What to Know
- The Trump administration lifted Obama-era federal protections for transgender students
- Tensions between the U.S. and Mexico are front and center ahead of a meeting on Thursday
- NASA announced that it has discovered seven planets orbiting a nearby star that may harbor life
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White House Lifts Transgender Bathroom Guidance
Transgender students on Wednesday lost federal protections that allowed them to use school bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identities, as the Trump administration stepped into a long-simmering national debate. The administration came down on the side of states' rights, lifting Obama-era federal guidelines that had been characterized by Republicans as an example of overreach. Without the Obama directive, it will be up to states and school districts to interpret federal anti-discrimination law.
7 Earth-Size Worlds May Hold Life: NASA
For the first time ever, astronomers have discovered seven Earth-size planets orbiting a nearby star — and these new worlds could hold life. This cluster of planets is less than 40 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius, according to NASA and the Belgian-led research team who announced the discovery Wednesday. The planets circle tightly around a dim dwarf star called Trappist-1, barely the size of Jupiter. Three are in the so-called habitable zone, where liquid water and, possibly life, might exist.
Protesters Leave Pipeline Camp
Most of the Dakota Access pipeline opponents abandoned their protest camp Wednesday ahead of a government deadline to get off the federal land, and authorities moved to arrest some who defied the order in a final show of dissent. The camp has been home to demonstrators for nearly a year as they tried to thwart construction of the pipeline. Many of the protesters left peacefully, but police made some arrests two hours after the deadline. The camp is on federal land in North Dakota between the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and the pipeline route that is being finished by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners.
U.S., Mexico at Odds Ahead of Meeting
Mexico's mounting unease and resentment over President Trump's immigration crackdown are looming over a gathering of U.S. and Mexican leaders that the U.S. had hoped would project a strong future for relations between neighbors. There is no shortage of tension points as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly meet Thursday with top Mexican officials. The worsening rift over deportations and illegal immigration adds to an array of disputes that have sent U.S.-Mexico relations plunging since Trump took office a month ago. Meanwhile, undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are living in fear.
Tension Ahead of Trump-Heavy CPAC
President Trump is expected to be the headliner at the Conservative Political Action Conference this week in Maryland, where a slew of top White House officials will also appear. Trump is set to address the crowd on Friday at the annual showcase, run by the American Conservative Union. Vice President Mike Pence will speak on Thursday. Trump enjoys strong approval ratings among Republicans, but the difficult lead-up to the event this year is a reminder that the conservative movement is still divided over the president and his ideas.
Judge Blocks Law That Restricted IMDb Site
A California law that restricts a popular Hollywood website from posting actors' ages raises First Amendment concerns and does not appear likely to combat age discrimination in the entertainment industry in any meaningful way, a federal judge said Wednesday. U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria granted IMDb.com's request to block AB 1687 while the website's lawsuit challenging it winds through the courts. Chhabria said the law prevented IMDb from publishing factual information on its public website.
Kanye Crucifixion Statue Stirs Controversy
Ahead of Oscars weekend, a gold-painted statue depicting Kanye West as Christ on the cross popped up for a short time Wednesday in Hollywood. The life-sized crucifixion statue titled "False Idol" depicts the rapper as Jesus Christ, with nails in his hands, wearing a crown of thorns, gold chains, a cloth and Yeezy sneakers. The controversial work of art is by Plastic Jesus, a Los Angeles-based street artist who is known for his political and cultural art.
Egg Russian Roulette on “Tonight”
Neil Patrick Harris and Jimmy Fallon take turns smashing eggs on their heads without knowing which are cooked and which are raw. Watch the game.