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The Kotex of Courage donned by MAGA-ites in tribute to their leader.

Taking On Bigots, Yahoos and Perpetrators Of All Kinds

Talk about flipping the script. Within days, in an historic act of grace, old Joe did the "right and honorable thing" and handed the reins to Kamala, "in every possible way (the) anti-Trump," who ran with them. In their glorious wake, they left a blindsided, ill-equipped GOP sputtering about coups and conspiracies, a MAGA base whose hateful idiocy was thrown into sharp ugly relief, and a malevolent old man, "only occasionally coherent," dragging his crimes and sordid legacy behind him. Oh sweet karma.

Biden's selfless decision to put the country’s interests before his own was widely praised as "one of the most remarkable acts of leadership in our history," or per Jon Stewart, "Legend." After weeks of what must have felt like betrayals - colleagues and donors pushing him from a long-sought job he felt was unfinished - he could have clung on "in his pain and pride and stubborn Irish heart" if time hadn't caught up with him. In truth, he had exceeded many expectations. Until the horrific stain of his complicity with Israeli genocide in what is now Gaza's "hell on Earth" - especially searing with today's visit of its war-criminal-in chief - he was a good, even transformative president, steering America's recovery from the pandemic and Trump horrors, delivering substantive legislative achievements, restoring decency and dignity to the office. But he knew too well what was at stake to become "the man who saved democracy in 2020 only to sacrifice it at the altar of his own ambition in 2024." As a result, Biden "will go down in history as one of the greatest public servants of all time." Filmmaker Ken Burns, "History recognizes actions that are bigger than self."

In his bittersweet departure, Biden has been likened to George Washington: "To give, rather than to try to take (is) perhaps the most difficult thing for any human being to do." Others see a Shakespearean end, King Lear leaving the stage, wandering the heath, making peace with "the necessity of accepting the sheer injustice of his predicament. And it is unjust; he did a good job... The reality is that, while Biden is old and frail, his opponent (is) old and nuts." The cherry on top of the recent chaos is that contrast made more daftly, starkly, shriekingly apparent, and "the late, great Hannibal Lecter" is just the start. The more Biden is celebrated for his unselfish, statesmanlike move, the more grotesque is the tinpot tyrant's overweening narcissism, the more glaring his gaffes, goofs and fumble, and you know who else is really old? At 78, he's sooo old, the oldest presidential candidate in history, "the old man in the race by a mile." Cue: "He's so old he was Keith Richards' babysitter," "He's so old he remembers when rocks were soft," "He's so old he was in high school when dirt was new," "He's so old he should drop out." Good one.

The week before, nonetheless, God crowned as king the same, old, trashy, vengeful, blathering, twice-impeached, 34-felony-count-rapist who in a normal country should have long been banished from the public stage, who tried to overthrow the government because he has no use for democracy and then ceaselessly lied about it, who surrounded himself with goons and Nazis, let hundreds of thousands of Americans needlessly die on his inept watch, incited hate, swindled millions, maligned migrants, stole his speeches from Legally Blonde, wanted to shoot protesters and jail opponents and try Liz Cheney before a military tribunal on TV for treason - that God not only crowned him King but saved him when he "took a bullet for democracy," or at least a shard of teleprompter plexiglass: "Many people say it was a providential moment. When I rose, the crowd was confused because they thought I was dead. And there was great, great sorrow..." All of which proves that God really does work in mysterious ways, and that getting shot at doesn't magically "transform victims into moral leaders."

Unlike 2016's MAGA-galvanized GOP convention, which "had the chaotic, unhinged, angry energy of a can of Mountain Dew vigorously shaken by a malicious six-year-old," Andrew O'Hehir says that 2024's confab in a blockaded Milwaukee felt like a ghost town of "listless (and) mildly delusional" people "fueled by unquenchable, unfocused unhappiness" seeking "victory over whatever forces they believe are oppressing them." In a messy, endless speech, America's Racist Grandpa, shiny with sweat gleaming off his makeup, decried "men playing in women's sports," claimed "illegal aliens" took "107%" of Biden's new jobs, praised North Korea's Kim Jong Un - "I think he misses me" - and kissed the helmet of the guy killed at his rally. Zionist vendors sold red Trump yarmulkes, Hulk Hogan browbeat non-MAGA "criminals, lowlifes, scumbags," Matt Gaetz (R., Botox) picked fights, smug Javanka smiled, two aides came from prison, ineffably stupid Kimberly Guilfoyle rewrote history to shriek the heroes who stormed Normandy were fighting communism not fascism, and newly tolerant MAGA-ites met a Sikh prayer with, "Get deported, you pagan blasphemer" and, "Oh, fuck off. What a joke."

On its last day, the GOP's lunatic disarray helped push lawyer George Conway to launch a new “Anti-Psychopath PAC” to highlight Trump’s “mental unfitness for office." "The failure to treat Trump’s behavior as pathological has led the media and the country, perversely, to treat it as normal," writes Conway, who calls Trump "a shit show in a dumpster fire." "Voters have forgotten one important fact: Trump is fucking nuts." Despite the GOP's efforts to project unified power, Trump's rambling, tatty recitation of national carnage "just looks deranged." "This is not a colossus," noted Chris Hayes. "This is an old man in decline who's been doing the same shtick for a very long time." That was made clear at a rally soon after in Grand Rapids, where Trump mangled words - "Prennsylvania," "lakies," baseball "passes," German inflation "centuries ago," Biden "can't find the entrances off the stage"- babbled about sharks, forts, the "plunder, rape and slaughter of American suburbs," claimed to know nothing of "this Project 25 - i dunno what the hell it is" - and menacingly said of the 2020 election's "horrible, horrible result," "We're never gonna let that happen again."

Still, he was feeling cocksure enough of victory against a frail and flailing Biden with lousy polls that he pushed his authoritarian luck and chose for his VP a charmless, inexperienced, ideologically extreme anti-abortion zealot, veteran "sucker" and hater of "childless cat ladies" (including the "father" of our country) who shamelessly flip-flopped from denouncing "America's Hitler" to grovelling before him, barely won his Senate seat in a solidly red state, became the first VP pick in decades to enter a race with a negative favorable rating (–6), "makes no sense from a statistical polling perspective" and, focus groups find, swing voters "simply do not like.” Analysts add that, for a party offering popular policies, the VP pick doesn't much matter; for a party, or personality cult, offering along with the cult leader only the decimation of women's reproductive rights and the dystopian nightmare of Project 2025 - both widely unpopular - wooden, untested, misogynistic Senator Hillbilly Elegy, who mostly seemed to baffle convention goers even while dutifully decked out in his unctuous, twinsey blue suit and red tie, doesn't help much.

But Biden was frail and flailing, and Cult Leader was Cult Leader, and GOP officials thought the race was won. From the start, they'd been laser-focused on Sleepy Old Joe, evil if incongruous mastermind of a Biden Crime Family so vast it netted him a beach house that isn't even on the beach. Also Hunter - his laptop, drugs, loans, dick - Biden's brother, China, Ukraine, impeachment or if stuck maybe Merrick Garland,. But remember: Joe's old. Head clowns Comer and Jordan kept so busy with the Biden circus they didn't even have time to fund the government, giving us the most do-nothing House in history. But Joe was still old. Then, suddenly, he did "the right and honorable thing." And only one old codger was left. "They were so sure," said Rachel Maddow. "Then boom. Trump's remarkable run of political good luck came to an end with a crash. The old man in the race is now Donald Trump, 78 and only occasionally coherent, with a record as president (viewed) as the worst in history." Weirdly, for once Nikki Haley was right. "The first party to retire its 80-year-old candidate," she said months ago, "is going to (win) this election."

Biden's move caught Republicans flat-footed, also stunned, panicked, pissed. To some, their shock at what to many seemed an obvious, possible, if not-yet-arrived-at development suggests a mindset impervious to the notion of anyone with power voluntarily, even gracefully giving it up. Blindsided by an act that instantly gutted most of his "arguments" - Biden is bad and old - Trump asked the manager for a refund after spending time and money "fighting Crooked Joe Biden. Now, we have to start all over again." Then he reached out in gracious commiseration with Biden. Just kidding. He kicked him while down, wildly projecting: "(He) was not fit to run for President, and is certainly not fit to serve - And never was!...The Worst President, by far, in the History of our Nation" (no you piece-of-shit ghoul, that's you) "just quit the race in COMPLETE DISGRACE!" True to the racist, sexist tenets of his political rise, he mocked Harris' laugh with, "I call her Laffin’ Kamala. She’s crazy"; Hannity called her laugh "just one reason voters seem to detest Kamala Harris." Trump also desperately charged she wants to "reduce the amount of red meat you can eat." Um, ok.

MAGA world, spiraling, likewise flung crackpot theories, scattershot charges, rumored coups - "These people are coup-coup" - likening Biden voluntarily stepping aside to "all those people falling out of windows in Russia." Biden suspiciously underlined his signature in his resignation letter; he posted his endorsement of Harris to Twitter but everyone knows he doesn't use social media; he's dying because his brother called him a "hero" who should "enjoy whatever time we have left"; he's dead because he changed his Twitter banner to "Harris For President" and "that's exactly what a dead man would say." Thankfully, Lauren Boebert was on it. "I demand proof of life from Joe Biden today by 5 pm," she proclaimed, like the time she demandedthe EPA chief repeal all environmental regulations because they were "unconstitutional." "He needs to get in front of a camera and discuss if he's aware he dropped out. Hiding is completely unacceptable." One patriot: "I demand proof of brain by Granny Beetleboob today by 5:00 p.m."

Then Vance joined in. "Joe Biden is dead. Or almost dead. Or mostly dead. And has been dead for 3 years, and the Dems lied to us the whole time." Also, "History will remember Joe Biden as not just a quitter, which he is, but as one of the worst presidents in the history of the United States. Kamala Harris is a million times worse and everybody knows it." (Damn, now he's talking like him too). More: The uppity black lady never showed any "gratitude" toward America; just like other welfare queens, and him (veteran and bad senator ), "All she did was collect a government check" as prosecutor, A.G., senator. (New GOP slogan: "No Dog Whistles, Only Megaphones!") Also, racism is okay by us - in a new (lying) ad: "Whatever you call it, we will put America first" - and in his first solo campaign speech - "Democrats say it's racist to do anything" - with blue suit, red tie, wooden delivery, lame Mountain Dew jokes thudding into a befuddled silence. It turns out Vance isn't just a fascist sycophant who wrote Project 2025's foreword; he's also really bad at this. Jeb-Bush bad, and so deadly dull even Fox News cut away from him. Because only the best people.

Obviously - see woman of color - MAGA was happy to pile on. "(Harris is) a DEI hire," squawked Tennessee Rep. Tim Burchett. "When you go down that route, you get mediocrity." "Kamala was in on it. She covered up Joe's obvious mental decline," raved a super-PAC ad. “She knew Joe couldn't do the job, so she did it. A border invasion, runaway inflation, the American Dream dead.” She's "a FRAUD," "a shameless LIAR whose coverup is the scandal of the century," "unoriginal, annoying, and highly incompetent," "not a natural born citizen," being funded by "Ukrainian ghost dollars," not been "properly vetted" though she didn't shoot a dog, and she's against plastic straws. Kellyanne Conway, "She does not speak well." Her ex: "Not everyone can express themselves (with) such exquisite turns of phrase as (Trump)." Stephen 'Discount Goebbels' Miller had a "hypersonic meltdown" about Dems' "full-frontal" assault on democracy: "They had ballots! They filled out circles!" So did Don Jr. about Kamala being so radical she's said we should consider giving felons in prison the right to vote, but he thinks his felon should be president. Go figure.

MAGA officials aren't just kvetching; they're scrambling to stop progress. They filed an FEC complaint arguing Dems can't rename their campaign from "Biden" to "Harris for President" and access its $91 million. They're reportedly introducing an impeachment resolution against Harris, asking the House to investigate Harris, and demanding Biden be removed under the 25th Amendment; it's unclear if they understand that would make Harris, yes, president. And they're likely trying to figure out what to do with all that merch - Let's Go Brandon flags, Fuck Joe Biden signs, bound-and-gagged Biden truck wraps. By now Harris has her own merch: a President Harris Barbie and a flood of coconut-themed products honoring her story about her mother telling her and her sister, "I don’t know what’s wrong with you young people - you think you just fell out of a coconut tree? You exist in the context of all in which you live, and what came before you." Meanwhile, much of a newly fired-up America is "hope-scrolling," and the satirical New York Times Pitchbot is posting, "I said Biden should drop out. But now that he has, I think it was a mistake."

In a glad show of unity, Dems have raised a record $126 million - with zero going to defense attorneys' fees - for Harris, and about $250 million ballotwide, most in small donations. Over 74,000 volunteers have signed up to work for the campaign; over 2,200 delegates, more than needed, have already endorsed Harris, and Beyoncé has given permission to use her scintillating “Freedom” in the campaign. In her first appearance at Wilmington headquarters, Harris highlighted her hard-core experience as a prosecutor and attorney general bringing felons to account: "In those roles I took on perpetrators of all kinds. Predators who abused women. Fraudsters who ripped off consumers. Cheaters who broke the rules for their own gain. So hear me when I say I know Donald Trump's type.” Many are celebrating that singular felicity of her past. Maryland Gov. Wes Moore: Trump "is about to find out being (President) is a Black job." Also, "Trump is probably too stupid to realize this yet, but Kamala and the rest of America's women are going to fuck him up," and, "Nothing says women refuse to accept second-class citizenship like electing one."

En route, much ugliness remains. Trump's still raving about "lunatic," "Lyin,'" Kamala (mispronounced) and her "terrible pole (sic) numbers against a fine and brilliant young man named DONALD J. TRUMP!" #Cognitivedecline. Right-wing vitriol has cranked up 525% on 4chan: "AIPAC slut Kamala," "how many dicks did she ride?", Doug Emhoff as her "cuckboy" and "Jewish handler," the evil "Indian-Jew axis." But hope hovers in the air. Joe called in from quarantine to assure staff "the name changed, the mission hasn't," urge them to "embrace her," and tell Harris, "I'm watching you, kid. You're the best." And he gave a soaring, hate vs. hope farewell speech. Some speculate canny Joe - 'the dude knows politics" - planned it all, "playing the GOP and media like a cheap violin: 'I'm not dropping out, I'm not dropping out, oh look they picked a rabid weasel for VP and had their Nazi-fest. Huh. I'm dropping out motherfuckers.'" When she wins, they say, pack SCOTUS while Joe eats ice cream, does one-arm push-ups, and practices donuts in his Corvette. Dark Brandon, Laffin' Kamala and a Black woman president: "This era's last word in poetic justice."

"What kind of country do we want to live in?" - fierce first ad from Kamala Harris

Tony Chang (L) and Sal Miranda install no-cost solar panels

New EPA Funding Boosts Clean Energy Projects Across US

More than $4 billion in new funding for the Inflation Reduction Act's anti-pollution grants will help to "deliver a better, cleaner future for America," said one climate action coalition on Monday as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it would fund 25 new renewable energy and other projects across the country.

The agency unveiled $4.3 billion in new spending, the result of nearly 300 applications that were submitted by state, local, and tribal governments for the Climate Pollution Reduction Grants (CPRG) included in the IRA—President Joe Biden's $396 billion infrastructure and climate bill passed in 2022.

The 25 applications that were chosen for this round of grants came from 13 states and state coalitions, 11 cities and towns, and one native tribe.

The EPA said the grants could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 971 million metric tons by 2050, roughly equivalent to the emission of 5 million homes.

The climate action group Evergreen Action noted that during negotiations over the IRA, it championed the CPRG program because it recognizes that "states, tribal nations, and local governments have a central role to play in America's clean energy transition."

"Thoughtfully implemented, these grants will help alleviate pollution and health risks for millions of overburdened and underserved people in our region."

The implementation funding announced by the EPA will turn plans for a renewable energy expansion "into a reality" for cities and states across the country, said Rachel Patterson, Evergreen Action state policy adviser.

"We appreciate the EPA team for ensuring that this program will deliver new reductions in climate pollution alongside tangible benefits for communities across the country," said Patterson. "Let's get to work."

The funding that will be distributed by the EPA in the early fall, said EPA Administrator Michael Regan, includes:

  • $450 million for the New England Heat Pump Accelerator in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, speeding up the adoption of cold-climate air-source heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, and ground source heat pumps in more than 500,000 residential buildings;
  • $248.9 million for the Clean Corridor Coalition in New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, and Maryland, to build electric vehicle charging stations for commercial trucks on Interstate 95;
  • $430.2 million to advance building and industry decarbonization, freight electrification, climate-smart agriculture, and renewable energy deployment in Illinois, which aims to achieve 100% carbon-free power by 2045;
  • $396 for the Reducing Industrial Sector Emissions in Pennsylvania (RISE PA) program; and
  • $307 million to reduce agricultural waste and improve energy efficiency in homes and buildings in Nebraska.

The Native tribe that will receive funding is the Nez Percé Tribe, which submitted an application for funds to retrofit homes.

The U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of governors who represent 55% of the U.S. population and 60% of the nation's economy, said it had collectively secured approximately $2.6 billion of the newly announced grants, providing "direct funding to 14 alliance states to implement ambitious measures that deliver significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and substantial community benefits."

Casey Katims, executive director of the alliance, said the coalition's members "are home to many of the world's most impactful climate solutions."

"With this huge new injection of federal funding, leading states will turn their innovative plans into bold action," said Katims.

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) applauded the funding awarded to southern states including Virginia, which is set to receive nearly $100 million to improve air quality in underserved communities by controlling methane pollution from current and former coal mines and landfills, and South Carolina, where cities will receive $8 million to deploy municipal solar power and "smart surface" projects to reduce extreme heat and flooding.

"EPA created an unprecedented opportunity for state and local leaders to take climate action in the south," said SELC climate initiative leader Alys Campaigne. "Thoughtfully implemented, these grants will help alleviate pollution and health risks for millions of overburdened and underserved people in our region."

People hold "Vote Union Yes!" signs

Report Shows How Lawmakers in GOP-Dominated South Harm Workers

"For at least the last 40 years, pay and job quality for workers across the South has been inferior compared to other regions—thanks to the racist and anti-worker Southern economic development model."

That's according to a Thursday report by Chandra Childers, a senior policy and economic analyst at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The new publication is part of her "Rooted in Racism and Economic Exploitation" series.

Previous documents in the series have discussed how "Southern politicians claim that 'business-friendly' policies lead to an abundance of jobs and economic prosperity" but in reality, their failed model is designed "to extract the labor of Black and brown Southerners as cheaply as possible" and has resulted in "economic underperformance."

"Because of the political opposition to unions, when workers try to organize, employers know that they can illegally intimidate them, refuse to recognize the union, or negotiate a contract in bad faith."

Thursday's report dives into various elements of the Southern economic development model, which "is characterized by low wages, limited regulations on businesses, a regressive tax system, subsidies that funnel tax dollars to the wealthy and corporations, a weak safety net, and staunchly anti-union policies and practices."

Childers uses a U.S. Census Bureau definition of the South, which includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

The EPI report highlights that "Southern states have lower median wages than other regions," "low-wage workers make up a larger share of the workforce across the South," and "every state that lacks a state minimum wage" is in the region.

The publication also points out the decline of coverage from employer-provided health insurance and pensions in the South, as well as how workers there "have less access to paid leave than their peers in other regions" and "Southern state lawmakers have also disempowered local communities."

"Across the South, most states have passed so-called right-to-work laws, with the exceptions of Delaware, Maryland, and the District of Columbia," Childers detailed. "Right-to-work laws do not, in any way, guarantee workers will have access to a job if they want one. They simply make it harder for unions to be financially sustainable."

"In addition to right-to-work laws and the overall opposition from political leaders across the region, workers seeking to organize a union typically face intense opposition from employers," she continued. "Further, because of the political opposition to unions, when workers try to organize, employers know that they can illegally intimidate them, refuse to recognize the union, or negotiate a contract in bad faith—with little to no fear of being held accountable by political leaders."

While "there are city and county officials who support higher minimum wages and access to pensions and paid leave for workers" in the South, she explained, their ability to take action is limited by preemption, which "is when state policymakers either block a local ordinance or dismantle an existing ordinance" intended to help the working class.

Childers' report doesn't explicitly point fingers at particular political parties, but the region has been largely dominated by Republican officials during the past four decades covered by the analysis.

While the Republican presidential campaign of former President Donald Trump is clearly making a play for working-class voters by selecting Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio) as the vice presidential candidate and inviting International Brotherhood of Teamsters general president Sean O'Brien to speak at this week's convention—provoking criticism from progressive politicians and labor leaders—Southern GOP leaders continue to display disdain toward efforts to organize workers.

As Volkswagen employees in Tennessee began voting on whether to join the United Auto Workers in April, six Southern GOP governors put out a joint statement saying they were "highly concerned about the unionization campaign driven by misinformation and scare tactics that the UAW has brought into our states."

EPI said at the time that the governors' anti-union statement "clearly shows how scared they are that workers organizing with UAW to improve jobs and wages will upend the highly unequal, failed anti-worker economic development model of Southern states."

The Chattanooga vote was a success, but the following month organizers faced a tough loss at a pair of Mercedes-Benz plants in Alabama, where the UAW is now seeking a new election. Meanwhile, regional GOP policymakers have ramped up attacks on unions, advancing legislation that makes organizing harder.

"To begin to work toward changing the Southern economic development model," Childers argued, "it will be important for Southerners from all backgrounds—across race, ethnicity, gender, immigrant statuses, and income levels—to stand together and build the coalitions needed to demand policymakers create a new economic development model."

The expert urged people across the South to fight for a model that includes a living wage, guaranteed health insurance, pensions, and paid leave.

"Finally, and perhaps most important, workers must be able to come together in a union to demand fair wages and benefits, a safe working environment, and the ability to have a say about their workplace—even when politicians are intransigent," she stressed. "This is a model that would serve the interests of all Southerners."

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.)

'What's the Holdup?' Menendez to Resign Next Month

One day after the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee notified Sen. Bob Menendez that it had voted to move toward a potential vote on expelling him from the upper chamber of Congress, the New Jersey Democrat told Gov. Phil Murphy that he would resign, effective August 20.

Menendez announced his resignation a week after he was convicted of 16 counts of bribery and acting as a foreign agent.

But with senators and members of the U.S. House long having called on the lawmaker to resign over the federal bribery charges, one leading ethics group asked why Menendez was waiting nearly a month to leave office.

"What's the holdup?" asked Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

Menendez was convicted last week of accepting bribes from three businessmen and acting as a foreign agent on behalf of the Egyptian government. He pleaded not guilty.

CREW promptly called on Menendez to resign after his conviction, saying he had spent years "ducking accountability for corruption."

"There is no room in the Senate for a convicted felon, especially not one convicted of taking bribes," said CREW president Noah Bookbinder last week. "He must resign today or be immediately expelled."

Manu Raju of CNN pointed out that the August 20 resignation date allows Menendez "to collect another taxpayer-funded paycheck."

Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.), the chair and vice chair of the Senate Ethics Committee, respectively, said Monday that the panel had voted to begin "an adjudicatory review of [Menendez's] alleged violations of Senate Rules."

"An adjudicatory review is required when the committee considers disciplinary actions, such as expulsion or censure," said the senators.

Bloomberg reporter Steven Dennis noted that lawmakers' resignation before their colleagues have a chance to recommend their expulsion is "a pattern throughout history."

Menendez was convicted of using his influence to meddle in three state and federal criminal cases to protect his associates, as well as taking actions that benefited the government of Egypt in exchange for bribes. Prosecutors said he ghostwrote a letter to his Senate colleagues about lifting a hold on military aid to Egypt. He did the favors in exchange for stacks of gold bars and $480,000 in cash that he hid in his home.

The senator wrote to Murphy that "I fully intend to appeal the jury's verdict, all the way and including to the Supreme Court."

Menendez's term was set to expire in January 2025; following his resignation, Murphy will be empowered to appoint someone to serve for the remainder of the senator's term. U.S. Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) is running to replace Menendez and is favored to win against Republican Curtis Bagshaw. The disgraced senator also launched a bid last month to run for his seat as an Independent.

Kim said Tuesday that Menendez had "made the right decision for New Jersey by agreeing to step down next month."

"It's time for New Jersey to move forward," he said. "We have big challenges ahead of us, and we can only tackle them if we show the people of our state that this is the beginning of a new era of politics built on integrity, service, and delivering for all families."

Haitian migrants crowded on a boat at sea

Death of 40 Haitians in Boat Fire Shows 'Crucial Need' for Safe, Legal Migration: UN

United Nations experts on Friday renewed calls to protect migrants following the death of at least 40 Haitians in a boat fire in the Atlantic Ocean.

The New York Timesreported that over 80 people were packed into the vessel when it caught fire off the coast of Cap-Haïtien en route to the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The United Nations' International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that 41 migrants were rescued by the Haitian Coast Guard, with 11 of the survivors including burn victims rushed to the nearest hospital.

"This devastating event highlights the risks faced by children, women, and men migrating through irregular routes, demonstrating the crucial need for safe and legal pathways for migration," said Grégoire Goodstein, IOM's chief of mission for Haiti. "Haiti's socio-economic situation is in agony. The extreme violence over the past months has only brought Haitians to resort to desperate measures even more."

Haiti is enduring a humanitarian and security crisis in which over 1,000 people have been killed, wounded, or abducted by members of gangs that control much of the capital, Port-au-Prince. Hundreds of Kenyan police officers have been deployed to Haiti as part of a multinational force tasked with restoring order.

According to IOM:

The lack of economic opportunities, a collapsing health system, school closures, and the absence of prospects are pushing many to consider migration as the only way to survive... IOM research found that 84% of migrants returned had left to seek job opportunities abroad. For the vast majority of Haitians, regular migration is an extremely challenging journey to consider, let alone pursue, leaving many seeing irregular migration as their only option, a particularly life-threatening one in most instances.

IOM said the Haitian Coast Guard "has observed an increase in the number of attempts and departures by boat" in recent months.

"Coast guards from countries in the region, including the United States, the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Jamaica have also reported a growing number of boats originating from Haiti being intercepted at sea," the group said. "More than 86,000 migrants have been forcibly returned to Haiti by neighboring countries this year. In March, despite a surge in violence and the closure of airports throughout the country, forced returns increased by 46%, reaching 13,000 forced returns in March alone."

Amid pressure from hundreds of advocacy groups—and alleged abuse of Haitian migrants by U.S. border authorities—the Biden administration in 2022 extended deportation protections, known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS), for more than 100,000 Haitians already in the United States through this August 3. This marked a departure from the administration's earlier mass deportation of Haitian asylum-seekers.

Last month, the administration further extended TPS eligibility for over 300,000 Haitians in the U.S. for an additional 18 months, a move hailed by migrant rights advocates.

Rights Group Demands End to Detention and Mistreatment of Palestinian Children

Rights Group Demands End to Detention and Mistreatment of Palestinian Children

Save the Children on Monday said that Palestinian children in Israeli detention increasingly face starvation, disease, and abuse including sexual violence, and called for a moratorium on the arrest of children and the release of all those "arbitrarily" detained.

The nonprofit's statement, which includes testimony from two 17-year-olds who were in detainment late last year, comes following a number of reports since October 7 of abuse in Israeli detention centers, including of minors. About 650 Palestinian children from the West Bank have been detained by Israel in the last nine months, as well as hundreds from Gaza; roughly 250 in total are reportedly still detained.

"We've been working alongside our partner on the ground and speaking to hundreds of former child detainees in the past years, and we have never seen such devastation and hopelessness," Jeremy Stoner, Save the Children's regional director for the Middle East, said in the statement.

"These children are trapped, unable to move or see the sun, forced into crowded cells with appalling, unsanitary conditions, and subject to severe abuse and violence," he added. "The children we spoke to have endured horrors an adult should never witness, let alone a child."

Save the Children, which has worked in Palestine since 1953, has previously called for a moratorium on child detention and the release of child detainees in Israel, which is the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes children in military courts. Israeli forces detained roughly 500 to 700 Palestinian children every year even before the war, with "stone throwing" being the most common charge—an offense that can carry a 20-year sentence.

In 2022, Save the Children documented the negative impact of family separation on child detainees, who are often denied their right to contact loved ones. In July 2023, the group released a report showing that 86% of Palestinian children detained in Israeli centers were beaten and 69% were strip-searched. Some experienced sexual violence or were transferred between locations in small cages, the report said.

Reports have grown more dire since the war began. In February, Save the Children and partner organizations warned that conditions for children in Israeli detention centers were growing more violent and crowded, with a higher level of abuse and inhumane treatment. In May, whistleblowers who worked at the centers revealed "barbaric" conditions and mistreatment, including of women and children, in line with the findings of human rights organizations.

Last week, Amnesty International said that Israel was engaging in "rampant torture"—all 27 former detainees who were interviewed, including a 14-year-old boy, said they were tortured—and institutionalizing "enforced disappearance," due to lack of family contact and transparency regarding the legal process.

Save the Children on Monday said that the legal basis for Israel's detention of Palestinian minors was further eroded by last week's advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice, the United Nations' top court, which said that Israel's occupation of Gaza and the West Bank is unlawful and must end "as rapidly as possible."

The new statement details the stories of two 17 year olds from the West Bank, referred to by the pseudonyms Firas and Qusay, who were detained prior to October 7 and released at the end of 2023. Qusay reported that newer detainees were as young as 12 and 13 years old.

"The younger children were really scared and kept crying, I wanted to take care of them, but when I asked the prison guard to allow me to stay with them, I was violently beaten," he told Save the Children.

Firas, who was in a different detention center than Qusay, said that a surge of children were detained in the first five days after the October 7 attack, after which conditions rapidly deteriorated.

"The horrors we endured made me think that pre-war life in prison was heaven," Firas said.

Both teenagers faced tick infestations, with Qusay covered in bites upon his release and Firas recalling that he used a lighter to burn ticks. The Palestinian Commission for Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs has also warned of infectious skin diseases like scabies spreading in the centers.

"One child prisoner had a severe rash, so we asked the guard to allow him to sit in the sun or clean his body," Qusay said. "The guard said, 'Call me back when he's dead.""

For detained minors, the suffering doesn't end with detention itself. Child psychologists report that released Palestinian children struggle to recover from the shock of detainment and live in fear of being re-arrested, which can prevent them from planning for the future.

"They can't make decisions," an unnamed child psychologist told Save the Children. "They say, 'Why would I think of tomorrow if they will re-arrest me.' Their families describe them as 'frozen.""