Economist Joseph Stiglitz on Pro-Palestine campus protests, Trump and rethinking freedom

Economist Joseph Stiglitz on Pro-Palestine campus protests, Trump and rethinking freedom

The astonishing radicalism of Florida’s new ban on abortion

“In spring 2022, just months before the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Republicans in Florida passed a law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, down from the previous legal threshold of 24 weeks. It took effect that summer, but advocates for reproductive rights challenged it in state court as unconstitutional.
One year later, Republicans in Florida took even more aggressive action against reproductive freedom: Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new bill to restrict abortion at six weeks of pregnancy. But the fate of that law rested on what the court would decide about the 15-week ban. If it decided that ban was legal, the six-week ban would be, too.

In early April, nearly two years after challengers first filed their lawsuit, the Florida Supreme Court finally issued its ruling: The 15-week ban is constitutional under state law, and therefore the six-week ban would take effect 30 days later, on May 1.

In practical terms, six weeks is a total ban. Many people do not even know they’re pregnant by then. Even if they are aware, Florida requires patients seeking abortions to complete two in-person doctor visits with a 24-hour waiting period in between, a challenging logistical burden to meet before 15 weeks and a nearly impossible one before six.

Not only will the six-week ban decimate abortion access for Florida residents, but it will also significantly curtail care for people across the South, who have been traveling to Florida from more restrictive states since Roe was overturned. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research group, there were 8,940 more abortions in Florida in 2023 compared to 2020—a 12 percent increase that researchers attribute largely to travel from out-of-state patients. Residents of Florida’s bordering states face either a total ban (Alabama) or a six-week ban (Georgia).”

Ron DeSantis Could Have Run on a Message of Freedom

“it’s been impossible to escape the feeling that DeSantis’ notion of freedom extended only as far as the preferences of his political tribe.
DeSantis could have been something different. Indeed, he once was a quite different politician. As a backbench congressman during the Obama years, DeSantis was part of the so-called “tea party” movement that pushed for smaller government, less spending, and, yes, more freedom. In his first political book, Dreams From Our Founding Fathers, DeSantis argued for the merits of constitutionally limited government. During his three terms in Congress, DeSantis backed plans to balance the budget and reform entitlement programs, and he spoke of the need to restrain Washington’s “put it on the credit card mentality.” As governor of Florida, he was relatively restrained in imposing COVID controls—and stood by that approach when large swaths of the media denounced him for it.

“But as governor, DeSantis also earned a reputation for tax-funded political stunts and for expanding government with little regard for civil liberties.

Remnants of the earlier DeSantis were still evident during his governorship and his failed bid for the presidency. The two halves of DeSantis’ personality sat awkwardly alongside one another, and that’s surely part of the reason why he struggled to connect with voters. His message of freedom was fundamentally incongruous with much of what he’d bragged about accomplishing in office.”

How a Judge in India Prevented Americans From Seeing a Blockbuster Report

“the news agency Reuters published an eye-opening cybersecurity investigation bylined by Washington-based reporters and full of news of interest to Americans. But Americans aren’t allowed to read the story anymore — by order of a court in India.
It’s a disturbing turn of events that couldn’t have happened in the pre-internet era, when publishing — and censorship — were largely local affairs.”

““If you are the Iowa Daily Beagle, and you publish a story that upsets some company in India, that company can go to an Indian court and get whatever injunction they want,” said Charles Glasser, who spent 12 years as the global media counsel for Bloomberg News and is the author of a book on international libel law. “But if the Iowa Daily Beagle has no assets in India and does no business in India, they can’t do much. It becomes more of an issue for international publishers, like Reuters. They certainly have resources there, and they are subject to the jurisdiction of the Indian court.”

Of course, Glasser notes, publishers have the ability to geofence content, making it so that an American reader can access a certain page while an Indian reader cannot. But that can backfire. Particularly in a country with historic reasons to be prickly about Western condescension, a judge is likely to take it as a sign of disrespect if an order is ignored beyond the border — not a good move if you are facing trial.

The upshot: Readers in America, where prior restraint is forbidden and where courts won’t enforce foreign rulings that violate the First Amendment, are blocked from reading a story based on a legal complaint that would be tossed out of most American courts.”

A guide to Ron DeSantis’s most extreme policies in Florida

“This legislative term, the governor and his fellow Republicans waged culture wars everywhere from the classroom to the bathroom to Disney World, making the state a pioneer of some of the most extreme right-wing policies in the US.
DeSantis’s legislative agenda in Florida — which he has framed as a “blueprint” for America — has targeted immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, Black Americans, and women, as well as the corporations who come to their defense. And state lawmakers have advanced DeSantis’s own political career at the expense of transparency and accountability. That’s all been done in the name of wooing an activist GOP base, which still loves former President Donald Trump and has given him a historically large lead in Republican primary polls.”

“DeSantis signed a law that imposes felony penalties on health care workers who provide gender-affirming care for minors. The law includes a unique provision that could allow some parents to ask Florida courts to override other states’ custody decisions for children receiving gender-affirming care, though it only applies to a narrow set of circumstances. Advocates are challenging parts of the law on an emergency basis in court, arguing that it violates parents’ fundamental rights to make medical decisions for their children and that it violates the Constitution by discriminating against transgender children.”

“Bathroom bill: DeSantis has made it illegal for Floridians to use bathrooms and changing facilities that don’t correspond with their sex at birth.”

“Gender identity: Florida expanded DeSantis’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law to place additional restrictions on the teaching of “human sexuality” through high school and to require that schools promote abstinence from sex outside of marriage and monogamous heterosexual marriage. That law also prevents schools from requiring that teachers use pronouns that align with their students’ gender identity and declares that it is “false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to such person’s sex.””

“Drag shows: He also signed a law that bars establishments from allowing minors to watch an “adult live performance” that “depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or specific sexual activities.” Though the law is intended to target drag shows, many drag shows do not include any such content.”

“The legislature has approved a bill that bars most abortions after six weeks, with some exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. In cases of rape and incest, a person would have to provide documentation like a restraining order in order to obtain an abortion up to 15 weeks. The legislation would penalize physicians who knowingly violate its parameters with potential fines or jail time. The policy won’t take effect until the state’s Supreme Court makes a decision on its existing 15-week abortion ban.”

“One new law bars public colleges and universities from funding efforts that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, also known as DEI. DEI programming typically examines disparities and focuses on how marginalized groups can be better represented in staffing or curriculum. Opponents of the law worry that it could drive away students and faculty, while supporters argue that such programs are used to quell dissent.”

“A new policy also bans the state’s public colleges and universities from offering general education courses about “identity politics” and the idea that “systemic racism” is “inherent in the institutions of the United States.” This law expands restrictions DeSantis previously pushed in the K-12 system to higher education.”

“The legislature amplified the state’s efforts at book banning, with a new law that mandates that certain books can be pulled from school shelves for review within five days of a person flagging it as concerning. At least one Florida school district has already faced a lawsuit over its approach to book banning due to concerns that it violates free speech rights.”

“There has been $12 million allocated for flights that DeSantis can use to transport migrants from Florida to other states. DeSantis gained national attention for flying migrants from San Antonio, Texas to Martha’s Vineyard; and now faces a lawsuit over that stunt.”

“DeSantis signed a law nullifying an agreement that would have allowed Disney to continue to develop and maintain its theme parks in Florida with relative independence. Disney consequently sued DeSantis for waging a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power” over the company. It’s part of a long-running feud between the governor and Disney, which started when company executives spoke out last year against what critics call Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bans classroom discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation.”

“DeSantis signed a law eliminating the requirements to report where he goes and who he meets with in an official capacity, insulating him from public scrutiny as he launches his presidential campaign.”

“DeSantis signed a law that relaxes campaign finance reporting requirements for state political committees, which currently disclose their fundraising figures monthly. That applies to DeSantis’s state political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, which reported about $86 million cash on hand as of the end of April.”

“the bill introduces new fines for outside voter registration groups and requires they provide a receipt when they help someone fill out a voter registration application — a measure that Democrats say could have a chilling effect on minority voters who tend to register through these groups.”

What ‘Freedom’ Means to Ron DeSantis

“DeSantis talks a lot about freedom, and even more about the supposed threats to it. For the governor, those seem to lurk everywhere, from drag shows to Disney and from undocumented immigrants to corporate “diversity, equity, and inclusion” efforts. In his new book, titled The Courage To Be Free, and in speeches like the one he gave on April 1 to a crowd of local elected officials and conservative activists in central Pennsylvania, DeSantis portrays Florida as a place that’s been able to withstand the myriad assaults on freedom because he’s been willing (and eager) to deploy the power of the state.
But he rarely offers much in the way of a definition of freedom, preferring instead, one assumes, to let everyone in the audience define the thing for themselves. When he does get into specifics, it’s usually to draw some telling distinctions.

“For years, the default conservative posture has been to limit government,” he writes in the new book. That idea must be discarded, he adds: “Elected officials who do nothing more than get out of the way are essentially green-lighting these institutions to continue their unimpeded march through society.”

This is no small thing. For ages, conservatives have often echoed the libertarian idea that government is the greatest threat to Americans’ freedom. DeSantis postulates a different idea: What if it isn’t?”

“DeSantis got a warm reception and earned several extended ovations—the longest and loudest, by far, coming after he promised to support legislation in Florida to revoke medical licenses from doctors who perform gender-affirming surgeries on minors.

At the risk of stating the obvious, that’s a limitation on Floridians’ freedoms. Imposing such limits has been a recurring element of DeSantis’ term. He is now pushing for even more, including felony charges for anyone who shelters or employs undocumented immigrants and a new ban on abortion after just six weeks of pregnancy. It’s a tricky thing to sell this impulse to regulate individuals’ choices as a campaign to protect freedom. But that’s what DeSantis is trying to do at events like the Pennsylvania conference.”

“You can have the freedom to send your kid to any school you’d like in Florida—as long as it’s a school that teaches a curriculum the governor approves.”

States Try to Reform Prostitution Laws—for Better and Worse

“State lawmakers in at least six states have recently introduced bills related to sex work. Some of these measures would decriminalize prostitution, while others would stipulate stronger criminal penalties for prostitution.
States considering the former have the right idea. Decriminalizing prostitution has been linked to an array of positive outcomes, from lower rates of sexual violence and sexually transmitted infections overall to less violence against sex workers. It means fewer law enforcement resources wasted on policing consensual activity between adults, freeing up time and money for stopping and solving serious crimes. It’s supported by organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, and the World Health Organization. It’s also in line with what sex workers around the world say they need.”

Florida’s Rejection of an AP African American Studies Course Is a Rejection of School Choice

“The College Board is a nonprofit organization that administers college entrance exams and develops Advanced Placement (AP) courses for high school students that earn them college credits. They’ve developed a pilot program for an African American Studies class that they plan to launch in 60 schools across the U.S. over the next school year. They did intend for one Florida school to offer the class. They hope to start offering the class in all high schools by the 2024–25 school year and begin administering exams in spring 2025. High school students who pass those exams would earn college credit for taking the class.
Florida’s Department of Education looked at the class, and flat-out rejected it, with officials saying it would indoctrinate students with “a political agenda” and lacked educational value. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Press Secretary Bryan Griffin* said, “As submitted, the course is a vehicle for a political agenda and leaves large, ambiguous gaps that can be filled with additional ideological material, which we will not allow.”

Well, it is a history class, after all. Once you get past the names and dates, history studies political agendas and ideology. Certainly, that would have to be the case for a black history class in America.”

“No AP class is mandatory. Parents and students can decide whether they want to it.”