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A federal judge has rejected former President Donald Trump’s claims of executive privilege and has ordered Mark Meadows and other former top aides to testify before a federal grand jury investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the election leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News.Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff, was subpoenaed along with the other former aides by Special counsel Jack Smith for testimony and documents related to the probe.Trump’s legal team had challenged the subpoenas by asserting executive privilege, which is the right of a president to keep confidential the communications he has with advisers.In a sealed order last week, Judge Beryl Howell rejected Trump’s claim of executive privilege for Meadows and a number of others, including Trump’s former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, his former national security adviser Robert O’Brien, former top aide Stephen Miller, and former deputy chief of staff and social media director Dan Scavino, according to sources familiar with the matter.Former Trump aides Nick Luna and John McEntee, along with former top DHS official Ken Cuccinelli, were also included in the order, the sources said.Trump is likely to appeal the ruling, according to sources briefed on the matter. A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Meadows did not respond to ABC’s request for comment and neither did an attorney representing him. Ratcliffe, O’Brien, Miller, Luna, McEntee and Cuccinelli did not respond to ABC’s request for comment. An attorney representing Scavino also did not respond.Former White House Chief of Staff during the Trump administration Mark Meadows speaks at FreedowmWorks headquarters on Nov. 14, 2022 in Washington, D.C.Drew Angerer/Getty Images, FILESome of the aides that have been ordered to testify have already appeared before the grand jury but did not answer some questions related to interactions with the former president, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News, and thus would now be required to return for additional testimony. The grand jury proceedings are being held under seal.It’s not clear the amount of information each of them would have, or the scope of what prosecutors want to question them on, the sources said.ABC News previously reported that in February, prosecutors investigating Jan. 6 moved to compel testimony from a number of top Trump aides, including Meadows, Ratcliffe and O’Brien.Previously, Judge Howell had rejected Trump’s claim of executive privilege to block the testimony of two top aides to Vice President Pence, Greg Jacob and Marc Short. In rejecting Trump’s motion to block the testimony of Jacob and Short, the judge ruled that it is up to the current president to assert executive privilege, not a former president, according to sources familiar with the proceedings.The judge also previously ruled that former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, along with his deputy Pat Philbin, also had to return to the grand jury to answer additional questions after Trump previously argued they were protected by privilege.Howell is being succeeded by a new chief judge on the D.C. district court, who will now oversee grand jury matters related to the special counsel’s probes.Smith, a longtime federal prosecutor and former head of the Justice Department’s public integrity section, was tapped in November by Attorney General Merrick Garland to oversee the Justice Department’s investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election and Trump’s handling of classified materials after leaving office.Meadows, who according to sources was subpoenaed in January, was one of the only aides around Trump on Jan. 6 as the attack unfolded. He was also party to the infamous January 2021 phone call that Trump had with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Trump asked Raffensperger to “find” him enough votes to win the state.

STANTON, Tenn. — A new Ford assembly plant being built in western Tennessee will be able to build up to 500,000 electric pickup trucks per year at full production, the company said Friday. The Dearborn, Michigan, automaker announced in September of 2021 that it would build the plant and a battery factory on a 3,600-acre (1,460-hectare) parcel of land in rural Stanton, northeast of Memphis. Known as the Memphis Regional Megasite, the land designated by the state for industrial development sat unused for years before Ford decided to move in. Construction on the site, named BlueOval City, began last year. Ford has said it plans to start production by 2025, and it said Friday that timetable remains in place. The automaker also said its second-generation electric truck is “code named Project T3.” Ford’s assembly plant and a battery plant run by a joint venture called BlueOvalSK will employ about 6,000 people with an investment of roughly $5.6 billion, Ford said.BlueOvalSK will also construct twin battery plants in Glendale, Kentucky, in an estimated $5.8 billion investment. The projects are expected to create an estimated 10,800 jobs and shift the automaker’s future manufacturing footprint toward the South while putting an emphasis on green energy.Ford says the Tennessee plant is designed to be its first carbon-neutral vehicle manufacturing campus and it will have a 30% smaller general assembly footprint than traditional plants. Ford also said it will use recovered energy from the site to provide carbon-free heat for the assembly plant and save water by reducing evaporation from the site’s cooling towers.Before landing the Ford project, Tennessee had invested more than $174 million in the Memphis megasite but struggled to lure the big tenant it wanted to the Haywood County location. Tennessee lawmakers have committed to spending nearly $900 million on state incentives, infrastructure upgrades and more as part of a sweeping plan with Ford. The agreement included $500 million in capital grant funds.The lease essentially grants the land to Ford through December 2051. The rent is $1 for the entire lease term.Some of the rural West Tennessee counties surrounding the plant hope it will help boost their economies. With an economy based largely on farming, Haywood County saw its population shrink by 4.9% to 17,864 people from 2010 to 2020, one of 14 counties to lose population as Tennessee grew as a whole by 8.9%, according to census data.The factory is expected to bring both small and large businesses to the area, including hotels, restaurants, health care facilities and suppliers for the plant, among others. Real estate values also could increase.Ford’s leaders have pledged to help the communities near the plant. The Ford Motor Co. Fund announced Friday it has awarded 17 capital grants of $75,000 to $100,000 each to fire departments, arts and parks conservancy groups, a community center, local governments and other organizations in six counties. The $1.2 million grant program received 200 applications, said Mary Culler, president of the Ford Motor Company Fund.“Those are the kinds of grass-roots, capital projects that these towns and municipalities are looking for,” Culler said.

British antitrust regulators scrutinizing Microsoft’s blockbuster purchase of videogame maker Activision Blizzard have dropped concerns that the deal would hurt the console gaming marketByThe Associated PressMarch 24, 2023, 10:30 AMLONDON — British antitrust regulators scrutinizing Microsoft’s blockbuster purchase of videogame maker Activision Blizzard on Friday dropped concerns that the deal would hurt the console gaming market, narrowing the scope of their investigation.The Competition and Markets Authority said it no longer thinks the $69 billion deal will result in a “substantial lessening of competition” for console games in the U.K., an update to provisional findings issued last month based on new evidence. The all-cash deal is set to be the biggest in the history of the tech industry. But it faces stiff opposition from rival Sony and is being examined by regulators in the U.S. and Europe over fears that it would give Microsoft control of popular game franchises like Call of Duty.The purchase hit a hurdle last month when the U.K. watchdog said in its initial decision that the deal would stifle competition for both cloud and console gaming. Based on the new evidence, including data that gives better insight into videogamers’ purchasing behavior, the watchdog said it “would not be commercially beneficial” for Microsoft to make Call of Duty exclusive to its Xbox console. That’s the opposite of its original analysis, which indicated that it would be profitable to block the game from competing consoles like Sony’s PlayStation. “The cost to Microsoft of withholding Call of Duty from PlayStation would outweigh any gains from taking such action,” Martin Coleman, chair of the CMA’s independent expert panel investigating the deal, said in a press release. The watchdog is still investigating the deal’s impact on the cloud computing market and plans to issue a final report by April 26. Microsoft said it welcomed the findings and would work with the watchdog “to resolve any outstanding concerns.” Related Topics

Officials in Maryland say a fiery crash involving a tanker truck full of fuel briefly shut down the Interstate 795 expressway where it meets the Baltimore Beltway on Friday morningByThe Associated PressMarch 24, 2023, 10:06 AMPIKESVILLE, Md. — A fiery crash involving a tanker truck full of fuel briefly shut down the Interstate 795 expressway where it meets the Baltimore Beltway on Friday morning, injuring the driver and sending up a plume smoke that could be seen for miles, according to officials and news reports.The crash happened around 6 a.m., according to the Maryland Department of Transportation. News outlets posted photos and video from the scene showing flames along the roadway and dark smoke billowing into the sky.The driver was taken to University of Maryland Medical Center’s Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore for treatment, Maryland State Police tweeted. No other injuries were reported.The crash initially shut down all lanes of the expressway, but southbound lanes opened shortly before 8 a.m. and the fire was extinguished by 9 a.m., officials said. The truck was hauling heating oil and firefighters and crews from the Maryland Department of the Environment were working to recover any fuel that did not burn away, authorities said.The cause of the crash remains under investigation by state police.

Rwanda’s government has commuted the sentence of Paul Rusesabagina, who inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda” for saving hundreds of countrymen from genocide but was convicted of terrorism offenses years later in a widely criticized trialByCARA ANNA and IGNATIUS SSUUNA Associated PressMarch 24, 2023, 10:07 AMKIGALI, Rwanda — Rwanda’s government has commuted the sentence of Paul Rusesabagina, who inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda” for saving hundreds of countrymen from genocide but was convicted of terrorism offenses years later in a widely criticized trial.Government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo told The Associated Press on Friday that the 25-year sentence was commuted by presidential order after a request for clemency.Rusesabagina, a U.S. resident and Belgian citizen, is expected to be released on Saturday, she said.“Rwanda notes the constructive role of the U.S. government in creating conditions for dialogue on this issue, as well as the facilitation provided by the state of Qatar,” Makolo said.The case had been described by the United States and others as unfair. Rusesabagina disappeared in 2020 during a visit to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and appeared days later in Rwanda in handcuffs. His family alleged he was kidnapped and taken to Rwanda against his will to stand trial.Rusesabagina has asserted that his arrest was in response to his criticism of longtime Rwandan President Paul Kagame over alleged human rights abuses. Kagame’s government has repeatedly denied targeting dissenting voices with arrests and extrajudicial killings.___Anna contributed from Nairobi, Kenya

SAN ANTONIO — Irma Reyes changed clothes in the back seat of the pickup: skirt, tights, turtleneck, leather jacket. All black. She brushed her hair and pulled on heels as her husband drove their Chevy through predawn darkness toward a courthouse hundreds of miles from home.She wanted to look confident — poised but hellbent. The outfit was meant to let Texas prosecutors know just what kind of formidable mother they’d be crossing that morning.Weeks earlier, Reyes learned about the plea deal. State lawyers planned to let the two men charged with sex trafficking her daughter walk free.She’d barely been able to eat or brush her teeth since, her mind racing: Why are they doing this? Can I get the judge to stop it? Don’t they know my daughter matters?Reyes’ daughter was 16 in 2017, when men she knew only as “Rocky” and “Blue” kept her and another girl at a San Antonio motel where men paid to have sex with them. Now, the cases against Rakim Sharkey and Elijah Teel — the men police identified as the traffickers — have seen years of delay, a parade of prosecutors, an aborted trial and, ultimately, a stark retreat by the government.They are among thousands of cases under a cloud of dysfunction at the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose legal troubles include a criminal investigation by Justice Department officials in Washington. Trafficking cases in particular have come under scrutiny and cast doubt on how the agency, which fights court battles affecting people far beyond Texas, uses millions of state tax dollars on an issue that Republican leaders trumpet as a priority while attacking Democrats’ approach to border security.For Reyes, her daughter, and other victims and families, the politics take a backseat to their pain. To them, the plea deal is a case study in how the agency’s troubles are undercutting justice for vulnerable victims.A spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, Kristen House, declined to answer questions about the deal, the actions of prosecutors, and other details of the case involving Reyes’ daughter.“It’s like a nightmare that I can’t wake up from,” Reyes told The Associated Press.______The case was ready for trial years before that January day Reyes and her husband made their way to the San Antonio courthouse, said Kirsta Leeburg Melton.“You will not find a stronger corroborated case,” said Melton, who oversaw the attorney general’s human trafficking unit until late 2019 and now runs the Institute to Combat Trafficking. “And I’m sick. It’s wrong.”In the courthouse, Reyes’ stomach churned as she thought of the deal for the two men: five years of probation. The original charges carried potential sentences of decades in prison.“I need to puke,” said Reyes, 45, her heels clicking down the hallway to the bathroom.Inside the crowded courtroom, she waited on a back bench for hours, watching people charged with drug crimes and drunken driving draw harsher sentences.One of the defendants walked in and sat for a while on the same bench. Just one person separated them, but he seemed not to recognize Reyes. She squeezed her husband’s hand.When the judge got to their case, she summarized its twists and turns: years lost to the pandemic, delays due to “turnover in the attorney general’s office,” days of testimony last year only for several people to catch COVID-19 and prompt a mistrial.A defense attorney for Sharkey said his client was in a “strong position” for acquittal but would accept the deal to put the case behind him. Reyes listened in disbelief as the new prosecutor told the judge that Reyes’ daughter — now a 22-year-old with whom she keeps up a steady stream of text messages — was “on the run.”Sharkey and Teel pleaded “no contest” to aggravated promotion of prostitution. The judge, Velia Meza, sentenced the men to seven years of probation, despite prosecutors recommending five, adding that they’d be strictly supervised but wouldn’t have to register as sex offenders.Then, it was Reyes’ turn. Meza would allow a victim impact statement.Reyes walked slowly to the front of the court, clutching her handwritten statement. She thought of her daughter: a beautiful soul who blasts Beyoncé and loves her dogs, a fighter who overcame a lifetime of struggles to get sober, a woman who took the witness stand just months earlier against the man charged with trafficking her.Reyes reached the waiting bailiff. She took the microphone.____Reyes’ daughter lost a brother when she was young. Then her estranged father died. She was bullied at school.The AP is withholding the young woman’s name, in keeping with its policy to avoid identifying victims of sexual assault and other such crimes. Reyes told AP she spoke about this story with her daughter, who did not want to comment or be interviewed directly.Reyes said that as a girl, her daughter would run away from the large family’s South Texas home. By her teens, she started using drugs and getting psychological care through the juvenile justice system. In September 2017, she was sent to a rehabilitation center.Court records show it was only days after Reyes’ daughter and another girl ran away from rehab that their photos were advertised online for “dates” out of a motel room off the interstate. They met “Blue” outside a motel, where they couldn’t afford a night’s stay. He introduced them to “Rocky.” The pair rented the girls a room, helped set up meetings with men who’d pay for sex, and collected half the money at the end of each day, according to the records.Reyes’ daughter later testified that when one of the men hit her, she got scared and called her mom. Reyes found the phone number advertised on Backpages.com, a classifieds website later shut down by law enforcement. She called police; officers found the girls at the motel that night.Ten days after running away, Reyes’ daughter was in a juvenile lockup talking to a detective who would spend months tracking down the men.“We’re able to get the surveillance video. We were able to get room receipts. We were able to get cellphones, which were extracted for data,” detective Manuel Anguiano told AP. “I don’t think I’ve ever worked a case that had more evidence.”Several people who worked on the case told AP they were outraged by the attorney general’s office’s final resolution.“It’s absolutely an unfortunate outcome,” said Cara Pierce, who oversaw the agency’s human trafficking unit until August 2022. “This was a triable case when I left.”Sharkey’s lawyer, Jason Goss, maintains the jury would have acquitted his client but told AP he had no choice but to plead no contest to the reduced charge because the potential sentence of 25 years to life was too risky. Teel’s attorney, Brian Powers, didn’t respond to phone messages and emails seeking comment.After getting out of the detention facility, Reyes’ daughter lived away from home for a while, then returned to her mother’s house on a quiet, residential block.She barely left her spartan bedroom, Reyes said, and couldn’t talk about what had happened. Reyes in turn got anxious when her daughter was around men. They avoided crowds.Reyes coaxed her back into the world. She brought her treats – Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and Limón Lays – and the book “Women Who Run with the Wolves.”Gradually, they ventured out, taking morning walks in a nature preserve, watching the birds while eating lunch in Reyes’ car. But the young woman still had panic attacks, sometimes shutting herself in the bathroom.That’s where she was when Connie Spence, a prosecutor who signed on to the case in summer 2020, arrived to talk, Reyes said. Spence got down on the floor, speaking calmly as the young woman hyperventilated.After that, Reyes said, her daughter began weekly counseling. She started volunteering at a library and museum. She reenrolled in school and, last June, mother and daughter drove together to San Antonio to testify.“They built a bond somehow,” Reyes said. “Connie gave her hope.”On the witness stand, Reyes’ daughter struggled to breathe and had difficulty recalling details from years before. But over hours of testimony she recounted how she came to be having sex at the motel to pay “Rocky.” She testified that he got mad after she spoke to other men there, taking her into a room and hitting her across the face.Asked to identify “Rocky,” the young woman pointed across the courtroom at Sharkey.___Four days later, Reyes and her daughter were relaxing in the summer heat on their patio when Spence called to tell them the judge had declared a mistrial because four people in the courtroom caught COVID-19.They told themselves testifying would be easier the second time. All three women agreed to go back to court as many times as needed.But it would be the last time they spoke to Spence.She left the attorney general’s office the following month, according to personnel files obtained under public records laws. Spence’s resignation letter gives no reason. She didn’t respond to calls and messages seeking comment.Spence left amid a wave of seasoned prosecutors quitting over practices they said were meant to slant legal work, reward loyalists and drum out dissent. The next month, the office dropped a separate series of trafficking and child sexual assault cases after losing track of one of the victims.In October, Reyes was introduced to new lead lawyer James Winters — the last of eight prosecutors to handle the case for the attorney general’s office, court records show. Reyes said her daughter told Winters she would testify again.The lawyer later asked that the case be postponed again, but the judge refused. Reyes didn’t hear from prosecutors again until early January, when Winters called about the plea deal. It was a couple weeks after her daughter had left home.In the silence, she’d grown pessimistic about the case. They had a fight, Reyes said. The young woman went to stay with a friend’s family.Reyes worried about her daughter and whether she might turn to old habits. She spent Christmas with the family, but left soon after.Still, a victim’s advocate told prosecutors that Reyes could get her daughter to court, internal office messages obtained by AP show. Reyes doesn’t understand why Winters later told the judge her daughter was “on the run.”Winters, who referred emailed questions to an attorney general’s spokesman, submitted his resignation letter three weeks after appearing in court for the plea deal, which was first reported by Texas Public Radio.___In San Antonio, Reyes clutched her jacket around her shoulders as she reached the front of the courtroom and took the microphone for her victim impact statement.She’d spent lunch writing out what she wanted to say, but rage got the better of her planning. She looked at the men accused of trafficking her daughter and two other girls, at the lawyers flanking their clients, at men who’d also gotten probation on charges of soliciting and paying the girls for sex.Reyes began speaking quietly, the statement still crumpled under her jacket.“Rakim, can you look at me?” she said, as Sharkey examined his hands. “You have daughters. Going on your third. Exactly the number of victims.”She told one of the men who’d paid for sex that she’s glad his family left him.And she gestured at Winters, the prosecutor. “He doesn’t represent me. I represent myself right now. I’m not afraid of you.”Reyes spoke for nearly five minutes, her voice rising as she turned to face the courtroom and beseeched people who were being trafficked to come forward.“There are victims out there that this minute are being pimped by these types of guys, this type of trash,” she said. “And the trash is supposed to be disposed. But they’re lucky today.”Reyes’ voice broke.“What these people do to their victims — nothing will ever fix that,” she said. “We just try to hold on.”___Reyes cried on the way home, but the drive otherwise passed in silence. Her husband, who doesn’t speak much English, hadn’t followed everything in court. Reyes didn’t know how to explain.She also didn’t know how to tell her daughter, who’d already lost hope the men would go to prison.Reyes wanted her to come home, to talk in person. But her daughter’s bedroom was empty.Reyes felt isolated and got little rest, with violent nightmares. She kept the blinds drawn. She struggled to breathe and fantasized about feeling nothing.Two days after the hearing, Reyes sat alone in her bedroom, where crosses line the walls. She felt abandoned by the prosecutors, by the judge, by her family, by God. She thought about how she would take her own life. The idea seemed soothing. Her thoughts grew specific. But then she thought of her children and called a crisis hotline.“I just swim into my thoughts,” she said. “It’s like a big ocean once you let your mind wander. But pulling yourself back up, that’s where I have to be aware that I don’t dive too deep.”Reyes turned 46 the next week. She spent her birthday at the doctor’s office. She cried uncontrollably. The doctor prescribed anti-anxiety medicine.Reyes is in therapy. She’s signed up for dance classes and walks her dogs in the nature preserve, hoping her daughter will join them soon.She’s still grasping for closure. Reyes filed complaints with the attorney general’s office, the state bar association and the U.S. Department of Justice, although none will reopen the criminal case. Perhaps her best hope from the legal system is a civil lawsuit that she hopes her daughter will one day be ready to bring.She and her daughter talk more lately. Their texts are filled with worry but also jokes and photos.One day, Reyes’ son shook her awake at 3 a.m. A sheriff’s deputy was on the phone and said her daughter had called 911 having a panic attack; she said she wanted to go home.I’ve lived this before, Reyes thought. She asked the deputy to wait with her daughter.Then she pulled on shoes, climbed into the pickup and drove out into the night.____EDITOR’S NOTE — This story includes discussion of suicide. If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.____Associated Press photographer Eric Gay and videojournalist Lekan Oyekanmi contributed to this report.

LINCOLN, Neb. — The Nebraska Legislature voted Thursday to advance a contentious bill that would ban gender-affirming care for minors, despite threats from some lawmakers that they would filibuster the rest of the session.The vote came on the third day of debate, in which lawmakers angrily accused one another of hypocrisy and a lack of collegiality early on. By Thursday, the chamber had turned somber as some lawmakers opposed to the bill broke down in tears and pleaded with their Republican colleagues to reconsider their support for the bill. “I can’t stop thinking about the parents,” Sen. John Fredrickson said through sobs before reading a letter from a constituent who said her son would have likely taken his own life if he had not been able to get gender-affirming care as a teen.Fredrickson, the first openly gay man elected to the Nebraska Legislature, expressed his heartbreak at not being able to change the outcome of the vote.“To my LGBTQ family … regardless of what happens today, heads up. Chins up. We’re survivors,” he said.Members of the LGBTQ community who had gathered in the Capitol to protest the bill showed their displeasure with the outcome, booing and cursing lawmakers who voted to advance it as they left the legislative floor.“I am a ball of rage,” said Wrenn Jacobson, 29, of Lincoln, after the vote. “I’ve had to go back to therapy when this bill was introduced. I know so many people — so many kids — who will be hurt by this.”“They come for the kids first,” Jacobson said. “Then they’ll come for the adults.”With the bill’s advancement, Omaha Sens. Megan Hunt and Machaela Cavanaugh promised to filibuster every bill that comes before lawmakers for the rest of the 90-day session. By the end of Thursday’s debate, other lawmakers had vowed to join that effort, including Omaha Sen. Jen Day and Lincoln Sen. Danielle Conrad.Hunt took to the floor of the Legislature on Wednesday to confess that the debate is deeply personal for her, because her teenage son is transgender. She called the bill an affront to her as a parent and called out by name lawmakers she would hold accountable if they vote to advance it.“If this bill passes, all your bills are on the chopping block, and the bridge is burned,” she said. “I’m not doing anything for you. Because this is fake. This has nothing to do with real life. This is all of you playing government.”The proposal had caused tumult in the legislative session long before debate began on it earlier this week. It was cited as the genesis of a nearly three-week, uninterrupted filibuster carried by Cavanaugh, who followed through on her vow in late February to filibuster every bill before the Legislature — even those she supported — declaring she would “burn the session to the ground over this bill.”She stuck with it until an agreement was reached late last week to push the bill to the front of the debate queue. Instead of trying to eat time to keep the bill from getting to the floor, Cavanaugh decided she wanted a vote to put on the record which lawmakers would “legislate hate against children.”The Nebraska bill, along with another that would ban trans people from using bathrooms and locker rooms or playing on sports teams that don’t align with the sex listed on their birth certificates, are among roughly 150 bills targeting transgender people that have been introduced in state legislatures this year. Bans on gender-affirming care for minors have already been enacted several other Republican-led states, including Arizona, South Dakota, Utah and Mississippi. Arkansas and Alabama have bans that were temporarily blocked by federal judges. Other states legislatures have given final approval to measures similar to the Nebraska bill, with Georgia sending a bill that would ban most gender-affirming surgeries and hormone replacement therapies for transgender minors to the governor Tuesday. In Kansas, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly last week vetoed a similar bill. The attorney general in Missouri issued an order earlier this week to limit access to gender-affirming care for minors.The Nebraska bill, introduced by freshman Republican Sen. Kathleen Kauth, would outlaw gender-affirming therapies such as hormone treatments, puberty blockers and gender reassignment surgery for those 18 and younger. The purpose of the bill, she has said, is to protect youth from undertaking gender-affirming treatments they might later regret as adults, citing research that says adolescents’ brains aren’t fully developed.That position overlooks the damage taking away the option of treatments will have on teens, said 17-year-old Elliott Braatz, of Lincoln. Braatz, a transgender boy, took a day off from school to hold signs protesting the bill. He said lawmakers supporting the bill aren’t taking into account that “the trans suicide rate is horrifying.”“I’m very scared,” he said. “This bill says to people like me: ‘You’re trans, and that’s not OK.’”That fear was echoed by several lawmakers, including Day, who wept as she read from an email sent Wednesday to all lawmakers by a clinical psychologist in Lincoln who said calls to the clinic from trans teens reporting feeling suicidal have jumped significantly in the past week. The psychologist warned that voting to advance the bill “will result in the deaths of transgender and gender diverse adolescents, likely before the end of the school year.” “I want all of you to go into the rotunda and look into the eyes of those parents and tell them that you’re voting for this bill knowing that it could potentially kill their child,” Day said through sobs.The bill advanced on a 30-17 vote, with two lawmakers not voting. Although bills can advance with a simple majority, it takes 33 votes to end debate to overcome a filibuster. The Nebraska Legislature is currently made up of 32 registered Republicans and 17 registered Democrats — just enough for the minority to block bills they don’t like if they stick together.In this case, Democratic Sen. Mike McDonnell voted with Republicans to end debate and later voted to advance the bill.“There’s a world of difference between 9 and 19,” he said. “I think adult decisions should be made by adults.”The bill will have to survive two more rounds of debate to pass in the unique one-house, officially nonpartisan Legislature. Republican Gov. Jim Pillen has said he will sign the bill into law if it reaches his desk.

Authorities say a suspected tornado touched down in north TexasByThe Associated PressMarch 24, 2023, 8:27 AMDECATUR, Texas — Authorities say a suspected tornado touched down early Friday in north Texas. Wise County Emergency Management Coordinator Cody Powell says the tornado struck in southern Wise County near the Parker County line and that authorities were just beginning to assess the damage.Powell said he had no reports of injuries. Parker County officials and the National Weather Service did not immediately return phone calls for comment. The weather service’s Storm Prediction Center has forecast severe weather through Friday evening primarily from the lower Mississippi Valley to the lower Ohio Valley.The greatest risk of tornadoes includes an area from eastern Arkansas, northern Louisiana, western Mississippi and western Tennessee.Storms with damaging winds and hail are expected along a swath from eastern Texas and southeastern Oklahoma into much of western Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama and including much of Louisiana and Mississippi and parts of southeast Missouri and southern Illinois. Related Topics

Police say a motorist has driven into several pedestrians in a parking garage at Cologne-Bonn Airport in western GermanyByThe Associated PressMarch 24, 2023, 7:38 AMBERLIN — A motorist drove into several pedestrians Friday in a parking garage at Cologne-Bonn Airport in western Germany and injured some of them slightly, police said.A man allegedly drove straight at people inside the garage, but most were able to avoid him, German news agency dpa reported.No one’s life was in danger, police said, and the injuries were considered mostly minor. The man also drove into several cars, dpa said.The 57-year-old driver was detained and taken to the hospital. Police said there were indications he had mental health issues.Two police officers also received slight injuries when the suspect alleged resisted his detention.Related Topics

SALT LAKE CITY — SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah became the first state to enact laws limiting how children can use social media after Republican Gov. Spencer Cox signed a pair of measures Thursday that require parental consent before kids can sign up for sites like TikTok and Instagram.The two bills Cox signed into law also prohibit kids under 18 from using social media between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m., require age verification for anyone who wants to use social media in the state and seek to prevent tech companies from luring kids to their apps using addictive features. The laws passed through Utah’s Republican-supermajority Legislature are the latest reflection of how politicians’ perceptions of technology companies are changing — and that includes pro-business Republicans. Tech giants like Facebook and Google have enjoyed unbridled growth for over a decade, but amid concerns over user privacy, hate speech, misinformation and harmful effects on teens’ mental health, lawmakers have begun trying to rein them in. Utah’s law was signed on the same day TikTok’s CEO testified before Congress about, among other things, TikTok’s effects on teenagers’ mental health.But legislation has stalled on the federal level, pushing states to step in.Other red states, such as Arkansas, Texas, Ohio and Louisiana have similar proposals in the works, along with New Jersey. California, meanwhile, enacted a law last year requiring tech companies to put kids’ safety first by barring them from profiling children or using personal information in ways that could harm children physically or mentally.In addition to the parental consent provisions, social media companies would likely have to design new features to comply with parts of the law to prohibit promoting ads to minors and showing them in search results. Tech companies like TikTok, Snapchat and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, make most of their money by targeting advertising to their users. What’s not clear from the Utah bill and others is how the states plan to enforce the new regulations. Companies are already prohibited from collecting data on children under 13 without parental consent under the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. For this reason, social media companies already ban kids under 13 from signing up to their platforms — but children can easily get around it, both with and without their parents’ consent. Cox said studies have shown that time spent on social media leads to “poor mental health outcomes” for children. “We remain very optimistic that we will be able to pass not just here in the state of Utah but across the country legislation that significantly changes the relationship of our children with these very destructive social media apps,” he said.Children’s advocacy groups generally welcomed the law, with some caveats. Common Sense Media, a nonprofit focusing on kids and technology, hailed the law aimed at reining in social media’s addictive features. It “adds momentum for other states to hold social media companies accountable to ensure kids across the country are protected online,” said Jim Steyer, the CEO and founder of Common Sense. He pointed to similar legislation in the works in California and New Jersey — and said the safety and mental well-being of kids and teens depend on legislation like this to hold big tech accountable for creating safer and healthier experiences online.But Steyer said the other bill Cox signed giving parents access to children’s social media posts would “deprive kids of the online privacy protections we advocate for. The law also requires age verification and parental consent for minors to create a social media account, which doesn’t get to the root of the problem – kids and teens will still be exposed to companies’ harmful data collection and design practices once they are on the platform.”The laws are the latest effort from Utah lawmakers focused on children and the information they can access online. Two years ago, Cox signed legislation that called on tech companies to automatically block porn on cell phones and tablets sold, citing the dangers it posed to children. Amid concerns about enforcement, lawmakers in the deeply religious state revised the bill to prevent it from taking effect unless five other states passed similar laws.The social media regulations come as parents and lawmakers are growing increasingly concerned about kids and teenagers’ use and how platforms like TikTok, Instagram and others are affecting young people’s mental health.It is set to take effect in March 2024, and Cox has previously said he anticipates social media companies will challenge it in court.Tech industry lobbyists quickly decried the laws as unconstitutional, saying they infringe on people’s right to exercise the First Amendment online.“Utah will soon require online services to collect sensitive information about teens and families, not only to verify ages, but to verify parental relationships, like government-issued IDs and birth certificates, putting their private data at risk of breach,” said Nicole Saad Bembridge, an associate director at NetChoice, a tech lobby group. __Ortutay reported from Oakland, California.