SRN - US News

Are Americans feeling like they get enough sleep? Dream on, a new Gallup poll says

NEW YORK (AP) — If you’re feeling — YAWN — sleepy or tired while you read this and wish you could get some more shut-eye, you’re not alone. A majority of Americans say they would feel better if they could have more sleep, according to a new poll.

But in the U.S., the ethos of grinding and pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps is ubiquitous, both in the country’s beginnings and our current environment of always-on technology and work hours. And getting enough sleep can seem like a dream.

The Gallup poll, released Monday, found 57% of Americans say they would feel better if they could get more sleep, while only 42% say they are getting as much sleep as they need. That’s a first in Gallup polling since 2001; in 2013, when Americans were last asked, it was just about the reverse — 56% saying they got the needed sleep and 43% saying they didn’t.

Younger women, under the age of 50, were especially likely to report they aren’t getting enough rest.

The poll also asked respondents to report how many hours of sleep they usually get per night: Only 26% said they got eight or more hours, which is around the amount that sleep experts say is recommended for health and mental well-being. Just over half, 53%, reported getting six to seven hours. And 20% said they got five hours or less, a jump from the 14% who reported getting the least amount of sleep in 2013.

(And just to make you feel even more tired, in 1942, the vast majority of Americans were sleeping more. Some 59% said they slept eight or more hours, while 33% said they slept six to seven hours. What even IS that?)

The poll doesn’t get into reasons WHY Americans aren’t getting the sleep they need, and since Gallup last asked the question in 2013, there’s no data breaking down the particular impact of the last four years and the pandemic era.

But what’s notable, says Sarah Fioroni, senior researcher at Gallup, is the shift in the last decade toward more Americans thinking they would benefit from more sleep and particularly the jump in the number of those saying they get five or less hours.

“That five hours or less category … was almost not really heard of in 1942,” Fioroni said. “There’s almost nobody that said they slept five hours or less.”

In modern American life, there also has been “this pervasive belief about how sleep was unnecessary — that it was this period of inactivity where little to nothing was actually happening and that took up time that could have been better used,” said Joseph Dzierzewski, vice president for research and scientific affairs at the National Sleep Foundation.

It’s only relatively recently that the importance of sleep to physical, mental and emotional health has started to percolate more in the general population, he said.

And there’s still a long way to go. For some Americans, like Justine Broughal, 31, a self-employed event planner with two small children, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. So even though she recognizes the importance of sleep, it often comes in below other priorities like her 4-month-old son, who still wakes up throughout the night, or her 3-year-old daughter.

“I really treasure being able to spend time with (my children),” Broughal says. “Part of the benefit of being self-employed is that I get a more flexible schedule, but it’s definitely often at the expense of my own care.”

So why are we awake all the time? One likely reason for Americans’ sleeplessness is cultural — a longstanding emphasis on industriousness and productivity.

Some of the context is much older than the shift documented in the poll. It includes the Protestants from European countries who colonized the country, said Claude Fischer, a professor of sociology at the graduate school of the University of California Berkeley. Their belief system included the idea that working hard and being rewarded with success was evidence of divine favor.

“It has been a core part of American culture for centuries,” he said. “You could make the argument that it … in the secularized form over the centuries becomes just a general principle that the morally correct person is somebody who doesn’t waste their time.”

Jennifer Sherman has seen that in action. In her research in rural American communities over the years, the sociology professor at Washington State University says a common theme among people she interviewed was the importance of having a solid work ethic. That applied not only to paid labor but unpaid labor as well, like making sure the house was clean.

A through line of American cultural mythology is the idea of being “individually responsible for creating our own destinies,” she said. “And that does suggest that if you’re wasting too much of your time … that you are responsible for your own failure.”

“The other side of the coin is a massive amount of disdain for people considered lazy,” she added.

Broughal says she thinks that as parents, her generation is able to let go of some of those expectations. “I prioritize … spending time with my kids, over keeping my house pristine,” she said.

But with two little ones to care for, she said, making peace with a messier house doesn’t mean more time to rest: “We’re spending family time until, you know, (my 3-year-old) goes to bed at eight and then we’re resetting the house, right?”

While the poll only shows a broad shift over the past decade, living through the COVID-19 pandemic may have affected people’s sleep patterns. Also discussed in post-COVID life is “revenge bedtime procrastination,” in which people put off sleeping and instead scroll on social media or binge a show as a way of trying to handle stress.

Liz Meshel is familiar with that. The 30-year-old American is temporarily living in Bulgaria on a research grant, but also works a part-time job on U.S. hours to make ends meet.

On the nights when her work schedule stretches to 10 p.m., Meshel finds herself in a “revenge procrastination” cycle. She wants some time to herself to decompress before going to sleep and ends up sacrificing sleeping hours to make it happen.

“That’s applies to bedtime as well, where I’m like, ’Well, I didn’t have any me time during the day, and it is now 10 p.m., so I am going to feel totally fine and justified watching X number of episodes of TV, spending this much time on Instagram, as my way to decompress,” she said. “Which obviously will always make the problem worse.”


Sanders reported from Washington, D.C.

Brought to you by

A police officer, sheriff’s deputy and suspect killed in a shootout in upstate New York, police say

LIVERPOOL, N.Y. (AP) — A police officer and a sheriff’s deputy in upstate New York were shot and killed Sunday night in an exchange of gunfire with a suspect, who also was killed, police said.

The shooting took place shortly after 8 p.m. in Liverpool, about 6 miles (9.6 kilometers) north of Syracuse.

The Syracuse Police Department and Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office were tracking a vehicle that had eluded police earlier, Syracuse Police Chief Joseph Cecile said during a press conference.

Two Syracuse police officers unsuccessfully attempted to stop a suspicious vehicle but got the license plate and tracked it to an address on Darien Drive in Liverpool. They requested assistance from the sheriff’s office after learning the suspect might be armed, Cecile said.

The officers found the vehicle at the home and saw what appeared to be guns inside the auto. They then “heard what sounded like someone manipulating a firearm from inside the residence,” Cecile said.

At least one suspect exchanged gunfire with the officers. The Syracuse officer, sheriff’s deputy and the suspect were shot and transported to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse.

All three were pronounced dead at the hospital, Cecile said.

“We lost two heroes tonight,” Cecile said.

Onondaga County Sheriff Toby Shelly said police planned to search the house as part of the ongoing investigation.

“This is a dark day for Syracuse,” Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said. “This is our worst nightmare come true.”

Brought to you by

Stock market today: Asian stocks track Wall Street’s decline as Middle East tensions escalate

HONG KONG (AP) — Asia stocks pulled back on Monday as worries about potentially escalating tensions in the Middle East rattled financial markets, pushing investors to look for safer places for their money.

U.S. futures rose and oil prices fell despite tensions roiling the Middle East where an attack late Saturday marked the first time Iran had ever launched a military assault on Israel, despite decades of enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

A barrel of benchmark U.S. oil declined 52 cents to $85.14 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 48 cents to $89.97. Slower demand from China, combined with forecasts that growth in supply is outpacing demand, has kept prices in check.

“While the drone attack has grabbed headlines, its immediate impact on global markets, particularly oil prices and inflation concerns, may be subdued,” Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management, said in a commentary. “The precision and limited lethal impact of Iran’s response suggest a strategic approach aimed at minimizing damage rather than escalating tensions.”

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 slipped 0.7% to 39,232.80.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar rose to 153.81 Japanese yen from 153.07 yen, hitting another 34-year high as investors shifted toward the traditional currency of refuge. The euro cost $1.0663, up from $1.0635.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.4% to 7,754.50. South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.4% to 2,671.19.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 0.6% to 16,619.67, while the Shanghai Composite gained 0.8% to 3,044.49. Elsewhere in Asia, Taiwan’s Taiex was 1.4% lower and the Sensex in India fell 0.7% as the country geared up for lengthy national election process.

The retreat Monday followed a decline Friday on Wall Street following a mixed start to the earnings reporting season.

The S&P 500 sank 1.5% on Friday to 5,123.41, closing out its worst week since October, when a huge rally on Wall Street began. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.2% to 37,983.24, and the Nasdaq composite fell 1.6% from its record set the day before to 16,175.09.

JPMorgan Chase was one of the heaviest weights on the market and sank 6.5% despite reporting stronger profit for the first three months of the year than analysts expected. The nation’s largest bank gave a forecast for a key source of income this year that fell below Wall Street’s estimate, calling for only modest growth.

The pressure is always on companies to produce fatter profits. But it’s particularly acute now given worries that the other main lever that sets stock prices, interest rates, may not offer much lift in the near term.

A stream of reports this year has shown both inflation and the overall economy remain hotter than expected. That’s forced traders to scale back forecasts for how many times the Federal Reserve may cut its main interest rate this year. Traders are largely betting on just two cuts, according to data from CME Group, down from forecasts for at least six at the start of the year.

U.S. stock indexes had already run to records in part on expectations for such cuts. Without easier interest rates, companies will need to produce bigger profits to justify their stock prices, which critics say look too expensive by various measures.

At the same time, Treasury yields in the bond market sank and the price of gold rose, which is typical when investors are herding into investments seen as safer.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 4.55% Monday from 4.58% late Thursday.

Adding to the nervousness was a preliminary report suggesting sentiment among U.S. consumers is sinking. It’s an important update because spending by U.S. consumers is the main engine of the economy.

Perhaps more worrisome was that U.S. consumers may be getting more pessimistic about inflation. Their forecasts for inflation in the coming 12 months hit the highest level since December. Such expectations could ignite a self-fulfilling prophecy, where purchases meant to get ahead of higher prices only inflame inflation.

Brought to you by

Judge set to hear motion to dismiss rapper Travis Scott from lawsuit over deadly Astroworld concert

A judge in Texas is set to hear arguments Monday in rap star Travis Scott’s request to be dismissed from a lawsuit over the deadly 2021 Astroworld festival in Houston.

Scott headlined the concert during which 10 people were killed as authorities and festival organizers responded to a massive crowd surge and tried to shut down the show.

Last week, the judge dismissed lawsuits against hip-hop guest performer Drake along with several other individuals and companies involved in the show.

Attorneys for Scott, whose real name is Jacques Bermon Webster II and is also known as “Cactus Jack,” write in the motion to dismiss that he is a performer and had no role in providing security or crowd management for the festival.

“Performers are not expected to render special protection to the audience, nor to safeguard them from the rest of the crowd,” the motion said. “Performing artists, even those who engage in certain promotional activities, have no inherent expertise or specialized knowledge in concert safety measures.”

The motion said Scott followed instructions and ended the show after a performance by Drake by performing one final song because it was feared that an abrupt ending could have led to riots, panic and chaos in the crowd.

“Thus, due care also required taking the time to end the show properly, so that the crowd would feel satisfied and leave peacefully,” according to the document.

After an investigation by Houston police, no charges were filed against Scott and a grand jury declined to indict him and five other people on any criminal counts related to the deadly concert.

Those killed, who ranged in age from 9 to 27, died from compression asphyxia, which an expert likened to being crushed by a car.

The first trial from the lawsuits is scheduled for May 6.

Some of the lawsuits filed by the families of the 10 who died and hundreds who were injured have been settled, including those filed by the families of four of the dead.

Brought to you by

Gun supervisor for ‘Rust’ movie to be sentenced for fatal shooting by Alec Baldwin on set

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A movie weapons supervisor is facing up to 18 months in prison for the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin on the set of the Western film “Rust,” with her sentencing scheduled for Monday in a New Mexico state court.

Movie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was convicted in March by a jury on a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and has been held for more than a month at a county jail on the outskirts of Santa Fe.

Baldwin, the lead actor and co-producer for “Rust,” was pointing a gun at Hutchins when the revolver went off, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Baldwin has pleaded not guilty to an involuntary manslaughter charge and says he pulled back the gun’s hammer, but not the trigger, before the gun went off. His trial is scheduled for July before the same judge, Mary Marlowe Sommer, who oversaw the trail of Gutierrez-Reed.

Gutierrez-Reed could also receive a $5,000 fine.

Prosecutors blamed Gutierrez-Reed for unwittingly bringing live ammunition onto the set of “Rust” where it was expressly prohibited and for failing to follow basic gun safety protocols. After a two-week trial, the jury deliberated for about three hours in reaching its verdict.

Defense attorneys for Gutierrez-Reed requested leniency in sentencing — including a possible conditional discharge that would avoid further jail time and leave an adjudication of guilt off her record if certain conditions are met.

Gutierrez-Reed was acquitted at trial of allegations she tampered with evidence in the “Rust” investigation. She also has pleaded not guilty to a separate felony charge that she allegedly carried a gun into a bar in Santa Fe where firearms are prohibited.

Defense attorneys have highlighted Gutierrez-Reed’s relatively young age “and the devastating effect a felony will have on her life going forward.”

They say the 26-year-old will forever be affected negatively by intense publicity associated with her prosecution in parallel with an A-list actor, and has suffered from anxiety, fear and depression as a result.

Special prosecutor Kari Morrissey urged the judge to impose the maximum prison sentence and designate Gutierrez-Reed as a “serious violent offender” to limit her eligibility for a sentence reduction later, describing the defendant’s behavior on the set of “Rust” as exceptionally reckless. She said Gutierrez-Reed has shown a lack of remorse, citing comments by Gutierrez-Reed in phone calls from jail that are monitored by authorities.

“Rust” assistant director and safety coordinator Dave Halls last year pleaded no contest to negligent handling of a firearm and completed a sentence of six months unsupervised probation. “Rust” props master Sarah Zachry, who shared some responsibilities over firearms on the set of “Rust,” signed an agreement with prosecutors to avoid prosecution in return with her cooperation.

Written testimonials in favor of leniency included letters from Gutierrez-Reed’s childhood friend and romantic partner Sean Kridelbaugh, who said Gutierrez-Reed cries constantly out of remorse in the shooting and that further incarceration would interfere with efforts to care for a relative with cancer. Other friends and former colleagues urged the judge to emphasize rehabilitation over punishment in the sentencing.

The pending firearms charge against Gutierrez-Reed stems from an incident at a bar in downtown Santa Fe, days before she was hired to work as the armorer on “Rust.” Prosecutors says investigations into the fatal shooting led to discovery of a selfie video in which Gutierrez-Reed filmed herself carrying a firearm into the bar, while defense attorneys allege vindictive prosecution.

Brought to you by

Biden to host Iraqi leader as Mideast tensions soar, raising more questions about US troop presence

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is set to host Iraq’s leader this week for talks that come as tensions across the Middle East have soared over the war in Gaza and Iran’s unprecedented weekend attack on Israel in retaliation for an Israeli military strike against an Iranian facility in Syria.

The sharp rise in security fears has raised further questions about the viability of the two-decade American military presence in Iraq, through which portions of Iran’s Saturday drone and missile attack on Israel flew or were launched from. A U.S. Patriot battery in Irbil, Iraq, knocked down at least one Iranian ballistic missile, according to American officials.

In addition, Iranian proxies have initiated attacks against U.S. interests throughout the region from inside Iraq, making Monday’s meeting between Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Shia al-Sudani all the more critical. The talks will include a discussion of regional stability and future U.S. troop deployments but will also focus on economic, trade and energy issues that have become a major priority for Iraq’s government, according to U.S. officials.

Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are both expected to address the U.S. troop presence in meetings with al-Sudani. “It is not the primary focus of the visit … but it is almost certainly going to come up,” one senior U.S. official said last week.

The U.S. and Iraq began formal talks in January about ending the coalition created to help the Iraqi government fight the Islamic State, with some 2,000 U.S. troops remaining in the country under an agreement with Baghdad. Iraqi officials have periodically called for a withdrawal of those forces.

The two countries have a delicate relationship due in part to Iran’s considerable sway in Iraq, where a coalition of Iran-backed groups brought al-Sudani to power in October 2022.

The U.S. in recent months has urged Iraq to do more to prevent attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria that have further roiled the Middle East in the aftermath of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Iran’s weekend attacks on Israel through Iraqi airspace have further underscored U.S. concerns, although al-Sudani had already left Baghdad and was en route to Washington when the drones and missiles were launched.

The U.S. has also sought to apply financial pressure over Baghdad’s relationship with Tehran, restricting Iraq’s access to its own dollars in an effort to stamp out money laundering said to benefit Iran and Syria.

Most previous Iraqi prime ministers have visited Washington earlier in their tenure. Al-Sudani’s visit was delayed because of tensions between the U.S. and Iran and regional escalation, including the Gaza war and the killing of three U.S. soldiers in Jordan in a drone attack in late January. That was followed by a U.S. strike that killed a leader in the Kataib Hezbollah militia whom Washington accused of planning and participating in attacks on U.S. troops.

Al-Sudani came to power in late 2022 after a power struggle between prominent Shiite cleric and political leader Muqtada Sadr and opposing Shiite factions that are close to Iran after the 2021 elections. Sadr ultimately withdrew from the political process, giving the opportunity to the remaining Shia politicians to form a government headed by al-Sudani.

Since then, al-Sudani has attempted to maintain a balancing act between Iran and America despite being seen as being close to Tehran and despite several incidents that have put his government in an embarrassing position in relation to Washington.

Early in al-Sudani’s term, a U.S. citizen, Stephen Edward Troell, was shot and killed by armed men who accosted him as he pulled up to the street where he lived in Baghdad’s central Karrada district with his family. An Iraqi criminal court convicted five men last August and sentenced them to life in prison in the case, which officials described as a kidnapping gone wrong.

A few months later, Elizabeth Tsurkov, an Israeli-Russian doctoral student at Princeton, was kidnapped while doing research in Iraq. Al-Sudani’s visit will come about a year after Tsurkov’s abduction. She is believed to be held by Kataib Hezbollah.

The senior U.S. official said Tsurkov’s case would also be raised.

“We are concerned by and closely tracking this case,” the official said. “We have strongly condemned her abduction. We’ve urged … and continue to urge senior Iraqi officials to find Elizabeth and to secure her release as soon as possible.”

Al-Sudani started his term with promises to focus on economic development and fight corruption, but his government has faced economic difficulties, including a discrepancy in the official and market exchange rates between the Iraqi dinar and the U.S. dollar.

The currency issues came in part as a result of a U.S. tightening of the dollar supply to Iraq, as part of a crackdown on money laundering and smuggling of funds to Iran. The U.S. has disallowed more than 20 Iraqi banks from dealing in dollars as part of the campaign.

The al-Sudani government recently renewed Iraq’s contract to purchase natural gas from Iran for another five years, which could lead to American displeasure.

The Iraqi prime minister will return to Iraq and meet with the Turkish president following his trip to Washington, which could finally lead to a solution to a long-running dispute over exports of oil from Kurdish areas of Iraq to Turkey. Washington has sought to get the flow of oil to resume.


Abdul-Zahra reported from Baghdad. Eric Tucker in Washington contributed.

Brought to you by

The Civil War raged and fortune-seekers hunted for gold. This era produced Arizona’s abortion ban

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Union and Confederate armies clashed in a bloody fourth year of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln tasked one man to create the legal code for Arizona, almost 50 years before the territory became a state.

New York judge William Thompson Howell wrote 500 pages that spanned provisions on dueling, accidental homicides by ax and age of consent that would govern the newly formed territory of fewer than 7,000 people. But tucked within the “Howell Code,” just after the section on duels, was an abortion law criminalizing the administering of “any medicinal substances … with the intention to procure the miscarriage of any woman then being with child.”

That was 160 years ago. Last week, that same 1864 provision was resurrected by the Arizona Supreme Court, which upheld the near-total ban on abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest, a decision that quickly rippled across the political landscape of one of the nation’s most important presidential battleground states.

This law’s revival is just the latest instance of long-dormant restrictions influencing current abortion policies after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which once granted a federal right to abortion.

“This is just one more example of a century-old zombie law coming back to life,” said Jessica Arons, senior policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. “This is what the U.S. Supreme Court set the stage for when Roe fell.”

In the 1860’s, Arizonan settlers faced what was widely seen at the time as a remote and dangerous landscape. Settlers clashed with Apache tribes as they encroached on the region. And miners had just begun to discover the gold and silver that would attract droves of fortune seekers in the next decades.

Arizona’s 1864 code elaborately describes restrictions on duels, ruling any person involved in the fighting of a duel would be imprisoned for one to three years and meting out punishments for “mayhem” for those who “unlawfully cut out or disable the tongue, put out an eye, slit the nose, ear or lip, or disable any limb or member of another.”

Howell’s code includes exceptions for homicides, such as when “a man is at work with an axe, and the head flies off and kills a bystander or where a parent is moderately correcting his child … and happens to occasion death.” The code also appears to set the age of consent at 10 years old, proclaiming, “Every person of the age fourteen years and upwards, who shall have carnal knowledge of any female child under the age of ten years, either with or without her consent, shall be adjudged guilty of the crime of rape.”

Meanwhile, William Claude Jones, who presided over the 1st Arizona Territorial Legislative Assembly in 1864, was described by a biographer as a “pursuer of nubile females” and had throughout his life married a 12-year-old, a 15-year-old and a 14-year-old, according to a 1990 biography in the Journal of Arizona History.

“That’s the period of time that this abortion law is from,” said Prof. Barbara Atwood, law professor at University of Arizona’s law school. “The code reads as if you’re going back to this time of this barbaric, wild west.”

The state’s Civil War-era law is now likely to become one of the strictest abortion bans nationwide, a dynamic that already is shaping the races for president and U.S. Senate. Attorney General Kris Mayes decried the decision and noted that it came from era decades before women even had the right to vote.

She said the court’s ruling “will go down in history as a stain on our state.”

Similar words came from the White House as President Joe Biden said called it a “cruel ban” resurrected from history.

Some Arizona Republicans also criticized the ruling, though in more muted language. Republican state Sen. T.J. Shope called it “disappointing.”

While many states repealed their pre-Roe abortion laws after the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that granted a constitutional right to abortion, about a dozen states, including Arizona, kept theirs on the books. These laws often were referred to as “trigger laws” because the overturning of Roe would put them into effect.

Several legal experts said Arizona’s law is likely the oldest state abortion ban that will now be enforced. But century-old abortion restrictions passed by all-male legislatures during time periods when women couldn’t vote and scientific knowledge of pregnancy and abortion were limited have influenced post-Roe abortion policies in Alabama, Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The laws tend to be more severe. They often don’t include exceptions for rape and incest, call for the imprisonment of providers and ban the procedure in the first few weeks of pregnancy. Some have since been repealed while others are being challenged in court.

“These century-old laws are really having a tangible impact on women’s lives today,” said Jessie Hill, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland. “And they’ve really contributed to the post-Dobbs uncertainty across America.” The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned Roe.

In Michigan, a 1931 law would have criminalized abortion except when a woman’s life was in danger. But Michigan voters in 2022 overwhelmingly voted to enshrine abortion rights into the state’s constitution and earlier that year a judge ruled the 93-year-old law was unconstitutional. The law was formally repealed by a 2023 statute.

“New Mexico and Michigan realized the threat of these zombie laws and took action,” said Arons of the ACLU. “In Michigan, it was a major driver for pursuing a constitutional amendment enshrining abortion rights.”

An 1849 abortion ban is now at the center of a lawsuit in Wisconsin that is expected to make its way to the state supreme court, which has a new liberal majority. In other states, such as Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas, newer abortion laws have been layered onto older restrictions still on the books.

Abortion rights advocates also are warning about another 19th century law called the Comstock Act that could have national impacts. It’s been revived by anti-abortion groups seeking to use it to block the mailing of the abortion pill mifepristone nationwide. Medication abortions account for most abortions in the U.S.

Originally passed in 1873, the Comstock Act was intended to prohibit the mailing of contraceptives, “lewd” writings and any “instrument, substance, drug, medicine, or thing” that could be used in an abortion, though its scope has been narrowed by federal courts and Congress.

Mary Ruth Ziegler, a law professor at the University of California, Davis School of Law, said anti-abortion groups are pressuring presidential candidates to wield the law to block most abortions nationwide, even in states where it is currently legal, by barring the mailing of any drugs or equipment required for abortions.

“The Comstock Act means what happened in Arizona is possible for all of us across the country,” Ziegler said.

There also are long-dormant laws in many states related to contraception and same-sex marriage that have not been revived, she added.

“This is just a reminder that laws on the books that may seem irrelevant and antiquated can come back and be enforced,” she said.


The Associated Press receives support from several private foundations to enhance its explanatory coverage of elections and democracy. See more about AP’s democracy initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Brought to you by

Tax Day reveals a major split in how Joe Biden and Donald Trump would govern

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tax Day reveals a major split in how Joe Biden and Donald Trump would govern: The presidential candidates have conflicting ideas about how much to reveal about their own finances and the best ways to boost the economy through tax policy.

Biden, the sitting Democratic president, plans to release his income tax returns on Monday, the IRS filing deadline. And on Tuesday, he is scheduled to deliver a speech in Scranton, Pennsylvania, about why the wealthy should pay more in taxes to reduce the federal deficit and help fund programs for the poor and middle class.

Biden is proud to say that he was largely without money for much of his decades-long career in public service, unlike Trump, who inherited hundreds of millions of dollars from his father and used his billionaire status to launch a TV show and later a presidential campaign.

“For 36 years, I was listed as the poorest man in Congress,” Biden told donors in California in February. “Not a joke.”

In 2015, Trump declared as part of his candidacy, “I’m really rich.”

The Republican former president has argued that voters have no need to see his tax data and that past financial disclosures are more than sufficient. He maintains that keeping taxes low for the wealthy will supercharge investment and lead to more jobs, while tax hikes would crush an economy still recovering from inflation that hit a four-decade peak in 2022.

“Biden wants to give the IRS even more cash by proposing the largest tax hike on the American people in history when they are already being robbed by his record-high inflation crisis,” said Karoline Leavitt, press secretary for the Trump campaign.

The split goes beyond an ideological difference to a very real challenge for whoever triumphs in the November election. At the end of 2025, many of the tax cuts that Trump signed into law in 2017 will expire — setting up an avalanche of choices about how much people across the income spectrum should pay as the national debt is expected to climb to unprecedented levels.

Including interest costs, extending all the tax breaks could add another $3.8 trillion to the national debt through 2033, according to an analysis last year by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Biden would like to keep the majority of the tax breaks, based on his pledge that no one earning less than $400,000 will have to pay more. But he released a budget proposal this year with tax increases on the wealthy and corporations that would raise $4.9 trillion in revenues and trim forecasted deficits by $3.2 trillion over 10 years.

Still, he’s telling voters that he’s all for letting the Trump-era tax cuts lapse.

“Does anyone here think the tax code is fair? Raise your hand,” Biden said Tuesday at a speech in Washington’s Union Station to a crowd predisposed to dislike Trump’s broad tax cuts that helped many in the middle class but disproportionately favored wealthier households.

“It added more to the national debt than any presidential term in history,” Biden continued. “And it’s due to expire next year. And guess what? I hope to be president because it expires — it’s going to stay expired.”

Trump has called for higher tariffs on foreign-made goods, which are taxes that could hit consumers in the form of higher prices. But his campaign is committed to tax cuts while promising that a Trump presidency would reduce a national debt that has risen for decades, including during his Oval Office tenure.

“When President Trump is back in the White House, he will advocate for more tax cuts for all Americans and reinvigorate America’s energy industry to bring down inflation, lower the cost of living, and pay down our debt,” Leavitt said.

Most economists say Trump’s tax cuts could not generate enough growth to pay down the national debt. An analysis released Friday by Oxford Economics found that a “full-blown Trump” policy with tax cuts, higher tariffs and blocking immigration would slow growth and increase inflation.

Among Biden’s proposals is a “billionaire minimum income tax” that would apply a minimum rate of 25% on households with a net worth of at least $100 million.

The tax would directly target billionaires such as Trump, who refused to release his personal taxes as presidents have traditionally done. But six years of his tax returns were released in 2022 by Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee.

In 2018, Trump earned more than $24 million and paid about 4% of that in federal income taxes. The congressional panel also found that the IRS delayed legally mandated audits of Trump during his presidency, with the panel concluding the audit process was ” dormant, at best.”

Biden has publicly released more than two decades of his tax returns. In 2022, he and his wife, Jill, made $579,514 and paid nearly 24% of that in federal income taxes, more than double the rate paid by Trump.

Trump has maintained that his tax records are complicated because of his use of various tax credits and past business losses, which in some cases have allowed him to avoid taxes. He also previously declined to release his tax returns under the claim that the IRS was auditing him for pre-presidential filings.

His finances recently received a boost from the stock market debut of Trump Media, which controls Trump’s preferred social media outlet, Truth Social. Share prices initially surged, adding billions of dollars to Trump’s net worth, but investors have since soured on the company and shares by Friday were down more than 50% from their peak.

The former president is also on the hook for $542 million due to legal judgments in a civil fraud case and penalties owed to the writer E. Jean Carroll because of statements made by Trump that damaged her reputation after she accused him of sexual assault.

In the civil fraud case, New York Judge Arthur Engoron looked at the financial records of the Trump Organization and concluded after looking at the inflated assets that “the frauds found here leap off the page and shock the conscience.”


Colvin reported from Palm Beach, Florida.

Brought to you by

Trump’s history-making hush money trial starts Monday with jury selection

NEW YORK (AP) — In a singular moment for American history, the hush money trial of former President Donald Trump begins Monday with jury selection.

It’s the first criminal trial of a former commander in chief and the first of Trump’s four indictments to go to trial. Because Trump is the presumptive nominee for this year’s Republican ticket, the trial will also produce the head-spinning split-screen of a presidential candidate spending his days in court and, he has said, “campaigning during the night.”

And to some extent, it is a trial of the justice system itself as it grapples with a defendant who has used his enormous prominence to assail the judge, his daughter, the district attorney, some witnesses and the allegations — all while blasting the legitimacy of a legal structure that he insists has been appropriated by his political opponents.

Against that backdrop, scores of ordinary citizens are due to be called Monday into a cavernous room in a utilitarian courthouse to determine whether they can serve, fairly and impartially, on the jury.

“The ultimate issue is whether the prospective jurors can assure us that they will set aside any personal feelings or biases and render a decision that is based on the evidence and the law,” Judge Juan M. Merchan wrote in an April 8 filing.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records as part of an alleged effort to keep salacious — and, he says, bogus — stories about his sex life from emerging during his 2016 campaign.

The charges center on $130,000 in payments that Trump’s company made to his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen. He paid that sum on Trump’s behalf to keep porn actor Stormy Daniels from going public, a month before the election, with her claims of a sexual encounter with the married mogul a decade earlier.

Prosecutors say the payments to Cohen were falsely logged as legal fees in order to cloak their actual purpose. Trump’s lawyers say the disbursements indeed were legal expenses, not a cover-up.

Trump himself casts the case, and his other indictments elsewhere, as a broad “weaponization of law enforcement” by Democratic prosecutors and officials. He maintains they are orchestrating sham charges in hopes of impeding his presidential run.

After decades of fielding and initiating lawsuits, the businessman-turned-politician now faces a trial that could result in up to four years in prison if he’s convicted, though a no-jail sentence also would be possible.

Regardless of the eventual outcome, the trial of an ex-president and current candidate is a moment of extraordinary gravity for the American political system, as well as for Trump himself. Such a scenario would have once seemed unthinkable to many Americans, even for a president whose tenure left a trail of shattered norms, including twice being impeached and acquitted by the Senate.

The scene inside the courtroom may be greeted with a spectacle outside. When Trump was arraigned last year, police broke up small skirmishes between his supporters and protesters near the courthouse in a tiny park, where a local Republican group has planned a pro-Trump rally Monday.

Trump’s attorneys lost a bid to get the hush money case dismissed and have since repeatedly sought to delay it, prompting a flurry of last-minute appeals court hearings last week.

Among other things, Trump’s lawyers maintain that the jury pool in overwhelmingly Democratic Manhattan has been tainted by negative publicity about Trump and that the case should be moved elsewhere.

An appeals judge turned down an emergency request to delay the trial while the change-of-venue request goes to a group of appellate judges, who are set to consider it in the coming weeks.

Manhattan prosecutors have countered that a lot of the publicity stems from Trump’s own comments and that questioning will tease out whether prospective jurors can put aside any preconceptions they may have. There’s no reason, prosecutors said, to think that 12 fair and impartial people can’t be found amid Manhattan’s roughly 1.4 million adult residents.

The process of choosing those 12, plus six alternates, will begin with scores of people filing into Merchan’s courtroom. They will be known only by number, as he has ordered their names to be kept secret from everyone except prosecutors, Trump and their legal teams.

After hearing some basics about the case and jury service, the prospective jurors will be asked to raise hands if they believe they cannot serve or be fair and impartial. Those who do so will be excused, according to Merchan’s filing last week.

The rest will be eligible for questioning. The 42 preapproved, sometimes multi-pronged queries include background basics but also reflect the uniqueness of the case.

“Do you have any strong opinions or firmly held beliefs about former President Donald Trump, or the fact that he is a current candidate for president, that would interfere with your ability to be a fair and impartial juror?” asks one question.

Others ask about attendance at Trump or anti-Trump rallies, opinions on how he’s being treated in the case, news sources and more — including any “political, moral, intellectual, or religious beliefs or opinions” that might “slant” a prospective juror’s approach to the case.

Based on the answers, the attorneys can ask a judge to eliminate people “for cause” if they meet certain criteria for being unable to serve or be unbiased. The lawyers also can use “peremptory challenges” to nix 10 potential jurors and two prospective alternates without giving a reason.

“If you’re going to strike everybody who’s either a Republican or a Democrat,” the judge observed at a February hearing, “you’re going to run out of peremptory challenges very quickly.”

Brought to you by

Palestinian Americans fundraise for Gaza, as aid groups receive record donations

(This Oct. 31 story has been corrected to fix casualty estimates, in paragraph 6)

By Aurora Ellis

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Palestinian Americans and aid groups in the United States are raising funds for Gaza, which faces a deepening humanitarian crisis as the Israel-Hamas war enters its fourth week – but they have as yet limited ability to get supplies into the besieged enclave.

Aid organizations that serve civilians in Gaza say they are receiving record amounts of donations in a sign of public support for relief efforts even as a growing stock of supplies remain stalled at Egypt’s Rafah border crossing.

In the Gaza Strip, where 2.3 million people live, civilians are in dire need of clean water, food and medicine, emergency medics say. Half of Gaza’s population was already living in poverty before the crisis.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in donations, unlike we’ve ever seen before,” said Steve Sosebee, president of the U.S.-based Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, which has a staff of 40 in Gaza that provide medical support. He said the fund, which usually has an annual budget of around $12 million, had raised $15 million in just 10 days.

However, with a web of political and logistical obstacles on getting aid in, much of the money and supplies intended for Gaza is in limbo, forcing aid groups to wait as they amass truckloads of goods.

Hamas militants burst over the Gaza border and rampaged through Israeli towns on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 229 hostages, according to Israeli authorities. In response, Israel launched its most intense air bombardment campaign on the tiny enclave, along with a “total siege,” banning food, water and fuel imports.

Aid groups say they are building up supplies in hopes of eventually getting them through to civilians in Gaza, nearly half of whom are children.

There has been “a five-fold increase in the total number of donors versus typical past emergencies,” said Derek Madsen, chief development officer of Anera, a nonpartisan emergency relief group for refugees throughout the Middle East. The organization, which maintains the privacy of individual donors, said it had recently received the largest single donation from an individual in its 55-year-old history.

The majority of support comes from donors based in the United States, he added, with individual donations averaging around $138. The efforts mirror those of Jewish groups in the U.S. and Canada who also fundraised millions for Israel.

Anera was using the last of its stocks this week to distribute meals and vegetable parcels in Gaza. Its staff of 12, like everyone in Gaza, were facing “unbelievable, unimaginable trauma,” he said.


In Ann Arbor, Michigan, Rabia Shafie, national director of the Palestine Aid Society, said her group was speaking to student and Muslim groups on local university campuses and community centers to spread awareness and raise donations for the Red Crescent and UNRWA, the UN aid agency that serves Palestinian refugees.

“The money is needed to help people survive at this point of time. Medical support is so essential,” she said.

“People are glued to the television … watching the news moment to moment and very stressed out over the situation,” said Shafie, adding that it was difficult as a Palestinian American to watch “the massacre and injustice done to our people back home.”

Gaza, governed by Hamas, is one of the most densely packed places on earth and medical authorities there say over 8,000 Palestinians have been killed since airstrikes began, including more than 3,000 children.

Anera’s Madsen called for a ceasefire and establishment of a humanitarian corridor “so that people literally do not starve to death, literally do not die of dehydration.”

Last week, in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, home to one of New York’s largest Muslim and Arab communities, hundreds of protesters called for a ceasefire with signs written in Arabic, Spanish, Hebrew and Korean.

In Clifton, New Jersey, the Palestinian American Community Center’s priority is advocating for U.S. officials to support a ceasefire and for the hundreds of Americans trapped in Gaza, said Basma Bsharat, the education director of the center.

The center has also been collecting cash donations to send on to UNRWA. It has asked people not to donate supplies, which it has no easy way of sending to those in need in Gaza.

Last week, a woman came to the center anyway, hauling bags filled with goods.

“We didn’t know how to say no,” said Bsharat. “She was like, I just want to do something. I just want to help somehow.”

“It’s a very difficult time, and the fact that we do see the support coming in it, it gives some relief,” she said. “It gives some kind of solace.”

(Reporting by Aurora Ellis; editing by Diane Craft and Rosalba O’Brien)

Brought to you by

Townhall Top of the Hour News

Local Weather - Sponsored By:


Local News

DeWittDN on Facebook