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March 15, 2022

Elon Musk Challenges Putin to Duel

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin to “single combat” for Ukraine.

“I hereby challenge Владимир Путин to single combat,” Musk tweeted, using Putin’s Russian name. 

“Stakes are Україна,” he added, using the Ukrainian spelling for Ukraine.

In a follow up tweet, Musk tagged the Kremlin’s official account and asked, “Do you agree to this fight?”

Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, responded.

“You, little devil, are still young,” Rogozin wrote. “Compete with me weakling; It would only be a waste of time. Overtake my brother first.”


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Musk challenges Putin to ‘single combat’ over Ukraine, Russia responds: ‘Weakling’

March 13, 2022

27K Ballots Flagged For Rejection

In Texas, more than 27,000 mail-in ballots were flagged for rejection in the state’s primary elections earlier this month.

Roughly 17% of mail-in ballots in Texas were initially rejected, according to the Associated Press, who analyzed the data of 120 counties in the Lone Star state.

The analysis suggests that the amount of rejected votes in Texas this year will surpass previous elections by a wide margin. Last year, roughly 8,300 mail-in ballots were rejected in the state.

However, the final number rejected mail ballots from this year’s primaries will be lower than currently on record, as voters were given until Monday to “fix” theirs.

Most of the flagged ballots didn’t have identification that matched what Texas had on file. State law requires that mail-in voters provide a Texas driver’s license number, a Texas ID number or the last four digits of their Social Security number — which must match the number in their voter registration file.


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Texas flagged 27,000 mail ballots for rejection in primary

March 13, 2022

Arrests and Deportations of Noncitizens Dropped 85% Under Biden

Newly released federal data shows that arrests and deportations of unlawful migrants have significantly dropped during the Biden administration.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) removed 59,011 noncitizens from October 2020 through September 2021. By contrast, roughly 400,000 noncitizens were deported in 2011 under former President Barack Obama — marking an 85% drop under President Joe Biden.

The number of illegal immigrants arrested by ICE also greatly dropped.

A total of 74,082 noncitizens were arrested in 2021, a sharp drop from the more than 300,000 arrests during the early years of the Obama administration.


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Illegal immigrant arrests and deportations drop up to 85% under Biden, compared to record-high Obama years

March 12, 2022

Biden: This Would Be ‘World War III’

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY…
1994: The Church of England ordains its first ever 33 female priests.

President Joe Biden stressed that the U.S. and NATO allies would not fight Russia on the ground in Ukraine, saying it would “World War III.”

“We’re going to continue to stand together with our allies in Europe and send an unmistakable message. We will defend every single inch of NATO territory with the full might of the united and galvanized NATO,” Biden said after announcing additional sanctions on Russia on Friday.

“We will not fight a war against Russia in Ukraine. Direct conflict between NATO and Russia is World War III, something we must strive to prevent.”

The Biden administration has remained consistent that they have no intention of sending American troops into Ukraine to fight Russia, warning that doing so would lead to war with another nuclear power.

“The President and our NATO partners have not changed their assessment about their plans to send U.S. troops in,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.

Recently, several reports have asked if Russia using chemical weapons would trigger a U.S. military response.

Biden said Russia would pay a “severe price” if it were to carry out a chemical weapons attack.


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Biden: Direct conflict between NATO and Russia would be ‘World War III’

March 11, 2022

What Caused Millions of Americans To Lose IQ Points?

A new study found that exposure to lead from gasoline stunted the IQ of about half the U.S. population.

The peer-reviewed study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focuses on people born before 1996 — the year the U.S. banned gas containing lead.

Researchers from Florida State University and Duke University found childhood lead exposure cost America an estimated 824 million points, or 2.6 points per person on average.

Certain age groups were affected more than others. Those born at the peak of leaded gas consumption in the 1960s and the 1970s lost up to 7 IQ points. Exposure primarily came from inhaling auto exhaust.

Researchers studied gas consumption data, population estimates, and other data to calculate that as of 2015, more than 170 million Americans had blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter in their early childhood years. 

Currently, 3.5 micrograms per deciliter is the reference value for high blood lead levels, though the amount used to be much higher. But lead is a neurotoxin, and no amount of it is safe.

“This is important because we often think about lead as an issue for children, and of course it is,” said Michael McFarland, the study’s principal author and an associate professor of sociology at Florida State University. “But what we really wanted to know is what happens to those children who were exposed?”

McFarland said that a 2 to 3 point IQ difference is nominal, unless an individual is on the lower side of IQ distribution.

“If you’re more toward cognitive impairment, a couple points can mean a lot,” he said.

While there are medical interventions available for children who have recently been exposed to high amounts of lead, those wouldn’t work for adults born before 1996.

Still, the study findings should not be a major cause for concern, McFarland said.

“There are a host of things that go into IQ,” he said. “This is one that is obviously negative, but if you also have a nurturing home environment, that helped your IQ.”


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Lead from gasoline blunted the IQ of about half the U.S. population, study says

March 11, 2022

House Passes $1.5T Omnibus Spending Package

The House of Representatives passed a staggering $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill, funding the federal government through September.

The package was split in two votes so lawmakers could determine specific support for the defense spending portions.

First, the House voted 361-69 to back funding for the Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security, and other national security priorities. Next, the House voted 260-171, with Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) voting “present,” to adopt the provisions.

Congress acting in a timely fashion is of the utmost importance, as current federal funding expires on March 11.

The omnibus package includes roughly $14 billion in emergency assistance for Ukraine and central European allies in response to the Russian invasion.


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House passes sweeping $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill

March 10, 2022

Report: Trump’s Plane Made Emergency Landing After GOP Retreat

Former President Donald Trump’s private plane made an emergency landing shortly after his appearance at an event for Republican National Committee (RNC) donors in New Orleans.

Trump was en route to his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida, when the pilot decided to turn around and return to the airport.

The plane was in the air for between 20 to 30 minutes before one of the engines failed over the Gulf of Mexico.

Audio of the communications between the pilot and the air traffic control tower revealed that the landing was described as “emergency in nature.” However, another person familiar with the recording disputed the use of the word “emergency.”

Once the plane touched the ground, the RNC quickly reached out to a donor and found the former president another plane. Trump eventually landed in Palm Beach around 3 a.m. on March 6.

Trump delivered a 90-minute speech at the Four Seasons Hotel in New Orleans, during which he jokingly suggested the U.S. “bomb the shit out of Russia” with planes bearing the Chinese flag and said he was “looking … very, very strongly” at the possibility of a 2024 presidential bid.


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Trump plane made emergency landing after weekend speech to GOP donors

March 10, 2022

Florida Lawmakers Pass Controversial Bill Amid Protests

The Florida Senate passed HB 117, the controversial legislature critics dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, despite protests and staunch criticism from Democratic lawmakers and LGBTQ advocates.

The “Parental Rights in Education” bill passed 22-17 and now makes its way to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

DeSantis has been a vocal supporter of the legislation, saying it will shield younger students from age-inappropriate information.

“We are going to make sure parents are able to send their kids to kindergarten without having some of this stuff injected into their school curriculum,” DeSantis said ahead of the vote.

Once DeSantis adds his signature, the bill will go into effect for the 2022-2023 school year.

“We want the focus to be on those basic, fundamental things,” said Republican State Representative Joe Harding, who sponsored the bill. “The reading, the writing, the math. And when discussions come up as a dad of four kids, children ask questions. Discussions are going to come up. We can’t ban a conversation. We can’t ban a discussion. That’s not what we’re doing.”

The bill has faced heavy criticism, including from President Joe Biden. He called the bill “hateful” to the LGBTQ community.

“Leaders in Florida are prioritizing hateful bills that hurt some of the students most in need,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said. 

“The Department of Education has made clear that all schools receiving federal funding must follow federal civil rights law, including Title IX’s protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We stand with our LGBTQ+ students in Florida and across the country, and urge Florida leaders to make sure all their students are protected and supported.”

Here is the final version of the measure:

"Requires district school boards to adopt procedures that comport with certain provisions of law for notifying student's parent of specified information; requires such procedures to reinforce fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding upbringing & control of their children; prohibits school district from adopting procedures or student support forms that prohibit school district personnel from notifying parent about specified information or that encourage student to withhold from parent such information; prohibits school district personnel from discouraging or prohibiting parental notification & involvement in critical decisions affecting student's mental, emotional, or physical well-being; prohibits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels; requires school districts to notify parents of healthcare services; authorizes parent to bring action against school district to obtain declaratory judgment; provides for additional award of injunctive relief, damages, & reasonable attorney fees & court costs to certain parents."

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Florida Senate passes controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill despite protests

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