He’s not taking any malarkey. The U.S. launched airstrikes Thursday against an eastern Syrian site allegedly tied to a weapons smuggling operation by Iranian-backed Shia militias. The strike came in retaliation for rocket attacks against regional American forces in recent weeks, as well as “ongoing threats” to personnel. It’s the first known military action ordered by President Joe Biden since he took office last month. The Pentagon said the measured response with minimal casualties sends “an unambiguous message” that Biden will act to both protect troops and de-escalate tensions.
It’s just not allowed. That’s the ruling of the Senate’s parliamentarian, who said a provision mandating a $15 federal minimum wage can’t be included in a $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package. Elizabeth MacDonough, a nonpartisan procedural referee, said the measure, which would boost the current $7.25 hourly minimum over four years, violated budget rules in the process that Democrats plan to use since they can’t reach a filibuster-proof 60 votes. President Biden was disappointed, While House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “because no one in this country should work full time and live in poverty.”
3. LGBT Rights Victory in Muslim-Majority Malaysia
Could the times be a-changin’? A Malaysian man has won his case against an Islamic ban on same-sex acts. Thursday’s verdict from the Muslim-majority nation’s highest court was unanimous, spurring hopes that LGBT citizens could someday live openly without fear — although they currently face up to two decades in jail if charged under theBritish colonial-era law. Malaysia’s courts are split between civil and Islamic systems, with LGBT advocates saying the latter is increasingly deployed to inflict sentences ranging from caning to jailing on anyone involved in same-sex relationships.
4. Trump Plots 2024 as NY Prosecutors Get Tax Returns
He won’t go quietly into the night. Allies of former President Donald Trump say he’ll declare himself the presumptive 2024 GOP nominee at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Sunday. His Save America PAC also has $75 million on hand to spend on kingmaking in the 2022 midterms. As Manhattan prosecutors pore over his recently acquired tax returns, Trump’s move puts many would-be GOP presidential contenders on ice while also painting a target on intraparty critics like House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney.
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This weekend, binge the best of politics with The Carlos Watson Show. Rep. Katie Porter discusses the Jan. 6 riot and the future of capitalism. Republican consultant Alex Castellanos predicts the party’s next presidential candidates. And political analyst Heather McGhee proposes a fix to the media’s role in fomenting racial divides. All on The Carlos Watson Show.
You’d think they’d sell it on Amazon. The BBC reports that large plots of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest — including national forests and Indigenous-owned land — are being sold illegally on Facebook Marketplace, the platform’s classified ad service. The company says it’ll work with authorities but won’t act on its own, since its policies already ask buyers and sellers to follow local laws. Indigenous leaders and conservationists are urging Facebook to take action, arguing that President Jair Bolsonaro’s right-wing government won’t stop the sales. Deforestation, largely to supply Brazil’s cattle industry, is at a 10-year high.
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2. China Denies Anal Swabs of US Embassy Staff
It’s effective — at making diplomats uncomfortable. Beijing is denying reports that it subjected U.S. Embassy staff to anal-swab testing for COVID-19. American officials confirmed the procedure had been used “in error” while a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson insisted it never happened. But China has been pushing the method as able to catch traces of the virus missed by less invasive nasal or throat swabs. U.S. State Department officials maintain they are committed to protecting diplomats and their families “while preserving their dignity,” and urge staff to refuse future probing.
3. Greene Posts Transphobic Sign to Taunt Colleague
“There are TWO genders: MALE & FEMALE. Trust The science!” That was the sign QAnon-supporting Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene posted across from the congressional office of Rep. Marie Newman, a Democrat with a transgender daughter. Newman unfurled a trans pride flag after the House passed the Equality Act protecting LGBT rights, which she’d argued passionately for. Greene responded with the sign and a tweet saying Newman’s “biological son” doesn’t belong in Greene’s daughter’s bathrooms or sports teams. Netizens rushed to defend Newman, including GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who apologized for his colleague’s “self-promotion at all evil costs.”
4. Dognappers Critically Wound Lady Gaga’s Dog Walker
Would you give your life for someone else’s dog? Lady Gaga is offering $500,000 for the return of two French bulldogs, Koji and Gustav, who were snatched in Hollywood Wednesday night from her dog walker, who was shot and wounded during the petnapping. A third dog escaped. Experts say that even if the animals weren’t owned by a superstar, they’d be a target for thieves, as they can sell for as much as $5,000 and are small and easy to handle. The unnamed male victim is hospitalized in critical condition, and LAPD is on the case.
5. Facing Charges, Ex-USA Gymnastics Coach Kills Himself
Was it justice? Former Olympic coach John Geddert, 63, killed himself Thursday at a Michigan highway rest stop hours after state authorities charged him with 24 crimes relating to the abuse of young competitors. Charges included racketeering, human trafficking and sexual abuse, like notorious former team doctor Larry Nassar. Athletes accused him of ignoring reports of Nassar’s serial molestations, as well as abusive behavior like stomping on their bare feet and forcing them to train while injured. One of Nassar’s 265 known victims, Sarah Klein, called Geddert a “narcissistic abuser” and his suicide an “admission of guilt.”
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