senate Intelligence Committee Gets Ready to Start Dishing Out Subpoenas

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Baton Rouge Officer Who Shot Alton Sterling Will Not Be Charged

Mother Jones

The Department of Justice will not pursue criminal charges against an officer involved in the videotaped shooting of a man in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last summer, the Washington Post has reported. The announcement—expected tomorrow—will be the first time under Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the department has publicly declined to press charges against an officer investigated in a high-profile police shooting case.

Alton Sterling, 37, was shot and killed by a Baton Rouge Police Department officer in July 2016, setting off days of protests in the city and nationwide. Two officers had responded to a call about a man outside a convenience store who had waived a gun at someone else. When they arrived, they found Sterling outside the store selling bootlegged CDs. A confrontation ensued in the parking lot (the beginning of the incident was not caught on camera), and an officer tased Sterling after ordering him to the ground, cell phone footage of the encounter shows. Sterling remained on his feet, and an officer tackled him while another rushed to handcuff him. In a second cell phone video, one officer is heard yelling “He’s got a gun!” Then he fires several shots into Sterling. Sterling was armed, but it’s unclear from either video whether he reached for his weapon before he was shot. Witnesses told local new outlets that Sterling never reached for his gun during the encounter.

Sterling’s shooting occurred the day before an officer shot and killed another man in a Minneapolis suburb in an incident that was streamed in part on Facebook Live by the man’s girlfriend, and in the same week that a black man—admittedly upset over police shootings of black men—opened fire on officers at a protest over the two shootings in Dallas, killing nine. Just over a week after that incident, three more officers were killed ambush-style in Baton Rouge.

The Obama DOJ launched a criminal investigation into whether the officer who shot Sterling had willfully violated his civil rights by doing so. On Tuesday, the Trump DOJ—led by adamantly pro-police Attorney General Jeff Sessions—will announce that it will not pursue charges against the officer, the Washington Post reports. The decision is not unsurprising—civil rights cases are notoriously difficult to prove in court. The DOJ declined to file criminal charges against officers involved in high-profile police shooting cases on numerous occasions under President Obama, including in the case of of Michael Brown in Ferguson in August 2014.

The report of the Sterling decision comes amid a flurry of other police-related news this week, including the police shooting death of a 15-year-old boy in a Dallas suburb over the weekend and news today that the officer filmed shooting a North Charleston, South Carolina, man in the back multiples times in April 2015 had pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges similar to those considered in the Sterling case. You can read Mother Jones‘ deep dive investigation into the trial of that officer here.

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Baton Rouge Officer Who Shot Alton Sterling Will Not Be Charged

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“He Killed a Man by Shooting the Man in the Back Cold-Bloodedly. The Country Isn’t Going to Bow Down.”

Mother Jones

Walter Scott in his Coast Guard days Courtesy of the Scott family

By now, you’ve probably heard that former North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer Michael Slager pleaded guilty on Tuesday afternoon to federal charges of using excessive force and violating the civil rights of Walter Scott in a police shooting that became national news. The big remaining questions are why Slager did so, and how much time he is likely to spend in prison. “It’s murder, regardless of what people think,” Ed Bryant, president of the local NAACP chapter, told reporters outside the courthouse.

Only a life sentence for Slager would be just, Bryant said: “The whole world has seen that. They know what he’s done. He killed a man by shooting the man in the back cold-bloodedly. The country isn’t going to bow down to that. No way.”

Five months ago, a Charleston jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict in Slager’s murder trial—a trial I covered for Mother Jones as part of an in-depth story on the lives of the officer and his victim, the state of police training in America, and the obstacles to convicting cops for the questionable shootings we see so often in the headlines. Here’s a scene from the Slager-Scott confrontation:

The officer returned to his cruiser intending to run Scott’s license through an FBI database, standard procedure. Scott stepped out of his vehicle and then climbed back in when Slager, sitting in his squad car, instructed him to do so. But moments later, Scott got out a second time and ran toward an open field, the site of an abandoned trailer park, and onto a painted asphalt path known locally as the Yellow Brick Road. Slager pursued on foot, warning that he was preparing to fire his stun gun: “Taser! Taser! Taser!” Scott didn’t stop, so Slager hit him with two darts.

The electricity brought Scott to his knees, but he refused to surrender. Slager then “drive-stunned” Scott—put the business end of the Taser directly on him and pulled the trigger—but could not cuff him. The men scuffled on the ground, and a winded Slager pleaded for backup. “One-five-six,” he said into his radio, calling out the badge number of the officer he knew was closest. “Step it up!”

Scott managed to break free and run away in a slow, wobbly gait. This time Slager did not give chase. He unholstered his .45-caliber Glock, took a stance, and put his left hand underneath to steady the weapon. His form was perfect, like in a training video. The only problem was that his gun was aimed at the back of a fleeing man. He squeezed off eight quick shots.

Local prosecutors in South Carolina were scheduled to retry Slager in August, but instead, as part of what is called a “global plea agreement” they agreed to drop the state charges in exchange for a guilty plea in the federal case. Slager, who will be sentenced at a later date, faces up to life in prison, but he will likely get far less. There is no mandatory minimum sentence. And, as I wrote in my prior story, the average sentence for officers convicted of murder or manslaughter over the past decade or so has been less than four years. Slager was led away after the hearing today in handcuffs. His lawyer, Andrew Savage III, said in a written statement, “We hope that Michael’s acceptance of responsibility will help the Scott family as they continue to grieve their loss.”

While reporting my story about the case, I toured the police academy where Slager was trained—for 9 weeks, as opposed to the 26 required of an NYPD officer. Inferior training was a key element of Slager’s defense. And while much of the instruction I witnessed seemed thoughtful enough, there was simply too little of it.

A report issued in March 2016 by the Police Executive Research Forum argued that misguided training—specifically, instruction that teaches officers to “draw a line in the sand” and resolve confrontations quickly—contributes directly to problematic shootings by police. Cops in training spend a median of 58 hours on firearms proficiency but just 8 hours learning de-escalation tactics to bring episodes to peaceful conclusions, according to PERF’s research. The mechanics of firing a weapon are usually taught separately from the question of when to use it.

Savage, Slager’s lawyer, had talked to prosecutors from the start about a possible deal, but they had not been able to agree on the length of a term. Although a judge will impose the sentence, Slager’s defense team and prosecutors most likely will have agreed to a sentence the government will recommend—those terms were not made clear on Tuesday. Before the deal was finalized, the government also contacted the family of Walter Scott to ascertain what penalty—if any—they would consider just. The plea deal, which you can read here, says Slager understands that the government will advocate he be sentenced under the guidelines applied to second-degree murder, the equivalent of manslaughter.

Tuesday’s plea arrangement represents a stark reversal in Slager’s account of what occurred on April 4, 2015, the day he fired eight shots at the unarmed Scott, from behind, as Scott fled. The shooting was caught on video by a bystander and viewed millions of times on the internet. Slager testified late last year that Scott was getting the better of him in a fight and he feared for his life. He told investigators initially that Scott had gained control of his Taser, though the video cast that story into grave doubt. The plea agreement states:

“The defendant used deadly force even though it was objectively unreasonable under the circumstances. The defendant acknowledges that his actions were done willfully, that he acted voluntarily and intentionally and with specific intent to do something that the law forbids.”

Philip Stinson, a criminologist at Ohio’s Bowling Green University who has done extensive research on police-involved shootings, says Slager could have decided to plead guilty for a variety of reasons. The first is that federal charges against officers who shoot and kill civilians tend to be easier to prove—though it is notoriously difficult to convict a police officer in an on-duty shooting. “His defense team may have realized the Justice Department had a good case,” Stinson says. “But it could also be that the defendant exhausted his capital in many ways, not just financial, but in terms of family considerations. He may have wanted closure.”

Slager’s lawyer took the case pro bono, and after the trial last fall said he had provided a defense that would have cost more than $1 million had he billed for it. Stinson points out that one calculation of pleading to federal rather than the state charges is the quality of the respective correctional facilities: “He may end up in a prison that is more tolerable than what would have been the case in South Carolina.”

One reason it is so difficult to convict police officers is that their jobs are, in fact, often dangerous. Police and their defense teams can effectively persuade juries that, even if they made an error in judgment, they reasonably feared for their lives. One thing that made the Slager case different—and the hung jury in the first trial so shocking to many—is that the cellphone video recorded by Feidin Santana, a 23-year-old Dominican immigrant on his way to work as a barber, seemed to show a clearly egregious act.

“I don’t get surprised by much,” said criminologist Philip Stinson, “but that video took my breath away.”

Slager was not under imminent threat. After the shooting, he appeared to plant evidence by retreating to where the scuffle had taken place to retrieve his Taser and then placing it beside Scott’s prone body. Slager described a different sequence of events in the hours after the shooting, but more recently he has testified that he has no memory at all of those interviews with investigators.

His memory loss could be viewed as a calculated strategy. Or, alternatively, as an indication of a defendant who was not in the best of mental states to withstand a new trial and, as he did in the state court, testify on his own behalf.

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“He Killed a Man by Shooting the Man in the Back Cold-Bloodedly. The Country Isn’t Going to Bow Down.”

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Rep. Joe Wilson Shouted Down by "You Lie" Chants During Angry Town Hall

Mother Jones

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More than eight years after Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) memorably shouted “you lie” at then-President Barack Obama during a televised broadcast of his speech before a joint session of Congress, constituents in his home state are turning Wilson’s infamous outburst against him.

During a Monday town hall event in Graniteville, attendees shouted down the South Carolina congressman with loud jeers and “you lie” chants over his support for the Trump administration and efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. According to the Post and Courier, the most raucous exchange occurred when Wilson, who in 2013 voted against extending the Violence Against Women Act, told the crowd he had advocated to protect women against violence.

The event comes on the heels of similar events nationwide, where Republican elected officials have been met by angry protests in their home districts over concerns about various White House policies.

In 2009, Wilson was the subject of bipartisan condemnation after he interrupted Obama’s address to Congress by calling him a liar when the president said his proposed health care plan wouldn’t cover undocumented immigrants. The congressman was forced to apologize for violating congressional decorum with the heckling, but he benefited in the end: Shortly after the incident, an aide confirmed Wilson had raised more than $1 million in campaign contributions thanks to the outburst.

Democrats have frequently pointed to Wilson’s “you lie” remark as a defining example of the disrespect Republicans showed Obama during his two terms in office.

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Rep. Joe Wilson Shouted Down by "You Lie" Chants During Angry Town Hall

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I’m a Trans Woman of Color, and I’ve Never Been More Scared to Live in North Carolina

Mother Jones

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Lara Americo has lived in North Carolina most of her life. The 32-year-old activist, artist, and musician was in Charlotte last year when state lawmakers passed one of the country’s most sweeping anti-LGBT laws, House Bill 2, which banned her from the women’s bathroom because she’s transgender. She was still there late last month, when they replaced that law with another one to appease critics who called it discriminatory. The new law was framed by the governor as a repeal, or a compromise, since it does not explicitly require trans women like Americo to use the men’s room. But LGBT activists have called it HB2.0 because it prevents cities like Charlotte from passing nondiscrimination ordinances that would guarantee her access to the women’s room. This week, Americo reached out to say that while the NCAA and others seem to believe the situation has improved for transgender people, she’s never been more scared to live in the Tar Heel State.

I used to tell everyone I wasn’t going to make it past 30 because I was convinced that I wasn’t. I was suicidal and pretty much a hermit—everything was wrong but I didn’t know why. Then I realized it was because I wasn’t living as a woman, so at 29 I decided to transition. I started to go out and meet people, and I learned that North Carolina isn’t really friendly toward transgender people. People just get quiet around you, they whisper. And my family was in shock. They tried to be supportive, but I don’t think they could cope with missing the son they had loved and raised—we haven’t really talked much since.

I was still sort of in the closet until last year, when Charlotte’s City Council started talking about a nondiscrimination ordinance that would allow trans people to use their preferred bathrooms. I testified in support of it—that was when I began to be public about being trans. When it passed, it felt like we were finally going in the right direction. But then North Carolina lawmakers started considering HB2 which blocked Charlotte’s ordinance. I testified at the Senate, begging them not to, but they did. I kept using the women’s bathroom anyway—it was a protest against the law every time. Also, if I were to go into the men’s bathroom, there was the potential of outing myself as a transgender woman. While I don’t really keep it a secret anymore, I don’t make it so obvious in public because it can be dangerous for me, especially in the climate we’re in now.

After HB2 passed, it got scarier. Anytime I have to drive in North Carolina, there are 50-mile stretches without a city, just back roads and small towns, and I can’t stop the car because if I do, I’ll have to worry about someone noticing me. Transgender people, especially people of color, face high rates of violence, so I’ve had to be mindful of my presentation, making sure my clothes are right and my mannerisms are perfect and my voice doesn’t drop too low. And I have to worry about the police pulling me over, discriminating against me. Because while there was always a risk, now they’re emboldened.

A majority of people who don’t really follow the issues that closely, they think there’s been a repeal. But I don’t think it was a repeal—I think transgender people are in even more danger now. When you don’t allow cities to give people protections, you put people in danger. Our state government made it clear that they put profit and sports ahead of our safety, and that mentality trickles down. We still don’t have the protections we need—all we have is a spotlight on us, so that people who don’t like us can target us. I feel less safe now than I did a few weeks ago, and so do a lot of people. I work with the Trans Lifeline, a suicide hotline, and after the new replacement law passed, there was a spike in callers.

I don’t like to show that these laws have affected me, but they do: I don’t want to stop at a gas station when I’m running out of gas. I don’t want to join the YMCA or the swim team because I worry about someone seeing my body. My partner worries—when I leave the house, I can usually count on her texting me within an hour, and if I don’t respond she gets really upset. I’ve had instances where I’m in a bar and I try to use the bathroom, and someone will look at me funny, and I’ll have to leave the bar to avoid a confrontation. Recently they proposed a bill that would increase trespassing punishments for people in the bathroom, and that bill could be used to target transgender people. I try to be optimistic, but our state has a Republican super-majority with extreme beliefs, so I do worry it’s going to pass and that transgender people will be criminalized.

Every few weeks I hear about a person who is making plans to leave the state, and I’ve considered it myself, but I have to wrestle with the thought of being forced out of my home, because I love North Carolina and I don’t want to leave. It’s a beautiful state. And I would hate it if I gave in to fear tactics and discrimination. There are many people here who don’t care that I’m transgender and they don’t care who uses the bathroom with them. It’s those people who make me want to stay here and be a part of this and fight for the transgender kids who live here and are going to public schools and worry about all these things, and make sure they don’t have to deal with this when they’re 30.

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I’m a Trans Woman of Color, and I’ve Never Been More Scared to Live in North Carolina

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North Carolina Republicans Try to Block Transgender People From Bathrooms—Again

Mother Jones

Republican lawmakers in North Carolina have filed a bill that could make it more difficult for transgender people to use the bathroom by imposing stiff penalties on anyone convicted of “trespassing” in a restroom.

House Bill 562, co-sponsored by state Rep. Brenden Jones, was filed on Tuesday, shortly after the NCAA announced that it was lifting its boycott of North Carolina because the state’s Legislature partially repealed a law that had required people to use bathrooms consistent with the sex they were assigned at birth.

The text of the new bill does not mention transgender people or even refer to a person’s sex. Instead, it states that entering or remaining in a bathroom “without authorization” after being asked to leave by the owner of the facility, a manager, or anyone else in the room will be considered trespassing. “My bill will do two things,” Jones wrote in a Facebook post last Thursday. “First, it will specifically state it is a second degree trespass for entering the restroom or changing room of the opposite sex; secondly, it would enhance the punishment from what is now, a class 3 misdemeanor punishable up to only 10 days, to a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable up to 120 days in jail.” Jones did not respond to a request for comment.

Requiring “authorization” to be in a bathroom could be particularly harmful for transgender people, says Cathryn Oakley of Human Rights Campaign, a gay and transgender rights advocacy group. By Oakley’s reading of the bill, a trans male college student could be prosecuted for trespass if he uses the men’s room on his campus after being asked to leave by another student in the room.

Last week, the state Legislature replaced House Bill 2, the so-called bathroom bill, with a new law that LGBT groups have described as “HB2.0” because it opens the door for these types of restrictive regulations. The replacement law prevents cities, schools, and localities from passing nondiscrimination ordinances for trans people in bathrooms, preventing any local guarantees that trans people can use facilities consistent with their gender identity. “There’s no backstop to prevent further anti-LGBTQ legislation from being introduced, debated, and potentially passed,” Oakley says. “The North Carolina General Assembly is not going to stop going after transgender people.”

The latest bill, says Democratic Rep. Deb Butler, appears to be a direct response to the recent replacement of the original bathroom bill. “A faction of the Republican Party here in North Carolina is angry that HB2 was repealed,” she says. “They wanted it, they liked it just the way it was. This is, I am sure, their attempt to thumb their nose at the compromise.” Butler says the new bill will likely be introduced to the Legislature on Wednesday and assigned to a committee. “The lunacy persists.” A companion bill has been filed in the state Senate.

Jones voted in favor of the HB2 replacement last week. Jones wrote on Facebook after the vote that “our children will not be forced to share bathrooms with those of the opposite sex…I will never waiver on this vital issue of privacy.” Police officers and other experts note that there is no evidence that sexual predators are taking advantage of legal protections for transgender people in public restrooms.

Update, 10:30 p.m.: Gov. Roy Cooper has come out against the trespassing bill. “The Governor is not supportive of efforts such as these as he believes we ought to be working to expand statewide protections for LGBT North Carolinians,” Ford Porter, a spokesman for Cooper, said in a statement.

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North Carolina Republicans Try to Block Transgender People From Bathrooms—Again

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Thanks to Trump, the Supreme Court Just Left Trans Kids Hanging in a Big Way

Mother Jones

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The Supreme Court on Monday kicked a historic transgender rights case back to a lower court, after the Trump administration changed the federal government’s position on whether trans students can use bathrooms matching their gender identities.

The highly anticipated case, which had been scheduled for a Supreme Court hearing later this month, centers on a 17-year-old transgender boy named Gavin Grimm who is suing for access to the boys’ bathroom at his school in Virginia. Grimm’s case argues that the school’s decision to block him from that bathroom violates Title IX, a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in public schools. Had the Supreme Court chosen to hear the case, it would have been the first time the justices had ever considered a question about trans rights.

Grimm, who was born a girl but identifies as a boy, started using the boys’ bathroom at school his sophomore year, after doctors diagnosed him with gender dysphoria and recommended that he be treated as a boy. But when parents at his school complained, his school board intervened, saying he’d either need to go back to the girls’ room or use a private bathroom near the nurse’s office. The school board said it was trying to protect the privacy of other students.

Last May, the Obama administration put out a directive warning that public schools could lose federal funding if they blocked trans kids from using the bathrooms of their choice. The directive said Title IX prohibited discrimination based on gender identity, not just based on sex. But in February, President Donald Trump’s administration changed the federal government’s position, saying that it wasn’t sure how to interpret Title IX and that schools could go back to blocking trans kids from bathrooms. Because the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals had relied heavily on the Obama administration’s interpretation in its decision about Grimm’s case last year, the Supreme Court on Monday ordered the circuit court to reconsider the case. Now it’ll be up to that lower court to decide what Title IX means, and whether the law prohibits discrimination based on gender identity.

Over the past couple of years, the debate over transgender rights and bathrooms has heated up nationally. Only one state, North Carolina, has enacted legislation requiring trans people to use bathrooms matching their birth sex instead of their gender identity. But at least 11 other states have considered similar legislation already this year , and schools across the country have instituted similar policies. In an amicus brief filed last week, parents wrote about how their trans children have been humiliated and stigmatized as a result. Many others also submitted briefs in support of Grimm, including nearly 200 members of Congress, dozens of major corporations, 18 states and over 30 US cities, the NAACP, and the National Parent-Teacher Association (PTA).

The issue isn’t just about bathrooms. “It’s about the right of trans people to exist in public spaces,” Grimm told reporters on a press call on Monday. Without access to bathrooms, he says, it’s hard for trans people to sit through class, run errands, or hold jobs.

The case will not come before the Supreme Court again this term, Grimm’s attorneys say, and possibly not for another few years. “We will not have our day in the high court this term but we will continue to fight in the lower courts,” Chase Strangio, one of his lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote. “Today our momentum was sent on a detour,” he added in a tweet, “but nothing can stop it. We will fight. We will win.”

Grimm was sitting in class on Monday morning when text messages started flooding his phone with the Supreme Court’s announcement. He was disappointed but vowed to keep fighting. Whether it takes another year or 10, he says, “I’m in it for the long haul.”

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Thanks to Trump, the Supreme Court Just Left Trans Kids Hanging in a Big Way

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The Post-Trump Wave of Anti-Abortion Proposals Just Hit Florida

Mother Jones

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Over the last few weeks, the election of Donald Trump and new Republican control over several states have inspired a wave of anti-abortion proposals. Among the most pervasive have been 20-week abortion bans: Ohio and Kentucky have both passed these in the last month, and they have been proposed in Virginia and now Florida.

On Tuesday, Florida state Rep. Joe Gruters—the former co-chair of Trump’s Florida campaign who began his first term in the Florida House this month—filed the proposed ban, along with sponsor Rep. Don Hahnfeldt.

“Proud to stand up for life in the first bill that I file as a member of the State House,” Gruters wrote on his Facebook page.

Titled the “Florida Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” the bill would make it a third-degree felony to perform an abortion after 20 weeks, unless there is a “serious health risk” for the mother. The bill would also require doctors to file a report about every abortion they perform to the state’s health department and would allow the fathers of the unborn, as well as mothers, to sue their abortion providers for actual or punitive damages.

The bill’s text argues that the ban is necessary because at 20 weeks, fetuses can feel pain. This point is contested by pro-choice advocates and refuted by the vast majority of scientific research.

The Supreme Court’s 1973 decision legalizing abortion in Roe v. Wade ruled that a state can only ban abortions after a fetus is viable outside the womb, which is typically considered to be at 24 weeks. The 20-week bans have been one of the anti-abortion movement’s primary strategies for challenging Roe, by calling into question its viability standard. Only about 1.3 percent of abortions take place after 20 weeks, and they usually occur because of an unforeseen medical complication—a risk to the mother’s health, for instance, or the discovery of a severe fetal anomaly in the later stages of pregnancy. They might be necessary for women experiencing major difficulties in their lives, such as domestic violence or the inability to access abortion for financial and other reasons. “Such bans will disproportionately affect young women and women with limited financial resources,” wrote the authors of a 2013 study on women who get later abortions.

“The 20-week ban was nationally designed to be the vehicle to end abortion in America,” Ohio Right to Life President Michael Gonidakis told the Columbus Dispatch in December, following the state’s passage of its own 20-week ban.

Lawsuits challenging these bans have made it all the way to the US Supreme Court. In 2014, the Supreme Court declined to review a case challenging Arizona’s 20-week ban, cementing a lower court’s decision that the law was unconstitutional. Reproductive rights advocates have also mounted lawsuits opposing 20-week bans passed in several other states, including North Carolina and Georgia.

Perhaps in anticipation of similar lawsuits to come, Florida’s proposed 20-week ban would also establish a legal defense fund, financed with taxpayer dollars and private donations, which would be managed by Florida’s legal affairs department and would pay for the state attorney general’s legal defense against challenges to the bill.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has not said publicly whether he would support a 20-week abortion ban. But he identifies as pro-life and in the past has supported other restrictions on later abortions. In 2014, Scott signed a bill into law redefining fetal viability to when a fetus can survive outside the womb “through standard medical measures,” further limiting when some later abortions would be permitted.

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The Post-Trump Wave of Anti-Abortion Proposals Just Hit Florida

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Why Dylann Roof’s Death Sentence May Never Be Carried Out

Mother Jones

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On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof entered a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, and shot and killed nine worshippers after reading Bible verses with them. As it was later revealed, the 22-year-old Roof was a white supremacist. After an eight-day trial in the Charleston federal district court, on December 15 the jury found Roof guilty of all 33 federal counts—including hate crimes and obstruction of exercise of religion—18 of which carry the federal death penalty. This week, after less than three hours of deliberation, the jury sentenced Roof to death, making him the 63rd person who will be held on federal death row.

Federal law classifies the jury’s decision as a binding “recommendation,” which means, according to Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, “there’s likely a decade worth of appeals.” Roof could be well into his 30s before he is executed.

He likely will not be executed at all, because a federal death sentence often does not result in a lethal injection. To be eligible for federal death row, the defendant’s crime has to have a national angle, such as bombing a federal building. Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death in 2015 for his role in the 2013 attack, but his appeals process is likely to extend for years. Today, 23 people on death row have exhausted their appeals and are eligible to be executed. Three co-defendants who have been on federal death row for the longest period of time were convicted in a series of drug-related murders: Richard Tipton, Corey Johnson, and James H. Roane Jr. have been awaiting execution since 1993.

Contrast this with executions on the state level. Between 1988, when the federal death penalty was reinstated, and 2016, the government only put three inmates to death. States have carried out 1,439 executions since the Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that capital punishment does not violate the Constitution. Gulf War veteran Louis Jones Jr. was the last person to be executed by the government, in 2003, for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of 19-year-old Tracie McBride. His was a federal case because the 1995 crime took place on the federal property of a US Air Force base.

There have been no federal executions during President Barack Obama’s two terms. Obama’s efforts to reduce the federal prison population during his presidency and his discomfort with the death penalty, which he described as “deeply troubling,” coincided with the long appeals process and recent questions about the efficacy of lethal injection drugs. The effect was a halt to federal executions. Nationwide support for capital punishment has been dropping steadily over the last two decades. Today, only 49 percent of Americans support the death penalty for murderers, down from 80 percent in 1994. Among Republican voters, however, 72 percent support the death penalty for violent murderers.

President-elect Donald Trump is one of those death penalty supporters. On the campaign trail in December 2015, Trump announced that as president, he would sign an executive order mandating the death penalty for convicted cop killers. As attorney general, Jeff Sessions—who has supported the death penalty—could move this pledge forward by addressing a number of institutional and practical problems that have been obstacles to federal executions.

“It takes a long time and it takes a lot of money to execute folks,” says Monica Foster, a lawyer whose clients include defendants on federal death row. The average cost of defending a federal death penalty case is $620,932. Inmates typically spend more than a decade in the appeals process before entering death row and awaiting execution.

Opponents of capital punishment believe that it’s immoral, racially biased, and not a deterrent for crime. Sixty-two percent of those awaiting death in federal prisons are nonwhite. “The federal death penalty reflects the state penalty system’s problems of racial bias, poor lawyering, and unreliable evidence,” says Miriam Gohora, a law professor at Yale Law School. But Trump’s pick for attorney general disagrees. At a 2001 congressional hearing on racial and geographic disparities in the federal death penalty, Sessions stated he was against a moratorium on the federal death penalty for several reasons, one of them being that “the death penalty deters murder, as studies as recent as this year have found.” A 2008 Death Penalty Information Center survey published in 2009 found that 88 percent of criminologists do not consider the death penalty a deterrent to violent crime.

“I would expect that the incoming administration would be more aggressive in seeking the federal death penalty,” says William Otis a professor of law at Georgetown law school.

If the Trump administration wanted to aggressively pursue the death penalty and carry out more executions, it would have to address the issue of lethal injection drugs. In 2011, the only American manufacturer of lethal injection drugs, Hospira, announced it would no longer produce sodium thiopental, a key ingredient in the serum used to carry out executions. The company originally intended to resume production at its Italian plant, but Italian officials refused to export the drug if it were to be used for executions. Other companies followed suit, leading to a massive shortage. Many states and the federal government were left with no method of execution, forcing a lull in carrying out capital punishments.

Some states sought to use different drug combinations that haven’t been widely tested. In Oklahoma, a new drug combination led to the botched execution in 2014 of Clayton Lockett, who writhed and moaned during the procedure. In the wake of this incident, Obama announced that the government, through the Department of Justice, would be reviewing its death penalty protocols leading to an effective moratorium. The move was considered a victory for opponents of the death penalty.

The state of Texas recently sued the Food and Drug Administration over the withholding of a shipment of lethal injection drugs that the FDA maintains are illegal to import because they haven’t been tested for safety. “Drugs used in executions are not supposed to be safe—they’re supposed to be lethal,” Otis says, adding that the safety requirements would likely be one of the first areas the Trump administration might seek to change.

In death penalty cases like Dylann Roof’s, where there is no question about guilt or innocence, opponents of capital punishment believe that a life sentence without the chance of parole would provide justice. Roof wanted to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence, but federal officials rejected the offer. Many family members of the victims opposed the death penalty for Roof. The morning after the jury decided on its verdict, Judge Richard Gergel formally sentenced Roof to death, saying, “This trial has produced no winners, only losers.”

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Why Dylann Roof’s Death Sentence May Never Be Carried Out

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