U.S. Getting More Serious About a TikTok Ban

Happy Monday! Taco Bell announced the other day it’s going to bring back its ‘90s-era “Volcano Menu.” 

We know what you’re thinking, and no, the name doesn’t refer to the physiological response it elicits.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • In a deal brokered by the Swiss government, UBS agreed Sunday to a more than $3 billion takeover of foundering rival Credit Suisse, the first merger of such a scale since the 2008 financial crisis. Swiss authorities agreed to provide more than $9 billion to cover any losses UBS incurs following the transaction and a $100 billion line of credit to facilitate the takeover. The failure of Silicon Valley Bank earlier this month put a spotlight on Credit Suisse’s already weak accounts, and regulators brokering the takeover wanted to avoid a messy bankruptcy and panic spreading to other banks.
  • Silicon Valley Bank parent company SVB Financial Group has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, reporting about $2.2 billion in cash and liquid securities, $3.3 billion in bond debt, and $3.7 billion of preferred stock. The move would enter SVB Financial into a court-directed selloff process of the company’s surviving subsidiaries.
  • The International Criminal Court on Friday issued a largely symbolic arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin—and Russian children’s commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova—for the alleged war crime of deporting Ukrainian children to Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine is investigating the forced removal of more than 16,000 children from the country, while Russian officials dismissed the warrant out of hand. Over the weekend, Putin visited both Russian-occupied Crimea and Mariupol, an eastern Ukrainian city largely destroyed during Russia’s months-long siege.
  • The deal allowing export of Ukrainian grain through Black Sea blockades has been extended for another 120 days despite initial Russian resistance, Ukraine announced Saturday. Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said 25 million tons of Ukrainian grain have already been exported under the deal since its adoption last July.
  • Turkey and Hungary announced Friday they will approve Finland’s NATO accession bid, clearing its path to membership in the defensive alliance. Finland applied together with Sweden after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but Turkey has opposed Sweden’s bid, accusing it of supporting Kurdish terrorists.
  • French police arrested more than 500 people over the weekend amid ongoing protests—and riots—sparked by President Emmanuel Macron’s decision on Thursday to push through pension reforms raising the country’s retirement age without a vote in the National Assembly. Macron’s government faces a no-confidence vote today but will likely survive the challenge, clearing the way for the change to become law. Labor unions have called for continuing strikes.
  • North Korea tested a suspected short-range ballistic missile Sunday amid ongoing joint military exercises around the peninsula by the United States and South Korea, including an aerial exercise Sunday. North Korea has completed a barrage of similar tests in recent months, including firing an intercontinental ballistic missile Thursday.
  • Republican Gov. Mark Gordon of Wyoming on Friday signed into law a ban on abortifacients—the first such measure explicitly banning the pills. Wyoming’s ban penalizes physicians and distributors with up to six months in prison and a $9,000 fine, but prohibits criminal prosecution of women attempting chemical abortions and includes exceptions for treating a natural miscarriage or if the woman is in “imminent peril that substantially endangers her life or health.” Fifteen other states have extra safety restrictions on abortion pills and 13 include them in broader abortion bans, according to the pro-abortion access Guttmacher Institute. Guttmacher estimates medication abortions account for just over half of abortions in the United States.
  • Former President Donald Trump claimed on Saturday he expects to be arrested Tuesday in connection with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation of hush money payments Trump allegedly made to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election. A Trump spokesperson clarified the former president hasn’t received official notification of an imminent arrest and said the former president plans to rally in Texas next weekend. In a Truth Social post, Trump encouraged his supporters to “protest” his impending arrest and “take our nation back.” Bragg sent a note to DA staffers over the weekend telling them their safety was his “top priority” and that he will not tolerate “attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York.”
  • YouTube on Friday lifted restrictions on Trump’s channel that were imposed after the January 6 Capitol riot, when the company said he’d violated policies against inciting violence. The video streaming platform’s decision to reinstate Trump follows similar moves by Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter after Trump became an official political candidate again. The former president swiftly posted a video announcing his return to YouTube and Facebook.

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock

The TikTok logo is displayed outside the TikTok company offices in Culver City, California. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
The TikTok logo is displayed outside the TikTok company offices in Culver City, California. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via 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.

The Biden administration has issued an ultimatum to TikTok, according to a Wall Street Journal report late last week: Oust your Chinese ownership or get out of the country. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)—a body that reviews international transactions for potential national security risks—has reportedly informed TikTok of the conditions and, while details of the ultimatum have not been publicly released, the news comes as bipartisan scrutiny of the social media platform is reaching a fever pitch.

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