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Georgia’s Kemp veers from Trump, but state GOP not moving on

Georgia’s Kemp veers from Trump, but state GOP not moving on

BUFORD, Ga. (AP) — A slate of Georgia Republicans led by Gov. Brian Kemp handily won reelection last year over far-right primary opponents endorsed by Donald Trump and backed by the state party chairperson, showing the limits of the former president and his 2020 election lies in the critical swing state.

Despite those stinging primary losses, the state GOP is showing little interest in moving on from Trump.

Last weekend, Republicans in Georgia’s 1st Congressional District, which includes Savannah, elected as its chair Kandiss Taylor, a Kemp gubernatorial challenger who ran on a “Jesus Guns Babies” platform and denies the legitimacy of her primary defeat. In metro Atlanta’s 6th Congressional District, Republican activists considered a resolution rejecting the results of the 2020 election and declaring Democrat Joe Biden the “acting” president.

“In many ways, the Georgia Republican Party is a train that has left Crazytown, and the governor is trying to present a scenario and lead and demonstrate that that’s not the path to success,” said John Watson, a former state Republican Party chair aligned with Kemp.

Kemp and a handful of other elected Republicans said this week that they won’t attend the state’s GOP convention in June, when the new leader of the state party will be chosen, citing unhappiness with current party leaders.

Georgia is one of a number of states where far-right Republicans aligned with Trump are joining the ranks of party leadership, giving them increasing influence over the party’s direction. But mounting electoral losses, including in last year’s midterms, raise questions about whether the state parties are growing out of step with the voters they’re supposed to represent.

Republican delegates in Michigan earlier this year elected Kristina Karamo as state party chair, elevating an election conspiracist who was defeated in November in her secretary of state race. In Kansas, Mike Brown, a conspiracy theorist who lost his primary bid for secretary of state, was named chair of the state party. And in Idaho, Dorothy Moon, an election denier and former state representative, became state GOP chair last year shortly after her unsuccessful primary run for secretary of state.

In addition to concerns about the party’s direction, Georgia Republican incumbents are still mad at outgoing party Chair David Shafer, who promoted a Trump-aligned ticket of primary challengers against them in last year’s primaries. Those state officials, including Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Attorney General Chris Carr, not only won their primaries but also went on to beat their Democratic rivals by convincing margins.

“I am going to stand up with those that believe in electing and supporting Republicans, but I don’t think it’s right when you have a party that went after an entire statewide ticket and undermined our ability to get elected,” Carr said Wednesday after a bill-signing in Buford.

Carr and others voice hope that one of the three candidates running to replace Shafer as party chair will patch things up. Chairman since 2019, Shafer is stepping down while a target of investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis into attempts to overturn President Joe Biden’s Democratic victory in Georgia in 2020.

Shafer said he isn’t seeking reelection because he wants to refocus on his family.

Republicans have also lost three races for U.S. Senate since January 2021 under Shafer. Democratic Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, representing a once reliably Republican state, provide the margin of Senate control for their party.

Kemp has been trying to promote a Trump-divergent vision for Republicans since shortly after the 2020 election, when he defied the then-president’s demands to help overturn Trump’s narrow loss in the state. His impressive win over Democrat Stacey Abrams last year stoked presidential speculation, but Kemp has said he’s not going to seek the White House in 2024. He has, however, been angling for national influence through the Republican Governors Association and could be setting up a 2026 Senate run against Ossoff.

“If you look in the rearview mirror too long while you’re driving, you’re going to look up, and you’re going to be running into somebody, and that’s not going to be good,” Kemp told CNN in mid-April, shortly after delivering the same message at the Republican National Committee donors’ retreat in Nashville.

But it’s not Kemp who elects the leader of the state party — it’s activists. And that setup has caused conflict before.

Kemp got booed at the 2021 state party convention, and some members tried to censure Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, Kemp’s predecessor. Deal skipped the two conventions in his second term.

“The people show up at party events are not representative of Georgia’s Republican primary electorate,” said Brian Robinson, a political consultant who was Deal’s chief spokesperson. “They are, by and large, much further to the right, much more ideologically driven.”

The discord is also raising questions about whether control of the party apparatus matters anymore. In Georgia, voters don’t register by party and can participate in whatever primary they like. Unlike in some states, Georgia party leaders can’t kick candidates off the primary ballot for disloyalty. And a recent Georgia law allows Kemp and some other state officials to raise unlimited sums of money and coordinate with campaigns, which used to be key party functions.

Kemp kept his political operation running after his reelection and loaned its get-out-the-vote effort to the unsuccessful Senate runoff campaign of Herschel Walker, while forming a federal political action committee that lets the governor influence races for Congress and president.

“I don’t have a rift with the state GOP,” Kemp told reporters Tuesday in Atlanta. “You know, I just think that to win, we have to have a robust ground operation. The state GOP was not doing that. And so we did that ourselves.”

The three candidates running to lead the state party acknowledge that a new chair needs to focus on rebuilding an organization that has shrunk to two employees, increase fundraising and do more to train party activists how to win votes. Shafer is backing Josh McKoon, a former state senator who is now a lawyer for the state technical college system. McKoon acknowledges a need for unity, saying that a focus on ousting Biden in 2024 should help.

“There’s been a lot of infighting, not just within the primary, but between Republicans, between party officials and elected officials,” McKoon said. “We’ve got to lay that aside.”

But Watson said that may be hard to achieve if activists aren’t ready to change.

“If the party and the party organization continues to focus on conspiracy, backward looking, fringe ideas, fringe policies, then again it will have completed its path to irrelevance,” Watson said.

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49ers trade up for Penn State safety Ji’Ayir Brown

49ers trade up for Penn State safety Ji’Ayir Brown

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — After having to wait a day to make their first pick in the NFL draft, the San Francisco 49ers traded up and selected safety Ji’Ayir Brown from Penn State with the 87th overall selection Friday night.

Brown, who was the defensive MVP of the Rose Bowl, doesn’t fill an immediate need for the Niners but he gives them flexibility in the secondary with his versatility and ability to play nickel corner.

Brown also fills a need in the short-term future with safety Tashaun Gipson turning 33 in August. Gipson signed a one-year deal with San Francisco in the early stages of free agency.

The 49ers sent three picks to Minnesota to move up and take Brown.

San Francisco still owns pick No. 99. The selections in the third round were all special compensatory picks that were awarded to the 49ers via the updated Rooney rule.

The 49ers had to wait so long after trading away their first three picks in this year’s draft as part of deals to obtain quarterback Trey Lance (2021) and running back Christian McCaffrey (2022).

Earlier in the day, the 49ers picked up the fifth-year option on wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. A first-round pick in 2020, Aiyuk is coming off his best season when he had career-highs in receptions (78), yards (1,015 yards) and touchdowns (eight).

__ AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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‘The Daily Show’ reveals Chelsea Handler, Leslie Jones and John Leguizamo will guest host

‘The Daily Show’ reveals Chelsea Handler, Leslie Jones and John Leguizamo will guest host


The end of an era is fast approaching at Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” and the network has announced at least the first phase of plans for what’s to come next.

Following longtime host Trevor Noah’s imminent departure, the network shared this week that comedy legends including Al Franken, Chelsea Handler, D. L. Hughley, Leslie Jones, John Leguizamo, Hasan Minhaj, Kal Penn, Sarah Silverman, Wanda Sykes and Marlon Wayans will fill in as host of the late-night show starting Tuesday, January 17th, as part of its “next chapter”.

Comedy Central added that “Daily Show” correspondents and contributors are also “set to host with additional details to be announced.”

“As we enter Trevor’s final week, we want to thank him for his many contributions,” said Chris McCarthy, president/CEO of Paramount Media Networks, according to the network statement.

Trevor redefined the show, as did Jon Stewart before him, and as we look to the future, we are excited to reimagine it yet again with the help of this incredible list of talent and correspondents along with the immensely talented ‘Daily Show’ team.”

Noah’s final show is set to air this Thursday. The network has yet to announced whether guest hosts will revolve indefinitely or if a permanent, individual host will be named soon.

“The Daily Show” airs weeknights at 11:00 p.m. ET/PT on Comedy Central and is available the following morning on Paramount+.

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‘Roborace’ car makes street track debut in Marrakech

‘Roborace’ car makes street track debut in Marrakech

Story highlights

Driverless electric racer completes successful track test in Marrakech, Morocco

Planned Roborace series will see autonomous cars compete at Formula E ePrix weekends


It is a car kitted out with technology its developers boldly predict will transform our cities and change the way we live.

The autonomous “DevBot #1” took a giant leap forward in Morocco recently, making its debut on a street track at the Formula E Marrakech ePrix.

The battery-powered prototype is being tested for Roborace – a proposed race series where driverless cars will compete on temporary city circuits.

“It’s the first time we’ve run the Devbot in driverless mode on a Formula E track in the middle of a city street,” Roborace’s Justin Cooke told CNN.

“It’s so exciting for the team who put hours and hours of work in. These guys were up to 1-2 a.m. in the morning developing a technology that no one else in the world is able to do at this speed and in these complicated environments.”

Read: Electric race car showcases driverless future

Using a variety of sensors – including GPS, radar and ultrasonics – allied to sophisticated computer programs, the car learns how to navigate a track at speed avoiding all obstacles.

“What we are doing is at the forefront of technology right now,” says Cooke, who is also CMO of Kinetik – an investment company founded by Russian businessman Denis Sverdlov which is providing financial backing for the project.

“There are two or three kinds of space races, if you will – some people are going to Mars, we’re developing robotic cars and I think it’s probably one of the most, if not the most exciting space in the world right now.”

After the successful 30-minute test in Marrakech – this year’s host city for the United Nations climate change conference (COP22) – Cooke say the company will next try racing two cars together on track with the eventual aim of having up to 10 cars competing at every Formula E ePrix weekend.

“To be here at COP22 when we are celebrating an electric future, a driverless future – it’s the perfect time for Roborace,” Cooke enthuses.

Visit cnn.com/motorsport for more Formula E news and features

“More than anything we want people to be excited about the technology because it’s going to change our lives, it’s going to transform our cities.”

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Will the iPhone 8 charge wirelessly?

Will the iPhone 8 charge wirelessly?

Happy 10th birthday, iPhone

You may never have to plug in your iPhone again.

Apple has joined an industry group devoted to wireless charging, strengthening existing rumors that the next iPhone will charge without a cord. The Wireless Power Consortium, which is made up of some 200 organizations that promote a single wireless charging standard, confirmed to CNNTech that Apple joined the group last week.

IPhone rumors swirl months before each new version is announced, and hype around the so-called ‘iPhone 8″ is particularly high: Apple (AAPL) is expected to unveil a major redesign of the this fall to mark the 10-year anniversary of the smartphone.

The company has already shown interest in doing away with cumbersome cords. The Apple Watch charges wirelessly, provided consumers spend $79 on a magnetic charging dock. And the latest MacBook now comes with only one USB port.

Related: Apple stock nears a record high

Apple would also create another iPhone revenue stream by selling a wireless charging station separately. The feature would simplify charging for smartphone owners. Rather than plugging in one’s phone, a user would only need to place it on the charging dock.

Apple said in a statement Monday it was joining the Wireless Power Consortium to contribute its ideas as wireless charging standards are developed.

As for the speculated possible features of the next iPhone, other rumors include an edge-to-edge display, a glass body and the removal of the home button.

CNNMoney (Washington) First published February 13, 2017: 2:42 PM ET

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Why Countries Are Trying to Ban TikTok

Why Countries Are Trying to Ban TikTok

In recent months, lawmakers in the United States, Europe and Canada have escalated efforts to restrict access to TikTok, the massively popular short-form video app that is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, citing security threats.

The White House told federal agencies on Feb. 27 that they had 30 days to delete the app from government devices. A growing number of other countries and government bodies — including Britain and its Parliament, Canada, the executive arm of the European Union, France and New Zealand’s Parliament — have also recently banned the app from official devices. On April 4, Australia became the latest country to announce that it was prohibiting the TikTok app on government devices on advice from intelligence and security agencies.

On March 1, a House committee backed an even more extreme step, voting to advance legislation that would allow President Biden to ban TikTok from all devices nationwide. On March 23, TikTok’s chief executive, Shou Chew, was grilled about the app’s relationship to its parent company and China’s potential influence over the platform in roughly five hours of testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Here’s why the pressure has been ratcheted up on TikTok, which has said that it is used by more than 100 million Americans.

It all comes down to China.

Lawmakers and regulators in the West have increasingly expressed concern that TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, may put sensitive user data, like location information, into the hands of the Chinese government. They have pointed to laws that allow the Chinese government to secretly demand data from Chinese companies and citizens for intelligence-gathering operations. They are also worried that China could use TikTok’s content recommendations for misinformation.

TikTok has long denied such allegations and has tried to distance itself from ByteDance.

India banned the platform in mid-2020, costing ByteDance one of its biggest markets, as the government cracked down on 59 Chinese-owned apps, claiming that they were secretly transmitting users’ data to servers outside India.

The app has already been banned for three years on U.S. government devices used by the Army, the Marine Corps, the Air Force and the Coast Guard. But the bans typically don’t extend to personal devices. And students often just switch to cellular data to use the app.

Some members would like to. In early March, the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to approve a bill that could grant a president the authority to ban the platform entirely. (Courts previously stopped a Trump administration effort to do this.)

In January, a Republican senator, Josh Hawley of Missouri, introduced a bill to ban TikTok for all Americans after pushing for a measure, which passed in December as part of a spending package, that banned TikTok on all devices issued by the federal government. A separate bipartisan bill, introduced in December, also sought to ban TikTok and target any similar social media companies from countries like Russia and Iran.

TikTok said recently that the Biden administration wants its Chinese ownership to sell the app or face a possible ban. The administration has been largely quiet, though the White House recently pointed to an ongoing review, in response to questions about TikTok. TikTok has been in yearslong confidential talks with the administration’s review panel, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, to address questions about TikTok and ByteDance’s relationship with the Chinese government and the handling of user data.

TikTok said that in August it submitted a 90-page proposal detailing how it planned to operate in the United States while addressing national security concerns. On March 23, a spokeswoman for China’s commerce ministry said China would “firmly oppose” the sale of the app.

The Justice Department has also been investigating TikTok’s surveillance of American journalists, according to three people familiar with the matter. ByteDance said in December that its employees had inappropriately obtained the data of two U.S. TikTok users who were reporters and a few of their associates.

Most of the existing TikTok bans have been implemented at governments and universities that have the power to keep an app off their devices or networks.

A broader, government-imposed ban that stops Americans from using an app that allows them to share their views and art could face legal challenges on First Amendment grounds, said Caitlin Chin, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. After all, large numbers of Americans, including elected officials and major news organizations like The New York Times and The Washington Post now produce videos on TikTok.

“In democratic governments, the government can’t just ban free speech or expression without very strong and tailored grounds to do so and it’s just not clear that we have that yet,” said Ms. Chin.

The exact mechanism for banning an app on privately owned phones is unclear.

Ms. Chin said that the United States could block TikTok from selling advertisements or making updates to its systems, essentially making it nonfunctional.

Apple and other companies that operate app stores do block downloads of apps that no longer work. They also ban apps that carry inappropriate or illegal content, said Justin Cappos, a professor at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering.

They also have the ability to remove apps installed on a user’s phone. “That usually doesn’t happen,” he said.

Determined users might also be able to fight a ban by refusing to update their phones, “which is a bad idea,” Professor Cappos said.

TikTok has referred to the bans as “political theater” and criticized lawmakers for attempting to censor Americans.

“The swiftest and most thorough way to address any national security concerns about TikTok is for CFIUS to adopt the proposed agreement that we worked with them on for nearly two years,” Brooke Oberwetter, a spokeswoman for TikTok, said in a statement.

Separately, TikTok has been trying to win allies, recently making an uncharacteristic push in Washington to meet with influential think tanks, public interest groups and lawmakers to promote the plan it submitted to the government.

Chinese ownership seems to be the main issue.

Critics of the efforts to ban the platform have pointed out that all social media networks engage in rampant collection of their users’ data.

Fight for the Future, a nonprofit digital rights group, recently waged a #DontBanTikTok campaign with the goal of redirecting lawmakers’ attention on TikTok to creating data and privacy laws that would apply to all Big Tech companies.

“The general consensus from the privacy community is that TikTok collects a lot of data, but it’s not out of step with the amount of data collected by other apps,” said Robyn Caplan, a senior researcher at Data & Society Research Institute.

The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter in late February to the House Foreign Affairs Committee to protest its bill, saying that the legislation would violate Americans’ First Amendment rights.

Of course, millions of Americans, digital creators and marketers would hate to see the platform go away, and blocking a popular app could create a political backlash among young people.

To protect your privacy on TikTok, you can employ the same practices used to protect yourself on other social media platforms. That includes not giving apps permission to access your location or contacts.

You can also watch TikTok videos without opening an account.

The administration could approve TikTok’s plan for operating in the United States. There is also a chance that lawmakers would force ByteDance to sell TikTok to an American company — which almost happened in 2020.

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Meta Returns to Growth After Struggling With Falling Sales

Meta Returns to Growth After Struggling With Falling Sales

The debate over whether Meta is in decline may become quieted, at least for now.

After three straight quarters of falling revenue, Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, reported on Wednesday that revenue for the first quarter jumped 3 percent from a year earlier, to $28.6 billion. Profits fell 24 percent, to $5.7 billion, partly because of restructuring charges.

The results, which surpassed Wall Street expectations and Meta’s own guidance, were bolstered by a growth in users. The company added 37 million daily users to Facebook, its marquee app, up 4 percent from a year earlier and a turnaround from the first-ever drop in its users that it reported in early 2022.

“We had a good quarter, and our community continues to grow,” Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Meta, said in a statement. He added that the company was “becoming more efficient so we can build better products faster and put ourselves in a stronger position to deliver our long-term vision.”

The performance comes amid a year of tumult for Meta, which is trying to revamp itself after experiencing declining revenue and what Mr. Zuckerberg has called an overstuffed work force.

He has been moving the company into the so-called immersive world of the metaverse, an untested market. Meta also faces stiff competition from adversaries like TikTok, which is taking advertising dollars away from social media companies, and Apple, which has put the screws to Facebook’s advertising technology with privacy updates to the iOS software.

Those challenges, after years of unbridled growth, have raised questions about Meta’s future and its vulnerabilities.

On Wednesday, Mr. Zuckerberg said in a call about the financial results that he had no intention of dropping his pursuit of the metaverse and that it remained a long-term goal.

In a turnaround attempt, he has instead embarked on what he calls a “year of efficiency” and has reined in spending and slashed employee ranks by more than 21,000, or roughly 30 percent. Meta’s stock price, which rose more than 12 percent in after-hours trading, has surged 63 percent since the company announced a first round of 11,000 layoffs in November.

Meta announced 10,000 more layoffs in March. The company said on Wednesday that it would incur severance and related personnel costs of about $1 billion from the cuts.

“When we started this work last year, our business wasn’t performing as well as I wanted,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in the call with investors. He added that he continued “to believe that slowing hiring, flattening our management structure” would improve the speed and quality of Meta’s work.

But those moves have also hurt employee morale. Workers are questioning whether they will be among the layoffs. Mr. Zuckerberg has said he is trying to eliminate “managers managing managers,” the result of a glut of middle management driven by overzealous pandemic-era hiring.

The company said it had 77,114 employees as of March 31, down 1 percent from a year earlier.

Despite the latest results, Meta’s challenges remain. The company’s costs in the first quarter jumped 10 percent from a year earlier, to $21.4 billion, outstripping revenue growth.

As hype for the metaverse has died and shifted to artificial intelligence, Meta is also trying to position itself as a leader in the field, drawing on years of investment. Mr. Zuckerberg and his executive team are attending weekly meetings focused on A.I. strategy. He has told investors that A.I. is helping to suggest more relevant photos and videos to Instagram and Facebook users.

Mr. Zuckerberg said he expected the new technology to “touch literally every single one of our products” in the future. He did not reveal specific plans, but speculated on potential products like A.I.-powered chatbots that could help customer service or small businesses that use WhatsApp. A.I. could also help make photos or videos more engaging, he said.

For now, Meta plans to continue investing heavily in data centers and infrastructure that help build up A.I. efforts, similar to other big tech companies.

“Our A.I. work is driving good results across our apps and business,” Mr. Zuckerberg said.

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First Republic Lurches as It Struggles to Find a Savior

First Republic Lurches as It Struggles to Find a Savior

First Republic Bank is sliding dangerously into a financial maelstrom, one from which an exit appears increasingly difficult.

Hardly a household name until a few weeks ago, First Republic is now a top concern for investors and bankers on Wall Street and officials in Washington. The likeliest outcome for the bank, people close to the situation said, would need to involve the federal government, alone or in some combination with a private investor.

While the bank, with 88 branches focused mostly on the coasts, is still open for business, no one connected to it, including its executives and some board members, would say how much longer it could exist in its current form.

First Republic, based in San Francisco, has been widely seen as the most in-danger bank since Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank collapsed last month. Like Silicon Valley Bank, it catered to the well-off — a group of customers able to pull their money en masse — and amassed a hoard of loans and assets whose value has suffered in an era of rising interest rates.

Yet while SVB and Signature survived just days under pressure, First Republic has neither fallen nor thrived. It has withstood a deposit flight and a cratering stock price. Every attempt by the bank’s executives and advisers to project confidence appears to have had the opposite effect.

The bank’s founder and executive chairman, Jim Herbert, until recently one of the more admired figures in the industry, has disappeared from public view. On March 13, Jim Cramer, the CNBC host, said on the air that Mr. Herbert had told him that the bank was doing “business as usual,” and that there were “not any sizable number of people wanting their money.”

That was belied by the bank’s earnings report this week, which stated that “First Republic began experiencing unprecedented deposit outflows” on March 10.

Neither Mr. Herbert nor the bank’s representatives would comment Wednesday, as First Republic’s stock continued a harrowing slide, dropping about 30 percent to close the day at just $5.69 — down from about $150 a year earlier. On Tuesday, the stock plummeted 49 percent. The company is now worth a little more than $1 billion, or about one-twentieth its valuation before the banking turmoil began in March.

In what has become a disquieting pattern, the New York Stock Exchange halted trading in the shares 16 times on Wednesday because volatility thresholds were triggered.

Stock prices are always an imperfect measure of a lender’s health, and there are strict rules about what types of entities can acquire a bank. Still, First Republic’s stock slide means that its branches and $103 billion in deposits could be bought for, theoretically, an amount less than the market capitalization of Portillo’s, the Chicago-area hot dog purveyor. Of course, any company that buys First Republic would be taking on multibillion-dollar losses on its loan portfolio and assets.

The bank is more likely to fall into the hands of the government. That outcome would likely wipe out shareholders and put the bank’s fate in the hands of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The F.D.I.C. by its own rules guarantees that deposit accounts only up to $250,000 will be made whole, though in practice — and in the case of SVB and Signature — it can make accounts of all sizes whole if several top government officials invoke a special legal provision. Of First Republic’s remaining deposits, roughly half, or nearly $50 billion, were over the insured threshold as of March 31, including the $30 billion deposited by big banks in March.

In conversations with industry and government officials, First Republic’s advisers have proposed various restructuring solutions that would involve the government, in one form or another, according to people familiar with the matter. The government could seek to minimize a buyer’s financial risk, the people said, asking not to be identified.

Thus far, the Biden administration and Federal Reserve appear to have demurred. Policy experts have said officials would find it more difficult to intervene to save First Republic because of restrictions Congress enacted after the 2008 financial crisis.

As a result, six weeks of efforts by First Republic and its advisers to sell all or part of its business have not resulted in a viable plan to save the bank — at least thus far.

The state of affairs became plain after the close of trading on Monday, when First Republic announced first-quarter results that showed that it had lost $102 billion in customer deposits since early March. Those withdrawals were slightly ameliorated by the coordinated emergency move of 11 large U.S. banks to temporarily deposit $30 billion into First Republic.

To plug the hole, First Republic borrowed $92 billion, mostly from the Fed and government-backed lending groups, essentially replacing its deposits with loans. While the move helped keep the bank going, it essentially undermined its business model, replacing relatively cheap deposits with more expensive loans.

The bank is paying more in interest to the government on that new debt than it is earning on its long-term investments, which include mortgage loans to its well-heeled customers on the coasts, funding for real estate projects and the like.

One of the biggest parts of the bank’s business was offering large home loans with attractive interest rates to affluent people. And unlike other banks that make a lot of mortgages, First Republic kept many of those loans rather than packaging them into mortgage-backed securities and selling them to investors. At the end of December, the bank had nearly $103 billion in home loans on its books, up from $80 billion a year earlier.

But most of those loans were made when the mortgage interest rates were much lower than they are today. That means those loans are worth a lot less, and anybody looking to buy First Republic would be taking on those losses.

It is not clear what First Republic can realistically do to make itself or its assets more attractive to a buyer.

Among the only tangible changes that the bank has committed to is cutting as much as 25 percent of its staff and slashing executive compensation by an unspecified amount. On its earnings call, First Republic’s executives declined to take questions and spoke for just 12 minutes.

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Michigan Students Sue School District Over ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ Ban

Michigan Students Sue School District Over ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ Ban

A mother of two students in Howard City, Mich., filed a lawsuit claiming the public school district violated her sons’ First Amendment rights by asking them to remove sweatshirts with the slogan “Let’s go Brandon” on them.

The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday against the Michigan Tri County Area Schools district, an assistant principal and a teacher, claims that their school censored her sons’ “peaceful, non-disruptive politics” by having them take off the sweatshirts, causing them “to suffer irreparable injury.”

The phrase “Let’s go Brandon,” born of a viral NASCAR race moment in October 2021, is understood to be code for swearing at President Biden, the lawsuit confirms.The slogan conveys the same opposition as saying a four-letter expletive and then “Joe Biden,” just “sanitized to express the sentiment without using profanity or vulgarity,” the suit said.

In February of 2022, the mother’s sixth-grade son wore a “Let’s go Brandon” sweatshirt to Tri County Middle School. The assistant principal at the school stopped him in the hallway and asked him to take it off, according to the lawsuit, telling him the slogan was equivalent to “the F-word.” He took it off because he feared getting in trouble.

The suit said the student wore the sweatshirt again in early 2022 and was asked by a teacher to take it off, adding, “I’ve told you before and won’t tell you again.”

In May, the student’s older brother, an eighth-grader at the same school, was removed from class and asked to remove his “Let’s go Brandon” sweatshirt, according to the suit.

The dispute centers on whether the phrase constitutes as profanity, said Conor Fitzpatrick, a lawyer at the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, the organization representing the family.

The superintendent of Tri County Area Schools did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

In June, the school district said in a letter released by its lawyers: “The District prohibits clothing or styles of expression that are vulgar or profane,” concluding, “‘Let’s Go Brandon’ is transparent code for using profanity against the President.”

After “Let’s Go Brandon” took hold as an inside joke among many Republicans, its use spurred some controversy as it spread to the floor of Congress and across T-shirts.

The dispute is just the latest clash over students’ right to express themselves at school through their clothing — others have involved “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts and “Make America Great Again” hats.

Tri County Middle School is the only public school for middle graders in Howard City, a town of about 2,000 people about 30 miles north of Grand Rapids. The school’s dress code prohibits clothing that is “obscene” or that contains “messages or illustrations that are lewd, indecent, vulgar, or profane.” The suit said that standard has been inappropriately applied to enact a ban against “Let’s go Brandon” clothing.

“Schools can stop kids from dropping F-bombs in class and that’s entirely appropriate,” said Mr. Fitzpatrick, “but these kids didn’t do that.” He said the slogan alludes to a vulgar phrase but that it is not more vulgar than “a radio edit of a song that plays without the swear words.”

In a news release, the foundation said “the incident is part of a pattern of political favoritism by the school district,” citing when a school administrator ordered a student to stop wearing a flag supporting former President Donald Trump as a cape at a field day, while allowing others to wear gay Pride flags in the same manner.

The suit is seeking a court order striking down the school district’s “viewpoint-discriminatory ban on ‘Let’s go Brandon’ apparel” and a declaration from the court that the policy violates the First Amendment, in addition to damages and attorney’s fees, Mr. Fitzpatrick said.

In a statement shared by the foundation, the students’ mother said school administrators saw the sweatshirts as an “opportunity to discriminate against opinions they didn’t like.”

Mr. Fitzpatrick, who called the foundation “proudly nonpartisan” and noted that it had recently defended the rights of college students to host a drag show on campus, said free speech is in danger across the country. “There is a worrying tendency on both sides of the aisle to censor speech that they don’t like rather than just disagreeing with it,” he said.

“Finding creative ways around swearing at school is as old as swearing itself,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said, and when students “do it with respect to political expression, it’s squarely protected by the First Amendment.”

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Oliver Darcy Says Fox News’s Ratings Are ‘Collapsing’

Oliver Darcy Says Fox News’s Ratings Are ‘Collapsing’

CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy cited some stunning data showing a precipitous drop in Fox News’s ratings after the network announced Tucker Carlson’s departure on Monday.

Carlson was the top-rated cable news host, but sources said he was fired after Fox News executives learned he called a senior communications executive at the company a “cunt” in a private message that was redacted in a court filing by Dominion Voting Systems, which sued Fox for defamation. Fox settled last week for $787.5 million.

Fox News’s ratings have faltered this week, which Darcy discussed on Wednesday’s AC360 on CNN’s

“I think it’s also noteworthy, Anderson, that without Carlson in the 8 p.m. hour over at Fox News, the ratings over there are really collapsing,” Darcy said. “Last night, in the key advertiser-supported, coveted 25 to 54 demo, they saw the worst ratings since pre-9/11. That’s a really staggering drop over at Fox News. The hour before it actually rated higher than the 8 p.m. hour, which is something of an anomaly over at Fox – something certainly that never happened when Tucker Carlson was in that hour.”

Nevertheless, Fox still won the 8 p.m. slot and beat out all CNN and MSNBC shows in total viewers on Tuesday.

“And so, I think as we’re watching this, it’s really interesting to see the ramifications it’s having at Fox and also at the smaller right-wing channel, Newsmax, which is seeing its ratings surge,” Darcy continued. And this is of course what led to the initial Dominion debacle, because Fox executives saw this other competitor rising. And that’s when they started to make some of these decisions that led to being sued ultimately by Dominion.”

Watch above via CNN.

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