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Weekly News Bites #010 | Red Flag laws, $5 million for every eligible black adult & Yellen says no bailout for you.
Biden signed an EO to expand the utilization of red flag laws, San Francisco proposes $5 million for every eligible black adult in reparations, and Yellen said no more depositor bailouts.
It’s FRIDAY, Mar. 17! YAY
Some of the stories this week!
On Tuesday, President Biden signed an executive order to increase the number of background checks and expand the utilization of "red flag" laws.
The state has taken over the largest school district in Texas, Houston Independent School District (HISD).
During a Senate Finance Committee hearing, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen admitted that the FDIC and Federal Reserve might not guarantee large deposits at small community banks as they did for SVB.
Two Russian fighter jets force a U.S. drone to crash into the Black Sea over international airspace.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to visit Russia next week in a show of support for his "best friend" Vladimir Putin.
Gwyneth Paltrow's “wellness routine” goes viral.
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Ok, that is enough. Time for some news bites!
➖ Florida's House of Representatives has passed a bill that would ban colleges and universities from supporting programs promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, including those based on Critical Race Theory rhetoric. The Public Postsecondary Educational Institutions bill prohibits state schools from using diversity, equity, and inclusion statements or other forms of political identity filters as part of the hiring process. The legislation also bans majors in women's and gender studies and courses based on unproven, theoretical, or exploratory content. Critics claim that the bill's language is so vague that it would ban black fraternities and sororities from Florida's colleges and universities. The proposed law aligns with Republican Governor Ron DeSantis's agenda to limit discussions on race, gender identity, and sexuality in schools. The bill is now due to be debated in the state Senate.
➖ On Tuesday, President Biden signed an executive order to increase the number of background checks and expand the utilization of "red flag" laws. This policy is the most extensive measure that the President can implement without the approval of Congress. The order calls on executive agencies to ensure compliance with existing laws. It directs the attorney general to clarify who needs a federal license to sell firearms so they can comply with background check requirements. Biden also asked the FTC to issue a public report on how gun makers market firearms to minors and how they use military imagery to advertise weapons. Federal law enforcement agencies were given six months to develop regulations to report ballistics data to the federal clearinghouse better.
➖ House GOP in Oversight committee to review Hunter Biden’s business records. According to panel Chairman James Comer, the Treasury Department has given House Oversight Committee members access to the suspicious activity reports pertaining to President Biden's family. The reports, which may contain new details on the Biden family's murky foreign income, particularly in China, Russia, Ukraine, and potentially other countries, have been requested by Comer since last year. The Treasury Department requires committee members and staff to review the material privately, though it's unclear what ground rules would prevent the rapid dissemination of key details. Inquiries have been frustrated elsewhere, including a New York gallery owner's refusal to identify buyers of Hunter Biden's artworks.
President Biden's daughter-in-law, Hallie Biden, along with other members of the Biden family, received over $1 million in payouts after a $3 million wire payment from a Chinese energy company was received by Hunter Biden's associate in 2017, according to a memo from the House Oversight and Accountability Committee. Payments were also made to companies associated with James Biden and Hunter Biden, and an unknown account identified only as "Biden." Bank records show that Hallie Biden received two payments totaling $35,000 from the company.
➖ California Governor Gavin Newsom has announced plans to use the National Guard to build 1,200 tiny homes in Sacramento, San Jose, San Diego, and Los Angeles to shelter the homeless by this fall. The $30 million project will give cities control over the location and maintenance of the homes, which could be as small as 120 square feet and erected in 90 minutes on public land for people living in encampments along roads and rivers. According to federal data, the homes are aimed at giving the homeless options besides living on the streets, which has caused 170,000 homeless people in California. However, critics have said the proposal is a "drop in the bucket" and just another "Band-Aid" solution to a crisis that is out of control in California.
➖ San Francisco's city-appointed reparations committee proposes $5 million to eligible black adults to atone for centuries of slavery and systemic racism. They also propose the elimination of personal debt and tax burdens, guaranteed annual incomes of at least $97,000 for 250 years, and homes in San Francisco for $1 per family. The committee has received enthusiastic support for the ideas listed, with some saying that money should not stop the city from doing the right thing. However, critics have slammed the plan as financially and politically impossible, with some saying that taxpayers who were never slave owners should not have to pay money to people who were not enslaved.
➖ President Biden has given his approval for the Alaskan oil Willow Project, which is expected to yield 80,000 barrels of oil per day and create approximately 2,500 jobs during the construction phase and 300 long-term jobs. While this move has received support from the Right due to the current global energy crisis and the importance of U.S. oil production, it has also faced criticism from the Left, who argue that it could cause harm to Alaskan wildlife and worsen climate change.
➖ The Heritage Foundation has filed seven lawsuits against the FBI for what they claim is the political weaponization of the bureau. They argue that the FBI has become biased against conservatives and failed to comply with the Freedom of Information Act by not providing internal documents upon request. The suits range from the January 6 investigations to the FBI's handling of the Black Lives Matter riots and the Steele Dossier. The Heritage Foundation's director, Mike Howell, expressed concerns about the government's selective prosecution of pro-life activists and said that the Department of Justice is working in concert with the media to drive political narratives.
➖ The state has taken over the largest school district in Texas, Houston Independent School District (HISD). The district serves nearly 200,000 students across almost 300 schools. The takeover is due to allegations of misconduct by school trustees and poor academic performance at its high schools. An investigation into HISD four years ago revealed that some trustees had committed acts of misconduct and made false statements. The district had failed to improve student outcomes due to chaotic board meetings and infighting. The catalyst for the takeover came in 2019 when 50 schools received D or F grades from the state. Despite the district's poor performance, Houston's student proficiency rates in reading and math are above the statewide average. The state will appoint a new superintendent and board of managers, expected to be in place by June 1. It will assess academic performance and compliance with state and federal requirements and focus on student outcomes before giving control back to the district.
➖ More than a thousand migrants were caught on camera rushing the Paso Del Norte bridge in El Paso, Texas, in an attempt to cross over into the US. This highlights the ongoing border crisis, and Texas officials have taken new action to address it. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has introduced a bill that would allow police to arrest illegal immigrants, which could face legal challenges. Pressure has been building on Texas Governor Greg Abbott to be more aggressive on illegal immigration, with over 30 counties declaring a disaster over the border crisis. Some have called for Abbott to declare an "invasion," but this has been criticized by others. So far, there have been around 1 million migrant encounters in the fiscal year 2023.
➖ The US Federal Reserve is expected to continue with its campaign to fight inflation by raising interest rates by a quarter-point at its policy meeting next week. The move would bring the Fed's benchmark rate to a range of 4.75%-5%. The European Central Bank's decision to stick with its own aggressive rate hike has also boosted traders' bets on the Fed's rate hike. The US central bank has raised its benchmark overnight interest rate by 450 basis points since last March, and other reports suggest inflationary pressures are far from quelled. However, traders do not expect the Fed to accelerate the pace of its rate hikes.
➖ During a Senate Finance Committee hearing, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen admitted that the FDIC and Federal Reserve might not guarantee large deposits at small community banks as they did for SVB. Regulators scrambled to guarantee all deposits at Silicon Valley Bank after its collapse. Still, Senator James Lankford questioned Yellen on whether his state's uninsured deposits at community banks would be fully insured. Yellen replied that a bank would only get that treatment if a supermajority of board members at the FDIC and Federal Reserve, as well as the president, decided that the failure to protect uninsured depositors would create systemic risk and significant financial and economic consequences. This approach has already prompted sizable account holders to move their funds into large financial institutions, which could further accelerate bank mergers.
➖ The US banking system has been hit by a rough patch as several banks, including Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, have collapsed. First Republic Bank, previously seen as stable, is the latest bank to face bankruptcy as depositors withdrew funds over fears that it would follow suit. It is set to receive a $30 billion lifeline from a group of America's largest banks. Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, has reassured lawmakers that the US banking system remains sound and that depositors need not worry. Credit Suisse, Switzerland's second-largest bank, has also been given a lifeline in the form of a $54 billion loan from the Swiss central bank after suffering a drop in shares.
➖ The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank has elicited varied reactions from Washington. The Biden administration has commended the swift measures taken to reimburse SVB depositors for their losses. However, the GOP has opposed any government-funded bailout for the bank. Some on the Right have attributed the bank's downfall to prioritizing its progressive policies and have expressed concern that this could trigger a recession.
➖ Shumirun Nessa, a TikTok content creator, experienced an incident where her personal information (doxxing) was made public, and she was subjected to harassment by trans activists. This incident occurred after she posted a video expressing her disagreement with activist Jeffery Marsh encouraging children to go "no contact" with their parents if they do not support the current gender ideology and to sign-up for his Patreon, where they could have conversations out of the public eye.
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➖ The Biden administration has authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster dose for children aged 6 months through 4 years old. This decision comes after conducting a clinical trial involving 60 children to ensure the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
➖ U.S. Reaches deep into its global ammunition stockpiles to help Ukraine with a counteroffensive against Russia. While the US has supplied Ukraine with over 160 howitzers and one million rounds of 155mm ammunition, there is an insatiable demand for artillery. The US has been forced to raid its stocks abroad in Israel, South Korea, Germany, and Kuwait as some US allies have been unwilling or unable to supply enough ammunition for fear of being seen by Russia as a party to the fight. Ukraine is using over 90,000 rounds of 155mm ammunition a month, and the US is scrambling to ensure that they have enough stockpiled for the next phase of the war.
➖ Two Russian fighter jets force a U.S. drone to crash into the Black Sea over international airspace. On Tuesday, a U.S. military drone crashed into the Black Sea after being intercepted by Russian fighter jets. This is the first such incident since Russia's invasion of Ukraine over a year ago. The Pentagon said that one of the Russian jets attempted to dump fuel on the drone and then proceeded to strike the propeller of the drone, making it inoperable, while Russia's defense ministry blamed the "sharp maneuvering" of the drone for the crash and said that its jets did not make contact. The incident was roundly condemned by the White House and the Pentagon, where officials warned of the risk of escalation.
➖ Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to visit Russia next week in a show of support for his "best friend" Vladimir Putin, as relations between Russia and the US have deteriorated. The visit is viewed as a boost to Putin, who has faced isolation from much of the world due to the Ukraine war. During the visit, Xi and Putin will discuss the further development of comprehensive partnership relations and strategic cooperation between Russia and China. Both China and Russia have confirmed the visit, with Xi's trip being his first foreign visit since locking down a third term as China's leader.
The meeting comes three days after reports that Xi and Zelensky were due to have a virtual meeting. China has voiced wanting to mediate between the two countries while also contemplating weapons aid to Russia.
➖ German investigators have excluded Russian involvement in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline explosion that occurred in 2022. Instead, a new theory suggests that a pro-Ukrainian group may be responsible for the incident. The explosion is believed to have required advanced military technology, leading some to speculate that the United States may have been involved.
Gwyneth Paltrow's “wellness routine” goes viral. The Goop founder made has gone viral on TikTok after revealing that her diet consists of bone broth and fasting.
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➖ Jennifer Lawrence to star in upcoming comedy No Hard Feelings, playing a 30-year-old woman hired by rich parents to date their “unf*ckable” 19-year-old. Amazing what you can get away with when the gender roles are reversed.
➖ Drew Barrymore's talk show became a hot topic on social media due to her interview with trans activist Dylan Mulvaney. During the interview, Barrymore knelt in front of Mulvaney, which garnered criticism from some people who feel that it was inappropriate for her to kneel before a man they perceive as mocking and stereotyping women.
But others pointed out that Barrymore frequently kneels and sits on the floor to get closer to her guests.