Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 14, 2016

Conservatives fight back in transgender bathroom debate, Pfizer blocks drugs from use in lethal injections, and more


Conservatives fire back at Obama's transgender bathroom directive

Conservative politicians were quick to slam President Obama's directive that public schools allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity rather than biological sex, with Texas officials even going so far as to hint at a lawsuit. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest responded by pointing out the directive is merely "guidance" for how schools can prevent discrimination, and that it doesn't add any legal requirements, though non-compliant schools may be at risk of losing federal funding.


Pfizer to prevent its drugs from being used for executions

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced Friday that it will be putting controls on the distribution of its drugs in order to ensure none are used in lethal injections. Their decision effectively ends the last open-market FDA-approved source for drugs used in executions. "Executing states must now go underground if they want to get hold of medicines for use in lethal injections," said Maya Foa of the human rights advocacy group Reprieve.


Chicago to reform police oversight system

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to reform the system for holding police officers accountable for misconduct, he wrote in a Chicago Sun-Times essay Friday. Emanuel outlined replacing the Independent Police Review Authority, which has been criticized for being lenient on cops, with a new civilian investigative agency. The announcement, in line with a task force recommendation, comes as the Justice Department investigates Chicago police practices. In November, the city released video footage of the fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald, prompting citywide protests.


Arizona's Sheriff Joe Arpaio found in contempt of court

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of the Phoenix area, known nationally for being notoriously hard on unauthorized immigrants, was found to be in contempt of court Friday for disobeying a federal judge's order in a racial profiling case. Self-branded as "America's Toughest Sheriff," the six-term official was found, along with current and former aides, to have participated in "multiple acts of misconduct, dishonesty, and bad faith" in racially profiling Latinos, the judge said. The case may be referred for criminal contempt.


ISIS declares state of emergency

ISIS declared a state of emergency in its self-declared capital of Raqqa, Syria, with media reports indicating the city is mobilizing to shield potential targets from airstrikes or ground attacks. The terrorist group appears to believe the capital will soon be under siege, according to those monitoring social media channels. "We have seen this declaration of emergency in Raqqa, whatever that means," the spokesman for the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition, Col. Steve Warren, told reporters Friday.


Bernie Sanders might try to eliminate superdelegates for future elections

An unnamed senior adviser to Bernie Sanders told Buzzfeed News that the Vermont senator may seek to modify or eliminate the Democratic Party's superdelegate system. Though Sanders almost certainly won't clinch the nomination, he'll likely have enough support heading into the Democratic National Convention to push for significant changes in his party, and the adviser said he may have to choose between "feel-good changes to the platform and fundamental changes to the nominating process."


Department of Homeland Security takes steps to streamline airport security lines

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, acknowledging that long airport security lines are a drag for travelers, hopes to make the whole exercise a little less painful this summer by increasing the use of overtime work and expediting the process of hiring more screening officers, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced Friday. The TSA plans to speed up the hiring of 768 new transportation security officers to have in place as soon as mid-June, ahead of the summer travel rush.


Russia slams Olympic doping allegations

In a Friday news conference on state television, Russian government officials adamantly denied claims leveled by the former director of the country's anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, that Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics were involved in a government-sponsored doping ploy. President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Rodchenkov's allegation that the government ordered up a performance-enhancing cocktail that blended alcohol with three different anabolic steroids, which was then served to numerous medal-winning athletes, was "absolutely groundless."


Heat beats Raptors to tie series at 3

The Miami Heat forced a Game 7 versus the Toronto Raptors with a 103-91 win Friday. Point guard Goran Dragić led the way, scoring 30 points. "Goran had a big game for us," teammate Dwyane Wade said. "He really was on the attack all night. I said we needed somebody to have a special game, and he did that for us." Catch Sunday's Game 7 on ABC at 3:30 p.m. ET.


World's oldest person dies at 116

The world's oldest person, Susannah Mushatt Jones, died Thursday night in New York at the age of 116. Jones had reportedly been ill for 10 days preceding her death at the public housing facility for seniors in Brooklyn where she'd been living for more than three decades. She said her key to a long life was surrounding herself "with love and positive energy" and never drinking or smoking. The world's oldest person alive is now thought to be Emma Morano, a 116-year-old Italian woman.


Bowing to Beijing
Tom Cruise.

Bowing to Beijing

America's revealing indifference to Cuba
Fidel Castro.
Samuel Goldman

America's revealing indifference to Cuba

Is China going to fry the global climate?
Xi Jinping.
Picture of Ryan CooperRyan Cooper

Is China going to fry the global climate?

Volunteers are writing and illustrating free books to help South African kids with reading
South African children read their books from Book Dash.
reading is fundamental

Volunteers are writing and illustrating free books to help South African kids with reading

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Officer Michael Fanone.
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