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Thursday morning news: February 1, 2024


WORLD Radio - Thursday morning news: February 1, 2024

News of the day, including social media platform heads testify to Congress on child safety online

From left: TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, X CEO Linda Yaccarino, and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday on Capitol Hill in Washington Associated Press/Photo by Susan Walsh

Drone attack latest » The White House has identified the group that carried out the deadly drone attack against U.S. troops in the Middle East. It’s described as an “umbrella group” called the Islamic Resistance. It includes several Iran-backed militias.

Reporters asked President Biden if he believes Iran should be held accountable for the attack.

BIDEN: I do hold them responsible in the sense that they’re supplying the weapons to the people who did it.

National Security Council spokesman Kirby says the United States will strike back, adding that response “won’t just be a one-off.”

KIRBY: As I said, the first thing you see will not be the last thing. There’s a lot of moving pieces in that in terms of what you’re going to choose to go after, what you’re electing not to go after and why.

Republicans on Capitol Hill say the United States must hit Iran where it hurts. Congressman Michael Waltz says we should target things like Iran’s oil terminals and key operatives.

WALTZ: Iran will trade the lives of its proxies. That’s a good trade — militia lives for ours. We have to start taking Iranians off the battlefield.

President Biden says he’s already decided how the United States will respond.

Iran has threatened to retaliate if the United States takes any action to hold Tehran accountable for attacks by its proxy groups.

Blinken to Middle East, Cease-fire talks » John Kirby also announced Wednesday that Secretary of State Tony Blinken is heading back to the Middle East this week. That news comes as the United States is trying to help broker another cease-fire that would see more Hamas hostages set free.

KIRBY: All I can promise you is that, from literally from the president on down, everybody in the administration is working this very, very hard. We want to get those folks home to their families where they belong.

This will be Blinken’s fifth visit to the region since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

RBIN: [Gavel] This meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee will come to order.

Social media child safety » At the Capitol lawmakers grilled top executives with social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram about protecting children online.

The hearing highlighted issues like sexual predators, addictive features, suicide, and bullying.

Senators on both sides of the aisle accused the companies of prioritizing profit over the safety of kids. GOP Sen. Josh Hawley:

HAWLEY: Would you like now to apologize to the victims who have been harmed by your product? Show him the pictures. Would you like to apologize for what you have done to these good people?

Guests in the hearing room held up pictures of children victimized on social media.

Mark Zuckerberg is CEO of Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company. He told the Senate Judiciary Committee:

ZUCKERBERG: We put special restrictions on teen accounts on Instagram. By default, accounts for under-16s are set to private, have the most restrictive content settings, and can’t be messaged by adults that they don’t follow or people they aren’t connected to.

Meta is facing lawsuits from states claiming it deliberately designed addictive features for children and failed to protect them from predators.

Lawmakers have discussed crafting legislation to regulate child safety online.

China cyber threat hearing » Meantime across the Capitol rotunda FBI Director Chris Wray warned a House committee about grave threats from Chinese government hackers.

WRAY: China’s multi-pronged assault on our national and economic security make it the defining threat of our generation.

He said Beijing is taking aim at critical infrastructure including water treatment, the electrical grid, transportation systems as well as companies and everyday Americans.

WRAY: Today and literally every day, they are actively attacking our economic security, engaging in wholesale theft of our innovation and our personal and corporate data.

Wray said China is stealing from the United States on an unimaginable scale while also preparing for cyber warfare.

Fed Rates » Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says interest rates will stay right where they are for now at roughly five and a half percent.

POWELL: The committee does not expect that it will be appropriate to reduce the target range until it has gained greater confidence that inflation is moving sustainably toward 2%.

But there are also no plans to raise rates in the foreseeable future.

The U.S. inflation rate has slowly settled down from its peak of more than 9 percent in 2022.

Farmers protest » In France, tractors with horns blaring are the only traffic moving on a major highway leading into Paris today.

Farmers in France, Belgium, and Italy are escalating their protests, blocking major traffic routes and moving towards Brussels ahead of a key EU summit.

They’re demanding better prices for their produce and less government regulation.

FARMER: [Speaking French]

One farmer said “We make a margin of a few percent, whereas a supermarket will make twice as much, so where's the logic in that?”

The European Commission has proposed measures aimed at increasing revenue for farms while easing some environmental restrictions.

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: What the Founding Fathers thought about border security. Plus, vaccine injuries.

This is The World and Everything in It.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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