Happy Wednesday! Microsoft has announced its latest artificial intelligence product, a desktop chatbot called “Windows Copilot.”
Don’t bother, Microsoft. No matter how advanced AI gets, it can never replace him.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis plans to announce his long-anticipated presidential bid today in an event with Twitter owner Elon Musk on Twitter Spaces, a live, audio-only format on the platform, NBC News reported. DeSantis will reportedly also appear on Fox News for an interview with former South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy. DeSantis is polling at about 20 percent, behind already-declared candidate Donald Trump’s 56 percent.
- The South Carolina Senate on Tuesday passed a ban on abortions after six weeks, overcoming a filibuster by five female state senators, including three Republicans. The bill—which requires a woman seeking an abortion to have two in-person doctor’s visits and two ultrasounds before her sixth week of pregnancy and offers exceptions for rape, incest, fatal fetal abnormalities, and risks to the life of the mother—now goes before GOP Gov. Henry McMaster, who has said he will sign it.
- A Russian court on Tuesday extended Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich’s pre-trial detention until August 30. Gershkovich has been held in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison since his March* 29 arrest in Yekaterinburg, Russia on espionage charges which he, the State Department, and the Journal deny. Russia has presented no evidence to support the charges. The State Department said Tuesday it was “deeply concerned by today’s Russian court decision,” though denying bail and extending detention are typical in such cases in Russia. Gershkovich’s parents were at the courthouse Tuesday, the first time they’ve seen their son since before his arrest.
- The new Chinese ambassador to the U.S., Xie Feng, arrived in the U.S. on Tuesday. Xie’s selection for the post—the veteran diplomat won out over Hua Chunying, a sharp-tongued Foreign Ministry spokesperson—could signal an attempt on Beijing’s part to improve communication with Washington. “We hope that the United States will work together with China to increase dialogue, to manage differences and also to expand our cooperation so that our relationship will be back on the right track,” Xie said—in English—upon landing in New York City.
- A nearly 700-page report from the Illinois attorney general’s office revealed Tuesday that 451 Catholic clergy sexually abused almost 2,000 children in the state between 1950 and 2015—more than quadruple the number of perpetrators the Catholic Church named before the investigation began in 2018. Prosecutions are unlikely in the majority of the cases because of statutes of limitation on the alleged crimes and the deaths of many of the alleged abusers.
- Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued a public advisory Tuesday warning against social media use among children and young adults, citing a “profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.” Murthy called on tech companies to enforce the minimum age limit for social media sites and urged lawmakers to take “immediate action” to protect young people. Such advisories from the surgeon general are rare, “reserved for significant public health challenges that require the nation’s immediate awareness and action.”
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report Tuesday suggesting new HIV infections in the United States dropped from 36,500 in 2017 to 32,100 in 2021, a 12 percent decrease. The progress was most significant among young people aged 13 to 25, while improvement was uneven across racial groups in that cohort—infections among young gay and bisexual white men saw a 45 percent drop compared to only a 27 percent drop among gay and bisexual black men. The disparity, the report concluded, was due mostly to unequal access to the prophylactic medication PrEP, which blocks transmission of the virus.
- The Department of Energy Monday canceled a pending $200 million grant to Texas-based battery company Microvast—which has a subsidiary in China and had been the target of GOP criticism for its alleged ties to Beijing. The grant would have funded a battery plant in Clarksville, Tennessee. The Energy Department said Monday it’s typical for some companies to lose the conditional award after vetting.
- The Commerce Department reported Tuesday sales of new-build single-family homes rose 4.1 percent month-over-month from 656,000 in March to 683,000 in April—the highest rate in over a year as builders respond to a significant inventory shortage. The numbers suggest the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes and resulting tightening of credit conditions have not yet significantly affected the housing market.
- Mexican authorities raised the alert level in Central Mexico Sunday to just short of an evacuation order as the Popocatépetl volcano—45 miles southeast of Mexico City—spewed increasing amounts of ash and smoke, heightening fears a full eruption could be imminent. Local officials have closed some schools and parks to limit exposure to falling ash, and Mexico City’s two main airports were temporarily shut down over the weekend with dozens of flights delayed even after the airports reopened.
Unveiling an Overhaul
A baby born in 1986—when Congress passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill giving legal status to millions of migrant workers in the United States—would now be old enough to serve in Congress and try to help pass the next one.
This isn’t hypothetical: Several such babies are doing just that. “I was born in 1986,” said Republican Rep. Mike Lawler of New York, highlighting Congress’ inaction on immigration at a Tuesday press conference announcing a comprehensive reform bill. “It’s unconscionable.”