The nation in brief : Thousands rally for transgender rights

Leo (right) of Pennsylvania, plays with Alice, 2, while attending a rally as a part of Transgender Day of Visibility, Friday by the Capitol in Washington.
(AP/Jacquelyn Martin)
Leo (right) of Pennsylvania, plays with Alice, 2, while attending a rally as a part of Transgender Day of Visibility, Friday by the Capitol in Washington. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

Thousands rally for transgender rights

MONTPELIER, Vt. -- Thousands of people rallied across the country Friday as part of a Transgender Day of Visibility in support of the rights of transgender people amid what many denounced as an increasingly hostile environment.

Supporters of transgender rights converged on statehouses nationwide, at the Capitol Reflecting Pool in Washington, and at other venues to mark a day of unity first proclaimed more than a decade ago.

The rallies came at least 11 states have now enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming care for minors: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Utah, South Dakota and West Virginia.

Federal judges have blocked enforcement of laws in Alabama and Arkansas.

President Joe Biden issued a statement Friday supporting Transgender Day of Visibility. The president said transgender Americans deserve to be safe and supported in every community. He denounced what he called hundreds of hateful and extreme state laws that target transgender kids and their families.

"These attacks are un-American and must end," Biden said. "The bullying, discrimination and political attacks that trans kids face have exacerbated our national mental health crisis."

Lawsuit against Fox News to go to trial

DOVER, Del. -- A voting machine company's defamation case against Fox News over its airing of false allegations about the 2020 presidential election will go to trial after a Delaware judge ruled Friday that a jury must decide whether the network aired the claims with actual malice.

Superior Court Judge Eric Davis ruled that neither Fox nor Dominion Voting Systems had presented a convincing argument to prevail on whether Fox acted with malice without the case going to trial. But he also ruled that Dominion did not have to prove damages to establish liability by Fox.

"The evidence developed in this civil proceeding demonstrates that [it] is CRYSTAL clear that none of the statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true," Davis wrote in his summary judgment ruling.

The decision paves the way for a trial start in mid-April.

Dominion is suing Fox News and its parent, Fox Corp., for $1.6 billion, claiming Fox defamed it by repeatedly airing claims that company's machines and its accompanying software had switched votes to Democrat Joe Biden.

Fox has said it was simply covering newsworthy allegations made by a sitting president claiming his re-election had been stolen from him.

N.M. blocks anti-abortion ordinances

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The New Mexico Supreme Court blocked local anti-abortion ordinances Friday pending the outcome of a case centered on constitutional rights to equal protection and due process.

The ruling granted a request by Democratic state Attorney General Raul Torrez and follows the state's recent adoption of a new abortion rights bill signed by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham just weeks ago that overrides any local ordinances aimed at limiting access to abortion procedures and medications.

In its order, the New Mexico Supreme Court outlined a schedule for the ongoing case over the ordinances in the cities of Hobbs, Clovis and Eunice and in Lea and Roosevelt counties. It said briefs due this month should address what, if any, effect the new abortion rights law will have on the case.

Torrez said in a statement Friday the legislation and petition "will make it clear that everyone in the state of New Mexico has a protected, constitutional right to make their own healthcare decisions."

A coalition of anti-abortion organizations argued that Torrez bypassed ordinary litigation procedures by filing the emergency petition in hopes of having the court declare a new constitutional right to abortion without the benefit of a lower court taking up the issue.

Missing Florida toddler's body found

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The body of a 2-year-old Florida boy who had been the subject of a frantic search after his mother was slain was found Friday in a lake in the jaws of an alligator, police said.

St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway also said the boy's father, 21-year-old Thomas Mosley, will be charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the killing of the boy's mother, 20-year-old Pashun Jeffery, and their young son Taylen Mosley.

Searchers, including dive teams and officers using drones, had been intensely looking for the boy since his mother's body was discovered in their apartment earlier this week and he was nowhere to be found.

"We are sorry it has had to end this way," Holloway said during a Friday night news conference.

Officers searching for the toddler at a lake a few miles from the apartment complex noticed an alligator "with an object in its mouth" that they quickly realized was a child's body, Holloway said. They fired shots at the reptile, which dropped the body.

"We were able to retrieve Taylen's body intact," the chief said. The alligator was euthanized.

Thomas Mosley is hospitalized with cuts on his hands and arms and has refused to talk to investigators, Holloway said. He does not yet have a lawyer to speak on his behalf.

  photo  Detectives and police forensics look for clues at apartments Thursday in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP/Tampa Bay Times/Chris Urso)

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