10 things you need to know today: April 13, 2023
Memphis commissioners reappoint the 2nd of 2 expelled Tennessee lawmakers, an appeals court rules abortion pill can remain available with restrictions, and more
Local commissioners reappoint 2nd of 2 ousted Tennessee lawmakers
County commissioners in Memphis on Wednesday reappointed Justin Pearson to the state House, days after Republicans expelled him and another Black Democrat, Justin Jones, for leading gun-reform chants on the House floor. Local elected officials in Nashville returned Jones to his seat on Monday. A third Democrat, Rep. Gloria Johnson, who is white, avoided being kicked out by one vote. "You can't expel hope," Pearson said. Pearson, Jones, and Johnson protested on the House floor, calling for tightening gun laws in response to a Nashville school shooting that left three 9-year-old children and three adults dead. Pearson and Jones will serve in the seats until special elections can be held to fill them permanently. Both intend to run.
Appeals court restores FDA approval of abortion pill, with restrictions
A federal appeals court ruled late Wednesday that the abortion pill mifepristone can remain available, partially overruling a Texas judge's decision suspending the Food and Drug Administration's approval of the drug in 2000. A three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals said too much time had passed for an anti-abortion group to challenge the FDA approval. But the panel said the plaintiffs can challenge moves by the FDA and Biden administration to make mifepristone more widely available. The judges temporarily halted changes enacted since 2016 that lifted a requirement the pill be prescribed by doctors and allowed it to be used up to 10 weeks into pregnancy rather than seven. They also halted distribution of the pill by mail.
Zelensky condemns 'beasts' in Russia beheading video
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday strongly condemned two videos that emerged on pro-Russian social media appearing to show Russian soldiers beheading Ukrainian soldiers. "There is something that no one in the world can ignore: how easily these beasts kill," Zelensky said in a video posted to his Telegram account. "The world must see it." Zelensky urged the international community to respond to the apparent atrocities. "Every leader," he said. "Don't expect it to be forgotten." U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal at the Pentagon to talk about additional U.S. aid to Ukraine's military to help it fight invading Russian forces. The U.S. "will stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes," Austin said.
Report: Man behind big intelligence leak worked on military base
The man who shared hundreds of classified Pentagon documents with a close-knit group on social media platform Discord worked on a military base, and the 20 or so people in the invitation-only server he moderated included Russians, Ukrainians, and other foreigners, a member of the now-deleted group told The Washington Post. The unidentified source said the man posting the documents, "OG," was in his mid-20s and loved guns, God, and sharing government secrets with the group, dubbed "Thug Shaker Central." The Post's source, a minor, said he had known OG for about four years, considered him a close friend, and wouldn't reveal the leaker's real name or where he lives until OG is captured or flees the U.S.
Biden starts Ireland tour after touting peace on Good Friday Agreement anniversary
President Biden on Wednesday avoided addressing political controversies in Northern Ireland, encouraging unionists and Irish nationalists to work out their differences for the benefit of all. The legislature in Northern Ireland is deadlocked following the withdrawal of the Democratic Unionist Party over post-Brexit trade concerns. "Peace and economic opportunity go together," Biden said in brief remarks at Ulster University, his only public address in a Belfast visit marking the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement that ended 30 years of sectarian conflict. Biden will spend the next several days touring the Irish countryside, visiting places his ancestors came from.
Consumer prices rose less than expected in March
The Labor Department reported Wednesday that the consumer price index rose by just 0.1 percent in March, falling short of an expected 0.2 percent increase as gasoline prices fell. Consumer prices increased 5 percent from the same time last year, down from a 6 percent annual increase in February and a 40-year high of 9.1 percent in June. March's annual increase was the smallest since May 2021, and marked the ninth straight month of slowing inflation. Grocery prices fell 0.2 percent, the first monthly decline since September 2020. Still, high housing costs kept underlying inflation hotter than the Federal Reserve wants, so economists expect the central bank to raise interest rates again next month to continue its fight against inflation.
NPR ditches Twitter over 'state-affiliated media' label
NPR said Wednesday it will stop posting fresh content to its 52 official Twitter feeds, citing the social media platform's labeling of the network as "state-affiliated media" then "government-funded news." Twitter uses the same term to describe propaganda outlets from autocratic countries like Russia and China. NPR is the first major news organization to go silent on Twitter, though PBS also stopped tweeting indefinitely for the same reason. NPR CEO John Lansing said the move was necessary to protect the network's credibility so it could continue its journalism without "a shadow of negativity." "The downside, whatever the downside, doesn't change that fact," he said.
Sen. Tim Scott launches 2024 presidential exploratory committee
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) on Wednesday launched an exploratory committee for a 2024 run for the Republican presidential nomination. Scott, the most prominent Black Republican leader, announced his decision in an interview on Fox and Friends, saying he made up his mind to explore a bid for the White House after touring early primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and his home state of South Carolina. "I have found that people are starving for hope," Scott said. "They're starving for an optimistic, positive message that is anchored in conservative values." Scott would enter a growing primary field with nearly $21.8 million in his Senate account, but now he can raise funds specifically for a presidential campaign.
Delaware judge sanctions Fox News in Dominion defamation case
Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis on Wednesday sanctioned Fox News for delaying handing over documents ahead of the upcoming trial in Dominion Voting Systems' $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against the company. Dominion lawyers accused Fox in a pretrial hearing of hiding documents in the discovery process, and Davis said he would appoint a special master to investigate. "I am very concerned ... that there have been misrepresentations to the court," Davis said. The sanctions will let Dominion take more depositions of some Fox witnesses, with Fox footing the bill. This is the latest setback for Fox News as it defends itself against allegations it damaged Dominion's reputation by promoting false allegations that the company's voting software was used to rig the 2020 presidential election.
Prince Harry going to King Charles' coronation without wife Meghan
Prince Harry will attend King Charles III's coronation in May but his wife, Meghan Markle, will not, Buckingham Palace said Wednesday. "Buckingham Palace is pleased to confirm that the Duke of Sussex will attend the coronation service at Westminster Abbey on 6th May," the palace said in a statement. "The Duchess of Sussex will remain in California with Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet." The statement cleared up questions about the king's younger son's plans. Harry and Meghan had only confirmed that they were invited via email in March, but they hadn't said whether they would go. Prince Harry has not appeared publicly with his father or brother, Prince William, since his tell-all memoir, Spare, was released.