Fox News 2024-03-05 22:34:27


Results from these 5 areas will tell us a lot about the GOP on high-stakes Super Tuesday

Fifteen states and one U.S. territory are holding presidential primaries this evening.

President Biden only faces nominal opposition on Democratic primary ballots, and barring any surprises, could get close to securing his party’s nomination tonight.

On the Republican side, 35% of the total delegates at stake will be settled.

Former President Trump comes into the race with formidable advantages. He has six times as many delegates as Haley, and has polled well ahead of her in recent national surveys.

Haley will be hoping for an upset to make this race competitive, and even if she doesn’t, she is likely to walk away with some delegates, thanks to varying rules.

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But regardless of the overall result, the vote count in certain parts of the country tonight will tell us something about Republican voters in 2024.

1. Will counties with high college-educated populations still trend Haley?

College education has been a useful indicator of Haley support so far this year. 

In New Hampshire, 56% of GOP primary voters who graduated from college cast a ballot for Haley, according to the Fox News Voter Analysis. She ran about even with Trump on college-educated voters in South Carolina.

That makes these counties, which have the highest share of residents with a college degree, worth watching:

  1. Falls Church, Virginia – 78.5%
  2. Arlington County, Virginia – 74.6%
  3. Pitkin County, Colorado – 63.1%
  4. Alexandria, Virginia – 62.1%
  5. Fairfax County, Virginia – 61.1%

Four of these five counties are in D.C. suburban areas; the other is best known as the home of the luxury ski resort, Aspen.

Haley will look to run up the score as much as possible in places like these.

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Conversely, the counties with the lowest college degree populations:

  1. Loving County, Texas – 0%
  2. Kenedy County, Texas – 0.1%
  3. Hudspeth County, Texas – 0.1%
  4. Frio County, Texas – 0.1%
  5. Morgan County, Texas – 0.1%

All of these areas are likely to lean heavily towards Trump.

All five of these Texas counties, predominantly in the southwest of the state, are rural counties with especially small populations.

2. Will northeast Republicans continue to buck the party trend?

Several northeastern states, including Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine are voting today.

All three have become further out of reach of the GOP in the Trump era.

And Republican voters, particularly in the urban and suburban areas of these states, should be more favorable to Haley.

Those areas have a higher proportion of wealthy and, as discussed above, college-educated voters, who trend Haley.

Her best chance is in Vermont; a great night for her would make her competitive in the other northeastern states.

The former South Carolina governor has held events in all three in the last week.

At an event in Needham, Massachusetts, Haley brought moderate New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu along with her.

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3. Can Haley win Virginia?

Haley got her first win of the primary season in Washington, D.C. on Sunday night.

Today, voters in neighboring Virginia will also have their say, giving Haley an opportunity to pick up more delegates.

The closer to D.C., the better chance Haley has to run up the vote.

In particular, look to:

  • Fairfax County (Rubio +15)
  • Loudoun County (Rubio +13)
  • Prince William County (Rubio +2)

The references to Rubio in brackets show how many points the Florida Senator won each county by in 2016; Haley generally appeals to the same kinds of voters now as he did then.

Further down the state, Haley also has opportunities in Henrico County, Chesterfield County, Albemarle County, and James City.

She will need to do as much as she can in those areas, since the rest of the state contains dozens of heavily Trump-skewing, rural counties.

4. Has Trump remolded Utah?

Utah was one of Trump’s weakest states in the 2016 primaries.

His chief rival in that election, Sen. Ted Cruz, dominated statewide, with 69% of the vote and all 40 delegates on offer then.

Trump came third, after former Ohio Governor John Kasich, with 14% of the vote and no county wins.

Trump went on to win the state in the general election, but his margin shrunk by 27 points compared to Mitt Romney’s performance in the state four years prior (thanks in part to a challenge from independent candidate Evan McMullin).

He added 13 points back to his margin in the 2020 general election.

Now, in 2024, Trump is the favorite to win this primary. Watch the statewide margin to see how much the former president has been able to reshape the party.

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5. How high will Trump’s margin be in rural America?

Over 2,000 counties are voting today, and 84% of them are in rural areas.

Collectively, they add up to a powerful voting bloc.

Trump has dominated with these voters since 2016, and is expected to do so again tonight.

Watch for the results in the lowest populated parts of west Texas, Alabama, and Oklahoma, especially. 

Of all the Super Tuesday states, these parts of the country have skewed the most Republican in recent general elections.

Kyrsten Sinema makes major announcement about her future in the Senate

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema announced on Super Tuesday that she will not seek reelection when her first term ends next year.

The move from Sinema, an Arizonian who switched her party affiliation from Democrat to Independent in 2022, leaves the race narrowed between Republican candidate Kari Lake and Democrat Ruben Gallego. 

“Our democracy was weakened by government dysfunction and the constant pull to the extremes by both political parties,” Sinema said in a video announcement posted to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “I promised I would do my best to fix it.”

She added: “The only political victories that matter these days are symbolic – attacking your opponents on cable news or social media. Compromise is a dirty word. We’ve arrived at that crossroad, and we chose anger and division. I believe in my approach. But it’s not what America wants right now.”

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“With recent polling showing Kyrsten Sinema pulling far more Republican voters than Democrat voters, her decision to retire improves Kari Lake’s opportunity to flip this seat,” he said.

Her colleagues across the political spectrum thanked Sinema for her work in the Senate. “She’s worked really hard. And we got a lot of really important legislation done because of her hard work and tenacity,” Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., told Fox News Digital. He called her choice not to seek reelection a “big loss.”

“The Senate will greatly miss Senator Sinema’s strong bipartisan leadership,” Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said of the Democrat turned Independent with whom he collaborated on several bills.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also honored her “tenacity,” and praised her for key legislation such as the Inflation Reduction Act, but noted in a statement, “Ruben Gallego will bring the Arizona values and dedication to service he’s practiced throughout his life to the Senate,” referencing the Democratic representative vying for Sinema’s Senate seat. 

“We are fully behind his candidacy and look forward to winning this race with him in 2024 and defeating Kari Lake,” he added. 

WHERE THE 2024 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY RACE STANDS

In a post to X, written in Spanish, Gallego said, “I want to thank @SenatorSinema for serving our state for almost two decades.”

He then pivoted to the general election in his statement, saying, “Arizona, we are at a decisive moment.”

“It is time for Democrats, independents and Republicans to come together and reject Kari Lake and her dangerous positions. For Arizona,” he continued. 

National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chair Steve Daines, R– Mont., weighed in on Sinema’s decision, saying an open Senate seat “creates a unique opportunity for Republicans to build a lasting Senate majority this November.” 

In November, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) launched attacks against Sinema, accusing her of voting “with President Biden’s agenda 100% of the time” in a campaign ad.

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The 30-second ad video came as early internal NRSC polling showed Sinema was drawing support from more Republican voters than Democrat voters, according to a source familiar with NRSC strategy at the time.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Sen. Menendez and wife indicted for obstruction of justice in corruption case

Democrat New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez was charged by federal prosecutors with obstruction of justice in yet another superseding indictment unsealed on Tuesday relating to a multiyear alleged bribery scheme involving the Egypt and Qatar governments.

The 18-page indictment is wrapped into Menendez’s existing charges already against him and his co-defendants — including his wife, Nadine — for allegedly acting as a foreign agent and accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to benefit the Egyptian government through his power and influence as a senator.

The indictment comes after co-defendant Jose Uribe accepted a plea deal and agreed to cooperate last week. The charges on Tuesday also alleged Menendez committed conspiracy, bribery, acting as a foreign agent, extortion and wire fraud.

DEMOCRAT SEN BOB MENENDEZ FACING INDICTMENT ON BRIBERY CHARGES

Prosecutors also state in the new indictment that Menendez instructed his lawyers to inform the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York in 2022 about his awareness of businessman Wael Hana issuing a payment exceeding $23,000 for Nadine’s home mortgage and the money that Uribe contributed for her new luxury vehicle.

Menendez also allegedly advised his attorneys to disclose to the prosecuting office that he later discovered the funds were actually loans, when “In truth and in fact, and as Menendez well knew,” the mortgage and car payments were made prior to 2022 “and they were not loans, but bribe payments,” prosecutors wrote in Tuesday’s indictment.

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Menendez is also accused of accepting bribes and gifts in exchange for helping to benefit Qatar as part of a corruption scheme from 2021 through 2023.

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Menendez, along with his wife and three New Jersey businessmen – Hana, Uribe and Fred Daibes – were first charged in the federal bribery scheme on Sept. 23. Hana, Daibes, Nadine and Menendez have pleaded not guilty.

Fox News Digital has reached out to Menendez’s office and his wife’s lawyer for comment.

Dem vetoes bill allowing police to arrest illegal immigrants, says it harms businesses

Democratic Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs has vetoed a Republican-sponsored bill that would have authorized police to arrest illegal immigrants, saying the legislation was anti-immigrant and likely unconstitutional. 

The veto was criticized by Republicans who say the bill would have helped curb a plethora of crimes linked to illegal immigration in the Grand Canyon State.

The bill, called the Arizona Border Invasion Act, would have made it a misdemeanor state crime for anyone to illegally cross the border at any location other than a lawful port of entry.

It would also have made it a felony for illegal migrants who cross the border after being deported, as well as those who have been ordered to leave the state but refused to comply. Local, county and state law enforcement officers would have been granted authority to arrest such individuals.

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“Anti-immigrant legislation to score cheap political points has no place in our state,” Hobbs said in a video posted to X before she vetoed the bill.

With narrow majorities in the state House and Senate, it’s unlikely Republicans would be able to get Democratic support for a veto override, which normally requires a two-thirds vote.

“This bill does not secure our border. On the contrary, it will be harmful for businesses and communities in our state and a burden for law enforcement personnel,” said Hobbs, although she did not say how the bill would have negatively impacted businesses and communities.

“I know there’s frustration about the federal government’s failure to secure our border, but this bill is not the solution.”

Hobbs also said the bill would have potentially violated the U.S. Constitution, arguing that the federal government has the exclusive power to arrest and deport immigrants.

Therefore, Hobbs said her veto would avoid a long and costly litigation effort involving the state.

The move was slammed by Arizona Republicans, who said the border crisis has led to an abundance of criminal activity in the state’s communities. The bill was passed without any Democratic support. 

ARIZONA GOV. KATIE HOBBS VETOES A BILL BANNING FOOD TAX

“From human smuggling to child sex trafficking, rapes, murders, drug trafficking, fentanyl overdoses, high-speed chases, subsequent deadly crashes, and other atrocities, local law enforcement personnel have reached their breaking point trying to protect the lives of our citizens from this invasion,” the Arizona Senate Republican Caucus said in a statement. 

“The heart-wrenching February 22 murder of Georgia nursing student Laken Riley happened at the hands of a criminal who entered our country illegally. Arizona families are being torn apart by similar devastation,” said Sen. Janae Shamp, who sponsored the bill. 

“Vetoing the Arizona Border Invasion Act is a prime example of the chaos Hobbs is unleashing in our state while perpetuating this open border crisis as Biden’s accomplice. Arizonans want and deserve safe communities.”

Hobbs’ veto was her first of the 2024 legislative session, following a record-breaking 143 issued last year, thumping former Gov. Janet Napolitano’s single-year veto record of 58 in 2005. Hobbs took office in January 2023 after winning the gubernatorial election against Kari Lake, who never conceded her more than 17,000-vote defeat and repeatedly and unsuccessfully challenged the results in court.

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The Arizona Border Invasion Act mirrors Texas Senate Bill 4, which was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in December, making illegal immigration a state crime. SB 4 gives Texas authorities the ability to arrest anyone they believe has crossed into the U.S. illegally.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay of enforcement of the law.

Nearly 7.3 million migrants have illegally crossed the southwest border on President Biden’s watch, a number greater than the population of 36 individual states, a Fox News analysis has found. 

HGTV star Ty Pennington’s near-death illness made him change his life

Ty Pennington gave fans a health update following his near-death experience involving an abscess on his throat.

“I’m great,” Pennington told Entertainment Tonight nearly eight months after his hospitalization. “You know what’s great is if you almost die, you get so much attention. It feels so nice to be that loved.”

“I’m planning another one… No, I’m kidding!” he joked.

Pennington was intubated and rushed to emergency surgery in 2023, which he calls “very dramatic,” after his throat closed due to an abscess in his throat. After his near-death experience, the “Rock the Block” star noted that he learned to live life “to the fullest.”

HGTV STAR TY PENNINGTON INTUBATED AFTER ‘BARELY BREATHING’

“It made me realize you just don’t know when your timecard’s gonna get pulled, so wake up, live every single day to the fullest,” Pennington revealed. 

“I mean that’s why the 60s is gonna be like time to start doing everything and that’s what I love about being part of these projects because I think we all want to make sure we’ve done things to be remembered.”

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Pennington told fans he had been hospitalized in July 2023.

“From the red carpet, to the ICU… this last week has been interesting!” he wrote in an Instagram post at the time. He continued, “To shed some light on why I was MIA… Sunday I hit the red carpet for @barbiethemovie , monday I flew to Colorado to start filming in Breckenridge and Tuesday morning I woke up at 4am and could barely breathe.”

“Turns out, that sore throat Ive had for the last month was actually an abscess which had grown so large it was closing off my airway,” Pennington continued. “Next thing I know, I was intubated and flown to the ICU in Denver. Wednesday I had surgery and yesterday afternoon I was released from the ICU.”

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“A great reminder to LISTEN to your body when it’s telling you something,” he added.

A representative for Pennington shared a recovery update with Fox News Digital at the time.

“Ty is on the mend and feeling good!” the spokesperson said. “He has been discharged and will recuperate for 10 days and then get back to work on HGTV!”

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Teacher, coaches and US military member arrested in human trafficking sting

A massive human trafficking bust in Florida resulted in 228 arrests, including members of the U.S. military and a teacher, authorities said Tuesday.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said 150 suspects, or johns, were arrested along with 66 prostitutes and 12 others in the multi-agency operation dubbed “Operation March Sadness 2024.” Among the suspects were a schoolteacher, coaches and active duty military members, among other professions.

Of the 228 individuals arrested, 21 were in the country illegally.

Authorities also identified at least 13 potential human trafficking victims. The sheriff noted that within one year of performing these types of operations, 58 human trafficking victims have been identified.

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One suspect who was trying to pay $150 to have sex with a woman told authorities that he was a volleyball coach from New York who tutored middle school students, Judd said. 

Another man arrested was a math and science teacher at New Beginnings High School in Auburndale, according to Judd. 

“He came to have sex. He called it a quick visit for $60,” Judd told reporters. “Well, since he’s able to teach math, he can figure out that it didn’t add up this time.”

Three men connected to the U.S. Air Force were also arrested in the sting. One was an Air Force staff sergeant, another an airman police officer and the third a 19-year-old scheduled to begin his Air Force training in May, according to Judd. 

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A former detention deputy with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office was also arrested.

“Dude, what are you doing?” Judd asked. “You went from being a stellar employee to committing moral crimes, and it’s two in a month. He said, ‘I got a problem.’ No kidding. You’ve got a big problem.”

Two brothers, ages 16 and 17, were also arrested after showing up to the bust armed with a BB gun and wearing ski masks and hoodies to commit an armed robbery against a detective posing as a prostitute they met online, Judd said.

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“This is a new record number of arrests during an investigation of this kind,” Judd said, adding that social services organizations will help the female victims, so they can break free from this way of life.

Man dies after consuming too much vitamin D, experts warn of risks

Amid reports of a U.K. man’s death from high amounts of vitamin D, experts are warning about the dangers of unsafe levels.

After 89-year-old David Mitchener died last year from hypercalcemia, a build-up of calcium in the body that is caused by excess levels of vitamin D, the Surrey assistant coroner released a report urging regulatory agencies to warn consumers about the risk of excessive intake.

Michener was admitted to East Surrey Hospital on May 10, 2023, and died 10 days later. Tests revealed that his vitamin D levels were at the maximum recordable level, according to the report from Jonathan Stevens, the assistant coroner.

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Vitamin D toxicity was listed as one of the factors in Michener’s death, along with congestive heart failure, ischemic heart disease, chronic kidney failure and hypercalcemia.

“David Mitchener had been taking vitamin supplements for at least the preceding nine months,” the report stated.

The supplements he was taking did not have any warnings on or in the packaging detailing the specific risks or side effects, according to the report.

“Vitamin supplements can have potentially very serious risks and side effects when taken in excess,” Stevens, the assistant coroner, wrote. 

“Current food labeling requirements do not require these risks and side effects to be written on the packaging.”

What is a safe level of vitamin D?

For healthy adults, 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D (15 mcg) per day is all that’s necessary, according to Pieter Cohen, associate professor of medicine at the Cambridge Health Alliance in Massachusetts.

“Usually, this can come from fortified foods and sunlight,” he told Fox News Digital.

Some foods that are high in vitamin D include orange juice, rainbow trout, salmon, portabella mushrooms, yogurt, tuna and milk, according to WebMD.

Healthy people should not be taking more than 4,000 IU (100 mcg) per day, Cohen advised.  

“Taking more than that can cause a cascade of problems, as vitamin D acts as a hormone in the body and too much of it can lead to a number of issues,” he warned.

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“Overdosages occur with taking much more — usually 60,000 international units a day or more.”

The amount of vitamin D required in the diet can also vary by age, according to Dr. Maryann Amirshahi, professor of emergency medicine at Georgetown University and co-medical director of the National Capital Poison Center in Washington, D.C.

“Vitamin D acts as a hormone in the body and too much of it can lead to a number of problems.”

“Smaller amounts (400 IU) are recommended in the first year of life,” she told Fox News Digital.

“For children older than 1 year of age, adolescents and most adults, 600 IU a day is recommended. The dose is the same for people who are pregnant or lactating.”

For older adults over age 70, an intake of 800 IU per day is recommended. 

“Higher doses are also recommended for individuals with vitamin D deficiency, with larger doses required for more severe deficiency,” Amirshahi added.

One common mistake is that some vitamin D prescriptions are dosed once a week, but people may accidentally take them daily, which can lead to toxicity, the doctor warned.

Symptoms of vitamin D overdose

Consuming too much vitamin D can lead to any number of symptoms that can be difficult to distinguish from other conditions.  

These may include thirst, excessive urination and nausea, Cohen said — “but they can also be much more ominous, such as getting confused and becoming quite weak.”

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The main effect of vitamin D in the body is that it increases calcium concentrations, according to Amirshahi.

“The signs and symptoms of vitamin D poisoning are similar to people who have elevated calcium concentrations for other reasons,” she said. “The symptoms of elevated calcium levels in the blood include confusion, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, frequent urination and dehydration.”

The National Institute of Health (NIH) warns that “very high levels of vitamin D in your blood (greater than 375 nmol/L or 150 ng/mL) can cause nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, confusion, pain, loss of appetite, dehydration, excessive urination and thirst, and kidney stones.”

It adds, “Extremely high levels of vitamin D can cause kidney failure, irregular heartbeat and even death.”

Toxicity of a dose may vary depending on a variety of factors, such as underlying medical problems like kidney disease, Amirshahi noted. 

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“Another important factor is how long an individual is taking large doses of vitamin D,” she said.

“Often, a single large dose (50,000 to 150,000 IU, depending on the size of the individual) is well-tolerated, but chronic overdose can be much more dangerous.”

Dangerously high levels of vitamin D are almost always caused by consuming excessive amounts from dietary supplements, the NIH stated on its website.

“Vitamin D toxicity has been caused by consumption of dietary supplements that contained excessive vitamin D amounts because of manufacturing errors, that were taken inappropriately or in excessive amounts, or that were incorrectly prescribed by physicians,” according to the agency.

“You cannot get too much vitamin D from sunshine because your skin limits the amount of vitamin D it makes.”

Treatments for overdose

If someone has overdosed, the immediate treatment is to stop taking the vitamin and to restrict dietary calcium, according to Mayo Clinic. 

Some doctors may also prescribe IV therapy and medications, including corticosteroids or bisphosphonates.

“We can give a dose of activated charcoal in the emergency department if someone took a large single dose of vitamin D to help bind it before it gets absorbed by the intestines,” said Amirshahi.

This is only helpful if the person comes in early and ingests a single large dose, however.

BE WELL: PREPARE A DINNER RICH IN VITAMIN D FOR GOOD HEALTH

“Once the vitamin D has been absorbed, the main treatment is to address the high calcium levels,” she said. “This could include administering intravenous fluids or giving medications that lower the calcium concentration.”

In severe cases when other measures don’t work, dialysis may be used to help remove the calcium.

Experts call for warnings

Because vitamin D is sold as a dietary supplement in the U.S., it is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Supplements can be sold at almost any dose the manufacturer decides to use, and the manufacturer is not required to place warnings on even the highest doses of vitamin D that it is dangerous to take too much,” Cohen told Fox News Digital.  

“Supplements are often poorly manufactured as well, and the dose on the label might not be accurate,” he warned. 

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“Research of vitamin D supplements in the U.S. has revealed that sometimes you can get too little or too much vitamin D in the pills.”

To help ensure the proper amount in each pill, Cohen recommends only purchasing vitamin D supplements that have been certified by either USP (United States Pharmacopeia) or NSF International.

Fox News Digital reached out to David Mitchener (the assistant coroner in Surrey) and East Surrey Hospital requesting additional comment.

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Dems, Squad silent on White House call for sanctuary cities to cooperate with ICE

Democratic leaders and members of the progressive squad have remained silent on a White House plea for local law enforcement in sanctuary cities to better cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

In comments to Fox News Digital last week, a White House spokesperson said that the administration welcomes “local law enforcement’s support and cooperation in apprehending and removing individuals who pose a risk to national security or public safety.”

“When a local jurisdiction has information about an individual who could pose a threat to public safety, we want them to share that information with ICE,” the spokesperson continued.

The stance seemingly puts the White House out of step with many Democrats and immigrant rights advocates, who have argued in favor of keeping sanctuary policies, which either limit or completely forbid local law enforcement from cooperating with ICE, in place.

WHITE HOUSE CALLS FOR SANCTUARY CITIES TO COOPERATE WITH ICE AMID FUROR OVER ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT CRIMES

The statement could also be seen as a shift by President Biden, who during his run for president pushed back against local police cooperating with ICE.

In the early days of Biden’s presidency, the administration also rolled back a Trump-era Justice Department grant policy that rewarded local law enforcement agencies for their cooperation with federal authorities while cutting millions in funding to sanctuary cities.

Fox News Digital reached out to the offices of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., John Fetterman, D-Pa., and Alex Padilla to gauge their support for the White House statement, but did not receive a reply. All have large Sanctuary Cities in their states. Fox News Digital also reached out to the offices of so-called “Squad” members, including Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Cori Bush, D-Mo., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., but did not receive a reply.

The White House stance comes as the status of sanctuary cities has become increasingly controversial in recent months amid multiple high-profile crimes allegedly carried out by illegal immigrants, including the recent case of 22-year-old Georgia nursing student Laken Riley, who was found dead last month and resulted in the arrest of 26-year-old Venezuelan citizen Jose Antonio Ibarra, who had entered the country illegally. Ibarra has since been charged with felony murder, false imprisonment and kidnapping in the case.

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The recent spike in crimes allegedly carried out by illegal migrants has also caught the attention of New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who last week questioned his city’s sanctuary policies and argued that they have been a “detriment to public safety.”

“We should be communicating with ICE, and if ICE makes the determination of deporting, then they should,” Adams said at a news conference last week, according to the Associated Press. “The mere fact that we cannot share with ICE that this person has committed three robberies, that this person is part of an organized gang crew, the mere fact that we can’t say that or communicate that, that’s problematic for me.”

Adams’ office did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment.

That stance was also seemingly a reversal from the mayor’s stance on the campaign trail, including an October 2021 post on X that vowed New York City would “remain a sanctuary city” under his administration.

NYC MAYOR CONTINUES CALLS FOR SANCTUARY CITY AMENDMENT TO ALLOW DEPORTATION OF VIOLENT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS

Meanwhile, the renewed push by the White House and mayors such as Adams has fueled pushback from migrant rights groups, with the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) calling the New York City mayor’s recent remarks on the city’s sanctuary status “shameful.”

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“Mayor Adams’ shameful threats to end New York’s years-long status as a sanctuary city,” the NYCLU said in a statement, according to USA Today, adding that a change in the city’s policies would “only result in the cruel targeting, demonization, and demoralization of our immigrant neighbors.”

Google’s AI fiasco comes from baked-in bias at tech company, digital expert says

A digital consultant who combed through files on Google Gemini warned that the artificial intelligence (AI) model has baked-in bias resulting from parameters that define “toxicity” and determine what information it chooses to keep “invisible.”

On December 12, Ruby Media Group CEO Kris Ruby posted an ominous tweet that said, “I just broke the most important AI censorship story in the world right now. Let’s see if anyone understands. Hint: Gemini.”

“The Gemini release has a ton of data in it. It is explosive. Let’s take a look at the real toxicity and bias prompts,” she added. “According to the data, every site is classified as a particular bias. Should that be used as part of the datasets of what will define toxicity?”

She was the first tech analyst to point out these potential concerns regarding Gemini, months before members of the press and users on social media noticed issues with responses provided by the AI. 

Here is a breakdown of Ruby’s working theory on Gemini AI and how toxicity could impact model output and what it means. 

GOOGLE CO-FOUNDER SAYS COMPANY ‘DEFINITELY MESSED UP’ ON GEMINI’S IMAGE GENERATION

In a December 6 blog post introducing Gemini, Google DeepMind, one of the laboratories that helped to create the AI chatbot, announced it had built “safety classifiers to identify, label and sort out problematic content such as those involving violence or negative stereotypes.”

These classifiers, combined with “robust filters,” were intended to make Gemini “safer” and “more inclusive.”

To ensure Gemini’s outputs follow company policy, Gemini used benchmarks such as “Real Toxicity Prompts,” a dataset of 100,000 sentences with “varying degrees of toxicity pulled from the web” that was developed by experts at the Allen Institute for AI.

Real Toxicity Prompts is described as a testbed for evaluating the possibility of language models generating text deemed “toxic,” i.e., likely to offend someone and get them to sign off.

To measure the “toxicity” of documents, Real Toxicity Prompts relies on PerspectiveAPI, which scores the text based on several attributes, including toxicity, severe_toxicity, profanity, sexually_explicit, identity_attack, flirtation, threat, and insult.

Some of the metadata for Real Toxicity Prompt contains “banned subreddits” and labels for factual reliability (‘fact’) and political bias (‘bias’) for a set of domains.

In one example posted to social media by Ruby, the website Breitbart was given a bias=right and reliability=low rating. Meanwhile, The Atlantic was labeled as bias=left-center and reliability=high.

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Ruby, the author of “The Ruby Files – The Real Story of AI censorship,” said many of Gemini’s outputs are problematic because the input rules were “tainted” by training on Real Toxicity Prompts data and filters used on the AI.

“You can’t filter outputs to the desired state if the system making the outputs is corrupted or ideologically skewed. Google essentially corrupted the training data and prompts by using inappropriate definitions for what was and wasn’t toxic,” she told Fox News Digital.

“If these prompts were the kernel of the system or served as the model for how to make it–that is an issue. That being said, it doesn’t mean it is necessarily causing the issue,” she later clarified. “The only way to know what specifically caused the output issue would be full transparency on internal model parameters, rules, weights and updated data. The data is important because it allows you to have a working theory of what may have gone wrong. It is is a historical snapshot in time.”

The only one who can definitely say what the pipeline regarding AI safety and responsibility, she added, would be Google employees close to the situation. 

As is the case with many AI chatbots, these prompts are not made transparent. She noted that when you ask Gemini a question and get the results, the user cannot inspect the rules at training and the inferences used to generate that response.

She suggested that the underlying issue with machine learning technologies like Gemini is how toxicity is defined behind the scenes.

“After a baseline for toxicity is defined, technology companies use safety labels, filters, and internal scoring to shape the digital world,” Ruby said. “When it comes to AI censorship, whoever controls the definition of toxicity controls the outcome. Every model action (generative AI output) will fundamentally stem from how toxicity is defined. Your version of toxicity shapes the world around you. What I deem to be toxic, you may not. What you deem to be toxic, I may not.”

The issue, according to Ruby, is not the prompt but rather the foundation of the model and the definition, terms and labels that guide the actions of AI models.

“Unfortunately, we now live in a world where a few corporate executives hold tremendous power and weight on the definition of toxicity. Their view of toxicity will ultimately shape the actions of algorithms and machine learning models,” she added. “The public will rarely have an inside view into how these decisions are made. They will be forced to accept the decisions, instead of having the ability to influence the decisions before they are deployed at scale in a machine learning model.”

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The concern, then, is not necessarily bias from a specific employee or the dataset itself, but rather how these things are deployed together and how they affect one another. While people may try to simplify the problem down to a singular culprit, Ruby said the “truth” is “far more complex.”

“The technical aspects of automated machine learning drives outputs. Lack of insight into this rule-based process is a form of censorship in and of itself,” she continued. “We have been misled to believe censorship only takes place among trust and safety officers in private emails. This is part of the picture, but it is very far from the full picture. The reality is that the crux of AI censorship is the ontology associated with toxicity, bias, and safety. While adversarial prompts and research papers offer a glimpse into how a model was attacked, they don’t show how a model weights words.”

Many aspects of machine learning are not available to the public or are not explained in a way that shows how bias can embed itself within these systems. Questions posed by Ruby, like “How often is the training data cleaned?” “How often is a model retrained?” and “What type of behavior is being reinforced in a machine learning model?” are rarely asked or receive vague responses.

Ruby concludes that an unwillingness to tell the public the ontology associated with toxicity or safety is censorship. How words and phrases are weighted have a significant impact on what topics are visible or relegated to the background. Those words and phrases, Ruby noted, are then calculated and weighted in correlation with “misinformation entity maps” and natural language processing largely unseen by the public.

“For every action, there is a reaction (an output). For every prompt, there is an invisible command. If you do not understand where words sit on the threshold of toxicity and safety, you will never know what you are saying to trigger built-in automated machine learning filters to kick into overdrive,” she continued.

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While journalists and politicians on Capitol Hill have spent ample time warning of the potential impacts of censoring an individual via their removal from a social media platform or their ability to engage online, the concerns around AI censorship are more synonymous with issues surrounding the end of physical media.

In the case of AI, it is not people that are removed, but rather portions of historical records that enable citizens to engage with society as it is, rather than how an algorithm and its creators perceive it. Ruby said that altering historical records would essentially strip citizens of their right to understand the world around them.

“If someone is thrown off a social media platform, they can join another one. If historical records are scrubbed from the Internet and AI is used to alter agreed upon historical facts, this impacts the entire information warfare landscape. Even if Google did not intend to alter historical depictions, that is what ended up happening. Why? Because they over-optimized the internal machine learning rules to their ideological beliefs,” she said.

Ruby also distinguished between Gemini and Google Search, the core product that catapulted Alphabet to becoming one of the world’s most valuable companies.

Gemini, unlike Search, routinely editorializes answers to a user’s questions and sometimes refuses to answer questions that contain specific keywords. One of the most important aspects of search optimization and ranking, Ruby noted, is intent. Does this search match the user’s intent of information?

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In the case of Gemini, Ruby suggested there is an “extreme mismatch” between the user’s search intent and the chatbot’s generative AI output.

Google halted Gemini’s image generation feature last week after users on social media flagged that it was creating inaccurate historical images that sometimes replaced White people with images of Black, Native American and Asian people.

Data provided to FOX Business from Dow Jones shows that since Google hit pause on Gemini’s image generation on Thursday, Alphabet shares have fallen 5.4%, while its market cap has fallen from $1.798 trillion to $1.702 trillion, a loss of $96.9 billion.

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees on Tuesday the company is working “around the clock” to fix Gemini’s bias, calling the images generated by the model “completely unacceptable.” The company plans to relaunch the image generation feature in the next few weeks.

If Gemini continues down this path, Ruby predicted that Google would ultimately build a “useless” product to users and could render the company “obsolete” in the ongoing AI arms race.

“AI tools must be used to assist users. Unfortunately, they are being used to assist product teams to build a world that reflects their internal vision of the world that is far removed from the reality of users. This is why Google is rapidly losing market share to new AI search competitors,” she said.

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