Nation & World Glance
Nebraska lawmaker 3 weeks into filibuster over trans bill
LINCOLN, Neb. – 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 90day 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. – 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 – 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 – 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. – 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.