The chief executives of 145 major U.S. companies are sending Senate leaders a letter on Thursday urging them to pass new laws expanding background checks to all gun purchases and enacting stronger "red flag" laws, according to The New York Times, which saw a draft of the letter. The House has already passed similar bills, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he won't allow votes on them unless President Trump explicitly backs them. "Doing nothing about America's gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety," the business leaders write.
The CEOs who signed the letter lead companies including Levi Strauss, Twitter, Uber, Lyft, the Gap, Airbnb, Brookfield Property Group, Royal Caribbean, Pinterest, and two financial companies with possibly relevant ties: Thrive Capital, founded by Joshua Kushner, Jared Kushner's brother; and Bain Capital, cofounded by Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).
Many of the companies that did not sign — including Apple, Facebook, Google, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo — had robust debate, opting not to because of concerns about current scrutiny by congressional Republicans or out of fear that gun fanatics would accost their employees, the Times reports. Walmart wrote its own letter to Congress a week ago, urging debate on a new assault weapons ban.
"To a certain extent, these CEOs are putting their businesses on the line here, given how politically charged this is," Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh told the Times. The "tide is turning" in public opinion, and "business leaders are not afraid to get engaged now," added Blergh, who helped organize the letter. "CEOs are wired to take action on things that are going to impact their business and gun violence is impacting everybody's business now." Peter Weber
The New York Attorney General's office has informed the Trump Organization that its investigation into the company is "no longer purely civil in nature," spokesman Fabien Levy told CNN on Tuesday night.
"We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA," Levy said, adding that the attorney general's office would have no further comment. The news was later confirmed by MSNBC.
The probe began in 2019, with investigators looking into whether the Trump Organization inflated the value of its properties for tax benefits and to secure loans. Most recently, prosecutors with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.'s office have been trying to get longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg to cooperate with the investigation.Catherine Garcia
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) on Tuesday signed into law a dozen police reform measures, saying they will "work in coordination with one another to create a system of accountability and integrity stronger than anywhere else in the nation."
Police chokeholds, neck restraints, and no-knock warrants are now banned in the state, and officers are required to step in if they witness colleagues using excessive force. The bills also restrict the use of tear gas, create an independent office to evaluate the use of deadly force, and make it easier to sue officers who cause injury. Now, Inslee said, Washington has "the best, most comprehensive, most transparent, most effective police accountability laws in the United States."
These sweeping reforms come after several high-profile police brutality cases, including the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Manuel Ellis, a 33-year-old Black man who died while in police custody last year in Tacoma; he was heard on police scanner traffic telling officers after he was handcuffed that he couldn't breathe. Catherine Garcia
President Biden, facing calls from Democrats to push harder for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, has been privately encouraging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to start slowing down the airstrikes in Gaza, a person with knowledge of the talks told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Administration officials are having the same conversations with other high-ranking Israeli officials, the person said, letting them know that after nine days of fighting, it is in their best interest to begin winding down the military operation.
Israeli officials say the airstrikes in Gaza are targeting Hamas in an attempt to degrade its military capabilities; in return, Hamas has fired thousands of rockets into Israel. At least 213 Palestinians and 12 Israelis have been killed since the conflict began.
On Monday, the White House said Biden called Netanyahu and expressed his support for a ceasefire. A person familiar with the discussions taking place between the U.S. and Israel told AP that the White House believes its best course of action is to avoid making public demands and instead focus on privately pressuring Israel to stop the airstrikes. Israel has indicated its military campaign could end in a few days, the person added.
While speaking to reporters on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden has been "doing this long enough ... to know sometimes diplomacy has to happen behind the scenes." Catherine Garcia
With a vote of 364-62, the House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which directs the Department of Justice to task a point person with expediting the review of coronavirus-related hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
All of the opposing votes were from Republicans. The Senate approved the legislation 94-1 in April, with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) the lone vote against it. President Biden is expected to sign the bill into law later this week.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began last spring, there has been a sharp increase in the number of attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the bill also calls on federal agencies to work with community-based organizations to spread awareness of hate crimes and establish a way for law enforcement to report hate crimes online.
Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) introduced the legislation with Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and said on Tuesday it is "a necessary step to confront the second pandemic of racism and discrimination. We cannot mend what we do not measure." Catherine Garcia
If Republicans take back the House in 2022, at least one sitting GOP member of the chamber doesn't think House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is the right fit to serve as speaker — and you can probably guess who.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who some observers believe isn't a shoo-in to hold her seat, told Politico she won't vote for McCarthy in that hypothetical situation. "I think that we've got to have leaders who lead based on principle, and that's not what we've seen from him," Cheney said.
The rift between the two lawmakers, who not too long ago were leading the House GOP together, has grown significantly since the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, culminating in a vote to oust Cheney — who has remained fiercely critical of former President Donald Trump and his role in the future of the Republican Party — as the House Republican conference chair, so her candid words didn't exactly come out of the blue. Read more about Cheney's own potential path forward in the party at Politico.Tim O'Donnell
Researchers have estimated the Earth's individual bird population to be about 50 billion, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday. That's roughly one human for every six birds, CNETreports. Per National Geographic, the study is "the first attempt to estimate the world population of birds, species by species."
Since birds are flighty creatures (pun intended) by nature, researchers, of course, weren't able to count them individually. Instead, scientists used a combination of computer algorithms and "citizen-scientist" observations from bird watching database eBird to arrive at their monumental number.
You may be asking yourself, "Why now?" or just, "Why?" The answer is simple: "For the fields of ecology, evolutionary biology, and conservation, abundance estimates of organisms are essential," write the study's authors. "The distribution of species abundances is fundamental to numerous longstanding questions in ecology."
Although the researchers make sure to qualify their results as estimates (the census focused on only about 92 percent of "all living bird species"), their findings do "represent the best-available data" at the moment, per CNET.
Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle company is standing behind its vagina-scented candle that has now been accused of exploding on more than one occasion.
A Texas man is suing Goop, the company Paltrow founded, alleging he purchased one of its "This Smells Like My Vagina" candles and that it "exploded" and became "engulfed in high flames" after burning for around three hours, NBC News reports.
Colby Watson, who filed the class-action complaint, reportedly acknowledges that Goop provides a "limited" warning to customers that the candle shouldn't burn for more than two hours at a time, but he alleges Goop "knew the candles were defective." In January, a U.K. woman also alleged the candle "exploded and emitted huge flames," at which time Goop said it was in touch with her to see "if she followed the specific fire safety instructions."
A representative for Goop on Tuesday dismissed the lawsuit as "frivolous" and an "attempt to secure an outsized payout from a press-heavy product," per TMZ. They added that "we stand behind the brands we carry and the safety of the products we sell" and that the brand that supplies the candle has "substantiated the product's performance and safety through industry standard testing."
According to NBC, Watson is seeking over $5 million in punitive damages for himself and for others who "through no fault of their own, purchased defective and dangerous vagina-scented candles." Brendan Morrow