The push to wage war on cartels
Plus: Biden's executive order on guns, explained
👋 Good morning. As gang violence and drug trafficking increase, more politicians think labeling Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations will help solve the problem. Today, we’re covering:
🔫 President Joe Biden’s executive order on guns,
💊 The push to label Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations,
🩺 A pioneer of “gender-affirming” treatments expresses regret,
➕ And everything else you need to know.
Plus, some breaking news: The Biden administration has reportedly warned TikTok that it will be banned in the U.S. if its Chinese parent company doesn't sell its stake in the U.S. version of the app.
What Biden’s executive order on gun control does
What happened? On Tuesday, President Joe Biden issued an executive order to increase background checks and boost federal support for “red flag” laws. He announced the order in a speech at Monterey Park, California, where 11 people died in a mass shooting in January. The order is meant to enhance a bipartisan gun control bill he signed into law last June, which primarily expanded background checks but fell short of Biden’s calls to ban “assault weapons.”
The order’s contents: The order calls for a crackdown on arms dealers who aren’t performing required background checks to prevent illegal gun sales. It also urges federal agencies to promote red flag laws, which controversially allow authorities to confiscate guns from people they deem to be threats. The order will also expand ballistic data reporting, seek to reduce the theft and loss of firearms, and scrutinize gun manufacturers’ marketing strategies.
What’s new? Federal legislation already requires licensed gun dealers to run background checks before sales. Additionally, many states require background checks for sales by unlicensed dealers, and 14 states plus Washington, D.C., require universal background checks. Biden’s executive order moves “the U.S. as close to universal background checks as possible” because it calls for the attorney general to crack down on all the areas where background checks could be absent.
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WHAT WE'RE WATCHING
💰 Biden wants to give the Pentagon a raise despite its failed audits. The Pentagon is notorious for losing track of taxpayer dollars and has never properly accounted for its assets to pass an audit in its entire history. In the latest audit, it couldn’t account for 61 percent of its assets. Still, President Biden wants to raise its budget by $26 billion.
💉 FDA approves COVID booster shot for infants. The agency approved a booster for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine bivalent for children aged 6 months through 4 years old. This effectively means that a baby could get four COVID shots.
👀 Trump super PAC files ethics complaint with DeSantis. Make America Great Again Inc. alleges a “shadow presidential campaign” by Trump’s possible 2024 rival. The complaint asks the Florida Commission on Ethics to investigate Gov. Ron DeSantis’s “personally lucrative book tour,” state-level campaign contributions, and super PACs. "Adding this to the list of frivolous and politically motivated attacks — it's inappropriate to use state ethics for partisan purposes,” said a DeSantis spokesperson.
🤰 Tennessee Senate passes bill against abortion spending. Senate Bill 600 would punish local governments for funding illegal abortions. It would also apply to local funding for out-of-state abortions. Abortion is banned in Tennessee with exceptions only for “risk to the life of the mother or serious bodily harm to the mother.” One legislator said that the bill would have no punishing effect on hospitals.
The growing sentiment to wage war on the cartels
What’s happening: A growing number of lawmakers are pushing to label Mexican drug cartels as terrorist groups as pressure mounts to address increasing violence and drug trafficking. On Friday, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) introduced a bill to list four cartels as foreign terrorist organizations for their roles in gang violence and fentanyl trafficking. The move comes on the heels of a kidnapping in early March that left two Americans dead in a cartel shootout.
Name game: “The cartels have to be addressed if we’re going to control our border,” argues former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who defends the terrorist label. And he’s not the only one. Former President Donald Trump vowed to deploy U.S. special forces on the cartels if elected, saying it's time to “wage war on cartels,” and other GOP voices like Vivek Ramaswamy and Sen. Lindsey Graham have endorsed the idea.
Where we stand: Although 69 percent of Americans support labeling cartels as terrorist groups, the White House has said that this would not expand America’s power to combat cartels. Still, the threat remains. Fentanyl-related deaths are on the rise, with the primary source of illicit fentanyl entering the United States from Mexican drug cartels. More than 350 million lethal doses of fentanyl were seized last year. Even as fentanyl seizures concentrate at the border, the Mexican president remains vehemently opposed to any U.S. military action.
Read our deep dive—America At War: The Fentanyl Crisis Killing Hundreds of Thousands.
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A pioneer in gender medicine says ‘we were wrong’ about puberty blockers
In a nutshell: Dr. Susan Bradley, an influential Canadian psychiatrist and researcher, expressed regret for advancing puberty blockers and the “affirmative” model of treatment for children with gender dysphoria in a recent interview. After starting a pediatric gender clinic in 1975 and helping to create the American Psychiatric Association’s guidelines on gender identity, she said the prevailing medical consensus is “wrong” and the issue is “complicated” for patients.
On puberty blockers: “They’re not as reversible as we always thought,” Bradley said, mentioning that the drugs disrupt bone growth and cause sterility. Research, including some studies Bradley conducted, also shows that most children can grow out of gender dysphoria entirely, but puberty blockers overwhelmingly influence them toward more transition treatments. This has confirmed her long-held suspicion that “we were actually colluding and not helping” children.
On patient regret: Bradley described patients that she treated who struggled with their own transition, either pursuing more and more treatments without satisfaction or detransitioning altogether. “There are an awful lot of people who end up feeling that this hasn’t solved their problems with who they are,” she said. She now thinks that many individuals, especially children, are pursuing “acceptance” through transitioning.
Why it matters: Despite the air of moral certainty from transgender advocates,”gender-affirming” treatments are largely experimental, and medical insiders like Bradley have acknowledged this. Evidence of the harmful effects of sex-change treatments on children continues to mount; a whistleblower from a Missouri gender clinic even referred to them as criminal, sparking a state investigation.
Would you support military intervention against the cartels?
Poll results will be in tomorrow’s newsletter.
POLL RESULTS FROM YESTERDAY
Do you agree with the DeSantis & Trump Ukraine perspective?
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 👍 Yes (84%)
⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 👎 No (7.1%)
⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🤔 Unsure (8.9%)
IN THE LOOP
🧑🌾 Farmers are partnering with the government to test the soil in East Palestine, Ohio, following the chemical spill from the recent train derailment.
🗳️ More Latinos are voting for the first time than non-Latinos in Texas, Florida, Arizona, California, Nevada, and New York.
🏦 California Gov. Gavin Newsom failed to disclose financial ties to Silicon Valley Bank while praising the federal bailout. Three of his wineries were clients, and the bank once donated $100,000 to his wife’s nonprofit.
🛢️ Environmental organizations are suing Biden for approving a large oil drilling project in Alaska.
🇷🇺 Russia will try to salvage the remains of the U.S. drone that a Russian pilot bumped into the Black Sea.
🪖 China, Russia, and Iran are conducting military drills together in the Gulf of Oman.
🤝 The E.U. is finalizing a roughly $2 billion deal to jointly restock Ukraine’s dwindling ammunition supplies while refilling countries’ stocks
🇫🇮 Turkey will likely approve NATO membership for Finland.
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