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Weekly News Bites #016 | Fox News & CNN shake up, Biden announces reelection campaign, & US government aids child trafficking
All of the top stories of the week in small bites.
It’s FRIDAY, April 28 ! YAY
Some of the stories this week! If you are not signed up for Weekly News Bites, do it!
The U.S. Justice Department has filed a complaint against a new Tennessee law that prohibits doctors from providing gender-affirming medical treatment to transgender minors.
Washington state is on the verge of passing a bill that would prohibit the sale of at least 60 types of assault weapons.
Tucker Carlson released a video statement on Twitter criticizing Washington, DC's political leaders and the media for silencing voices.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced his 2024 re-election bid.
Jessica Bates, a single mother of five, is suing the state of Oregon for denying her adoption application due to her refusal to affirm the state's LGBT policies.
The United States has evacuated its embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, due to the ongoing civil war between rival militant factions.
Tara Lee Rodas, a whistleblower from the HHS, testified at a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing about the exploitation of unaccompanied alien children at the southern border.
Jerry Springer, the host of the infamous talk show "The Jerry Springer Show," passed away at 79 due to pancreatic cancer.
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Ok, that is enough. Time for some news bites!
Thanks tofor having me join her to discuss the response following the Nashville shooting.
→ The U.S. Justice Department has filed a complaint against a new Tennessee law that prohibits doctors from providing gender-affirming medical treatment to transgender minors. The law has been challenged by advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal. The Justice Department argued that the law violates the U.S. Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment, which promises equal protection. The law, signed by Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Lee last month, would ban any medical procedure performed for the purpose of enabling a minor to identify with a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth. Other U.S. states have also banned gender-affirming care for minors, and lawsuits have been filed against laws adopted in Utah, Florida, Indiana, and Arkansas.
→ The US House of Representatives has narrowly passed a bill to increase the government's $31.4tn debt ceiling, including spending cuts over the next decade. The bill is unlikely to pass the Senate and would be vetoed by President Biden if it did. The legislation would increase borrowing authority by $1.5tn until March 31, and spending would be pared to 2022 levels, then capped at 1% annual growth. The bill would also repeal tax incentives for renewable energy and increase work requirements for some anti-poverty programs. Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer said the Republican measure would bring the US closer to historic debt default.
→ Walt Disney Co has sued Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over a dispute regarding special provisions for the Disney World theme park in central Florida. DeSantis has accused the company of lacking accountability and transparency and has banned classroom discussions of sexuality and gender identity with young children, a measure that Disney has criticized. The lawsuit asks a federal judge to void the governor’s takeover of the theme park district and the DeSantis oversight board’s actions on the grounds of violations of the company’s free speech rights. DeSantis dismissed the suit as politically motivated during an international tour to burnish his foreign policy credentials before an expected presidential bid, hailing Israel as a trusted ally of the US.
→ Fox News has announced that it has parted ways with its top-rated host, Tucker Carlson, effective immediately, leaving the 8 p.m. slot open. The relationship between Carlson and the network has been described as strained, and there are rumors that he was surprised by his departure. Carlson's recent speech at the Heritage Foundation gala, in which he expressed disappointment in some colleagues at Fox, may have played a role. Some have speculated about the timing of his departure, which coincided with Fox News' $787 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems. Fox will be rotating anchor hosts until a new permanent host is selected for the 8 p.m. time slot.
Wednesday evening Tucker Carlson released a video statement on Twitter criticizing Washington, DC's political leaders and the media for silencing voices and ignoring important topics such as war, civil liberties, and corporate power. Carlson accused both political parties of colluding to shut down any conversation about these issues, making the United States look like a one-party state. He did not discuss his departure from Fox News but warned that the nation's "brain-dead" orthodoxies would soon be overruled, causing political leaders to fear a loss of control. Carlson ended his remarks by saying, "As long as you can hear the words, there is hope. See you soon."
Theories about what led to Tucker being ousted from Fox News. Vanity Fair reported that Carlson's speech at a conservative nonprofit gala, where he framed the political divide as a spiritual battle, was a last straw for Fox Corp. chair Rupert Murdoch, who did not like the "spiritual talk." Other reports suggest that Carlson's private texts that came out during the Dominion case's discovery process, in which he spoke disparagingly of Fox bosses, could have been the bigger issue. Carlson's contract reportedly runs through 2024 or 2025, and a non-compete clause could prevent him from taking another job or launching a new program before the end of 2024.
→ CNN has parted ways with anchor Don Lemon after he was with the network for 17 years. The announcement came on the same day Fox News parted ways with primetime anchor Tucker Carlson. Lemon took to Twitter to express his shock at the news. Still, CNN said that his statement was "inaccurate" and that he had been given the opportunity to speak with management before airing his grievances in public. CNN had been criticized for being politically biased, and there were accusations of sexism against Lemon. Variety published a report detailing Lemon's alleged history of demeaning and hostile behavior towards his female co-workers. Ratings for Lemon's timeslot went up 5% when he was on hiatus over his comments towards Nikki Haley.
→ Washington state is on the verge of passing a bill that would prohibit the sale of at least 60 types of assault weapons, making it one of the few states in the U.S. with broad restrictions on such weapons. The bill has been passed by both the Senate and House and will become effective once signed by the Governor. However, the legislation does provide some exceptions, such as not affecting ownership of such weapons by current owners or those who inherit them and allowing law enforcement agencies to continue purchasing them. The signing of the bill would put Washington in the company of nine other states and the District of Columbia that have similar restrictions. The move follows a surge in gun violence in the U.S., with 165 mass shootings reported in the first 110 days of 2023.
→ Former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll is suing former President Donald Trump for defamation and battery after he publicly denied her rape allegations from 25 years ago. The suit was filed in 2019 after Trump denied the allegations and called her a liar. Carroll claims the incident occurred in a Bergdorf Goodman department store in the 1990s. She testified on Wednesday that Trump allegedly pulled down her tights and raped her in a closed dressing room. Critics point out that Carroll never went to the police or attempted to have Trump held criminally responsible for the alleged incident until 2019 and that she cannot narrow down the timeline for when it occurred. Carroll was able to add an allegation of battery to her defamation claim due to a recently adopted New York law that allows people claiming to be survivors of sexual abuse to sue their alleged attacker even if the statute of limitations has run out for the crime.
→ On Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced his 2024 re-election bid with a 3-minute video on social media, echoing the messaging from his 2020 campaign to "finish the job." However, recent polls show that even Democrats are wary of a Biden run, and there are growing scandals. Republican strategists are targeting Biden's handling of immigration, the economy, and foreign policy, while Biden's advertising is centered on social issues, casting Republicans as "extremists" and "threats to democracy." Republicans are also likely to continue to question Biden's son, Hunter Biden's, influence peddling. Biden's campaign is expected to be largely remote, as he made few in-person campaign appearances during his 2020 bid.
→ Jessica Bates, a single mother of five, is suing the state of Oregon for denying her adoption application due to her refusal to affirm the state's LGBT policies. Bates claims that her First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion were violated. The state's policy requires caregivers to "respect, accept, and support" the "gender identity" of any child placed in their home, including taking children to Pride parades and cross-sex hormone shots. Bates' case could have implications for religious freedom nationwide. The Oregon Department of Human Services issued a statement defending its policy, stating its commitment to creating a safe and supportive environment for all children and young people, regardless of their gender identity.
→ Protesters arrested at Montana state house over censure of transgender lawmaker. Seven protesters were arrested and charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass at Montana's state House after refusing to vacate the House gallery following the censure of Democratic representative Zoeey Zephyr. Zephyr, Montana's first transgender lawmaker, had her microphone cut off last week during a debate over a bill to ban medical transition treatments for minors after accusing Republicans of having "blood on their hands." The protest began as a rally outside the state Capitol building in support of Zephyr, and protesters shut down the House for about 30 minutes with chants of "Let her speak!" and "Whose house? Our house!" while demanding Zephyr be allowed to speak. Republican leaders condemned the "far-left agitators" and reiterated their commitment to decorum, safety, and order.
→ The Clark County School District, the nation's fifth-largest school system based in Las Vegas, has introduced "equitable grading" to measure whether students know the classroom material by the end of a term without penalties for behavior, which can introduce bias. Under the new system, homework is played down, and students are given multiple opportunities to complete tests and assignments. Traditional grading methods are said to favor students with a stable home life and more hands-on parents. According to some teachers and students, the changes have led to gaming the system and a lack of accountability. At the same time, supporters argue it benefits students with after-school responsibilities, such as a job or caring for siblings and those with learning disabilities.
→ The United States has evacuated its embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, due to the ongoing civil war between rival militant factions. The violence erupted on April 15 when rival Generals Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo failed to come to terms in a deal to unify their military commands. The two groups cooperated to oust Sudan's previous dictator, Omar al-Bashir, in 2019. Still, they worked together to stage a military coup in 2021 to postpone elections, which were pushed back to July 2023. The RSF was supposed to surrender and integrate into the official military, but that didn't happen. The fighting between the groups has taken place in the capital of Khartoum, and the U.N. World Food Programme has suspended its operations in Sudan after three of its aid workers were killed. The U.S. government has advised Americans not to travel to Sudan. It has evacuated embassy staff but has no plans to evacuate the estimated 16,000 American civilians in Sudan due to the region's instability.
→ South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol visited the White House to finalize a nuclear weapons agreement with the United States, called the Washington Declaration, which will bolster relations between the two countries and counteract North Korean aggression in the region. As part of the agreement, South Korea agreed not to develop a nuclear arsenal of its own in exchange for an expanded role in military consultations with the United States, including establishing a Nuclear Consultative Group. The deal will also allow US nuclear subs to dock in South Korea for the first time in four decades. This agreement comes amid an admission by the White House that diplomacy between the US and North Korea is no longer feasible, with the country conducting more missile tests in 2022 than the previous five years combined and having ICBMs capable of reaching any city in the continental United States, in addition to an unknown number of nuclear warheads.
→ According to reports, the Russian private military company Wagner Group is attempting to insert itself into the conflict in Sudan. The mercenary group, founded by Kremlin-linked oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, has established footholds across Africa in recent years and is believed to be helping fund its role in Ukraine through its activities on the continent. While there are no confirmed reports of Wagner personnel directly involved in the Sudanese conflict, the group’s moves have alarmed the US and its allies. Reports suggest that Wagner is offering weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, to the Rapid Support Forces paramilitaries.
→ Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Wednesday, marking the first contact between the leaders since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Zelenskiy said the hour-long call was "long and meaningful" and signaled the importance of closer relations with China. Xi expressed his country's willingness to send special representatives to Ukraine and hold talks with all parties seeking peace. At the same time, Zelenskiy said there was "an opportunity to use China's political power to reinforce the principles and rules that peace should be built upon." China has become Russia's biggest economic partner, and Western countries have expressed concern over China providing weapons or ammunition to Russia.
→ Around 3,000 migrants from Central America, Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Colombia began a protest march from the Guatemalan border toward Mexico City to demand better treatment and reforms to detention centers. Despite their stated destination being Mexico City, similar protests have previously headed north to the US-Mexico border. This protest comes after a deadly fire at a Mexican migrant facility in Ciudad Juarez, which killed 39 migrants and injured 29 others. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador claimed the migrants set fire to their mattresses during a protest against a supposed transfer. Three officials from Mexico’s National Immigration Institute, a guard at the migrant center, and a Venezuelan migrant are in custody, facing homicide charges.
→ Tara Lee Rodas, a whistleblower from the HHS, testified at a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing about the exploitation of unaccompanied children at the southern border. Rodas alleged that the US government is acting as a middleman for a large-scale, multibillion-dollar child trafficking operation run by bad actors seeking to profit off the lives of children. She described a sophisticated network that forces children into slave labor and sex work, with some sponsors being criminals and traffickers. Rodas called for greater oversight of the HHS, an end to retaliation against whistleblowers, and a rule that sponsors must report to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. She urged HHS to protect the children, and The New York Times described the situation as dire.
→ The Biden administration is urging a US appeals court to overturn a Texas-based judge's order, which would effectively ban the abortion pill mifepristone, by suspending the drug's federal regulatory approval in a legal challenge by abortion opponents. The US Justice Department has called the order "abrupt and profoundly disruptive." The 5th Circuit is preparing to hear arguments on the matter after the US Supreme Court put the judge's order on hold. Mifepristone is taken with another drug called misoprostol to perform medication abortion, which accounts for more than half of all US abortions.
→ Lizzo used her concert in Knoxville, Tennessee, to protest against the state's legislation aimed at restricting drag performances in public. During the concert, Lizzo brought out several drag performers. Lizzo posted videos on Instagram after the concert, including comments referring to the pending law. The legislation against "adult cabaret" in public or in front of minors was signed by Republican Gov. Bill Lee in February. The law was temporarily blocked in late March by a federal judge who deemed it too vaguely written. Civil rights groups have criticized the law as a violation of free speech. Lizzo acknowledged concerns raised about performing in Tennessee but insisted on creating a safe space to celebrate drag entertainers and differences.
→ Jerry Springer, the host of the infamous talk show "The Jerry Springer Show," passed away at 79 due to pancreatic cancer. He died peacefully at his home in Chicago, according to his family. Springer had a successful career in politics before becoming a television host, serving on Cincinnati's City Council, and being elected as the city's mayor. He also ran for the Democratic nomination for Ohio governor in 1982 but was unsuccessful. His lifelong friend and family spokesperson, Jene Galvin, praised Springer's ability to connect with people. Funeral plans and a memorial gathering are in development.