Individuals and advocacy groups filed a lawsuit Monday against North Carolina over the state's new law restricting bathroom access for transgender people and barring local anti-LGBT discrimination ordinances, BuzzFeed News reports.
The suit was brought by two transgender men, a lesbian woman, the ACLU of North Carolina, and Equality North Carolina. They're seeking an injunction against enforcing the law and a declaratory judgment stating that it violates the Constitution and Title IX.
"By singling out LGBT people for disfavored treatment and explicitly writing discrimination against transgender people into state law, H.B. 2 violates the most basic guarantees of equal treatment and the U.S. Constitution," the lawsuit reads. Julie Kliegman
Rather than investigate ethics in the White House, Jason Chaffetz is probing a national park's Twitter account
With questions swirling over President Trump campaign aides' alleged contact with Russia, Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway's shameless plug for first daughter Ivanka Trump's products from the White House press briefing room, and the president's potential conflicts of interest, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is zeroing in on the issue that really matters: a tweet from Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park. Back in December, the national park's official Twitter account welcomed the new Bears Ears National Monument to the National Park Service Family:
Welcome to the family Bears Ears (& Gold Butte) NM! A hopeful slot in our front desk maps has long been held for you pic.twitter.com/r1vCLO7Uts
— Bryce Canyon NP (@BryceCanyonNPS) December 29, 2016
The tweet's mention of a "hopeful" empty map slot that has "long been held" for Bears Ears caught Chaffetz's attention. He quickly sent a letter to the superintendent at Bryce Canyon asking if they'd gotten advance notice from the Obama administration about the monument designation, which he has called a "slap in the face to the people of Utah." "The White House is telling the governor as well as the congressional offices that no decisions had been made — that it was still an open question — so how is it [Bryce Canyon National Park officials] were already ready to go with that information?" Chaffetz said Tuesday. "The timing is serious."
Bryce Canyon interim superintendent Sue Fritzke denied the park received advanced notice, and said the welcome tweet was just that. "When we have another piece of land in the park service that is close by, we will reach out and welcome them to the federal family, and let them know we are here and interested in connecting," Fritzke said. The tweet was sent one day after former President Barack Obama designated the land.
Chaffetz has claimed the Bears Ears investigation is at the "very bottom of the list" of investigations, but he has apparently decided the question it's raised won't be "taking care of itself" — unlike questions raised by former national security adviser Michael Flynn's contact with Russia's U.S. ambassador during Trump's transition. Becca Stanek
On Saturday morning, the final day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., a group of Republican congressmen and conservative media figures will sit down to suss out why Heaven has a better vetting system than the United States does. The pressing question of the 35-minute discussion: "If Heaven has a gate, a wall, and extreme vetting, why can't America?" Former Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-Colo.) will moderate, and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), the Heritage Foundation's Mike Gonzales, and the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation's Helen Krieble will weigh in.
In addition to this discussion equating a border wall blocking immigrants from entering the U.S. with Heaven's pearly gates, CPAC will feature a talk later Saturday titled "Facts, not feelings: Snowflakes, safe spaces, and trigger warnings." Rounding out the CPAC agenda are a Thursday talk entitled "Black Lives Matter, so why does the Left not support Law Enforcement?" as well as scheduled appearances throughout the weekend from President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, and counselor Kellyanne Conway.
The four-day conference marks the largest annual gathering of conservatives, drawing thousands from across the country. Becca Stanek
Dakota Access pipeline activists are just hours away from a Wednesday afternoon deadline to leave the camp they have held since last summer, The New York Times reports. "We prefer to handle this in a more diplomatic, understanding way," Morton County sheriff's spokeswoman Maxine Herr told ABC, not ruling out the possibility of massive arrests.
"Some of them are definitely going to stay," protester Chase Iron Eyes told The New York Times on Tuesday. "Some people are going to stand in prayer. Others may try to engage others in civil disobedience, but nobody's armed and nobody's going to aggress the cops or do anything that would cause harm." Iron Eyes added that he would leave at the imposed deadline.
— ABC News (@ABC) February 22, 2017
The protesters have spent months fighting back against the construction of the pipeline, which passes through sacred Standing Rock Sioux lands as well as beneath the tribe's water supply. The protesters tasted brief victory late last year when the Army Corps, under former President Barack Obama, said it would review the environmental impact of the pipeline, but President Trump ordered the study to be dropped and construction to resume.
The Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., kicks off Wednesday with talks from conservative activists, a taping of Fox News host Sean Hannity's show, and an "activism boot camp." Over the next four days at the largest annual gathering of conservatives, thousands of people from across the U.S. will hear from movement leaders including Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.), White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, and President Trump's chief strategist Stephen Bannon, as well as authors, activists, and media figures.
Trump is slated to speak Friday morning, becoming the first sitting president to give a speech at CPAC since former President Ronald Reagan. In the past, Trump has gotten a mixed reception from CPAC attendees. NPR noted that while some "have always loved the way he sticks it to Democrats and the establishment," others have "harbored doubts about just how much of a conservative Trump actually is." When Trump has addressed CPAC in previous years, he's given speeches somewhat similar to those he gave on the campaign trail. In 2011, he railed against "other countries that are screwing us" and championed the creation of "vast numbers of productive jobs."
Since its inaugural convention in 1974, CPAC has provided conservatives an opportunity to promote their values and discuss their party's future. Becca Stanek
Facebook is reportedly in "advanced" talks to bring Major League Baseball streaming to the social media platform, Reuters reports. "Facebook is aggressively going after sports content and they are now one of a number of competitors to traditional media outlets that are going after sports programming," sports media consultant Lee Berke told Reuters. "It makes perfect sense that they would be going after name brand properties like the MLB."
The deal on the table would see Facebook stream one MLB game live per week during the 2017 season, although it isn't clear yet which games those would be. In return, MLB would have access to Facebook's massive young audiences, consultants explained.
Facebook has streamed basketball, soccer, and table tennis matches to date. In a deal with Univision, Facebook also plans to stream 46 matches by the Mexican soccer league Liga MX this year. Facebook's streaming competitor, Twitter, has a deal with the National Football League. Jeva Lange
Hospitals might be unfairly rejecting qualified medical students from residencies due to concerns over how President Trump's travel ban on seven majority-Muslim countries could play out, The Boston Globe reports. As many as 1,000 students could be penalized based on their country of origin, despite possibly being the most qualified students available for the positions:
Many doctors vehemently oppose the executive order but say that, as a matter of practicality, they need to ensure that anyone they hire as a medical resident is ready to work on July 1, to provide crucial patient care.
As a result, hospital administrators, who on Wednesday must submit lists of the medical students they would most like to hire, have been tempted to rank students from those seven countries lower than their credentials would merit. [The Boston Globe]
The chief executive of the Association of American Medical Colleges, Dr. Darrell G. Kirch, called the decision being made by hospitals to pick between the best candidates or have residents ready by July to care for patients "impossible." Nearly one in every five physicians in the U.S. is born abroad; of 3,700 applications for 45 open residency positions at the Massachusetts General Hospital, for example, two of the final candidates include doctors from Iran and Iraq — nations that are banned under Trump's order.
"We are in a position where we're willing to take the risk right now," said Dr. Jatin M. Vyas, the director of the school's internal medicine residency program. "We are simply looking for the best talent." Jeva Lange
Republicans have faced hostile, anti-Trump crowds at their town hall meetings across the nation, with some officials apparently choosing to forgo the procedure, rather than face what is sure to be a firing squad of their constituents. Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) is not backing down, though, and his latest approach Tuesday evening might offer "his colleagues a potential blueprint for defusing tense constituent town halls that have bedeviled his Republican colleagues as they've been swarmed by protesters," Politico reports.
Here's a good example of the rowdiness/frustration at Rep. Dave Brat's town hall tonight. He took over 30 Qs, got lots of pushback. pic.twitter.com/L3kHyDUNKw
— Ashley Killough (@KilloughCNN) February 22, 2017
That is not to say Brat wasn't heckled Tuesday evening during his town hall in Blackstone, Virginia — he was. But rather than field questions from the audience, including from Ginny Bonner, who has five immediate family members who would be uninsurable without ObamaCare, Brat's staff collected questions on index cards beforehand. The local mayor then picked which cards to read and Brat cheerfully plowed through the protests and heckling of the crowd.
"I don't mind boisterous. I'm having fun!" he told the audience at one point, the Richmond Times-Dispatch writes.
Other Republicans might soon follow Brat's lead. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) also faced furious constituents on the topic of ObamaCare on Tuesday. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) also faced protests and boos. A change in tactics by the Republicans doesn't bode well for protesters, who are "attempting to recreate the Tea Party fervor that swept Republicans into control of Congress in 2010," Politico notes. Jeva Lange