Trump Has Lost His War on the War on Coal
New Hope and New Danger on the Left
Elizabeth Warren has a plan for universal child care
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will unveil a major new initiative on Tuesday designed to make sure every family can afford high-quality child care, according to several people who have heard about the proposal or seen material describing it in the past week.
The plan seeks to make access to child care universal, the sources told HuffPost, by offering federal funds to providers that offer care at their facilities on a sliding income scale.
No family would have to spend more than 7 percent of its household income on child care, no matter the number of kids. Families with incomes below twice the poverty line, which is roughly $50,000 a year for a family of four, would pay nothing.
Meredith Watson, who has accused Virginia lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax, details her experience since coming forward
Since I came forward less than two weeks ago, certain politicians offered to support me if I made it a partisan issue. I refused. Likewise, I have refused to make this a financial issue by suing for compensation. I have refused to make it a law-enforcement issue. Despite nearly 100 offers to be interviewed, I have refused to make my rape a media opportunity.
My motivation was never for personal gain.
And what have I gained? I have endured relentless scrutiny of my personal life and an unending, bitter flood of hurtful misinformation trumpeted by the media.
This occurred precisely because I sought to protect my privacy and the privacy of my family. There were inquiries into my years in elementary school. Personal medical records were probed, and financial information was revealed. None of this is relevant.
A little radiation on your vacation
For nearly two decades at the Grand Canyon, tourists, employees, and children on tours passed by three paint buckets stored in the National Park’s museum collection building, unaware that they were being exposed to radiation.
Although federal officials learned last year that the five-gallon containers were brimming with uranium ore, then removed the radioactive specimens, the park’s safety director alleges nothing was done to warn park workers or the public that they might have been exposed to unsafe levels of radiation.
In a rogue email sent to all Park Service employees on Feb. 4, Elston “Swede” Stephenson — the safety, health and wellness manager — described the alleged cover-up as “a top management failure” and warned of possible health consequences.
A protester celebrates Presidents’ Day in front of the White House
Roger Stone is at it again
Roger Stone posted a picture on his Instagram Monday of U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, the federal judge presiding over his case, with crosshairs in the corner.
In the post, he accuses “Deep State hitman Robert Mueller” of ensuring that his case landed in her hands, since she’s an Obama appointee – the implication being that she’s out to get him. He ends his post with his classic digital panhandling for his legal defense fund.
The post comes just days after Jackson instituted a partial gag order against Stone and advised him not to make comments that would endanger his own case.
More than a dozen AGs will sue over Trump’s national emergency
California and a dozen other states are filing a lawsuit challenging Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration on Monday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said.
“The president admitted that there’s not a basis for the declaration, he admitted there’s no crisis at the border, he’s now trying to rob funds that were allocated by Congress legally to the various states and people of our states,” Becerra told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC Monday afternoon.
“The separation of powers is being violated, we’re going to go out there and make sure that Donald Trump cannot steal money from the states and people who need them, since we paid the taxpayer dollars to Washington, D.C. to get those services,” he said.
Sorry, Knicks fans
Joe Biden tends to lead in 2020 polls. That might be meaningless.
Joe Biden’s big lead in early Democratic 2020 polling might be a bunch of malarkey.
While most polls show the former vice president hovering around 30 percent of the Democratic primary vote, well ahead of second-place Sen. Bernie Sanders, two recent surveys paint a starkly different picture — raising the question of whether Biden is a real front-runner or just has big name-recognition. Those polls show far more Democratic voters undecided about which candidate to support, and they pegged Biden’s backing at a much less intimidating 9 to 12 percent.
The results are so varied partly thanks to different methodological choices by the pollsters. But parsing the results is more than an academic exercise: While Biden weighs a third campaign for the presidency, he and his allies must consider whether polls a year before primary season really reflect Biden’s true strength — and his potential rivals have to calculate whether the former vice president could overwhelm lesser-known challengers in 2020.
If you know a Flat Earther, they probably started on YouTube
Researchers believe they have identified the prime driver for a startling rise in the number of people who think the Earth is flat: Google’s video-sharing site, YouTube.
Their suspicion was raised when they attended the world’s largest gatherings of Flat Earthers at the movement’s annual conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 2017, and then in Denver, Colorado, last year.
Interviews with 30 attendees revealed a pattern in the stories people told about how they came to be convinced that the Earth was not a large round rock spinning through space but a large flat disc doing much the same thing.
Of the 30, all but one said they had not considered the Earth to be flat two years ago but changed their minds after watching videos promoting conspiracy theories on YouTube. “The only person who didn’t say this was there with his daughter and his son-in-law and they had seen it on YouTube and told him about it,” said Asheley Landrum, who led the research at Texas Tech University.
Cory Booker is trying to woo Amazon to Newark
The anger and finger-pointing hasn’t let up in New York City over Amazon’s decision to abandon plans to local a new headquarters there, but Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey sees a clear next step: bring HQ2 to Newark.
Booker, who was once Mayor of Newark and is now running for president, said that ever since Amazon announced its retreat from New York, officials in New Jersey’s largest city have reached out to the retail and technology colossus.
“We want HQ2,” Booker declared emphatically in an interview with Cheddar’s J.D. Durkin. “We’ve sent that message out already. And everybody from the Governor to the Mayor to local leaders have been reaching out to Amazon.”
NYC to institute nation’s first ban on hair-based discrimination
Under new guidelines to be released this week by the New York City Commission on Human Rights, the targeting of people based on their hair or hairstyle, at work, school or in public spaces, will now be considered racial discrimination.
The change in law applies to anyone in New York City but is aimed at remedying the disparate treatment of black people; the guidelines specifically mention the right of New Yorkers to maintain their “natural hair, treated or untreated hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, Afros, and/or the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state.”
In practice, the guidelines give legal recourse to individuals who have been harassed, threatened, punished, demoted or fired because of the texture or style of their hair. The city commission can levy penalties up to $250,000 on defendants that are found in violation of the guidelines and there is no cap on damages. The commission can also force internal policy changes and rehirings at offending institutions.
An 11-year-old faces charges after refusing to stand for the pledge
A sixth grader in Florida was arrested after his refusal to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance escalated into a confrontation with police and school officials, authorities said.
The unnamed boy was charged with disrupting a school function and resisting an officer without violence on Feb. 4, the Lakeland Police Department said in a news release.
A local news outlet, Bay News 9, reported that the confrontation began after the student at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, near Tampa, called the flag racist and described the national anthem as offensive.
The president celebrates Presidents’ Day with a gift to himself
Bystanders caught in cross fire of police shoot-out in New Orleans
Five people waiting at a bus stop in New Orleans were shot during a police shootout with a robbery suspect Sunday, police said.
The suspect was fatally shot by a Louisiana State Police Officer at the end of foot chase with gunfire throughout, Chief Shaun Ferguson said.
Ferguson said detectives had been investigating two armed robberies in the city’s 6th district when they identified a person of interest near a bus stop at the intersection of Canal Street and Elk Place at 6:43 p.m. Sunday.
The detectives called uniformed officers to help question the suspect, but when they attempted to engage, the individual pulled out a weapon and began firing, he said.
A detective and one of the officers returned fire and five bystanders – all adults – were struck during the exchange of gunfire, Ferguson said.
Seven Labour MPs jump ship
Seven Labour MPs, including Chuka Umunna and Luciana Berger, have resigned from the party over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, saying they will sit as a new independent group.
In a press conference on Monday, the MPs – who also include Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey – delivered a scathing attack on the party for being “institutionally racist” and betraying its members over Brexit.
Japan’s prime minister nominated Trump for a Nobel Peace Prize at White House’s request
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nominated U.S. President Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize last autumn after receiving a request from the U.S. government to do so, the Asahi newspaper reported on Sunday.
The report follows Trump’s claim on Friday that Abe had nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize for opening talks and easing tensions with North Korea. The Japanese leader had given him “the most beautiful copy” of a five-page nomination letter, Trump said at a White House news conference.
The U.S. government had sounded Abe out over the Noble Peace Prize nomination after Trump’s summit in June last year with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the first meeting between a North Korean leader and a sitting U.S. president, the Asahi said, citing an unnamed Japanese government source.
Anthony Weiner is no longer in prison, but will need to register as a sex offender
Convicted ex-congressman Anthony Weiner has been sprung from prison — and is now part of a federal re-entry program in New York, records show. Weiner has been transferred from Federal Medical Center in Devens, Mass. where he served a bulk of his 21-month sentence for sexting a 15-year-old girl from North Carolina, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons records.
The 54-year-old is now being supervised by the federal Residential Reentry Management, which has a field office in Sunset Park and operates multiples facilities, the records say. He is either in a halfway house or in home confinement, TMZ reported. It’s not clear when the transfer took place. Weiner is set to be released from federal custody on May 14, thanks to good conduct behind bars that shaved about three months off his sentence.
Vetting a new contender in Mason City
Meanwhile, in real national emergencies …
Student-loan delinquencies surged last year, hitting consecutive records of $166.3 billion in the third quarter and $166.4 billion in the fourth. Bloomberg calculated the dollar amounts from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s quarterly household-debt report, which includes only the total owed and the percentage delinquent at least 90 days or in default.
That percentage has remained around 11 percent since mid-2012, but the total increased to a record $1.46 trillion by December 2018, and unpaid student debt also rose to the highest ever.
Delinquencies continued to climb even as the unemployment rate fell below 4 percent, suggesting the strong U.S. job market hasn’t generated enough wage growth to help some people manage their outstanding obligations.
And if that’s not enough, maybe Mitch McConnell can find some wall money at all those overfunded schools at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina
Face the Nation anchor Margaret Brennan, on Sunday: The president just declared a national emergency in regard to getting the funds for his border wall. In terms of getting those funds though through this emergency action and there’s about three point six billion of it that could come from military construction efforts, including construction of a middle school in Kentucky, housing for military families, improvements for bases like Camp Pendleton and Hanscom Air Force Base. Aren’t you concerned that some of these projects that were part of legislation that you helped approve and Congress are now going to possibly be cut out?
Senator Lindsey Graham: Well the president will have to make a decision where to get the money. Let’s just say for a moment that he took some money out of the military construction budget. I would say it’s better for the middle school kids in Kentucky to have a secure border. We’ll get them the school they need. But right now we’ve got a national emergency on our hands.
A record number of women running for president will provide a record number of chances to avoid sexism in how they and their campaigns are covered
“There is a narrow universe of acceptable behavior for women,” explained [media consultant] Heidi Moore[.]
In politics — as in so many other spheres — women get bashed far more than their male counterparts for personality quirks, vulnerabilities and actions of all sorts. Not to mention their appearance and speaking voices. Think of how far a female candidate would get if she came off like the rumpled and ranting Bernie Sanders.
“We see in coverage of women lawmakers that even minor flaws are treated as disqualifying,” Moore told me, “while men’s flaws get brief attention but are glossed over as a case of ‘nobody’s perfect.’ ” …
Society and journalism conspire, Moore noted, creating an unfair standard: “While men get to be flawed and human and complex, women are mostly allowed to audition only for pedestals, for sainthood, for absolute purity.”
So far, no one in this field looks like a candidate for sainthood. And if such a woman could be found, surely her unbearable piety would disqualify her immediately.
Be it business or politics, this emperor has never been wearing clothes
It was inevitable that Trump would refuse to be stymied by Congress, and that he would take a victory lap regardless of what happened in the real world. In that context, his border-wall machinations are only partially about appeasing conservative pundits or his political base; for the most part, they’re about appeasing his sense of himself. He’s been doing this sort of thing his entire life: Spinning victory yarns from incontrovertible losses was a hallmark of his troubled business career.
Trump’s D.C. hotel continues to be a monument to emolument
Former [Maine] Gov. Paul LePage and his staff members paid for more than 40 rooms at Washington, D.C.’s Trump International Hotel during a two-year period, spending at least $22,000 in Maine taxpayer money at a business owned by the president’s family.
Documents recently obtained by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram show that the LePage administration paid anywhere from $362 to more than $1,100 a night for rooms at the luxury hotel during trips to meet with President Trump or his inner circle, attend White House events or talk to members of Congress. Receipts from those dozen trips also show the Republican governor or his administration spending hundreds of dollars on filet mignon or other expensive menu items at the restaurant in the Trump hotel. Those expenditures are likely to draw additional scrutiny from attorneys who have cited LePage’s previously disclosed stays at the D.C. hotel in a federal lawsuit alleging the president is improperly profiting from the business.
The spending levels at the Trump hotel were so high that they were flagged by a worker in the state controller’s office, who sought guidance on state regulations for reimbursing such expenditures …
While LePage stayed at multiple D.C.-area hotels during the two-year period, receipts and out-of-state travel authorization forms show the governor and senior staffers returned to Trump International again and again. And during most trips where they stayed at the Trump hotel, LePage or administration members expected to have some interaction with the president or his Cabinet.
Stephen Miller had a little trouble faking the national emergency on Fox News Sunday (thanks to some aggressive disbelief from a well-prepared Chris Wallace)
On this week’s Fox News Sunday, Wallace was all over Miller, challenging him to provide some explanation for how Trump’s national emergency is a national emergency, when Trump himself essentially admitted it wasn’t a national emergency. And when Miller tried to fend off the questions with talking points, Wallace peppered him with followups. But Miller had an especially tough time getting around one line of questioning.
Wallace began by schooling Miller on the U.S. Constitution, telling him “I know that you are a constitutional conservative, and you believe that the constitution should be interpreted as written,” then proceeding to read to him from the Constitution. “Article 1 section 9 clause 7 of The Constitution, as written, ‘No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law,’” he read.
“Isn’t what President Trump want to do a clear violation of what the founders, what James Madison talked about, was giving Congress the power of the purse?” Wallace asked.
Miller countered by citing the National Emergencies Act, which actually doesn’t overrule the constitution. Wallace interrupted him. “But let’s talk about national emergency, national emergencies have been declared 59 times since 1976 when the law was passed, the National Emergencies Act,” Wallace said. “Can you point to a single instance, even one, where the president asked Congress for money, Congress refused to give him that money, and the president then invoked national emergency powers to get the money?”
He couldn’t. Full video here.
Mueller subpoenaed Cambridge Analytica director
A director of the controversial data company Cambridge Analytica, who appeared with Arron Banks at the launch of the Leave.EU campaign, has been subpoenaed by the US investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
A spokesman for Brittany Kaiser, former business development director for Cambridge Analytica – which collapsed after the Observer revealed details of its misuse of Facebook data – confirmed that she had been subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller, and was cooperating fully with his investigation. He added that she was assisting other US congressional and legal investigations into the company’s activities and had voluntarily turned over documents and data.
Kaiser, who gave evidence to the UK parliament last April in which she claimed Cambridge Analytica had carried out in-depth work for Leave.EU, is the second individual connected to the firm subpoenaed by the special counsel. The Electoral Commission has said its investigation into Leave.EU found no evidence that the campaign “received donations or paid for services from Cambridge Analytica …beyond initial scoping work”.
Heather Nauert won’t be Trump’s new U.N. ambassador
BREAKING scoop: Heather Nauert withdrawn from consideration for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Heather Nauert’s nomination began to falter after the White House was alerted that a problem had cropped up in her background check —Trump’s pick for UN ambassador had employed a nanny who was in US legally but didn’t have a US work permit, sources tell me and Nicholas Wadhams.
Now CNN is reporting that Empire actor Jussie Smollett may have faked his own attack, according to new evidence
Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that Chicago Police believe Jussie Smollett paid two men to orchestrate the assault.
The brothers, who were arrested Wednesday, were released without charges Friday after Chicago police cited the discovery of “new evidence.” The sources told CNN that the two men are now cooperating fully with law enforcement.
Smollett told authorities he was attacked early January 29 by two men who were “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs.” He said one attacker put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him.
The women using Facebook groups to expose government goons in Sudan
Women in Sudan are using private Facebook groups created to creep on crushes to dox state security officers brutalizing demonstrators during huge anti-government protests sweeping the country. When security agents and police abusing their power have had their identities exposed, they have been hounded by people in their own neighborhoods, beaten up, and sometimes even chased out of town.
The groups — only accessible via a virtual private network (VPN) after the government blocked social media — are part of the response to a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests that have swept the country since December. They are the largest ever against the regime of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who took office in 1989 and whom protesters accuse of enforcing oppressive laws and wrecking the economy. At least 57 people have been killed in the protests, and countless others have been shot at, teargassed, had their hair cut off by officers, and tortured.
Sudan’s morality laws prevent women from gathering in public; dictate the clothes they wear; and authorize the use of corporal punishment, like lashing and stoning, if they violate or criticize the rules. As a result, private Facebook groups have become a popular way for millions of Sudanese women to safely communicate with one another.
Bernie 2020 nears
Bernie Sanders, inching closer to a second bid for the White House, has recorded a campaign video in which he says he is running for president in 2020, according to two people familiar with the spot. It’s the latest sign the independent senator, the runner-up in the 2016 contest for the Democratic nomination, is nearing a presidential announcement.
Another hint that Sanders is getting closer to a launch: As POLITICO reported this week, the Sanders team has been interviewing people for top staff positions. Chuck Rocha, a political consultant who advised Sanders’ 2016 campaign, is expected to join him again if a second bid materializes.
It is unclear when, or even whether, the Sanders video will be released. It’s possible that Sanders could launch a 2020 campaign with an exploratory committee and then formally declare his candidacy later, a route other presidential candidates, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have taken.
A swing-state swing toward renewables
Ohio’s political conservatives strongly favor renewable energy over coal and especially over nuclear power, a new poll commissioned by the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum has found.
“Conservatives in Ohio are strong supporters of renewable energy, with a clear majority, 70 percent, wanting 50 percent or more of their energy to come from renewable sources,” concluded Jim Hobart, a partner at Public Opinion Strategies, a national polling firm which does research for Republican candidates. The poll was the third such survey Public Opinion Strategies had done for the the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum. It found growing support for clean energy. And a willingness to pay extra for it.
Conservative Ohio voters “also view renewable energy as a job creator in the state, with low-income conservatives and conservative men being especially likely to say that the increased use of renewables would create jobs in Ohio,” Hobart’s summary of findings points out.
Too black, or not black enough — Kamala Harris is facing the same impossible standard that Obama did
Harris should be questioned about her record as a senator and an attorney general, and her tenure as San Francisco’s district attorney, but too much of the conversation about her is instead dominated by insecurities that have nothing to do with determining whether she would be a good president.
The economist and author Boyce Watkins, who is black, tweeted, “If #KamalaHarris went to an #HBCU, what do you think led her to marry a white man?” Harris had to address this in her [recent] Breakfast Club interview. She said she’s married to her white husband because she loves him. Imagine that.
In a nod to the racist birther conspiracy that enveloped President Barack Obama, a tweet claiming that Harris wasn’t eligible to run for president because of her immigrant parents went viral. It has been repeated as fact so often that Harris is now forced to explain her ethnic background.
Was nothing learned from Obama’s run for president? He faced the same inane, pointless questions about his mixed-race identity as Harris. Just like Obama, Harris has exposed narrow-minded views of blackness with her presidential run. Harris is a multiracial woman who was born in Oakland, went to high school in Montreal, and worshipped with both Hindus and Baptists. She’s a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and yet, by her account, knows how to make an incredible Bolognese and a mean pot of collard greens. If the criterion for running for president is being authentically American, people have to accept that this is what that looks like.
And even when existing gun-control laws should help prevent a tragedy …
Aurora shooter Gary Martin had his gun license strip after a felony conviction was discovered when he applied for a concealed carry card. He lost his card but still kept his gun. And that gun was used to kill 5 people and wound 5 police officers Friday. Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said authorities are now investigating which law-enforcement agency was responsible for following up with Martin after he lost his license and why he still had a gun five years later. The criminal background check done when Martin applied for his gun license did not find his felony conviction. It wasn’t until he was fingerprinted for the concealed carry card that it popped up in his background.
President Trump will spend Saturday monitoring the national emergency from his golf club
Inmates reportedly faced reprisals at federal prison in Brooklyn after protesting against lack of heat
Jordan remembers jolting awake in his cell at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, in the early-morning hours of Saturday, February 2. He had been hit with pepper spray to the face. Jordan, who The Intercept is identifying by a pseudonym, said guards sprayed and shackled him and his cellmate, then led them, partially blinded, to a shower area to rinse off. Next, he spent several hours in a “freezing” unit wearing only boxers and a T-shirt, before being transferred to solitary confinement …
Accounts from incarcerated people, their family members, and lawyers sketch a picture of widespread protests at the Sunset Park detention facility. People across multiple housing units undertook coordinated acts of nonviolent disobedience and at least three hunger strikes. Retaliation by Metropolitan Detention Center staff ranged from pepper spray and solitary confinement to shutting off toilets across entire units. All told, men on at least four housing units inside the jail say they took part in some sort of collective protest of their conditions. In each instance, they say their actions were met with official retaliation.
Despite making $11.2 billion in profits last year, Amazon once again paid no federal taxes — because this is America
Amazon, the e-commerce giant helmed by the world’s richest man, paid no federal taxes on profit of $11.2 billion last year, according to an analysis of the company’s corporate filings by the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a progressive think tank. Thanks to a variety of tax credits and a significant tax break available on pay handed out in the form of company stock, Amazon actually received a federal tax rebate of $129 million last year, giving it an effective federal tax rate of roughly -1 percent.
It is the second year in a row the company has enjoyed a negative federal tax rate on a multibillion dollar profit. That would place the company’s effective federal tax rate below the rate paid by the poorest 20 percent of American households, which had an effective federal tax rate of 1.5 percent in 2015, according to the Tax Policy Center …
Like many other large companies, Amazon reduces its effective tax rate each year using a variety of credits, rebates and loopholes. For Amazon, the most lucrative of those was a tax break for pay given out in the form of stock options, which allowed the company to shave roughly $1 billion off its 2018 tax bill, [ITEP senior fellow Matthew Gardner] said. That would represent nearly half of the total federal tax bill levied on the company’s profit of $11.2 billion, he said.
Previous ITEP analysis has shown that between 2008 and 2015, profitable Fortune 500 companies paid an average effective federal tax rate of 21.2 percent, well under the statutory 35 percent rate in effect in that period. One hundred of the companies had paid zero or negative tax in at least one profitable year, and 58 of them had multiple zero-tax years while being profitable.
As expected, House Democrats are pursuing details about Trump’s private Putin meetings
House Democrats are taking their first real steps to force President Donald Trump to divulge information about his private conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, setting up an extraordinary clash with the White House over Congress’ oversight authority.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the Intelligence Committee chairman, and Rep. Eliot Engel, the Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, told POLITICO they are actively consulting with House General Counsel Douglas Letter about the best way to legally compel the Trump administration to turn over documents or other information related to the president’s one-on-one discussions with the Russian leader.
“I had a meeting with the general counsel to discuss this and determine the best way to find out what took place in those private meetings — whether it’s by seeking the interpreter’s testimony, the interpreter’s notes, or other means,” Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a brief interview.It’s a development that indicates Schiff and Engel are close to taking action on the matter; key members of the majority party often consult with the chamber’s general counsel on issues that could end up playing out in court. Democrats want to ensure that they are on the strongest possible legal ground because they anticipate the Trump administration will mount spirited challenges.
More details on the deadly mass shooting at an Aurora, Illinois, workplace on Friday
A 15-year veteran of a manufacturing business who was being terminated opened fire inside the company’s Aurora plant Friday afternoon, killing five people and wounding five police officers who responded to the scene, police said.
Authorities said the gunman, 45-year-old Gary Martin, of Aurora, was also killed in the shootout at Henry Pratt Co., a manufacturer of industrial valves. The names of the victims were not released Friday evening. A sixth officer suffered a knee injury. It wasn’t clear how he was injured, but he wasn’t shot.
Clayton Parks, of Elgin Illinois. Mr. Parks was the Human Resources Manager at Henry Pratt.
Trevor Wehner, of Dekalb, Illinois. Mr. Wehner was a Human Resources Intern at Henry Pratt and a student at Northern Illinois University.
Russell Beyer, of Yorkville, Illinois. Mr. Beyer was a Mold Operator at Henry Pratt.
Vicente Juarez of Oswego, Illinois. Mr. Juarez was a Stock Room Attendant and Fork Lift Operator at Henry Pratt.
Josh Pinkard, of Oswego, Illinois. Mr. Pinkard was the Plant Manager for Henry Pratt.
Another shooting victim, a male employee of Henry Pratt, was treated at an area hospital for non-life-threatening gunshot wounds sustained during the shooting incident.
A big step closer to legal weed in New Jersey
Gov. Phil Murphy and state legislative leaders have reached a deal in principle on how to tax and regulate marijuana in New Jersey after months of negotiations, paving the way to bringing legal weed to the Garden State.
Multiple legislative and industry sources confirmed an agreement was in place on a bill that would tax marijuana by the ounce, rather than the contentious sales tax that had divided Murphy and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney. Those sources requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the deal.
State Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, the prime sponsor of the legalization bill, refused to reveal any of the details of the negotiation. But he said they were as close as they had ever been in reaching an agreement … The final bill would also address clearing marijuana convictions from criminal records — expungements. That’s a key component to the effort to legalize marijuana. Legislators have been crafting a new expungement bill that could be introduced as early as next week.
As New York’s David Wallace-Wells puts it, “Sometimes it almost feels like western intuitions of climate doom are just projections of imperial decline.”
China is taking its renewable energy push to new heights, with scientists revealing plans to build the first solar power station in space.
A solar power station orbiting the earth at 36,000 kilometres could tap the energy of the sun’s rays without interference from the atmosphere, or seasonal and night-time loss of sunlight, Chinese media reported.
A researcher from the China Academy of Space Technology Corporation, Pang Zhihao, said a space solar power station held the promise of providing “an inexhaustible source of clean energy for humans”.
It could reliably supply energy 99 per cent of the time, at six-times the intensity of solar farms on earth, he said.
The next step will be a Megawatt-level space solar power station, slated for construction in 2030.
The legal challenges to Trump’s national emergency are rolling in
We believe your declaration of an emergency shows a reckless disregard for the separation of powers and your own responsibilities under our constitutional system. The Constitution vests the Congress with the power of the purse and expressly provides that “no money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.” Congress has entrusted you and your predecessors with emergency authority in order to respond quickly and effectively to real crises, such as wars and disasters.
The Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the National Emergenices Act, did so based on an understanding that the President would “tae care that the laws be faithfully executed” and would resort to this authority only when absolutelly necessary. By fabricating an emergency in order to bypass the political process for allocating a budget, you appear to be abusing both this trust and your own oath of office.
Harris secures an important home-state endorsement
Any press is good press?
Trump’s emergency declaration faces its first court hurdle
A consumer advocacy group filed the first lawsuit late Friday challenging President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration, suing on behalf of Texas landowners and an environmental group who say they’ll be affected by border wall construction.
The case, filed by Public Citizen in federal district court in Washington, DC, is the first of what are expected to be multiple lawsuits challenging Trump’s unprecedented decision to declare a national emergency in order to access $3.6 billion in military construction funds to pay for more sections of the wall he promised to build along the US–Mexico border.
Public Citizen is arguing the president exceeded his authority under the federal National Emergencies Act because there is no emergency at the southern border, and that his declaration of a national emergency in order to build the wall violates the separation of powers — essentially, that it’s unconstitutional for Trump to declare an emergency because Congress already refused to appropriate the money.
Public Citizen is one of several groups that have announced plans to sue the administration, but are the first to file. House Democrats are considering going to court to challenge the emergency, as are Democratic attorneys general. At a press conference Friday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said his office was likely to pursue legal action.
Key sections from Mueller’s sentencing recommendation for Paul Manafort
The defendant stands convicted of the serious crimes of tax fraud, bank fraud, and failing to file a foreign bank account report. Manafort was the lead perpetrator and a direct beneficiary of each offense. And while some of these offenses are commonly prosecuted, there was nothing ordinary about the millions of dollars involved in the defendant’s crimes, the duration of his criminal conduct, or the sophistication of his schemes.
Together with the relevant criminal conduct, Manafort’s misconduct involved more than $16 million in unreported income resulting in more than $6 million in federal taxes owed, more than $55 million hidden in foreign bank accounts, and more than $25 million secured from financial institutions through lies resulting in a fraud loss of more than $6 million.
Manafort did not commit these crimes out of necessity or hardship. He was well educated, professionally successful, and financially well off. He nonetheless cheated the United States Treasury and the public out of more than $6 million in taxes at a time when he had substantial resources. Manafort committed bank fraud to supplement his liquidity because his lavish spending exhausted his substantial cash resources when his overseas income dwindled.
Special counsel recommends Manafort receive a sentence somewhere between 19.5 to 24.5 years, potentially putting him in prison until he is 93
China has its own fascinating relationship with debt
The House Oversight Committee chairman believes Trump’s attorneys may have lied about Cohen’s payments to women alleging they had affairs with the president
“It now appears that President Trump’s other attorneys — at the White House and in private practice — may have provided false information about these payments to federal officials,” [Elijiah] Cummings (D-Md.) wrote in a letter to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.
Cummings named Sheri Dillon and Stefan Passantino as the two attorneys who might have made false statements to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), citing documents the committee obtained from the office.
According to Cummings, Dillon “repeatedly stated to federal officials at OGE that President Trump never owed any money to Mr. Cohen in 2016 and 2017.” Passantino, who served as deputy White House counsel for compliance and ethics, reportedly told OGE that Trump and Cohen had a “retainer agreement” — a claim that was later contradicted by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.
The 9/11 fund is running out of money and victims will suffer
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund plans to cut future payouts in half — and in some cases by as much as 70 percent — as it struggles with a surge of new claims from those who have gotten sick and the families of those who have died, officials announced Friday.
The fund was opened by the federal government in 2011 to compensate for deaths and illnesses linked to toxic exposure at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pa., after terrorists crashed four hijacked airliners in 2001. To date, the $7.3 billion fund has paid about $5 billion to roughly 21,000 claimants. About 700 were for deaths that occurred long after the attacks.
Four injured in Aurora, Illinois shooting
Multiple people have been injured at a manufacturing plant in Aurora, Illinois, on Friday and a shooter has been apprehended, authorities said.
Officers responded to reports of an active shooter at the Henry Pratt Company, the city announced just after 2 p.m. CST. The Aurora Police Department tweeted at 3:30 p.m. that the situation “has been secured. Shooter is no longer a threat to the area.”
At least two patients have been admitted at Amita Health/Presence Mercy Medical Center, the hospital told NBC News. There is no information on their conditions yet.
Another two patients are being treated at Rush Copley hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Heartbreaking: The worst person you know just made a great point
Look, the only national emergency is that our president is an idiot.
Kamala Harris lands a big endorsement
Dolores Huerta, the iconic labor and civil rights leader who co-founded what became the United Farm Workers, is endorsing Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) for president, according to a statement shared first with POLITICO.
Huerta, who started the National Farmworkers Association alongside the late Cesar Chavez, is also signing onto Harris’ campaign as a California co-chair, joining Rep. Barbara Lee, a former Congressional Black Caucus chair, who endorsed Harris on Wednesday.
Huerta’s backing is a significant development in the early stages of the 2020 campaign and gives the California senator a leading voice in the labor movement and among Latinos nationally.
Sarah Sanders joins the club
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has interviewed White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, she told CNN on Friday.
“The President urged me, like he has everyone in the administration, to fully cooperate with the special counsel. I was happy to voluntarily sit down with them,” Sanders said in response to a question from CNN.
The interview is one of the final known interviews by Mueller’s team. It came around the same time as the special counsel interviewed former White House chief of staff John Kelly, well after a number of other senior officials, including former White House communications director Hope Hicks and former press secretary Sean Spicer, were brought in for questioning.
Roger Stone ordered to shut up
Colin Kaepernick strikes a deal with the NFL
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid have reached a settlement with the NFL concerning their collusion grievances against the league, it was announced Friday.
“For the past several months, counsel for Mr. Kaepernick and Mr. Reid have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with representatives of the NFL,” attorney Mark Geragos and the NFL said a joint statement issued Friday. “As a result of those discussions, the parties have decided to resolve the pending grievances. The resolution of this matter is subject to a confidentiality agreement so there will be no further comment by any party.”
Kaepernick filed a grievance last fall under the collective bargaining agreement alleging collusion against signing him to an NFL contract.
British students walk out to protest inaction on climate change
Thousands of schoolchildren and young people have walked out of classes to join a UK-wide climate strike amid growing anger at the failure of politicians to tackle the escalating ecological crisis.
Organisers said more than 10,000 young people in at least 60 towns and cities from the Scottish Highlands to Cornwall joined the strike, defying threats of detention to voice their frustration at the older generation’s inaction on the environmental impact of climate change.
Anna Taylor, 17, one of the most prominent voices to emerge from the new movement, said the turnout had been overwhelming. “It goes some way to proving that young people aren’t apathetic, we’re passionate, articulate and we’re ready to continue demonstrating the need for urgent and radical climate action.”
Why these people spent Valentine’s Day with Howard Schultz
“We bought these tickets before he said he might run. We’re not fans. I’m definitely not broadcasting that I’m here on social media; I’m anonymous,” said Courtney Adams, a nanny who had driven almost three hours with her sister-in-law to be here because she didn’t want to eat the ticket. “I mentioned we bought these tickets before he said he might run for office, right?”
“Valentine’s Day is always a disaster,” said Tom Sheeran, sitting beside his date, Theresa Harrison, in a center pew. “Restaurants are always crowded, roses are expensive, people are miserable, so how could this be any worse?”
“My wife’s in Ethiopia. and I didn’t have any plans for Valentine’s Day, so why not?” Selcuk Karaoglan said. “But I don’t really even like Starbucks.”
The border crisis is fake, but the military housing crisis is real
Deeply troubled by military housing conditions exposed by Reuters reporting, the U.S. Army’s top leadership vowed Friday to renegotiate its housing contracts with private real estate firms, test tens of thousands of homes for toxins and hold its own commanders responsible for protecting Army base residents from dangerous homes. …
The Reuters reporting described rampant mold and pest infestations, childhood lead poisoning, and service families often powerless to challenge private landlords in business with their military employers. Many families said they feared retaliation if they spoke out. The news agency described hazards across Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps base housing communities.
Here’s where Trump’s getting his border wall money
In addition to $1.375 billion included in the bill passed by Congress, Trump plans to draw money from a mixture of drug forfeiture funds, military projects and other accounts.
Trump is eyeing about $600 million from a Treasury Department drug forfeiture fund and $2.5 billion from a Defense Department drug interdiction program, according to officials.
In addition, the president wants to use $3.6 billion in military construction funds to help build his new border barriers.
This one is going to come back to bite him
That’s a new one
Not really making the case for his emergency
Trump announces his intention to declare a national emergency
This should go over well in Texas
Stephen Miller, Russ Vought and others had AM call with surrogates to sell deal. Said quick construction would “shock” people, effort is being made to keep California from having jurisdiction to sue, most action will be in Texas, Trump will “veto” any move to block declaration.
They also promised aggressive use of eminent domain.
Reminder: Trump is 72, not 2
Trump can be combustible and sometimes acts rashly when he feels cornered, so some Republican senators spent recent days on the phone, soothing him and trying to persuade him to hold his fire. McConnell also asked Trump to withhold judgment until the details of the deal were finalized.
Democrats decided in the final days they needed to be careful with their language, worried they could provoke Trump into another shutdown.
“He doesn’t seem to work on a totally rational basis,” Schumer said in the Post interview. “Little comments throw him off.”
Trump gets his first primary challenger
Former Massachusetts Gov. William F. Weld is launching a presidential exploratory committee to challenge President Trump in the Republican primaries, saying the country is “in grave peril” and he “cannot sit quietly on the sidelines any longer.”
Weld becomes the first Republican to officially announce he is exploring a run against Trump, and sets up a potential match-up in the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire presidential primary and in other states.
Doesn’t sound like a guy gearing up for a Senate run
Beto O’Rourke is hitting the road again, this time for the Midwest.
Following a massive rally in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, on Monday, the former Texas congressman and potential presidential candidate will visit with students at University of Wisconsin, Madison on Friday. He will then travel to Chicago, where he will address a national conference of the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute on Saturday. Julián Castro, who has already declared for president, is also scheduled to speak at that event.
A peek at the fallout for real estate investors betting on Amazon coming to Queens
The real-estate investment firm Savanna had a commitment from Amazon to lease the majority of a 1.4 million-square-foot office tower in Long Island City. Now with the building’s main tenant,Citigroup Inc., likely to leave in 2020, Savanna faces a one-million-square-foot hole in the building that it now needs to fill.
A Savanna spokesman declined to comment on Thursday.
Manufacturing company Plaxall Inc., which owns a massive development site in Long Island City where Amazon planned to build part of its new headquarters, missed out on a sure windfall.
Plaxall’s managing directors Paula Kirby, Tony Pfohl and Matthew Quigley said in a statement they were “extremely disappointed by this decision.”
Amazon’s reversal could also hurt developers who had bought development sites or filed plans for new buildings in the area in recent months and were hoping that an influx of 25,000 new Amazon jobs could boost rents and property values.
Since Nov. 12, when The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon had chosen Long Island City, 31 commercial and multifamily properties have sold in Long Island City for a combined $553 million, according to real-estate data company Reonomy, although some of these contracts may have been signed before the announcement.
Trump probably won’t be speaking of “my generals” so fondly today
The US commander who has been leading the war against ISIS told CNN Friday that he disagreed with Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria and warned that the terror group was far from defeated, in a stark public break with the President.
Joseph Votel, the top American general in the Middle East, also said that the US-backed forces on the ground in Syria were not ready to handle the threat of ISIS on their own.
“It would not have been my military advice at that particular time … I would not have made that suggestion, frankly,” Votel said of the troop withdrawal. “(The caliphate) still has leaders, still has fighters, it still has facilitators, it still has resources, so our continued military pressure is necessary to continue to go after that network.”