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We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily's quick takes on the happenings of this week.

Biden issues mass pardon for people convicted of simple marijuana possession

President Biden announced a mass pardon on Thursday for all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession. This move is seen as a significant step toward decriminalizing marijuana possession.

“Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana,” Biden said in a video statement. “It’s time that we right these wrongs. There are thousands of people who were convicted for marijuana possession who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result.”

In addition to issuing the mass pardon, Biden urged governors to do the same and has directed his administration to expedite its review of whether or not marijuana should remain listed as a Schedule I substance.

This move will likely impact thousands of Americans currently charged with simple marijuana possession. Currently, marijuana is illegal under federal law, although several states have legalized use for recreational and medicinal use. Biden has been hesitant to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes, but this pardon fulfills his campaign promise to move toward decriminalization. —Gabriella Patti

Country music star Loretta Lynn dies at 90

Loretta Lynn, “the most awarded lady in country music history,” died on Tuesday at 90. With a career that spanned six decades, Lynn was prolific and popular, releasing 50 studio albums and, in 1972, becoming the first woman to be named entertainer of the year by the Country Music Association. Her other accolades included a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Kennedy Center Honors, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

With hits such as “The Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “One’s On the Way,” and “Fist City,” Lynn was known for her deeply personal music and for pushing the boundaries of what was deemed appropriate at the time. She hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart with 16 different songs.

Lynn’s husband encouraged her to start performing after he heard her singing lullabies to their children. Without his encouragement, she said, “I wouldn't get out in front of people. I was really bashful and I would have never sang in front of anybody.” She taught herself songwriting, eventually finding her success in Nashville.

There, she carved out her own niche. “Country songs had often portrayed hardship from male perspectives, but Lynn wasn't afraid to spell out the indignities endured in her marriage, or the double standards she saw other women facing when it came to divorce, pregnancy and birth control,” NPR reports. “She found that Nashville wasn't accustomed to that kind of frankness.”

After her death, tributes poured in from stars such as Dolly Parton, Carrie Underwood, and rock musician Jack White, who said she was “a mother figure” to him, calling her “the greatest female singer-songwriter of the 20th century.” —Madeline Fry Schultz

Sacheen Littlefeather, who condemned Hollywood's depiction of Native Americans, died at 75

Sacheen Littlefeather, an Apache actress who at the 1973 Oscars walked on stage in a buckskin dress to decline the academy award for best actor on behalf of Marlon Brando in a statement of protest for how Hollywood had treated and depicted Indigenous people, has passed away at age 75. Littlefeather’s niece and caregiver, Calina Lawrence, said she died of stage four breast cancer.

Littlefeather was 26 when she stood in Brando’s sted and refused the award. She stated that “the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry,” as well as the poor treatment of American Indians in television and during the standoff at Wounded Knee in South Dakota. 

Littlefeather received an apology for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this past June for the abuse she endured because of her statement. The “unwarranted and unjustified” abuse and “emotional burden you have lived through and the cost to your own career in our industry are irreparable. For too long, the courage you showed has been unacknowledged. For this, we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration.”

On September 17, the Academy held an event in Littlefeather’s honor. “I am here accepting this apology,” she said at the event. “Not only for me alone, but as acknowledgment, knowing that it was not only for me, but for all of our nations that also need to hear and deserve this apology tonight.” —GP

Trump seeks Supreme Court intervention in Mar-a-Lago case

In his effort to clear his name after the FBI raid at his Mar-a-Lago home, former President Donald Trump has asked the Supreme Court to step in, hoping the court will determine that the documents in his possession were covered by executive privilege. Lawyers for Trump on Tuesday requested that an outside legal expert examine some one hundred potentially classified documents seized from Trump’s Florida home in August.

“Such a move would make it easier for Trump to continue to pursue claims that those documents—some marked ‘Top Secret,’ or with even more restrictive classifications—should not be in the hands of Justice Department investigators because they are subject to executive privilege because Trump declassified them before leaving office, or for other reasons,” Politico reports.

Four Trump attorneys argued in a 37-page filing, “Any limit on the comprehensive and transparent review of materials seized in the extraordinary raid of a President’s home erodes public confidence in our system of justice.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit last month ruled that the documents seized from Trump were the government’s property, not his. The court also “blocked an earlier order by U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon that the special master review the documents to see if they should be shielded from investigators because of executive or attorney-client privilege,” per the Washington Post.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas directed the Justice Department to respond to Trump’s request by Tuesday at 5 p.m. —MFS

Hurricane Ian’s death toll rises above 100

Hurricane Ian’s death toll has risen to over 100, with Southeast still reeling from the natural disaster that hit last week. Most of the deaths were in Florida, but several deaths occurred in Cuba, North Carolina, and Virginia.

The Category 4 storm battered cities such as Sanibel, Cape Coral, and Fort Myers with winds of up to 150 miles per hour, tearing apart homes and flooding neighborhoods. Some 185 thousand Florida residents are still without electricity. The storm, which is one of the worst in U.S. history, has inflicted billions of dollars in estimated damage.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden joined Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at a press conference, saying, “Today we have one job and only one job, and that’s to make sure that people in Florida get everything that they need to fully, thoroughly recover.”

Despite being a potential 2024 political rival to Biden, DeSantis also emphasized unity, telling the crowd, “We are cutting through the red tape, and that’s from local government, state government, all the way up to the president, so we appreciate the team effort.”

As clean-up efforts continue, Florida residents are beginning to return to their homes, finding that their neighborhoods are now unrecognizable.

“Think of a snow globe,” Fort Myers resident Fred Szott told the AP. “Pick it up and shake it—that’s what happened.” —MFS

Actress Hilary Swank announces pregnancy with twins

Oscar winner Hilary Swank appeared on Good Morning America Wednesday and announced that she is pregnant with twins, making her a first-time mom at age 48.

“This is something that I’ve been wanting for a long time and my next thing is I’m gonna be a mom. And not just of one, but of two. I can’t believe it,” Swank said.

Swank followed up with the announcement on GMA with an Instagram post pointing at her belly, with the caption, “Coming soon . . . DOUBLE feature! 👼🏼👼🏼.”

Swank shared that twins run in her family and her husband, Philip Schneider’s family.

"It's such a blessing. It's a total miracle. It's unbelievable," Swank said later on Live with Kelly and Ryan. Swank revealed that she is now in her second trimester and that her little ones are due on her late father’s birthday, giving it extra special significance. —GP

Good News of the Week

When the Bezhenar family fled Ukraine at the start of the war with Russia, they were forced to leave everything behind, including 10-year-old Agnessa Bezhenar’s cat, Arsenii. The family resettled in Sonoma County, California, and began working toward building a new life. However, Agnessa desperately missed her cat.

“She [Agnessa] missed sleeping with her cat, and she missed hugging him, she missed everything about the cat because she had grown up with him,” said Maria Bezhenar, Agnessa’s mother.

A German stewardess, Dee Harnish, who had met the family during their resettlement journey, found out about the missing cat and rallied a chain of people to find the Arsenii and safely get her back to Agnessa. Arsenii was passed from Ukraine to Moldova, to Bucharest, and more, taking a motorcycle, a plane, and an open-air vehicle called a tuk-tuk.

Arsenii traveled over 7 thousand miles and finally reunited with Agnessa at the San Francisco International Airport.

“When Arsenii is with us, it’s like home is with us. Like part of our home is with us,” Maria said. —GP

Watch of the Week

Watch the powerful new full-length trailer for Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which pays tribute to actor Chadwick Boseman, who played the King of Wakanda, aka Black Panther, T'Challa.