Equality and justice for all 🏳️‍🌈

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USA TODAY
·6 min read
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The Equality Act with LGBTQ protections has passed the House. New York prosecutors have Donald Trump's tax records. And Lady Gaga is offering a $500,000 reward for the return of her two stolen dogs, Koji and Gustav.

It's Alex with some pre-Friday news.

But first, someone call Area 51: This pilot reported a UFO, saying a missile-like object flew over the plane during a flight to Phoenix.

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The Equality Act passes the House 🏳️‍🌈

The House of Representatives passed sweeping anti-discrimination legislation 224-206 that would protect LGBTQ Americans, though the bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate. The Equality Act is one of President Joe Biden's top priorities, and he wants it passed in his first 100 days in office. The legislation would amend the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion and national origin, to include protections on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. It would prohibit such discrimination in public places, on transportation and in government-funded programs. The House passed a similar version of the bill in May 2019, but it died in the then-Republican-controlled Senate.

Joseph Fons holds a Pride Flag in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building after the court ruled that LGBTQ people can not be disciplined or fired based on their sexual orientation June 15, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Joseph Fons holds a Pride Flag in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building after the court ruled that LGBTQ people can not be disciplined or fired based on their sexual orientation June 15, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Ex-Olympic gymnastics coach charged with sex crimes dies by suicide

Former Olympics gymnastics coach John Geddert has died by suicide, the Michigan Attorney General's Office confirmed. Officials charged Geddert Thursday morning with 24 counts, including human trafficking, sexual assault, racketeering and lying to police. “My office has been notified that the body of John Geddert was found late this afternoon after taking his own life," Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement. "This is a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved.” Michigan State Police are investigating the death. Geddert, 63, formerly owned and coached at Twistars gymnastics club in Dimondale, Michigan, where hundreds of women say convicted sex offender Larry Nassar sexually abused them. Many said Geddert knew of this abuse, as Nassar regularly treated young athletes in a back room at Twistars.

What everyone’s talking about

Technically, it is tax season

New York prosecutors have Donald Trump's tax records after the Supreme Court refused the former president's request to block a subpoena for the records. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance sought several years of Trump's tax returns and financial documents as part of an investigation into alleged hush money payments made during the 2016 presidential race in addition to a broader review of possible criminal activity at the Trump Organization. The investigation is one of several confronting Trump, including a criminal inquiry in Georgia in which state prosecutors are reviewing whether Trump sought to pressure state election officials to tilt the vote in his favor. The former president has cast the Manhattan prosecutors' inquiry as a "witch hunt" and fought for years to keep his tax returns under wraps.

Keep in mind: Even though prosecutors have the records, the documents may not become public because of the secrecy of grand jury proceedings.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump on Sept. 21, 2020, in Washington, D.C.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump on Sept. 21, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

Some question need for vast US military power overseas

The U.S. military's reach is vast and empire-like, an achievement that has underpinned its influence, national security and efforts at promoting democracy. In the face of emerging threats, some say a new strategy is in order. The Department of Defense spends more than $700 billion a year on weaponry and combat preparedness, more than the next 10 countries combined. Yet amid a sea change in security threats, America's military might overseas may be less relevant, say some security analysts, defense officials and former and active U.S. military service members. The most urgent threats, they say, are increasingly nonmilitary in nature. Among them: cyberattacks, disinformation, China's economic dominance, climate change and disease outbreaks such as COVID-19.

Real quick

Lady Gaga's dog walker shot, two French bulldogs stolen

Lady Gaga offers a $500,000 reward for the return of her two French bulldogs after they were stolen and her dog walker was shot late Wednesday. Around 9:40 p.m. in Hollywood, California, a man in his 30s was walking three dogs when a male suspect approached and shot him, according to Los Angeles Police Department officer Drake Madison. The suspect took two bulldogs and took off in a white vehicle; a third dog fled the scene and was recovered. Police say the victim is in critical condition. Gaga is in Italy, her representative Amanda Silverman said.

A $9,000 electric bill, and a $1 billion lawsuit

A Texas woman filed a class-action lawsuit seeking $1 billion in relief for customers of electricity retailer Griddy, which the suit says illegally engaged in price gouging amid a severe winter storm. Lisa Khoury, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of all Griddy customers, faced a $9,546 electric bill from Feb. 1 through 19. The suit seeks to prevent Griddy from billing and collecting payments on excess charges and forgiveness for late or unpaid payments, as well as the monetary relief. Griddy did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but on a page of frequently asked questions about the storm on its website, the company denies allegations of price gouging.

A break from the news

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Equality Act, John Geddert, Donald Trump, Texas power: It's Thursday's news