Sustain Condoms, a company created by the founder of Seventh Generation and his daughter, is preparing to debut socially conscious contraceptives in hopes that women will feel more comfortable purchasing them. The company advertises non-toxic, sustainable latex condoms made from rubber produced by a fair-trade plantation. While the premise has been generally well-received, some have pointed out the sexism in targeting women for their eco-conscious sensibilities, rather than both men and women who have equal stake in safe-sex and sustainable products.
As Holly Richmond from Grist notes, "Sustain thinks fair-trade condoms will primarily appeal to us ladies with our squishy bunny hearts, rather than men, who hate sustainability and only buy brands that sound like monster trucks." Monica Nickelsburg
The Justice Department is stalling on recommended civil rights charges against the police officer who killed Eric Garner in 2014, The New York Times reported Friday. Federal prosecutors have recommended bringing charges against Staten Island police officer Daniel Pantaleo, whose use of a chokehold while subduing Garner on a sidewalk led to Garner's death and sparked the rallying cry, "I can't breathe."
The prosecutors assert that Pantaleo's actions constituted a clear excessive use of force. But the Justice Department is wary of acting on the recommendation because it fears a case against Pantaleo may be lost at trial, the Times explains, as "juries frequently give great deference to police officers for actions carried out under pressure." Pantaleo has said he was trying to execute a different maneuver to subdue Garner — one that would not have put pressure on Garner's neck, like the chokehold did — but that his posture was adjusted in the struggle as he "feared he would be pushed through a storefront window behind him," per the Times.
The department's decision under Attorney General Jeff Sessions is sure to spark backlash, given Sessions' spotty history with race relations as well as the overall posture of the Trump administration. But both Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder, who served as attorneys general under former President Barack Obama, had reservations about the case as well, the Times notes; while Holder was convinced the evidence supported an indictment for Pantaleo, he conceded that prosecutors might lose at trial, and Lynch vacillated for months as to whether charges were truly warranted at all.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has "convened several meetings" as to whether to approve the charges, the Times reports, which have "revealed divisions within the Justice Department." One source told the Times that Rosenstein would likely eventually decline to pursue the case. Read more at The New York Times. Kimberly Alters
The Democratic National Committee is suing the Trump campaign, Russian government, and WikiLeaks for millions of dollars in relation to the 2016 hack of DNC emails and the subsequent election of President Trump, The Washington Post reports. "This constituted an act of unprecedented treachery: the campaign of a nominee for president of the United States in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the presidency," said DNC chairman Tom Perez in a statement.
The DNC claims that high-level Trump campaign officials worked with Russia to hurt Hillary Clinton's chances by stealing Democratic emails and disseminating them via WikiLeaks. The lawsuit is similar to one filed by the party in 1972 over the Nixon re-election campaign's break-in at the Democratic headquarters, The Washington Post reports, which ultimately ended in President Richard Nixon's resignation.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is still conducting his own investigation into whether or not Trump's team colluded with Russia to swing the election. The House Intelligence Committee, which is controlled by Republicans, previously concluded that there is no evidence of such collusion.
Trump is not personally named as a defendant in the DNC lawsuit, although his son Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort are. Russia's GRU military intelligence service is also named as a defendant, as is WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Jeva Lange
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer (D), a chill dude, formally introduced his bill to legalize marijuana Friday.
Schumer outlined his support for decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level in a Medium post, being careful to stipulate that he still believes individual states should be able to regulate the drug's consumption and sale as they wish. His proposal "will allow each state to ultimately decide how they will treat marijuana," Schumer wrote.
The senator acknowledged that his proposal reflected a change in his thinking. He attributed his attitudinal shift to, in large part, the evolving perceptions of the public: "When I first came to Congress in 1981, only 1 in 4 Americans believed marijuana should be made legal," he wrote. He also spelled out the skewed legal ramifications of criminalized marijuana:
When looking at the support for legalization that clearly exists across wide swaths of the American population, it is difficult to make sense of our existing laws. Under current federal law, marijuana is treated as though it's as dangerous as heroin and more dangerous than cocaine.
A staggering number of American citizens, a disproportionate number of whom are African-American and Latino, continue to be arrested every day for something that most Americans agree should not be a crime. Meanwhile, those who are entering into the marijuana market in states that have legalized are set to make a fortune. [Chuck Schumer, via Medium]
Schumer's bill will also "inject real dollars into minority and women-owned businesses" to try to offset the racialized nature of marijuana arrests, he said.
The senator spoke to Vice News about his proposal, in an interview that aired late Thursday, where he also signed a bong. Read more about Schumer's proposal — a proposal he released on April 20 — at Medium. Kimberly Alters
Students are back in the streets protesting gun violence for the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting
Thousands of students are expected to walk out of their classrooms in protest of gun violence Friday, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre that left 13 people dead in 1999. It is the second major national school walkout in response to gun violence since a shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school earlier this year.
Walkouts are planned at 2,000 schools around the nation, with at least one in every U.S. state, The New York Times reports. The demonstrations also include 13 seconds of silence, for each of the Columbine victims, or 19 minutes, for the years passed since the shooting:
Students in Tampa, Florida walk out of class as part of more than 2,000 events nationwide aiming to pressure lawmakers over gun reform. https://t.co/3aibt03fs5 #NationalSchoolWalkout pic.twitter.com/6UytoVWwR0
— ABC News (@ABC) April 20, 2018
— Alejandro Alvarez (@aletweetsnews) April 20, 2018
— ABC News (@ABC) April 20, 2018
#NOW: Students from Niskayuna High School walked out and made their way to the town hall next door for a rally. A bus of Schenctady students will join them. #NationalSchoolWalkout pic.twitter.com/xXmZoQaodg
— Leanne DeRosa (@CBS6Leanne) April 20, 2018
Walkouts will continue across the country Friday beginning at 10 a.m. local time. Jeva Lange
Have trumpets gone the way of typewriters, rotary phones, and brick-and-mortar movie rental stores? That was the opening question of the 8 a.m. hour Friday on Fox & Friends as Brian Kilmeade asked his co-hosts over the sounds of Jason Derulo's "Trumpets" whether "you can play the trumpet these days through the organ."
"You mean like push the button and you can hear the … ? I'm sure they have that on fancy keyboards," Ainsley Earhardt replied. An offended Steve Doocy jumped in to ask "why would you want to?" He suggested that if you want to hear trumpet noises, you should "just have somebody play the trumpet, hello!"
"It's hard to find a trumpet player," Kilmeade protested.
As ThinkProgress' Aaron Rupar points out on Twitter, the hosts don't appear aware that the "electronic keyboard was invented decades ago." Watch the amusing debate below. Jeva Lange
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 20, 2018
White House lawyer Ty Cobb confirmed to The Daily Beast on Friday that despite reports to the contrary, President Trump's legal team is still looking into the possibility of an interview between the president and the special counsel. The two parties were believed to be close to reaching an agreement over Trump speaking to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team when the FBI raided the home, hotel, and office of Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
"The Cohen searches, while they have taken time away from discussions with regard to an interview, certainly have not brought those discussions to a halt," said Cobb. "They continue." Another of the president's lawyers, Jay Sekulow, also confirmed: "We continue our ongoing cooperation with the Office of the Special Counsel."
Trump has reportedly been raring to sit down with the special counsel's team, although his allies fear he could say something that would potentially get him into legal trouble. Read why Bonnie Kristian says only a fool would voluntarily talk to Mueller here at The Week. Jeva Lange
The Kushner Cos. confirmed Thursday it received a federal grand jury subpoena for information related to its paperwork on rent-regulated tenants in its buildings in New York City, The Wall Street Journal reports. The subpoena came shortly after The Associated Press reported that the company, which is run by the family of President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, routinely filed false papers with the city claiming there were no rent-regulated tenants in the buildings, even though there were hundreds.
The Kushner Cos. issued a statement saying it has "nothing to hide and is cooperating fully with all legitimate requests for information, including this subpoena." Harold Maass