Librarians say they face threats, lawsuits, jail fears over ongoing book battles

Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

(BOISE, Id. ) — Librarians across the country say they’ve become targets in the ongoing battles over books – but the attacks have escalated beyond just calls to remove materials from library shelves.

Several librarians told ABC News they’re facing threats of physical violence, lawsuits and criminal charges for having what some say is “inappropriate” content in libraries and schools where children can access the materials.

“We had people threatening to burn down our building,” said Maegan Hanson, a library director in a small Idaho town.

Hanson’s library had a book on display called “Gender Queer,” a graphic novel by Maia Kobabe. It’s one of the most targeted books in the country because of its LGBTQ content and depictions of sex.

When parts of the book were posted to Facebook, Hanson said the library began receiving online threats. She said fear began to set in among the small crew who work at the library – some of whom are teens and young adults.

“We are in this service because we love the communities that we are a part of and the misinformation and the misrepresentation about what we do hasn’t stopped us from doing our jobs – it just makes it harder,” Hanson said.

The Idaho Library Association, which Hanson is a part of, is concerned that tensions and threats will only get worse now that Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed library content restrictions into law on Wednesday.

House Bill 710 bars schools or public libraries from making materials available to children that are “harmful to minors,” “depict nudity, sexual conduct, or sado-masochistic abuse,” or include “detailed verbal descriptions or narrative accounts of sexual excitement, sexual conduct, or sado-masochistic abuse.”

The law states these books would need to be moved to an “adults only section,” and allows anyone to sue if schools and libraries don’t restrict access to books that are believed to be harmful to children.

“For children, libraries open doors to reading and intellectual exploration, helping them become lifelong learners. It’s no wonder the vast majority of Idahoans say they value libraries and trust librarians,” said Little in his letter after signing the law.

“I share the cosponsors’ desire to keep truly inappropriate library materials out of the hands of minors,” said Little, adding that he also has concerns about the content on minors’ cellphones.

Little vetoed previous efforts to restrict library content, saying past legislation would have forced libraries to shutter their doors by forcing them to pay $2,500 for damages if they made “obscene” materials accessible.

HB710 will make libraries pay $250, on top of other incurred fees or damages, if they violate the law. Little said he was moved to sign HB710 because it also allowed librarians to avoid legal action and fees if they addressed concerns about materials in a certain time frame.

In Little’s letter, he states that literacy is still a top priority for him: “Libraries play such a crucial role in helping our youngsters to read early on.”

For the small libraries of Idaho, directors say hundreds of dollars in lawsuits over books could come at the expense of some library resources and education programming – including early literacy programs, technology support, access to case workers and more.

Hanson’s library had a total operating income of $279,452 in 2021 for the year’s staffing and programming, according to the Idaho Commission for Libraries.

“We have a high poverty population in Idaho and various rural communities, so for these people who are lacking in resources, this content is important,” Hanson said.

Supporters of HB710 argue it’s just a book relocation policy and should not impact libraries that don’t have “inappropriate” content or properly move content out of sections for people under 18.

But some librarians fear that a plethora of material could fall victim to this definition of obscene content, including classical pieces of literature and other popular books, and lead to censorship.

“There’s absolutely going to be the chilling effect of people being so afraid of ordering or having any sort of book that could possibly offend somebody,” said Huda Shaltry, a library director in Boise, Idaho.

“A well-curated public library has something in it to offend everyone,” she said, explaining that having a diverse collection with a wide range of perspectives and subjects available to all is vital to a public library system that serves all.

“[Book restrictions are] very directed to the LGBTQIA+ community but, ultimately, you can make the argument that the Bible’s offensive. There goes the Bible,” Hanson said. “‘50 Shades of Grey,’ OK, it’s offensive. ‘Game of Thrones,’ it’s offensive. Where exactly does it stop? ‘Harry Potter,’ it’s offensive because it teaches witchcraft – It really impedes on people’s First Amendment rights.”

Several renowned, award-winning books have been added to banned books lists for being “offensive,” including “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood and more, according to the American Library Association.

What some might find offensive, Shaltry and Hanson argue, could be helpful to someone else – be it about representation, sexuality, experience with abuse, or other topics, they say.

Shaltry, who says “being a librarian is a calling and not a career” for her, said critics have made hurtful claims and accusations about librarians for displaying content that may contain sex education or sexual content.

“I’m trying not to cry,” said Shaltry in an interview. “The words of being a pedophile and a groomer or stuff – I never thought that I would ever hear any of this stuff.”

Idaho librarians aren’t alone in their challenges – local reports show that libraries nationwide have received bomb threats, others say they’ve been fired for not removing certain books from shelves, and others have been defunded because of content and programming.

​​West Virginia libraries are also facing growing challenges.

If the state’s House Bill 4654 becomes law, employees could be charged with a felony, fined up to $25,000, and sentenced to up to five years in a correctional facility if found guilty of allowing a minor to access material that could be what the state considers to be “obscene.”

“What this bill does do is stop obscene and pornographic material, sexually explicit materials from being available to children in public taxpayer-funded spaces,” said State Delegate Elliott Pritt, a Republican, in a February hearing, according to The Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

The president of the American Library Association has denounced such legislative efforts, calling it “organized censorship.”

“Falsely claiming that these works are subversive, immoral, or worse, these groups induce elected and non-elected officials to abandon constitutional principles, ignore the rule of law, and disregard individual rights to promote government censorship of library collections,” ALA said in a statement objecting to such restrictions.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

DNC uses political donations to pay Biden’s legal fees from special counsel Robert Hur’s investigation

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — The Democratic National Committee has been paying President Joe Biden’s legal fees incurred in connection with special counsel Robert Hur’s investigation into his handling of classified documents, according to sources and disclosures of expenditures filed by the party committee.

Since last year, the party committee has paid the law firm of Bob Bauer, the lead attorney representing Biden in Hur’s investigation more than $1 million — roughly $150,000 a month — from July 2023 through February 2024, the party committee’s most recent disclosures show.

Axios was the first to report on the DNC’s legal spending on behalf of Biden.

The DNC since last year has also paid roughly $905,000 to Hemenway & Barnes LLP, the law firm of Jennifer Miller, who is named as one of the attorneys that had represented Biden in the special counsel probe, disclosure filings show.

Hemenway & Barnes LLP has long represented the DNC, well before Hur’s investigation began, so it’s unclear how much of the payment, if any, to the firm was for Biden’s legal fees. Since July last year, the same time the DNC began paying Bob Bauer PLLC, the party has increased its monthly payment to Hemenway & Barnes LLP from roughly $15,000 to $100,000.

Throughout last year, Bob Bauer PLLC and Hemenway & Barnes LLP were among the top law firms paid by the DNC, followed by Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP and Perkins Coie, which have both represented the DNC in other matters for a long time.

The DNC said that the money they’ve paid for Biden’s legal purposes isn’t coming from their grassroots donors.

“There is no comparison — the DNC does not spend a single penny of grassroots donors’ money on legal bills, unlike Donald Trump, who actively solicits legal fees from his supporters and has drawn down every bank account he can get his hands on like a personal piggy bank,” DNC spokesperson Alex Floyd said in a statement to ABC News.

The Democratic Party providing financial support for Biden’s legal challenges comes amid their intense criticism of the Republican Party’s fundraising for and paying of former President Donald Trump’s mounting stack of legal bills over the years.

Just last week, the Biden campaign’s finance chair Rufus Gifford said on MSNBC that “every single dime that you give to the Biden-Harris reelection campaign, we spend talking to voters.”

“We are not spending money on legal bills,” Gifford said. “We are not hawking gold sneakers, or any of that stuff. The money that we are raising, we are going straight to voters.”

Ahead of a big-dollar Biden fundraiser with former Democratic Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton last month, Biden campaign spokesperson Kevin Munoz highlighted the support of their grassroots donors and contrasted it with Republicans’ fundraising lulls and need to pay for Trump’s legal bills.

“When you look at the money that we are raising, which is overwhelmingly from grassroots donors… this is money going to voters, this is money going to voters in the battleground states. And when you look at what Trump is doing, that money, we don’t know where it’s going. It might be going to legal fees,” Munoz said.

Trump’s campaign accused the Democrats on Friday of being hypocritical in their critique of RNC contributions.

“Joe Biden and the Democrats entire campaign against President Trump is based upon lies and hypocrisy — they have repeatedly stated they don’t spend money on Biden’s legal bills while they attack President Trump for having to defend himself from Biden’s witch hunts,” Trump campaign’s national press secretary Karoline Leavitt said in a statement provided to ABC News. “Come to find out, the DNC paid millions to cover Biden’s legal bills.”

Trump has faced multiple investigations and legal battles throughout his presidency and after he left the White House, which has cost both his political operation and the Republican Party tens of millions of dollars more in legal bills.

Since Trump left the White House, his various fundraising committees and PACs, including his leadership PAC Save America, spent nearly $100 million in legal bills, including more than $50 million in just 2023 – with much of it going to legal bills related to Trump’s various court battles as he faces 88 criminal charges and multiple civil and criminal trials, disclosure reports show. Trump has denied wrongdoing in all of those cases.

Separately, during Trump’s presidency, the RNC has covered hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills on behalf of Donald Trump Jr. and other close allies of the former president amid investigations into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election as well as Trump’s impeachment proceedings; and between 2021 and 2022, the RNC spent nearly $2 million in bills for Trump related to investigations in New York, according to disclosure reports.

The RNC stopped paying Trump’s legal bills after he announced his 2024 candidacy in late 2022 saying the move was intended to ensure impartiality as the GOP presidential primary played out – with much of the legal coverage moving over to Save America, disclosure reports show.

Earlier this year, as the Republican Party declared Trump its presumptive nominee and Trump’s team took over the RNC, the new leadership of the party insisted that the party committee will not pay any of his legal bills.

And while the RNC is no longer paying Trump’s legal bills, a part of its joint fundraising operation with the Trump campaign is dedicated to the Save America PAC, up to $5,000 of every donation going to Save America first before it goes to the RNC and 40 other state party committees that raise money with them.

Lara Trump, Trump’s daughter-in-law recently elected co-chair of the RNC, said last month that donors could opt-out of giving to the pot of money that goes to Trump’s legal bills if they want to.

“Anyone who does not want to contribute to that very small amount of money is able to opt out of that … [If you] don’t want that specific amount to go to Donald Trump’s legal bills, then you are very — you can very easily opt out of that,” she said, referring to how donors could also choose to donate directly to the RNC or to a different fundraising vehicle that doesn’t include Save America.

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‘Nowhere near as angry’: Sketch artists prepare for historic Trump criminal trial

Peter Charalambous/ABC News

(NEW YORK) — When veteran sketch artist Christine Cornell draws former President Donald Trump, she searches for details.

“He’s got some very pretty qualities,” Cornell said. “I like the way his eyes have a kind of cat-like slant. I like his bushy eyebrows that are like caterpillars. I like that little pouty thing he does.”

Cornell, along with her colleagues Jane Rosenberg and Elizabeth Williams, have had dozens of opportunities to sketch Trump since he became the first former president to be arraigned on criminal charges last April, with Trump attending multiple days of his subsequent civil trials in New York. The former president has pleaded not guilty to falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment his then-attorney Michael Cohen made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels just days before the 2016 presidential election.

For Cornell and her colleagues, capturing details like Trump’s hair — which Cornell describes as a “helmet” — or his unique facial expressions — which include a “pissed off look” according to Rosenberg — has become a routine exercise.

But in interviews with ABC News, the three New York-based artists acknowledged that Trump’s criminal hush money trial, scheduled to begin in lower Manhattan on Monday, carries a different weight.

Taking place in a spartan courtroom no larger than the size of a basketball court, the trial will be witnessed in person by approximately 60 reporters. Apart from a few photographs at the start of the day, cameras are banned from the room once the proceedings begin.

As a result, the task of visually portraying the trial largely rests in the hands of the three veteran sketch artists — deadline artists in the most literal sense of the term — whose pastels and inks will depict an unprecedented moment in American history.

“My whole life is going to revolve around this trial,” Rosenberg said. “My job is to capture the intangible quality … to capture the emotion that’s happening. I think an artist can do that.”

‘Smooth-talking real estate tycoon’

Trump, who this year attended nearly three weeks of his civil trials in New York, has become a regular subject for the three sketch artists, who all drew their first sketches of a younger Trump in 1986 when he testified in an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL.

Trump, then the owner of the New Jersey Generals football team, presented himself as a charming witness, according to Williams and Cornell.

“He’s got this swagger and charisma. He’s this smooth-talking real estate tycoon,” Williams said, describing the younger Trump as “more subdued.”

“He was a young handsome thing back then, but still just as arrogant,” Cornell said. “Nowhere near as angry.”

According to Rosenberg, that anger was palpable last year when she sketched Trump during his New York arraignment. Her sketch of Trump glaring at prosecutors went viral online in the hours following Trump’s historic court appearance, and the New Yorker put the sketch on the magazine’s cover.

“He had that pissed off look — ‘I’m mad, I can’t believe they’re doing this, how could they’ — and I think I caught it,” Rosenberg said.

Trump’s New York hush money trial — which is scheduled to take six to eight weeks — will provide Cornell, Rosenberg, and Williams with repeat business by working with wire services or other news outlets. Having Trump in the courtroom on a daily basis also gives them a steady subject to refine in their sketches.

“The more I draw somebody, the more I can ace them,” Cornell said.

They each acknowledged that they enjoy sketching the former president, whose unique features add character to their work. Rosenberg said she enjoys the expressiveness of his face and the “crazy hair” in his eyebrows.

“Nobody looks like Trump,” Rosenberg said.

Cornell added that Trump’s hue — famously described as orange — is less intense in person, and his hair appears to be less “artificial” than in the past.

“I see more gray coming in on the sides. He’s allowing that to happen. It’s also a little thinner than it used to be,” Cornell said.

Williams believes that the sketches of Trump’s court appearances will capture a more realistic view of Trump than cameras could ever offer.

“He’s posing for them. When they’re gone, you really see who he really is, his real reaction, his real expression,” Williams said. “The words are the harmony. The illustrations are the melody. That’s how you tell the complete picture.”

‘The only survivors’

As outdated as a drawing might seem in today’s digital world, sketch artists serve a unique purpose by distilling hours of court into a cohesive image, according to Sara W. Duke, a curator of popular and applied graphic art at the Library of Congress.

Subtle changes in expression, pivotal moments of testimony, or a remark from a judge can drastically change a jury’s perception of a trial. For example, according to Duke, Timothy McVeigh — who was convicted for killing 168 people in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing — expressed little emotion during most of his month-long trial.

“Timothy McVeigh was stone cold until his mother testified — and then he broke down,” Duke said. “If you’re watching a televised trial, you might not remain interested long enough to watch that moment in time, but a courtroom artist is paid to notice the difference between somebody who refuses to show emotion and the moment in which they are compelled to show emotion.”

The work of sketch artists was driven by historical necessity, after photographers were banished from the courtroom due to the distracting nature of magnesium flash photography at the turn of the century. By 1937, the American Bar Association issued a policy prohibiting the use of still cameras and recording equipment in court. In the 1960s, a Texas businessman successfully appealed his conviction based on the presence of cameras in court, further entrenching the rules against cameras.

But that only heightened the public’s appetite for court reporting, which increased in the 1960s with the expansion of network news outlets, according to Duke.

CBS News, faced with the challenge of covering the trial of Jack Ruby — who murdered JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963 — helped pioneer the commercial sketch artist industry by hiring Howard Brodie, a former war artist, to sketch the trial. By the 1980s, more than 18 sketch artists flowed through the New York Court system, including Cornell, Rosenberg, and Williams.

Asked why she began sketching trials, Cornell said, “Out of desperation. It was a job also that immediately turned into repeat work.”

“Because I couldn’t make any money being a fashion illustrator,” Williams said.

“We’re the only survivors from back then,” Rosenberg said about herself and her two colleagues’ status as veteran New York sketch artists.

‘I gotta lose some weight’

As creatures of the court, Cornell, Rosenberg and Williams have drawn numerous historic figures who have had brushes with the law.

“If you’re famous and you get in trouble, I’m going to be there,” Cornell said.

Some subjects avoid being the focus of a sketch, while others play into the novelty of it, they said.

“Eddie Murphy was mocking me for drawing him. He was looking up and down, and did a little sketch of me on a Post-it,” Rosenberg said. Murphy offered her the sketch, which Rosenberg keeps among her own sketches in her New York apartment.

Others will attempt to influence their sketch.

“Leona Helmsley said, ‘If my hair is that messy, my husband should divorce me,'” Cornell recalled about the famous hotel magnate.

Rosenberg said that disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein asked if she could make his hair fuller.

Mafioso John Gotti went as far as to send men to ask courtroom artists to reduce the appearance of his double chin — a message he reinforced by gesturing to the artists in court with his hand near his neck.

“That was intimidating,” Rosenberg said.

Williams described a different encounter with Gotti, when he silently approached her from behind to comment on why she did not draw him with a smile.

“I just froze. I said, ‘Well, I got one of you smiling at home. I will bring it in tomorrow,” Williams recalled.

Trump has also taken some interest in the courtroom sketch artists, according to Rosenberg, who said she frequently catches glances from the former president.

During his civil fraud trial last year, the former president offered Rosenberg feedback on some sketches during a break in the proceedings.

“I gotta lose some weight,” Trump remarked, according to Rosenberg.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Woman dead after bus crashes into pedestrians at Honolulu cruise ship terminal

Kevin Carter/Getty Images

(HONOLULU, Hi.) — One woman has died and 10 others were injured after a shuttle bus crashed into the transportation area outside a Honolulu cruise terminal Friday, according to police.

The ship, Carnival Miracle, was on a 15-day journey, departing Long Beach, California, on April 6, according to Carnival Cruise Line. Nine of the people hit by the vehicle were cruise ship passengers.

“Sadly, one guest has died from her injuries. She was traveling with her husband, who was also injured and is expected to recover. Members of the Carnival Care Team are assisting the guests. Our thoughts are with the guests affected and their loved ones,” Carnival Cruise Line said in a statement to ABC News.

A 57-year-old man was dropping off customers at pier 2 when a bystander told him that his vehicle was moving forward. He then jumped into the drivers seat, trying to stop the vehicle, but he accidentally pressed the gas pedal instead of the brakes, colliding with two concrete barriers and eleven pedestrians, according to the Honolulu Police Department.

Five pedestrians were transported to the hospital — one of whom was later pronounced dead and four others are in good condition. Six other pedestrians refused treatment on the scene, police said.

According to police, speed does not appear to be a contributing factor in the collision and it is unknown if drugs or alcohol were contributing factors.

The investigation is ongoing.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Sydney stabbing: 6 dead, suspect killed in attack at major shopping mall

David Gray/AFP via Getty Images

(LONDON) — Crowds in Australia have fled a Sydney shopping mall near Bondi Beach and police have confirmed that at least six people have been killed following a knife attack involving multiple stabbings that sparked a major police response in the area.

Local media have reported gunshots inside Westfield Mall at Bondi Junction near Bondi Beach — a well known destination for locals and tourists alike.

Police said a critical incident had been declared following the shooting of a male after reports of multiple stabbings.

“A critical incident has commenced following the shooting of male at Bondi Junction. Just before 4pm (Saturday 13 April 2024), emergency services were called to Westfield Bondi Junction following reports of multiple people stabbed,” said New South Wales (NSW) Police in a statement following the incident. “People are urged to avoid the area. Inquiries are continuing in relation to the incident and there are no further details.”

NSW Police confirmed in a press conference on Saturday evening that at least six people have been killed and the attacker was shot dead by a responding police officer.

The Sydney knifeman was identified as a 40-year-old male and his attack is not thought to be terror-related, New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb said during a press conference on Saturday.

The police “don’t have fears for that person holding an ideation, in other words, that it’s not a terrorism incident,” Webb said.

Five women and one man have been identified as the victims of the attack. NSW Police said a nine-month-old baby is among the eight injured in hospital.

“There’s no suggestion there was anyone targeted, that could change. We will only know that in time,” Webb said.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s released a statement shortly after the attack.

“I have been briefed by the AFP on the devastating events at Bondi Junction. Tragically, multiple casualties have been reported and the first thoughts of all Australians are with those affected and their loved ones,” said Albanese. “Our hearts go out to those injured and we offer our thanks to those caring for them as well as our brave police and first responders.”

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Electric sports cars are starting a ‘performance arms race,’ engineer says

McLaren

(NEW YORK) — Are we entering a “performance arms race” between internal combustion engine and electric sports cars?

Some engineers and top auto executives are beginning to question the superiority of electric sports cars, which have become a contentious topic among enthusiasts.

This week, Lawrence Stroll, executive chairman of Aston Martin, told reporters at the company’s U.K. headquarters that Aston is delaying its shift to electrics, focusing instead on plug-in hybrids.

“We are going to invest much more heavily in our PHEV program to be a bridge between full combustion and full electric,” Stroll said, according to Road & Track.

Stroll noted the “real lack of consumer demand” for electric sports cars. “We speak to our dealers, we speak to our customers — when you have a small network you can communicate easily. And everyone said we still want sound, we still want smell,” he said.

British marque McLaren, known for its seductive — and fear-inducing — supercars, recently launched its 750S coupe and spider, successors to its widely successful 720S. The brand has one hybrid on sale, the Artura, which launched in 2022. Customers, however, still demand the palpable acoustics of the raucous twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 positioned behind the driver’s seat. The 750S may be the epitome of internal combustion engine (ICE) ingenuity.

Chief engineer Sandy Holford said his team truly raised the bar on the 750S, making it the lightest and most powerful series production McLaren to date. “It offers more thrills, more power and more torque, as well as improved ergonomics and engagement,” Holford said.

The car’s stats are also mind-bending, even without an electric motor: zero to 60 mph in 2.7 seconds; 740 horsepower; 590 lb-ft of torque.

ABC News spoke to Holford about the push for electric sports cars and their limitations. The conversation below has been edited.

Q: We’re seeing more electric supercars and hypercars. Will the popularity of the 750S be short-lived as more automakers build all-electric sports cars?

A: In the performance figures arms race, there’s going to come a point where physics gets in the way. And you can have all the power in the world but if you can’t make the rubber stick when you pull away, it’s not going to help you. It all depends on what the customers want. You can do naught to 60 mph in an insane time, but you can only do half a lap at pace because of the battery pack. There’s a balance to be had — for us that’s road use and track use for the 750S. This car is a different proposition to an EV car.

For people who are thinking about the 750S, get out and try it. We can write about it, we can talk about it, but the proof is in the pudding and getting behind the wheel. It’s about trying to be the ultimate engagement car for people.

Q: How long have you been working on the 750S?

A: The 750S development was around two years plus some small amount of refining time at the end, just really validating everything we tested through the development program and real-world customer situation driving.

Q: You benchmarked the 750S against its predecessor, the 720S. What was your objective with this car?

A: The 720S was revolutionary in its time — from an aerodynamic development point of view but also from a dynamic performance. The target for us was to understand where we can push this further but also to really make this car a driver-centric vehicle. How could we focus on engagement and a sense of connection to the car — from the way the car responds to you in terms of pedal mapping and gear shifts maps — to the audio and sound effect of the exhaust.

We moved everything around the cabin to be really focused on where the driver is sitting. Every switch that is commonly used has been moved closer to the steering wheel.

The challenge was to stretch the top end of performance for the 750S without losing any of the comfort and everyday usability. We moved switches and controls to a place that didn’t exist in the previous car. For example, putting a dedicated switch for the car’s nose lift is one of the pieces of feedback we had. The stalk was harder to find in the 720S. The nose lift is now twice as fast.

All of our cars are designed to be drivers’ cars; however, we continue to evaluate and improve based off customer feedback and our own benchmarking.

Q: Racing is at the heart of all McLaren cars. Is this the closest owners will get to driving an F1 car?

A: From a McLaren point of view – no. This is a road car that can be taken on the track. Our Ultimate Product Offering is usually closer to a racing vehicle – like a Senna GTR.

Q: Does the 750S mimic anything that professional drivers experience?

A: We take a lot of cues from our racing colleagues in terms of the way we develop: Our phrase is: “Fail fast, iterate and go again.”

The thing about the 750S is the breadth of capability it has. The car will look after you [on a track]. As you gain confidence in it, you can gradually turn things up, you can turn things off. You can get into variable drift control.

Q: Why was it important for drivers to feel engaged at speeds under 40 mph?

A: With the improvements in technology we have, some vehicles can feel really slow at high speeds. And it’s really easy to let your speed drift up in a high-performance car because it handles so well.

It was really important to me that customers could experience that real engagement and that sense of exhilaration under [lesser] speeds. You don’t want to have a car that only feels fast at 150 mph on a track.

Lots of our customers will use that car on a track but not all of our customers will. I still wanted customers to feel like they have an engaging supercar.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Kansas governor vetoes gender-affirming trans care ban

Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

(TOPEKA, Ks.) — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, vetoed a ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth in the state.

“This divisive legislation targets a small group of Kansans by placing government mandates on them and dictating to parents how to best raise and care for their children,” said Kelly in a veto message on Friday. “I do not believe that is a conservative value, and it’s certainly not a Kansas value.”

She vetoed a similar bill almost one year ago, saying, “Companies have made it clear that they are not interested in doing business with states that discriminate against workers and their families.”

She continued, “By stripping away rights from Kansans and opening the state up to expensive and unnecessary lawsuits, these bills would hurt our ability to continue breaking economic records and landing new business deals.”

State GOP legislators may be able to override Kelly’s veto.

The legislature would need a two-thirds vote to override the veto — 84 in the House and 27 in the Senate. The Republican-backed bill has enough votes in the Senate to override the veto. In the House, two House Republicans who were previously registered as absent would need to also vote in favor of the bill to override the governor’s veto.

This bill restricts puberty blockers, which trans minors may use to delay the development of gendered characteristics. Puberty blockers are reversible and widely used on children who experience puberty earlier than what is typical.

The bill also restricts hormone therapy, which older minors may use for desired changes to certain gendered characteristics that are less reversible, including their body, hair or voice. The bill also restricts surgeries, which physicians say are rare for minors and only done in severe cases.

However, the bill allows exceptions for these procedures on minors who are intersex, have ambiguous sex characteristics, or have disorders of sex development.

Health care providers who violate these provisions could be subject to civil action and have their license revoked if the bill is passed.

The bill also restricts state employees or state facilities from supporting a minor’s social transitioning — including a change in pronouns or name, how they are dressed, and more.

Supporters of gender-affirming care bans say gender-affirming care is harmful for minors. Some argue trans youth should wait until they’re older to access gender-affirming care.

Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson, a Republican, applauded the legislation’s passage through the legislature.

“The Senate took a firm stand in support of helping and not harming children by making it clear that radical transgender ideology and the mutilation of minors is not legal nor welcome in Kansas,” Masterson said.

Critics of the gender-affirming care ban called the bill “more extreme and misinformed than similar bills in other parts of the country.”

“In addition to depriving parents and families of medical freedom, this bill actually punishes teachers, doctors, nurses, and more for just doing their jobs by respecting and supporting Kansas kids, including transgender kids,” said the ACLU of Kansas in a statement asking Kelly to veto the bill.

Transgender youth, often because of gender-related discrimination and gender dysphoria, are more likely to experience anxiety, depressed mood, and suicidal ideation and attempts, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that hormone therapy can improve the mental health of transgender adolescents and teenagers.

Restrictions on access to gender-affirming care for transgender youth have been passed in at least 23 states, some of which have faced legal challenges that argue such bans violate the rights of the youth, their families and their medical providers. Gender-affirming care bans have been blocked in court in Arkansas, Idaho, Florida and Montana, but have been allowed in others.

According to the ACLU, more than 480 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced across the the U.S. At least 135 of those bills are no longer progressing through state legislatures, according to the ACLU.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Fact checking Trump’s claims about ‘election integrity’

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(WASHINGTON) — Former President Donald Trump and Speaker Mike Johnson have a joint appearance at Mar-a-Lago Friday afternoon where they are discussing “election integrity.”

The topic is a chief priority for Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, who continues to falsely claim that he won the 2020 election. Trump’s calls for “election integrity” come in an election year when there is expected to be another tight matchup against President Joe Biden.

Johnson has echoed Trump’s calls for “election integrity” and was one of the 147 GOP lawmakers who voted to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He also led the charge to get 125 of his Republican colleagues to sign an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, supporting Texas’ lawsuit that would have invalidated the election results in key battleground states.

ABC News is fact checking some of Trump’s previous and false comments on elections and voting ahead of the joint appearance with Johnson.

State and federal courts have dismissed more than 50 lawsuits across six states from Trump and his allies aiming to overturn the results of the 2020 election. In many of the cases, Trump pushed thinly supported allegations of election misconduct and fraud.

Trump has continued to falsely claim he won the 2020 election in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, but he lost all three of those states in the last presidential election. In Pennsylvania, Biden won by 81,660; in Michigan, Biden won by about 21,000 votes; in Wisconsin, Biden won by more than 20,000.

The United States National Intelligence Council, comprised of the United States’ intelligence and security agencies, announced in 2021 that it found “no indications that any foreign actor attempted to alter any technical aspect of the voting process in the 2020 elections.”

Trump has also criticized voting methods.

Trump routinely disparages mail-in voting and has made unfounded claims about the process which he claims, in part, led to his 2020 election loss. Despite his repeated claims about mail-in vote fraud, no widespread fraud has been found. A Washington Post analysis of data collected by three vote-by-mail states with help from the nonprofit Electronic Registration Information Center found that there were 372 possible cases of double voting or voting on behalf of deceased people out of about 14.6 million votes cast by mail in the 2016 and 2018 general elections. That comes out to 0.0025%.

“Mail-in voting is totally corrupt. Get that through your head. It has to be,” Trump said at a rally in Michigan in February, repeating unfounded claims about mail-in voting.

Trump has also continued to float claims against voting machines, pushing for paper ballots instead.

“I will secure our elections. We are going to secure our elections. Our goal will be one-day voting with paper ballots — very simple — and a voter ID, but until then, Republicans must win. Landslide. We want it to be too big, too big to rig,” Trump said at an April 2 rally in Wisconsin, where he continued to falsely claim he won the state in 2020.

However, the vast majority of Americans already vote with hand-marked paper ballots or on touch-screen machines that print one.

Trump and his allies have claimed that Democrats are “importing voters” to allow non-U.S. citizens participate in the U.S. elections.

“That’s why they are allowing these people to come in — people that don’t speak our language — they are signing them up to vote,” Trump said at a January rally in Iowa.

While election officials and law enforcement authorities have found cases of non-citizens voting or attempting to vote over the years — either by mistake or with malicious intent — it has not been enough to affect the any outcome of an election, the Washington Post reported.

PolitiFact reported that it has found no effort by Democrats to register people in the country illegally.

“Most noncitizens don’t want to risk jail time (or deportation if they are here illegally) by casting a ballot. Election officials take several steps to ensure that only eligible voters cast ballots,” PolitiFact reported.

In Georgia, for example, the attorney general’s office announced in 2022 that the state had found a total of 1,634 cases of potential noncitizens registering to vote in the state since 1997 — none of whom were permitted to vote.

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One dead, 13 injured after man intentionally crashes stolen semi-truck into Texas DPS office: Officials

KTRK-TV

(BRENHAM, Texas) — One person was killed and more than a dozen injured after a man allegedly intentionally crashed a stolen semi-truck into a Texas Department of Public Safety office in Brenham on Friday, officials said.

A suspect is in custody, authorities said.

“This is a tragic day for us,” Texas DPS Regional Director Gerald Brown told reporters during a press briefing Friday.

The incident occurred around 10:30 a.m. local time, when the driver rammed a stolen 18-wheeler into a Texas DPS driver’s license office, Brown said.

The suspect — identified by authorities as Clenard Parker, 42 — had been informed by the office on Thursday that he was not eligible to renew his commercial driver’s license, authorities said.

The suspect then “returned today with intent to harm,” Washington County Judge Mark Keough said in a statement on social media.

Six people were transported to area hospitals, one of whom died from their injuries at the hospital, authorities said. Eight victims were treated at the scene and released.

The victims were all inside the building at the time of the crash. It is unclear how many were civilians, authorities said.

Footage from the scene showed extensive damage to the Texas DPS office.

The Texas Rangers are investigating and there is no further threat to the community, Texas DPS said.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Biden’s message to Iran about retaliatory strike on Israel: ‘Don’t’

Michael Kurilla, head of the United States Central Command meets with IDF chief Aviv Kohavi at the Nevatim airbase in Be’er Sheva, Israel, Nov. 15, 2022. — Israeli Defense Forces/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden told reporters Friday afternoon he expects an Iranian strike on Israel to occur “sooner than later” amid urgent concerns that Iran was about to retaliate for the bombing of its consulate in Damascus, Syria, earlier this month.

Asked for his message to Iran in the tense moment, Biden was blunt, saying simply, “Don’t.”

“Would the U.S. respond?” ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Mary Bruce asked repeatedly as the president walked away after finishing an unrelated event. He paused, thought a moment and returned to the lectern.

“We are devoted to the defense of Israel. We will support Israel. We will help defend Israel and Iran will not succeed,” he said.

Biden’s comments come as other high-level U.S. officials worked urgently behind the scenes to pressure Iran to back down from its threat to launch a retaliatory strike — the latest challenge facing the Biden administration as it tries to avert an all-out regional war in the Middle East.

At the same time, the U.S. was moving troops and other assets to the Middle East as Iran readied a large number of missiles and drones for a potential strike against Israel, according to U.S. officials.

The deployment of American troops was intended to try to deter Iran from launching a large-scale attack and protecting U.S. troops in the region

Two U.S. officials said that Iran has readied more than a hundred cruise missiles for a possible strike.

The U.S. assets being moved into the region in response could assist with air defense, according to one official.

Some 3,400 US troops are in Iraq and Syria with tens of thousands more U.S. personnel in the Middle East region.

Earlier Friday, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the administration was monitoring the situation “very, very closely,” and that while its top priority was ensuring Israel is able to defend itself from a potential Iranian attack, the U.S was also “doing everything we can to protect our people and our facilities.”

“It would be imprudent if we didn’t take a look at our own posture in the region, to make sure that we’re properly prepared as well,” he said.

In a sign of how seriously the U.S. views the risk of escalation, the Pentagon confirmed on Thursday that Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, the commander of U.S. Central Command, had “moved up” a previously scheduled trip to Israel to meet with senior Israeli military leaders “due to recent developments.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also spoke by phone with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday afternoon “to discuss the current situation in the Middle East and to reaffirm the U.S.’s ironclad commitment to Israel’s security against threats from Iran and its proxies,” according to Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s press secretary.

Although the U.S. does not have direct diplomatic ties to Iran, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had been working the phones with his counterparts in countries that do — encouraging them to use their influence to dissuade Iran from taking military action in response to the consulate bombing.

In his conversations with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, and Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan, Blinken made clear “that escalation is not in anyone’s interest and that countries should urge Iran not to escalate,” according to Miller.

U.S. officials previously told ABC News that the administration believes Iran could retaliate against Israel in the coming days — potentially using drones and missiles to attack “regional assets” — and that information about the threat has been shared with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

At a White House news conference on Wednesday, President Biden said Iran was “threatening to launch a significant attack on Israel” and that he had assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. commitment to his country’s security was “ironclad.”

“We’re going to do all we can to protect Israel’s security,” he said.

While officials say they still believe Iran may could change course, the State Department announced it had placed new restrictions on U.S. personnel in Israel on Thursday, prohibiting employees and their family members from undertaking personal travel outside of the greater Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Be’er Sheva areas until further notice.

According to a travel alert from the department, the limits were imposed “out of an abundance of caution.” Miller declined to speak to any specific security assessments that motivated the change in policy but acknowledged Iran’s vow for revenge.

“Clearly we are monitoring the threat environment in the Middle East and specifically in Israel, and that’s what led us to give that warning to our employees and their family members and to make it public so all U.S. citizens who either live in Israel or traveling there are aware of it,” he said.

The renewed concern over a widening conflict in the Middle East was sparked by a strike on an Iranian facility in Syria that Tehran says was carried out by Israel and killed 12 people, including Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior leader in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Although Israel has attacked a number of targets linked to Iran in recent years, primarily as part of its efforts to disrupt arms transfers to Hezbollah and other proxy groups in the region, the Israeli military has not taken credit for the incident in Damascus, which occurred on April 1.

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