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5 things for Thursday, March 30: Bathroom, travel ban, Brexit
A deal has been reached to repeal North Carolina's controversial "bathroom bill," but not everybody's happy about it. The law, passed last year, forbids transgender people from using the bathroom they identify with. A series of votes to repeal the law starts this morning. LGBT groups don't like the deal because it leaves bathroom regulations under state control and bans cities from passing their own anti-discrimination laws until 2020. Backlash against the law has cost North Carolina millions as businesses, entertainers and sports leagues have boycotted the state.
President Trump's travel ban just took another hit. A federal judge in Hawaii indefinitely blocked the executive order that bans from the US most travelers from six Muslim-majority countries. But wait, wasn't it already blocked? Yes, the same judge did that two weeks ago. But Hawaii wanted a longer-term halt while its lawsuit against the ban works its way through the courts. The judge granted that. The Justice Department may now immediately appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, where some judges have signaled support for the ban.
The ink's not even dry on these divorce papers and already there's drama. British Prime Minister Theresa May has been accused of using security as a bargaining chip as the EU and UK hammer out Brexit. In the letter sent to the EU notifying it that the UK was leaving, May said that if a deal couldn't be reached, it would affect the continent's security. Critics called that "shameful" and "blackmail"; May said security was one of many things that would need to be negotiated with the rest of Europe over the next couple of years.
We're back to normal. So says John Williams, the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Williams said the US has finally "attained the hard-sought recovery we've been after for the past nine years." The Fed thinks we're now in a normal economy because unemployment -- which peaked at 10% during the Great Recession -- is now at 4.7%, which is considered full employment. Also, inflation is near the Fed's goal of 2%. So here's the new goal for the new normal: sustain the recovery and rev up US economic growth.
Here's a real tragedy coming out of Texas' Hill Country. Thirteen people in a minibus were killed in a collision with a pickup truck. The folks in the bus were church members returning from a retreat. Two people were injured, including the driver of the truck. Counselors will be on hand today at the church.
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Things have changed
Bob Dylan has changed his mind and finally agreed to accept his Nobel Prize. He'll get it this weekend when he's in Sweden for a pair of concerts.
Out of this world
We've seen plans for a spinning skyscraper and a U-shaped skyscraper. Those are cute, but nothing compared to a tower that floats in the sky.
When do commuters turn into concertgoers? When singer John Legend pops up at a rail station during the morning rush and starts running through his hits.
Is that you?
Cristiano Ronaldo has pretty much everything -- fame, fortune, glory. Everything except a bronze bust that looks anything like him.
So, do you like it?
The poodle gets a new haircut. The cat doesn't know what to think. (Click to view)