April 22, 2014
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that citizens can legally nix affirmative action at the ballot box, thus upholding Michigan's voter-approved referendum banning the practice in college admissions.

By a vote of 6-2 (Justic Elena Kagan was recused), the court ruled that voters can alter their state constitutions to end affirmative action, as Michigan did via referendum in 2006. The court stressed that it was not ruling on the constitutional merits of affirmative action itself, but rather solely on the power of citizens to rewrite their state laws through the proper legal channels.

Here's the relevant bit, from Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion:

This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it. There is no authority in the Constitution of the United States or in this Court's precedents for the Judiciary to set aside Michigan laws that commit this policy determination to the voters. Deliberative debate on sensitive issues such as racial preferences all too often may shade into rancor. But that does not justify removing certain court-determined issues from the voters' reach. Democracy does not presume that some subjects are either too divisive or too profound for public debate. [Supreme Court]

The case arose after the high court in 2003 ruled that Michigan's affirmative action program was constitutional. Following that ruling, affirmative action opponents launched a successful referendum to amend the state constitution to ban it statewide in higher education. Jon Terbush

3:22 p.m. ET

Senior executives at Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, Strategic Communications Laboratories, were apparently secretly filmed by Britain's Channel 4 News suggesting they have used bribes and other shady techniques to influence more than 200 elections across the globe. Cambridge Analytica was a Trump campaign contractor in 2016, and it was reported this weekend that the company harvested 50 million American Facebook profiles for electioneering, a major data breach.

In order to get the footage, a Channel 4 News reporter "posed as a fixer for a wealthy client hoping to get candidates elected in Sri Lanka." In one clip, Cambridge Analytica's chief executive, Alexander Nix, appears to suggest to the undercover reporter that he could "send some girls around to the candidate's house" as a means of getting dirt on the opponent, adding Ukrainians "are very beautiful, I find that works very well."

Cambridge Analytica's global political managing director, Mark Turnbull, was also included in the meetings, and he talked about putting "information into the bloodstream of the internet" and said "it has to happen without anyone thinking, 'That's propaganda,' because the moment you think [that] the next question is, 'Who's put that out?'"

Nix additionally expressed an eagerness to work with the undercover reporter. "We're used to operating through different vehicles, in the shadows," he said, "and I look forward to building a very long-term and secretive relationship with you."

A Cambridge Analytica spokesman said: "We entirely refute any allegation that Cambridge Analytica or any of its affiliates use entrapment, bribes, or so-called 'honey-traps' for any purpose whatsoever" and that "we routinely undertake conversations with prospective clients to try to tease out any unethical or illegal intentions." Watch below, and read more about the undercover investigation via Channel 4 News here. Jeva Lange

2:24 p.m. ET

Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon announced Monday that she is running against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the state's Democratic primary. Cuomo — who is the son of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo — was previously unchallenged in the race, and he has appeared rattled by Nixon's moves to take his seat, mocking her run as being "just about name recognition."

In the video announcing her candidacy, Nixon focuses on education, saying: "New York is where I was raised, and where I am raising my kids. I'm a proud public school graduate and a prouder public school parent. I was given chances I just don't see for most of New York's kids today." Without naming names, she also emphasizes that New York leaders have failed and promises in part to fix "our broken subway," a criticism Cuomo has repeatedly faced. Watch below. Jeva Lange

1:29 p.m. ET
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White evangelicals have held steadfast in their support for President Trump, recent Pew Research Center data showed, despite allegations that the president once engaged in an extramarital affair with an adult film star. Not only that, but their approval of his performance has only increased in recent months, Pew found.

Survey data from March found that just 39 percent of Americans approve of Trump's performance overall, but 78 percent of white evangelicals gave their support. That number is even higher than in January, when 72 percent of white evangelicals approved of Trump. That month, The Wall Street Journal reported that adult film actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, had an affair with the president while he was married to first lady Melania Trump.

Most other demographic groups disapproved of Trump's performance in March; Republicans and white evangelical protestants are the only two groups who approved of the president by more than 50 percent. Fifty percent of white voters overall approved. Meanwhile, just 8 percent of Democrats, 9 percent of black voters, and 9 percent of black mainline protestants approved.

In October, 67 percent of white evangelical protestants approved of Trump's performance. Data from a 2014 Pew Research Center study found that more than one-third of registered voters described themselves as "born-again or evangelical" Christians. Summer Meza

1:09 p.m. ET

A woman in Tempe, Arizona, has died after being struck by an Uber car that was operating in "autonomous mode," potentially making her the first pedestrian to be killed by an unmanned vehicle, The New York Times' Daisuke Wakabayashi reports. A human driver was in the car when the collision occurred Sunday night around 10 p.m. MT. The woman was apparently outside of the crosswalk when she was hit by the car, Arizona's ABC 15 reports.

Uber is "fully cooperating" with the investigation, a spokeswoman told the Times. Uber has suspended self-driving car tests in Tempe as well as other cities it operates the vehicles in, including Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto.

In 2016, the operator of a self-driving Tesla was killed while the car was in autonomous mode after apparently ignoring repeated warnings to take the wheel. Jeva Lange

12:52 p.m. ET

If you're reading this from Mississippi, please put your phone down and look at the road! A massive new study of 2.3 million drivers by Zendrive found that not even the threat of going to jail seems to be able to stop people from using their phones while behind the wheel, and Mississippians are the worst abusers of the bunch, Bloomberg reports. Almost 18 percent of drivers in the Magnolia State are considered "phone addicts," meaning they call, text, or fiddle with apps at a rate that is more than three times that of the average driver — and that's even with a statewide ban on texting in place.

Mississippi isn't an outlier in that regard, though. In the 15 states that have taken the additional step of banning handheld devices altogether, the number of "phone addicts" only dropped by 2 points, or down to 10 percent. There could be even more distracted drivers out there than Zendrive was able to record, too: The study only noted when a phone was moved around in a car, but it wouldn't count drivers who might be distracted by mounted phones.

In what is probably a surprise to anyone who lives there, New England and the Pacific Northwest had the most low-risk drivers. Areas with the most high-risk drivers were dotted through the South:

Zendrive CEO Jonathan Matus told Bloomberg the lack of a deterrent is the most alarming fact. "That's an area of great concern to me," he said. "It means either the rules are not known, the enforcement is not effective, or people are so addicted to their phones they're willing to take the risk." Jeva Lange

11:34 a.m. ET
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Snowy weather in the nation's capital has inspired some unconventional meteorology.

Washington D.C. councilman Trayon White Sr. apologized for posting a video in which he pushed a conspiracy theory that the Rothschild family, a prominent Jewish business dynasty, controls the weather. White, a Democrat, took to Facebook on Friday when flakes began to fall, posting a video to his official page that insisted the flurry was more than it appeared, reports The Washington Post.

"Man, it just started snowing out of nowhere this morning, man. Y'all better pay attention to this climate control, man, this climate manipulation," White said in the video. "And D.C. keep talking about, 'We a resilient city.' And that's a model based off the Rothschilds controlling the climate to create natural disasters they can pay for to own the cities, man. Be careful."

The Rothschilds have been the subject of a number of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, the Post reports, many of which claim that the billionaire family, along with other Jews, manipulate world events to gain control. White apologized for the video in a statement to the Post.

"I work hard everyday to combat racism and prejudices of all kinds. I want to apologize to the Jewish community and anyone I have offended," he said. "The Jewish community have been allies with me in my journey to help people. I did not intend to be anti-Semitic, and I see I should not have said that after learning from my colleagues."

Read the full report at The Washington Post. Summer Meza

11:09 a.m. ET

Following weekend revelations that Facebook was exploited by data firm Cambridge Analytica in order to harvest 50 million Americans' profiles, founder Mark Zuckerberg saw his fortune drop by $3.8 billion Monday morning, Bloomberg Technology reports.

Facebook stock had plummeted 6 percent by 10:50 a.m. ET, a change of around 12 points, with the S&P 500 tugged down almost 1 percent with the social media giant as its worst performer. That drop means the company has lost around $25 billion in market value, The Independent adds.

"The FANG internet giant hasn't been a market leader for months, unlike fellow FANGs Netflix, and Amazon and, to a lesser extent, Alphabet," writes Investor's Business Daily, adding: "Facebook's growth story may be winding down."

Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research, added to CNBC: "We think this episode is another indication of systemic problems at Facebook … We see enhanced risks for the company, but no near-term tangible impact on its business." Jeva Lange

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