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US responds to mayday call after Iran-backed Houthi rebels attack ship in Red Sea: The Morning Rundown, Dec. 12, 2023

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The U.S. responds to another attack in the Red Sea by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels. And, one toy company announces major cuts to its workforce during the holiday season. These stories and more highlight The Morning Rundown for Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023.

Houthi rebels claim responsibility for tanker attack in Red Sea

Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen are claiming responsibility for an attack on a Norwegian commercial tanker, the latest incident involving the militia group that has been targeting vessels in the Red Sea. The Houthis say the attacks are a show of support for the Palestinians and vow to continue until Israel stops its operations on Gaza.

According to the U.S. Central Command, the tanker was attacked by an anti-ship cruise missile launched from the Houthi-controlled area of Yemen. The vessel’s owner confirmed no injuries on board, but the ship suffered damage and caught fire. The company said the tanker was on its way to Italy, though the Houthis claim it was bound for Israel.

As the Houthis continue to escalate their attacks, the United States is in talks with other nations to form a naval task force to escort commercial ships in the Red Sea.

Central Command said while there were no U.S. vessels in the vicinity at the time of the attack on the Norwegian ship, the USS Mason responded to the tanker’s mayday call and provided assistance.

SCOTUS agrees to consider special counsel’s request to rule on Trump’s immunity

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a petition from special counsel Jack Smith concerning the federal election interference charges against former President Donald Trump. The special counsel is asking the justices to weigh in on whether or not the former president has immunity from being prosecuted.

In his petition, Smith asked the court to reach a ruling quickly before a federal appeals court has a chance to weigh in to prevent any delay from a trial date on March 4.

“It is of imperative public importance that respondent’s claims of immunity be resolved by this court and that respondent’s trial proceed as promptly as possible if his claim of immunity is rejected,” Smith wrote. “The United States recognizes that this is an extraordinary request. This is an extraordinary case.”

In October, Trump’s legal team filed a motion to dismiss the case, claiming the former president has “absolute immunity” from being prosecuted for actions allegedly committed while he was in office. The judge overseeing the case rejected Trump’s motion.

Trump’s lawyers notified the district court last week that he would be appealing and asked that the proceedings be paused.

Hours after Smith filed his petition, the Supreme Court agreed to consider the request on an expedited basis, giving Trump until Dec. 20 to submit a response.

In response to Smith’s petition, Trump’s team said the special counsel was trying for “a hail mary by racing to the Supreme Court and attempting to bypass the appellate process.”

Trump is facing four counts for alleging trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Texas Supreme Court reverses lower court’s ruling for woman’s abortion

In a developing story that Straight Arrow News has been following, on Monday evening, Dec. 11, the Texas Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s ruling that allowed an abortion for a pregnant woman whose fetus has a fatal diagnosis, an exception to Texas’ strict abortion ban. Hours before the ruling, the woman’s lawyers said she had decided to leave the state to get the procedure.

Kate Cox, a 31-year-old mother of two, said she needed an abortion after her fetus was diagnosed with a genetic condition that would likely end in a miscarriage or stillbirth. The Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing Cox in her lawsuit, said the window for an abortion is closing as she is more than 20 weeks pregnant.

According to court documents, doctors told the Dallas mother that the pregnancy was unlikely to end with a healthy baby, adding that having two prior cesarean sections, this pregnancy could have severe complications for her life and future fertility.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued that doctors failed to show the mother is at risk of death by continuing with the pregnancy.

On Friday night, Dec. 8, the Texas Supreme Court temporarily blocked the lower court’s decision. In its ruling on Monday, Dec. 11, the state’s highest court said Cox’s situation did not provide sufficient grounds for an exception to the ban.

Federal jury finds Google violated antitrust law

A federal jury has found that Google violated antitrust laws, turning its Android app store marketplace into an illegal monopoly. The weeks-long battle in federal court between Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, and Google ended on Monday, Dec. 11, with a federal jury siding with the video game company.

Epic accused Google of tilting the playing field and charging expensive fees of up to 30% to app developers. Google says it will be appealing the decision.

Google argues that its fees have been lowered to compete with Apple’s app store, adding in a statement that “this is not the behavior of a monopolist.” In January, the court will begin work on what remedies to implement.

Hasbro cutting nearly 20% of its workforce

The toy company Hasbro has announced it will be laying off nearly 20% of its workforce, a sign of the current sluggish state of toy sales, even during the holiday season. The Rhode Island-based company behind Monopoly, Play-Doh, and Transformers announced on Monday, Dec. 11, that it will cut about 1,100 jobs; this is on top of 800 layoffs earlier this year.

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The latest cuts are expected to be completed within 18 to 24 months. Hasbro said the layoffs were necessary as the company tries to rebound from a slowdown in sales following historic highs during pandemic lockdowns. Research firm Circana said U.S. toy sales this year were down 8% through September.

‘Harry Potter’ book sells for $69,000 at auction

It may have been some wizardry or just plain luck when a woman found a first edition copy of a “Harry Potter” book in a bargain bin at a shop in Scotland 26 years ago. At the time, it only cost her about $12. Now, that same book has just been sold at auction for $69,000.

According to Hanson Auctioneers, there were just 500 copies printed in the first run of “Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone,” 300 went to schools and libraries, and 200 were sent to bookshops.

The woman said she bought the book during a family trip. The book would later be re-titled as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” for American readers with an initial printing of 50,000 copies.

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THE US RESPONDS TO ANOTHER ATTACK IN THE RED SEA BY YEMEN’S IRAN-BACKED HOUTHI REBELS AND — ONE TOY COMPANY ANNOUNCES MAJOR CUTS TO ITS WORKFORCE DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON THE MORNING RUNDOWN STARTS NOW.

TODAY IS TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12TH

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I’M KARAH RUCKER.

IRAN-BACKED HOUTHI REBELS IN YEMEN ARE CLAIMING RESPONSIBILITY FOR AN ATTACK ON A NORWEGIAN COMMERCIAL TANKER – THE LATEST INCIDENT INVOLVING THE MILITIA GROUP THAT HAS BEEN TARGETING VESSELS IN THE RED SEA.

THE HOUTHIS SAY THE ATTACKS ARE A SHOW OF SUPPORT FOR THE PALESTINIANS – AND VOW TO CONTINUE UNTIL ISRAEL STOPS ITS OPERATIONS IN GAZA.

ACCORDING TO U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND – THE TANKER WAS ATTACKED BY AN ANTI-SHIP CRUISE MISSILE LAUNCHED FROM THE HOUTHI CONTROLLED AREA OF YEMEN.

THE OWNER OF THE VESSEL CONFIRMED THERE WERE NO INJURIES ON BOARD BUT THE SHIP SUFFERED DAMAGE AND CAUGHT FIRE. THE COMPANY SAID THE TANKER WAS ON ITS WAY TO ITALY – THOUGH THE HOUTHIS CLAIM IT WAS BOUND FOR ISRAEL.

AS THE HOUTHIS CONTINUE TO ESCALATE THEIR ATTACKS – THE UNITED STATES IS IN TALKS WITH OTHER NATIONS TO FORM A NAVAL TASK FORCE TO ESCORT COMMERCIAL SHIPS IN THE RED SEA.

CENTRAL COMMAND SAID WHILE THERE WERE NO U.S. VESSELS IN THE VICINITY AT THE TIME OF THE ATTACK  — THE “USS MASON” RESPONDED TO THE TANKER’S MAY-DAY CALL AND WAS PROVIDING ASSISTANCE.

THE SUPREME COURT HAS AGREED TO HEAR A PETITION FROM SPECIAL COUNSEL JACK SMITH CONCERNING THE “FEDERAL ELECTION INTERFERENCE CHARGES” AGAINST FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP.

THE SPECIAL COUNSEL IS ASKING THE JUSTICES TO WEIGH IN ON WHETHER OR NOT THE FORMER PRESIDENT HAS IMMUNITY FROM BEING PROSECUTED.

IN HIS PETITION, SMITH ASKED THE COURT TO REACH A RULING QUICKLY BEFORE A FEDERAL APPEALS COURT HAS A CHANCE TO WEIGH IN –

IN AN EFFORT TO PREVENT ANY DELAY FROM A MARCH 4TH TRIAL DATE.

SMITH WRITING, “It is of imperative public importance that respondent’s claims of immunity be resolved by this Court and that respondent’s trial proceed as promptly as possible if his claim of immunity is rejected.”

SMITH ADDING, “The United States recognizes that this is an extraordinary request. This is an extraordinary case.”

IN OCTOBER – TRUMP’S LEGAL TEAM FILED A MOTION TO DISMISS THE CASE –

CLAIMING THE FORMER PRESIDENT HAS “ABSOLUTE IMMUNITY” FROM BEING PROSECUTED FOR ACTIONS ALLEGEDLY COMMITTED WHILE HE WAS IN OFFICE.

THE JUDGE OVERSEEING THE CASE – REJECTED TRUMP’S MOTION.

TRUMP’S LAWYERS NOTIFIED THE DISTRICT COURT  LAST WEEK THAT HE WOULD BE APPEALING – AND ASKED THAT THE PROCEEDINGS BE PAUSED.

HOURS AFTER SMITH FILED HIS PETITION – THE SUPREME COURT AGREED TO CONSIDER THE REQUEST ON AN EXPEDITED BASIS – GIVING TRUMP UNTIL DECEMBER 20TH TO SUBMIT A RESPONSE.

REACTING TO SMITH’S PETITION — TRUMP’S TEAM SAID THE SPECIAL COUNSEL WAS TRYING FOR QUOTE — “A HAIL MARY BY RACING TO THE SUPREME COURT AND ATTEMPTING TO BYPASS THE APPELLATE PROCESS.”

TRUMP IS FACING FOUR COUNTS FOR ALLEGEDLY TRYING TO OVERTURN THE RESULTS OF THE 2020 ELECTION. HE HAS PLEADED NOT GUILTY TO ALL CHARGES.

IN A DEVELOPING STORY STRAIGHT ARROW NEWS HAS BEEN FOLLOWING —

ON MONDAY EVENING — THE TEXAS SUPREME COURT OVERTURNED A LOWER COURT’S RULING THAT ALLOWED AN ABORTION FOR A PREGNANT WOMAN WHOSE FETUS HAS A LIFE-THREATENING GENETIC DISORDER —

HOURS BEFORE THE RULING — THE WOMAN’S LAWYERS SAID SHE HAS DECIDED TO LEAVE THE STATE TO GET THE PROCEDURE.

KATE COX — A 31-YEAR-OLD MOTHER OF TWO — SAYS SHE IS IN NEED OF AN ABORTION AFTER HER FETUS WAS DIAGNOSED WITH TRISOMY 18 —

A CONDITION THAT WOULD MORE LIKELY THAN NOT END IN A MISCARRIAGE OR STILLBIRTH.

THE CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS — WHO IS REPRESENTING COX IN HER LAWSUIT – SAYS THE WINDOW FOR AN ABORTION IS TICKING AS SHE IS MORE THAN 20 WEEKS PREGNANT.

ACCORDING TO COURT DOCUMENTS, DOCTORS TOLD THE DALLAS MOTHER THAT THE PREGNANCY IS UNLIKELY TO END WITH A HEALTHY BABY —

ADDING THAT WITH HAVING TWO PRIOR CESAREAN SECTIONS – THIS PREGNANCY COULD HAVE SEVERE COMPLICATIONS FOR HER HEALTH AND FUTURE FERTILITY.

TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL KEN PAXTON ARGUED THAT DOCTORS FAILED TO SHOW THE MOTHER IS AT RISK OF DEATH BY CONTINUING WITH THE PREGNANCY.

ON FRIDAY NIGHT — THE TEXAS SUPREME COURT TEMPORARILY BLOCKED THE LOWER COURT’S DECISION.

IN ITS RULING MONDAY — THE STATE’S HIGHEST COURT SAID COX’S SITUATION DID NOT PROVIDE SUFFICIENT GROUNDS FOR AN EXCEPTION TO TEXAS’ ABORTION BAN.

A FEDERAL JURY HAS FOUND THAT GOOGLE VIOLATED ANTITRUST LAWS — TURNING ITS ANDROID APP STORE MARKETPLACE INTO AN ILLEGAL MONOPOLY.

THE WEEKS LONG BATTLE IN FEDERAL COURT BETWEEN EPIC GAMES – THE MAKER OF FORTNITE – AND GOOGLE ENDED ON MONDAY WITH A FEDERAL JURY SIDING WITH THE VIDEO GAME COMPANY.

EPIC ACCUSED GOOGLE OF TILTING THE PLAYING FIELD AND CHARGING EXPENSIVE FEES OF UP TO 30-PERCENT TO APP DEVELOPERS.

GOOGLE SAYS IT WILL BE APPEALING THE DECISION.

GOOGLE ARGUES THAT ITS FEES HAVE BEEN LOWERED TO COMPETE WITH APPLE’S APP STORE – ADDING IN A STATEMENT QUOTE: “THIS IS NOT THE BEHAVIOR OF A MONOPOLIST.”

IN JANUARY THE COURT WILL DISCUSS WHAT CHANGES GOOGLE WILL NEED TO MAKE TO ITS APP STORE.

TOY COMPANY HASBRO HAS ANNOUNCED IT WILL BE LAYING OFF NEARLY TWENTY PERCENT OF ITS WORKFORCE – IN A SIGN OF THE CURRENT SLUGGISH STATE OF TOY SALES –

EVEN DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON.

THE RHODE-ISLAND BASED COMPANY BEHIND MONOPOLY, PLAY-DOH AND TRANSFORMERS – ANNOUNCED MONDAY – IT WILL CUT ABOUT ELEVEN HUNDRED JOBS – THIS IS ON TOP OF THE 800 LAYOFFS EARLIER THIS YEAR.

THE LATEST CUTS ARE EXPECTED TO BE COMPLETED WITHIN THE NEXT 18 TO 24 MONTHS.

HASBRO SAID THE LAYOFFS WERE NECESSARY AS THE COMPANY TRIES TO REBOUND FROM A SLOWDOWN IN SALES FOLLOWING HISTORIC HIGHS DURING PANDEMIC LOCKDOWNS.

ACCORDING TO RESEARCH FIRM CIRCANA (SIR-CAH-NA) – U.S. TOY SALES THIS YEAR WERE DOWN EIGHT PERCENT THROUGH SEPTEMBER.

FINALLY THIS MORNING – IT MAY HAVE BEEN SOME WIZARDRY OR JUST PLAIN LUCK – WHEN A WOMAN FOUND A FIRST EDITION COPY OF A “HARRY POTTER” BOOK IN A BARGAIN BIN AT A SHOP IN SCOTLAND TWENTY SIX YEARS AGO.

AT THE TIME — IT ONLY COST HER ABOUT 12 DOLLARS.

NOW THAT SAME BOOK WAS JUST SOLD AT AUCTION – FOR 69 THOUSAND DOLLARS!

ACCORDING TO HANSON AUCTIONEERS – THERE WERE JUST 500 COPIES PRINTED IN THE FIRST RUN OF “HARRY POTTER AND PHILOSOPHER’S STONE.”

300 WENT TO SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES – 200 WERE SENT TO BOOKSHOPS.

THE WOMAN SAID SHE BOUGHT THE BOOK DURING A FAMILY TRIP.

THE BOOK WOULD LATER BE RE-TITLED AS “HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE” FOR AMERICAN READERS — WITH AN INITIAL FIRST-PRINTING OF 50 THOUSAND COPIES.

THESE ARE YOUR TOP STORIES FOR THIS TUESDAY.

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UNTIL THEN I’M KARAH RUCKER. HAVE A GREAT DAY!