Clueless NYPD Believes Student Protesters Have Secret Backers - The Monday AM Quickie 5/6/24

Ok you got me – I do want to know more about the mysterious dodecahedron found in "an ancient Roman pit" in England. -Jacob

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Clueless NYPD Believes Student Protesters Have Secret Backers

Having failed to defeat the student-led Gaza solidarity protests on their merits, with overwhelming police force, or with condescending, brow-beating rhetoric, critics are now doubling down on the "outside agitator" canard. The NYPD and New York City Mayor Eric Adams have emphasized in press briefings that a small number of people arrested at student protests were not students or university staff, which is supposed to be a Bad Thing.

"Who is funding this? What is happening?" wrote Chief John Chell, the NYPD's Chief of Patrol, on X. "There is an unknown entity who is radicalizing our vulnerable students." He vowed to use his department's formidable intelligence bureau to find out.

In TV interviews, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Kaz Daughtry has held up an academic book about terrorism found in the Columbia raid and claimed that it's evidence of student radicalization. It's about as ridiculous as another NYPD official claiming in a televised interview that the use of a bike lock in the Columbia building occupation was evidence of outside forces. The bike lock is sold by Columbia's public safety department.

At Columbia, a 63-year-old Palestinian activist who lost 200 relatives in Gaza was arrested and smeared as an outside agitator. She had been visiting the Gaza solidarity encampment with two of her children, who are award-winning journalists. Similarly, Politico published a misleading article indicating that antiwar groups like Jewish Voices for Peace and Palestine Legal, which have supported student-led protests, are funded by George Soros and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In fact, those billionaires donated to the Tides Foundation, a massive organization that provides funding and administrative support to liberal nonprofits like JVP. But the article has already been taken up by the political right as evidence that the liberal billionaires haunting their paranoid fantasies are directly funding protesters.

The truth – which has been widely reported in great detail! – is that these students protesters are passionate, driven by moral outrage, and self-organized. Coming of age in the era of Black Lives Matter, they're smart enough to learn some best practices around potentially risky political protest. But if the NYPD truly believes that "professional, external actors" are driving protests, then the country's biggest police force is as incompetent as it is violent.

Some other potential terms for "outside agitators" are "community members and experienced activists," the sort of people who, as Astra Taylor and Leah Hunt-Hendrix argue in Jacobin, should be embraced as part of this movement.

Hostage Deal or Not, Netanyahu Says He Will Crush Rafah

The weekend passed without a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, despite some reporting that the two sides were close to a deal. Hamas reportedly wanted any ceasefire to be permanent, which Netanyahu refused. Israel's defense minister accused Hamas of being unserious while Netanyahu, in a televised speech, said that a temporary ceasefire was unacceptable because it would give Hamas time to rearm. Last week, Netanyahu vowed to invade Rafah "with or without a deal," so it does seem like Israel is intent on following through on its threatened ground invasion. In the meantime, as Gazans starve, Israel continued to bomb Rafah over the weekend, killing dozens of people, while a Hamas rocket attack killed three Israeli soldiers.

Trump Once Again Promises To Do A Lot of Evil Stuff

A new Time Magazine interview with former and possibly future president Donald Trump has offered a vivid reminder of his dictatorial aspirations. Among Trump's promises for a second term:

  • Use the US military to arrest and deport 11 million undocumented migrants
  • Pardon January 6 protesters
  • Send the National Guard to cities to fight crime (which Trump thinks, falsely, is rising)
  • Allow states where abortion is illegal to monitor and prosecute women for seeking abortions out of state
  • Grant police immunity from prosecution

The interview doesn't necessarily offer much new, but it's struck a chord with op-ed writers and democracy watchers. It's also drawn more attention to Project 2025, the think tank-led plan to actually put all of team Trump's diabolical aspirations into practice. Trump may be a clownish figurehead, but the people around him have thought this through. Here's the full transcript of the Time interview.


  • Fish Are Getting Smaller In oceans around the world, fish are becoming smaller, possibly in response to climate change, rising water temperatures, and over-fishing (which of course is decreasing the overall number of fish). Scientists are still trying to figure out the how and why, but the trend portends ill for marine ecosystems and for global food supplies. via WaPo.
  • UC Union Prepares for Possible Strike United Auto Workers Local 4811, which represents more than 48,000 workers in the University of California system, may hold a vote to authorize a strike in response to the police raid and violence meted out to Gaza solidarity protesters at UCLA. The union also plans to file unfair labor practice charges against UCLA. via NYT and The Guardian.
  • SEC Says That The Company That Audited Trump Media Committed "Massive Fraud" The SEC charged auditor BF Borgers with fabricating audits and submitting more than 1,500 false SEC filings. The company is paying a $12 million civil penalty and shutting down. Among BF Borgers' clients was, naturally, Trump Media. via SEC and WaPo.
  • People In Sudan Are Eating "Grass and Peanut Shells" In Sudan, which has been torn apart by a year-long civil war, mass hunger is setting in. The World Food Program stated that 1.7 million people in Darfur are facing starvation, with millions more people potentially at risk. via CNN and Associated Press.


$4.2 billion

That's the value of the contract that NASA awarded Boeing in 2014 for the Starliner spacecraft, which, after years of delays and $1.4 billion in cost overruns, is expected to finally launch its first crewed flight today. The flight will take off with two astronauts from Cape Canaveral and will dock about a day later with the International Space Station. The incredibly complex and risky launch is a big deal for Boeing – which has been outpaced by SpaceX – and potentially for the future of NASA's space program.


5/6: Happy Monday! Sam and Emma speak with Eric Klinenberg, professor in social science and Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University, to discuss his recent book 2020: One City, Seven People, and the Year Everything Changed.


Bill Barr Struggles to Defend His Trump Endorsement

The former attorney general is openly mocked by Trump, but that doesn't mean he won't vote for him.

Conservatives Are Scrambling to Stop Lina Khan

David Dayen dials in to talk about FTC chair Lina Khan's antitrust battles and her decision to ban non-compete agreements.


“Joe Biden’s dog has attacked 24 Secret Service people. So how many people is enough people to be attacked and dangerously hurt before you make a decision on a dog?”

-- South Dakota Governor and admitted dog killer Kristi Noem, asking the tough questions about Commander, the snappish Biden family dog that "was sent to an undisclosed location" to prevent it from biting more Secret Service personnel. In her new memoir, Noem wrote about shooting dead a family dog because it was deemed dangerous and bad at hunting (a poor goat was similarly dispatched in a gravel pit). She continues to defend dog killing, apparently thinking that the practice should be more widespread.

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