Shootings in North Carolina, Denver; Swedish lawmakers vote to join NATO; TikTok CEO to defend app | Hot off the Wire podcast

Shootings in North Carolina, Denver; Swedish lawmakers vote to join NATO; TikTok CEO to defend app | Hot off the Wire podcast

On this version of Hot off the Wire:

» Authorities say a shooting near a middle school in North Carolina left two 16-year-old boys dead and one wounded.

» Authorities say a 17-year-old student shot and wounded two school administrators after a handgun was found during a daily search of a student at a Denver high school.

🎧 The hosts discuss the effectiveness of the messaging in the early days of the pandemic, why COVID further divided many Americans and how leadership matters during a crisis.

» Manhattan prosecutors have postponed a scheduled grand jury session in the investigation into Donald Trump over hush money payments during his 2016 presidential campaign.

» Stocks fell sharply after the Federal Reserve said it doesn’t expect to cut rates anytime soon despite Wall Street’s hopes.

» The administration of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is moving to forbid classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in all grades.

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Learn how a warming climate is sneaking up on us in subtle ways.

» A possible tornado Wednesday left a line of damage across roofs of commercial buildings in the Los Angeles suburb of Montebello.

» Moderna’s CEO is defending a plan to more than quadruple the company’s COVID-19 vaccine price.

» China says President Xi Jinping’s just-concluded visit to Russia was a “journey of friendship, cooperation and peace.” 

Misleading information is being fed to liberals and conservatives within their ideological bubbles. How the left deals with misinformation is the topic of this week’s Utterly Moderate Podcast.

» A dispute between Jack Daniel’s and the makers of a squeaking dog toy that humorously mimics the whiskey’s signature look gave Supreme Court justices a lot to chew on.

» Swedish lawmakers have overwhelmingly voted in favor of the country joining NATO.

» TikTok’s CEO plans to tell Congress on Thursday that the video-sharing app is committed to user safety, data protection and security, and keeping the platform free from Chinese government influence.

🎧 Get a recap of some of this week’s top sports and entertainment stories through this special edition of our daily news podcast.

» For 40 years, former President Donald Trump has navigated a flurry of legal investigations without ever facing criminal charges. That record may soon come to an end.

» As the Federal Reserve raises interest rates again, credit card debt is already at a record high, and more people are carrying debt month to month.

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North Dakota House passes school gender pronoun prohibition

North Dakota House passes school gender pronoun prohibition

Public schools and state agencies in North Dakota would be prohibited from referring to students and employees by any pronouns that don’t reflect the sex assigned to them at birth, under a bill approved by the legislature.

The House approved the bill 60-32 on Wednesday. It passed the Senate last month and now awaits the signature of Republican Gov. Doug Burgum.

In 2021, Burgum vetoed a bill that would have restricted transgender students from participating in public elementary and secondary school sports. But Burgum has not said publicly if he supports this latest measure.

The bill is among hundreds nationwide that are taking aim at nearly every facet of transgender existence, from pronouns to bathroom use to health care to athletics. In North Dakota, similar bills to restrict transgender athletes have passed the House this session with veto-proof majorities. The Senate has not yet voted on them. Last week, Wyoming became the 19th state to ban transgender athletes from playing on girls or women’s sports teams.

“It’s another week of a legislative session, and we have another bill that’s telling certain people that they have value or don’t have value in our state,” Democratic Rep. Josh Boschee of Fargo said as he urged lawmakers to vote against the pronoun bill.

Right before the vote, Republican Rep. SuAnn Olson of Baldwin countered: “Five years ago, this whole pronoun thing wasn’t a thing. It puts teachers in the very difficult position” of keeping up with students who switch their pronoun, she said. “It’s just a common-sense bill that deserves a green vote.”

The bill would not criminalize teachers or state employees. And if a teacher received approval from a student’s parent or guardian — and from the school administrator — the teacher would be allowed to use the pronouns a student prefers.

Although the measure also affects state employees outside the schools, Wednesday’s debate focused mostly on educational staff who would be affected. Supporters said the bill would ease burdens on teachers and create better learning environments for students

The bill would allow teachers to “rest with relief that they only need to remember one name and (one) set of historically recognized biological pronouns,” Republican Rep. Lori VanWinkle, of Minot, said in support. She added that the bill would instill confidence in parents that their kids are safe at school and create learning environments without “social distractions.”

Opponents including Democratic Rep. Mary Schneider of Fargo cited the testimony of countless people who argued the bill would harm LGBTQ youth: mental health therapists, school counselors, social workers, suicide prevention advocates, church leaders and more.

Schneider noted that these experts said the bill would not protect kids or promote learning, because “the real threats to children are poverty, hunger, lack of health care, gun violence, bigotry, social pressures, mental health and bills like these.”

Democrats and Republicans voted against the bill.

A survey by The Trevor Project in 2022 found that 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous year, but that those who were supported socially or at school reported lower rates.


Trisha Ahmed is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow her on Twitter: @TrishaAhmed15

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Lindsay Lohan, other celebs settle with SEC over crypto case

Lindsay Lohan, other celebs settle with SEC over crypto case

U.S. regulators said the celebrities promoted crypto investments to their millions of social media followers without disclosing they were being paid to do so.

WASHINGTON — Actress Lindsay Lohan, rapper Akon and several other celebrities have agreed to pay tens of thousands of dollars to settle claims they promoted crypto investments to their millions of social media followers without disclosing they were being paid to do so.

Lohan, Akon, recording artists Ne-Yo, and Lil Yachty, boxer and internet personality Jake Paul, and adult film performer Michele Mason all agreed to pay more than $400,000 combined in disgorgement, interest and penalties to settle the claims, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Wednesday.

None admitted or denied the SEC’s findings as part of the settlement. Two other celebrities named in the SEC’s complaint, rapper Soulja Boy and pop singer Austin Mahone, did not reach a settlement with the SEC, the agency said.

In response to a request for comment, Lohan’s publicist Leslie Sloane said the actress was contacted in March 2022, was unaware of the disclosure requirement, and agreed to pay a fine to resolve the matter. Lohan, who last week announced she is pregnant, was called to give up the $10,000 she was paid, plus interest, and pay a $30,000 fine, according an SEC complaint.

A spokeswoman for Paul declined to comment. Emails left with representatives for the other celebrities named in the SEC complaint weren’t immediately returned Wednesday.

In the complaint filed by the SEC in federal court in New York, the agency claims the celebrities were paid to promote Tronix (TRX) and BitTorrent (BTT), both crypto asset securities that were offered for sale by three companies owned by Justin Sun, a Chinese national. Sun is the permanent representative of Grenada to the World Trade Organization and may be living in Singapore or Hong Kong, according to the complaint.

Starting at around August 2017, Sun allegedly offered to sell billions in the unregistered securities and engaged in manipulative trading, while also creating secondary markets on which Tronix and BitTorrent could be traded, according to the complaint.

“Although the celebrities were paid to promote TRX and BTT, their touts on social media did not disclose that they had been paid or the amounts of their payments,” according to the complaint. “Thus, the public was misled into believing that these celebrities had unbiased interest in TRX and BTT, and were not merely paid spokespersons.”

Many celebrities and athletes have used their influence and massive social media followings to promote cryptocurrencies in recent years, including Matt Damon, Tom Brady and Reese Witherspoon. But doing so without disclosing when they’re being paid to do so is illegal, and has landed some big names in hot water with securities regulators. Last fall, Kim Kardashian agreed to pay a $1 million fine to settle federal charges that she recommended Ethereum Max tokens, a crypto security, to her millions Instagram followers without making clear that she was paid to do so.

In 2020, actor Steven Seagal agreed to pay more than $300,000 as part of a similar settlement with the SEC, which also banned him from promoting investments for three years.

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10-year-old shoot mom over VR headset

10-year-old shoot mom over VR headset

MILWAUKEE — A 10-year-old boy who shot and killed his 44-year-old mother last week in Milwaukee is being charged with first-degree homicide as an adult.

According to a criminal complaint, the boy was allegedly mad at his mom for waking him up early and not letting him have something on Amazon.

RELATED: 10-year-old shoots, kills woman near 87th and Hemlock

The fatal shooting took place near 87th and Hemlock around 7 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 21. Police initially reported the boy was playing with the gun when it discharged, striking his mom. The woman, identified as Quiana Mann, was shot in the head and died from her injuries.

According to the criminal complaint, when the boy was first interviewed he said he was twirling the gun around his finger and it “accidentally went off.” After killing his mom, the boy woke up his sister who then found their mother dead and called 911.

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The home of the boy and mother.

Due to his age, the boy was allowed to remain with his family. However, the following day, the family contacted the Milwaukee Police Department with “serious concerns.”

The complaint says the boy’s 26-year-old sister told detectives he has had “rage issues” all of his life and “five different imaginary people that talk to him.”

A therapist previously gave the boy a “concerning diagnosis” and the mother had placed cameras inside the home to watch him, according to the complaint. Two weeks prior to the woman’s murder, “someone had unplugged these cameras.”

The sister also told detectives she learned that the morning after their mother’s death, the boy logged onto their mother’s Amazon account and ordered an Oculus Virtual Reality Headset.

The complaint says a family member also alleged that the boy would pick their puppy up by the tail and “swing the puppy around until it whined and howled in pain.” This occurred when the boy was allegedly four-years-old.

An aunt told detectives that the boy never cried or showed remorse following his mother’s death. The complaint alleges the 10-year-old told his aunt that he was “actually aiming the gun at his mother.” The day after his mother’s death, the aunt said he apologized for killing his mom and then asked if his Amazon package arrived.

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The home of the boy and mother.

In a second interview with detectives, the boy allegedly admitted he retrieved the gun because he was mad at her for waking him up early and not letting him get something on Amazon. He told detectives his mom walked in front of him when he tried to shoot the wall to “scare her.” The complaint also says he admitted to getting his mother’s keys for the gun lock box the night before.

Neighbors described the family as average. Steve Frisch has lived near 87th and Hemlock for more than two decades. His quiet neighborhood was shaken up last week when police arrested the 10-year-old.

“Still surprised when there’s a shooting around, (it is) usually (a) quiet neighborhood,” Frisch said. “(The family) just asked me how I’m doing and stuff like that.”

Wednesday morning, TMJ4 News asked Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson about the charges the 10-year-old is facing.

“Anytime there is a crime in the city, whether it’s by a 10-year-old or someone much older, it’s concerning,” Mayor Johnson said. “I don’t want people getting hurt. As for this case, I’m just learning about it. I got the details this morning.”

The 10-year-old has been charged with first-degree reckless homicide. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 60 years in prison.

He had his initial appearance in court on Friday and a cash bond of $50,000 was set. He will appear in court for a status hearing on Dec. 7.

TMJ4 News is choosing not to name the suspect at this time due to his age. Read our ‘Moving Forward’ policy here. In Wisconsin, you can be charged as an adult if you are 17 years and older. To charge someone younger than 17 is rare – and 10 years old practically unheard of.

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Xi’s delay of Siberia pipeline signals limits to his embrace of Putin

Xi’s delay of Siberia pipeline signals limits to his embrace of Putin


RIGA, Latvia — Russian President Vladimir Putin this week called the Power of Siberia pipeline, which carries Russian gas to China, the “deal of the century.” But Putin’s hopes of swiftly securing a sequel of the century — the giant Power of Siberia 2 — deflated over two days of talks with Chinese leader Xi Jinping this week.

Putin is desperately scouting for hungry new gas markets after Russia lost the bulk of its most important export market, Europe, following his invasion of Ukraine. That loss included Putin’s ill-considered move to cut gas supplies to Germany through a major pipeline last year.

Russian gas giant Gazprom has been pushing the Siberia pipeline plan for years, and all eyes were on the meetings with Xi this week for signs of agreement. It never materialized.

Xi’s support for Putin, despite his invasion of Ukraine, is a geopolitical milestone — the Chinese leader called it a change “that hasn’t happened in 100 years” — as Beijing positions itself for an era of growing confrontation with the United States and presses for a multipolar world to end Washington’s global dominance.

But Xi’s failure to give Russia the additional symbolic boost of a giant gas pipeline deal showed that he would not sacrifice China’s economic self-interest, and it highlighted Putin’s weakness and growing dependence on his “dear friend.”

Even if there had been an agreement, the pipeline would take many years to build and would not help Russia’s short-term economic problems with its shrinking revenue due to sanctions.

A railroad fan photographed Putin’s armored train. Now he lives in exile.

Xi’s trip offered Putin important moral support, and Chinese trade has bolstered Russia’s economy, but the lack of a deal on Power of Siberia 2 showed the limits of what Xi is willing to do, said Janis Kluge, an expert on Russia’s economy with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

“Russia needs a lot from China right now, and it’s in a very weak position,” Kluge said.

“Basically, it would be a gesture of trust or loyalty from the Chinese side because, of course, these gas deals are always very long-term commitments,” he said, adding that it was questionable if Power of Siberia 2 pipeline would ever be built, which in turn raises doubts about whether Russia’s western Siberian gas would ever be exported.

China does not want Russia to lose the war in Ukraine or to see the collapse of Putin’s regime, Kluge continued. “But this doesn’t mean that the relationship is blossoming,” he said. “There is now a clear dependency where there used to be a more symmetrical relationship. We can see that China is not offering anything more than the symbolics of this visit, and we can see that China is also more careful in its dealings with Moscow.”

Putin said on Tuesday that “practically all the parameters” of the Power of Siberia 2 deal had been agreed, but his comments concealed a defeat of Russian efforts to get final agreement from China.

“Unfortunately, ‘almost all’ is not ‘all’ of the parameters,” wrote Moscow-based analytical firm BKS, adding that “the agreement has been discussed in one form or another since 2004 or earlier, but the price issue has been a stumbling block again and again.

“If this aspect is not resolved, serious negotiations are still ahead and success is not guaranteed,” BKS wrote.

To see Russia’s secret antiwar art: Meet at a bus stop. At dark. Phones off.

The leaders’ joint statement referred vaguely to “strengthening the comprehensive partnership in the energy sector” but, tellingly, only agreed to “make efforts to advance work on studying and agreeing” on the landmark project.

At the conclusion of Xi’s state visit, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak could only say that details of the deal were yet to be worked out and that he hoped an accord would be reached sometime this year.

Konstantin Simonov, director of the National Energy Security Fund, a think tank, said Xi and Putin had been expected to sign the deal during their meetings.

“It is obvious that Russia needs the contract,” Simonov told Business FM, a Russian radio station. “Gazprom needs the contract, because last year we had a drop in supplies to the European Union of over 80 billion cubic meters. This is quite a serious volume, and this year we may lose another 30 to 40 billion cubic meters.”

“The fact that the contract has not been signed so far means that China believes that today Russia needs this project more, and it tries to drag out this delay in order to, most likely, get the most favorable conditions for itself,” he said.

Xi and Putin showcase alliance but offer no path to peace in Ukraine

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied reports that the failure to get a deal was a defeat for Putin, calling these “low-quality fake stories.”

“The reality is totally different,” Peskov said. “The expansion [of cooperation] was discussed.”

But there are plenty of uncertainties, including the expected level of Chinese gas demand in the 2030s, the price of gas at that time, China’s ready access to many other global suppliers and its capacity to increase its own domestic gas production.

In 2020, Russia supplied 3 percent of Chinese natural gas, compared with 10 percent from Turkmenistan and 12 percent from Australian liquefied natural gas (LNG), according to the Energy Policy Research Foundation, which noted that China has kept its natural gas supplies well diversified, unlike many European nations before Putin’s invasion.

After meeting Xi on Tuesday, Putin said Power of Siberia 2, which would carry gas to China through Mongolia, is a “good project” and extolled Russia’s “reliable, stable” supply. In fact, analysts say, Moscow has often used its gas supplies to exert damaging political pressure on its neighbors, including Ukraine, Georgia and recently Moldova.

In a blatant example, Russia indefinitely cut the supply to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline in September, citing maintenance issues, while the Kremlin denied manipulating supplies.

“I think that China was watching very closely what happened there, and they will try to stick to their strategy of diversification and not allowing a single supplier to have a significant chunk of the Chinese market,” Kluge said.

Weeks later, a pipeline attack by unknown saboteurs severed supplies via Russia’s Nord Stream 1 and the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which had yet to receive regulatory approval to begin operations.

As Xi visits Russia, Putin sees his anti-U.S. world order taking shape

Mongolian Prime Minister Luvsannamsrain Oyun-Erdene recently told Reuters that his country was waiting for China and Russia to agree on the details of the pipeline before going through the trouble of deciding on the route through his country. Gazprom needs agreement that China will purchase a certain volume of gas to make the project viable.

The biggest question mark is Chinese gas demand in the 2030s. The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook last year reported that China’s LNG contracts, existing pipelines and new domestic gas projects would exceed its requirements up to 2035, as the growth in demand for gas slows.

“There are no easy options for Russia in its search for new markets for the gas it was exporting to Europe,” the agency reported. “Sanctions undercut the prospects for large new Russian LNG projects, and long distances to alternative markets make new pipeline links difficult.”

It predicted that Russia’s share of internationally traded gas would fall to less than 15 percent in 2030 from 30 percent in 2021, and that its net income from exports would plummet to less than $30 billion from $75 billion over that time.

Natalia Abbakumova in Riga contributed to this report.

One year of Russia’s war in Ukraine

Portraits of Ukraine: Every Ukrainian’s life has changed since Russia launched its full-scale invasion one year ago — in ways both big and small. They have learned to survive and support each other under extreme circumstances, in bomb shelters and hospitals, destroyed apartment complexes and ruined marketplaces. Scroll through portraits of Ukrainians reflecting on a year of loss, resilience and fear.

Battle of attrition: Over the past year, the war has morphed from a multi-front invasion that included Kyiv in the north to a conflict of attrition largely concentrated along an expanse of territory in the east and south. Follow the 600-mile front line between Ukrainian and Russian forces and take a look at where the fighting has been concentrated.

A year of living apart: Russia’s invasion, coupled with Ukraine’s martial law preventing fighting-age men from leaving the country, has forced agonizing decisions for millions of Ukrainian families about how to balance safety, duty and love, with once-intertwined lives having become unrecognizable. Here’s what a train station full of goodbyes looked like last year.

Deepening global divides: President Biden has trumpeted the reinvigorated Western alliance forged during the war as a “global coalition,” but a closer look suggests the world is far from united on issues raised by the Ukraine war. Evidence abounds that the effort to isolate Putin has failed and that sanctions haven’t stopped Russia, thanks to its oil and gas exports.

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GM to stop making the Camaro but a successor may be in works

GM to stop making the Camaro but a successor may be in works

DETROIT (AP) — The Chevrolet Camaro, for decades the dream car of many teenage American males, is going out of…

DETROIT (AP) — The Chevrolet Camaro, for decades the dream car of many teenage American males, is going out of production.

General Motors, which sells the brawny muscle car, said Wednesday it will stop making the current generation early next year.

The future of the car, which is raced on NASCAR and other circuits, is a bit murky. GM says another generation may be in the works.

“While we are not announcing an immediate successor today, rest assured, this is not the end of Camaro’s story,” Scott Bell, vice president of Chevrolet, said in a statement.

The current sixth-generation Camaro, introduced in 2016, has done well on the racetrack, but sales have been tailing off in recent years. When the current generation Camaro came out in 2016, Chevrolet sold 72,705 of them. But by the end of 2021 that number fell almost 70% to 21,893. It rebounded a bit last year to 24,652.

GM said last of the 2024 model year of the cars will come off the assembly line in Lansing, Michigan, in January.

Spokesman Trevor Thompkins said he can’t say anything more about a future Camaro. “We’re not saying anything specific right now,” he said.

If GM revives the Camaro, it almost certainly will be electric, said Stephanie Brinley, an associate director with S&P Global Mobility. “It would be unlikely to see another internal combustion engine vehicle,” she said.

GM has said it plans to sell only electric passenger vehicles worldwide by 2035.

Brinley said the push to sell more electric vehicles makes it likely that all new muscle cars will be powered by batteries. But if there’s still a mixed combustion and battery fleet on sale in 2030 or 2040, some gas-powered muscle cars could survive.

Thompkins said GM has an understanding with auto-racing sanctioning bodies that the sixth-generation car can continue racing. GM will have parts available and the Camaro body will stay on the race track, he said.

NASCAR said that because the Generation 6 Camaro was in production when GM originally got permission to race, it remains qualified to race in NASCAR Cup and NASCAR Xfinity Series races.

GM will offer a collector’s edition package of the 2024 Camaro RS and SS in North America, and a limited number of high-performance ZL-1 Camaros. The collector’s edition cars will have ties to the first-generation Camaro from the 1960s and its GM code name “Panther,” the company said without giving specifics.

GM’s move comes as traditional gas-powered muscle cars are starting to be phased out due to strict government fuel economy regulations, concerns about climate change and an accelerating shift toward electric vehicles.

Stellantis, will stop making gas versions of the Dodge Challenger and Charger and the Chrylser 300 big sedan by the end of this year. But the company has plans to roll out a battery-powered Charger performance car sometime in 2024.

Electric cars, with instant torque and a low center of gravity, often are faster and handle better than internal combustion vehicles.

Stellantis, formed in 2021 by combining Fiat Chrysler and France’s PSA Peugeot, earlier this week announced the last of its special edition muscle cars, the 1,025 horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170. The company says the car can go from zero to 60 mph (97 kilometers per hour) in 1.66 seconds, making it the fastest production car on the market.

In addition, Ford rolled out a new version of its Mustang sports car in September.

The Camaro was first introduced in 1966, two years after Ford’s wildly popular Mustang.

GM retired the Camaro nameplate in 2002, but revived it as a new 2010 model with hopes of appealing to enthusiasts and younger buyers. The 2010 version was similar to its predecessors, with a long, flat front and side “gills” that evoke the original, while still sporting a modern overall design.


AP Auto Racing Writer Jenna Fryer contributed from Charlotte, North Carolina.

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