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Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed into law Monday a controversial bill that increases penalties for crimes committed during a "riot," which civil rights groups have denounced as unconstitutional.

Why it matters: The bill, effective immediately, will increase penalties for crimes committed during a "riot" and would allow authorities to hold protesters arrested for misdemeanors without bail until their first court appearance, per the Orlando Sentinel.

The big picture: The law also establishes new felonies for organizing or participating in a violent demonstration and offers "civil legal immunity to people who drive through protesters blocking a road," per the Orlando Sentinel.

  • The law also creates protections for Confederate monuments and other historical memorials, and makes it more difficult for local governments to decrease their law enforcement budgets.
  • Opponents of the bill say it curtails citizens' First Amendment rights to peaceful assembly and free speech. Micah Kubic, the executive director of ACLU of Florida, previously called the bill "racist, unconstitutional, and anti-democratic."

Driving the news: “We wanted to make sure that we were able to protect the people of our great state, people’s businesses and property against any type of mob activity or violent assemblies," said DeSantis at the bill's signing on Monday, reports the Miami Herald.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

500 Hong Kong police officers raid pro-democracy newspaper

Chief Operations Officer Chow Tat Kuen (front 2nd R) is escorted by police from the Apple Daily newspaper offices before being put into a waiting vehicle in Hong Kong on Thursday. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong's Apple Daily said 500 police officers searched the pro-democracy newspaper's offices and arrested five senior executives on Thursday.

Why it matters: The arrests of the paper's chief editor, Ryan Law, along with its chief operating officer, two other editors and the CEO of Next Digital, which operates Apple Daily, were made under China's national security law — which gives the government broad power to limit people's political freedom.

World Bank rejects El Salvador's request to help implement bitcoin

President Nayib Bukele, giving a speech in El Salvador's legislative assembly in San Salvado earlier this month, pushed for bitcoin to become legal tender. Photo: Emerson Flores/APHOTOGRAFIA/Getty Images

The World Bank has rejected the government of El Salvador's request to help the country implement Bitcoin as legal tender, Reuters first reported late Wednesday.

Why it matters: The international lender's rejection could hamper the government's goal of making the digital currency accepted across the country within three months.

Updated 6 hours ago - Science

China launches first astronauts to new space station

The manned Shenzhou-12 spacecraft from China's Manned Space Agency onboard the Long March-2F rocket launches at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China, on Thursday morning Beijing time. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

China's Shenzhou 12 mission carrying three astronauts launched into orbit on Thursday morning Beijing time.

Why it matters: Astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo are set to occupy China's new space station. This will be the country's longest crewed space mission ever and the first in almost five years.