Happy Wednesday! A hearty congratulations to Kimberly Winter, a 33 year old from Virginia who recently achieved a level of greatness few will ever know: the loudest burp by a woman in recorded history.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- President Joe Biden designated a new national monument on Tuesday on nearly one million acres of land in Arizona near the Grand Canyon. The designation of the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni/Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument will protect land considered sacred to local Native American tribes and permanently ban new uranium mining claims, though existing claims in the area rich in deposits of the mineral that’s critical for nuclear power production will be unaffected by the order.
- In a 5-4 ruling that saw Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Amy Coney Barrett join the body’s liberal bloc, the Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Biden administration to temporarily reinstate regulations on “ghost guns”—kits that allow the buyer to build their own untraceable firearms at home—pending further litigation. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ 2022 rules expanded the agency’s interpretation of what constitutes a “firearm,” requiring the kits’ sellers to be licensed, conduct background checks on buyers, and mark the products with serial numbers. The rule was originally struck down by a federal judge in July after gun advocates filed suit.
- Acting Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland visited Niger on Monday, meeting with leaders of the military junta that took control of the West African country on July 26. Nuland told reporters mutineers kept her from seeing the country’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, currently being held in his home with his wife and child. Yesterday, the coup leaders barred a U.S.-backed peace delegation dispatched by West African governments from entry into the country, ramping up the risk of war in the region.
- A Moscow court froze $36 million in assets held by Goldman Sachs earlier this month after a suit by a U.S.-sanctioned Russian bank against Goldman. Otkritie, the Russian bank, claimed Goldman wished to leave Russia, which would render the $6.4 million debt it owed Otkritie unpayable. Goldman Sachs has sought to wind down its Russia-based business since 2022, a task made more difficult by restrictions on deals involving foreign banks in the country.
- Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk’s weight-loss drug, Wegovy, also reduced the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular death by about 20 percent, according to preliminary results of a large, company-funded study that were released Tuesday. The secondary effects of the drug targeted at those with diabetes is likely to put additional pressure on insurers to cover medicines like Wegovy that are in a new class of weight-loss drugs produced by both Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, its American competitor. Lilly’s drug, Mounjaro, is likely to be approved by U.S. regulators as a weight loss drug later this year, and Novo Nordisk said it will ask regulators in the U.S. and Europe to add its heart-healthy benefits to its prescribing label.
- The Australian Federal Police (AFP) announced Tuesday that 19 Australian men had been arrested on charges of circulating child sex abuse material online and 13 children were saved from further harm in the latest salvo of a joint operation with the FBI that has now led to nearly 100 arrests in both countries. The joint investigation, which began in 2022, has resulted in 79 arrests in the U.S. related to an international network of pedophiles using detailed I.T. knowledge to share abusive content on the dark web.
- Celeste Drake, President Joe Biden’s top labor adviser, stepped down Tuesday amid a summer of elevated action by organized labor. Drake will join the International Labor Organization, a United Nations’ agency, as deputy director-general. Drake’s replacement, who has not yet been named, will be facing talks between Hollywood actors, writers, and studios and auto workers threatening strikes during negotiations with Detroit’s Big Three auto companies.
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has replaced his campaign manager, Generra Peck, as his presidential campaign continues its reset amid a sustained drop in the polls. Peck will transition to a strategist role and will be succeeded by James Uthmeier, formerly chief of staff of DeSantis’ gubernatorial administration in Florida. Several DeSantis sources blamed Peck for the campaign’s early overspending which led to two rounds of staffing cuts last month.
- Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Tony Grady jumped into a growing Republican field seeking to topple incumbent Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen of Nevada on Tuesday after finishing second in the GOP primary for lieutenant governor in 2022. Three other Republicans are also vying for the GOP nod, including military veteran Sam Brown and former Ambassador Jeff Gunter, who announced his candidacy earlier this week.
Another Electoral Loss for the Pro-Life Movement
If you were a pro-life Republican, Ohio’s “Issue 1” ballot initiative represented an opportunity to prevent out-of-state liberal groups from implementing their abortion agenda. If you were pro-abortion access, the initiative reflected a naked attempt by Republicans in the state legislature to block voters from enacting their policy preferences. If you were a business group, Issue 1 offered insurance against populist economic policies like minimum wage hikes. If you were a union, you worried it could weaken an important check on lawmakers’ ability to curtail collective bargaining power. And if you read the ballot initiative itself, you would see that all it would do is slightly adjust signature requirements and the threshold for proposed amendments to the state constitution.
More than 3 million people turned out in yesterday’s off-cycle special election—about 4.1 million cast ballots in last fall’s high-profile U.S. Senate race—to vote on Issue 1, a constitutional amendment passed by the state legislature in May that would increase the required threshold for ballot-initiative amendments from 50 percent to 60 percent of votes cast and mandate petitioners secure signatures from all 88 counties in the state, up from the current specification of 44. After a high-profile campaign that came to be defined almost entirely by abortion, voters in the conservative-leaning state broke with elected Republicans and rejected the measure 57 percent to 43 percent, with 95 percent of precincts reporting .
Ohio’s law banning most abortions after six weeks of gestation—signed in 2019 but blocked from going into effect—snapped into place last year after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision before quickly being put on hold once again due to another challenge. The Ohio Supreme Court is expected to issue a more final verdict, but pro-abortion access groups, seeing the writing on the wall, began taking steps earlier this year to pursue a constitutional amendment enshrining the right to an abortion in the state’s constitution. Similar measures in other states have proven successful at the ballot box over the past year.