News briefs

Tribune Content Agency

Florida Rep. Maxwell Frost focuses on gun violence in first bill

U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost, Florida’s new Gen Z congressman, is making gun violence the focus of his first bill.

Frost filed legislation on Wednesday that would create an office within the U.S. Department of Justice to coordinate the nation’s response to gun violence.

“I got involved in politics because of gun violence,” the 26-year-old Democrat said in an interview. “Going to the vigil after Sandy Hook served as my call to action. It is an issue I hold close to my heart. It’s an issue that plagues Central Florida.”

While a variety of federal agencies handle aspects of gun violence prevention, no centralized office exists to spearhead the federal government’s response, Frost said

Frost’s bill proposes creating the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, which would take on that role.

The new office would collect and report data on gun violence, engage a variety of public agencies on the issue, make policy recommendations to lawmakers and the president, educate the public and report annually to Congress.

—Orlando Sentinel

Dominion inflated $1 billion defamation loss, Fox claims

Dominion Voting Systems can’t prove it suffered defamation damages of more than $1 billion from Fox News broadcasting claims that the company rigged the 2020 presidential election, the network’s lawyers told a Delaware judge.

The whopping estimate made in the Denver-based company’s lawsuit reflects a manipulation of the damage calculation, including counting lost sales of voting machines that hadn’t actually occurred yet or been secured by contract, Fox attorney Erin Murphy argued Wednesday at a court hearing.

“There are other reasons” Dominion lost business besides being blamed by Fox hosts and guests for throwing the election to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, Murphy said. The company also had operational and security problems with their machines, she said.

Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis said he’d rule later on whether the case will proceed to an April 17 trial.

The voting machine maker says state governments across the U.S. are shying away from their products in the wake of the false claims about election fraud, chopping its value by more than $1 billion.

—Bloomberg News

Another Michigan State shooting victim released from hospital

LANSING, Mich. — Another Michigan State University shooting victim was discharged Wednesday from Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, hospital spokesman John Foren confirmed.

The student was originally admitted in critical condition after the Feb. 13 campus shooting, but had been considered in fair condition before release. MSU Police also announced the release of the student.

One of the five original wounded students remains hospitalized in critical condition, Foren said. The rest have been released.

Five students were injured in the February shooting, when accused shooter Anthony McRae of Lansing opened fire inside Berkey Hall and the student Union. They include Troy Forbush, who identified himself on social media, and Nate Statly, John Hao and Guadalupe Huapilla-Perez, who were identified through online fundraisers.

Three students — 19-year-old Arielle Anderson, 20-year-old Alexandria Verner and 20-year-old Brian Fraser — were killed. McRae later died by a self-inflicted gunshot wound when he was encountered by police.

—The Detroit News

Sweden passes law on joining NATO even as entry is stalled

Sweden’s parliament passed legal amendments to allow the largest Nordic country join the NATO alliance as soon as possible, even after the timeline for its entry has been thrown in doubt.

Lawmakers voted 269-37 to back the legislation in a vote in Stockholm on Wednesday, with none abstaining. The amendments will pave the path for Sweden to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, while its application is stalled by holdout members Hungary and Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been a particularly vocal opponent of Sweden’s application, accusing Sweden of not doing enough to crack down on groups that Turkey labels as terrorist. There’s been a significant pressure from NATO allies for Sweden’s membership to be ratified before the Vilnius summit in July.

The country and its Nordic neighbor Finland, also a longtime NATO opt-out, submitted their applications together with the shared hope of the countries joining together. Hopes for a parallel entry process were dashed last week by Erdogan’s decision to instruct the lawmakers to ratify the Finnish application alone. Some analysts have speculated whether this would lead to lower support among the Swedes to the entry.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 quickly triggered Sweden to change its stance on NATO after having for decades elected to stand outside of the alliance. The events prompted Swedes to support their country joining the alliance after earlier opposing it.

—Bloomberg News