Utah is likely to become the first state to ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors this year.
The Utah Senate approved a bill Friday that would bar minors from receiving gender-affirming surgeries and place an indefinite moratorium on their access to puberty blockers and hormone therapy.
The bill, which the Utah House of Representatives approved Thursday, would be prospective, so minors who were diagnosed with gender dysphoria before the bill’s effective date, May 3, 2023, would still be able to receive care if they meet a list of requirements.
The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Spencer Cox, who became the second Republican governor last year to veto a bill that bars transgender students from playing girls’ sports.
“I don’t understand what they are going through or why they feel the way they do. But I want them to live,” he wrote. “And all the research shows that even a little acceptance and connection can reduce suicidality significantly.”
But Cox told local news station Fox 13 on Thursday, after the ban on gender-affirming care passed the House, that he did not plan to veto the bill. His office did not immediately return a request for additional comment.
State Sen. Michael Kennedy, a Republican who sponsored the bill and a family practice physician, told colleagues in a hearing last week that gender-affirming treatments “lack sufficient long-term research,” according to local radio station KUER.
“But still, our country is witnessing a radical and dangerous push for children to enter this version of health care,” he said.
State Sen. Daniel Thatcher, one of Kennedy’s Republican colleagues, disagreed and was the only Republican to speak out against a previous, though similar, version of the bill last week, KUER reported. He argued that though he and his colleagues might not understand gender-affirming care, “every credible medical organization on the planet says that that is the safest, best and most appropriate care to save those lives.”
Thatcher added that the bill could face legal challenges because it only prohibits the care for people who are transgender, but it does not prohibit the care for children who might need it for other reasons, KUER reported. The bill provides exemptions for intersex minors, for minors who experience early puberty and for those who have “medically necessary” reasons that don’t include treatment for gender dysphoria.
A judge blocked a similar law in Arkansas last year pending the outcome of a lawsuit, during which lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union argued that such bans on care are discriminatory, using reasoning similar to Thatcher’s.
Thatcher, who is recovering from multiple strokes, was absent from the Senate vote Friday.
A crowd of protestors gathered outside the Utah Capitol on Tuesday ahead of a committee hearing on the bill, during which a number of transgender teens spoke out against it.
Bri Martin, the editor of the student newspaper at West High School, described gender-affirming care as “nothing short of life-saving,” the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
“Me and my family were saved from the arduous and painstaking task of adult transition,” Martin said. “I would like to make clear that no matter the opposition, transitioning was always the only option for me. I deserve a body to feel proud of.”
In addition to barring access to care for minors who don’t already receive it, the bill would also require the state’s Division of Professional Licensing to create a certification for those who provide hormone treatment to minors. The certification process would require “at least 40 hours of education related to transgender health care for minors from an approved organization,” and providers would have to obtain this before they could continue to provide such treatment.
It also directs the state’s Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a systematic review of the medical evidence regarding hormonal transgender treatments and provide recommendations to the Legislature, but it does not require the Legislature to review the indefinite moratorium on care after the review is complete.
The bill also allows minors to sue medical providers for malpractice for gender-affirming medical care if the minor “later disaffirms consent” before they turn 25.
Cathryn Oakley, the state legislative director and senior counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ advocacy group, condemned the bill and urged Cox to veto it.
“Today, Utah legislators capitulated to extremism and fear-mongering, and by doing so, shamelessly put the lives and well-being of young Utahans at risk — young transgender folks who are simply trying to navigate life as their authentic selves,” Oakley said, in part, in a statement Friday. “Every parent wants and deserves access to the highest quality health care for our kids.”
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — He was an amateur photographer who loved skateboarding and watching sunsets darken the woods and ponds of his adopted hometown.
He enjoyed his mom’s sesame seed chicken and greeted her and his stepfather, Rodney Wells, when he got home with a hearty “Hello, parents!”
Those words won’t be heard anymore from Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who was hospitalized in critical condition and died three days after a Jan. 7 traffic stop.
“Nobody’s perfect, OK, but he was damn near,” his mother, RowVaughn Wells, said at a news conference Monday.
Nichols, the youngest of four children, had a 4-year-old son. He was visiting his family in Memphis from his home in Sacramento, California, when the pandemic started, so he stayed put and got a job working the overnight shift for FedEx.
When he wasn’t working or taking photos, he was skateboarding, an activity he started when he was 6 years old, Wells said.
“That was his passion,” she said at the news conference, three days before a candlelight vigil was held for him at a local skate park.
Photographing sunsets at Shelby Farms Park, an expansive green space in Memphis, was another passion, she said. It was among his many routines, such as making a Starbucks run every morning and doing his laundry for the week on Sundays.
“Does that sound like somebody who the police are trying to say did all these bad things?” Wells said.
She said at a news conference Friday that Nichols was driving home from Shelby Farms when he was pulled over. Before he had left, he had asked Wells how she was preparing the chicken they were having for dinner.
“I said I was going to sesame seed it,” she said. “He loved it.”
She said her son loved her deeply and even had her name tattooed on his arm.
“Most kids don’t put their mom’s name, but he did,” Wells said.
Wells said she will miss the cheerful greeting that rang out when Nichols got home from work, the skatepark or Shelby Farms.
“I just think about the fact that I’ll never see my son again. I’ll never see that smile again. He’ll never see his son grow up,” Wells told NBC News on Friday. “I’m waiting for my son to walk through the door and he’s not.”
Angelina Paxton, a friend in Sacramento, who met Nichols when they were in their early teens, said he always had encouraging words for those he cared about.
Nichols’ death “just made me lose my faith in life and humanity,” she said. “Bad things like this don’t happen to good people in my head. It has made me afraid of the world now.”
Paxton, 28, said she and Nichols couldn’t go anywhere without him knowing at least one person they came across, and he would stop to chat.
They once made a pit stop at a grocery store while en route to spend their day at a river. People in three different aisles knew him and so did the cashier, she said.
“Everywhere I took him, he just had to talk to everyone,” Paxton said.
Nichols’ sister, Keyana Dixon, 41, of Sacramento, said her brother dreamed of one day making a living from photography by launching a graphic design company.
That desire was strengthened when she was planning her wedding. Upon learning that a photographer wanted to charge her $3,000, Nichols looked at her as if to say “that’s way too much money” and offered to take the photos himself.
“He captured my wedding day,” Dixon said. “He wanted to see others happy.”
After his death, Dixon looked back at the last text message he sent her, on Dec. 30: “Sister, I love you so much, you hold so much value in my life. I just want you to know that.”
One of Nichols’ FedEx co-workers, Rico Howard, said he took pride in his work.
“He was the self-proclaimed box manager, taking charge of boxing up and shipping out orders for customers,” Howard said. “He was gonna make sure the right product got in the right box.”
He said he liked how Nichols never tried to fit in. Where many in Memphis dressed to impress, Nichols dressed down in loose-fitting clothes, unconcerned about what others thought.
“He was the first skateboarder I ever saw in Memphis,” Howard said.
Nichols died Jan. 10, three days after the encounter with police that landed him in the hospital. He had been pulled over for alleged reckless driving, police officials said.
A confrontation followed, and officers pursued Nichols when he fled on foot, the Memphis Police Department said. While trying to take him into custody, there was another confrontation, and Nichols complained of having shortness of breath, it said.
A photo provided by his stepfather showed a hospitalized Nichols with blood on his face and what appeared to be a swollen eye.
The officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith — were fired Jan. 20, and a Tennessee grand jury has indicted them on murder and other charges.
Video of the encounter was released Friday evening. David Rausch, the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said Thursday that what transpired on camera was horrific.
“I’ve been policing for more than 30 years, I’ve devoted my life to this profession and I’m aggrieved,” he said. “Frankly, I’m shocked. I’m sickened by what I saw.”
Howard said the manner in which Nichols died has weighed on him heavily, and he hoped the events of Jan. 7 would lead to change.
“The police treated him in any kind of way, and it hurt, it hurt bad,” he said. “But he might be the face to turn things around for the better.”
Whale meat was an affordable source of protein during Japan’s undernourished years after World War II, with annual consumption peaking at 233,000 tons in 1962.
Whale was quickly replaced by other meats. The whale meat supply fell to 6,000 tons in 1986, the year before the moratorium on commercial whaling imposed by the IWC banned the hunting of several whale species.
Under the research whaling, criticized as a cover for commercial hunts because the meat was sold on the market, Japan caught as many as 1,200 whales annually. It has since drastically cut back its catch after international protests escalated and whale meat supply and consumption slumped at home.
Annual meat supply had fluctuated in a range of 3,000-5,000 tons, including imports from Norway and Iceland. The amount further fell in 2019 to 2,000 tons, or 20 grams (less than 1 ounce) of whale meat per person a year, the Fisheries Agency statistics show.
Whaling officials attributed the shrinking supply in the past three years to the absence of imports due to the pandemic, and plan to nearly double this year’s supply with imports of more than 2,500 tons from Iceland.
Japan managed to get Iceland’s only remaining whaling company to hunt whales exclusively for shipment to Japan, whaling officials said. Iceland caught only one minke whale in the 2021 season, according to the IWC.
Criticizing Iceland’s export to Japan, the International Fund for Animal Welfare said it “opposes all commercial whaling as it is inherently cruel.”
With uncertain outlook for imports, Kyodo Senpaku wants the government to raise Japan’s annual catch quota to levels that can supply about 5,000 tons, the level Kubo describes as the threshold to maintain the industry.
“From a long-term perspective, I think it would be difficult to sustain the industry at the current supply levels,” Kubo said. “We must expand both supply and demand, which have both shrunk.”
With the extremely limited supply, whale meat processing cannot be a viable business and may not last for the next generations, he added.
Yuki Okoshi, who started serving whale meat dishes at his Japanese-style seafood restaurant three years ago when higher quality whale meat became available under commercial whaling, said he hopes whale meat supply will stabilize.
Okoshi noted dwindling whale meat supply in recent years and said “the future of the whale industry depends on whether customers need us, and perhaps restaurants like us that are closest to consumers hold the key to survival.”
“Whaling can be a political issue, but relationships between the restaurant and our customers is very simple,” Okoshi said. “We serve good food at reasonable prices and customers are happy. That’s all there is to it.”
SRINAGAR, India — When the lights were suddenly cut off, the crowd of young people switched on the flashlights on their smartphones. They turned them toward the seat of a motorbike, where student activist Aishe Ghosh stood in defiance.
“They will shut one screen, we will open hundreds,” she shouted.
The students had gathered at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, the Indian capital, for an outdoor screening of a new BBC documentary that is critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his role in the deadly 2002 riots in Gujarat when he was the western state’s chief minister.
After the power outage — Ghosh blames the university administration, which hasn’t commented on it publicly — students streamed the film on their phones and laptops instead, either through VPNs or by sharing proxy links to archived footage via encrypted apps.
Authorities in India, the world’s largest democracy, have gone to extraordinary lengths to stop people inside the country from seeing the film since the first part aired in Britain last week, invoking emergency powers to order the removal of any clips or links that are posted on social media platforms including YouTube and Twitter. For Indians dismayed by what they see as rising authoritarianism under Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, watching the documentary has become a symbol of protest.
Many of India’s young people have no memory of the riots, in which more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed. Modi denies being complicit in the attacks, and India’s Supreme Court upheld a ruling last year that he should be cleared of all charges.
Over half of India’s 1.4 billion people are under the age of 30, and they are shaping up to be a pivotal political force in the 2024 general election and beyond, Ghosh told NBC News.
“It is very important for the BJP to control these minds,” she said.
Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, called the BBC film, “India: The Modi Question,” a “propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative” and said it reflected a “colonial mind-set.”
In a statement, the British broadcaster said that the film had been “rigorously researched” and that the Indian government had declined to comment on the allegations.
The first part of the documentary is about Modi’s political career before he became prime minister. Gujarat was convulsed by riots in early 2002 when Hindu mobs, blaming Muslims for the deaths of 59 Hindu pilgrims in a train fire, retaliated against Muslim communities.
According to the film, British officials said the violence bore “the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing” and that Modi, as chief minister, was “directly responsible” for letting it happen.
Harsh Mander, who quit his job as a civil servant to become a rights activist after the riots in Gujarat, said they “showed us a very different India than what we had promised ourselves at independence” in 1947.
“Today’s generation needs to see what happened in 2002 and make an informed choice,” he added. “Is this the India you want?”
For years, Modi was barred from traveling to the United States over his role in the riots, being invited back only after he became prime minister in 2014. The second half of the BBC documentary, which aired in Britain this week, focuses on his leadership since then.
Critics say Modi has promoted discrimination against India’s Muslim minority and quashed dissent, especially since his re-election in 2019. Some journalists have been stopped from traveling overseas, and government demands for the removal of content on Twitter have soared. Last year, India fell to 150th out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Wednesday that the U.S. supported press freedom and other rights that strengthen democracies.
“This is a point we make in our relationships around the world,” he said at a regular briefing. “It’s certainly a point we’ve made in India as well.”
Opposition lawmakers in India have also pushed back, sharing links to the documentary that have since stopped working.
“Sorry, Haven’t been elected to represent world’s largest democracy to accept censorship,” Mahua Moitra, a member of Parliament from the center-left All India Trinamool Congress, said on Twitter. “Here’s the link. Watch it while you can.”
But Kanchan Gupta, a senior adviser to India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, called the film “anti-India garbage” and said YouTube and Twitter had complied with government orders to block it from being shared.
Both platforms have struggled with free speech issues in India. Twitter sued the Indian government last year over sweeping regulatory changes that give officials greater power to demand the removal of online content they deem threatening to the state, the same changes now being used to censor the BBC documentary. The future of the lawsuit is uncertain under the company’s new owner, Elon Musk.
“First I’ve heard,” Musk, who calls himself a free speech absolutist, said on Twitter this week when asked about the BBC film’s censorship in India. “It is not possible for me to fix every aspect of Twitter worldwide overnight, while still running Tesla and SpaceX, among other things.”
Kunal Majumder, the Indian representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said officials had weaponized an emergency provision of the laws, which are known as the Information Technology Rules, against legitimate journalism.
“The government has reacted to the documentary calling it propaganda and [part of a] colonial mind-set,” he said. “How does that qualify as an emergency?”
‘We created a plan’
Nivedya P.T., a student in New Delhi, was 2 years old at the time of the riots in Gujarat. She and others defied warnings from her university, Jamia Millia Islamia, not to screen the BBC film because “it is very important for us to know about our history,” she said.
“You cannot just block a documentary arbitrarily saying it is propaganda. That’s not right,” Nivedya said. “We have freedom of expression in this country, and we can watch any documentary and movie we want. So we created a plan.”
The screening was set for Wednesday night. That morning, Nivedya said, university staff chased her around campus and confiscated her phone. In the afternoon, she and three other students were taken away by police.
Students staged a protest near campus that night demanding Nivedya’s release, clashing with police officers equipped with tear gas and riot gear. Five students from the protest were detained as well, she said.
The campus remained closed the next day, students told NBC News, and police have maintained a strong presence in the area.
Nivedya’s detention came on the eve of Republic Day, a national holiday marking the anniversary of India officially adopting its Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression.
“We are being deprived of our fundamental rights,” Nivedya lamented after she was released. “I’m not sure how democratic India is anymore.”
A Palestinian gunman opened fire in east Jerusalem on Saturday, wounding at least two people, less than a day after another assailant killed seven outside a synagogue in the deadliest attack in the city since 2008.
The shooting in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in east Jerusalem, near the historic Old City, wounded at least two men, aged 23 and 47, in their upper bodies, paramedics said. They were fully conscious and in moderate to serious condition in the hospital, the medics added.
Police shot the attacker, but there was no immediate word on his condition. Authorities taped off the scene of the attack and emergency vehicles and security forces swarmed the area as helicopters whirled overhead.
Saturday’s events raised the possibility of even greater conflagration in one of the bloodiest months in Israel and the occupied West Bank in several years. On Friday, a Palestinian gunman killed at least seven people in a Jewish settlement with a large ultra-Orthodox population in east Jerusalem, including a 70-year-old woman.
The events pose pivotal test for Israel’s new far-right government. Its firebrand minister of national security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, has presented himself as an enforcer of law and order and grabbed headlines for his promises to take even stronger action against the Palestinians.
Israeli police had launched a security crackdown early on Saturday following the attack near the synagogue.
Security forces fanned out into the gunman’s neighborhood of At-Tur in east Jerusalem and arrested 42 family members, neighbors and others close to him for questioning. Police Chief Kobi Shabtai beefed up security forces and instructed police to work 12-hour shifts, the statements said, urging the public to call a hotline if they see anything suspicious.
The earlier Friday attack, which occurred as residents were observing the Jewish sabbath, came a day after an Israeli military raid killed nine Palestinians in the West Bank. Friday’s shooting set off celebrations in both the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, where people fired guns into the air, honked horns and distributed sweets.
The burst of violence also included a rocket barrage from Gaza and retaliatory Israeli airstrikes and also cast a cloud over a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the region Sunday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had held a security assessment and decided on “immediate actions.” He said he would convene his Security Cabinet on Saturday night, after the end of the sabbath, to discuss a further response.
Two of the five former Memphis police officers arrested for the killing of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols had been on the job for a couple of years, and the others no more than six years. And some of the officers had been part of a new anti-violence unit called SCORPION, which stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods, prosecutors have confirmed.
Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith were fired on Jan. 20 after an administrative investigation found they had violated department policy on the use of force. They were charged Thursday with second-degree murder, two counts of official misconduct, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, one count of official oppression and one count of aggravated assault.
Like Nichols, all five former officers are Black.
Following the brutal beating on Jan. 7, Nichols was hospitalized in critical condition and died three days later.
Police initially said that Nichols fled on foot during a traffic stop for reckless driving and that a “confrontation” happened when the officers tried to detain him.
However, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis told MSNBC Friday that an investigation and review of available camera footage could not “substantiate” the reckless driving claim.
Now a nervous nation braces for the possibility of widespread protests against police violence as Memphis officials prepare to release video of the fatal beating that Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, has already described as “horrific.”
This is what we know about the five Memphis police officers at the center of this latest storm:
Demetrius Haley, 30
Before Haley joined the Memphis Police Department in August 2020, he worked as a corrections officer for the Shelby County Corrections Department. And in a 2016 lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for Western Tennessee, Haley was accused of taking part in the beating of an inmate named Cordarlrius Sledge some eight years ago.
Sledge said Haley and another officer punched him in the face and a third slammed him face-first into a sink. “After that I blacked out,” Sledge said in the suit
The suit was dismissed in 2018 after a judge ruled that Sledge had not properly served one of the defendants with a summons. Sledge, who filed the suit without the help of a lawyer, said he was in federal custody at the time and unable to complete all the paperwork.
Tadarrius Bean, 24
Bean’s family was thrilled when he was hired in August 2020 by the Memphis Police Department.
“Everybody was proud of him, proud that he was doing what he loved to do,” said Diane Thompson, whose late brother had been married to Bean’s mother.
Bean previously worked at a fast food restaurant in Mississippi and also worked for AT&T in Memphis, according to his LinkedIn profile.
From 2016 through 2020, Bean studied criminal justice and law enforcement at the University of Mississippi and did an internship with the campus police department, according to his profile. His name was on the Ole Miss 2020 commencement list, which described him as graduating with a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice.
Emmitt Martin III, 30Martin was hired by the Memphis Police Department in March 2018 and was described by a former Bethel University classmate as “one of the coolest brothers ever.”
Joshua Harper, who is now a pastor in Missouri, said he followed Martin on social media after they left the Christian college in McKenzie, Tenn. He said Martin posted a lot about his daughter. He said the man depicted in court papers “is not the person that I know.”
“I was shocked only for a second because I understood that he was a police officer and I know behind the badge that anything can happen when anyone has power and authority,” Harper said.
Martin was a tight end on the Bethel University football team.
Desmond Mills Jr., 32
Mills was nicknamed “Box” when he played football for West Virginia State University, one of his former coaches, Kip Shaw, said.
Shaw, who coached him in 2009 and 2010, said Mills was a popular and hard-working member of the team who played center and offensive guard.
“I’m not one to be surprised a lot,” Shaw said. “But when I saw the news, I was just shocked. I’ve been coaching a long time and you just never know. I told my wife, ‘That man played for us at West Virginia State.’”
Mills was hired by the Memphis Police Department in March 2017. He listed his hometown as Hartford, Connecticut, on WVSU football team’s 2012 roster. He spent his formative years in a suburb north of there called Bloomfield.
“We can confirm that one of the officers — Desmond Mills Jr. — is a graduate of Bloomfield High School, Class of 2008,” school officials said in a statement.
Justin Smith, 28
Smith was hired by the Memphis Police Department in March 2018. Following his arrest, Smith posted his $250,000 bond and was released from custody Thursday night.
Notebooks that President Joe Biden wrote in during his time as vice president are among the items the FBI took from one of his Delaware homes during a search there last week, according to a person familiar with the investigation.
The notebooks were seized because Biden’s writings on some of the pages relate to his official business as vice president, including details of his diplomatic engagements during the Obama administration, and may reference classified information, this person said. They said the notebooks do not have classified markings on them, but some of the handwritten notes inside of them could be considered as such given their sensitive content.
Other pages in the notebooks, while they may not contain potentially classified information, could still be considered government property under the Presidential Records Act because they pertain to official business Biden conducted as vice president, the person familiar with the investigation said.
The notebooks include a mix of handwritten notes from Biden on various topics, both personal and official, this person said. On some pages Biden wrote down things about his family or his life unrelated to public office, they said. On other pages, they said he memorialized in writing some of his experiences or thoughts as vice president at the time.
The number of notebooks Biden kept is large, according to the person familiar with the investigation, but they did not know the precise number.
When asked about the notebooks, a spokesperson for Biden’s personal lawyer Bob Bauer reiterated the position the president’s legal team has taken in previous statements about the Justice Department’s investigation into Biden’s possession of classified material from the Obama administration that was found in his Wilmington, Delaware, residence and an office in Washington, D.C. that he used after leaving the vice presidency.
“As noted in the statement released on January 14, consistent with our view of the requirements of our cooperation with DOJ in this matter, we will not comment on the accuracy of reports of this nature,” the spokesperson said.
The Justice Department declined to comment. The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bauer’s spokesperson on Friday declined to comment when asked whether Biden knew the notebooks were packed in boxes that left with him at the end of the Obama administration, if he’s accessed them since leaving the vice presidency and whether he thought the notebooks were his personal property.
In a letter this week to former presidents and vice presidents, the National Archives requested their offices search for any materials in their possession that might relate to their tenures in office, including “to determine whether bodies of materials previously assumed to be personal in nature might inadvertently contain presidential or vice presidential records subject to the [Presidential Records Act], whether classified or unclassified.”
The request followed a battle between former President Donald Trump and the Archives over his possession of classified documents after leaving office, which led to the FBI obtaining a search warrant in August to retrieve them from his Mar-a-Lago estate; Biden aides’ discovery in November of classified documents from his time as vice president at his private office, as well as subsequent discoveries; and former Vice President Mike Pence’s disclosure that his aides had found classified documents at his Indiana home this month.
Trump and Biden’s possession of classified documents is the subject of separate special counsel investigations. Attorney General Merrick Garland has so far not named a special counsel to investigate Pence’s handling of classified documents.
Biden’s possession of notebooks from his time as vice president that include notes about official business he conducted in that role raises questions about whether he appropriately followed procedures for preserving presidential records. It also raises questions about whether the notebooks are considered personal or official, and how other vice presidents and presidents who kept similar notebooks while in office have handled theirs.
Federal law allows presidents and vice presidents to write and, upon leaving office, keep diaries and notes of a “personal” nature, so long as they hadn’t shared the material with anyone in the time they held office. (Former President Ronald Reagan kept a hand-written diary during his eight years in the White House, storing them in a dresser drawer and only his wife, Nancy, knew they were there, according to Douglas Brinkley, the presidential historian who later edited and published the diaries.)
Jason R. Baron, a former director of litigation at the National Archives, said when it comes to notebooks containing handwritten notes about personal matters, intermixed with notes about government business, they would likely be considered personal property if Biden never shared them with any government staffers during the vice presidency.
Baron said that holds true whether Biden jotted a note to himself about buying a birthday president for his wife or wrote about a meeting with a foreign leader.
But if Biden did share the contents of the notebooks with staff while serving as vice president, the material would be deemed official records belonging to the government, Baron said.
“Handwritten personal notes of a former president or vice president are only considered presidential records if they were shared or communicated with other White House or federal agency personnel for use in transacting government business,” Baron said. “A former president or vice president has the right to take out of the White House personal notes — they are not official records that come into the legal custody of the National Archives at the end of an administration.”
On Jan. 20, the FBI spent more than 12 hours searching Biden’s Wilmington home for any possible records from his eight years as vice president, including potentially classified materials.
The following day, Bauer, the president’s personal lawyer, said in a statement that federal investigators had taken with them more than just documents with classified markings after accessing Biden’s “personally handwritten notes, files, papers, binders, memorabilia, to-do lists, schedules, and reminders going back decades.”
The Department of Justice “took possession of materials it deemed within the scope of its inquiry, including six items consisting of documents with classification markings and surrounding materials,” Bauer said in the statement. “DOJ also took for further review personally handwritten notes from the vice-presidential years.”
The revelations of that Trump, Biden and Pence all possessed classified materials after they had left office has elicited calls for changes in the process for when presidents and vice presidents depart.
Norman Eisen, who worked as a special counsel for ethics in former President Barack Obama’s White House, said he is advocating for a closer review of a president and vice president’s papers before they leave office so that government documents aren’t packed away with their other belongings.
Eisen outlined a hypothetical scenario where an outgoing president or an aide wanted to pack up a medical bill that needed to be paid and was required to call the National Archives to have an employee determine whether it’s a personal or government record.
On Friday, Pence apologized for having classified documents in his possession and said he takes full responsibility for it.
Biden has said he was surprised to learn classified documents were found at his former office in November and has said “there’s no there there” in terms of the federal investigation. The White House counsel’s office has said the documents were inadvertently packed in boxes and taken after Biden left the vice presidency.
One person close to Biden said it’s impossible to imagine that he packed up boxes himself upon leaving the vice presidency. That would have been his staff’s job, this person said, speaking on condition of anonymity to talk more freely.
“He’s not putting anything in boxes,” this person said.
A four-star Air Force general sent a memo on Friday to the officers he commands that predicts the U.S. will be at war with China in two years and tells them to get ready to prep by firing “a clip” at a target, and “aim for the head.”
In the memo sent Friday and obtained by NBC News, Gen. Mike Minihan, head of Air Mobility Command, said, “I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me will fight in 2025.”
Air Mobility Command has nearly 50,000 service members and nearly 500 planes and is responsible for transport and refueling.
Minihan said in the memo that because both Taiwan and the U.S. will have presidential elections in 2024, the U.S. will be “distracted,” and Chinese President Xi Jinping will have an opportunity to move on Taiwan.
He lays out his goals for preparing, including building “a fortified, ready, integrated, and agile Joint Force Maneuver Team ready to fight and win inside the first island chain.”
The signed memo is addressed to all air wing commanders in Air Mobility Command and other Air Force operational commanders, and orders them to report all major efforts to prepare for the China fight to Minihan by Feb. 28.
During the month of February, he directs all AMC personnel to “fire a clip into a 7-meter target with the full understanding that unrepentant lethality matters most. Aim for the head.” He also orders all personnel to update their records and emergency contacts.
In March he directs all AMC personnel to “consider their personal affairs and whether a visit should be scheduled with their servicing base legal office to ensure they are legally ready and prepared.”
Minihan urges them to accept some risk in training. “Run deliberately, not recklessly,” he writes, but later adds, “If you are comfortable in your approach to training, then you are not taking enough risk.”
He also provides a window into one capability the U.S. is considering for possible conflict with China — commercial drone swarms. He directs the KC-135 units to prepare for “delivering 100 off-the-shelf size and type UAVs from a single aircraft.”
After publication of this article, a defense department official said, “These comments are not representative of the department’s view on China.”
An AMC spokesperson confirmed in a statement Friday that the memo is real: “This is an authentic internal memo from General Minihan addressed to his subordinate command teams. His order builds on last year’s foundational efforts by Air Mobility Command to ready the Mobility Air Forces for future conflict, should deterrence fail.”
Defense Department press secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said in a statement, “The National Defense Strategy makes clear that China is the pacing challenge for the Department of Defense and our focus remains on working alongside allies and partners to preserve a peaceful, free and open Indo-Pacific.”
In March 2021, Adm. Philip Davidson, then commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that “Taiwan is clearly one of [China’s] ambitions.
“I think the threat is manifest during this decade, in fact, in the next six years,” said Davidson.
When asked earlier this month whether a Chinese invasion of Taiwan was imminent, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, said, “What we’re seeing recently, is some very provocative behavior on the part of China’s forces and their attempt to re-establish a new normal.”
“But whether or not that means that an invasion is imminent,” said Austin, “I seriously doubt that.”
DES MOINES, Iowa — Authorities on Friday charged a second teenager with murder in the shooting deaths of two students at a Des Moines educational program.
Bravon Michael Tukes, 19, of Des Moines, faces two counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of criminal gang participation.
The charges match those filed earlier in the week against Preston Walls, 18, who is accused of fatally shooting the two teenage students at the Starts Right Here education program Monday and wounding the program’s founder.
Police said evidence shows Tukes communicated with Walls before and immediately after the shooting and drove the vehicle in which Walls allegedly fled. Tukes and Walls are members of the same gang and committed the shootings “in connection with that gang membership,” police said in a news release.
Police said they recovered four firearms during their investigation.
Online court records did not indicate whether Tukes had an attorney yet who could speak on his behalf.
The shooting left 18-year-old Gionni Dameron and 16-year-old Rashad Carr dead. Will Keeps, a former Chicago gang member who moved to Des Moines and later founded the program to help at-risk youth, was seriously wounded and remains in a hospital.
Police have said all four teens were gang members, but relatives and friends of Dameron and Carr dispute that, saying they were not involved in gangs and were close friends who were dedicated to their families.
Police say the shooting was premeditated and that Walls, who was on supervised release for a weapons charge last year, cut off an ankle monitor 16 minutes beforehand. Court documents say he had a concealed semiautomatic handgun with a high-capacity extended magazine when he entered a common area of Starts Right Here and opened fire.
Classes at the education program, which works with Des Moines Public Schools to help students who haven’t succeeded in traditional schools, were cancelled this week. Keeps has forged deep ties with community leaders, and the city’s police chief serves on the program’s board.
Matt Smith, the interim schools superintendent, described Keeps as “Amazing. Incredibly passionate.”