Photos: On Mother’s Day, Black mothers march on the White House to demand justice from Child Protective Services

A coalition of black-led organizations protested Child Protective Services (CPS) during the Black Mothers March on the White House.

Senators look for healthcare crisis solutions amid minority worker shortage

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions delved into the acute shortage of minority healthcare workers during a hearing in Washington on Thursday, May 2, 2024.

PHOTOS: Workers join students in protesting for a free Palestine at the socialist May Day March

Organized by the Washington DC branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), this year’s event aimed to unify workers and students in advocating for a liberated Palestine.

Challenges to press freedom: Journalists under fire for protecting source confidentiality

Journalist Catherine Herridge is among those who support the PRESS Act.

Women veterans’ healthcare under spotlight: Senate Committee reviews VA programs

Representatives on the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs claim women are underserved at the VA.

Listen: Exploring the media’s role in today’s polarized politics

WASHINGTON – As digital platforms redefine news consumption habits, several outlets face challenges in maintaining trust from partisan audiences. The internet and social media have intensified sensationalism and polarization. 

With Super Tuesday results setting the stage for a contentious rematch, the podcast analyzes the role of the media in influencing voter decisions and meeting polarized audiences. As Americans navigate an increasingly polarized media landscape, the choices they make have profound implications for the democratic process.

Here’s a look at the Medill on the Hill reporters’ analysis that seeks to unravel the complex dynamics between media, politics and polarization throughout the winter of 2024. 

Listen here:

Video: Voters apathetic about the 2024 presidential election

Alexandria, Va. — The 2024 presidential election is the first presidential rematch since 1956. 

Based on recent polling, few voters are excited about this. They describe feeling unmotivated to strongly support either President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump

Marina Clark, who formerly served in the Air Force, voted on Super Tuesday in her home city of Alexandria, Va. She described that neither candidate is particularly compelling. 

“It’s been harder to align myself with the parties because it feels like I need to side with an extreme,” Clark said. 

Others like Tran Kim-Senior staunchly supported the Democratic party in the past but are now less enthusiastic.

“I was more energized during the Obama years, during that election. I think that was a very exciting cycle for everyone regardless of how you voted,” Kim-Senior said. “As a Democratic voter, I didn’t feel like there was much choice.” 

Polling from the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School indicated that fewer young Americans are planning on voting in November. The decline in enthusiasm and potential turnout causes low morale surrounding this presidential cycle. 

Watch the video story here:

Martin O’Malley promises to prioritize customer service amidst staff challenges at the Social Security Administration

WASHINGTON —  Martin O’Malley, Social Security Administration Commissioner, stated at a Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing on Wednesday that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has made it a priority to support American citizens in navigating the complex social security system, as part of his commitment to improving customer service within the agency.

“We owe it to every American to improve the customer service and support provided by Social Security, so people can get answers to their questions and get their benefit applications decided in a timely manner,” he said.

The Social Security Administration estimates it will serve over 68 million Americans this year. The majority of beneficiaries will be retired Americans and their families, said Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) during a hearing on Wednesday conducted by the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

According to Sen. Casey, experts estimate that without Social Security benefits, 4 in 10 older Americans would have incomes below the poverty line.

“We must protect and strengthen Social Security, so that Americans of every generation can continue to access this essential lifeline,” he said.

Stressing the role of social security as a pillar of social and economic justice in the U.S., O’Malley has promised to steer SSA in the direction of better responsiveness and accessibility to beneficiaries in the future.

O’Malley added that despite the monumental task ahead, SSA faces the challenge of serving an ever-expanding pool of beneficiaries with diminishing staffing resources.

Data from SSA indicates that by the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2024, the agency anticipates serving over 7 million more beneficiaries; it is doing so with approximately seven thousand fewer full-time permanent staff compared to FY 2015, a decrease of nine and a half percent.

“We want to work with Congress to sustain the funding increases in the President’s FY 2025 budget and beyond, to enable SSA to improve service levels and reduce wait times,” O’Malley said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Mike Braun, (R-Ind.), said it’s not a funding issue with the President’s budget, but staffing efficiencies and training that need to be addressed.

“We can’t fix a customer service crisis by throwing more money at it and expecting different results,” he said.

Sen. Braun added that when inflation rises, it’s harder for the government to hire and retain employees.

“If we don’t get our fiscal house in order, we won’t keep our promise to millions of beneficiaries and future generations. Our debt is out of control. Like every agency, Social Security needs to find efficiencies,” he said.

Sen. Casey stated that it is unfortunate that support for the Social Security Administration is significantly decreasing and that demand for Social Security is rising along with the aging population.

“Due to the administration’s severe underfunding, the Social Security Administration has experienced significant challenges, including longer wait times for service and approval of disability benefits as well as overpayments and underpayments,” he said.

He added that by the end of the fiscal year 2022, the Social Security Administration workforce was also under tremendous pressure.

O’Malley said due to the complexities of the overpayment problem and the repercussions involved, the agency is enacting four changes:

First, starting next Monday, March 25, the agency will no longer take adverse action if a beneficiary fails to respond to the agency’s demand for repayment. Second, beneficiaries will not will not have to prove they didn’t cause an overpayment. Third, social security beneficiaries will be able to give a verbal summary of their income instead of written. Fourth, overpaid beneficiaries who believe they are not at fault for causing an overpayment and do not have the ability to repay can file a waiver of repayment.

Sen. Casey stated that achieving those objectives and resolving current issues will be challenging in the absence of sufficient financing and legislative changes.

“I will continue to push for robust funding for SSA which will support investments in technology, hiring, and retention,” he said.

Lawmakers and other advocates step up pushback over battle over DEI

WASHINGTON  — As diversity, equity and inclusion continues to come under fire on the state level, lawmakers and officials in Washington are trying to step into the issue on the federal level. 

The Congressional Black Caucus last week implored the Department of Justice to investigate whether it is lawful for states to “dismantle” diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs in higher education. 

“We were dismayed and extremely disappointed to see what’s happening,” said Vincent Evans, executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus. “We find it unacceptable.”

In a letter addressed to Attorney General Merrick Garland, group members said they were “concerned by the strident actions taken by states like Florida, Alabama, Texas, and others.”

In a statement to Medill News Service on Thursday, Rep. Steven Horsford (R-Nev.), the chair of the caucus, said he was deeply concerned about the efforts conservatives are taking to dismantle DEI programs.

 “The push to end diversity programs on college campuses are being waged by the same forces that fought to end women’s reproductive choice and affirmative action through the courts,” Horsford said. “Now, these forces want to end programs that create economic opportunity, provide an even playing field, and improve performance in the public and private sector.”

The extra attention being placed on college campuses as part of DEI is because many states began with K-12 and are now moving on to colleges and universities. 

“It has become easier… for some conservatives to view higher education, not as something that needs to be reformed, that needs more intellectual diversity,” Jeremy Young, Freedom to Learn program director for Pen America, an organization dedicated to protecting free expression, said in an interview. “But instead as just a power base for Democrats that needs to be destroyed.”

White voters with no college degree made up 54% of Republican voters in 2022 as opposed to 27% of Democratic voters, according to a July 2023 survey by the Pew Research Center. 

Earlier this month, the University of Florida announced that it eliminated positions and contracts centered around DEI and closed its Office of the Chief Diversity Officer to comply with a law passed by the Florida government last year. The measure says that state universities cannot spend any public funds that “advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion as defined in this regulation.” 

The $5 million previously set aside to the roles will be redistributed to a faculty recruitment fund, according to a memo by the university. 

The caucus letter last week said in part that the elimination of DEI at the University of Florida would hurt “an already low percentage of Black students at 5% of the student body, and even lower percentage of Black faculty at 4.5%.”

“We’ve got to speak truth to power to ensure that we are protecting an environment that, for decades now, has worked to open up their doors for students of all opportunities, backgrounds and colors,” Evans said.

The caucus requested that the Department of Justice “reviews the action of these states to assess their legality, especially as it related to the need for a safe, learning environment for students.”

It’s unclear whether the Justice Department under the Biden administration will take action. The DOJ confirmed receipt of the letter, but declined further comment. 

Florida is not the only state targeting DEI. Alabama’s House last week passed a law in “prohibiting certain public entities from maintaining diversity, equity, and inclusion offices and from sponsoring diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

The bill is now waiting for a vote in the Alabama Senate. 

At least 81 bills across 28 states objecting to DEI have been introduced since 2023, according to tracking by the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Eight of those bills have become law. Each has varying degrees of intensity when it comes to limiting DEI within the state. 

For months, GOP members on Capitol HIll have stepped up their attacks on DEI. 

Last week, the Republican-led House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing intended to spotlight DEI across college campuses

“DEI bureaucrats are hired not only to control conversations but also to stifle free speech and open discourse by asserting leverage on every aspect of university management,” argued Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development. 

Owens claimed that it is “divisive.” Opponents of DEI believe that it actually represents a lack of political freedom and makes students be at odds with one another rather than finding common ground. And last month, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), in an opinion piece in the Washington Examiner, called on Congress to take steps “to ensure federal dollars go toward improving learning, not promoting divisive ideologies.”

Jay Greene, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, testified at the hearing that there is a lack of evidence to support the idea that DEI improves the climate of college campuses.

Some advocates are also dismayed that efforts to dismantle DEI have been caught up in the crossfire of attacking the rise of antisemitism, especially after the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel by Hamas. 

During a contentious congressional hearing last year, Claudine Gay, then the president of Harvard, faced backlash for how the university responded to antisemitic attacks on the campus. Gay later resigned after  plagiarism accusations and harsh criticisms over her testimony. 

Throughout the hearing, a heavy emphasis was placed on how DEI could be considered exclusionary for those who are not a part of marginalized groups. 

However, Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) warned at the House hearing last week against weaponizing antisemitism as a “vehicle to push an extreme political agenda that is determined to erase any mention of the words diversity or equity on campus.”

Opponents of DEI argue that professors and students feel as though they cannot speak up without being blacklisted by their classmates. 

However, the vagueness of the anti-DEI legislation makes it so professors are unsure of what they can discuss in a classroom without fear of being reported. 

“The effect of these laws is to make students and faculty feel not only unwelcome on campuses, but also afraid,” Young argued. 

As a result of the legislation passed in Florida, the University of North Florida started to phase out the LGBTQ+, Intercultural, Interfaith and Women’s Center at the beginning of January. 

The new laws do not just concern race and gender equity, but also religious liberties, according to Young.  

“When they wrote and approved the First Amendment, they were not losing sleep over what an administrator might do on college campuses. They were losing sleep over the government telling people what they can and cannot say,” Young said. 

Supreme Court debates legitimacy of ATF’s ruling on bump stocks, dissecting definition of a law established during Prohibition

WASHINGTON –  The Supreme Court wrestled with how to interpret a 1934 statute during oral arguments on Feb. 28 in a case to determine whether bump stocks, used in the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting, should be classified as machine guns. 

The justices wrangled with the National Firearms Act’s ambiguous definition of “machine gun” during Garland v. Cargill

“That’s the language we’re stuck with,” lamented Justice Brett Kavanaugh, acknowledging the act was originally passed as a direct response to gang violence during the Prohibition era. 

Bump stocks are defined by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as “devices that allow a semiautomatic firearm to shoot more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger.” The two sides diverged in their definition of trigger.

A bump stock harnesses the recoil energy from the initial trigger of a firearm, allowing it to continuously shoot without active intervention after the first shot.

In 2002, the ATF deliberated over a particular bump stock known as the “Akins Accelerator.” The ATF determined that under the 1934 statute, the bureau could not regulate the Atkins Accelerator because it required repeated pulls of the trigger to fire multiple shots. 

However, in 2006, the ATF revisited its ruling and determined that bump stocks that the Atkins Accelerator were machine guns. 

Since then, many different bump stocks have emerged, leading to several ATF rulings between 2008 and 2017 that many did not qualify as machine guns. 

After the Las Vegas music festival shooting that killed 60 people, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, the ATF under the Trump administration redefined bump stocks as machine guns. 

The decision exposed bump stock owners to criminal liability if they did not destroy or turn in the devices by March 26, 2019.

Michael Cargill, the owner of Central Texas Gun Works, challenged the ruling when it went into effect in 2019. The federal district court sided with the ATF, contending that the ruling abides by the best interpretation of the statute. 

“The case is about whether or not the ATF have the authority to promulgate this rule, not whether or not it is constitutional under the Second Amendment to regulate bump stock,” Kelly Roskam, director of law and policy at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions, said in an interview with Medill News Service. 

“Those weapons do exactly what Congress meant to prohibit when it enacted the prohibition on machine guns,” attorney Brian Fletcher argued before the Supreme Court on behalf of Attorney General Merrick Garland, who represents the government. 

Fletcher maintained that it would be “irresponsible” for the ATF to overlook their previous judgment that bump stocks were not machine guns in light of the Las Vegas shooting. 

Cargill’s argument rested on the movement of the trigger back and forth between shots and the human intervention required to keep shooting. In contrast, Garland’s position hinged on the technicality that the shooter is no longer actively controlling the trigger after the first shot and thus is initiating a continuous cycle of fire. 

The U.S. Appeals Court for the Fifth Circuit sided with Garland, judging that Congress willfully excluded trigger finger movement when constructing their statute. Cargill soon after appealed this decision to the Supreme Court. 

“The trigger is the device that initiates the firing of the weapon. A bump stock does not change the trigger in any way,” Jonathan Mitchell, attorney for Cargill, said during oral arguments.  

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson doggedly questioned Mitchell, homing in on the intent of Congress. 

“Why would Congress want to prohibit certain things based on whether the trigger is moving as opposed to certain things that can achieve this, you know, lethal kind of spray of bullets?” asked Jackson. 

Both Jackson and Justice Elena Kagan maintained that though the mechanisms may differ, a semi-automatic equipped with a bump stock and a typical machine gun have the same capability.

“At some point, you have to apply a little bit of common sense to the way you read a statute and understand that what this statute comprehends is a weapon that fires a multitude of shots with a single human action,” said Kagan.

Mitchell, however, continued to insist upon a difference between the function of bump stocks and that of machine guns. 

“It has a very high rate of fire, but it’s not automatically fired,” replied Mitchell.

If the court rules in favor of Garland, the ban on the ownership and transfer of bump stocks will remain in effect.

If the justices side with Cargill, Americans will be able to possess and purchase bump stocks unless Congress or state legislative bodies enacts new laws. 

“The ATF doesn’t have the power to make something a crime that wasn’t a crime before. It’s not a crime to violate the rule,” said Fletcher. “It has been and always will be a crime to violate the statute.”

Sen. Katie Britt projects contrast in taking aim at Biden’s State of the Union address

WASHINGTON — Republicans were ready with a forceful response to President Joe Biden‘s State of the Union address by having the youngest Republican woman ever elected to the Senate, Sen. Katie Britt of Alabama deliver a message of concern.

“Our commander-in-chief is not in command,” Britt said. “The free world deserves better than a dithering and diminished leader.”

Britt’s youth and background were aimed to project strong family values in direct contrast to the 81-year-old president. As a mother of two school-age children, she said she fears the American dream is disappearing for her children’s futures.

“The American family needs to have a tough conversation,” Britt said. “Because the truth is, we’re all worried about the future of our nation.”

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., said in an interview with Medill News Service before the address that Britt symbolizes a differing perspective of the party being a mother and one of six senators under the age of 45.

“She’s a hardworking person. She comes from a great state. I think she’ll do a great job,” Scott said.

Britt delivered her speech from her home in Montgomery, Ala., and raised skepticism about the president’s fitness and age.

“The country we know and love seems to be slipping away — it feels like the next generation will have fewer opportunities, and less freedom, than we did,” she said in her 17-minute address. “I worry my own children may not even get a shot at living their American dreams.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said earlier this week that Britt is the only current conservative mother in the Senate.

Britt and Republican lawmakers continue to attack Biden’s re-election campaign and aim to mobilize other factions of the party.

After the rebuttal, social media critics, including conservatives, questioned Britt’s delivery and choice of anecdotes.

“I’m sure Katie Britt is a sweet mom and person, but this speech is not what we need,” Charlie Kirk, founder of the right-wing group Turning Point USA, wrote on Twitter. “Joe Biden just declared war on the American right and Katie Britt is talking like she’s hosting a cooking show.”

Former President Donald Trump, however, had strong praise for her. He wrote on his Truth Social platform that she “was compassionate and caring, especially concerning women and women’s Issues.”

There also have been mentions of Britt as a potential vice president candidate for Trump.

Britt’s comments hit on several of the issues that have driven Biden’s low poll numbers, including inflation and policies over the southern border.

As one of nine Republican women in the Senate, she was the third female in a row to deliver a response. Last year, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivered the response, stating that Biden is “unwilling to defend our border, defend our skies and defend our people.”

“Mr. President, enough is enough,” Britt said. “Innocent Americans are dying and you only have yourself to steal your oath of office and reverse your policies in this crisis, and stop the suffering.”

Britt and other Republican lawmakers criticized Biden’s boasting about creating employment and the American economy being “the envy of the world” in his speech.

“A lot of the policy prescriptions that Joe Biden illuminated tonight are inflationary by nature,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., told Medill News Service. “Like, ‘I’m going to stop inflation by giving everybody an extra 400 bucks.’ I think that defies basic economic theory.”

Published in conjunction with UPI Logo

Biden pushes to protect consumer wallets at State of the Union

WASHINGTON — At Thursday’s State of the Union address, President Joe Biden called for higher taxation on the wealthy, tax credits for ordinary Americans and eliminating deceptive pricing for consumers.

“Too many corporations raise their prices to pad their profits, charging you more and more for less and less,” Biden said. “That’s why we’re cracking down.”

The president pointed to his successes this year in implementing the 15% corporate minimum tax rate created by the Inflation Reduction Act, and finalizing an $8 cap on credit card late fees just this week. 

He also reiterated points from last year’s State of the Union speech on proposed rules for transparent pricing, requiring companies to give consumers the total price upfront for event tickets, travel expenses, cable, utilities and more.

“I’m saving American families $20 billion a year with all of the junk fees I’m eliminating,” Biden said, citing figures from the Council of Economic Advisors.

The subject of high prices saw only a brief mention in the wide-ranging speech, despite it being a priority issue for Americans. The Pew Research Center found that strengthening the economy is the only standout issue for voters and has been for the past two years. They also found that 72% of U.S. adults say they are very concerned about the price of food and consumer goods.

Meanwhile, many polls show Donald Trump leading Biden in the upcoming 2024 presidential race, and an NBC News poll found that Trump leads Biden by 20 points on the economy.

Biden highlighted economic wins in the country’s recovery from COVID-19, with unemployment at 50-year lows, inflation coming down and wage increases surpassing inflation rates.

“I inherited an economy that was on the brink. Now our economy is the envy of the world,” he said.

After the speech, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) criticized Biden’s failure to acknowledge people’s concerns about high prices for consumer goods.

“People believe the economic choices his administration made resulted in them having to pay higher prices at the pump, at the grocery store. There was no empathy for those people, there was no solution for those people,” Gaetz said.

He also called Biden’s proposed $10,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers and people selling their starter homes “inflationary.”

“It’s like, ‘I’m gonna stop inflation by giving everybody an extra 400 bucks.’ I think that defies basic economic theory.”

In Photo: Pro-Palestinian Americans want Biden to know that “the state of our union is genocide”

WASHINGTON — More than 40 pro-Palestinian groups organized the “People’s State of the Union” outside the White House hours before President Biden’s State of the Union address. According to protesters, “the state of our union is genocide.”

“We are here to give a diagnosis of the fate of our union,” Cindy Wiesner, executive director of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, said. “The current trajectory of genocide of the Palestinian people is in our name and we are saying here in the streets of D.C…. not in our name.”

The organizations gathered in protest of the United States’ funding of Israel’s military and in support of an “immediate and permanent ceasefire,” according to a press release from the organizers. 

The United States gave $3.8 billion of financial assistance to the Israeli military in 2023, compared to $154 million to Gaza and the West Bank.

In Biden’s State of the Union address, he said that the only long-term solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to find a “two-state solution.” He announced a plan to build a temporary port on Gaza’s Mediterranean coast to provide humanitarian relief by sea. Protesters, though, remained weary about Biden’s sudden efforts toward people in Gaza. 

“Enough with the arming of the genocide while carrying out these publicity stunts,” Ahmad Abuznaid, Executive Director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, said. He said that if the U.S. hadn’t funded Israel’s military in the first place, Palestinians “could build [their] own damn ports.”
During the rally, a counter-protester drove a white Ford Mustang toward the crowd and revved the vehicle’s engine at protesters. He was subsequently arrested by police officers and the rally continued. Organizers acknowledged that the incident shook many attendees, but protester Jasmine Blacksher was among the vast majority who stayed.

“He definitely could have ran through the whole crowd,” Blacksher said. “Honestly, I hope that person gets the help they need.”

Soon after the start of the rally, a counter-protester revved his engine at protesters and was arrested. Protesters rallied in front of the vehicle after. (Aidan Johnstone/MNS)

The driver was arrested by multiple police officers. (Aidan Johnstone/MNS)

An organizer speaks to “People’s State of the Union” attendees. (Aidan Johnstone/MNS)

Protesters projected “Genocide Joe” onto a neighboring building. (Aidan Johnstone/MNS)

Doctors Against Genocide installed an art piece commemorating a recent attack by Israel’s military where more than 100 Palestinians were killed while waiting in line for flour. (Aidan Johnstone/MNS)

Protesters rallied against Joe Biden in front of the White House. (Aidan Johnstone/MNS)



Tim Tebow tells lawmakers to do more to protect children from sexual abuse

WASHINGTON — At least 50,0000 unknown children are being sexually exploited and there is a need to identify and rescue them, said former NFL player Tim Tebow to lawmakers during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday. 

“Most of you came to Congress because you wanted to make the world better, you wanted to help people, you wanted to change things, ” said Tebow, chairman and founder of the Tim Tebow Foundation. “You can change the lives of tens of thousands of children right now.”

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) said child sex abuse materials (CSAM) is a significant problem and is expanding in both the U.S. and other countries. The number of CSAM reports has increased from 3,000 in 1998 to 18.4 million in 2019. 

“The United States has a duty to protect our children from becoming the victims of these despicable acts,” he said. 

Tebow noted that members of international law enforcement from 18 countries convened a meeting in Lyon, France last year and found at least 50,000 children who were victims of abuse, of whom 316 were successfully identified. Their work showed that 84% of images depicted sexual abuse, 47% contained extreme abuse including rape, bondage, torture, defecation, and bestiality, and more than 60% of unidentified victims were under the age of 12. Furthermore, more than half of the children who were rescued during the operation were U.S. citizens. 

Rep. Madeleine Dean  (R-Pa.) said the issue is a global epidemic in need of new solutions and identifying the victims is of the utmost importance. 

“Behind these images and livestream are children who may still be the victim of abuse and suffering, hoping to be found, hoping to be rescued.” 

She noted that if members of this body truly cared about the safety of CSAM victims they would provide the necessary resources and funding to law enforcement and to non-profit organizations who are working in this space.

Tebow pushed the representatives for a bill to fund a rescue team to save sexually exploited children and asked lawmakers to support its funding. 

“This bill is going to build a big enough rescue team to get all those 50,000 boys and girls. This bill needs funding, support and technology.”

Camille Cooper, vice president of anti-human trafficking and child exploitation at the Tim Tebow Foundation, said that thanks to the work done by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, they have been able to identify many of the offenders.

“We need a rescue team, we need specially trained victim identification analysts and we need 100 of them,” said Cooper.

She noted that it’s important to modernize the database and invest in training, as well as provide the best tools available to rescue these children. 

Biggs agreed that a large law enforcement effort is needed. 

“The work can not only be done by the federal government, joined efforts among federal states, international and non-government partners are essential for the identification and rescue of victims,” said Biggs.

Photos: Dressing for CPAC

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – The Conservative Political Action Conference is known for its prominent conservative voices, views, and ideas. But there is another feature of the conference that makes it distinct: fashion.

Many CPAC attendees spared no expense in creating props and costumes to show off their political views.  They include media personalities with hundreds of thousands of followers online and fans of Donald Trump and his MAGA movement.

Natasha Owens is known for her song “Trump Won,” which champions the discredited claim that President Joe Biden stole the presidential election in 2020. (Jonah Elkowitz/MNS)

One CPAC attendee is a known singer among the Trump community. Famous for her song “Trump Won,” Natasha Owens is a contemporary Christian singer from Frisco, Texas. 

Owens said she started singing about her faith but realized that her music could impact the political world.  Owens encourages the Republican party to embrace music to spread its message.

“Music is so powerful,” she said. “Music can penetrate where words can’t.”

Blake Marnell, known as “brick suit,” poses for a portrait at CPAC 2024. (Jonah Elkowitz/MNS)

Blake Marnell, who goes by “Brick Suit,” is a Trump supporter from San Diego who came up with the idea in  2019 during a visit to Washington. The suit pays homage to Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Marnell said he wanted to wear something that stood out and  “trigger all the leftists [he] was going to meet in DC.” Since then, the fit stuck, and he has become known online by hundreds of thousands for his brick-themed blazer, pants, and tie.

Roberta Curtin poses for a portrait after discussing MAGA fashion. (Jonah Elkowitz/MNS)

Georgia resident Roberta Curtin merged her love for fashion with a passion for Donald Trump. Curtin has been sowing and designing outfits since she was 12 years old and uses crystals in her designs. At Trump rallies, she goes by “bling,” referring to her array of sparkly-looking clothes. 

At CPAC, Curtin wore a “MAGA” Luis Vuitton bag, a Trump-themed shirt, as well as a USA hat, all lined with crystals. This year, various sponsors helped put her outfit together, including gifting her with her bag, as well as providing her with t-shirts and other accessories.

Nicholas Umbs poses for a portrait at the Gaylord National Convention Center. (Jonah Elkowitz/MNS)

Nickolas Umbs, a frequent Trump rally attendee, tries to see Trump in person every chance he can. He has attended seven Trump rallies, and this marked his third visit to CPAC.  “It’s always great to see him and just see the energy,” he said. “Seeing [him] live in person versus seeing [him] on TV is a completely different experience”

Umbs took a homemade approach to his outfit this year, fastening together colonial buckles as well as a customized Trump pirate hat in addition to his “Here’s Donny” t-shirt, a spinoff from The Shinning. 

Video: Young conservatives rally around Trump at CPAC

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Young conservatives rallied behind former president Donald Trump at this year’s Conservative Political Action Convention.

Trump’s election in 2016 served as a political awakening for this new generation, who are ready to fight tooth and nail to bring the former president back to the White House.

Amidst a crowd of ‘let’s go Brandon’ hats and calls to free Jan. 6 rioters from prison, young CPAC attendees underlined that they are inspired by Trump’s blunt, isolationist approach.


Watch the video report here:

Video: CPAC showcases international conservative movement

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Conservatives across the globe traveled to CPAC for its annual conference last weekend. It kicked off with the International Summit featuring right-wing leaders including former U.K. prime minister Liz Truss, President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador and President Javier Milei of Argentina. 

“The Americans should know that you are a source of inspiration for billions of people all across the world,” Mihail Neamtu, Romanian author of The Trump Phenomenon, said. 

The theme, “Where Globalism Goes to Die” reflected the far right’s growing desire for policies that focus only on domestic issues and not supporting allies or strategic alliances. For American conservatives, it means sitting on a $95 billion foreign aid bill for Ukraine and Israel.

“I think it’s probably the intellectual debate of our time… it is anti-God, anti-Christian, anti-individual,” said Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) to the Medill News Service.


Watch the video report here:



Medill Today | March 14, 2024