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Over 40,000 Americans have emailed their Congress members at SkipTheSpeech.org and over 20,000 have signed a petition linked-to from the site. The page reads:
"Join us in raising our voices to protest Netanyahu's speech, not because it's a partisan snub, nor because the date is close to the Israeli elections, but because Netanyahu is going to Washington to undermine the U.S. strategy of diplomacy with Iran. Instead of letting diplomacy work, Netanyahu wants the U.S. to impose harsher sanctions on Iran, all but ensuring that talks collapse and increasing the risk of war. Raise your voice now and tell Congress to boycott Netanyahu's speech."
The message sent to Congress members (plus any additions or edits made by each constituent) reads:
"As U.S. voters, we are outraged that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was invited to speak before Congress. He will advocate for additional harsh sanctions on Iran that will undermine the diplomatic process and possibly lead to war. Netanyahu does not speak about peace in good faith--illegal settlements and human rights violations against Palestinians have only increased under his leadership. We ask you not to attend Mr. Netanyahu's speech, and to instead stand with us on the side of diplomacy and justice."
And the petition reads:
"We are outraged that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was invited to speak before Congress. He does not speak about peace in good faith--illegal settlements and human rights violations against Palestinians have only increased under his leadership. Further, he will advocate for additional harsh sanctions on Iran that will undermine the diplomatic process and possibly lead to war. We call on all members of Congress to refuse to attend Netanyahu's speech before Congress and to send the message that anyone who promotes war over peace is not welcome."
Dozens of Congress members have committed to skipping the speech thus far.
SkipTheSpeech.org is a coalition effort of RootsAction.org, American Muslims for Peace, CODEPINK, Friends of Sabeel - North America, Jewish Voice for Peace, and U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.
The #SkipTheSpeech tag in social media is spreading rapidly.
"Who wouldn't, if they could, go back in time and urge the world to skip Colin Powell's UN speech," asked RootsAction campaign coordinator David Swanson. "Netanyahu gave a similar attack-Iraq speech to Congress. His claims about Iran have already been debunked by both the U.S. government and leaks from his own spy agency. As war propaganda is illegal under the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights, Congress members have a duty to boycott and try to prevent this speech."
With over a half-million online members, RootsAction.org is an independent advocacy organization endorsed by many well-respected figures in activism, journalism and progressive politics, including Daniel Ellsberg, Cornel West, Barbara Ehrenreich and Glenn Greenwald.
RootsAction is dedicated to galvanizing people who are committed to economic fairness, equal rights for all, civil liberties, environmental protection -- and defunding endless wars. We mobilize on these issues no matter whether Democrats or Republicans control Washington D.C.
"It's time to finally hold Norfolk Southern and the big rail companies accountable for the harm they have caused in East Palestine and Darlington Township, and the harm they continue to cause with this dangerous, reckless, and selfish behavior."
U.S. Sen. John Fetterman on Thursday demanded accountability for Norfolk Southern and other railroad companies following Wednesday night's freight train derailment in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania.
Local media report nine out of more than 200 cars on a Norfolk Southern train went off the track just before midnight in the town of New Castle, 50 miles north of Pittsburgh and about 10 miles east of the Ohio border.
"This has got to end."
Fire officials said that salt, soybeans, and paraffin wax—used to make candles—spilled from the derailed cars, none of which were carrying hazardous materials. A statement from Norfolk Southern said no one was injured in the accident.
New Castle is also located about 20 miles from East Palestine, Ohio, the site of the fiery Norfolk Southern derailment and chemical burn disaster that spilled cancer-causing dioxin and vinyl chloride into the air, soil, and waterways in the vicinity of the accident.
"It's the same shit, different day from Norfolk Southern," Fetterman (D-Pa.) said in a statement on Thursday afternoon.
\u201chttps://t.co/lliFDm9xzI\nAnother Norfolk Southern train has derailed, this one in New Castle Pennsylvania. This derailment is 30 minutes away from East Palestine. When is Norfolk Southern going to be held accountable for endangering public safety? #publicownership #norfolksouthern\u201d— Northeast PA DSA (@Northeast PA DSA) 1683826695
"It's time to finally hold Norfolk Southern and the big rail companies accountable for the harm they have caused in East Palestine and Darlington Township, and the harm they continue to cause with this dangerous, reckless, and selfish behavior," the freshman senator continued. Darlington Township, Pennsylvania is located about nine miles east of East Palestine.
"I'm thankful that no one was hurt and no toxic material was spilled in New Castle, but this derailment looks way too similar to the ones we've said can't happen again," Fetterman said. "This has got to end."
"I'm proud that my bipartisan bill, the Railway Safety Act, advanced out of committee yesterday," added Fetterman, who has also introduced the Railroad Accountability Act.
"This bill will finally enact commonsense rail safety procedures that would have prevented last night's derailment," the lawmaker asserted of the measure advanced Wednesday. "It's time to pass this bill on the floor and finally hold Norfolk Southern accountable."
"It's 10 days too late," said one protester in New York City. "Yes it's some step towards progress, but we've been waiting too long."
The office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg confirmed Thursday that Daniel Penny, who last week fatally choked Jordan Neely on the subway in New York City, is set to be charged Friday and could face up to 15 years behind bars.
"Daniel Penny will be arrested on a charge of manslaughter in the second degree," Bragg's office said in a statement. "We cannot provide any additional information until he has been arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court, which we expect to take place tomorrow."
While riding the F train on May 1, Neely—a 30-year-old Black subway performer known for impersonating Michael Jackson—was "acting erratically," but he did not attack anyone on the train, according to witness and freelance journalist Juan Alberto Vazquez.
Neely, who was unhoused, shouted about being "fed up and hungry" and "tired of having nothing," said Vazquez—who posted on Facebook footage of Penny putting Neely in a chokehold that the medical examiner concluded killed him.
Penny, a white 24-year-old Marine veteran, was initially questioned and then released by police; his attorneys claim he acted in self-defense.
Meanwhile, the video has spread online and sparked not only demands for justice but also national conversations about homelessness, mental illness, and racism in the United States.
According toNBC New York:
Multiple protests have taken place in Manhattan since Neely's death, with dozens arrested. Protesters again ratcheted up the volume Thursday, even after learning of the charges said to be coming.
"We need people to be held accountable for their actions, however, we don't want this just to be about the need to incarcerate this man," said Jawanza James Williams, the organizing director for Vocal NY.
Still, some said it has taken too long for the charges to come.
"It's 10 days too late," said protester Tanesha Grant. "Yes it's some step towards progress, but we've been waiting too long."
In a Wednesday speech, Democratic New York City Mayor Eric Adams used Neely's death to promote his unpopular policy of addressing NYC's intertwined mental health and homelessness crises with forced hospitalizations.
"There is no evidence supporting Adams' harmful and dangerous rhetoric," responded New York Civil Liberties Union executive director Donna Lieberman. "This kind of stigmatization and fearmongering contributes to the victimization of people with perceived mental illness—the same that led to the killing of Jordan Neely."
"The mayor is right that there are more Jordan Neelys in our city," Lieberman added. "They deserve housing, healthcare, and supportive services to get back on their feet, not to be controlled, criminalized, or killed."
"The court's ruling will undoubtedly put lives at risk," said one policy expert. "It must be reversed."
A federal judge's ruling in Virginia on Thursday once again made clear the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, in which the right-wing majority ruled that laws and regulations pertaining to firearms must fall within the United States' so-called "historical tradition."
The ruling on Thursday was handed down by U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne, a George H.W. Bush appointee, in the case of a 20-year-old who was turned away when he attempted to buy a Glock 19x handgun from a federally licensed dealer.
Under regulations put in place by the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco, and Explosives (ATF) and the Gun Control Act of 1968, federally licensed sellers have been prohibited from selling guns to 18-to-20-year-olds, who have had to make such purchases in private sales.
Payne ruled that "the statutes and regulations in question are not consistent with our nation's history and tradition," and that "therefore, they cannot stand."
The judge made clear in his decision that the ruling was underpinned by Bruen, in which Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion that "constitutional rights are enshrined with the scope they were understood to have when the people adopted them."
According to Payne, the fact that 18-year-olds were permitted to join militias at the time of the nation's founding suggests that buyers should not have to reach age 21 before purchasing handguns from licensed sellers.
"The Second Amendment's protections apply to 18-to-20-year-olds. By adopting the Second Amendment, the people constrained both the hands of Congress and the courts to infringe upon this right by denying ordinary law-abiding citizens of this age the full enjoyment of the right to keep and bear arms unless the restriction is supported by the nation's history," said Payne. "That is what Bruen tells us."
Princeton University professor Eddie S. Glaude Jr. denounced the ruling as "madness," while New York University law professor Chris Sprigman said the decision is the latest result of "America's extremist form of constitutionalism."
\u201cAmerica\u2019s extremist form of constitutionalism strikes again. https://t.co/wlsYXBI4BK\u201d— Chris Sprigman (@Chris Sprigman) 1683835308
Janet Carter, senior director of issues and appeals at gun control advocacy group Everytown Law, pointed to research that shows that "18- to 20-year-olds commit gun homicides at triple the rate of adults 21 years and older."
"The federal law prohibiting federally licensed firearms dealers from selling handguns to individuals under the age of 21 is not just an essential tool for preventing gun violence, it is also entirely constitutional," Carter told The Washington Post. "The court's ruling will undoubtedly put lives at risk. It must be reversed."
Attorneys on both sides of the case said they expected the Biden administration to appeal the ruling.
Numerous polls have shown that the majority of Americans favor stricter gun control measures, and a survey of gun owners taken last year by NPR/Ipsos found that 67% of respondents favored raising the age for any gun purchase from 18 to 21.
"At a moment when Americans are growing more unified and in favor of gun control," said historian Brian Rosenwald, "Clarence Thomas' grotesque, inane opinion in Bruen is going to make all of them illegal."