Morning Headlines - Friday, Jan. 26, 2024

U.S. & World and Wisconsin headlines, and today's meme.

Morning Headlines - Friday, Jan. 26, 2024

U.S. and World Headlines

Democratic Concerns Grow Amid RFK Jr. Ballot Push In Battleground States

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s announcement Tuesday that he had amassed enough signatures to qualify for the New Hampshire ballot for the general election, after already getting on Utah’s, is drawing fresh concern from Democrats over how he could transform the race.

Freeing himself from the Democratic Party to run as an independent, Kennedy was ineligible to appear as a candidate in New Hampshire’s primary Tuesday, when voters sent President Biden and former President Trump to resounding victories in their party contests.

But after months of speculation about the credibility of his campaign, Kennedy found success in a small battleground state nonetheless, giving Democrats pause that he could muddy their path to the White House.

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The NSA Buys Americans’ Internet Data, Newly Released Documents Show

The National Security Agency has been buying Americans’ web browsing data from commercial data brokers without warrants, intelligence officials disclosed in documents made public by a US senator Thursday.

The purchases include information about the websites Americans visit and the apps that they use, said Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, releasing newly unclassified letters he received from the Pentagon in recent weeks confirming the sales.

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Why New Home Sales Soared And Existing Homes Plunged In 2023

All the juice in the housing market in 2023 was in new home sales — and that's likely to continue this year.

New home sales rose 4.4% in December 2023, compared to the previous year, per census data out Thursday.

Buyers are going where the houses are — and the deals, too.

While existing homeowners are sitting on their heels, homebuilders are itching to sell, offering plenty of incentives — including lower rates on mortgages.

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Top U.N. Court Won't Dismiss Israel Genocide Case But Stops Short Of Ordering Gaza Cease-Fire

In an interim judgment, the United Nations' International Court of Justice on Friday ruled that Israel must take measures to prevent genocide in Gaza, but it stopped short of ordering an immediate cease-fire in Israel's war with Hamas. The ICJ ruled that it has jurisdiction to consider the landmark case brought by South Africa against Israel, and it rejected Israel's request for the case to be dismissed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a statement issued quickly after the court's ruling, slammed the genocide allegation against his country as "not only false, it's outrageous."

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Fed’s Favorite Inflation Gauge Rose 0.2% In December And Was Up 2.9% From A Year Ago

An important inflation gauge released Friday showed that the rate of price increases cooled as 2023 came to a close.

The Commerce Department’s personal consumption expenditures price index for December, an important gauge for the Federal Reserve, increased 0.2% on the month and was up 2.9% on a yearly basis, excluding food and energy. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for respective increases of 0.2% and 3%.

On a monthly basis, core inflation increased from 0.1% in November. However, the annual rate declined from 3.2%. The 12-month rate is the lowest since March 2021.

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Wisconsin Headlines

Three Nigerian Citizens Indicted For Wire Fraud And Money Laundering

Gregory J. Haanstad, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced today that on January 23, 2024, a grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging Nigerian citizens John Umukoro, Shedrack Umukoro, and Otaniyen Iduozee with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349; wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343; and conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956.

According to filed court documents, between November of 2021 and May of 2022, the defendants participated in an extensive scheme to fraudulently obtain and then launder money from American citizens who believed they were loaning funds to their romantic partners.

According to court filings, the defendants posed as older men looking for connections on dating websites and engaged in text-based romantic relationships with older women. Once the defendants gained their victims’ trust, they began to “borrow” money from their victims, for allegedly urgent and short-term financial needs. Court filings further indicate that those “loans” were never repaid, however, and multiple victims ultimately lost their life savings. Finally, filings indicate that after obtaining the victims’ funds, the defendants laundered them through multiple transactions and moved the funds overseas.

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What Do Wisconsin's Residency Requirements Mean For Incumbents Paired In Redistricting?

Wisconsin is set to have new legislative district maps for the fall 2024 election, and that means some incumbent members of the Assembly and Senate will end up in the same district and potentially run against each other for reelection. In the last two rounds of redistricting, the maps were drawn by Republicans in the Legislature, who were aware of where incumbents lived and minimized the number of times changing district lines paired them.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision in December 2023 to require new maps set criteria for mapmakers to consider, but where incumbents live was not one of them.

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Assembly Republicans Pass Referendum To Ban Abortions At 14 Weeks Of Pregnancy

Assembly Republicans voted to pass legislation establishing a statewide referendum to be conducted during Wisconsin's April primary election. The bill passed on a 53 to 46 vote, with 11 Republicans voting against the legislation. Voters would answer a ballot question on whether a 14-week abortion ban should be adopted, reducing the state's current 20-week abortion law.

Abortion access has remained a pressing issue in Wisconsin, and it is now becoming a major focus ahead of the 2024 election. Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Badger State on Monday to discuss her "Fight for Reproductive Freedoms" tour. The same day, Republican lawmakers in the Health, Aging, And Long-Term Care Committee held a public hearing to consider the abortion referendum legislation.

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Circle K Convenience Chain Plans To Open 60 Stores In Wisconsin, Create 1.2k Jobs

The Circle K convenience store chain is expanding in Wisconsin, with plans to open 60 stores in the state and create 1,200 jobs.

Company officials discussed the plans Thursday at a ribbon cutting for the brand’s third store in the Green Bay area.

They said the new stores are expected to open in Wisconsin in the next several years. The expansion in the Badger State is part of a larger effort to open 500 stores across the globe, with the vast majority in North America.

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Democrats Revive Bill Requiring Public Schools To Teach About Contraception

Wisconsin Democrats are trying to revive legislation that would require schools to teach comprehensive sex education.

The proposal is modeled after a former state law, known as the Healthy Youth Act, which was repealed by Republicans in 2012.

Under the bill unveiled Thursday, public schools would need to offer “human growth and development” curricula, which would include sex education.

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Last Update: Jan 26, 2024 9:51 am CST

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