The U.S. Senate has approved a bipartisan gun safety bill by a vote of 65 to 33. The vote comes just weeks after the mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, that killed more than 30 people. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer praised the bill.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer: “This is not a cure-all for all the ways gun violence affects our nation, but it is a long-overdue step in the right direction. Passing this gun safety bill is truly significant, and it’s going to save lives.”
Measures in the bill include expanded background checks for individuals under the age of 21 and financial incentives for states to pass red flag laws. The Senate bill, however, does not include a number of gun control initiatives that were included in a recent bill approved by House Democrats which aimed to ban the sale of large-capacity magazines and raise the minimum age to purchase an assault weapon from 18 to 21.
The Senate vote came just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a New York law that limited the carrying of concealed handguns outside the home. The court’s ruling was 6 to 3. Five other states have similar laws that are now in jeopardy: California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey. In the majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the Second Amendment “protects an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.” The ruling is seen as a major setback for gun control efforts. In his dissent, retiring Justice Stephen Breyer blasted the majority opinion, writing that it will make it harder for states to address the dangers of gun violence. We will have more on the ruling after headlines.
The House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection has revealed Donald Trump heavily pressured the Justice Department to help him overturn the 2020 election. At a hearing on Thursday, former top DOJ officials said Trump urged the department to seize voting machines, declare the election results corrupt and investigate bizarre conspiracy theories. During Thursday’s hearing, video was aired of former Attorney General William Barr suggesting Trump came very close to staying in power.
William Barr: “If the position of the department was we’re not even looking at this until after Biden’s in office, I’m not sure we would have had a transition at all.”
During Thursday’s hearing, former acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue was questioned by Republican Congressmember Adam Kinzinger about Trump’s efforts to pressure acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger: “You also noted that Mr. Rosen said to Mr. Trump, quote, 'DOJ can't and won’t snap its fingers and change the outcome of the election.’ How did the president respond to that, sir?”
Richard Donoghue: “He responded very quickly and said, essentially, ’That’s not what I’m asking you to do. What I’m just asking you to do is just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.’”
Many of Trump’s efforts to push the Department of Justice involved a lower-level DOJ attorney named Jeffrey Clark, whom Trump considered naming attorney general. On Wednesday morning, the FBI raided Clark’s home.
The January 6 committee revealed six members of Congress who supported Trump’s coup attempt sought presidential pardons: Mo Brooks of Alabama, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Andy Biggs of Arizona. We will have more on the January 6 hearing later in the program.
Ukrainian officials have ordered troops to withdraw from the besieged eastern city of Severodonetsk, which has been the site of weeks of heavy fighting. The move brings Russia closer to seizing all of the Luhansk region.
This comes as the United States has announced it will send an additional $450 million in military aid to Ukraine, including medium-range rocket systems.
On Thursday, the European Union voted to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, beginning a process for the countries to join the EU.
On Thursday, China hosted a virtual meeting with the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa — a group known collectively as BRICS. Chinese President Xi Jinping opened the meeting by saying nations need to reject “Cold War mentality.” He called for opposition to unilateral sanctions, in a reference to efforts by the United States and its allies to isolate Russia after it invaded Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin also addressed the virtual summit.
President Vladimir Putin: “The countries of our alliance, BRICS, are intensifying their cooperation on a whole range of issues of international and regional agendas. BRICS countries’ authority and global influence are growing with every year. It’s an objective process, because the BRICS 5 are well known for having enormous political, economic, scientific and social potential. We have all the opportunities to work together effectively and to develop global stability and security, sustainable growth, prosperity and improvements to the well-being of the population.”
Afghan officials say the death toll from Wednesday’s earthquake has risen to at least 1,150. Over 10,000 homes were destroyed or damaged in the largest earthquake to hit Afghanistan in over two decades. At least five more people died earlier today in a strong aftershock. Many Afghans lost multiple relatives in the quake.
bq. Abdur Rahman: “The quake happened at night. I was not here myself, but my brothers were here. That’s my brother, and that one. They were here. The quake suddenly happened at night. Our houses were destroyed. Twelve people of our family were martyred. Two of the injured were my brothers.”
The International Red Cross is calling on nations to release Afghanistan’s foreign exchange reserves in the wake of the earthquake. Last year the United States froze nearly $9.5 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank following the takeover by the Taliban.
The United Nations Human Rights Office has blamed Israeli forces for fatally shooting Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh last month as she covered an Israeli military raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. Earlier today, a spokesperson for the U.N. Human Rights Office said, “All information we have gathered … is consistent with the finding that the shots that killed Abu Akleh and injured her colleague Ali Sammoudi came from Israeli security forces and not from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians.”
In Ecuador, Indigenous protesters tried to storm the National Assembly in the capital Quito on Thursday on the 11th day of demonstrations against right-wing President Guillermo Lasso’s economic policies and rising fuel prices. At least four protesters have been killed so far, and nearly 100 injured. The protests have been led by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, or CONAI. This is the group’s leader, Leonidas Iza.
Leonidas Iza: “The house of culture has been taken by force by the people. It’s the first triumph, brothers and sisters. Second, what the national government is saying at this moment, it’s simply in their hands. We are not going to lose the north. I have been detained. They have tried to assassinate me. Yet we are alive, and we have said, 'Here are the 10 points and period.' And if for that reason the government falls, it is not our problem, brothers and sisters.”
The Burmese military has moved the country’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi to solitary confinement. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been jailed since a military coup in February 2021.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled individuals cannot sue police officers who do not read them their Miranda rights at the time of their arrest. The ruling was 6 to 3, with all six conservative justices in the majority. The ACLU criticized the ruling, saying, “This dangerous decision widens the gap between what the Constitution guarantees and what we can hold our government accountable for.”
California lawmakers have approved a bill to protect abortion providers and patients from civil suits in other states. Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan said the legislation is aimed at making California a “legal sanctuary for reproductive choice.” The vote comes as the nation prepares for the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a ruling in which it is expected to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Thursday marked the 50th anniversary of Title IX, a 1972 federal law barring discrimination on the basis of sex in any school that accepts federal funding. The Biden administration marked the anniversary by proposing to expand protections under Title IX to transgender students. The National Women’s Law Center praised the move but called on the White House to protect trans student athletes, as well.
The University of Washington Center for Human Rights has revealed a private plane owned by the New England Patriots football team has been used at least three times this month by the federal government for deportation flights to Honduras. The finding comes as part of a broader probe by the center looking at how professional and college sports teams charter many of the same planes used on deportation flights.