Editors’ picks: News that didn’t fit

• Busted: Florida utility company allegedly paid ‘journalist’ for hatchet job on candidate 
reported by Ana Kasparian | The Young Turks | Dec. 21 | VIDEO – 10:57 minutes | tinyurl.com/Iguana1504
A Good Morning America producer, Kristen Hentschel, used her connections to try and influence elections while being paid on the side by massive utilities. According to an NPR report, she used her ties with ABC “at least three times to trip up Florida politicians whose stances on environmental regulations cut against the interests” of clients of Matrix LLC, a political consulting firm that was accused of spying on environmentalists and journalists for the benefit of its corporate clients.

• Concerns over disinformation grow after Musk relaxes Twitter ban on political ads
by Jessica Corbett | Common Dreams | Jan. 4 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1507
Twitter has relaxed a ban on political and issue-based advertising that’s been in place for over three years. Critics are concerned about the social media giant serving as “a major new forum for massive amounts of money to be spent to influence politics.”

• Farewell, Brother Staughton
by Carl Mirra | History News Network | Dec. 4 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1498 | Also see story on page 14 of this issue.
Legendary activist, historian and labor lawyer Staughton Lynd died on Nov. 17, days before his 93rd birthday. Along with Howard Zinn, Staughton participated in the legendary Mississippi Freedom Summer, and was a prominent anti-Vietnam war activist. The New York Times called him the “elder statesman of the New Left.” 

• First-of-its-kind study links US gun violence epidemic to climate emergency
by Julia Conley | Common Dreams | Jan. 3 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1508
The research follows several international studies showing the connection between extreme weather events and domestic violence. Thousands of shootings in the U.S. in recent years were attributable to higher-than-average temperatures.

• How to ban 3600 books from school libraries
by Judd Legum and Rebecca Crosby | Popular Information | Dec. 12 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1516
A right-wing extremist has launched a crusade to ban thousands of books from Florida public school libraries with the use of the 2022 “Don’t Say Gay” law. 

• Meet Will Witt, conservative influencer behind pro-DeSantis propaganda operation The Florida Standard
by John Knefel | Media Matters | Dec. 8 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1499
Will Witt, a conservative influencer with a history of making bigoted statements – including referring to LGBTQ people as “groomers” and supporting the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory – is at the center of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ reported efforts to build an alternative conservative media ecosystem in his state. 

• Muzzled by DeSantis, critical race theory professors cancel courses or modify their teaching
by Daniel Golden | ProPublica | Jan. 3 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1500
Seven states, including Florida, have passed legislation aimed at restricting public colleges’ teaching related to critical race theory. As fewer faculty members are protected by tenure, they’re finding it harder to resist laws that ban certain racial topics. Courses, such as “Race and Social Media” and “Race and Ethnicity” are being cancelled; students suffer the consequences.

• Quitter of the year: Ben Sasse
by Jack McCordick | The Soapbox | Dec. 30 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1501
The Nebraska senator is finally getting out of politics – after years of never really getting into it – to take over as the next president of UF. While a senator, he voted in line with Trump’s position 85 percent of the time. Sasse’s previous academic job was president of tiny Nebraska Midland University, where faculty were allegedly forced to sign a loyalty oath, promising not to speak ill of Sasse or the university. 

• White contractors wouldn’t remove Confederate statues. So a Black man did it.
by Gregory S. Schneider | The Washington Post | Jan. 2 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1517
City and state officials turned to Black-owned Team Henry Enterprises after a long list of White-owned bigger contractors refused a job removing a giant statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia. For a Black man to destroy such a symbol would put his life, his family, his livelihood on the line. And that was just the beginning.

• Will GOP voters ever wake up to how much GOP lawmakers screw them over?
by Thom Hartmann | Common Dreams | Jan. 4 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1505
From stagnant wages to soaring costs for rent, medical, and prescription drugs – the so-called “conservative” voter never seems to figure out what’s going on. For example, Americans pay 10 times as much as Canadians for some drugs because Republicans block efforts to bring competition to that marketplace.

• Women detained at Baker County Detention Center cite a systemic pattern of unlawful voyeurism
by Alexandra Martinez | Prism Reports | Daily Kos | Dec. 23 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1503
“Corrections” officers in Baker County’s immigrant-detention center face reports of voyeurism and medical neglect, along with over 160 complaints of abusive treatment, reported earlier in the Iguana.

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