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Arrest warrant for Rashee Rice and Education Department criticized for FAFSA delays: Morning Rundown

Plus, the Arizona Supreme Court's ruling this week to uphold a 160-year-old abortion ban cemented the state's place at the center of politics in 2024.
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The effects of the Arizona Supreme Court's abortion ruling are coming into focus. An arrest warrant is issued for a Kansas City Chiefs receiver after a high-speed car crash. And why China's long-flourishing middle class is losing confidence.

Here’s what to know today.

How Arizona put itself in the center of 2024’s biggest political fights

Before the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling this week to uphold a 160-year-old near-total ban on abortion, the state was already critical in the race between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, as well as in races for seats in the closely divided House and Senate.

In the background, fights over election procedures and immigration are still running hot. And shifting demographics in the state could offer insights on major trends in U.S. politics.

Then came the abortion ruling Tuesday, which cemented Arizona’s place at the center of politics in 2024. 

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When it comes to critical campaigns, the battle to replace retiring independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is being closely watched. Republican Kari Lake, who is running against Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, hopes to put an end to a streak of Democratic Senate victories in the state. A fourth straight win for Democrats would make it clear just how much the state has drifted from the GOP over the years.

And who shows up to the polls on Election Day will also influence other races. It’s likely that a proposed constitutional amendment to create a “fundamental right” to receive abortion care up to fetal viability (about the 24th week of pregnancy) will be on Arizona’s ballot this fall. And after the state Supreme Court’s decision, an influx of otherwise disengaged young voters could head to the polls. The Biden campaign is already at work to gain those voters’ support.

Read the full story here.

More abortion rights coverage: 

Palestinians sift through rubble of Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital

In the days since the Israel Defense Forces withdrew from southern Gaza, Palestinian crews have recovered the bodies of more than 400 people from Al-Shifa Hospital, the surrounding neighborhoods and the southern city of Khan Younis, a spokesperson for the Gaza Civil Defense said.

But the recovery at Gaza City’s Al-Shifa, once the pillar of the Gazan medical system, is especially grim. “The smell of death,” as a member of a health emergency committee in Gaza put it, permeated the charred ruins of the hospital. The World Health Organization said there were numerous shallow graves, with many bodies “partially buried with their limbs visible.” But personnel were determined to keep working to identify the corpses and bring closure to mourning families.  

Israeli forces have repeatedly pummeled hospitals in Gaza since the beginning of the war. The IDF has said Hamas operates command centers at hospitals, transports militants in ambulances and funnels hospital-bound fuel to military efforts, but Hamas and hospital staff members have denied the allegations.

Ralph Yarl says getting over his shooting is an ‘uphill battle’ 

Ralph Yarl.
Dominick Williams for NBC News

Random encounters make 17-year-old Ralph Yarl nervous these days. “If someone approaches me with kindness, of course, I’m going to be friendly with them,” he said. But somewhere in his subconscious, “there’s always a part of me that says that person could potentially” be dangerous. 

Yarl was shot in the head last April 13, when he went to the wrong house in Kansas City to pick up his two younger brothers. His shooting sparked protests around the country. Andrew Lester, who told police that he shot Yarl because he was scared, has pleaded not guilty, and his trial is scheduled to begin in October. 

In his first in-depth interview about how the shooting has affected him, Yarl said he struggles with a seesaw of emotions: anger, hope for the future, sadness and compassion. And family members say he has struggled to reckon with what happened to him. “At times, he wants to disappear,” his mother, Cleo Nagbe, said.

Read the exclusive story here.

Lawmakers blast ‘inexcusable’ FAFSA rollout

The Education Department faces a “crisis of credibility,” a critic said, amid the botched overhaul of the application process for college financial aid. Chaos surrounding the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, has already resulted in severe lags that are expected to persist into next month. And there’s growing bipartisan frustration on Capitol Hill.

At a hearing yesterday of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development, GOP Rep. Brandon Williams of New York said, “This rollout has been disastrous and, frankly, inexcusable.” Meanwhile, two Democratic senators sent a letter to the contractor that oversaw the FAFSA refresh accusing the company of a “near-total failure.”

The hearing also came a day after Education Department officials disclosed that at least 30% of FAFSA forms submitted so far this year could contain errors. Those forms are set to be reprocessed, the agency said, but a looming May 1 decision deadline for many colleges means that some financial aid offers might not reach students in time.

Arrest warrant issued for Kansas City Chiefs’ Rashee Rice

Rashee Rice of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up  prior to the game in 2023.
Mike Carlson / Getty Images file

Police in Dallas said an arrest warrant has been issued for Rashee Rice, a Kansas City Chiefs receiver, in connection with a high-speed crash last month. Rice is accused of aggravated assault, collision involving serious bodily injury and six counts of collision.

Rice was driving a Lamborghini involved in the March 30 crash, his lawyer said. Rice said on social media after the crash that he takes “full responsibility for my part in this matter.” Police also announced an arrest warrant for another driver, Theodore Knox, who was speeding with Rice in their two vehicles and “caused a chain reaction collision involving four other vehicles.” Here’s what else we know.

Stranded sailors rescued from tiny Pacific island after making ‘HELP’ sign with leaves

The U.S. Coast Gurad, makes contact with three mariners stranded on Pikelot Atoll, Yap State, Federated States of Micronesia
The U.S. Coast Guard makes contact with three mariners stranded on Pikelot Atoll, Yap State, Federated States of Micronesia.U.S. Coast Guard

A sign calling for “HELP” made from palm tree leaves saved a crew of sailors who had been stranded on a tiny atoll in the Pacific Ocean for more than a week, after it was spotted from the air. The three men were found Tuesday evening on the minute Pikelot Atoll, which is part of the Federated States of Micronesia. They had been surviving on coconuts.

The trio used palm tree branches to make their desperate plea. They were rescued after coordination by the U.S. Coast Guard stationed in the region and the U.S Navy.

Politics in Brief

Trump trials: A New York appeals judge rejected Donald Trump’s third legal challenge in three days to delay his impending hush money criminal trial.

Congress: A band of far-right agitators revolted against Republican leaders by blocking renewal of a powerful surveillance program that is expected to expire next week. The move by 19 conservatives throws the GOP-led House into chaos once again.

WikiLeaks: President Joe Biden said he is “considering” a request from Australia for the U.S. to end the prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

LGBTQ politics: A federal judge temporarily blocked a law in Florida that barred a transgender teacher from using pronouns that don’t align with her birth sex, saying the law violates her First Amendment rights.

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Staff Pick: Why China’s middle class is losing confidence

Vika Chen in a cafe in Beijing, on March 28.
Vika Chen in a cafe in Beijing, on March 28.Fred Dufour / NBC News

After decades of breakneck growth, the Chinese economy is slowing down. That has brought an unfamiliar feeling of uncertainty to a massive middle class accustomed to continuous gains — and raised questions about the social contract that has long kept the Chinese Communist Party in power. — Jennifer Jett, Asia digital editor

In Case You Missed It

Select: Online Shopping, Simplified

Each month, the Select team highlights their favorite new products of the month. From luxurious bedding, to a new line of pet products from Ikea and much more in between, here are the products that wowed them in April. 

Sign up to The Selection newsletter for exclusive reviews and shopping content from NBC Select.

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