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Rapper  Forgiato Blow shows off his Trump jewelry this weekend at CPAC 2024.

Be Not Afraid: All Glory to God, Trump, Newsmax and Bigots

CPAC is back! Weirder, shriller, fringier, more paranoid than ever, with many empty seats, but God allegedly still on the side of the cranks and zealots. Cue vapid, vicious, fear-mongering goons who, now saying the ugly part aloud, bray about evil trans people, stampeding "aliens," looming communists, and pet-marrying while heralding Christian nationalism, "cool" dictators, the "Bible Uncancelled" and the glad "end of democracy." A republic if you can keep it: Welcome to today's forsaken, brutish GOP.

Of course, CPAC 2024, in all its shabby lunacy, reflects the increasingly rabid party - Free J6! - from which it sprang. Once a marquee conservative event that drew top GOP lawmakers and presidential contenders, it's become an "emptier, jankier, lower-rent" affair by a party lunging ever further into the wingnut galaxy, its hapless denizens endlessly spouting stupid, awful things. Klan Mom MTG: Judge Arthur Engeron should be "disrobed" for undervaluing Mar-A-Hellhole. Trump lackey: His overlord's "Never Surrender High-Tops" will get him black votes because "Black America loves sneakers, especially in the inner city." DeSantis: Their V.P. should be a white man because "we don't want people representing 10 or 15% of the party to be in the driver’s seat." Tommy Tuberville: "These socialists and Marxists (want) to control our children" like Hillary's "it takes a village" because "she doesn’t like your home (and) she wants to indoctrinate your children"; also, the government "has become the father, they hate Christianity, they are going to come after you."

The creepy avatar for this assemblage of "craven rodeo clowns" is House Speaker Mike Johnson, a smarmy, doe-eyed, coup-plotting, Christian fundamentalist who's spent his career working for hate groups, arguing deviant" homosexuals will destroy democracy, same-sex marriage is like people marrying their pets, and abortion is the killing of both "unborn children" and potential "able-bodied workers in the economy." Boasting the Bible is "my worldview," he took his then-13-year-old daughter to a Purity Ball where she pledged to him and God her "purity of mind, body and soul," he promotes a "Covenant Eyes" app that allows him and his 17-year-old son/ "accountability partner" to monitor each other's porn habits - clean slates all around! - and before he became Speaker God began waking him at night to prepare him to serve as Moses leading the nation through a "Red Sea moment...The Lord impressed upon my heart that something was going to occur." And it was: The House was in such chaos they chose a backbench demagogue who thought governance meant saving America from heathens.

Evidently, it doesn't. Teetering with a bare majority and boisterous hard-right clique, having lost another special election, seen its fake Biden impeachment implode and failed to address not just a looming shutdown but in fact anything at all, the bumbling House threw a dim-witted Hail Mary and decided to impeach Homeland Security head Alejandro Mayorkas - a move widely derided as "ridiculous" - for failing to fix the border after they sabotaged a bi-partisan bill to fix the border. Then they holed up at a Miami resort to lick their wounds at a leadership retreat where, rather than giving them leadership, Johnson gave them a sermon complete with Biblical references about America's ungodly moral decline, which made lawmakers worried about keeping their jobs grumble they were "not at church" and what the hell? Meanwhile, with the GOP's SCOTUS-facilitated war on women, IVF, and even "recreational sex" in full swing, Johnson fudges on his past (and future?) efforts to go after contraception - "I really don't remember any of those measures" - and lurches ahead crafting the patriarchal theocracy of his dreams.

In that he's in step with The Big Orange Guy, who says once in power he'll create a task force to fight imaginary "anti-Christian bias" by "Marxists and fascists" (FYI not the same); he's also plotting with a right-wing think tank whose mission is to re-define America as "a nation under God," with a mandate declaring, "Freedom is defined by God, not man." In pursuit of Gilead - and because last month his PAC raised $8,508 as he spent $3.9 million, mostly on lawyers - he just spoke to a gathering of evangelical broadcasters while hawking gold IRAs "to protect your retirement from D.C.'s policies" and Ivermectin: "Make Care Great Again." He decried Dems murdering babies, "taking away knocker fields from children," and creating "dirty roads, crime, graffiti, swastickers." He also boasted that "everybody on both sides" agrees Roe had to go, he's beating Haley by 91 points, "Israel is the capital of Israel," and "you're going to say as you want (and) believe in God" through "the love of Christ and the voices of famed...evangell...lllical....people and...eee-vangelis." Ok, so he can't say evangelical, but sure, he's your guy.

Big Awful Guy's implausible fervor was dutifully, garishly replicated atCPAC, held at the fantastically named Gaylord Convention Center outside D.C., where his and God's faithful touted "the greatest nation in all the world," except for, you know, the swastickas. Amidst red, white, and blue everything and pounding bad music, the meager crowd drifted through a half-empty exhibit hall offering a Jan. 6-themed pinball game, a vibrating board to stand on to magically lose weight, an 18th-century-style booth likening Biden to King George lll, and a mountain of tawdry MAGA merch: "Woke Tears" water - "identifies as transparent" - rhinestone hats blaring "I Love Jesus" and "Fuck Biden," Trump shirts, hammocks, bobbleheads, sparkly gun-shaped purses. Sponsors were fewer and tackier: Moms For America, many groups with the word "liberty," Newsmax with ads shouting "you don't need those woke streaming services," and now they're letting their fascist flag fly proudly the previously banished John Birch Society. Streaming was by the insurrectionist-favored Rumble; links often didn't work but went to a donation page.

Attendance was much sparser than previously, down from around 13,000 to the hundreds; when photos emerged of speakers facing a sea of empty seats, a right-wing site wailed, "What an embarrassment." Country singer Natasha Owens sang the national anthem in a huge black dress declaring, "2nd Amendment Protects the First," and a banner trumpeted the new theme, tweaked from the unfortunately DeSantis-themed "woke" shtick: "Where Globalism (WHO and the UN) Goes To Die." Speakers were mostly not totalitarian BA-listers: The mayor of Riverton, Utah, an Oklahoma rep, the head of CPAC Australia, Peter Navarro, who's headed to jail, a "businessman" who, like everyone, railed against transgender health care: "Woke doctors should be in prison." But there were several big shots: Stephen 'Goebbels' Miller, Mike 'Pillow' Lindell, Disgrace to All Brain Surgeons Ben Carson, the new authoritarian presidents of Argentina and El Salvador, and a ragged array of VP hopefuls - Noem, Vance, Scott, Stefanik, Gabbard, Ramaswamy - all of whom, in a relative universe, Big Guy has called "good" and "solid."

Welcome speeches were by CPAC's devout Queen and molesting King, Mercedes and Matt Schlapp. Greeted with limp applause - "Lemme hear you! Wake up!" - Mercedes declaimed, "Be not afraid!" before telling her 17 listeners, "We're gonna take this country back (from the) leftist propaganda machine." "You are instruments," she said. "God has put you here at this time to do this great work that needs to be done...Communism pushes the culture of death, we push the culture of life. You are assembled here in front of God to be the front line in this battle." Facing multi-million-dollar sexual assault - and now document-shredding - charges by several young men, Matt announced, "This is our time, this is our moment." Pledging his support for the "unique American who is being persecuted, who is being tortured" by communist "lawfare," he turned to his sorcerer in the sky: "Lord God, you said that if we trust in you we will mount up with wings like eagles. Well, God, we're ready to soar." Like many, Tik Toker Incrediberry is dubious in a country where, in an election between Jesus and Satan with an "R" by his name, "Jesus would lose in a landslide."

Still, they gathered for workshops titled The Bible Uncancelled, No Woke Warriors, God's Children Are Not For Sale, Bidenomics: Bad For America's Health, Would Moses Go to Harvard?, Putting Our Heads in the Gas Stove, Ramaswamy Unplugged, Going Full Hungarian: Stopping Georgey (sic) Soros, From Gaza to Greenwich Village: A Guide to Fighting Contemporary Jew-Hatred, and What You Talkin' Bout Fani Willis, presented by esteemed legal scholar and Black linguist Jim Jordan. He was also among a host of out-Trumping-Trump speakers - paranoid losers, zealots, liars, a "who’s who of who won’t accept the results of the election" with wildly unintelligible notions and short attention spans - to offer 20-minute rants about an amorphous, all-powerful "left" who control damn near everything, which is why they can't have nice things. "The left controls big media, big tech, big corporations, big sports, academia, Hollywood, the Senate and White House," he whined, before bravely adding, "But the left doesn’t control we the people."

But we the people, it turns out, often make little sense. Lara Trump said Dems think "you can change your gender like you change your shoes, and that at night she and the other son lead their kids in saying their prayers and the Pledge of Allegiance. Elise Stefanik said Ivy League campuses are "dens of anti-Semitism" where "radical leftist rot (is) destroying the minds of the next generation." The Daily Wire's Michael Knowles, quoting Humpty Dumpty - "the question is which is to be master?" - said trans people reveal the decline of religion and marriage, which is "nothing other than a sign of God's love." "Liberals think they're God, but they can't really turn a couple of men, or a couple of women, or three men and a billy goat for that matter into a marriage." Former Trump something Monica Crowley warned patriots to beware an upcoming "CATFIGHT: Michelle v. Kamala" - it was a workshop - because "Democrats (are) communists, and communists always have a plan...The left has a host group of power brokers working with the deep state, which is real."

Kristi Noem said right now "there are people who love America and there are those who hate America" and "Joe Biden is destroying America." Stephen Miller said Trump's legal cases "are proof big broad laws will be used to crush us." Kurt Schlichter said "Joe Biden is the capo of a criminal organization." The U.K.'s Liz Truss said "we need a bigger bazooka against the deep state" after Joe Biden helped destroy her 7-week reign; nobody knew who she was, but one guy thought her speech was "on the same parallel" as U.S. politics. El Salvador's Nayib Bukele, "the world's coolest dictator," who's detained 80,000 people in his.war on gangs, said he welcomes the fight against "dark forces" in America. And conspiracist Jack Posobiec said when liberals "say democracy, they mean authoritarianism." "Welcome to the end of democracy! We’re here to overthrow it completely," he crowed. "We didn’t get all the way there on Jan. 6, but we'll endeavor to get rid of it and replace it with this right here.” Going full clerical fascist, he clutched a cross. "Because all glory is not to government. All glory to God.”

Meanwhile, an addled, bilious sociopath keeps jabbering. After telling a Black Conservative Gala his criming makes him just like them - “I got indicted and a lot of people said that's why the Black people like me" - he greeted CPAC with a tinny national anthem by Jan. 6 rioters before spewing a 90-minute, murderous word salad of fever-dream apocalypse and a "Judgment Day" that will be "my ultimate and absolute revenge." He said "millions of illegal aliens (are) stampeding across our border" from insane asylums like Hannibal Lecter speaking "languages that nobody in this country has ever heard of - it's a very horrible thing." He said "ruthless gangs will explode (into) the suburbs" and while "weaponized law enforcement hunts for conservatives and people of faith, Hamas and Antifa will terrorize our streets (with) their brutal iDEEEo-ology and it is brutal let me tell you" He said he's "a proud political dissident," Biden is "surrounded (by) very bad fascists," he flew into Iraq with "the best-looking human beings I've ever seen" and maybe a guy named "Raisin Cane," and "they'll say 'he rambled'" but "it's total genius." Sweet Jesus. Be afraid.

Plastic pollution

Big Oil, Plastics Industry Led 'Campaign of Deception' to Push Recycling Fraud

The petrochemical industry—including major oil companies like ExxonMobil—knew for decades that recycling was not a sustainable solution to the problem of plastic waste, yet continued to promote it in order to avoid regulation and deceive consumers into continuing to buy and use their products, a report released Thursday by the Center for Climate Integrity reveals.

The report, titled The Fraud of Plastic Recycling: How Big Oil and the Plastics Industry Deceived the Public for Decades and Caused the Plastic Waste Crisis, includes newly disclosed industry documents proving that companies and trade groups knew that plastics could not be recycled indefinitely in the 1980s and 90s even as they launched a massive public relations campaign to sell voters and policymakers on the process.

"This evidence shows that many of the same fossil fuel companies that knew and lied for decades about how their products cause climate change have also known and lied to the public about plastic recycling," Center for Climate Integrity (CCI) president Richard Wiles said in a statement. "The oil industry's lies are at the heart of the two most catastrophic pollution crises in human history."

Plastic pollution is a major environmental and public health crisis. If current trends continue, plastics are expected to outweigh fish in the ocean by 2050, and the toxic fumes from plastic production facilities and incineration are a major environmental justice hazard for frontline communities. Humans in general also ingest an estimated credit-card's worth of plastic each week, with unknown but potentially serious health impacts.

Recycling is often touted as a solution for keeping plastic out of the environment, but this has proven to be ineffective and insufficient: More than 90% of the plastics disposed of between 1950 and 2015 were either burnt, sent to landfills, or dumped into the environment. There are several technical and economic reasons why plastic recycling doesn't work at scale. Plastics lose quality as they are recycled and can only really be reused once or potentially twice. The decline in quality also means that recycled plastics are more likely to leach toxins added during production or picked up from other waste items. Economically, it is cheaper to produce new plastics than recycle older ones, and only two types of plastic—PET and HDPE—actually attract markets that will recycle them.

The industry has long been aware of these limitations. In 1969, the American Chemical Society declared, "It is always possible that scientists and engineers will learn to recycle or dispose of wastes at a profit, but that does not seem likely to happen soon on a broad basis."

"We are committed to the activities, but not committed to the results."

Despite this, petrochemical companies and their trade groups began to push plastic recycling in the 1980s and 90s as a response to growing public concern over plastic waste, and the threat that this would lead to bans on plastic products.

"No doubt about it, legislation is the single most important reason why we are looking at recycling," Wayne Pearson, the executive director of industry front group the Plastics Recycling Foundation and a DuPont marketing director, said in 1988.

The plastics industry used various strategies to sell the public on recycling, according to the report. These included:

  1. Funding front groups to promote recycling;
  2. Running ad and PR campaigns;
  3. Investing in recycling research to convince the public that it was taking action;
  4. Setting unrealistic internal recycling goals;
  5. Writing educational material promoting recycling to school children;
  6. Advocating for "advanced recycling," a term for breaking plastics down to chemical components that can theoretically be reused but are not in practice; and
  7. Claiming, against evidence, that recycling can be part of a "circular economy."
CCI provides new evidence that, while the industry was employing these strategies, it was simultaneously aware of recycling's limitations.

For example, a report from the Vinyl Institute trade group concluded in 1986 that "recycling cannot be considered a permanent solid waste solution, as it merely prolongs the time until an item is disposed of."

In 1994, Exxon Chemical Vice President Irwin Levowitz told employees of the American Plastics Council that "we are committed to the activities, but not committed to the results."

CCI argued that the petrochemical industry should face legal consequences for its "campaign of deception" similar to suits brought against tobacco and opioid companies.

"When corporations and trade groups know that their products pose grave risks to society, and then lie to the public and policymakers about it, they must be held accountable," Wiles said. "Accountability means stopping the lying, telling the truth, and paying for the damage they've caused."

CCI vice president of legal and general counsel Alyssa Johl added: "Big Oil and the plastics industry's decades-long campaign to deceive the public about plastic recycling has likely violated laws designed to protect consumers and the public from corporate misconduct and pollution."

"Attorneys general and other officials should carefully consider the evidence that these companies defrauded the public and take appropriate action to hold them accountable," Johl said.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Warren Calls On Regulators to 'Immediately' Block Capital One-Discover Merger

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday led calls for federal regulators to "immediately" block Capital One Financial's $35.3 billion purchase of Discover Financial Services, warning that "this Wall Street deal is dangerous and will harm working people."

The proposed all-stock deal would create the nation's sixth-largest bank by assets in a credit card industry dominated by Visa and MasterCard. Capital One CEO Richard Fairbank called the acquisition "a singular opportunity to bring together two very successful companies with complementary capabilities and franchises, and to build a payments network that can compete with the largest payments networks and payment companies."

However, Warren (D-Mass.) warned that the proposed merger "threatens our financial stability, reduces competition, and would increase fees and credit costs for American families. Regulators must block it immediately."

The proposed acquisition comes days after the publication of a new U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) report revealing the "predatory" practices of credit card companies including Capital One, which charge interest rates that can exceed 30%. According to the CFPB, lack of competition "likely contributes to higher rates at the largest credit card companies."

Critics say the proposed merger will only make matters worse.

"The Capital One-Discover deal will create another colossal too-big-to-fail bank while supercharging consolidation in the credit card sector," Shahid Naeem, senior policy analyst at the American Economic Liberties Project, said in a statement. "Greenlighting the creation of the nation's sixth-largest bank and the largest credit card issuer is indefensible, particularly as the harms of bank and credit card consolidation are already causing enforcers and Congress to chart a stricter approach to both."

"It's time for bank regulators to step up and do their jobs to protect the safety and stability of the financial system, the economy, and the American consumer—starting with blocking this deal," Naeem added.

Liz Zelnick, who directs the economic security and corporate power program at the watchdog Accountable.US, said that "banking giants like Capital One have long exploited the lack of competition to price gouge families with predatory credit card interest rates and hidden junk fees."

"Even less competition under this merger means these companies will have less incentive to check their greedy practices that nickel and dime consumers into the billions of dollars," she continued. "Federal regulators should take a hard look into whether this deal runs afoul of antitrust rules at the expense of consumers."

"It's a reminder why the Biden administration's ongoing efforts to crack down on excessive and hidden junk fees from big banks are a critical step towards lowering costs for Americans," Zelnick added.

University of Michigan business law professor Jeremy Kress—a former Federal Reserve official who oversaw bank mergers—toldReuters that the deal "will provoke a significant pushback and receive heightened regulatory scrutiny."

"It will be the first big test of bank merger regulation since the Biden administration's executive order on promoting competition in 2021," he added.

The Federal Abortion Ban Plan Team Trump Doesn't Want You to Know About

The Federal Abortion Ban Plan Team Trump Doesn't Want You to Know About

The architect of a Texas law that entices anti-choice vigilantes with $10,000 bounties supposedly wants former President Donald Trump and his allies to shut up about abortion until after the November presidential election—when right-wingers hope to implement "legally sophisticated" and unpopular forced-pregnancy policies.

After reporting on Friday that Trump "likes the idea of a 16-week national abortion ban" with exceptions for rape, incest, or to save the life of the pregnant person, The New York Timesrevealed on Saturday that lawyers and strategists in his "orbit" are crafting more complex plans.

"We don't need a federal ban when we have Comstock on the books," attorney Jonathan Mitchell told the Times, referring to a dormant 1873 law heralded by an "anti-vice" crusader that criminalized the shipping of various "obscene" materials, including abortifacients. "There's a smorgasbord of options."

"I hope he doesn't know about the existence of Comstock, because I just don't want him to shoot off his mouth," the lawyer added of Trump. "I think the pro-life groups should keep their mouths shut as much as possible until the election."

Mitchell appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month to argue against an effort to remove Trump from Colorado's Republican primary ballot. He previously worked on the Texas vigilante law designed to circumvent Roe v. Wade, the historic abortion rights ruling that the justices—including three Trump appointees—overturned with their June 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.

Calling the existence of the law and its implications "perhaps the worst-kept secret of the post-Dobbs era," The New Republic's Melissa Gira Grant detailed recent coverage of the Comstock Act on Tuesday:

In recent months, numerous opinion pieces from leading experts on abortion, history, and the law, such as law professors David S. Cohen, Greer Donley, Rachel Rebouché, and Mary Ziegler, have warned of these specific plans. There were several at CNN and in the Times itself, and in Teen Vogue and The Atlantic, among others. They follow a trickle of reporting stretching back to the Dobbs decision outlining what legal threats lay on the other side of Roe. Reporters in Texas and reproductive rights reporters have been at the forefront of laying out the Comstock plan and its risks. "I knew about Comstock before Dobbs, but I wanted to say nothing about it," Jonathan Mitchell told Amy Littlefield at The Nation, in a story published in April 2023.

That same month, as a legal challenge to medication abortion amped up the Comstock threat, Susan Rinkunas at Jezebelwarned, "Congress Needs to Repeal This Zombie 1873 Abortion Ban Before It Blows Up in Our Faces." Today we are no closer to that possibility, even as someone like Mitchell has become more explicit. The only thing he may be nervous about is more people paying attention. The idea that Trump can be kept in the dark until after the election is not unbelievable, but more likely is that Mitchell is hoping to make the Comstock plan sound that much more far-fetched with his "Oh no, please don't put this in the paper" feint this week.

Noting Mitchell's new comments in a piece for Jezebel on Monday, Rinkunas reiterated to Democrats on Capitol Hill that "now would be a great time for you to repeal this zombie ban once and for all."

Since Dobbs, Democratic governors and legislators have worked to protect abortion rights for their constituents and "healthcare refugees" from states where GOP officials have ramped up fights for forced-pregnancy laws. Many of the bans or restrictions recently approved in over 20 states are being challenged in courts that GOP governors and Trump pushed to the right.

At the national level, GOP attorneys and strategists now propose bypassing Congress and "leveraging the regulatory powers of federal institutions," including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to enact anti-abortion policies that "could be stopped only by courts that the first Trump administration had already stacked with conservative judges," according to the Times.

"Policies under consideration include banning the use of fetal stem cells in medical research for diseases like cancer, rescinding approval of abortion pills at the FDA, and stopping hundreds of millions in federal funding for Planned Parenthood," the newspaper noted. "Such an action against Planned Parenthood would cripple the nation's largest provider of women's healthcare, which is already struggling to provide abortions in the post-Roe era."

Planned Parenthood and other groups and experts who support abortion rights have been strongly advocating for Democratic President Joe Biden's reelection—and renewed their warnings about Trump's return to the White House in response to the Times reporting.

Quoting from the article, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California president and CEO Jodi Hicks said on social media Saturday: "They 'are planning ways to restrict abortion rights if he returns to power that would go far beyond proposals for a national ban...' The only thing stopping them from taking your freedom is your VOTE."

Planned Parenthood Texas Votes senior adviser Wendy Davis, a former Democratic state senator, warned that "as bad as things are now, believe me when I say they'll get much, much worse if we don't do everything we can to win in November—at every level on the ballot."

Reproductive Freedom for All president Mini Timmaraju told the Times that Trump is "trying to masquerade in public as a moderate," but if the likely Republican nominee is elected in November, "he's going to do whatever Jonathan Mitchell wants."

Praising the paper's "deep dive" on social media, Timmaraju added that "maybe the most chilling is how confident they are that he can do the most damage in a second term, without Congress, and with judges he appointed."

Biden has come under fire for recent remarks on abortion as well as his administration's support for Israel's war on the Gaza Strip, which has created a maternal healthcare crisis and outraged some "current Planned Parenthood employees, legal experts, nurse midwives, abortion fund workers, and clinic staffers" interviewed by HuffPost.

Still, surely aware of polling that shows abortion bans are deeply unpopular with the American public, the Biden campaign has highlighted his support for reproductive rights on the campaign trail—including with statements from the president and abortion rights advocates about the Times articles and a new Politicopiece on Trump and Christian nationalism.

While the ACLU does not endorse candidates, the group's chief advocacy and political officer, Deirdre Schifeling, stressed in a statement that Trump and "anti-abortion extremists at all levels will stop at nothing until our rights are stripped away."

"The majority of Americans strongly support abortion rights. We must elect leaders this year who reflect our values and push to restore abortion access in every state across the country," she added. "The only way we can stop extreme bans is to elect a president, and a House and Senate, that will pass federal legislation to protect abortion rights and reproductive freedom—voters deserve nothing less."

This post has been updated to note that the ACLU does not endorse candidates.

abortion rights marchers in Madison

Planned Parenthood Asks Wisconsin Supreme Court to Affirm Abortion Rights

Continuing a legal battle that began with the nationwide reversal of Roe v. Wade in June 2022, Planned Parenthood on Thursday filed a petition urging the liberal-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to swiftly protect the right to abortion.

"We're asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to answer this question: Does the Wisconsin Constitution protect the right to access abortion care and a provider's right to provide abortion care?" Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin (PPWI) president and CEO Tanya Atkinson explained in a video shared on social media.

"Wisconsinites deserve the ability to make decisions that shape their future—to make decisions about if or when they become a parent," she stressed. "And they deserve to know this right is protected by our state constitution."

According to the Wisconsin State Journal:

The lawsuit asks the high court to declare that abortion rights are protected in the constitutional provision stating, "All people are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights; among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

"At the sacred core of the inherent right to life and liberty lies the right to determine what one does with one's own body, including whether and when to have a child," the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit doesn't seek to define when exactly abortion rights are guaranteed.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has clinics that offer abortion care in Dane, Milwaukee, and Sheboygan counties. However, after the U.S. Supreme Court's right-wing majority overturned Roe in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, PPWI stopped providing abortions due to uncertainty over an 1849 state law.

PPWI decided to resume abortion care last September, in response to Dane County Judge Diane Schlipper's July ruling that the law only applies to feticide, or the act of killing a fetus, and not consensual pre-viability abortion. Joel Urmanski, Sheboygan County's Republican district attorney, asked Schlipper to reconsider her decision, but she reaffirmed it in December.

Urmanski on Tuesday asked the state's top court to bypass the appellate level and weigh in. In response, PPWI chief strategy officer Michelle Velasquez said in a statement that the group "vehemently opposes" his view that the 175-year-old law took effect upon Roe's reversal but "we do agree with DA Urmanski that bypass to the Wisconsin Supreme Court is appropriate, as this issue is of statewide importance and that requiring this case to be first decided by the Court of Appeals will only result in needless delay."

"Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin will continue to provide abortion care services at our Water Street Health Center in Milwaukee, Madison East Health Center, and Sheboygan Health Center," Velasquez added. "We will continue essential work to help protect and expand reproductive freedom in Wisconsin so that everyone who needs comprehensive reproductive healthcare in our state can get the nonjudgmental and compassionate care they deserve."

If the Wisconsin Supreme Court takes up the issue, its four liberal members are expected to affirm abortion rights, a key topic that led voters to end right-wing control of the court last April by electing Justice Janet Protasiewicz. However, even if the justices rule as anticipated, GOP state lawmakers across the country have ramped up efforts to restrict reproductive freedom since Dobbs.

Republicans in the Wisconsin State Assembly last month approved a bill that—if also passed by the Senate—could lead to a statewide referendum in the April election asking voters whether to ban abortion after 14 weeks of pregnancy. However, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has vowed to veto the measure, which would block it from the ballot.

After the January vote, Jon McCray Jones, a policy analyst at the ACLU of Wisconsin, toldtheGrio that already, "1 in 5 patients are now traveling out of state for abortion care," and a new ban would exacerbate challenges faced by marginalized communities.

Residents now deal with "healthcare deserts," because "many young people who are graduating from residency are opting to go into states that have linear abortion laws," Jones said, arguing that "politicians need to stay out of the uteruses of Wisconsinites."

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres

UN Chief Says 'Rules of War' Being Disregarded From Ukraine to Gaza

The head of the United Nations said Monday that countries and groups involved in wars around the world are "turning a blind eye to international law" and imperiling the lives of millions of innocent people, including many children.

"The rule of law, and the rules of war, are being undermined," U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in remarks to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Guterres pointed specifically to conflicts raging in Ukraine, Gaza, and Sudan and lamented that the U.N. Security Council has frequently been "deadlocked" in the face of mass atrocities, "unable to act on the most significant peace and security issues of our time."

"The council's lack of unity on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and on Israel's military operations in Gaza following the horrific terror attacks by Hamas on 7 October, has severely—perhaps fatally—undermined its authority," said Guterres, who delivered his address less than a week after the U.S. used its veto power for the third time since October 7 to tank a Gaza cease-fire resolution at the U.N. Security Council.

"Flouting international law only feeds insecurity and results in more bloodshed."

Guterres' speech marked the start of the Human Rights Council's first high-level session of 2024. The U.N. chief said at the session that the world "urgently" needs a "new commitment to all human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political, and social—as they apply to peace and security, backed by serious efforts at implementation and accountability."

Toward that end, Guterres announced the launch of a "systemwide United Nations Agenda for Protection" under which U.N. bodies "will act as one to prevent human rights violations, and to identify and respond to them when they take place."

"Flouting international law only feeds insecurity and results in more bloodshed," Guterres warned. "Human rights conventions and humanitarian law are based on cold, hard reality: They recognize that terrorizing civilians and depriving them of food, water, and healthcare is a recipe for endless anger, alienation, extremism, and conflict."

"Today's warmongers cannot erase the clear lesson of the past," he added. "Protecting human rights protects us all."

Guterres' address came after Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said in separate analyses published Monday that Israel is blatantly disregarding an interim ruling handed down last month by the U.N.'s highest legal body, the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Israeli forces have killed more than 3,400 people in Gaza since the ICJ's January 26 ruling, and nearly 30,000 total since their assault on the Palestinian enclave began following a deadly Hamas-led attack on October 7.

"Not only has Israel created one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, but it is also displaying a callous indifference to the fate of Gaza's population by creating conditions which the ICJ has said places them at imminent risk of genocide," Heba Morayef, Amnesty's regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.

"Time and time again," Morayef added, "Israel has failed to take the bare minimum steps humanitarians have desperately pleaded for that are clearly within its power to alleviate the suffering of Palestinian civilians in Gaza."

In his remarks Monday, Guterres warned that an Israeli ground assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah "would not only be terrifying for more than a million Palestinian civilians sheltering there; it would put the final nail in the coffin of our aid programs."

"International humanitarian law remains under attack. Tens of thousands of civilians, including women and children, have been killed in Gaza," said Guterres. "I repeat my call for a humanitarian cease-fire and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages."