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USC to Make Historic Move to Big Ten Conference in 2024 – University of Southern California Official Athletic Site

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USC Athletics | June 30, 2022

LOS ANGELES – The University of Southern California will take the historic step of joining the Big Ten Conference in 2024, a move that will position USC and its student-athletes for long-term success in both athletics and academics.

“Over the past three years, we have worked hard to ground our university decisions in what is best for our students,” said USC President Carol L. Folt. “With the Big Ten, we are joining a storied conference that shares our commitment to academic excellence and athletic competitiveness, and we are positioning USC and our student-athletes for long-term success and stability amidst the rapidly evolving sports media and collegiate athletics landscapes. We are delighted to begin this new chapter in 2024.”

The Big Ten Conference has voted to accept both USC and crosstown rival UCLA as full members of the conference effective August 2, 2024, enabling both schools to remain in the Pac-12 Conference for the duration of the Pac-12’s existing media rights agreements.

“Ultimately, the Big Ten is the best home for USC and Trojan athletics as we move into the new world of collegiate sports,” Athletic Director Mike Bohn said. “We are excited that our values align with the league’s member institutions. We also will benefit from the stability and strength of the conference; the athletic caliber of Big Ten institutions; the increased visibility, exposure, and resources the conference will bring our student-athletes and programs; and the ability to expand engagement with our passionate alumni nationwide.”

USC also shared that, beginning this upcoming academic year, all student-athletes, whether on scholarship or not, will have the opportunity to receive up to $5,980 annually in direct financial support in the form of academic achievement awards, consistent with the Supreme Court’s recent Alston ruling. The specific details and criteria for the Alston awards will be disclosed prior to the start of the upcoming fall semester.

USC has more than 550 student-athletes who compete in 21 sports, and they are supported by more than 250 coaches and staff. Trojan teams have won 134 national championships, and men and women have taken home 483 individual NCAA titles. The USC football program, which competes in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, has won 11 national championships, competed in 34 Rose Bowls (with 25 wins), and produced 519 NFL draft picks. USC athletes also have won 326 Summer Olympics medals, with 153 of them being gold. In 2021, USC posted its highest-ever NCAA Graduation Success Rate (92 percent).
 

Message from President Carol L. Folt to the USC Community

Dear Trojan Community,
 
I am writing with exciting news about the future for our student-athletes and university community. We are announcing today that USC will join the Big Ten Conference, with plans to begin membership in August 2024. This decision was made after serious deliberation and analysis, and with great appreciation and respect for our Pac-12 colleagues with whom we have enjoyed a wonderful history and relationship.
 
We have worked hard over the past three years to ground university decisions in what is best for our students. One of our priorities was to build a student-centric athletics program deeply committed to ensuring that all our student-athletes can compete at the highest level athletically and achieve at the highest level academically. We have made that a reality under our terrific athletic director, Mike Bohn, along with his leadership team, coaches, staff and, of course, our student-athletes.
 
Reflecting that commitment, we also announced today that all USC student-athletes — regardless of scholarship status — will have the opportunity to receive direct financial support in the form of Alston academic achievement awards beginning in the upcoming academic year.
 
Our move to the Big Ten positions USC for long-term success and stability amidst the rapidly changing sports media and collegiate athletic landscapes. Equally important, we are joining a conference that shares our values of academic excellence, athletic competitiveness and diversity and inclusion across all sports. The enhanced resources from this move will enable additional support for our student-athletes as well as benefit initiatives surrounding academics, accessibility and affordability.
 
In analyzing a move to the Big Ten, we thoughtfully considered the prospect of additional travel for our student-athletes. We are committed to devoting the necessary resources to ensure our student-athletes can continue to thrive in their coursework with minimal travel disruption. We know the Big Ten shares our commitment to prioritizing student-athletes’ well-being and academic demands, and we are fortunate we can spend the next two years working with the conference on travel and scheduling plans.
 
We are especially pleased that our crosstown rival, UCLA, will join us in the Big Ten in 2024. While we are fierce competitors on the field, we have a rich tradition of collaboration that we are excited to continue. As we begin to plan for our move, please know we will do everything we can to preserve the wonderful traditions and rivalries we have built in the Pac-12 that our students, alumni and fans have enjoyed for decades.
 
Please see statements on our move to the Big Ten from Mike Bohn and from Suzanne Nora Johnson, Chair of the USC Board of Trustees. 
 
While today’s decision is the culmination of extraordinary efforts by so many, it is only the beginning of our journey to the Big Ten. Though we may not have every question answered today, we will by August 2024. In the next few weeks, we will be reaching out to all our constituencies to discuss our announcement in more detail and to offer opportunities to ask questions surrounding our future in the Big Ten.
 
I want to thank our entire Trojan Family — generations of loyal Trojans who have supported and loved USC for more than 100 years. We could not do what we do every day without you, and we hope you are as excited as we are about what’s to come.
 
In the meantime, I wish you all a happy and safe rest of the summer.
 
Fight On!
 
Sincerely,
 
Carol L. Folt
President
 

Full Statement from Athletic Director Mike Bohn

 
I am beyond thrilled that USC will be joining the Big Ten Conference. We are thankful to the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors and Commissioner Kevin Warren for the opportunity to become a member of the oldest and most storied conference in the country. We will officially begin our membership in August 2024.
 
We intend to end our membership in the Pac-12 conference when the Pac-12’s current media rights agreement expires in August 2024. We look forward to competing these next two years in the Pac-12 and want to express our sincerest gratitude to the conference and its member institutions for decades of wonderful experiences. The Trojans’ outstanding athletics heritage will always be synonymous with the Pac-12, and there are so many iconic moments and memories we will cherish forever. We hold the Pac-12 and our respected colleagues in the highest regard.
 
This is the most volatile and uncertain era in the history of American collegiate athletics. USC must ensure it is best positioned and prepared for whatever happens next, and it is our responsibility to always evaluate potential opportunities and be willing to make changes when needed. Ultimately, the Big Ten is the best home for USC and Trojan athletics as we move into the new world of collegiate sports. We are excited that our values align with the league’s member institutions. We also will benefit from the stability and strength of the conference; the athletic caliber of Big Ten institutions; the increased visibility, exposure, and resources the conference will bring our student-athletes and programs; and the ability to expand engagement with our passionate alumni nationwide.
 
For more than two years, our athletics department has been unified behind our vision to be the most student-athlete centered program in the country. Central to that mission is the responsibility to provide the necessary resources for our student-athletes to be successful on and off the playing field and ensure our student-athletes compete for championships at the highest levels and on the grandest stages. By joining the Big Ten, we are confident we will continue to deliver on this promise for our current student-athletes and generations of student-athletes who will wear the Cardinal and Gold in the future.
 
I am so grateful to President Carol L. Folt for her bold vision, courageous leadership, and decisive action. From the start, she and I have been unified in our goal to build an athletics department that sets the standard for supporting student-athletes. I am also appreciative of former Board of Trustees Chair Rick Caruso, new Chair Suzanne Nora Johnson, and all the other members of the Board for their unwavering support of our student-athletes and the Trojan athletics program.
 
The future of USC athletics is bigger, brighter, better, and more boundless than it has ever been. Every Saturday at the Coliseum will feel like the “Granddaddy of Them All!” Trojan Family, the best is yet to come.

Fight On!
 

Statement from USC Board Chair Suzanne Nora Johnson

 
On behalf of the USC Board of Trustees, I want to express our support to President Carol L. Folt, Athletic Director Mike Bohn, the Big Ten and the Pac-12. Throughout USC’s history, many of our traditions have been grounded in athletics and are a source of deep and unifying pride across the Trojan Family.
 
Over the past three years, President Folt has built a world-class leadership team and set a strong strategic vision for USC. This move is yet another example of her dedication to accomplishing ambitious goals for the university. We are grateful to her, and to Athletic Director Bohn, for solidifying USC’s place in the national athletics landscape and serving the best interests of the university’s students and other stakeholders. We are proud of the heritage the Pac-12 has helped us build, and we are looking forward to working closely with the Big Ten to create a new and exciting legacy in USC athletics.

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Takeaways from the blockbuster victories conservatives secured at the Supreme Court – CNN

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CNN
 — 

In decisions handed down in recent weeks, the conservative Supreme Court transformed the legal landscape around an assortment of hot-button issues, including abortion, gun rights, immigration and religious liberty.

The cascade of sweeping rulings was the culmination of a generational effort to transform the high bench with the appointment of reliably conservative justices.

Here’s a look at what the court accomplished this term, and what its decisions mean for the future:

Ending a constitutional right to an abortion

The Supreme Court decision that had the most dramatic fallout this term was its June 24 ruling overturning its abortion rights precedents. The decision had the on-the-ground effect of making abortion illegal in several states – in some places, immediately after the ruling came down – while also opening the door to a new round of legal fights over access to the procedure.

Red states – with the green light from the Supreme Court – moved quickly to enact abortion bans and extreme restrictions, and abortion rights advocates scrambled to slow enforcement of the new prohibitions.

The ruling was a major victory not just for anti-abortion activists, but also for the conservative legal movement writ large, which saw Roe v. Wade as chief among several examples of the Supreme Court creating rights that lack explicit references in the Constitution’s text.

Practically speaking, the Dobbs opinion means that state and federal lawmakers now have the ability to enact abortion restrictions up to and include outright bans, though they are already facing court challenges from abortion rights advocates who argue that certain state constitutions protect a right to an abortion.

That the court overturned a 49-year-old precedent – and one rooted in a deeply divisive issue, affecting the most personal decision facing pregnant people and their families – was remarkable.

“Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens,” the liberal justices wrote jointly in their dissent.

Raising the legal bar for states and localities defending gun safety laws

The 6-3 conservative majority made gun safety laws much more vulnerable to legal challenge in a case, called New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, that concerned New York’s restrictions on the public carrying of firearms.

The type of discretionary permitting regime – in which a gun owner must get special, discretionary approval to carry the firearm publicly – that was struck down in the case has been embraced by only a handful of other states, though those states contain some of the largest population centers in the country.

The bigger repercussion of the majority opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas is that lower courts have now been instructed to view gun restrictions more skeptically. He wrote that the Constitution “presumptively” protects conduct covered by the Second Amendment’s plain text. It will be up to the government that is seeking to implement a new restriction to prove to the courts that the “regulation is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation,” Thomas said.

Under Thomas’ new test, courts must assess whether the regulation at hand has some historical parallel to how firearms were approached at the timing of the Constitution’s framing. Thomas emphasized that the historic notions of guns applied to modern firearm technology, yet he said the absence of a historical analog for a regulation could make the regulation unconstitutional.

A climate change case that weakens executive branch agency power

The Supreme Court dealt a major blow both to the Biden administration’s efforts to address climate change and the broader authority that executive branch agencies have to regulate across a variety of policy areas.

The court did so Thursday in a case called West Virginia v. EPA, where the justices were reviewing a lower court decision that said that the Environmental Protection Agency, under a 1970 provision of the Clean Air Act, had expansive power to issue rules targeting carbon emissions at power plants. A 6-3 conservative majority reversed that ruling, using a legal rationale that now may be wielded against a host of other types of regulations where government agencies are accused of overstepping their authority.

The justices in the EPA case fleshed out a legal doctrine known as the Major Questions Doctrine, which says that for an agency to issue a rule with major economic or political impacts, it must have received an explicit instruction from Congress to do so.

The court – reviewing a never-implemented Obama administration climate rule that the Biden administration has not sought to revive – said Congress had not given the EPA the authority to implement the sweeping regulations that Obama’s EPA had put forward. The ruling will likely boost future challenges to a climate rule for power plants that the Biden administration has been working to roll out. And it could provide fodder for lawsuits against other types of federal climate regulations, like those aimed at car emissions or emissions from the oil and gas industry.

It also stands to implicate the regulations coming from other agencies across the federal government, as decades of congressional gridlock have made executive agencies a chief source of policymaking.

Weakening the walls between church and state

The conservative court reshaped the playing field around questions regarding religious liberty and the separation between church and state.

In one case, the 6-3 majority said Maine could not exclude religious education from the voucher program it offers parents who live in rural areas without public schools. In another case, the court – again ruling on ideological lines – sided with a public high school coach who suffered professional reprisals for praying on the field after football games.

Not every religious liberty case before the court was as divisive. An 8-1 court ruled that Texas must allow a death row inmate’s spiritual adviser to “lay hands” on him in prayer during his execution. And the court voted unanimously against Boston for its refusal to raise a Christian flag atop a flagpole outside City Hall as a part of a program celebrating Boston’s greater community.

According to Mark Rienzi – the president of the religious liberty advocacy group, the Becket Fund – the through line connecting the Boston flag case to the cases concerning Maine’s voucher program and the praying high school football coach was the Supreme Court clarifying how governments should view the Establishment Clause.

Rienzi said that governments for decades at all levels had internalized an interpretation of the Establishment Clause that prompted them to treat those making religious expression worse than other kinds of actors.

Overall, the lesson to the court is ” ‘Hey governments, this is not the way you are supposed to do it,’ ” Rienzi told CNN.

Complicating the path for blocking immigration policies in court

While immigrant rights advocates secured a near-term win with a ruling that said immigration law allowed President Joe Biden to end a controversial Trump-era immigration policy, that ruling – and another from earlier in the term – will likely hamstring future legal efforts seeking to stop allegedly unlawful immigration policies.

In the pair of rulings, the Supreme Court restricted the authority that lower courts have to block the implementation of certain immigration policies alleged to be unlawful. In the earlier case, Garland v. Gonzales, the 6-3 conservative majority said lower courts could not offer classwide relief in such cases – which concern policies having to with arrest, detention and removal of immigrants. That case was then cited in the court’s end-of-term decision regarding the so-called Remain in Mexico policy put in place by the Trump administration.

The holding suggests that from now on, in cases concerning those types of policies, lower courts can grant relief that affects individual challengers but won’t be allowed to issue orders that broadly bar immigration officials from carrying out certain practices.

That could have wide-ranging ramifications for immigration policy. Over the last five years, a slew of legal challenges against immigration policies have disrupted the implementation of those measures.

Big picture, it appears the legal process for halting certain immigration policies in court will be much slower and arduous for immigrant advocates. The timeline for those cases to reach the Supreme Court is already long, and the high court accepts only a limited number of cases each year.

Making it more difficult to hold government officials accountable for unconstitutional conduct

In a pair of cases, the court limited the options for bringing civil lawsuits against individual government actors who have allegedly acted unconstitutionally while carrying out their official duties.

In a case called Egbert v. Boule, the court narrowed a precedent it had set in the 1971 ruling known as “Bivens,” which had allowed for an individual to sue a federal officer for damages if his fundamental rights were violated. In the Egbert case, the justices said unanimously that a federal border control agent could not face individual civil liability for alleged retaliation under the First Amendment.

In a part of the majority opinion from which the three liberals dissented, Thomas also severely limited the circumstances in which a Fourth Amendment excessive force claim could be brought against a federal officer.

The ruling had the effect of expanding the immunity protecting federal officials from private lawsuits, even if it didn’t overturn “Bivens” outright.

Later in the term, the court also undermined the so-called Miranda right protections – i.e. the warning suspects are supposed to receive from law enforcement that they have a right to remain silent and to obtain counsel – in a case called Tekoh v. Vega. The court said that a law enforcement official’s failure to provide a Miranda warning didn’t by itself make the official vulnerable to a civil lawsuit alleging a Fifth Amendment violation.

The ruling did not eliminate the Miranda right, as evidence obtained when it’s been violated would still be excluded from trial. But critics of the ruling said that, without the additional legal risk of a potential civil suit, law enforcement officials will feel less of an incentive to comply with their Miranda obligations.

CNN’s Ella Nilsen and Priscilla Alvarez contributed to this report.

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It's been a *very* good week for Ron DeSantis – CNN

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The Florida Republican governor, a clear favorite for a second term in November, continues to rise in the eyes of GOP voters looking ahead to the 2024 presidential race.
The events of this week did nothing to slow that momentum.
Start with the bombshell testimony of former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson to the 1/6 committee on Tuesday.
While we can — and will — debate whether Hutchinson’s testimony puts Trump in legal jeopardy, it’s already clear that what she said has damaged him in some corners of the conservative world.
“Trump is a disgrace,” wrote the editorial board of the conservative Washington Examiner after Hutchinson’s testimony. “Republicans have far better options to lead the party in 2024. No one should think otherwise, much less support him, ever again.”
After a “stunning” two hours of testimony from Hutchinson, former Trump White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney declared, “That is a very, very bad day for Trump.”
Trump’s loss is, undoubtedly, DeSantis’ gain. Poll after poll — both nationally and in swing states — shows the Florida governor as the only potential candidate running anywhere close to even with Trump. (A recent New Hampshire poll pegged DeSantis at 39% to 37% for Trump.)
Much of DeSantis’ rising popularity is due to a sort of hybrid Trumpism — all of the war against wokeness without the, um distractions presented by the former President.
DeSantis has spent the better part of the last year in a culture war against the likes of Disney, critical race theory, math textbooks and the LGBT community — among other targets.
As part of that effort, he signed a law in April that would ban abortion after 15 weeks. On Thursday, a Florida judge ruled that the law was unconstitutional.
Which, at first blush, you might think is bad news for DeSantis. But the image of the Florida governor battling for life in the face of an out-of-control judiciary, which is the story he will tell of the decision, is a clear winner for him with Republicans energized nationally over the recent Roe v. Wade ruling.
“We reject this interpretation because the Florida Constitution does not include — and has never included — a right to kill an innocent unborn child,” DeSantis’ office said in a statement after Thursday’s ruling. “We will appeal today’s ruling and ask the Florida Supreme Court to reverse its existing precedent regarding Florida’s right to privacy. The struggle for life is not over.”
The Point: DeSantis has emerged as a legitimate contender for the Republican nomination — even if Trump decides to run for a third time in 2024. Which is a remarkable statement.
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'This was a crime against humanity.' Police chief describes scene where 53 people died in San Antonio – CNN

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“This was a crime against humanity. This was nothing but pure evil, that someone could allow this to happen, to anyone, let alone that many people,” the chief said.
On a Texas road called 'the mouth of the wolf,' a semitruck packed with migrants was abandoned in the sweltering heat
McManus, who has been in law enforcement since 1975, was reluctant to describe the graphic scene.
“The floor of the trailer, it was completely covered in bodies. Completely covered in bodies,” he said. “There were at least 10-plus bodies outside the trailer, because when we arrived, when EMS arrived, we were trying to find people who were still alive. So we had to move bodies out of the trailer onto the ground.”
In emergency responder radio traffic posted on the scanner website Broadcastify.com, one person can be heard requesting more help at the scene. “I have too many bodies here,” the man says.
About 10 minutes later, another man says: “We’re going to need someone to process. Everyone on scene, including my DI’s, are tied up with assisting. Got approximately 20-plus victims.”
No further victims were found after a search of the area with K-9s, McManus said.
In all, 53 people died in what one Homeland Security Investigations’ agent called the deadliest human smuggling incident in US history. Some victims could be younger than 18.
Authorities in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras have said they are collaborating with the US in trying to identify the people who died.
The suspected driver of the truck was spotted attempting to leave the scene, McManus said. In the recording on Broadcastify, one person says the man was seen running near some railroad tracks while another says to keep a lookout for the driver, thought to be a man in a brown shirt.
The chief said a police helicopter followed the suspect, who was ultimately detained in a field. The chief did not go into the condition nor demeanor of the suspected driver.
Homero Zamorano Jr., 45, was arrested Wednesday, according to the US Department of Justice. Surveillance footage from a camera at an immigration checkpoint showed the driver of the 18-wheeler wearing black stripes and a hat.
“(San Antonio Police) officers were led to the location of an individual, later identified as Zamorano, who was observed hiding in the brush after attempting to abscond. Zamorano was detained by SAPD officers,” a DOJ release said.
Zamorano, who lives in Pasadena, Texas, made his first court appearance before a federal judge in San Antonio on Thursday. He is charged with human smuggling resulting in death, and if convicted he could face up to life in prison or death.
When asked by CNN, Zamorano’s attorney said he did not wish to comment.
The US Attorney’s Office in San Antonio has filed a motion requesting Zamorano to be detained without bond, citing “a serious risk that the Defendant will flee,” court documents show.
The motion also noted that Zamorano’s felony offense, transportation of undocumented immigrants resulting in death, “involves a minor victim.”
According to Zamorano’s criminal complaint, he was escorted to a local hospital for medical evaluation after San Antonio police officers encountered and detained him at the scene. A cell phone, hat, and wallet containing Zamorano’s ID card were recovered from his person and the immediate area, the complaint added.

Eleven still in hospitals

Eleven of the 16 survivors are still hospitalized, according to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. At least two patients are in critical condition, hospital officials said.
Gustavo García-Siller, the archbishop of the diocese of San Antonio, said most of the survivors were unresponsive or could not communicate due to their conditions when he visited them earlier this week.
Migrants are taking more risks to reach the USMigrants are taking more risks to reach the US
“They were all hooked to machines and some intubated, so there was not a possibility of dialogue. My place was to pray, to think about their families. I spoke to some of them without receiving any reaction back but I knew that I was speaking to real persons in suffering and that God knows their hearts,” García-Siller told CNN.
After visiting the six hospitals where the survivors have been treated, the archbishop said he could only speak with a 16-year-old girl from Guatemala. The girl had not been able to reach her family because she had to give up her phone, García-Siller said.
“The dialogue was to assure her that everyone there was there to help her, that she was alive,” he said.
“She was the last one that I saw, seeing all the rest, she seemed to be in very good shape and the nurse told me she was fine but they needed to keep her to be sure. In her reactions, she was not very talkative, surely as expected,” he added.
The archbishop said at another hospital he was able to communicate with another survivor only through hand gestures.
“I invited her to trust, I assured her that she has made it and that we hope that she would make a full recovery. For immigrants (it) is very difficult to trust people around them, especially if you see one, two officials at the door of your room,” he said.
García-Siller said he has worked with migrants since the 1980s but has never seen such a large group of people die in a single incident.
“People were abandoned to die. They were dying, burning inside of that place, you can imagine with no water, no food, with natural physical needs. It’s hard to picture what happened in that box, dark box. I invite you, respect people. People are people. Treat others as you would like them to treat you,” he said.
A makeshift memorial was set up on the road where the truck was found. A makeshift memorial was set up on the road where the truck was found.

A memorial to the victims

A makeshift memorial continues to grow at the desolate road in the outskirts of San Antonio where the truck was discovered.
Mostly in silence Wednesday, dozens of families placed flowers, candles bearing images of the Virgen de Guadalupe and gallons of water — a nod to how migrants carry water on their trek to the US.
Just a few feet away from an Honduran flag, the word “migrants” is crossed out on a sign that now instead reads as “53 humans!”
Among those visiting the memorial, some people wore the Honduran national soccer team jersey, and many spoke Spanish and Indigenous Mayan languages as they prayed or held their phones up, showing the memorial during video calls with relatives outside the US.
“My aunt in Honduras asked me to call her from here, she is the one who first told me about what happened,” a woman who had been on a video call said.
A second memorial surrounding pieces of clothing and two pairs of black sneakers began Wednesday several yards down the road. A group of people believing the clothing may have belonged to some of the migrants in the truck, laid them flat and placed a pair of candles around them.

Texas to increase truck checkpoints

On Monday, the truck went through a checkpoint north of Laredo, Texas, according to US Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat whose sprawling district includes Laredo and San Antonio. It was discovered nearly 150 miles north of the border.
Biden calls deaths of migrants in San Antonio 'horrifying and heartbreaking,' denounces 'political grandstanding around tragedy'Biden calls deaths of migrants in San Antonio 'horrifying and heartbreaking,' denounces 'political grandstanding around tragedy'
Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday the state would add truck checkpoints and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) “will create and implement a checkpoint strategy beginning immediately where they will begin targeting trucks like the one that was used” in this incident.
Abbott also said the state is creating two strike teams to “detect, deter and apprehend” unlawful crossings of immigrants.
The teams, which comprise 20 troopers each, will be deployed in the border town of Eagle Pass, according to Abbott, and additional units will be deployed to “high traffic crossing areas as needed.” The governor said the resources were being deployed to “mitigate President Biden’s growing border crisis.”
The Biden administration earlier this month launched what US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called an “unprecedented” operation to disrupt human smuggling networks amid soaring numbers of migrants at the southern border.
After Monday’s horrific discovery, Mayorkas said on social media: “Far too many lives have been lost as individuals — including families, women, and children — take this dangerous journey.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre repeated those words at a briefing Wednesday. “As Secretary Mayorkas said, far too many lives have been lost to this dangerous journey. We will continue to take action to disrupt human smuggling networks, which have no regard for lives. They explode — exploit and endanger in order to make a profit,” Jean-Pierre said.
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5 mortgage lenders to consider if you want to buy a home with a small down payment – CNBC

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Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We earn a commission from affiliate partners on many offers, but not all offers on Select are from affiliate partners.

The homebuying process can seem confusing and overwhelming, especially since there are so many moving parts to consider.

Making a down payment is just one part of the process. While it has long been a notion that you needed to put at least 20% down in order to buy a home, findings from a recent report by the National Association of Realtors indicate that the average down payment on a home or condo in 2021 was actually 12% — for homebuyers under the age of 30, the average down payment was just 6%.

It’s important to note that if you make a down payment of less than 20%, you’ll typically be charged Private Mortgage Insurance, or PMI, until you build 20% equity in the home.

That said, making a lower down payment can present some advantages. For one, doing so allows you to reserve more of your savings for closing costs, lender fees, renovations that may need to be done in the home and other moving expenses.

Select rounded up five mortgage lenders that do not require a large down payment, evaluating lenders based on the types of loans offered, customer support and minimum down payment amount, among other factors (see our methodology below.)

As always, do your homework ahead of time so you can be sure you’re choosing the lender that best suits your needs, whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or purchasing an investment property.

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Select’s picks for the best low down payment mortgage

Mortgage FAQs

Best for flexible down payment options

Chase Bank

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    Apply online for personalized rates; fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages included

  • Types of loans

    Conventional loans, FHA loans, VA loans, DreaMaker℠ loans and Jumbo loans

  • Terms

    10 – 30 years

  • Credit needed

  • Minimum down payment

    3% if moving forward with a DreaMaker℠ loan

Pros

  • Chase DreaMaker℠ loan allows for a slightly smaller down payment at 3%
  • Discounts for existing customers
  • Online support available
  • A number of resources available for first-time homebuyers including mortgage calculators, affordability calculator, education courses and Home Advisors

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer USDA loans or HELOCs
  • Existing customers discounts apply to those who have large balances in their Chase deposit and investment accounts

Who’s this for? Chase Bank offers down payment options as low as 3% if you apply for the DreaMaker home loan — for comparison, an FHA loan requires borrowers to make a 3.5% down payment.

While the DreaMaker loan is designed especially for those who can only afford to make a small down payment, it also comes with stricter income requirements compared to some of the other available loans. According to Chase, the annual income used to qualify customers must not exceed 80% of the Area Median Income, or AMI, for instance.

In addition to the DreaMaker loan, Chase also offers a conventional loan, FHA loan, VA loan and jumbo loan — USDA loans and home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs, are not offered by this lender. The VA loan requires a down payment minimum of 0%, which tends to be the standard rate for these types of loans. Much like other lenders, Chase has a minimum credit score requirement of 620 for its mortgage options.

Chase offers mortgage terms that range from 10 years to 30 years, as well as fixed rate and adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARM. Discounts are also offered for existing customers, although the requirements are rather high: To receive $500 off your mortgage processing fee, you’ll need to have $150,000 to $499,999 between Chase deposit accounts and Chase investment accounts, while having $500,000 or more in these accounts can result in up to $1,150 being taken off the processing fee.

Best for a VA loan

Navy Federal Credit Union

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    Apply online for personalized rates

  • Types of loans

    Conventional loans, VA loans, Military Choice loans, Homebuyers Choice loans, adjustable-rate mortgage

  • Terms

    10 – 30 years

  • Credit needed

    Not disclosed but lender is flexible

  • Minimum down payment

    0%; 5% for conventional loan option

Pros

  • 0% downpayment for most loan options
  • flexible repayment terms ranging from 10 years to 30 years
  • Offers refinancing, second-home financing and loans for investment properties
  • No PMI required
  • Fast pre-approval
  • RealtyPlus program allows applicants to receive up to $9,000 cash back

Cons

  • Must be a Navy Federal Credit Union member to apply

Who’s this for? Navy Federal Credit Union provides the most benefits to current or retired members of the Armed Forces who have signed up for a Navy Federal Credit Union membership (immediate family members are also eligible).

This lender offers VA loans with the option to pay 0% down and contribute up to 4% of the home’s value toward closing costs. Another option, the Military Choice mortgage, has similar guidelines to the VA loan, such as no PMI and a 0% minimum down payment, but allows sellers to contribute up to 6% of the home’s value toward closing costs.

Homebuyers can also use the RealtyPlus program to buy a home and receive up to $9,000 in cash back. Private mortgage insurance, or PMI, is also not a requirement for a low down payment on a mortgage through this particular lender.

While this lender doesn’t disclose its required minimum credit score, it does work with members to analyze their circumstances and find the right mortgage fit for them, making Navy Federal Credit Union a potentially more flexible lender if your credit score is on the lower side.

Best for no lender fees

Ally Bank

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    Apply online for personalized rates; fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages included

  • Types of loans

    Conventional loans, HomeReady loan and Jumbo loans

  • Terms

    15 – 30 years

  • Credit needed

  • Minimum down payment

    3% if moving forward with a HomeReady loan

Pros

  • Ally HomeReady loan allows for a slightly smaller downpayment at 3%
  • Pre-approval in just three minutes
  • Application submission in as little as 15 minutes
  • Online support available
  • Existing Ally customers can receive a discount that gets applied to closing costs
  • Doesn’t charge lender fees

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer FHA loans, USDA loans, VA loans or HELOCs
  • Mortgage loans are not available in Hawaii, Nevada, New Hampshire, or New York

Who’s this for? Ally Bank offers a HomeReady mortgage program that is geared toward low- to mid-income homebuyers regardless of whether it’s their first time or if they’re a repeat buyer, allowing you to put down as little as 3% for a down payment. Applicants must have a debt-to-income ratio of no more than 50%, their income must be equal to or less than 80% of the area’s median income and at least one borrower must take a homeowner education course.

It’s common for lenders to charge several fees during the mortgage application process, including an application fee, an origination fee, a processing fee and an underwriting fee, which can end up costing a significant amount during the homebuying process. While Ally doesn’t charge any of those fees, you may still have to deal with appraisal fees and recording fees, or pay for title searches and insurance.

It’s possible to get pre-approved for a loan in as little as three minutes online and submit your application in just 15 minutes, as long as you have all the necessary documents handy.

While Ally also offers a jumbo loan option, note that FHA loans, VA and USDA loans are not available through this lender. Customers can also choose between fixed rate and adjustable rate mortgages, and 15-year, 20-year and 30-year loan terms.

One important drawback, though, is that Ally mortgage loans are not available in every state — residents of Hawaii, Nevada, New Hampshire and New York are not able to apply.

Best for specialized loan options

PNC Bank

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    Apply online for personalized rates; fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages included

  • Types of loans

    Conventional loans, FHA loans, VA loans, USDA loans, jumbo loans, HELOCs, Community Loan and Medical Professional Loan

  • Terms

    10 – 30 years

  • Credit needed

  • Minimum down payment

    0% if moving forward with a USDA loan

Pros

  • Offers a wide variety of loans to suit an array of customer needs
  • Available in all 50 states
  • Online and in-person service available
  • Pre-approval in as little as 30 minutes

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer home renovation loans

Who’s this for? USDA loans allow homebuyers to make a 0% down payment to purchase their home. It’s sometimes tough to find lenders that offer these types of loans in addition to other standard mortgage options, but PNC Bank does include USDA loans in its lineup.

To apply for a USDA loan with PNC Bank, you must be purchasing a home in a qualifying rural area. If you’re not interested in a USDA loan, this particular lender also offers conventional loans, FHA loans, VA loans, jumbo loans and a PNC Bank Community Loan, a special program that allows homebuyers to put down as little as 3% (without paying private mortgage insurance) and choose between fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgage terms.

This lender also offers a special loan option geared toward medical professionals who are looking to buy a primary residence only. With this loan, medical professionals can apply for as much as $1 million and won’t have to pay private mortgage insurance regardless of their down payment amount. They can also choose between fixed-rate and adjustable-rate terms.

It’s possible to get online pre-approval in as little as 30 minutes as long as you have all the documentation available on hand.

Best for no PMI

CitiMortgage®

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    Apply online for personalized rates

  • Types of loans

    Conventional loans, FHA loans, VA loans and Jumbo loans

  • Terms

    15 – 30 years

  • Credit needed

  • Minimum down payment

Terms apply.

Pros

  • Citi’s HomeRun Mortgage program allows for a downpayment as low as 3%
  • Citi’s Lender Assistance program gives eligible homebuyers a credit of up to $5,000 to use toward closing costs
  • Ability to choose between fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages
  • New and existing Citi bank customers can qualify for closing cost discounts based on their account balance
  • HomeRun mortgage program allows for a downpayment of less than 20% without PMI
  • Provides homeownership education and counseling

Cons

  • No options for a 0% downpayment
  • Existing customers need high account balances to receive some of the highest interest rate discounts

Who’s this for? Private Mortgage Insurance, or PMI, is typically a required monthly charge if you make a down payment of less than 20% for your home. While it can eventually be waived once you’ve made enough payments to build up 20% equity in your home, PMI can still easily eat into your monthly budget before that point.

Those who apply for a mortgage through Citi‘s HomeRun program can make down payments as low as 3% without having to pay monthly PMI. HomeRun mortgages also allow you to lock in a fixed rate on your loan so you won’t have to worry about potentially being charged even more interest down the line. This mortgage option is also ideal for those who need to borrow up to $647,200 — or up to $970,800 if you reside in Hawaii or Alaska. If you’re looking for a jumbo loan, here are four mortgage lenders you should consider.

Aside from the HomeRun program, Citi also offers discounts for anyone interested in its other mortgage loans. Citi is currently offering a $500 credit toward your closing costs when you apply for a Citi mortgage.

Mortgage FAQs

1. What is pre-approval and how does it work?

Pre-approval is a statement or letter from a lender that details how much money you can borrow to purchase a home and what your interest rate might be. To get pre-approved, you may have to provide bank statements, pay stubs, tax forms and employment verification, among other documents. Once you’re pre-approved, you’ll receive a mortgage pre-approval letter, which you can use to begin viewing homes and making offers. It’s best to get pre-approved at the start of your home-buying journey before you start looking at homes.

2. How do mortgages work?

A mortgage is a type of loan you can use to purchase a home. It’s also an agreement between you and the lender that essentially says you can purchase a home without paying for it in-full upfront — you’ll just put some of the money as a down payment upfront (usually between 3% and 20% of the home price) and pay smaller, fixed equal monthly payments for a certain number of years plus interest.

For example, you probably don’t want to pay $400,000 for a home upfront, however, maybe you can afford to pay $30,000 upfront. A mortgage would allow you to make that $30,000 payment — a lender would provide you with a loan for the remaining amount of $370,000 and you’d agree to repay it plus interest to the lender over the course of 15 or 30 years.

Keep in mind that if you choose to put down less than 20%, you’ll be subject to private mortgage insurance, or PMI, payments in addition to your monthly mortgage payments. However, you can usually have the PMI waived after you’ve made enough payments to build 20% equity in your home.

3. What is a conventional loan?

Conventional loans are funded by private lenders and sold to government enterprises such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It’s the most common type of loan and some lenders may require a down payment as low as 3% or 5%.

4. What is an FHA loan?

Federal Housing Administration loans, or FHA loans, typically allow you to purchase a home with looser requirements. For example, this type of loan might let you get approved with a lower credit score and applicants may be able to get away with having a higher debt-to-income ratio. You typically only need to make a 3.5% down payment with an FHA loan.

5. What is a USDA loan?

USDA loans are offered through the United States Department of Agriculture and are aimed at individuals who want to purchase a home in a rural area. A USDA loan requires a minimum down payment of 0% — in other words, you can use it to buy a rural home without making a down payment.

6. What is a VA loan?

VA mortgage loans are provided through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and are meant for service members, veterans and their spouses. They require a 0% down payment and no additional private mortgage insurance.

7. What is a jumbo loan?

Jumbo loans are meant for homebuyers who need to borrow more than $647,200 to purchase a home. They are not sponsored by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and typically have stricter credit score and debt-to-income ratio requirements.

8. How is my mortgage rate decided?

Mortgage rates change almost daily and can depend on market forces such as inflation and the overall economy. While the Federal Reserve doesn’t set mortgage rates, they tend to move in reaction to actions taken by the Federal Reserve on its interest rates.

While market forces may influence the general range of mortgage rates, your specific mortgage rate will depend on your location, credit report and credit score. The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to be qualified for a lower mortgage interest rate.

9. What is the difference between a 15-year and a 30-year term?

A 15-year mortgage gives homeowners 15 years to pay off their mortgage in fixed, equal amounts plus interest. By contrast, a 30-year mortgage gives homeowners 30 years to pay off their mortgage. With a 30-year mortgage, your monthly payments will be lower since you’ll have a longer period of time to pay off the loan. That said, you’ll wind up paying more in interest over the life of the loan since interest is charged monthly. A 15-year mortgage lets you save on interest but you will likely have a higher monthly payment.

Our methodology

To determine which mortgage lenders are the best, Select analyzed dozens of U.S. mortgages offered by both online and brick-and-mortar banks, including large credit unions, that come with fixed-rate APRs and flexible loan amounts and terms to suit an array of financing needs.

When narrowing down and ranking the best mortgages, we focused on the following features:

  • Fixed-rate APR: Variable rates can go up and down over the lifetime of your loan. With a fixed rate APR, you lock in an interest rate for the duration of the loan’s term, which means your monthly payment won’t vary, making your budget easier to plan.
  • Types of loans offered: The most common kinds of mortgage loans include conventional loans, FHA loans and VA loans. In addition to these loans, lenders may also offer USDA loans and jumbo loans. Having more options available means the lender is able to cater to a wider range of applicant needs. We have also considered loans that would suit the needs of borrowers who plan to purchase their second home or a rental property. 
  • Closing timeline: The lenders on our list are able to offer closing timelines that vary from as promptly as two weeks after the home purchase agreement has been signed to as many as 45 days after the agreement has been signed. Specific closing timelines have been noted for each lender.
  • Fees: Common fees associated with mortgage applications include origination fees, application fees, underwriting fees, processing fees and administrative fees. We evaluate these fees in addition to other features when determining the overall offer from each lender. Though some lenders on this list do not charge these fees, we have noted any instances where a lender does. 
  • Flexible minimum and maximum loan amounts/terms: Each mortgage lender provides a variety of financing options that you can customize based on your monthly budget and how long you need to pay back your loan.
  • No early payoff penalties: The mortgage lenders on our list do not charge borrowers for paying off the loan early. 
  • Streamlined application process: We considered whether lenders offered a convenient, fast online application process and/or an in-person procedure at local branches. 
  • Customer support: Every mortgage lender on our list provides customer service via telephone, email or secure online messaging. We also opted for lenders with an online resource hub or advice center to help you educate yourself about the personal loan process and your finances.
  • Minimum down payment: Although minimum down payment amounts depend on the type of loan a borrower applies for, we noted lenders that offer additional specialty loans that come with a lower minimum down payment amount. 

After reviewing the above features, we sorted our recommendations by best for overall financing needs, quick closing timeline, lower interest rates and flexible terms.

Note that the rates and fee structures advertised for mortgages are subject to fluctuate in accordance with the Federal Reserve rate. However, once you accept your mortgage agreement, a fixed-rate APR will guarantee your interest rate and monthly payment will remain consistent throughout the entire term of the loan, unless you choose to refinance your mortgage at a later date for a potentially lower APR. Your APR, monthly payment and loan amount depend on your credit history, creditworthiness, debt-to-income ratio and the desired loan term. To take out a mortgage, lenders will conduct a hard credit inquiry and request a full application, which could require proof of income, identity verification, proof of address and more.

Catch up on Select’s in-depth coverage of personal financetech and toolswellness and more, and follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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Panda Thumbs Are Perplexing, but a Fossil Unfurls Their Secrets – The New York Times

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Fossils found in southwestern China give a hint to the development of the animal’s sixth digit — a rudimentary, thumblike bone extension.

Giant pandas are dietary enigmas. Despite being part of the meat-eating order Carnivora, pandas typically practice a plant-based diet, eschewing salmon and seal meat at the bear family barbecue for shoots of bamboo. And because they lack multichambered stomachs to extract nutrients from the tough plant material, the pudgy bears eat around 30 pounds of bamboo each day to sustain themselves.

To shovel stalks into their mouths, pandas utilize a sixth, thumblike digit on their paws to clutch shoots like a human holding a churro. This pseudothumb comes in handy — pandas need a tight grasp as they gnaw at rigid bamboo. “It’s not nearly as good of a thumb as ours, so they can’t make tools or complex movements,” said Xiaoming Wang, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. But the crude “thumbs” are more than capable of gripping bamboo.

Scientists have long been perplexed by this rudimentary thumb, which is actually a protruding extension of the panda’s wrist bone. But a lack of fossilized panda paws has made it difficult to decipher when the strange trait originated. For years, the earliest evidence was only around 150,000 years old. But in a study published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, Dr. Wang and his colleagues posit that panda relatives have been utilizing pseudothumbs for millions of years.

In 2015, Dr. Wang was digging in an open-pit mine in southwestern China with a team of paleoanthropologists, when he came across fossilized bits of an ancient bear. A spoon-shaped bit of bone caught his eye. “Intuitively, I thought it was a fossilized panda thumb,” Dr. Wang said. Comparing the fossil with modern panda skeletons confirmed his hunch. After analyzing fossil teeth found nearby, the team deduced that the false thumb belonged to Ailurarctos, an ancestral panda that lived during the Miocene Epoch, six million to seven million years ago.

As the earliest example of a panda pseudothumb, the researchers expected the extra digit on Ailurarctos to be primitive, but the team found that it was noticeably larger than those found on modern pandas. However, living pandas probably have better grips. Unlike the fossilized bear’s straight thumbs, modern panda’s pseudothumbs are curved inward like a hook.

Pushing the origin of panda pseudothumbs back millions of years raises a perplexing question: Why have these nubs never developed into versatile, true thumbs? The emergence of a more bendable digit would make evolutionary sense.

In the new paper, Dr. Wang and his colleagues hypothesize that pseudothumb size is capped by how pandas plod. When they are not lounging, they walk on all fours. “We think the pseudothumb is an evolutionary balancing act,” Dr. Wang said. “You need it for grasping, but you also keep stepping on it.”

The scientists believe that if the bony protrusion grows too big, it could become a painful spur on the bottom of the paw. Modern panda pseudothumbs, which end in a flat surface and are cushioned by a fleshy pad, are slightly better adapted to carry the panda’s girth. Any larger digit could get crushed.

Not every researcher is sold on this reasoning. Juan Abella, a paleontologist at Spain’s Catalan Institute of Paleontology who helped discover the earliest known panda ancestor, says the location of the extended wrist bone toward the rear end of the paw may have little impact on locomotion. Even if it did, he believes the benefits of an advanced thumb would outweigh the potential drawbacks for a sluggish animal that spends up to 16 hours per day eating.

“Usually when an anatomical trait produces some kind of trade-off in a species, the obtained benefits will widely exceed the possible detriment,” said Dr. Abella.

Whatever prevented the panda pseudothumb from taking the final leap, they are not the only mammals to sport extra, underdeveloped digits. Fossils reveal that the puma-sized Miocene predator Simocyon batalleri had pseudothumbs, which were passed on to the red panda. Certain primates like the aye-aye lemur have an extra thumblike digit as well. Some primitive bears, such as the 9-million-year-old Indarctos arctoides, which may be a panda ancestor, also possessed bulky wrist bones.

But Ailurarctos appears to be among the first to put these enlarged bones to use. According to Dr. Wang, this trait allowed the prehistoric panda to thrive in a jungle crowded with ancient elephants, deer and apes. Despite being low in nutrients and packed with indigestible fibers, fast-growing shoots of bamboo were available in bulk and little-used. And with the help of their extra “thumb,” pandas have been snacking ever since.

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Judge says Florida's 15-week abortion law is unconstitutional – CNN

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CNN
 — 

In a setback for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican lawmakers, a Florida judge has ruled that a new state law banning abortions at 15 weeks is unconstitutional and he intends to block it from taking effect on Friday.

In a verbal ruling on Thursday, Second Judicial Circuit Court Judge John Cooper said he would be issuing a temporary statewide injunction that will go into effect once he signs the written order in the challenge brought by some Florida abortion providers.

The decision is a short-term victory for abortion rights advocates in Florida and it comes a week after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and eliminated a constitutional right that had existed for half a century. For the time being, abortion in Florida will remain legal until 24 weeks into a pregnancy, making the state one of the most permissive in the south.

Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for DeSantis, told CNN in a statement that the state intends to appeal the ruling.

“While we are disappointed with today’s ruling, we know that the pro-life HB 5 will ultimately withstand all legal challenges,” Pushaw said.

Abortion rights advocates and Democrats celebrated the decision by Cooper. In a statement, Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz said the law was “a gross interference in personal medical decisions that should be between patients and their doctors.”

“Politicians like the Governor have no business restricting Floridians’ health freedoms,” he added.

In the short term, the decision will have far-reaching implications for women across the south, where so-called trigger laws – bans designed to take effect with the overturning of Roe v. Wade – and bans no longer in legal limbo are quickly halting access to the procedure. For years, Florida has been a safe harbor for women seeking abortion, and providers expect the state’s 55 clinics will be busy with appointments for women from surrounding states where abortion may soon be illegal.

DeSantis signed the new abortion restrictions into law in April at an Orlando-area megachurch surrounded by women and children and cheered on by pastors, anti-abortion activists and other supporters.

The law would ban abortion at 15 weeks with no exemptions for women who become pregnant as a result of rape, incest or human trafficking. The law would allow for abortions in cases where a pregnancy is “serious risk” to the mother or a if fatal fetal abnormality is detected and two physicians confirm the diagnosis in writing.

About 75,000 of the 80,000 abortions reported by the state in 2021 came during the first trimester, meaning the vast majority of procedures will still be allowed under the new state law. Historically, Florida ranks among the states with the most abortions per capita annually, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The law directly challenged decades of legal precedent establishing abortion as constitutionally protected in Florida. The state constitution in Florida includes a right to privacy, which the state Supreme Court has long interpreted as giving Floridians the freedom to access abortion without government intrusion.

In his ruling from the bench, Cooper said the ban “violates the privacy provision of the Florida Constitution.”

While the decision will delay the implementation of the state’s new abortion restrictions while the case proceeds through the legal system, the expectation is that the state’s conservative Supreme Court will have the final say. All seven members of the state’s high court were appointed by Republican governors, including three selected by DeSantis. By the time the case makes its way to the state Supreme Court, there may be a fourth DeSantis appointee on the bench due to a recent retirement.

Pushaw said it is the argument of the state that the Florida Supreme Court “previously misinterpreted Florida’s right to privacy as including a right to an abortion. We reject this interpretation because the Florida Constitution does not include – and has never included – a right to kill an innocent unborn child.”

The dramatic shift of the legal landscape in Florida has left Democrats and abortion rights advocates pessimistic that the longstanding legal protections will withstand this challenge for long.

“We don’t believe this court will see it the way other courts have,” state Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book recently told CNN. “Any piece of protection, that modicum of protection is gone.”

CNN’s Alta Spells contributed to this report.

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Ex-Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone would 'take a bullet' for Putin – The Washington Post

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Bernie Ecclestone, the 91-year-old former chief executive of Formula One racing, told a TV audience Thursday that he would “take a bullet” for Russian President Vladimir Putin and said he “was surprised” Lewis Hamilton “hasn’t just brushed it aside,” in reference to a racial slur directed toward him by Nelson Piquet.

The remarks, made during an interview with television show “Good Morning Britain,” sparked swift outrage, with Formula One distancing itself from the comments made by its chief executive emeritus.

Lewis Hamilton calls for change after Nelson Piquet slur

Asked whether he still considers Putin a friend despite his invasion of Ukraine in February, Ecclestone said, “I’d still take a bullet for him,” and added that the Russian leader, like other people in business, “makes mistakes from time to time.” He said Putin “believed he was doing the right thing” for his country and that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky could have done more to stop the conflict.

“The comments made by Bernie Ecclestone are his personal views and are in very stark contrast to position of the modern values of our sport,” Formula One said in a statement to The Post.

The relationship between Ecclestone and Putin grew when they were creating the Russian Grand Prix, which debuted in Sochi in 2014. Two years later, Ecclestone was criticized for calling Putin “the guy who should run Europe.” Since then, he has made headlines for provocative comments about social and political matters.

On “Good Morning Britain” Thursday, he went on to say (via the BBC) that “What [Putin is] doing is something he believes is the right thing he’s doing for Russia.” Told that the deaths of thousands of people and Putin’s actions could not be justified, he replied, “I don’t. It wasn’t intentional.” He added that Zelensky could have averted war through negotiations.

Ecclestone said he has not spoken with Putin said the invasion began. “I’m absolutely sure he now wishes he didn’t start this whole business, but it didn’t start as a war.”

Foreign secretary Liz Truss, appearing on the same program, called the comments about Putin “extraordinary, absolutely extraordinary” when asked for her reaction.

“This is a man [Putin] who has perpetrated an appalling war involving the systematic rape of women, the targeting of civilians in shopping centers,” Truss said, adding, “Clearly Vladimir Putin is toxic, the prime minister [Boris Johnson] is right to say that. … When people can see on their TV screens the appalling things that are happening on the ground in Ukraine, the appalling suffering of the Ukrainian people, I find that absolutely shocking.”

Ecclestone also weighed in on the racist comment by Piquet, who won two of his three world titles driving for Ecclestone’s Brabham team, after a backlash earlier this week from Hamilton, other drives and Formula One. Ecclestone said he was “surprised Lewis hasn’t just brushed it aside, or better than that, replied.”

But Hamilton did reply. “It’s more than language,” Hamilton, the seven-time series champion and Formula One’s only Black driver, tweeted. “These archaic mindsets need to change and have no place in our sport. I’ve been surrounded by these attitudes and targeted my whole life. There has been plenty of time to learn. Time has come for action.”

In Portuguese, the winningest driver in Formula One tweeted, “Let’s focus on changing the mind-set.”

Piquet made the comment in Portuguese in November to Motorsport Talk’s Ricardo Oliveira as he discussed a crash from last summer involving Hamilton and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen on the first lap of the 2021 British Grand Prix. The 69-year-old Brazilian called the accident a “joke,” adding that Hamilton was “lucky” only Verstappen crashed. The comments came to light because the British Grand Prix is this weekend.

Piquet said that the word he used does not have a racial connotation.

“What I said was ill thought out, and I make no defense for it, but I will clarify that the term used is one that has widely and historically been used in Brazilian Portuguese for a synonym for ‘guy’ or ‘person’ and was never intended to offend,” he said (via ESPN). “I would never use the word I have been accused of in some translations.

“I strongly condemn any suggestion that the word was used by me with the aim of belittling a driver because of his skin color. I apologize wholeheartedly to anyone that was affected, including Lewis, who is an incredible driver, but the translation in some media that is now circulating on social media is not correct. Discrimination has no place in F1 or society and I am happy to clarify my thoughts in that respect.”

On Thursday, Ecclestone said: “It’s probably not appropriate with us, but probably it isn’t something terrible that happens if you said that in Brazil.

“But people say things, and people talk about people if they happen to be little bit overweight, or a little bit undersized like me. I’m quite sure people have made remarks about that. If I’d have heard it, I’d have been able to deal with it myself without too much trouble.”

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Biden says he supports a filibuster carveout to restore abortion rights – POLITICO

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President Joe Biden said Thursday that he would support an exception to the Senate filibuster to codify Roe v. Wade and federally protect access to abortion.

“I believe we have to codify Roe v. Wade in the law and the way to do that is to make sure that Congress votes to do that, and if the filibuster gets in the way, it’s like voting rights, it should be ‘we provide an exception for this’ — require an exception to the filibuster for this action to deal with the Supreme Court decision,” Biden said during a press conference at the NATO summit.

Biden’s comments come on the heels of the consequential Supreme Court decision last Friday to overturn the landmark 1973 decision and deny a constitutional right to abortion. The president has previously been opposed to getting rid of the filibuster — which establishes a 60-vote threshold to move most bills through the Senate — but said Thursday he would do “everything in my power” to protect the right to choose .

The president added he’d be in favor of changing filibuster rules to not only guarantee abortion rights but also a constitutional right to privacy — which he said the Supreme Court “wiped” out with its decision on Roe. He said codifying privacy rights would protect access to abortion as well as a “whole range of issues,” including same-sex marriage.

“I’m the president of the United States of America — that makes me the best messenger,” Biden said. “And I really think that it’s a serious, serious problem that the Court has thrust upon the United States.”

Biden’s support for ending the filibuster is his most concrete call for legislative action yet on preserving abortion rights. With the filibuster as it stands, Democrats almost certainly lack the 60 votes they would need to codify Roe in a 50-50 Senate.

Even with the president publicly throwing his support behind reforming the filibuster, the chances of carving out exceptions to the Senate’s 60-vote threshold for most legislation appear slim.

Opposition to amending the 60-vote threshold from Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) has in recent months stood in the way of passing other legislative priorities for Democrats — including federal election and voting reform bills. While Manchin has expressed support for codifying Roe, neither he nor Sinema have indicated openness to changing Senate rules to preserve abortion rights.

And even if Democrats gain two seats after the midterm elections in November — which could secure enough votes to amend the filibuster — such a carveout would prove useless should Republicans gain control of the House of Representatives in this year’s midterm elections.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), speaking to reporters from Madrid, subtly warned against looking to a weaker filibuster as the answer.

Noting that a Democratic senator is currently out for medical reasons — Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-Vt.) office announced Friday morning he would have surgery for a broken hip — Durbin said: “I hope he’s back very soon, but that shows the perilous nature of our control when we’re all present and voting.”

“The notion of changing the rules is that you’re really at the mercy of one or two senators who can make that decision for us,” he added. “That doesn’t create the kind of environment where — someone asked about massive institutional change — this is not the environment to be looking for that.”

Biden has faced criticism from Democrats in recent days for not speaking out more forcefully or going far enough in taking action to protect abortion rights — with some from the president’s party calling on him to declare a public health emergency in response to moves by several states to end or severely limit abortion access. But Biden pushed back on that narrative at Thursday’s press conference, insisting that he is the Democrat best positioned to lead the party on protecting abortion rights.

“I’m the only president they got,” he said.

Biden also said at the press conference he would meet Friday with a group of governors once he returns home from the NATO summit about “what actions they think I should be taking” to protect abortion and privacy rights. With the Supreme Court’s reversal on Americans’ constitutional right to abortion access, the power to enact anti-abortion legislation now rests with states.

“I feel extremely strongly that I’m going to do everything in my power which I legally can do in terms of executive orders as well as push the Congress and the public,” Biden said.

Andrew Desiderio contributed to this report.

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From 'frat house' to family home: A major remodel in Bethesda – The Washington Post

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When a rainbow-painted gladiator statue is the housewarming gift from a builder to the homeowners, you know there must be a great story behind it.

“My grandmother’s cousin sculpted this concrete gladiator statue that had a lamp on top and eventually it ended up in my parents’ garage,” says John Frye, 43, who is in commercial air-conditioning sales. “My friend Matt loved it and brought it to our frat house when we went to college together in Cleveland. He spray-painted it silver and then … it sat in his parents’ basement for 20 years.”

Frye’s friend Matt Covell, also 43, founded Structure, a custom home builder and renovation firm based in North Bethesda, Md., in 2016. He remodeled Frye’s house in 2019-2020 and brought the gladiator to Matt Corrado, an artist and mutual high school friend, to “paint it rainbow colors as a housewarming gift,” Covell says.

“We placed it in a niche near the main-level powder room for a photo shoot just for fun, and it looks like they’ll keep it there,” Covell said.

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Family and friends are central to John and Bridget Frye’s North Bethesda home, which was renovated and expanded in 2020. The home, a 1950s-era red brick rambler with a basement, was owned by John’s sister, who lived in it with friends for several years. Once she moved out, John rented it for a few years and eventually bought it from his sister in 2004.

Matt Covell, John and Bridgetwere part of the crowd that hung out at the house after college, which served as the gathering place in the early 2000s for a wide-ranging group of friends from Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, then located in Wheaton, Md.

“Most of our friends were living with their parents after college, so this was like a frat house where Matt and I lived with other roommates,” says John. “Matt and I have been friends since sixth grade, and we met Bridget in high school.”

Bridget, 43, is a former teacher who graduated from the University of Maryland, while Matt and Johngraduated from John Carroll University near Cleveland. John and Bridget married in 2007 and have three children, ages 9, 11 and 12.

“The five of us were sharing a bathroom on the main level, and it was getting pretty crowded as the kids got older,” says Bridget. “Everything was falling apart to the point that we had pinhole leaks everywhere, and the appliances were all breaking. At one point there was water just flooding like a waterfall through one of our kitchen cabinets onto the counter.”

The Fryes had been talking over design plans with Mattfor a couple of years and then decided to move out to live with John’s parents in August 2019 so the house could be rebuilt. They hired Carib Daniel Martin, an architect based in Kensington, Md., who has worked with Matt.

“This was such a fun project because we all know each other so well and I know how they live and entertain at home,” says Matt. “This was a much more personal experience than usual.”

The Fryes were able to use the equity built from long-term ownership and a construction loan to remodel the house.

“We looked at some other homes in the area, but it made more sense for us to remodel into what we really want,” says Bridget.

Avoiding the ‘McMansion’ look

Since the three friends share fond memories of the house and the community, it was important to them to blend with the neighborhood even while they tripled the living space to about 6,000 square feet.

“We wanted to keep the scale of the neighborhood and avoid that McMansion look, so while we added to the side and the back of the house and built a second level, we were able to tuck the front of the house under the roof line,” says Matt.

The foundation was discovered to be crumbling, so the remodel required a ground-up renovation, although the original brick facade was maintained and painted white.

“The foundation issue turned out to have a silver lining because it had to be dug out and we got extra ceiling height,” says Bridget.

The foundation was made waterproof, so they were able to install wood floors even in the basement.

The white exterior of the house is punctuated with a wood front door that matches wood garage doors. The natural grade of the hill behind the house allowed for a relatively simple expansion.

“The attention to detail that Matt has is amazing,” says Bridget. “His sister is a decorator, too, so we were able to get her advice.”

The ‘dream party room’

The house has white oak flooring throughout, with a patterned white oak ceiling stained a darker shade in the foyer. To the left of the foyer is a large home office with pocket doors. Across the foyer is the dining room, which the family uses daily for meals.

“Matt’s sister helped me pick out the coral-colored textured wallpaper for the dining room and I found the beaded chandelier,” says Bridget. “I wanted this room to be bright and also more casual than a formal dining room so we would use it all the time.”

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A butler’s pantry and full pantry are adjacent to the dining room and feature dark blue walls and a matching ceiling. Modern-looking glass doorknobs are installed throughout the home for a transitional look that complements the elaborate crown moldings in many rooms.

The back of the house is an open family room and kitchen with a wall of windows facing the grassy yard and trees behind the house.

“Matt talked us into this cool idea he had for the fireplace, which is a floor-to-ceiling wall of white oak pieces that look almost like siding,” says Bridget. “I wanted a bench seat with a view of the trees and the greenery behind the house.”

Windows flank the fireplace, and built-in bookshelves and cabinets flank the window seat.

When the renovation was in the framing stage, Mattrealized that if he installed a bifold NanaWall glass door between the family room and the adjacent screened porch, it would nearly double the entertaining space.

“We’ve had as many as 50 people in here with the heaters on overhead on the porch and the gas fireplace going in the family room,” says John. “We probably had that many or more when we were in the rambler in our post-college days, but it wasn’t nearly as nice.”

Matt describes the combined indoor-outdoor space as the “dream party room.”

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When the family lived in the unrenovated house, Bridget says they could really only entertain in the backyard.

The screened porch includes a patterned white wood ceiling and privacy screens so that people walking on the nearby path can’t see inside. A side door leads to a deck with a grill and steps to the grassy backyard.

‘Wouldn’t it be cool if …’

The open kitchen in the family room holds what Matt calls an “aircraft carrier deck” marble island with five seats so the whole family can sit there at once.

“We went with cabinet-faces for the appliances for a cleaner look since the kitchen is open,” says Bridget. “We also extended the marble from the island on the counters, backsplash and even under the cabinets above the range.”

Bridget wanted to keep the window on the side of the original section of the house to keep the kitchen bright but wanted more cabinet space, so Matt designed a glass-front cabinet with glass shelves to allow the light to shine through the window.

On the opposite side of the kitchen near the staircase to the upper and lower levels are the niche with the gladiator sculpture, a powder room with a pocket door and a mudroom with a hook and basket for each of the five family members. Bridget chose the navy and white parquet tile floor for this space and an inexpensive basket-weave light fixture.

The staircase to the upper level has two large windows and wainscoting on the walls, with an oversize round light fixture with hexagonal tiles. The first bedroom on this level has a niche for a desk, a walk-in closet, a private full bathroom, a toy closet and access to a storage closet.

Two more bedrooms share a hall bathroom with a double-sink vanity. Nearby are a laundry room and a linen closet.

The primary suite includes a white wood cathedral ceiling in the bedroom, which has windows on three sides. The bed sits in a niche with an accent wall painted navy blue and two pendant lights instead of sconces.

“Matt often started his ideas with ‘wouldn’t it be cool if?’ and that’s how we ended up with the niche and the pendant lights, which we love,” says Bridget. “In our bathroom, he had the idea of matching the marble counter with the marble bench in the shower and extending the floor tiles up the wall of the shower on one side.”

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The primary bathroom also has a free-standing tub in front of a window.

The lower level includes French doors to a covered patio and has a dramatic mural painted by Matt Corrado along one wall and a complementary painted backsplash above the built-in bar and shelving. This level also has a guest room with a walk-in closet and private full bathroom. Another full bathroom is adjacent to the exercise room, which has windows facing the backyard.

A new home emerges

Most of the renovation was completed during the pandemic, but because the Fryes and Matt Covell started ordering items in late 2019 they were able to avoid the delays from supply chain disruptions.

“A lot of couples joke that they need marriage counseling during a major remodel like this, but for me this was an amazing opportunity to be with my best friends during the thick of the covid lockdown when I wasn’t seeing anyone besides my family,” says Matt. “It was such a stressful time for everyone, and it was professionally and personally rewarding to do this together.”

The Fryes and their children did virtual school and worked from John’s parents’ house until they moved into their remodeled home in February 2021.

“The fact that the three of us have been lifelong friends made this whole experience easier,” says John.

Matt appreciates the trust his friends placed in him to remodel their home.

“They listened to my ideas and then either they trusted me with them, or we could joke about it if they didn’t,” he says.

The result: a new home where friends and family can gather that’s a lot nicer than what Bridget likes to call the “flop house.”