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The Morning Rundown™

Missing Titanic sub company faced prior safety lawsuit: June 21 rundown

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Authorities are hopeful that a breakthrough may have been achieved in the search for the missing Titanic submarine as they race against time to save those in the underwater vessel. And the Pentagon has acknowledged a more significant discrepancy in the value of weapons being sent to Ukraine than previously thought. These stories and more highlight the rundown for Wednesday, June 21, 2023. 

US Coast Guard detects underwater noises in search for missing sub

The U.S. Coast Guard has reported the detection of underwater noises in the search area for a missing submarine carrying five passengers in the northern Atlantic. As the search effort intensifies, more information has emerged about the company that owns the submarine, known as OceanGate.

Authorities have stated that the vessel has sufficient oxygen to likely last until 6 a.m. Thursday, raising urgency to rescue the five individuals on board. The passengers include the CEO of OceanGate, a British adventurer, a high-profile Pakistani businessman accompanied by his son, and a former French navy diver known for his expertise on the Titanic. This marked the submarine’s third voyage to the Titanic wreckage site before it disappeared.

Concerns have arisen regarding possible warning signs prior to the submarine’s deployment on Sunday. In 2018, a group of leaders in the submersible industry sent a letter to OceanGate, cautioning about potential catastrophic problems with their submersible. Additionally, The New Republic magazine first reported on a lawsuit in 2018 involving OceanGate, as a former employee raised concerns over safety issues.

Since the submarine went missing, the U.S. and Canadian military units have conducted a joint search covering an area of approximately 7,600 square miles, which is larger than the state of Connecticut.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to testify before Congress

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is set to testify before Congress today, where lawmakers are keen to gain insights into the potential trajectory of the central bank’s interest rate. The crucial question on their minds revolves around how far and how fast the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates going forward.

Powell’s appearance follows the recent pause in the Fed’s rate-hike campaign, marking the first break in a series of 11 consecutive meetings. The policy committee comprising 18 members has projected two more interest rate hikes to occur within the year.

Over the course of two days, Powell will engage in testimony with the House Financial Services Committee, providing an opportunity for lawmakers to inquire about the Federal Reserve’s intentions and gain a deeper understanding of the factors shaping their decisions.

Pentagon overestimates value of weapons sent to Ukraine

The Pentagon has acknowledged a substantial overestimation of the value of weapons it sent to Ukraine, surpassing $6 billion over the past two years. This figure exceeds double the initial estimation of the “accounting error” reported earlier.

According to a Pentagon spokeswoman, an error of $3.6 billion was identified in the current fiscal year, while $2.6 billion was miscalculated in the 2022 fiscal year. The mistake in calculations arises from the military’s use of “replacement costs” instead of “book value” when assessing the worth of ammunition, missiles, and other military equipment provided to Ukraine.

Initially believed to be a $3 billion discrepancy last month, the revised figures indicate a more significant disparity in the valuation of the equipment. The surplus funds resulting from this accounting error will be redirected towards future security packages.

Biden’s remarks on Chinese leader sparks diplomatic tensions

In the wake of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to China aimed at improving strained relations between the two nations, an already delicate situation has been further aggravated by President Joe Biden’s recent comments referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “dictator.” China swiftly denounced the remark, labeling it yet another provocation in an already tense relationship.

During a public address on Wednesday, Biden criticized China for its alleged involvement in a spying incident and highlighted the economic challenges the country has faced since the onset of the pandemic. The Chinese government, however, swiftly responded, characterizing the remarks as “extremely absurd and irresponsible.”

Biden’s description of President Xi Jinping as a “dictator” has escalated tensions between the United States and China, underscoring the challenges faced by the two superpowers in maintaining a cooperative relationship. The comment comes at a time when both nations are grappling with a range of geopolitical issues, including economic disparities, human rights concerns, and global health challenges.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson expressed dissatisfaction with Biden’s choice of words, accusing the president of “seriously violating diplomatic protocol and seriously infringing on China’s political dignity, which is an open political provocation.”

New York passes law to protect doctors over abortion medication

The New York State Legislature approved a bill designed to grant legal protections to doctors in New York who prescribe and mail abortion medication to states with abortion bans. This legislation builds upon existing laws in New York that already safeguard doctors providing abortion services. However, the newly passed bill specifically focuses on protecting doctors in New York who utilize “tele-health” systems to treat patients residing in other states.

The aim of this bill is to provide legal support to doctors who engage in remote consultations and prescribe abortion medication through tele-health platforms. These systems enable doctors in New York to extend their services to patients living in states where access to abortion care is restricted. By leveraging tele-health technology, doctors can bridge the geographical gap and offer essential reproductive healthcare to individuals in need.

Northern Utah school reverses its Bible ban

In a recent decision, the Davis School District, located north of Salt Lake City, has lifted the ban on Bibles in its schools, deeming them “age-appropriate” for the approximately 72,000 students in the district. The ban, which had sparked considerable controversy and reignited debates over content standards in books, has been overturned by an appeal committee.

The ban on Bibles had garnered widespread outcry and triggered discussions about the criteria used to evaluate the appropriateness of educational materials. After careful consideration, the appeal committee determined that the significant value the Bible holds for minors outweighed any concerns about the violent or vulgar content it contains. This decision marks the latest development in the ongoing debate surrounding a Utah law that permits parents to challenge “sensitive materials” available to children in public schools.

The reversal of the ban follows the complaints of more than 70 parents who voiced their concerns to the board, urging them to lift the restrictions on the Bible. These parents believed that the Bible should be made accessible to students as a valuable resource, despite its potentially controversial content. The appeal committee’s decision reflects the balancing act between addressing parental concerns and preserving academic freedom.

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