👋 Away Message: So we had a little scheduling snafu here at WTF HQ, where both myself and Joe (voice of the pod) double-booked ourselves with personal and professional obligations next week. Oopsie! Not a very great job using a calendar on my part, I guess. On the other hand, it appears the government isn't going to be open for business anyway... Unless something truly WTF-y happens, I'll see you all again on Tuesday, October 10th, because Monday is a holiday (Indigenous Peoples' Day).
In the mean time, try our little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding and for being here. I'm going to miss you.
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1/ An Iowa judge temporarily blocked the state’s new six-week abortion ban. For now, abortion is legal again in Iowa up to 20 weeks of pregnancy while the legal challenge plays out in the court system. On Friday, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the “fetal heartbeat” law. It took effect immediately and banned nearly all abortions after cardiac activity in the embryo is detected, which can occur about six weeks into a pregnancy – before most women know they are pregnant. (NBC News / Des Moines Register / Associated Press / The Hill)
2/ House Republicans narrowly approved a must-pass defense policy bill, which restricts Pentagon policies that reimburse travel costs for troops seeking abortions and medical care for transgender troops. The $886 billion defense package authorizes funding and sets the policy for the Defense Department, and includes a 5.2% pay raise for service members. All but four Democrats voted against the package. The National Defense Authorization Act, however, expected to go nowhere in the Democratic-majority Senate, which will begin debate on its own defense legislation this month. (Associated Press / Politico / Vox / NPR / CNN / CBS News)
3/ A Republican from Arizona referred to Black people as “colored people” during a floor debate over his proposed amendment to the annual defense policy bill. Eli Crane’s amendment would prohibit the Pentagon from considering race, gender, religion, political affiliations or “any other ideological concepts” in training, promotion or retention decisions. “My amendment has nothing to do with whether or not colored people or Black people or anybody can serve,” said Crane. “The military was never intended to be, you know, inclusive. Its strength is not its diversity. Its strength is its standards.” Crane later claimed he “misspoke.” (Washington Post / NBC News / CBS News)
4/ The Biden administration eliminated $39 billion in student debt for more than 800,000 borrowers. The relief is part of an effort to fix what the administration calls “administrative failures” that denied student loan borrowers relief they were eligible. Under those repayment plans, borrowers could get any remaining debt canceled by the government after having made qualifying payments for 20 years or 25 years. However, “inaccurate payment counts” and other failures caused borrowers to lose “hard-earned progress” toward having their loans forgiven. Millions more will also have their loans adjusted as part of the program. The new student debt plan relies on a different law than the one that the Supreme Court recently struck down, which would have delivered relief to about 37 million people. (CBS News / ABC News / New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / CNBC)
5/ Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. suggested that Covid-19 was “targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people,” saying that “the people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.” Kennedy ended his conspiracy-filled rant by saying: “We don’t know whether it was deliberately targeted or not but there are papers out there that show the racial or ethnic differential and impact.” The 2024 candidate has a history of embracing and sharing conspiracy theories. Following backlash and accusations of antisemitism and racism, Kennedy claimed there was a “misinterpretation” of his statement. (New York Times / Politico / CNN / ABC News / New York Post)
poll/ 49% of Americans say democracy is not working well in the U.S., compared with 10% who say it’s working well and 40% only somewhat well. “The poll shows 53% of Americans say views of ‘people like you’ are not represented well by the government, with 35% saying they’re represented somewhat well and 12% very or extremely well. About 6 in 10 Republicans and independents feel like the government is not representing people like them well, compared with about 4 in 10 Democrats.” (Associated Press)
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