The Clock TikToks Down

Happy Monday! We love losing an hour of sleep to daylight saving time as much as the next morning newsletter team, but what if instead the annual fast-forwarding took place at a less personally inconvenient time?

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • President Joe Biden told MSNBC on Saturday that he believes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s strategy in his nation’s war against Hamas in Gaza is “hurting Israel more than helping Israel.” Biden insisted that he was “never going to leave Israel,” but said an Israeli military invasion of Rafah, a city in southern Gaza, represented a “red line” for the United States. Netanyahu confirmed his country’s intentions to move the war into Rafah, which he has described as “ the last Hamas stronghold” in an interview with Politico on Sunday. “We’ll go there,” he said, pushing back on Biden’s criticism. “We’re not going to leave. You know, I have a red line. You know what the red line is, that October 7 doesn’t happen again. Never happens again.” Meanwhile, the General Frank S. Besson, a U.S. logistics support vessel, departed from Virginia on Saturday carrying materials and personnel to build a temporary port off of Gaza to accept additional shipments of humanitarian aid, and the U.S. airdropped a fifth delivery of meals into the enclave on Sunday. 
  • Pope Francis said in an interview recorded last month and released on Saturday that Ukraine should negotiate an end to the war with Russia. “I think that the strongest one is the one who looks at the situation, thinks about the people and has the courage of the white flag, and negotiates,” he told Swiss broadcaster RSI. The pope’s comments—which were interpreted as a call for Ukraine’s surrender—were swiftly rebuked by Ukrainian leaders. “The strongest is the one who, in the battle between good and evil, stands on the side of good rather than attempting to put them on the same footing and call it ‘negotiations,’” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a statement on Sunday. “Our flag is a yellow and blue one. This is the flag by which we live, die, and prevail. We shall never raise any other flags.” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni clarified on Saturday that the “white flag” imagery had first been introduced by the interviewer, and that the pope desired a “diplomatic solution for a just and lasting peace.”
  • The U.S. airlifted all nonessential staff from its embassy in Haiti, the military announced on Sunday, and sent additional forces to bolster security amid worsening violence sweeping the island nation. “This airlift of personnel into and out of the embassy is consistent with our standard practice for embassy security augmentation worldwide, and no Haitians were on board the military aircraft,” the U.S. military’s Southern Command said in a statement. Gangs attacked at least three police stations in the capital city of Port-au-Prince over the weekend, and Caribbean leaders on Friday called for an emergency meeting—scheduled to take place on Monday in Jamaica—to discuss the deteriorating situation, inviting representatives from the U.S., Brazil, Canada, France, and the United Nations to attend.
  • President Biden on Saturday signed into law a $459 billion funding package that will provide appropriations for more than a dozen federal agencies—including the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Transportation, Veterans Affairs, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, and NASA—narrowly averting a partial government shutdown. The Senate passed the measure by a 75-22 vote on Friday evening after debating several conservative amendment proposals. The remaining parts of the government that were not covered by the latest package face a funding deadline of March 23.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that U.S. employers added 275,000 jobs in February, up from a downwardly revised 229,000 in January—originally reported as 353,000—and above economists’ expectations. Approximately half of the new jobs were related to health care, government, or social assistance, and the unemployment rate ticked up from 3.7 percent to 3.9 percent as the labor force participation rate remained unchanged at 62.5 percent for the third consecutive month. Average hourly earnings—a key measure for hints on inflation—were up 4.3 percent annually and just 0.1 percent month-over-month.
  • The Republican National Committee on Friday officially selected North Carolina GOP Chairman Michael Whatley and Lara Trump, former President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law, as its national chair and co-chair, respectively. Both Whatley and Trump were endorsed by the former president. “If our voters don’t have confidence that our elections are safe and secure, nothing else matters,” Whatley said in his acceptance speech on Friday. “Over the next eight months, the RNC will work hand in glove with President Trump’s campaign.”
  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán traveled to the U.S. on Friday to meet with former President Trump at Mar-a-Lago, where they discussed issues such as the “importance of strong and secure borders to protect the sovereignty of each nation,” according to a statement from the Trump campaign. Orbán did not meet with President Biden, who decried the meeting at a campaign stop on Friday. “You know who [Trump’s] meeting with today down in Mar-a-Lago?” Biden said. “Orbán of Hungary, who’s stated flatly that he doesn’t think democracy works, he’s looking for dictatorship.”
  • Centrist political group No Labels voted on Friday to move forward with plans to nominate a presidential ticket for the 2024 election, though no candidate has at this time been named. “We don’t have a candidate,” said No Labels National Convention Chair Mike Rawlings, a former Democratic mayor of Dallas, Texas. “And it’s possible, in the end, we won’t find a suitable candidate.” The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that No Labels is considering Republican Geoff Duncan, the former lieutenant governor of Georgia, to lead a unity ticket.
  • Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana announced on Friday that he would not seek reelection, citing “defamatory rumors” and a death threat. “This has taken a serious toll on me, and my family,” Rosendale said in a statement on Friday. “Additionally, it has caused a serious disruption to the election of the next representative for MT-02.” Rosendale had previously declared his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, but withdrew from that race days later when Trump endorsed businessman Tim Sheehy in the primary.
  • Oppenheimer won seven Oscars—including Best Picture, Best Director (Christopher Nolan), Best Actor (Cillian Murphy), and Best Supporting Actor (Robert Downey Jr.)—at the 2024 Academy Awards last night. Emma Stone won Best Actress for her work in Poor Things, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph won Best Supporting Actress for her work in The Holdovers. Several celebrities at the event wore red pins advocating for a ceasefire in Gaza, and hundreds of protesters reportedly blocked a main road leading to the theater, causing delays.

It’s Happening, Maybe? 

A 12-year-old boy looks at a smartphone screen displaying the TikTok logo on March 10, 2024, in Bath, England. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
A 12-year-old boy looks at a smartphone screen displaying the TikTok logo on March 10, 2024, in Bath, England. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

“The editors of this newsletter have been writing about the prospect of a TikTok ban for nearly—let us check our notes—three years. Maybe this time it will take.” 

We wrote that last March, and after another year of our TikTok ban watch, we’ve stopped trying to guess what will happen.

Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced legislation—the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act—that could lead to the ban of the popular video-sharing app TikTok, sparking another political maelstrom over the future of the platform and its alleged ties to the Chinese government. 

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