Biden to close ‘gun-show loophole’ and expand background checks for firearms

Politico

Biden to close ‘gun-show loophole’ and expand background checks for firearms

Myah Ward – April 11, 2024

“This single gap in our federal background check system has caused unimaginable pain and suffering,” Vice President Kamala Harris said on the call. | Alex Wong/Getty Images (Alex Wong via Getty Images)

The Biden administration is moving to expand background checks for gun purchases, fulfilling a key demand of advocates following the deadly shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas.

The final rule, expected to be submitted Thursday to the Federal Register by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, would eliminate a loophole that has allowed sales of guns without background checks of guns outside of brick-and-mortar stores.

The rule was issued under a provision of the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. It requires that anyone who sells guns for profit to have a license and that buyers be subject to a background check, including at firearms shows and flea markets. The administration had been working on the rule since last spring. Once publicized, it will take effect in 30 days.

The so-called gun show loophole has for years allowed unlicensed gun dealers to sell firearms without background checks at gun shows, on the internet and out of their homes. The new rule, the most sweeping expansion of firearms background checks in decades, will apply to more than 20,000 individuals engaged in unlicensed gun dealing and affect “tens and tens of thousands of gun sales” each year, an administration official told reporters during a call previewing the announcement.

“This single gap in our federal background check system has caused unimaginable pain and suffering,” Vice President Kamala Harris said on the call.

The vice president noted the 25th anniversary next week of the mass shooting at Columbine High School, which was carried out with weapons purchased through the gun-show loophole. She also pointed to the 2019 shooting in Midland and Odessa, Texas, where a man killed seven people and wounded dozens of others. A background check stopped the shooter from purchasing a gun at a sporting goods store in 2014, but he later purchased an AR-15 from an unlicensed seller he met online.

“So many communities have been torn apart by acts of violence committed with weapons bought without background checks,” she continued. “So in the memory of all those we have lost today, as the head of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, I am proud to announce that all gun dealers now must conduct background checks no matter where or how they sell their merchandise.”

After Congress passed the gun safety legislation in June 2022 following a shooting in Uvalde, Texas, gun safety groups have pushed the White House to use it to expand background checks by clarifying which entities are considered “engaged in the business” of selling firearms. Doing so would not fulfill the president’s plea for universal background checks, as it would not apply to all sales, including private transfers. But the rule’s publication still marks a step forward in the administration’s more incremental efforts to regulate gun sales through implementation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

“We know this doesn’t get all the way there. And this law can only do so much. And it’s why the president is firm that the Congress needs to finish this job and make sure that we have background checks on all gun sales,” an administration official said.

The final rule comes a year after the president issued an executive order directing Attorney General Merrick Garland to develop and implement a plan to clarify the definition of “engaged in business.” The Department of Justice issued the proposed rule in September. The administration has also made an effort to release previously undisclosed firearms data, offering a fuller picture of the illegal firearms market in the U.S.

An analysis published last week from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives found sales by unlicensed dealers were the most frequently used gun trafficking channel. From 2017 to 2021, the ATF traced more than 68,000 of these illegally tracked firearms to unlicensed dealers.

“Today’s Final Rule is about ensuring compliance with an important area of the existing law where we all know, the data show, and we can clearly see that a whole group of folks are openly flouting that law. That leads to not just unfair but, in this case, dangerous consequences,” said ATF director Steven Dettelbach.

Vietnam handles it’s fraudsters: Is America listening? Vietnam sentences real estate tycoon Truong My Lan to death in its largest-ever fraud case

Associated Press

Vietnam sentences real estate tycoon Truong My Lan to death in its largest-ever fraud case

Aniruddha Ghosal – April 11, 2024

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Real estate tycoon Truong My Lan was sentenced Thursday to death by a court in Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam in the country’s largest financial fraud case ever, state media Vietnam Net said.

The 67-year-old chair of the real estate company Van Thinh Phat was formally charged with fraud amounting to $12.5 billion — nearly 3% of the country’s 2022 GDP.

Lan illegally controlled Saigon Joint Stock Commercial Bank between 2012 and 2022 and allowed 2,500 loans that resulted in losses of $27 billion to the bank, reported state media VnExpress. The court asked her to compensate the bank $26.9 million.

Despite mitigating circumstances — this was a first-time offense and Lan participated in charity activities — the court attributed its harsh sentence to the seriousness of the case, saying Lan was at the helm of an orchestrated and sophisticated criminal enterprise that had serious consequences with no possibility of the money being recovered, VnExpress said.

Her actions “not only violate the property management rights of individuals and organizations but also push SCB (Saigon Joint Stock Commercial Bank) into a state of special control; eroding people’s trust in the leadership of the Party and State,” VnExpress quoted the judgement as saying.

Her niece, Truong Hue Van, the chief executive of Van Thinh Phat, was sentenced to 17 years in prison for aiding her aunt.

Lan and her family established the Van Thing Phat company in 1992 after Vietnam shed its state-run economy in favor of a more market-oriented approach that was open to foreigners. She had started out helping her mother, a Chinese businesswoman, to sell cosmetics in Ho Chi Minh City’s oldest market, according to state media Tien Phong.

Van Thinh Phat would grow to become one of Vietnam’s richest real estate firms, with projects including luxury residential buildings, offices, hotels and shopping centers. This made her a key player in the country’s financial industry. She orchestrated the 2011 merger of the beleaguered SCB bank with two other lenders in coordination with Vietnam’s central bank.

The court found that she used this approach to tap SCB for cash. She indirectly owned more than 90% of the bank — a charge she denied — and approved thousands of loans to “ghost companies,” according to government documents. These loans then found their way back to her, state media VNExpress reported, citing the court’s findings.

She then bribed officials to cover her tracks, it added.

Former central bank official Do Thi Nhan was also sentenced Thursday to life in prison for accepting $5.2 million in bribes.

Lan’s arrest in October 2022 was among the most high-profile in an ongoing anti-corruption drive in Vietnam that has intensified since 2022. The so-called Blazing Furnace campaign has touched the highest echelons of Vietnamese politics. Former President Vo Van Thuong resigned in March after being implicated in the campaign.

But Lan’s trial shocked the nation. Analysts said the scale of the scam raised questions about whether other banks or businesses had similarly erred, dampening Vietnam’s economic outlook and making foreign investors jittery at a time when Vietnam has been trying to position itself as the ideal home for businesses trying to pivot their supply chains away from China.

The real estate sector in Vietnam has been hit particularly hard. An estimated 1,300 property firms withdrew from the market in 2023, developers have been offering discounts and gold as gifts to attract buyers, and despite rents for mixed-use properties known in Southeast Asia as shophouses falling by a third in Ho Chi Minh City, many in the city center are still empty, according to state media.

In November, Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, Vietnam’s top politician, said that the anti-corruption fight would “continue for the long term.”

Trump Allies Have a Plan to Hurt Biden’s Chances: Elevate Outsider Candidates

The New York Times

Trump Allies Have a Plan to Hurt Biden’s Chances: Elevate Outsider Candidates

Jonathan Swan, Maggie Haberman, Shane Goldmacher and Rebecca Davis O’Brien – April 10, 2024

Two Skyhorse Publishing titles by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a Democrat running for president, in the office of the company’s founder, Tony Lyons, in New York, Aug. 10, 2023. (Jeenah Moon/The New York Times)
Two Skyhorse Publishing titles by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a Democrat running for president, in the office of the company’s founder, Tony Lyons, in New York, Aug. 10, 2023. (Jeenah Moon/The New York Times)

Allies of former President Donald Trump are discussing ways to elevate third-party candidates in battleground states to divert votes away from President Joe Biden, along with other covert tactics to diminish Democratic votes.

They plan to promote independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as a “champion for choice” to give voters for whom abortion is a top issue — and who also don’t like Biden — another option on the ballot, according to one person who is involved in the effort and who, like several others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the plans.

Trump allies also plan to amplify the progressive environmental records of Kennedy and expected Green Party candidate Jill Stein in key states — contrasting their policies against the record-high oil production under Biden that has disappointed some climate activists.

A third parallel effort in Michigan is meant to diminish Democratic turnout in November by amplifying Muslim voters’ concerns about Biden’s support for Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip. Trump allies are discussing running ads in Dearborn, Michigan, and other parts of the state with large Muslim populations that would thank Biden for standing with Israel, according to three people familiar with the effort, which is expected to be led by an outside group unaffiliated with the Trump campaign.

Many of these third-party-boosting efforts will probably be run out of dark-money entities that are loosely supportive of Trump. Both the Trump campaign and the main super political action committee supporting the former president, MAGA Inc., are already aggressively framing Kennedy as a far-left radical to draw potential Democratic voters away from Biden.

Whatever the mechanism, the Trump team’s view is simple and is backed by public and private polling: The more candidates in the race, the better for Trump. Biden’s team agrees. And in a race that could be decided by tens of thousands of votes — as the last two presidential elections have been — even small shifts in the share of votes could change the result.

“There is no question that in a close presidential race, independent or minor party candidates can have a disproportionately large impact,” said Roger Stone, who is Trump’s longest-serving political adviser and who has worked on third-party campaigns, including advising Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s nominee in 2012.

Republican donors are pouring funds into Kennedy’s independent bid for the presidency. He has raised substantially more from donors who previously supported Trump than he has from those who backed Biden. Some are big names in Republican politics who have so far given relatively small amounts, including $3,300 last August from Elizabeth Uihlein, whose family is among the GOP’s biggest contributors.

Timothy Mellon, the largest single donor to Kennedy’s biggest super PAC, is also the largest backer of MAGA Inc. Mellon, a reclusive billionaire from one of America’s wealthiest families, has over the past year given the Kennedy super PAC $20 million and the Trump super PAC $15 million, as of the most recent disclosures that were filed in March. Another prominent Kennedy backer is Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of Overstock.com who worked with Trump on his effort to overturn the 2020 election.

Trump himself is intensely interested in the third-party candidates, according to aides. He is eager to know what their effect is expected to be on the race and how they are polling, although his engagement beyond asking questions of those around him is unclear.

Trump has been worried about the Libertarian Party pulling conservative voters away from him in November. But Richard Grenell, who is the former acting director of national intelligence and who is expected to play a big role in any second Trump administration, has been using his connections with Libertarian activists and donors to try to persuade them to attack Biden more than Trump, according to people familiar with his efforts.

Other Trump supporters are trying to help third-party and independent candidates with the expensive and arduous process of gathering the signatures needed to get on state ballots. Scott Presler, the conservative activist whom Lara Trump said she wanted as an early hire at the Republican National Committee, publicly reached out on social media to Stein and Cornel West, a left-wing academic who is running for president as an independent, to offer his help in collecting signatures to get them on the ballot.

Presler could not be reached for comment.

The moves by Trump allies come as the Democratic Party, alarmed by the potential for third-party candidates to swing the election, has mobilized a team of lawyers to scrutinize outsider candidates, including looking into whether they’ve followed the rules to get on state ballots.

For decades, third-party candidacies have loomed large in U.S. presidential elections. The best known in modern history is Ross Perot, whose run as a billionaire populist independent in 1992 garnered 19% of the vote and helped Bill Clinton win with only 43% of the popular vote. Ralph Nader, a Green Party candidate, siphoned votes away from Vice President Al Gore in the nail-biter 2000 presidential race against George W. Bush.

And in 2016, Stein, as the Green Party candidate, gave a meaningful — and arguably election-deciding — boost to Trump by drawing progressive voters away from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. That year, billionaire businessperson and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, a supporter of Trump, helped fund efforts to bolster Stein.

Polling shows that third-party candidates could play an especially large role in 2024. Most Americans are unhappy with the choice between Trump and Biden. Voters are increasingly disillusioned with the two major parties, and trust in American institutions has eroded over the past 30 years. Those trends provide an opening for candidates who style themselves as anti-establishment outsiders willing to blow up the system. Trump took advantage of similar conditions in 2016.

In a Quinnipiac University poll in late March, Biden and Trump both received less than 40% of the vote in a hypothetical five-way race, with Kennedy getting 13%, Stein receiving 4% and West capturing 3%.

In the multicandidate race, Trump led by a single percentage point; Biden led Trump by 3 percentage points in a hypothetical head-to-head race.

“The path to victory here is clearly maximizing the reach of these left-wing alternatives,” said Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist who also served as Trump’s campaign chair in 2016.

“No Republican knows that oil production under Biden is higher than ever. But Jill Stein’s people do,” Bannon added. “Stein is furious about the oil drilling. The college kids are furious about it. The more exposure these guys get, the better it is for us.”

Brian Hughes, a spokesperson for Trump, described Kennedy as a “leftist and liberal with a history of supporting an extreme environmental agenda.” He said more broadly of the Democratic push to challenge outsider candidates, “While Joe Biden and his allies claim to defend democracy, they are using financial and legal resources to prevent candidates access to the ballot.”

“President Trump believes any candidate who qualifies for the ballot should be allowed to make their case to America’s voters,” he added.

For months, the Trump team has been privately polling various iterations of third-party tickets in battleground states. It has concluded that candidates floated for the Green Party and No Labels, which recently abandoned its effort to field a presidential candidate, pulled substantially more votes from Biden than from Trump.

A person briefed on other polling by Trump allies said that while it varies by state, Kennedy also pulls more votes from Biden than from Trump. The person cited as an example the Trump team’s recent private polling of voters in Arizona. Trump loses Hispanic voters by a close margin in a head-to-head contest against Biden there, but he wins Hispanic voters on the full ballot in Arizona — an indication that third-party candidates draw more heavily from Biden’s core constituencies than from Trump’s.

Still, Kennedy is seen as more of a potential threat to Trump. He has spent the past few years appearing on conservative news media programs and talking about issues like his fierce opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine. Advisers to Trump say that many Republican voters don’t know anything about Kennedy’s liberal views on gun control and the environment, and the Trump team hopes to bring back some of those voters after framing Kennedy as a liberal Democrat.

Allies of Trump and Biden are in a tug of war to define Kennedy, who has far more support than any other third-party candidate.

Democratic lawyers and operatives, many of whom have privately said that neither Gore nor Hillary Clinton had teams that took third-party candidates seriously enough, are fighting hard to keep Kennedy off the ballot. The Democratic National Committee hired Lis Smith, a veteran communications operative, and tasked her with branding Kennedy as a pro-Trump spoiler candidate.

Kennedy’s campaign and the super PACs backing him have paid an array of lawyers and consultants to secure ballot access. One of the consultants, Rita Palma, was captured in a video detailing a strategy to encourage New York voters to support Kennedy: “The Kennedy voter and the Trump voter, our mutual enemy is Biden.” Palma outlined a hypothetical scenario in which Kennedy would win enough electoral votes to prevent either Trump or Biden from winning 270 electoral votes, pushing the decision to Congress in what is known as a contingent election.

On her account on the social platform X, Palma has expressed support over the years for both Kennedy and Trump. In posts first reported by CNN on Tuesday, she had endorsed Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen and described Sidney Powell, who has pleaded guilty to six misdemeanor counts related to Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia, as “my person of the decade.”

Stefanie Spear, a spokesperson for the Kennedy campaign, described Palma as “a ballot-access consultant” for upcoming signature collection efforts in New York. Of Palma’s remarks about the hypothetical scenario, Spear said Palma’s statements “in no way reflect the strategy of the Kennedy campaign.”

Spear did not respond to requests for comment about the Trump allies’ efforts to elevate Kennedy, or to inquiries about Palma’s support for Trump’s claims about the 2020 election.

Many conservative news media personalities and influencers recently turned against Kennedy after he decided to run as an independent instead of as a Democrat and it became apparent that he could pull votes from Trump.

Still, one complication with attacking Kennedy is that Trump has made clear that he likes him.

Trump put out a statement on Truth Social, his social media platform, that called Kennedy “a radical-left Democrat,” but he has mostly laid off him otherwise. Trump has called Kennedy a “very smart person” and has even privately floated him as a potential running mate, though his advisers view that prospect as extremely unlikely.

An outside group aligned with Trump asked a question about a Trump-Kennedy ticket in a poll several weeks ago, according to a person with knowledge of the survey. The results were not particularly striking. Trump had told an ally that he believed Kennedy could help him with voters who were upset with him for his support of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I like Trump-Kennedy. I like the way that sounds,” Trump told another ally recently. “There’s something about that that I like.”

Trump’s Big Lie About Biden Implodes After MAGA Ally Admits Truth

The New Republic – Opinion

Trump’s Big Lie About Biden Implodes After MAGA Ally Admits Truth

Greg Sargent – April 11, 2024

Steve Bannon no doubt thought he was being deviously clever. Speaking with The New York Times this week, he elaborated on a sophisticated plan that Donald Trump’s allies have developed for boosting third-party candidates, so they siphon votes from President Biden.

A key part of this scheme, Bannon noted, entails boosting expected Green Party candidate Jill Stein by highlighting oil production under Biden to pull environmentally concerned voters away from him. As Bannon put it:

No Republican knows that oil production under Biden is higher than ever. But Jill Stein’s people do. … Stein is furious about the oil drilling. The college kids are furious about it. The more exposure these [third-party candidates] get, the better it is for us.

Whoa, that’s some serious 11-dimensional chess, Steve! Except for one thing. If you think for a second about Bannon’s quote—that “oil production under Biden is higher than ever”—it entirely undermines one of Trump’s biggest lies: the claim that Biden’s effort to transition the United States to a decarbonized economy has destroyed the nation’s “energy independence,” leaving us weak and hollow to our very core.

This saga captures something essential about how MAGA-world fights the information wars. You’ll note that Bannon is not even slightly troubled by the idea that telling the truth about Biden’s record to one set of voters—left-leaning, green-minded ones—might contradict one of Trump’s most frequent lies to countless others.

It isn’t just that for Bannon, assertions should be evaluated purely for their instrumental usefulness. It’s also that he apparently has total confidence that voters who really need to hear the truth he uttered—those in the industrial and Appalachian heartlands who are the targets of Trump’s propaganda—never, ever will, even if he admits to it right in the paper of record.

It’s hard to overstate how central Trump’s story about “energy independence” is to his campaign. His basic claim is that under his presidency, we produced record levels of oil, inherently making us strong, whereas under Biden, we’re seeing a “war on American energy” responsible for many ills: deindustrialization, vulnerability to leftist enemies within, dependence on China and other nefarious “globalist” actors, and all-around national decline.

In reality, Biden’s green policies are facilitating billions of dollars in investments in rebuilding the industrial base via green energy manufacturing, which is creating a whole lot of advanced manufacturing jobs for people without college degrees—exactly the targets of Trump’s demagoguery. Those policies are driving a manufacturing boom, ironically in red-leaning communities. Green manufacturing makes us stronger, not weaker—more prepared for a future in which climate change becomes a more pressing threat, not just to the world, but to our own national interests.

Importantly, all this is happening while the U.S., under Biden, is producing more oil and more natural gas than ever before. Incidentally, as Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler details, Trump wasn’t even that responsible for the recent oil boom anyway: It started before his presidency, thanks to new energy technologies.

“The U.S. is now producing more oil and gas than it ever has, and exporting more than ever,” Jesse Jenkins, an energy expert at Princeton University, told me. “We’re a net exporter of all fossil fuels. So we’ve achieved that long-sought goal of physical energy security.”

Now the idea of “energy independence” is confusing to begin with. Even if we export more than ever before, oil is a global commodity, which inevitably makes us vulnerable to international shocks. But the answer to that is to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, not to drill more, as Trump wants. Regardless, by Trump’s own metric—that “energy independence” is good, that net exports of fossil fuel energy make us definitionally strong—we’ve achieved more of this under Biden. And critically, his policies are at the same time transitioning us to a post-carbon economy.

Bannon knows all this. Yet Trump and his allies keep repeating the contrary story. “They obviously know this narrative is a crock of lies,” Jenkins said.

It’s worth stressing that some progressive voters might nonetheless be reasonably upset about oil production under Biden. But the broader story remains that Biden is moving us toward a decarbonized economy by using the levers of government to boost demand and production of renewable energy sources over time.

“What’s important to note is that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are falling,” Jenkins says. That both this and robust oil production and exports are occurring simultaneously, he notes, would probably be viewed positively by moderate voters, including in Appalachia and the industrial Midwest.

That is, if those voters hear any of this through the fog of MAGA agitprop. Trump’s attacks on Biden’s energy “weakness” are designed to tell a meta story that has little to do with policy details: Trump will protect us from an array of shadowy forces associated with green energy—leftism, China, ill will toward good ol’ American fossil fuel–guzzling SUVs—while Biden is making us vulnerable to them.

You can see how this works in Trump’s proposal for across-the-board tariffs. These would hike prices for American consumers—they would impose a tax—even as Democrats have opted for green policies that move away from the more traditional policy of a carbon tax. Yet as Brian Beutler and Matthew Yglesias explain, Trump can still present his tariffs as a form of protection and Biden’s green agenda as a form of vulnerability, because each of these policies “code” that way for many voters.

Bannon understands all this. Strikingly, he declares that “no Republican knows” that oil production is so high under Biden, which is another way of saying that no Republican voters know that Trump is lying in their faces. Bannon and other MAGA propagandists are making sure of that. They are using their influence over information flows to those voters to ensure that the truth never reaches them. And they’re absolutely confident in their ability to succeed.

Inflation comes in hotter than expected in March

Yahoo! Finance

Inflation comes in hotter than expected in March

Alexandra Canal, Senior Reporter – April 10, 2024

What March inflation data could inform us about Fed ratesScroll back up to restore default view.

US consumer prices came in hotter than expected in March, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Wednesday morning.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.4% over the previous month and 3.5% over the prior year in March, an acceleration from February’s 3.2% annual gain in prices. The data matched February’s month-over-month increase.

Both measures came in ahead of economist forecasts of a 0.3% monthly increase and a 3.4% annual increase, according to data from Bloomberg.

The hot print complicates the Federal Reserve’s next move on interest rates as the central bank works to bring inflation back down to its 2% target. Fed officials have categorized the path down to 2% as “bumpy.”

https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/12036059/embed?auto=1

Investors now anticipate two 25 basis point cuts this year, down from the six cuts expected at the start of the year, according to updated Bloomberg data.

Read more: What the Fed rate decision means for bank accounts, CDs, loans, and credit cards

On a “core” basis, which strips out the more volatile costs of food and gas, prices in March climbed 0.4% over the prior month and 3.8% over last year — matching February’s data. Both measures were higher than economist expectations of a 0.3% monthly increase and a 3.7% annual gain.

Markets sank following the data’s release, with the 10-year Treasury yield (^TNX) jumping more than 14 basis points to touch above 4.5% for the first time in 2024.

“Today’s crucial CPI print has likely sealed the fate for the June FOMC meeting with a cut now very unlikely,” Seema Shah, chief global strategist at Principal Asset Management, said in reaction to the print. “This marks the third consecutive strong reading and means that the stalled disinflationary narrative can no longer be called a blip.”

“In fact, even if inflation were to cool next month to a more comfortable reading, there is likely sufficient caution within the Fed now to mean that a July cut may also be a stretch, by which point the US election will begin to intrude with Fed decision making,” Shah added.

Ryan Sweet, chief US economist at Oxford Economics, agreed, adding the hotter data may push more policymakers “into the two-rate cut camp.”

“The Fed has a bias toward cutting interest rates this year, but the strength of the labor market and recent gains in inflation are giving the central bank the wiggle room to be patient,” Sweet said. “If the Fed does not cut interest rates in June, then the window could be closed until September because there is little data released between the June and July meetings that could alter the Fed’s calculus.”

“The odds are rising that the Fed cuts rates less than 75 basis points this year,” he predicted.

Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference the Federal Reserve in Washington, Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference the Federal Reserve in Washington, Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

But Greg Daco, chief economist at EY, cautioned investors to be patient: “I think we have to be very careful with this idea that it’s a play-by-play process.”

In an interview with Yahoo Finance, he noted that “these types of readings do still point to disinflationary pressures. It’s still moving in the right direction, and it will take time.”

Following the data’s release, markets were pricing in an 80% chance the Federal Reserve holds rates steady at its June meeting, according to data from the CME FedWatch Tool. That’s up from a roughly 40% chance the day prior.

Investors are also putting the probability that the central bank won’t cut rates in July at higher than 50%, with markets now largely anticipating the first cut will come in September.

Shelter, gas prices remain sticky

Notable call-outs from the inflation print include the shelter index, which rose 5.7% on an unadjusted, annual basis and 0.4% month over month, matching February. The shelter index accounted for over 60% of the total 12-month increase in core prices.

Sticky shelter inflation is largely to blame for higher core inflation readings, according to economists.

The index for rent and owners’ equivalent rent (OER) each rose 0.4% on a monthly basis. Owners’ equivalent rent is the hypothetical rent a homeowner would pay for the same property. In February, the index for rent rose 0.5% while OER increased 0.4%.

Energy prices — largely to blame for the increase in headline inflation — continued to rise in March, buoyed by higher gas prices. The index jumped another 1.1% last month after rising 2.3% in February. On a yearly basis, the index climbed 2.1%.

Gas prices increased 1.7% from February to March after rising 3.8% the previous month.

The BLS noted the motor vehicle insurance index rose 2.6% in March, following a 0.9% increase in February. The index for apparel increased 0.7% over the month. Other indexes that rose in March included personal care, education, and household furnishings and operations.

The food index increased 2.2% in March over the last year, with food prices rising 0.1% from February to March. The index for food at home held steady over the month.

However, food away from home ticked up 0.3% month over month after rising 0.1% in February.

Six Things to Know About ‘Forever Chemicals’

The New York Times

Six Things to Know About ‘Forever Chemicals’

Lisa Friedman – April 10, 2024

PFAS is everywhere, including drinking water. A researcher pouring a water sample.

Almost half the tap water in the United States contains PFAS, a class of chemicals linked to serious health problems. On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that, for the first time, municipal utilities will have to detect and remove PFAS from drinking water.

Here’s what you need to know.

What are PFAS?

In 1938 a young chemist working on refrigerants for Dupont accidentally discovered a new compound that was remarkably resistant to water and grease, a finding that would lead to the creation of the Teflon brand of nonstick cookware.

Today there are nearly 15,000 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which collectively go by the acronym PFAS, according to a database maintained by the EPA.

The common link is that they have a special bond of carbon and fluoride atoms, making them incredibly strong and resistant to heat, water, oil and dirt. For that reason, PFAS is used for everyday items as varied as microwave popcorn bags, water-repellent clothing and stain-resistant carpets. PFAS are also in firefighting foam, cosmetics, shampoos, toys and even dental floss.

Where are PFAS?

Everywhere, including drinking water. The indestructible nature that makes PFAS useful in some products also makes them harmful. The chemicals are virtually indestructible and do not fully degrade, accumulating in the environment and the human body.

The chemicals are so ubiquitous that they can be found in the blood of almost every person in the country. One recent government study detected PFAS chemicals in nearly half the nation’s tap water. A global study of more than 45,000 water samples around the world found that about 31% of tested groundwater samples that weren’t near any obvious source of contamination had PFAS levels considered harmful to human health.

What does PFAS do to the body?

According to the EPA, exposure to PFAS can cause damage to the liver and immune system and also has been linked to low birth weight, birth defects and developmental delays as well as increased risk of some prostate, kidney and testicular cancers. New research published in the past year found links between PFAS exposure and a delay in the onset of puberty in girls, leading to a higher incidence of breast cancer, renal disease and thyroid disease; a decrease in bone density in teenagers, potentially leading to osteoporosis; and an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes in women.

Why didn’t the EPA regulate PFAS in water sooner?

Many environmental advocates argue that PFAS contamination should have been dealt with long ago.

“For generations, PFAS chemicals slid off every federal environmental law like a fried egg off a Teflon pan,” said Ken Cook, president and co-founder of the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy group.

Activists blame chemical companies, which for decades hid evidence of the dangers of PFAS, according to lawsuits and a peer-reviewed study, published in the Annals of Global Health, of previously secret industry documents.

The new EPA rule requires utilities to reduce PFAS in drinking water to near-zero levels.

How can I get rid of PFAS?

Not easily. In homes, filters attached to faucets or in pitchers generally do not remove PFAS substances. Under-sink reverse-osmosis systems have been shown to remove most but not all PFAS in studies performed by scientists at Duke University and North Carolina State University.

Municipal water systems can install one of several technologies including carbon filtration or a reverse-osmosis water filters that can reduce levels of the chemicals.

Now that limits have been set, when will PFAS disappear from tap water?

It could take years. Under the rule, a water system has three years to monitor and report its PFAS levels. Then, if the levels exceed the EPA’s new standard, the utility will have another two years to purchase and install filtration technology.

But trade groups and local governments are expected to mount legal challenges against the regulation, potentially delaying it even before a court makes a final ruling. And if former President Donald Trump were to retake the White House in November, his administration could also reverse or weaken the rule.

Trump urges House Republicans to kill FISA bill, adding to headaches for Speaker Johnson

CNN

Trump urges House Republicans to kill FISA bill, adding to headaches for Speaker Johnson

Melanie Zanona and Clare Foran, CNN – April 10, 2024

Former President Donald Trump is urging House Republicans to kill a surveillance reauthorization bill ahead of a key procedural vote on Wednesday, adding to headaches for GOP leaders who have struggled to build support for the legislation as it faces pushback from conservative hardliners.

“KILL FISA,” Trump wrote on his social media platform Truth Social.

Trump wading into the debate now is a major problem for House Speaker Mike Johnson and could imperil the entire bill, as some hardliners were already either critical of the measure or on the fence about it.

House Republicans have been fiercely divided over how to handle the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act reauthorization, putting pressure on Johnson to find a path forward amid competing factions within his conference. With the threat of a vote on his ouster looming, the Louisiana Republican’s every move is under even more intense scrutiny, and the speaker has once again found himself odds with his right flank over the surveillance law.

Johnson had previously announced that the House will take up a FISA reauthorization bill this week. The bill, titled the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act, would reauthorize Section 702 of FISA for five years and aims to impose a series of reforms.

In a sign of the trouble ahead for GOP leaders, however, at least one Republican, Rep. Matt Gaetz, has already said he would vote against a procedural vote expected Wednesday afternoon, which means Speaker Johnson can only afford to lose one more.

Johnson told members at a closed-door conference meeting Wednesday morning that he spoke with Trump Tuesday night. But, according to members, Johnson told them they didn’t discuss FISA.

Authority for Section 702 was extended through April 19 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

The law as it stands allows the US intelligence community to collect the communications records of foreign persons based overseas, but it also allows the FBI to search the data it collects for Americans’ information in what critics have called a “backdoor” search.

The searches of US persons’ information are governed by a set of internal rules and procedures designed to protect Americans’ privacy and civil liberties, but critics say that loopholes allow the FBI to search the data it collects for Americans’ information — as opposed to from foreign adversaries — without proper justification.

The complicated politics surrounding the law have long united strange bedfellows: Some conservative Republicans have joined forces with progressive Democrats to push for reforms to the authority, while security-focused Democrats and Republicans have opposed major new restrictions.

One major sticking point is whether the FBI should be required to obtain a warrant before querying the database for information on US citizens.

In a sign of how challenging the issue has proved for House Republicans to navigate, leadership pulled a pair of surveillance law bills from the floor in December amid internal GOP divisions. In February, a spokesperson for the speaker said the House would consider FISA reform “at a later date” to allow for more time to reach consensus on a path forward.

The authority has also become a high-profile political target of conservative Republicans after it became known that a different section of FISA was inappropriately used to surveil Trump 2016 campaign aide Carter Page.

In his call to “kill FISA,” Trump wrote on Truth Social, “IT WAS ILLEGALLY USED AGAINST ME, AND MANY OTHERS. THEY SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN!!!”

“FISA and Section 702 have been essential to intercepting communications of dangerous foreign actors overseas, understanding the threats against our country, countering our adversaries, and saving countless American lives,” Johnson said in a letter to colleagues on Friday. “Our responsibility now is simple: maintain the tool but strictly prohibit future abuses.”

The speaker went on to say that the bill the House is expected to take up includes reforms “that will establish new procedures to rein in the FBI, increase accountability at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), impose penalties for wrongdoing, and institute unprecedented transparency across the FISA process so we no longer have to wait years to uncover potential abuses.”

CNN’s Lauren Fox and Haley Talbot contributed to this report.

Trump is recreating his web of chaos at home and abroad in a preview of what a second term could look like

CNN

Trump is recreating his web of chaos at home and abroad in a preview of what a second term could look like

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN – April 10, 2024

Marco Bello/Reuters

Some top Democrats worry that Americans have forgotten the chaos that raged every day Donald Trump was president, and that voters’ faded recall of the uproar will end up handing him a second term.

The presumptive GOP nominee is, however, doing a good job of jogging memories as he blazes a trail of disruption through Congress, immigration and national security policy, reproductive health care and the nation’s top courts.

After storming to the Republican nomination, Trump is again the epicenter of controversy. His volatile personality, loyalty tests, rampant falsehoods, thirst to serve his political self-interest and the aftershocks of his first term are compromising attempts to govern the country. And the election is still seven months away.

Many of today’s most intractable conflicts in US politics can be traced to Trump and the turmoil that is an essential ingredient of his political appeal to base voters who want Washington and its rules ripped down – no matter the consequences.

Events this week – and over the first three months of this year – illustrate how much Trump has shaped the political tumult:

— On Wednesday, House Speaker Mike Johnson suffered another stunning defeat, further gutting his authority, after hard right GOP members blocked a bill to reauthorize a critical surveillance spying program at Trump’s behest.

— Another measure critical to America’s capacity to wield its global power and its international reputation – a $60 billion arms package for Ukraine – is still going nowhere. Trump ally Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is threatening to topple Johnson if he dares to pass it.

— Nationwide chaos is, meanwhile, spreading in the wake of the Trump-built Supreme Court conservative majority overturning Roe v. Wade in 2022. In the latest stunning twist, Arizona is about to revert to a near total Civil War-era abortion ban.

— Bipartisan efforts to solve a border crisis are in tatters after Trump’s House followers in February killed the most sweeping and conservative bill in years. The ex-president appeared to want to deprive President Joe Biden of an election-year win and to continue his searing claims that America is being invaded by undocumented migrants he calls “animals.”

— Some of the nation’s top courts are being tied in knots by Trump’s incessant, and often frivolous, appeals as he desperately tries to postpone the shame of becoming the first ex-president to go on criminal trial. His unchained social media posts may be coming perilously close to infringing a gag order ahead of his hush money trial beginning Monday.

— The Supreme Court will later this month wrestle with Trump’s claims of almost unchecked presidential power – a constitutional conundrum that no other president in two-and-a-half centuries of American history ever raised. The suit is largely a ruse to delay his federal election interference trial – and it is working.

Trump’s entanglement in some of the most intense political storms rocking Washington, and reverberating even beyond US shores, offers fresh evidence of his power – expressed through his capacity to make key elements of the Republican Party bend to his will. It highlights his mercurial personality and a political style that relies on instinct rather than long-term strategy. And it is leaving no doubt that the mayhem that burst out of the Oval Office during his administration would return at an even more intense level if he gets back there in 2025.

Trump delivers a blow to Johnson – then invites him to Mar-a-Lago

Trump dispensed his orders to his acolytes in the House with the words “Kill FISA” on his Truth Social network.

The former president was referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which national security officials say is critical to allowing espionage agencies to listen to communications of suspected terrorists and US adversaries. Some of those key powers need to be reauthorized by Congress by the middle of the month.

Critics of the law, including some civil liberties groups and some conservatives, argue that Section 702 of the act, which allows the surveillance of foreigners outside the US, is unconstitutional because sometimes Americans in contact with those targets get swept up in the net. But Trump is bent on vengeance against the FBI over its investigation into contacts between his 2016 campaign and Russia. He claimed in a social media post that FISA was “ILLEGALLY USED AGAINST ME, AND MANY OTHERS. THEY SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN!!!”

On Wednesday, 19 Republicans – including some of Trump’s loudest backers in the House – bucked Johnson and voted with Democrats to block consideration of the bill, dealing yet another blow to the speaker’s fast-ebbing authority and provoking a potential national security crisis.

Bill Barr, Trump’s former attorney general, told CNN’s Annie Grayer on Wednesday that the actions of his former boss and allies were “a travesty and reckless.” Barr argued that the ex-president was being driven by “personal pique rather than rationality and sound policy.” He said Trump’s complaints about the investigation into his 2016 campaign had nothing to do with the FISA section that needs to be reauthorized. And in a chilling warning, Barr accused the ex-president of putting US national security at risk. “We’re faced with probably the greatest threat to the homeland from terrorist attack and our means of defending against that is FISA. And to take that tool away, I think, is going to result in successful terrorist attacks and the loss of life,” he said.

Johnson’s latest humiliation came as he’s fighting for his job on another front. He held tense crisis talks on Wednesday with Greene, who is threatening to call a vote to oust him. The speaker may be the most conservative person to ever hold his job, but the Georgia lawmaker is accusing him of becoming a Democrat in all but name. Johnson’s crime was to keep the government open by passing budget bills and his consideration of the delayed Ukraine funding, which is also opposed by the former president.

“If he funds the deep state and the warrantless spying on Americans, he’s telling Republican voters all over the country that the continued behavior will happen more, spying on President Trump and spying on hundreds of thousands of Americans,” Greene told CNN’s Manu Raju on Wednesday. She added: “The funding of Ukraine must end. We are not responsible for a war in Ukraine. We’re responsible for the war on our border, and I made that clear to Speaker Johnson.”

Trump’s role in these two issues that threaten to bring Johnson down make it all the more curious that the speaker plans to travel to Mar-a-Lago on Friday to hold a joint news conference with the Republican presumptive nominee.

Johnson badly needs Trump to wield his influence with the restive GOP majority if he is to survive. And his pilgrimage to the Florida resort will make a strong statement about who really runs the House majority. There is a clue to a potential quid pro quo in the announced topic of their press conference – “election integrity.” That’s the code in Trump’s world for false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Johnson was a prominent purveyor of falsehoods about a stolen election and his continued willingness to buy into them might be the price for securing Trump’s support now.

Ukraine’s future may depend on the speaker sacrificing his future

Trump’s transformation of the GOP from a party that used to laud President Ronald Reagan’s victory over the Kremlin in the Cold War to one that often seems to be fulfilling Russian President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy goals is striking.

The GOP’s blockade of more funding for Ukraine threatens America’s global authority and reputation as a nation that supports democracies and opposes tyrants like a Russian leader who is accused of war crimes. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that the war will be lost if the US arms don’t arrive. He told CNN’s Frederik Pleitgen on Wednesday that “what we have now is not sufficient. If we want to truly prevail over Putin.”

A few hours later, Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commander of US European Command, backed up Zelensky’s warnings. “If one side can shoot and the other side can’t shoot back, the side that can’t shoot back loses. So the stakes are very high,” Cavoli told the House Armed Services Committee.

Yet Trump has vowed to end the war in 24 hours if he wins a second term. That can only happen one way – by Zelensky giving territorial concessions to Putin, who launched an illegal invasion and to whom the former US president has often genuflected.

News that Johnson is heading to Mar-a-Lago is yet another reason for US supporters of Ukraine to worry.

Abortion chaos

One of Biden’s goals is trying to remind suburban, moderate and independent voters who may be alienated by Trump’s constant chaos how disorientating life could be when he was president.

That’s one reason why the Biden campaign has seized on the fallout of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade to highlight the pandemonium that can result from Trump’s leadership.

The overturning of the nationwide constitutional right to an abortion was based on the reasoning that state legislatures that are closer to the people than the judiciary are the appropriate place for such a divisive moral question. In an ideal world or a political vacuum, that might be the case. But the decision took little account of the corrosive polarization of America’s politics and the result has been a confusing patchwork of state laws and court decisions. Many patients are being deprived of vital health services – for instance after miscarriages. Some IVF fertility treatments have been stopped in Alabama, for example, and the Supreme Court has been forced to consider an attempt to halt nationwide access to a widely used abortion pill.

Anti-abortion campaigners are, meanwhile, pushing hard for total state and national bans on the procedure while abortion rights advocates are seeking to inject the issue into key election races — with significant recent success in even some red states.

Trump this week tried to defuse the growing threat to his campaign from his and the conservative Supreme Court majority’s handiwork, insisting he’d leave the issue to the states. His damage control effort didn’t even last 24 hours. The Arizona Supreme Court’s decision to reinstate a 160-year-old ban triggered a backlash that went right back to the former president.

Trump had another go on Wednesday, pledging that he wouldn’t sign a federal ban on abortion as president – as many conservatives are pushing him to. But given how many times he’s shifted his position on the issue, it’s hard to know what he really thinks.

For once, Trump could end up being the chief victim of the chaos he wreaks.

Arizona abortion ruling, which Democrats decry, splits Republicans and abortion opponents

ABC News

Arizona abortion ruling, which Democrats decry, splits Republicans and abortion opponents

Libby Cathey and Oren Oppenheim – April 9, 2024

The Arizona Supreme Court’s decision on Tuesday to uphold a near-total abortion ban predating Arizona’s statehood has drawn differing reactions from state Republicans who previously claimed to be “100% pro-life” while both local and national Democrats vowed to push to protect abortion access in one of the most politically important states on the 2024 map.

Vice President Kamala Harris is planning to travel to Tucson on Friday for her “Fight for Reproductive Freedoms,” where she’s expected to continue to squarely blame former President Donald Trump for appointing three of the justices who voted in 2022 to overrule Roe v. Wade’s national guarantees to abortion access.

Since then, efforts to either protect or expand abortion rights have succeeded in both red and blue states around the country when put up directly for a vote.

“Arizona just rolled back the clock to a time before women could vote – and, by his own admission, there’s one person responsible: Donald Trump,” Harris said in a statement on Tuesday.

She argued Trump would sign a federal abortion ban if elected again and “if he has the opportunity,” though Trump this week put out a new statement insisting that he wants to leave the choice to individual states — without specifying what he would do on a national ban.

President Joe Biden, in a statement through the White House, also blasted the Arizona ban, which only has exceptions to save the life of the pregnant woman. Biden called the restrictions “cruel” and the “result of the extreme agenda of Republican elected officials who are committed to ripping away women’s freedom.”

The ban is temporarily blocked pending a trial court decision. Anyone found guilty of violating the ban will face two to five years in state prison.

Republicans, meanwhile, appear to be walking a tightrope on the issue.

PHOTO: U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake, R-Ariz., takes questions at a news conference, Feb. 29, 2024, in Phoenix. (Rebecca Noble/Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake, R-Ariz., takes questions at a news conference, Feb. 29, 2024, in Phoenix. (Rebecca Noble/Getty Images, FILE)

Senate candidate Kari Lake, who narrowly lost the governor’s race in 2022, said she supports Trump’s stance on abortion, that he’d leave it up to states, and claimed she would oppose both “federal funding” and “federal ban[s]” on abortion in the Senate.

“I wholeheartedly agree with President Trump — this is a very personal issue that should be determined by each individual state and her people,” Lake said in a statement Tuesday. “I oppose today’s ruling, and I am calling on [Gov.] Katie Hobbs and the State Legislature to come up with an immediate common sense solution that Arizonans can support. Ultimately, Arizona voters will make the decision on the ballot come November.”

However, Lake also regularly says she’s “100% pro-life” and supports “saving as many babies as possible.”

Asked last month how she would vote on a pro-abortion access initiative if it made it on the ballot in Arizona, Lake dismissed the question to simply say, “I’m pro-life.”

MORE: Trump’s abortion position leaves key questions unanswered on major campaign issue

PHOTO: Rep. Juan Ciscomani, R-Ariz., questions Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on the 'FY2024 Request for the United States Department of Education,' in Rayburn Building on April 18, 2023. (Tom Williams/AP, FILE)
PHOTO: Rep. Juan Ciscomani, R-Ariz., questions Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on the ‘FY2024 Request for the United States Department of Education,’ in Rayburn Building on April 18, 2023. (Tom Williams/AP, FILE)

Freshman Rep. Juan Ciscomani, who represents a swing district, also called Tuesday’s ruling “a disaster for women and providers” — after having praised the U.S. Supreme Court decision against Roe two years ago and after having said he’ll support a preexisting 15-week ban in his state regarding abortion.

“In Arizona, our 15 week law protected the rights of women and new life. It respected women and the difficult decision of ending a pregnancy – one I will never personally experience and won’t pretend to understand,” Ciscomani wrote in a post on X, adding, “I oppose a national abortion ban. The territorial law is archaic. We must do better for women and I call on our state policymakers to immediately address this in a bipartisan manner.”

Former Republican Gov. Doug Ducey posted on social media that the decision was not his “preferred” outcome and urged elected leaders to find “a policy that is workable and reflective of our electorate.” However, Ducey also appointed the four justices who supported the court’s majority in the opinion.

“I signed the 15-week law as Governor because it is thoughtful policy, and an approach to this very sensitive issue that Arizonans can actually agree on,” Ducey wrote on X. “The ruling today is not the outcome I would have preferred, and I call on our elected leaders to heed the will of the people and address this issue with a policy that is workable and reflective of our electorate.”

Republican strategist Barrett Marson called the ruling “ground-shifting” for Arizona politics and argued the decision will reverberate through November’s elections, even if lawmakers do meet in the meantime for a special session to change the law amid public fallout.

“The Arizona Supreme Court ruling may be a huge victory for the pro-life movement in Arizona, it will be short term. The decision will only bring out more voters in 2024 to approve the abortion initiative and likely vote for Democratic candidates,” Marson said in a series of posts on X on Tuesday. “When [Gov. Katie] Hobbs calls a special session to open access to abortion and repeal the 1864 law, Republicans will be in a difficult spot.”

PHOTO: Arizona Supreme Court Justices from left; William G. Montgomery, John R Lopez IV, Vice Chief Justice Ann A. Scott Timmer, Chief Justice Robert M. Brutinel, Clint Bolick and James Beene listen to oral arguments on April 20, 2021, in Phoenix. (Matt York/AP, FILE)
PHOTO: Arizona Supreme Court Justices from left; William G. Montgomery, John R Lopez IV, Vice Chief Justice Ann A. Scott Timmer, Chief Justice Robert M. Brutinel, Clint Bolick and James Beene listen to oral arguments on April 20, 2021, in Phoenix. (Matt York/AP, FILE)

Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, expected to face Lake in the Senate race in the fall, seized on her previously calling the pre-statehood ban a “great law” and sent a fundraising pitch to supporters reminding them that as a senator he would vote to end the filibuster rule as a means to protect abortion access nationwide, unlike Lake.

“This is not what Arizonans want, and women could die because of it,” Gallego said in a statement. “Yet again, extremist politicians like Kari Lake are forcing themselves into doctors’ offices and ripping away the right for women to make their own healthcare decisions,” adding he’s “committed to doing whatever it takes to protect abortion rights at the federal level.”

Potential ballot initiative gains momentum

Voters may have a chance to weigh in on abortion access directly in November.

Arizona for Abortion Access, which is working to get a constitutional amendment on the state’s ballot enshrining abortion access, attacked Tuesday’s ruling but said it would motivate more people to join their campaign ahead of the state’s July 3 deadline for signatures.

The proposed amendment would amend Arizona’s Constitution to prohibit the state from legislating against abortion up until fetal viability, around 24 weeks into pregnancy, and enshrines other abortion protections into law.

The group said earlier this month that they had gathered more than 500,000 signatures — surpassing the threshold to get an initiative on the Arizona general election ballot.

“This ruling will put the lives of untold Arizonans at risk and robs us of our most basic rights,” Arizona for Abortion Access campaign manager Cheryl Bruce said in a statement. “Implementing a near-total abortion ban from before women even had the right to vote only further demonstrates why we need politicians and judges out of our healthcare decisions. Now more than ever, our campaign is driven to succeed in passing this amendment and protecting access to abortion in Arizona once and for all.”

The president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, Marjorie Dannenfelser, who opposes abortion, called the decision an “enormous victory for unborn children and their mothers” and indicated abortion opponents in the state will now work to defeat the ballot initiative.

MORE: Fighting for their lives: Women and the impact of abortion restrictions in post-Roe America

“The compassion of the pro-life movement won in court today, but we must continue to fight,” Dannenfelser said in a statement.

“Governor Hobbs and her pro-abortion allies will pour millions into deceiving the voters about the upcoming amendment that permits abortion on demand when babies can feel pain and survive outside the womb,” she said. We must defeat this extreme measure that would force Arizonans to pay for abortions and eliminate health protections for women.”

Alongside Hobbs, Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, a Democrat, said she will not prosecute any abortion providers under the law she deemed “draconian.”

ABC News’ Olivia Osteen contributed to this report.

Arizona Supreme Court Revives Total Abortion Ban

Rolling Stone

Arizona Supreme Court Revives Total Abortion Ban

Tessa Stuart – April 9, 2024

The Arizona Supreme Court has revived an 1864 criminal ban on abortion.

The Civil War-era law, which predated Arizona statehood by almost a half a century, prohibits abortion at any stage of pregnancy, for any reason other than when “necessary” to save the pregnant person’s life. The ban carries a penalty of up to five years in prison for abortion providers.

“[P]hysicians are now on notice that all abortions, except those necessary to save a woman’s life, are illegal,” the court’s opinion read.

The ban — which is set to take effect 14 days after Tuesday’s ruling, on April 23 — will replace Arizona’s 2022 law which banned most abortions after 15 weeks gestation. (That law contained a single exception, for “medical emergencies”; providers who violated it could be charged with a felony and lose their medical licenses.)

The legal case, originally brought in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 Dobbs decision, sought to determine which ban — 1864 or 2022 — would take precedence after the court struck down federal protections for abortion.

In December 2022, the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld the 15-week ban. But by that time, Arizona voters had replaced Mark Brnovich, the Republican attorney general who argued for restoring the 1864 ban, with a Democrat, Kris Mayes, who declined to appeal the court’s decision. In a statement Tuesday, Mayes called the court’s decision “unconscionable and an affront to freedom,” and said her office would not enforce the ban.

The case could have ended there, but Dr. Eric Hazelrigg, an anti-abortion OB-GYN from Gilbert, Arizona, who petitioned the court to be appointed as a “guardian ad litem” for the state’s “unborn” children, intervened to appeal the lower court decision. Alliance Defending Freedom, the conservative christian litigation shop known for its willingness to take on culture war cases, represented Hazelrigg.

The decision was four to two; all six of the Supreme Court’s justices — four men and two women — were appointed by Republican governors.

The decision could have major electoral consequences: advocates for reproductive rights are working to place a popular referendum on the November ballot that would protect the right to abortion in Arizona. The state is also seen as a critical battleground, one that could decide both the presidential contest and control of the Senate this November.

The Arizona Supreme Court’s decision comes as debate has raged over whether abortion laws should be determined at the state or federal level. Republicans, Including Donald Trump, have had a difficult time addressing the issue this election season, feeling the need to placate the party’s far-right base while not alienating the vast majority of Americans who believe in protecting reproductive rights.

Trump on Monday released a video statement insisting he believes that the issue should be up to the states — but the claim is dubious, to say the least. The former president has repeatedly taken credit for killing Roe v. Wade, and has on several recent occasions spoken about implementing a federal ban.