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TikTok CEO to testify, defend app security amid bans: March 23 rundown

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TikTok’s CEO testifies on Capitol Hill; Wyoming’s abortion ban blocked; and the latest on former President Donald Trump’s indictment. These stories and more highlight the Straight Arrow News daily rundown for Thursday morning, March 23, 2023.

TikTok CEO to testify on Capitol Hill

TikTok’s CEO will testify before a House committee today, March 23, defending his app amid growing calls from Congress to enact a nationwide ban. Shou Zi Chew is expected to be questioned over security concerns related to the app. According to prepared testimony, he will tout that the U.S. has 150 million users and insist their information is stored on American soil and overseen by an American company.

Trump lawyer to testify in docs probe

A federal appeals court has ruled against an attorney for former President Donald Trump, ordering him to comply with a federal grand jury subpoena in its Mar-a-Lago classified documents investigation. Evan Corcoran’s testimony in the probe could come as early as Friday. Corcoran is being asked to provide information about his communications with Trump, something the attorney and trump have argued is protected under attorney-client privilege.

This comes as the nation awaits whether or not Trump will be charged by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. The grand jury is expected to reconvene today, March 23.

Moderna CEO faces Senate questioning

The Senate Health Committee held a hearing Wednesday, March 22, to speak with the Moderna CEO Stephanie Bancel about proposed price hikes for the company’s COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna said it will drastically raise the price once its contract with the government ends in the coming months, going from $26 per dose to $130 per dose. That’s a price increase of 400%. Despite pressure from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Moderna’s Bancel defended the company’s price hike, predicting a 90% drop in demand for the vaccine.

Judge blocks Wyoming abortion ban

Abortions have gone from legal to illegal and back to legal again in the state of Wyoming. A U.S. district court judge on Wednesday, March 22, temporarily blocked a statewide abortion ban that came into effect over the weekend of March 18-19.

The state’s new law prohibits abortion at all stages of pregnancy except in cases of rape or incest, or to save the woman’s life.

The new law had to define an abortion as “a procedure that is not health care” because the state’s constitution states people have the right to make their own health care decisions.

SEC charges Lohan and other celebrities

U.S. regulators have charged eight celebrities, including actress Lindsay Lohan and social media personality Jake Paul, with participating in an illegal crypto scheme. The stars allegedly used their social platforms to boost two crypto tokens without disclosing they were paid to promote them.

Lohan has more than 8 million followers on Instagram where she called for her followers to invest. The charges were announced by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Lohan and Paul have paid to settle the charges without admitting guilt.

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TIKTOK CEO TO TESTIFY ON CAPITOL HILL

KARAH RUCKER: TIKTOK’S C-E-O TESTIFIED BEFORE A HOUSE COMMITTEE TODAY — DEFENDING HIS APP AMID GROWING CALLS FROM CONGRESS TO ENACT A NATIONWIDE BAN.

TIK -TOK CEO SHOU ZI CHEW IS EXPECTED TO BE GRILLED OVER SECURITY CONCERNS ON CAPITOL HILL THURSDAY. ACCORDING TO PREPARED TESTIMONY, HE WILL TOUT THAT THE U-S HAS 150 MILLION USERS AND INSIST THEIR INFORMATION IS STORED ON AMERICAN SOIL AND OVERSEEN BY AN AMERICAN COMPANY.

FEDERAL AND SEVERAL STATE GOVERNMENTS HAVE BANNED TIK-TOK FROM 

GOVERNMENT DEVICES OVER CONCERNS ITS PARENT COMPANY BYTE DANCE COULD BE FORCED TO GIVE USER DATA TO THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT.

THERE ARE GROWING CALLS FROM LAWMAKERS FOR THE APP TO BE BANNED OUTRIGHT IN THE U.S. BUT TIKTOK IS ALSO A SOURCE OF REVENUE FOR SO-CALLED TIK TOK INFLUENCERS

WHO ARE VOICING THEIR SUPPORT OF THE APP OUTSIDE THE CAPITOL AHEAD OF THE CEO’S TESTIMONY.

TRUMP LAWYER TO TESTIFY IN DOCS PROBE

A FEDERAL APPEALS COURT HAS RULED AGAINST AN ATTORNEY FOR FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP – ORDERING HIM TO COMPLY WITH A FEDERAL GRAND JURY SUBPOENA IN ITS “MAR-A-LAGO CLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS” INVESTIGATION.

EVAN CORCORAN’S TESTIMONY IN THE PROBE COULD COME AS EARLY AS FRIDAY.

CORCORAN IS BEING ASKED TO PROVIDE INFORMATION ABOUT HIS COMMUNICATIONS WITH TRUMP – SOMETHING THE ATTORNEY – AND TRUMP HAVE ARGUED IS PROTECTED UNDER ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE.

THIS COMES AS THE NATION AWAITS WHETHER OR NOT TRUMP WILL BE CHARGED BY THE MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE.

THE GRAND JURY IS EXPECTED TO RECONVENE TODAY.

MODERNA CEO FACES SENATE GRILLING

THE SENATE HEALTH COMMITTEE HELD A HEARING WEDNESDAY TO SPEAK WITH THE CEO OF MODERNA ABOUT PROPOSED PRICE HIKES IN THE COMPANY’S COVID VACCINE. 

MODERNA SAID IT WILL DRASTICALLY RAISE THE PRICE ONCE ITS CONTRACT WITH THE GOVERNMENT ENDS IN THE COMING MONTHS – GOING FROM 26 DOLLARS A DOSE TO $130 DOLLARS PER DOSE. THAT’S A PRICE INCREASE OF 400 PERCENT – MORE THAN FIVE-FOLD IT’S CURRENT PRICE-POINT. DESPITE PRESSURE FROM LAWMAKERS ON CAPITOL HILL – MODERNA CEO STEPHANE BANCEL DEFENDED THE COMPANY’S PRICE HIKE – PREDICTING A 90 PERCENT DROP IN DEMAND FOR THE VACCINE – AND THE COMPANY WILL LOSE MONEY ON ALL WASTED DOSES.

UNINSURED PEOPLE WILL STILL GET THE VACCINE FOR FREE. AND INSURANCE COMPANIES WILL BEAR THE BURDEN OF THE PRICE INCREASE.

WYOMING ABORTION BAN BLOCKED BY JUDGE

ABORTIONS HAVE GONE FROM LEGAL, TO ILLEGAL, AND BACK TO LEGAL AGAIN IN THE STATE OF WYOMING. A U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE ON WEDNESDAY TEMPORARILY BLOCKED A STATEWIDE ABORTION BAN THAT CAME INTO EFFECT JUST OVER THE WEEKEND.

THE STATE’S NEW LAW PROHIBITS ABORTION AT ALL STAGES OF PREGNANCY EXCEPT IN CASES OF RAPE OR INCEST, OR TO SAVE THE WOMAN’S LIFE.

THE NEW LAW HAD TO DEFINE AN ABORTION AS “A PROCEDURE THAT IS NOT HEALTH CARE” BECAUSE THE STATE’S CONSTITUTION STATES PEOPLE HAVE THE RIGHT TO MAKE THEIR OWN HEALTH CARE DECISIONS.

THE JUDGE RULED QUOTE “THE STATE CANNOT LEGISLATE AWAY A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT. THE JUDGE SAID THE COURTS WILL HAVE TO DECIDE WHETHER ABORTION IS HEALTH CARE OR NOT. AND UNTIL THEN – ABORTIONS CAN STILL BE CONDUCTED IN THE STATE FOR AT LEAST TWO WEEKS.

EIGHT CELEBRITIES, INCLUDING ACTRESS LINDSAY LOHAN AND SOCIAL MEDIA PERSONALITY JAKE PAUL, HAVE BEEN CHARGED BY US REGULATORS WITH PARTICIPATING IN AN ILLEGAL CRYPTO SCHEME. THE STARS ALLEGEDLY USED THEIR SOCIAL PLATFORMS TO BOOST TWO CRYPTO TOKENS WITHOUT DISCLOSING THEY WERE PAID TO PROMOTE THEM. LOHAN HAS MORE THAN 8 MILLION FOLLOWERS ON INSTAGRAM WHERE SHE CALLED FOR HER FOLLOWERS TO INVEST. THE CHARGES WERE ANNOUNCED BY THE US SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

LOHAN AND PAUL HAVE PAID TO SETTLE THE CHARGES WITHOUT ADMITTING GUILT.

MUSICIANS SOULJA BOY, AUSTIN MAHONE, AND NE-YO ARE AMONG THE OTHER CELEBRITIES CHARGED.

CA BILL WOULD BAN SKITTLES

CALIFORNIANS MAY NOT HAVE MUCH LONGER TO “TASTE THE RAINBOW”.

SKITTLES WOULD BE PART OF THE PRODUCTS BANNED UNDER A NEW CALIFORNIA BILL. LAWMAKERS ARE CONSIDERING BANNING THE MANUFACTURE, SALE, OR DISTRIBUTION OF FOODS CONTAINING FIVE CHEMICALS THAT HAVE BEEN LINKED TO HEALTH PROBLEMS – AND THAT ARE ALREADY BANNED IN EUROPE.

IT’S NOT ONLY SKITTLES THAT WOULD THEORETICALLY BE BANNED – BUT SO WOULD OTHER CANDIES LIKE HOT TAMALES – OR EVEN NESQUIK STRAWBERRY MILK, BAKED GOODS, AND CERTAIN SODAS.

THE BILL’S AUTHOR SAYS IT’S NOT ABOUT CANCELING SKITTLES  – BUT PUSHING THESE IMPACTED COMPANIES TO CHOOSE BETTER INGREDIENTS.