Washington reacts on the fly to Silicon Valley Bank failure
WASHINGTON (AP) — After the sudden collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters started furiously working the phones to find out what was going on with the failed lender — and what would happen to its panicked depositors.
Waters, former chair of the House Financial Services Committee, had her doubts that another bank would step up as a savior and buy the defunct institution.
“Banks don’t just wake up and say: ‘Oh, there’s a problem with another significant bank and they’ve collapsed. Let’s just take it over,”’ she said.
So began a frenetic weekend of nonstop briefings with regulators, lawmakers, administration officials and President Joe Biden himself about how to handle the demise of the nation’s 16th-biggest bank and a go-to financial institution for tech entrepreneurs. At the core of the problem was tens of billions of dollars — including money companies needed to meet payrolls — sitting in Silicon Valley Bank accounts that were not protected by federal deposit insurance that only goes up to $250,000.
Something needed to be done, federal officials agreed, before Asian stock markets opened Sunday evening and other banks faced the potential for waves of panicked withdrawals Monday morning.
US says Russian warplane hits American drone over Black Sea
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A Russian fighter jet struck the propeller of a U.S. surveillance drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday in a “brazen violation of international law,” causing American forces to bring down the unmanned aerial vehicle, the U.S. said.
But Russia insisted its warplanes didn’t hit the MQ-9 Reaper drone. Instead, it said the drone maneuvered sharply and crashed into the water following an encounter with Russian fighter jets that had been scrambled to intercept it near Crimea.
The incident, which added to Russia-U.S. tensions over Moscow’s war in Ukraine, appeared to be the first time since the height of the Cold War that a U.S. aircraft was brought down after an encounter with a Russian warplane.
U.S. President Joe Biden was briefed on the incident by national security adviser Jake Sullivan, according to White House national security spokesman John Kirby. He added that U.S. State Department officials would be speaking directly with their Russian counterparts and “expressing our concerns over this unsafe and unprofessional intercept.”
State Department spokesman Ned Price called it a “brazen violation of international law.” He said the U.S. summoned the Russian ambassador to lodge a protest and the U.S. ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, has made similar representations in Moscow.
San Francisco board open to reparations with $5M payouts
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Payments of $5 million to every eligible Black adult, the elimination of personal debt and tax burdens, guaranteed annual incomes of at least $97,000 for 250 years and homes in San Francisco for just $1 a family.
These were some of the more than 100 recommendations made by a city-appointed reparations committee tasked with the thorny question of how to atone for centuries of slavery and systemic racism. And the San Francisco Board of Supervisors hearing the report for the first time Tuesday voiced enthusiastic support for the ideas listed, with some saying money should not stop the city from doing the right thing.
Several supervisors said they were surprised to hear pushback from politically liberal San Franciscans apparently unaware that the legacy of slavery and racist policies continues to keep Black Americans on the bottom rungs of health, education and economic prosperity, and overrepresented in prisons and homeless populations.
“Those of my constituents who lost their minds about this proposal, it’s not something we’re doing or we would do for other people. It’s something we would do for our future, for everybody’s collective future,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, whose district includes the heavily LGBTQ Castro neighborhood.
The draft reparations plan, released in December, is unmatched nationwide in its specificity and breadth. The committee hasn’t done an analysis of the cost of the proposals, but critics have slammed the plan as financially and politically impossible. An estimate from Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, which leans conservative, has said it would cost each non-Black family in the city at least $600,000.
Honduras will seek to establish diplomatic ties with China
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — Honduras President Xiomara Castro announced Tuesday that her government will seek to establish diplomatic relations with China, which would imply severing relations with Taiwan.
Castro said on her Twitter account that she instructed Honduran Foreign Affairs Minister Eduardo Reina to start negotiations with China and that her intention is “to expand the borders with freedom.”
Honduras is one of the few remaining allies of Taiwan, and Castro’s announcement represents a change on its diplomatic views.
Taiwan’s official Central News Agency quoted an unidentified Foreign Ministry official as saying they were “in the process of ascertaining the situation” and had no further details.
China claims self-ruled, democratic Taiwan is part of its territory and sees diplomatic recognition of the island as interference in its affairs. Beijing has isolated Taiwan diplomatically with a long campaign against such recognition under the “one-China” policy.
Nebraska lawmaker 3 weeks into filibuster over trans bill
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — It was a mundane, unanimously supported bill on liquor taxation that saw state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh take to the mic on the Nebraska Legislature floor last week. She offered her support, then spent the next three days discussing everything but the bill, including her favorite Girl Scout cookies, Omaha’s best doughnuts and the plot of the animated movie “Madagascar.”
She also spent that time railing against an unrelated bill that would outlaw gender-affirming therapies for those 18 and younger. It was the advancement of that bill out of committee that led Cavanaugh to promise three weeks ago to filibuster every bill that comes before the Legislature this year — even the ones she supports.
“If this Legislature collectively decides that legislating hate against children is our priority, then I am going to make it painful — painful for everyone,” the Omaha married mother of three said. “I will burn the session to the ground over this bill.”
True to her word, Cavanaugh has slowed the business of passing laws to a crawl by introducing amendment after amendment to every bill that makes it to the state Senate floor and taking up all eight debate hours allowed by the rules — even during the week she was suffering from strep throat. Wednesday marks the halfway point of this year’s 90-day session, and not a single bill will have passed thanks to Cavanaugh’s relentless filibustering.
Clerk of the Legislature Brandon Metzler said a delay like this has happened only a couple of times in the past 10 years.
NASA Webb telescope captures star on cusp of death
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The Webb Space Telescope has captured the rare and fleeting phase of a star on the cusp of death.
NASA released the picture Tuesday at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas.
The observation was among the first made by Webb following its launch in late 2021. Its infrared eyes observed all the gas and dust flung into space by a huge, hot star 15,000 light-years away. A light-year is about 5.8 trillion miles.
Shimmering in purple like a cherry blossom, the cast-off material once comprised the star’s outer layer. The Hubble Space Telescope snapped a shot of the same transitioning star a few decades ago, but it appeared more like a fireball without the delicate details.
Such a transformation occurs only with some stars and normally is the last step before they explode, going supernova, according to scientists.
Biden says Jimmy Carter has asked him to deliver his eulogy
ATLANTA (AP) — President Joe Biden says he plans to deliver the eulogy at the funeral of former President Jimmy Carter, who remains under hospice care at his home in south Georgia.
Biden told donors at a California fundraiser Monday evening about his “recent” visit to see the 39th president, whom he has known since he was a young Delaware senator supporting Carter’s 1976 presidential campaign.
“He asked me to do his eulogy,” Biden said, before stopping himself from saying more. “Excuse me, I shouldn’t say that.”
Carter, who at 98 is the longest-lived U.S. president, announced Feb. 18 that he would spend his remaining days at home receiving end-of-life care, forgoing further medical intervention after a series of short hospital stays. The Carter Center in Atlanta and the former president’s family members have not disclosed details of his condition, though Biden alluded to Carter’s 2015 cancer diagnosis and subsequent recovery.
“I spent time with Jimmy Carter and it’s finally caught up with him, but they found a way to keep him going for a lot longer than they anticipated because they found a breakthrough,” Biden said in Rancho Sante Fe, California.
Mandatory paid time off: ‘a strain’ for Illinois business
CHICAGO (AP) — Doug Knight’s family has owned Springfield amusement park Knight’s Action Park since 1930, himself for 43 of those years.
The pandemic was a bear — Knight fought to keep his doors open, and when they closed for COVID-19, he pushed to reopen as soon as possible. Inflation, too, has been an obstacle. From inflatable inner tubes to chlorine for the pools, prices have risen for “everything we buy,” and now a new Illinois law represents “another bump on the road” for business owners, he says.
On Monday, Illinois became one of three U.S. states to mandate paid time off “for any reason,” up to 40 hours per year for full-time employees. Small business owners in Illinois say they know the importance of taking care of their workers, but some view the paid leave requirement as a government-imposed burden.
“When you hit the big bump and go off the cliff, what does that do for ya?” Knight said.
The legislation takes effect on Jan. 1, 2024. Employees will accrue one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked up to 40 hours total, and can start using the time once they’ve worked for 90 days.
Special prosecutor steps down in case against Alec Baldwin
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A special prosecutor who doubles as a state legislator is stepping down from her role in the manslaughter case against actor Alec Baldwin in the death of a cinematographer on a New Mexico film set.
Baldwin’s legal team in February sought to disqualify special prosecutor and Republican state Rep. Andrea Reeb of Clovis based on constitutional provisions that safeguard the separation of powers between distinct branches of government.
Reeb said in a statement Tuesday that she “will not allow questions about my serving as a legislator and prosecutor to cloud the real issue at hand.”
“It has become clear that the best way I can ensure justice is served in this case is to step down so that the prosecution can focus on the evidence and the facts,” Reeb said.
District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies filed a notification in state district court and declined further comment.
March Madness 2023: Set your brackets! Tide the No. 1 seed
March Madness is here! Here is what to know, including the favorites and underdogs as well as key games and how to watch the NCAA Tournament. Oh, and how to fill out your brackets!
The top four seeds in the tournament are Alabama, Houston, Kansas, and Purdue. Each is in a region, some tougher than others (on paper), and each has had its share of headaches to set up what could be a chaotic tournament. We break them down for you:
EAST REGION: The Boilermakers got a No. 1 seed for the fourth time after edging Penn State 67-65 in the Big Ten championship game, but they face potential hurdles in Memphis and surging Duke. Memphis (26-8) is fresh from a big upset of top-ranked Houston and led by Kendric Davis. Duke (26-8) shut down Virginia in a 59-49 ACC title game win.
SOUTH REGION: Alabama, led by coach Nate Oats in a challenging season, is a No. 1 seed for the first time after sweeping the Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament titles behind league player of the year Brandon Miller, capped by an 82-63 romp over Texas A&M. They will open the tourney not far from home, in Birmingham, Alabama. Potential hurdles for the Crimson Tide could include Baylor, Arizona. There’s an intriguing early matchup between No. 5 seed San Diego State and No. 12 Charleston, which has 31 wins. Furman is making its first tourney appearance since 1980.