U.S. and World Headlines
Sinema Switches To Independent, Shaking Up The Senate
Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is changing her party affiliation to independent, delivering a jolt to Democrats’ narrow majority and Washington along with it.
In a 45-minute interview, the first-term senator told POLITICO that she will not caucus with Republicans and suggested that she intends to vote the same way she has for four years in the Senate. “Nothing will change about my values or my behavior,” she said.
Provided that Sinema sticks to that vow, Democrats will still have a workable Senate majority in the next Congress, though it will not exactly be the neat and tidy 51 seats they assumed. They’re expected to also have the votes to control Senate committees. And Sinema’s move means Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — a pivotal swing vote in the 50-50 chamber the past two years — will hold onto some but not all of his outsized influence in the Democratic caucus.Read More
House Passes Historic Marriage Equality Bill
The House on Thursday passed a bill to codify federal recognition of same-sex and interracial marriages, which now goes to President Joe Biden's desk for his signature.
The Respect for Marriage Act passed with bipartisan support in a 258-169 vote. Thirty-nine Republicans joined Democrats in voting yes on the measure.
The legislation passed with cheers and hugs on the floor. Former Rep. Barney Frank, an openly gay Democrat who has long fought for marriage equality, was present for the vote.Read More
How Kevin McCarthy Could Lose The Election For Speaker Of The House
Rep. Kevin McCarthy is the obvious candidate for the next speaker of the House. Republicans flipped the chamber in 2022, and McCarthy is already House minority leader. He has no serious rivals, and former President Donald Trump has endorsed his bid.
But McCarthy has a problem: He may not have the votes.
Republicans will start the 118th Congress with only a narrow majority in the House — just 222 seats to the Democrats’ 212. And six incoming Republican representatives have already said they will not vote for McCarthy for speaker. That would leave McCarthy with 216 votes at most — two shy of a majority. And that’s just the people who have publicly announced their opposition. (Several other Republicans are ideologically similar and could oppose him, too.) So this could be the first speaker election that has gone to multiple ballots since 1923.Read More
Elon Musk Calls Out Former Safety Czar Yoel Roth And Confirms Right-Wing Accounts Were Suspended When 'No Rules Were Broken'
Elon Musk on Thursday evening confirmed that conservatives were banned from Twitter despite not violating any policies, as the latest installment of the Twitter Files showed the scale of censorship and 'visibility filtering' on the social media platform.
Musk, who bought Twitter in October for $44 billion, vowed to end the practice of 'shadow banning' - secretly downgrading a person's tweets or trending themes, to minimize their reach.
'Twitter is working on a software update that will show your true account status, so you know clearly if you've been shadow banned, the reason why and how to appeal,' he said.
Musk, 51, singled out Yoel Roth, the global head of trust and safety, who wrote in internal messages that he wanted more creative ways of censoring and muffling specific accounts and content.Read More
Brittney Griner Arrives In U.S. Following Her Release By Russia In Prisoner Swap For Arms Dealer Viktor Bout
Brittney Griner arrived in the U.S. early Friday, landing at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas.
The WNBA star, who was held for months in Russian prisons on drug charges, was released Thursday in a one-for-one prisoner swap for notorious international arms dealer Viktor Bout, bringing an end to an ordeal that sparked intense high-level negotiations between the Washington and the Moscow to secure her freedom.
Per standard procedure for freed U.S. prisoners, Griner was expected to quickly undergo a medical evaluation.
Notably, the Griner-for-Bout exchange leaves retired U.S. Marine Paul Whelan imprisoned in Russia.Read More
Washington State Man Charged In 34-Year-Old Wisconsin Murder
A Washington state man has been charged in the 1988 slaying of a Wisconsin woman after he was identified using “familial DNA searching” to examine records of people who may be related to the suspect.
Gene C. Meyer, 66, is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree sexual assault with use of a dangerous weapon in the killing of 60-year-old Betty Rolf, WLUK-TV in Green Bay, Wisconsin, reported Thursday.
Meyer lived about a mile from where Rolf's body was found on Nov. 7, 1988, just outside of Appleton, Wisconsin. The complaint alleges that Meyer fled to Washington after the slaying. He now lives in Eastonville.
Rolf had been sexually assaulted, beaten and strangled.Read More
Wisconsin Cities Have Taken Steps To Be More Inclusive To The LGBTQ+ Community
Since 2018, Wisconsin municipalities have taken steps to become more inclusive toward the LGBTQ+ community.
The Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index surveys laws and policies of cities across the U.S. It gives cities a grade based on how inclusive those policies are toward members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Of the seven Wisconsin cities surveyed in 2018 and 2022, all but two saw scores increase. Those two municipalities were Madison and Milwaukee, which had perfect scores both years.
On average, Wisconsin cities scored 87 out of 100 points, almost 20 points higher than the national average of 68.
Measures that can boost a city's score include — but are not limited to — banning conversion therapy, creating non-discrimination ordinances and ensuring law enforcement reports hate crimes to the FBI.
"The scorecard will show a city all of the things it's done and give it the ability to brag about the things that it's done," said Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel with the Human Rights Campaign. "But it will also highlight the things that the city has left to do."
In Wisconsin, Oakley said one of the biggest things a municipality can do is to pass a non-discrimination ordinance that includes language pertaining to gender identity.Read More
Dem Habush Sinykin Joins Four Republicans In 8th SD Race
Dem attorney Jodi Habush Sinykin, who formerly worked with Midwest Environmental Advocates, has announced her bid for the 8th SD.
She is the first Dem to get into the race for the vacant seat. Four Republicans have already announced plans to run for the suburban Milwaukee district.
Habush Sinykin, of Whitefish Bay, is an attorney who specializes in environmental law and policy. She worked with the Midwest Environmental Advocates from 2003-2020.
“I will be a Senator who listens and learns from the constituents in the 8th District, working to address the cost of healthcare, a woman’s right to make her own health and reproductive decisions, maintaining safe communities, ensuring a good education for our children, and finding ways to ensure that area businesses and jobs can both survive and thrive in these difficult economic times,” Habush Sinykin said in her announcement Wednesday.Read More
Wisconsin DOJ And 32 Other States Finalize $435 Million Agreement With JUUL Labs
The Wisconsin Department of Justice announced today that it and 32 other states and territories finalized a $435 million agreement with JUUL Labs, resolving a two-year bipartisan investigation into the e-cigarette manufacturer’s marketing and sales practices. Wisconsin’s allocated share of the agreement is more than $14.7 million. In addition to the financial terms, the settlement would force JUUL to comply with a series of strict terms severely limiting their marketing and sales practices.
“We applaud the efforts of the Wisconsin DOJ in reaching this settlement that will prevent JUUL from engaging in further deceptive marketing practices that target youth,” said Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “Preventing the exposure of Wisconsin’s children and young adults to harmful nicotine products reduces their chance of developing addiction and other nicotine-related health risks. This is a win for Wisconsin families as we work to protect the health and safety of the youth in our state and across the nation.”
JUUL was, until recently, the dominant player in the vaping market. The multistate investigation revealed that JUUL rose to this position by willfully engaging in an advertising campaign that appealed to youth, even though its e-cigarettes are both illegal for them to purchase and are unhealthy for youth to use. The investigation found that JUUL relentlessly marketed to underage users with launch parties, advertisements using young and trendy-looking models, social media posts and free samples. It marketed a technology-focused, sleek design that could be easily concealed and sold its product in flavors known to be attractive to underage users. JUUL also manipulated the chemical composition of its product to make the vapor less harsh on the throats of the young and inexperienced users. To preserve its young customer base, JUUL relied on age verification techniques that it knew were ineffective.Read More
Study: Wisconsin, Like The Rest Of The Universe, Loves Taylor Swift
Look out, BoDeans and The Gufs! There’s a new musical powerhouse in Wisconsin when it comes to listener tendencies that have been determined by using hyper-specific metrics. According to a study conducted by something called WiseVoter.com, the favorite musical artist in the state of Wisconsin right now is none other than [drum roll, forgetting we already out the answer in the headline]… Taylor Swift.
Swift, who recently released her critically acclaimed and commercial successful Midnights album and straight-up broke Ticketmaster by announcing a long-awaited tour, is also the single most popular artist on Earth at the moment, so perhaps these findings aren’t a huge surprise to you.Read More