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US Monthly Headline News September 2019 Page 5

By Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju, CNN
(CNN) - The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a resolution defining the rules of the panel's impeachment investigation, the first vote the committee has taken related to the potential impeachment of President Donald Trump. The party-line vote came as House Democrats have struggled to define the committee's probe, with Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler saying the committee is conducting an impeachment inquiry, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders are refraining from calling it that. Thursday's vote, which does not need to be approved by the full House, gives Nadler the ability to deem committee hearings as impeachment hearings. It allows staff to question witnesses at those hearings for an hour after members conclude, gives the President's lawyers the ability to respond in writing to public testimony and allows the committee to collect information in a closed setting. But the dissonant messages over the probe have prompted frustration among rank-and-file members, particularly those in competitive races wary of impeachment, and it even led to the House's No. 2 Democrat walking back his statement on the committee's investigation on Wednesday. Nadler sought to clarify the committee's intentions in his opening statement at Thursday's committee meeting, acknowledging there was confusion but arguing that the language used to describe the investigation wasn't the important point. "This Committee is engaged in an investigation that will allow us to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment with respect to President Trump. Some call this process an impeachment inquiry. Some call it an impeachment investigation. There is no legal difference between these terms, and I no longer care to argue about the nomenclature," the New York Democrat said. "But let me clear up any remaining doubt: The conduct under investigation poses a threat to our democracy. We have an obligation to respond to this threat. And we are doing so." more...  

By Tami Luhby and Gregory Krieg, CNN
(CNN) - Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Thursday unveiled a proposal to overhaul and expand Social Security, beefing up benefits with a hike in payroll and investment incomes taxes on some of the country's wealthiest households. The Massachusetts Democrat's plan would make major changes to the popular entitlement program, which currently provides monthly payments to roughly 64 million Americans. Most significantly, it would immediately boost benefits by $200 a month for every Social Security recipient. If the plan were implemented next year, the typical beneficiary would receive $1,595 a month, rather than $1,395. It would also increase monthly payments by $200 for certain Supplemental Security Income recipients, who are low-income seniors or people with disabilities. The plan fits into the presidential candidate's broader message demanding "big, structural change" to large parts of the American economy and would take significant steps in an attempt to address a legacy of inequality that, she said in a Medium post, has hit older women and people of color the hardest. By supplementing and growing the program, Warren is also making another play to increase her support among older voters -- the Americans who most reliably go to the polls on election days. The plan arrives just hours before Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate in Houston, which could spur more in-depth discussions before a national audience. Warren's proposal does more than simply offer more generous benefits. It also fundamentally changes how Social Security is funded, a move that -- while drastically broadening its scope -- could stoke opposition among the highest earners, who under the rewritten formula would have to pay much more into the system than they are paid out. more...  

By Amelia Lucas
Leaders of 145 companies wrote a letter to the Senate Thursday, urging the governmental body to take action on gun safety. The letter notes recent gun violence in Chicago, Newport News, Virginia and other places, calling it a “public health crisis.” But the leaders also say that gun violence is preventable, and lawmakers can step in to prevent tragedies. “That’s why we we urge the Senate to stand with the American public and take action on gun safety by passing a bill to require background checks on all gun sales and a strong Red Flag law that would allow courts to issue life-saving extreme risk protection orders,” they wrote in the letter. Red Flag laws, which are also known as Extreme Risk laws, allow family members or law enforcement to petition a court to prevent someone temporarily from obtaining firearms. “These proposals are common-sense, bipartisan and widely supported by the American public. It is time for the Senate to take action,” the letter concludes. Letter signers include the CEOs of well known companies Uber, Levi Strauss, Gap, Lyft and Beyond Meat. more...    

By Jessica Kwong
Democratic Governor Roy Cooper said state House Republicans "cheated the people of North Carolina" by holding a surprise vote and overriding his veto on the budget while he was attending a 9/11 memorial event on Wednesday. "Today, Republicans waged an assault on our democracy," Cooper said at an impromptu press conference he held after the vote. "They cheated the people of North Carolina." House Republicans apparently told Democrats that no votes would be held, but ended up overriding Cooper's budget veto 55-9, with just 64 of the 120 members in the house present. Cooper said that Republicans for two months refused to negotiate with him or offer a compromise on the budget. "Democrats were told there would be no votes this morning," Cooper said. "That was a bald-faced lie." Cooper added that such behavior from Republicans was unprecedented. "I have never seen anything like this in my 30-plus years in state government," the governor said, "This is a true assault on our democracy. There is no question about it." more...  

By Coral Davenport
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Thursday is expected to complete the legal repeal of a major Obama-era clean water regulation, which had placed limits on polluting chemicals that could be used near streams, wetlands and water bodies. The rollback of the 2015 measure, known as the Waters of the United States rule, has been widely expected since the early days of the Trump administration, when President Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to begin the work of repealing and replacing it. Weakening the Obama-era water rule had been a central campaign pledge for Mr. Trump, who characterized it as a federal land-grab that impinged on the rights of farmers, rural landowners and real estate developers to use their property as they see fit. Environmentalists say Mr. Trump’s push to loosen clean-water regulations represents an assault on the nation’s streams and wetlands at a moment when Mr. Trump has repeatedly declared his commitment to “crystal-clean water.” The repeal of the water rule, which is scheduled to be announced Thursday aft at the headquarters of the National Association of Manufacturers, will take effect in a matter of weeks. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, which had worked together to write the original Obama rule, are expected to issue a new, looser replacement rule by the end of this year. The rollback is the latest in a series of actions by the Trump administration to weaken or undo major environmental rules. Others include proposals to loosen regulations on planet-warming emissions from cars, power plants and oil and gas drilling rigs; moves designed to push new drilling in the vast Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; and efforts to weaken Endangered Species Act protections. more...

By Emma Newburger
The Trump administration is expected on Thursday to repeal a major Obama-era clean water regulation that limited the amount of pollution and chemicals that can be used near bodies of water like streams and wetlands. The rollback of the Waters of the United States rule is scheduled to be announced at the headquarters of the National Association of Manufacturers, a trade group that has pushed for its repeal and replacement. The Environmental Protection Agency proposed replacing the 2015 water rule in December following an executive order from President Donald Trump, who has criticized the regulations for curbing the rights of farmers, developers and landowners. The new rule would limit the number of waterways the federal government can protect from pollution, including ditches, storm water control facilities and groundwater systems. It would also limit the government’s oversight to larger bodies of water. The repeal could take effect in just a few weeks. The clean water rollback is the latest in a string of moves by the administration to dismantle major environmental protections against pollutants, from rolling back regulations on methane emissions and energy-efficient light bulbs, to pushing for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Environmental groups condemned the move to weaken water regulations, claiming that loosening restrictions will substantially harm the country’s sources of safe drinking water and threatening the administration with lawsuits over the repeal. “The Clean Water Rule represented solid science and smart public policy. Where it has been enforced, it has protected important waterways and wetlands, providing certainty to all stakeholders,” said Jon Devine, director of federal water policy at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The Trump administration’s wild-eyed attempts to reward polluters, however, knows no bounds, so it is repealing these important protections without regard for the law or sound science.” more...

Officials said a third party added methylmercury to the Ponds-labeled skin cream, causing extremely dangerous levels of the poison to build up in her bloodstream.
By Ben Kesslen
A 47-year-old California woman has been in a semi-comatose state for weeks after using a Ponds-labeled skin cream tainted with methylmercury. It is the first reported case of methylmercury poisoning from a skin cream in the U.S, Sacramento County health officials said. The woman's son told NBC affiliate KCRA in Sacramento that his mother has been in the hospital since July. She arrived with numbness in her hands and face, slurred speech, and trouble walking, county health officials told the outlet. She was able to respond to verbal commands at first, but she is now in a semi-comatose state, KCRA reported. She was found to have more than 500 times the acceptable amount of mercury in her blood, according to KCRA. Doctors tested the woman’s cosmetics as the source of the poisoning. “When they got to the face cream is when they noticed it had a very high level of mercury,” her son said. Methylmercury is a very toxic form of mercury. more...  

By Jonah Goldberg
Many voters understand how polls can be used as weapons and don’t want to give the “enemy” any satisfaction. Early Monday morning, Donald Trump tweeted: “94% Approval Rating in the Republican Party, a record. Thank you!” Where the president got this specific number remains a mystery. Recent polls by YouGov put his GOP approval roughly ten points lower, and Gallup, which has tracked Trump’s popularity since he took office, puts him at 88 percent. But I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that Trump used his Sharpie to round up his score. He’s deeply invested in being — or at least claiming to be — the most popular Republican president in history. In July of 2018, he announced: “I am the most popular person in the history” of the GOP. “Beating Lincoln,” Trump added. “I beat our Honest Abe.” For what it’s worth, polling in the 1860s wasn’t exactly reliable. But even if Trump’s oft-repeated 94 percent number were accurate, and even if it beat Lincoln’s ratings, it still wouldn’t beat George W. Bush’s 99 percent after the Sept. 11 attacks. Why the president feels the need to embellish is already a well-spelunked psychological rabbit hole. But even ignoring his exaggerations, he is consistently hitting in the mid- to high 80s with Republicans in polling, which demands a question: Why are his actual numbers so high? George W. Bush’s 99 percent might offer some insight. Americans generally rally around a president during a war or national crisis. But members of the president’s own party in particular can be counted on to fall in line. The Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein argues that the key to understanding the president’s standing with Republicans is that Trump is behaving like a wartime president, but the enemy is “Blue America.” Trump’s almost daily references to “treason” and enemies of the people may be driven by his own narcissism and persecution complex, but they resonate with a share of the electorate that believes the cultural war really is tantamount to a cold civil war. While Trump has made it worse, this dynamic is not new. He is more the beneficiary (and exacerbator) of the polarized landscape than the creator of it. Party identification has been declining for Democrats and Republicans alike, but for those who cling to the label, the label has more meaning than it used to. more...   

by John Bacon, USA TODAY
The Coast Guard has issued a safety bulletin following the California boat fire that killed 34 people, recommending commercial boat operators limit unsupervised charging of cellphones and other electronics. A preliminary report on the Labor Day fire that destroyed the Conception near Santa Cruz Island could be issued as soon as Thursday, the National Transportation Safety Board said. The cause of the fire likely won't be addressed, but NTSB members have said that how batteries and electronics were stored and charged on the boat was being scrutinized. The Coast Guard said it has convened a Marine Board of Investigation to determine the cause of the blaze. But the bulletin noted that it does not have to await the board's findings before taking "immediate and positive" action. “In some instances, our marine casualty boards identify pressing safety issues related to vessel stability, the engine room, or lifesaving and firefighting equipment,” said Capt. Jason Neubauer, chair of the Marine Board of Investigation. “In those instances, we issue safety alerts or bulletins." The recommendations included ensuring that all required firefighting and safety equipment is on the boat and operational, that emergency escapes are clearly recognizable and functional, and that crew members understand their roles. more...    

By Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY
Maritime laws enacted in the 1800s, typically obscure to all but a handful of experts, are suddenly gaining prominence through their link to the Southern California boat fire that killed 34 people. The Limitation of Liability Act of 1851 was cited last week by the owners of dive boat operator Truth Aquatics, whose vessel burst into flames early in the morning of Labor Day just off Santa Cruz Island, claiming the lives of 33 passengers and a crew member. Now the arcane Seaman’s Manslaughter Statute, passed in 1838 and amended in 1852, figures to play a leading role if prosecutors file criminal charges stemming from the tragedy. Two sources have confirmed to The Associated Press that a criminal investigation has been opened into the case, with the FBI, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles spearheading the inquiry. Here are questions to some answers about a pre-Civil War law that has gained new relevance: What’s the law’s intent? The Seaman’s Manslaughter Statute aimed to curtail steamboat accidents at a time when thousands were dying in such mishaps. Inquiry started: Criminal investigation launched into deadly California boat fire The law calls for up to 10 years in prison for any “captain, engineer, pilot, or other person employed on any steamboat or vessel, by whose misconduct, negligence, or inattention to his duties on such vessel the life of any person is destroyed.’’ The measure also applies to owners, operators and public officers whose dereliction of duties leads to any deaths. more...   

By Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker
In President Trump’s renegade orbit, there are unspoken rules he expects his advisers to follow. He tolerates a modicum of dissent, so long as it remains private; expects advisers to fall in line and defend his decisions; and demands absolute fealty at all times. These rules and more were broken by John Bolton, the national security adviser who left the White House suddenly Tuesday on acrimonious terms. The rupture between Trump and Bolton, as chronicled in public and in private accounts of administration officials, is a case study of the president’s sometimes Kafkaesque management style — an unusual set of demands and expectations he sets for those in his direct employ. The episode also illustrates the varied forces that propel advisers into the president’s inner circle — and often churn them out with similar velocity. “You’re there more as an annoyance to him because he has to fill some of these jobs, but you’re not there to do anything other than be backlighting,” said Anthony Scaramucci, a former White House communications director who is now critical of Trump. “He wants, like, a catatonic loyalty, and he wants you to be behind the backlights. There’s one spotlight on the stage, it’s shining on Trump, and you’re a prop in the back with dim lights.” Trump’s desires for his advisers range from the trivial — someone who looks the part — to the traditional — someone willing to vigorously support him and defend his policies in media appearances. But these demands can be grating and at times terminal for members of his staff — especially for those who, like the national security adviser, may find themselves at odds with the president on critical issues. “There is no person that is part of the daily Trump decision-making process that can survive long term,” said a former senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment. “The president doesn’t like people to get good press. He doesn’t like people to get bad press. Yet he expects everyone to be relevant and important and supportive at all times. Even if a person could do all those things, the president would grow tired of anyone in his immediate orbit.” more...

By Sheldon Whitehouse
Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat, represents Rhode Island in the U.S. Senate. Politics is a team sport. We battle, and our courts are supposed to referee our disputes. But what if one team spent years and millions of dollars to capture the referees, so the refs could declare that team the winner whenever they fell short on the field? If you were on the other team, you’d cry foul. You’d ask: “Hey, when did the law become a team sport, too?’’ A few weeks ago, several Senate colleagues and I did just that when we filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a case before the Supreme Court in which the National Rifle Association had urged the court to continue its “project” (the NRA’s term) to undermine gun regulations. We cried foul. That triggered a remarkable response. Conservative media lit up in unison. Fox News and the Wall Street Journal editorial page, for instance, attacked us for advocating “court packing,” something we did not advocate. The Journal used language so similar to a separate National Review op-ed that it issued an unusual editor’s note denying plagiarism. Then, all 53 Republicans in the Senate cranked out a letter to the court’s clerk decrying our brief. What hoopla. more...

By John Kruzel
After the Supreme Court agreed this term to hear a Second Amendment case brought by an NRA affiliate, several Senate Democrats cried foul. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and four other Democratic senators took the unusual step of filing a friend-of-the-court brief imploring the court’s conservative justices to resist right-wing activist pressure. These groups aim to reshape the judiciary to reflect their undisclosed financiers’ interests, the Democrats argued, on everything from expanding the Second Amendment to weakening unions and eroding voting rights. To influence the court’s composition, Whitehouse said, a combined $34 million in "dark money" went toward both blocking President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland and confirming President Donald Trump’s two Supreme Court picks, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. In a follow-up to the legal brief, Whitehouse in a Sept. 6 Washington Post op-ed described the money as follows: more...

By Christina Zhao
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a scathing dissent issued Wednesday after the Supreme Court approved President Donald Trump's request to allow his administration to enforce its new aggressive asylum rules. The new asylum rules ⁠— first unveiled by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security in July ⁠— is expected to considerably reduce the number of asylum seekers in the U.S. from Central America. It will also make those who pass through another country before arriving in the U.S. ineligible for asylum, unless they were denied asylum in the country they were passing through first. Victims of trafficking are also exempt. Out of the four liberal justices sitting on the Supreme Court, Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were the only judges to dissent. "Once again the Executive Branch has issued a rule that seeks to upend longstanding practices regarding refugees who seek shelter from persecution," Sotomayor wrote in her dissenting opinion. "Although this Nation has long kept its doors open to refugees — and although the stakes for asylum seekers could not be higher — the Government implemented its rule without first providing the public notice and inviting the public input generally required by law." more...      

Trump says he hates the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran. But he’s toying with a French proposal to get the Iranians to comply with it: a $15 billion line of credit to Tehran.
By Erin Banco - National Security Reporter, Asawin Suebsaeng - White House Reporter
President Donald Trump has left the impression with foreign officials, members of his administration, and others involved in Iranian negotiations that he is actively considering a French plan to extend a $15 billion credit line to the Iranians if Tehran comes back into compliance with the Obama-era nuclear deal. Trump has in recent weeks shown openness to entertaining President Emmanuel Macron’s plan, according to four sources with knowledge of Trump’s conversations with the French leader. Two of those sources said that State Department officials, including Secretary Mike Pompeo, are also open to weighing the French proposal, in which the Paris government would effectively ease the economic sanctions regime that the Trump administration has applied on Tehran for more than a year. The deal put forward by France would compensate Iran for oil sales disrupted by American sanctions. A large portion of Iran’s economy relies on cash from oil sales. Most of that money is frozen in bank accounts across the globe. The $15 billion credit line would be guaranteed by Iranian oil. In exchange for the cash, Iran would have to come back into compliance with the nuclear accord it signed with the world’s major powers in 2015. Tehran would also have to agree not to threaten the security of the Persian Gulf or to impede maritime navigation in the area. Lastly, Tehran would have to commit to regional Middle East talks in the future. While Trump has been skeptical of helping Iran without preconditions in public, the president has at least hinted at an openness to considering Macron’s pitch for placating the Iranian government—a move intended to help bring the Iranians to the negotiating table and to rescue the nuclear agreement that Trump and his former national security adviser John Bolton worked so hard to torpedo. At the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France last month, Trump told reporters that Iran might need a “short-term letter of credit or loan” that could “get them over a very rough patch.” more...  

By Tamara Keith 2016 square
To work at the pleasure of President Trump is to never know when your last day will come and whether the exit will be on your own terms. National Security Adviser John Bolton's resignation this week (or was it firing?) is just the latest example. When former Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein woke up on the morning of March 13, 2018, he didn't know he was about to be fired. He went to the gym and rowed 13,000 meters on the indoor rower, the longest he had ever done. Then, things went south. "I think when you first get fired, and especially in my case where I saw it unfold on CNN and then got a call from the White House, it is rather shocking," Goldstein said. Goldstein's boss, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, had been forced out that morning after months of rumors about a breakdown of his relationship with Trump. The announcement came via tweet, as they often do. But Tillerson didn't go quietly. Goldstein put out a statement on his behalf contradicting the official account of the firing and saying "The Secretary did not speak to the President this morning and is unaware of the reason." And, then, Goldstein himself was fired, after just three months on the job. "You know going into it that that can happen," Goldstein said. "I mean, I wasn't naïve to this and honestly, it is the purview of the president to have whomever he or she chooses to have work for them." But this very uncertainty is contributing to the high number of vacancies in the Trump administration and the increasing length of time it's taking to get someone permanent (or as permanent as anyone can be) into these key roles. There has been a dramatic uptick in the amount of time it takes the Trump administration to fill cabinet and high level staff vacancies and there's been a proliferation of people in "acting" roles with no end in sight. An NPR analysis finds that since David Shulkin's forced resignation as secretary of Veterans Affairs in late March 2018, none of the cabinet-level vacancies have had new leaders confirmed in fewer than 90 days. But the hang-up isn't in Congress. It is taking Trump longer to name successors for ousted aides and agency heads, and several of his initial picks have had to withdraw. Of the departures announced in the past five months, only one has a successor named and formally nominated. more...  

Aaron Persky sentenced the Stanford swimmer to six months in jail in the sexual assault of an unconscious woman behind a campus trash bin.
By Phil Helsel
The California judge who was recalled after handing down a sentence seen as too lenient for Stanford swimmer Brock Turner and who worked briefly as a Bay Area high school coach has been fired from that job, the district announced Wednesday. Former Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky was hired as a girls' tennis coach at Lynbrook High School in San Jose earlier this year, NBC Bay Area reported this week. On Wednesday, the Fremont Union High School District said that Persky's "employment with the District as the Junior Varsity Girls Tennis coach has ended." "We believe this outcome is in the best interest of our students and school community," the district said in a statement. Persky said in a statement to NBC Bay Area that he was fired and told that the decision stemmed from a desire to spare players from potentially intrusive media attention. The former judge said in his statement that while he was disappointed, “it was a privilege to coach the team, if only for a short time.” Persky was recalled by voters in June 2018 after he was blasted for handing down a six-month sentence for Turner, a former Stanford University swimmer convicted in the sexual assault of an unconscious woman behind a campus trash bin, in 2016. Turner was convicted of three felonies — two for digitally penetrating an unconscious or intoxicated person and one for assault with intent to commit rape. Prosecutors pushed for a six-year sentence in state prison, but Persky followed the county probation department's recommendation of just six months in jail. more...    

By Kara Scannell, CNN
(CNN) - Prosecutors with the New York district attorney's office interviewed Donald Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen in recent weeks as part of their investigation of the Trump Organization's handling of hush money payments, according to people familiar with the matter.
Officials from the district attorney's office, led by Cyrus Vance, interviewed Cohen at the federal prison in Otisville, New York, where he is serving a three-year sentence after pleading guilty to multiple crimes including campaign finance violations tied to payments to two women alleging affairs with Trump a decade ago. Trump has denied having affairs with the women. The district attorney opened the investigation last month and sent subpoenas to the Trump Organization and American Media Inc. seeking documents and records relating to payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to silence their allegations ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The investigation is looking into whether the Trump Organization violated a New York state law involving false business records. Investigators are exploring whether the real estate company falsified its records in describing the reimbursement to Cohen for the payments. Prosecutors met with Cohen shortly after they opened their investigation, according to one of the people familiar with the matter. Cohen is one of several people with knowledge of the payments who would be of interest to investigators, but he has credibility issues for any potential case. Cohen pleaded guilty last year to lying to Congress about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Lanny Davis, a lawyer for Cohen, declined to comment. A spokesman for Vance's office also declined to comment. more...    

By Ariane de Vogue and Priscilla Alvarez, CNN
Washington (CNN) - The Supreme Court cleared the way for the Trump administration's rule that dramatically limits the ability of Central American migrants to claim asylum to go into effect nationwide while the appeals process plays out. Wednesday's order is a major victory for the administration, which argued the rule was necessary to screen out "asylum seekers who declined to request protection at the first opportunity." "BIG United States Supreme Court WIN for the Border on Asylum!" President Donald Trump said on Twitter. The rule, from the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, prohibits migrants who have resided in or traveled through third countries from seeking asylum in the US, therefore barring people traveling through Mexico from being able to claim asylum. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted their dissent. Five justices were needed to grant the request; the votes of the others were not publicly announced. "Once again the Executive Branch has issued a rule that seeks to upend longstanding practices regarding refugees who seek shelter from persecution," Sotomayor wrote, joined by Ginsburg, later referring to "some of the most vulnerable people in the Western Hemisphere." "Although this Nation has long kept its door open to refugees -- and although the stakes for asylum seekers could not be higher -- the Government implemented its rule without first providing the public notice and inviting the public input generally required," Sotomayor added. The Supreme Court's order is the latest move in a case that has bounced around between lower courts. Late Tuesday night, a California federal judge's attempt to issue a nationwide injunction on the asylum restrictions was blocked, in part, for the second time by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. Amid the back and forth, the Justice Department had asked the Supreme Court to step in. In her dissent, Sotomayor criticized both the implementation of the new regulation and the majority for ruling before the 9th Circuit could fully resolve the government's emergency request to put the district court's injunction on hold. "The court," Sotomayor wrote, "side-steps the ordinary judicial process." Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law, agreed the justices are allowing the administration to "jump the queue."
"Once again, the Supreme Court is allowing a controversial Trump administration policy to go into effect even as the legal challenges to the policy proceed through the lower courts," said Vladeck. more...

By The Washington Post
Democrats on the House Science Committee are launching an investigation into the Commerce Department’s involvement in NOAA’s unusual decision to back President Donald Trump’s position that Hurricane Dorian posed a significant threat to Alabama as of Sept. 1, in contrast to what the agency’s forecasters were predicting at the time. Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, and Oversight and Investigations Chairwoman Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross requesting information related to the department's dealings with NOAA regarding Hurricane Dorian. The committee, which has jurisdiction over NOAA, is requesting a briefing with Commerce Department staff who may have been involved in issuing instructions to NOAA that led to several directives issued to Weather Service staff and culminated in the Sept. 6 unsigned statement, which disavowed a tweet sent by the agency's Birmingham Weather Service forecast office on Sept. 1. That tweet definitively stated that Alabama would not see any impacts from Dorian, and came in response to a flood of phone calls to the office from worried residents. more...    

By Jessica Dickler
If it were up to President Donald Trump, there would not be much for the Federal Reserve to discuss. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted that the central bank should cut interest rates to zero or even set negative interest rates. The president also called Fed officials “boneheads” in the tweet. The president has been vocal in his resistance to higher rates, raising concerns that increased borrowing costs will put the brakes on economic growth. However, “zero percent interest rates are not a panacea,” said Greg McBride, the chief financial analyst at Bankrate. “We know this firsthand because we lived it.” Since the recession, rising rates have paved the way for pay raises and a better return on savings, despite the impact on borrowing costs. And still, interest rates are historically low, which leaves the central bank with little wiggle room in the event of a recession or if the economy stumbles. The current target range for its overnight lending rate is 2% to 2.25%. “Cutting interest rates to zero would throw savers under the bus,” McBride said. Saving vs. borrowing Only recently have savers started to benefit from higher deposit rates — the annual percentage yield banks pay consumers on their money — after those rates hovered near rock bottom for years. The prime rate, which is the rate that banks extend to their most creditworthy customers, is typically 3 percentage points higher than the federal funds rate. That not only determines your savings rate, but also the rate used for many types of consumer loans, particularly credit cards. more...

By MARIANNE LEVINE and JAMES ARKIN
Vulnerable Senate Republicans are standing with President Donald Trump and his efforts to build the wall. And it may cost them. Last week, the Trump administration unveiled its plan to divert $3.6 billion in military construction funding to build the president’s border wall, a move which came after Trump declared a national emergency in February to access the funds. Among the states with projects the administration plans to raid are Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina, Texas and South Carolina -- all of which have senators up for re-election in 2020. But Democrats are seeking to pressure Republicans to go on the record with their support for Trump’s national emergency by forcing another vote disapproving of it in the next month. Under federal law, Democrats can bring up the disapproval vote every six months. Republicans insist that the money will be replenished later on and reiterated their support for the border wall, and as of now, it doesn’t appear that anyone will change their vote. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is up for reelection in 2020 and whose state will see military money diverted for the wall, said he’s confident that the money for those projects will be restocked. “I’m willing to divert funding for the wall since we couldn’t get a legislative outcome we can deal with these projects later in the next budget cycle,” Graham said. “But I’m willing to divert the funding and absorb some pain to get the wall moving forward.” more...  

By Madeline Holcombe and Chris Boyette, CNN
(CNN)Arizona Department of Public Safety detectives arrested one of their own troopers Tuesday on charges of sexual abuse, extortion, kidnapping, harassment and fraud, AZDPS Col. Frank Milstead said at a news conference. Tremaine Jackson, 43, an AZDPS trooper for about 13 years, used his position of authority to "bargain leniency for favor," Milstead said. "The Arizona Department of Public Safety is a proud and venerable organization with a storied past," Milstead said. "Most of the employees serve Arizona with pride and integrity. ... When one of our own betrays public trust or breaks the law, we respond swiftly and without regret." Jackson most recently worked in the department's Metro Motors District. Officers began an investigation on May 19 after a woman complained that Jackson made inappropriate comments to her, Milstead said. A second complaint from a different motorist came June 11, alleging that Jackson sexually assaulted a woman during a traffic stop, Milstead said. He was placed on administrative leave that day, Milstead said. more...    

By Connor Smith
Walmart is expanding its grocery subscription service. And at $98 a year, it is much cheaper than Amazon.com ’s. Since Amazon bought Whole Foods, more grocery stores have taken proactive steps to keep up with the e-commerce giant’s grocery-delivery offering. Walmart delivers groceries, and has begun rolling out a subscription service called Walmart Unlimited that isn’t unlike Amazon’s “subscribe for free delivery” model. The difference is Walmart’s service costs $98 annually, compared with Amazon Fresh’s $180 a year, which is on top of the required Amazon Prime subscription of $119, for a total of $299 a year. Even those with Amazon Prime’s $59 a year student discount would pay more when adding Amazon’s grocery service. Walmart’s subscription provides unlimited free grocery deliveries, though the retailer will continue to offer pay-per delivery service for nonmembers. more...    

By Matt Egan, CNN Business
New York (CNN Business) - The Federal Reserve is running out of runway to lower interest rates. President Donald Trump wants the Fed to keep cutting anyway. Trump on Wednesday urged the "boneheads" in charge of the Fed to import the controversial negative interest rate policies from foreign central banks. "The Federal Reserve should get our interest rates down to ZERO, or less," the president tweeted. Desperate to boost growth, central bankers in Europe and Japan in recent years dropped interest rates into negative territory for the first time in modern history. Jerome Powell, Trump's handpicked Fed chief, has already cut interest rates to a range of 2% to 2.25%. Although many on Wall Street believe the Fed will need to keep lowering rates to avert a recession, perhaps even near zero, negative rates would be an extreme step. There is a growing chorus warning that the Bank of Japan and European Central Bank's subzero regimes have backfired. Critics and some new academic research argue these unorthodox policies are crushing banks, keeping a lid on inflation and failing to juice growth. Worse, they harm savers and retirees hoping to earn safe returns in bonds. "Negative interest rates have failed in Europe and Japan," Richard Fisher, former president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, told CNN Business in an email. "They are anathema for savers and our community and regional banks that bank the average American." more...    

One Democratic lawmaker called the move "scorched earth politics."
By Dartunorro Clark
North Carolina House Democrats are calling foul on their Republican colleagues for voting to override the governor's budget veto on Wednesday while most Democrats were not present. The uproar began after GOP Rep. Jason Saine made a motion early Wednesday morning to reconsider the budget that was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper earlier this year, according to The Raleigh News & Observer. Democrats excoriated Republicans on social media and the few who were present in the House at the time of the vote furiously protested the decision. Only 12 Democrats were in the House, but they did not all have an opportunity to vote and their microphones were cut off, the paper reported. The vote passed 55-9. The issue now moves to the state's GOP-controlled Senate. more...

By Madeline Holcombe and Chris Boyette, CNN
(CNN) - Arizona Department of Public Safety detectives arrested one of their own troopers Tuesday on charges of sexual abuse, extortion, kidnapping, harassment and fraud, AZDPS Col. Frank Milstead said at a news conference. Tremaine Jackson, 43, an AZDPS trooper for about 13 years, used his position of authority to "bargain leniency for favor," Milstead said. "The Arizona Department of Public Safety is a proud and venerable organization with a storied past," Milstead said. "Most of the employees serve Arizona with pride and integrity. ... When one of our own betrays public trust or breaks the law, we respond swiftly and without regret." Jackson most recently worked in the department's Metro Motors District. Officers began an investigation on May 19 after a woman complained that Jackson made inappropriate comments to her, Milstead said. A second complaint from a different motorist came June 11, alleging that Jackson sexually assaulted a woman during a traffic stop, Milstead said. He was placed on administrative leave that day, Milstead said. Jackson has since been terminated, Sgt. Kameron Lee, public information office supervisor for the department said Tuesday. It is unclear if Jackson has retained a lawyer. So far, investigators said they have identified eight victims. They believe there are more and have set up a hotline and website for other victims to come forward. Authorities said Tuesday that Jackson would be booked into the Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail on charges including sexual abuse, sexual extortion, unlawful sexual conduct, unlawful imprisonment, kidnapping, fraudulent schemes and practices and tampering with a public record. more...

By Leah Asmelash, CNN
(CNN)California has had it with the companies that control the so-called gig economy.
The state is on the verge of passing AB-5, a bill that would make it more difficult for employers to treat their workers as independent contractors, also known as gig economy workers. But what is the gig economy? Let's try and sort through the noise. If you've ever been a freelancer, a temp or really any sort of independent contractor, you've participated in the gig economy. "Gigs" in this sense are essentially short-term or project-based work, and "gig workers" are the independent contractors hired to do those jobs. The gig economy is essentially based on corporations who contract these people for temporary jobs, rather than hiring for permanent positions. Who is a gig worker? For starters, gig workers are not homogeneous. Independent contractors include anyone from Uber and Lyft drivers to independent consultants. The Gig Economy Data Hub, a project by the Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative and Cornell University's Industrial and Labor Relations School, collects demographic data on gig workers. They break it down like this: "Some work pays particularly well, offers high levels of flexibility and control, and tends to be held by advantaged groups, often on a supplemental basis. Other non-traditional work provides low wages, and tends to be held disproportionately by disadvantaged groups, who often rely on it for their primary livelihood." And that's where the problems come in. Gig workers don't typically have the rights that actual employees enjoy -- things like minimum wage, overtime pay, paid sick leave, or other benefits. They are also sometimes expected to pay their own expenses. If you make a lot from your gig, like as a consultant, this might be doable. But if your primary work is as an Uber or Lyft driver, it can be harder. more...    

By Theresa Clift
The city of Sacramento has started exterminating more than 100 rats that have infested a vacant lot in Sacramento’s River District where the city plans to build a new fire station. Many homeless encampments typically line the lot, located on Ahern Street between North A and North B streets, causing city officials to worry the rats could also cause a health crisis. City Councilman Jeff Harris, who represents the River District, alerted city officials to the problem in late August, after hearing about it from a man who lives at Quinn Cottages across the street, he said. “I was pretty shocked when I went out there,” Harris said. “It’s well known that rats can bear a lot of diseases, so they are a potential health hazard. The fact that there are people living on the street means there are food items on the street and those are definitely attractive to rats.” On Tuesday, a city contractor laid about 40 mechanical rat traps, said city spokesman Tim Swanson. The traps do not use poison. “The city is taking every possible action to resolve this as quickly as we can and restore public safety and health,” Assistant City Manager Chris Conlin said. City officials asked campers to vacate the streets around the perimeter of the lot starting Saturday and have fenced off parts of certain streets from campers without blocking access to business in the area, Swanson said. On Tuesday morning, several homeless men and women told The Sacramento Bee they were grateful the city was exterminating the rats. “It was getting ridiculous out here,” said Labrandon Grayson. “I’m glad we’re getting rid of them.” Gerald Banks, another camper, agreed. “If you got food, they’re gonna come,” Banks said. “You gotta be careful they don’t get too close to you." more...    

Garret Marquis, John Bolton's spokesman, ran communications for the National Security Council under Bolton.
By CAITLIN OPRYSKO
The expected turnover at the National Security Council has begun. A day after Trump ousted national security adviser John Bolton, Garret Marquis, Bolton's top spokesman, has also departed the administration. Marquis ran communications for the NSC under Bolton, joining the administration shortly after Bolton came on board last year. The longtime Bolton loyalist left the administration on good terms, a source familiar with the situation said, adding that it was simply a case of being lumped in with Trump’s third national security adviser. “It was an honor to serve my country, and I wish the president and the administration success moving forward,” Marquis said in a statement. more...

By Kevin Breuninger
Yujing Zhang, a Chinese national who was detained by the U.S. Secret Service after gaining entry to President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Miami, was found guilty Wednesday of trespassing and lying to federal agents. Zhang, a 33-year-old business consultant, was convicted by a 12-member jury in Florida federal court. She faces up to six years in prison. more...

By Marty Steinberg
T. Boone Pickens, the wildcatter “Oracle of Oil,” hedge fund founder and philanthropist who rewrote the playbook for corporate raiders, has died. He was 91. He died on Wednesday, a spokesperson confirmed to CNBC. Pickens had been in declining health, suffering from a series of strokes and a serious fall in 2017. In late 2017, he put his sprawling 100-square-mile Mesa Vista Ranch in the Texas Panhandle on the market for $250 million, and a few months later, he closed his energy hedge fund, BP Capital, to outside investors. In a career that started with Phillips Petroleum, Pickens later pursued clean energy projects in wind power and natural gas. He also was a big Republican political donor, backing George W. Bush in the Texas gubernatorial and presidential races. Guests at his ranch included Dick Cheney and Nancy Reagan. more...      

By QUINT FORGEY
President Donald Trump on Wednesday savaged former national security adviser John Bolton one day after unceremoniously dismissing him via Twitter — blasting his hawkish ex-aide’s hard-charging brand of diplomacy and partly blaming him for launching the Iraq War. In a winding assessment of his tenure atop the White House’s National Security Council, delivered to reporters assembled in the Oval Office, Trump alternated between vicious criticism of Bolton and an insistence that they had maintained a warm working relationship. “John is somebody that I actually get along with very well. He made some very big mistakes,” Trump said, repeatedly referencing Bolton’s invocation of a “Libya model” for North Korean denuclearization in April 2018. “It set us back, and frankly, he wanted to do things not necessarily tougher than me,” Trump said. “You know, John’s known as a tough guy. He's so tough, he got us into Iraq. That’s tough.” Trump again claimed later in his remarks that it was he, not Bolton, who at times advocated for a more muscular foreign policy approach, despite Bolton’s perceived proclivity for military intervention and championing of the 2003 invasion of Iraq from within former President George W. Bush's administration. “You know, John wasn't in line with what we were doing, and actually, in some cases, he thought it was too tough what we were doing,” Trump said. “‘Mr. Tough Guy.’ You know, ‘You have to go into Iraq.’ Going into Iraq was something that he felt very strongly about.”  more...  

Lawmakers, Commerce Department launch investigations into NOAA’s decision to back the president over forecasters
By Andrew Freedman, Josh Dawsey, Juliet Eilperin and Jason Samenow
President Trump told his staff that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration needed to correct a tweet that seemed to contradict his statement that Hurricane Dorian posed a significant threat to Alabama as of Sept. 1, in contrast to what the agency’s forecasters were predicting at the time, senior administration officials said. This led chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to call Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to tell him to fix the issue, the officials said. Trump had complained for several days about the issue, according to the senior officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. Mulvaney then called Ross but did not instruct him to threaten any firings or make any punitive threats, officials said. He simply told Ross that the agency needed to fix the matter immediately, leading to a new statement that was issued Friday, Sept. 6. The New York Times reported some elements of these events earlier Wednesday. The NOAA statement criticized the agency’s Birmingham National Weather Service Forecast Office for issuing a definitive tweet Sept. 1 that there would not be “any” impacts from Dorian in the state. Trump told reporters Wednesday afternoon that he did not direct NOAA to issue such a statement. “No, I never did that,” he said. “I never did that. It’s a hoax by the media. That’s just fake news. Right from the beginning, it was a fake story.” Democrats on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology are launching an investigation into the Commerce Department’s involvement in NOAA’s unusual decision to side with Trump over its scientists. Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.) and Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), chairwoman of the oversight and investigations subcommittee, sent a letter to Ross requesting information related to the department’s dealings with NOAA regarding Dorian. The Science Committee, which has jurisdiction over NOAA, is requesting a briefing with Commerce Department staff who may have been involved in issuing instructions to NOAA that led to several directives being issued to Weather Service staff and culminated in the Sept. 6 unsigned statement, which disavowed a tweet sent by the Birmingham office Sept. 1. That tweet definitively stated that Alabama would not see any impacts from Dorian and came in response to a flood of phone calls to the office from worried residents. more...    

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
(CNN) - Empathy has never been a strong suit for Donald Trump. Even as President, he tends to see everything through a simple lens: Me, me, me and how does this affect, well, me.
Which brings me to Wednesday morning and the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Trump started his day -- as he so often does -- on Twitter. And even as 8:46 a.m. approached -- the exact time that the first plane hit the World Trade Center -- Trump kept at it.
"In a hypothetical poll, done by one of the worst pollsters of them all, the Amazon Washington Post/ABC, which predicted I would lose to Crooked Hillary by 15 points (how did that work out?), Sleepy Joe, Pocahontas and virtually all others would beat me in the General Election," tweeted Trump at 8:12 a.m. "This is a phony suppression poll, meant to build up their Democrat partners. I haven't even started campaigning yet, and am constantly fighting Fake News like Russia, Russia, Russia. Look at North Carolina last night. Dan Bishop, down big in the Polls, WINS. Easier than 2016!" (The poll in question -- conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News -- showed Trump trailing former Vice President Joe Biden by 15 points.)
But he wasn't done. "If it weren't for the never ending Fake News about me, and with all that I have done (more than any other President in the first 2 1/2 years!), I would be leading the [Partners" of the LameStream Media by 20 points. Sorry, but true," he tweeted at 8:19 a.m. Once Trump got to the Pentagon to lay a wreath at the site of the memorial to those lost when a plane hit the building 18 years ago, he quickly turned the subject to himself.
"I vividly remember when I first heard the news," Trump said. "I was sitting at home watching a major business television show. Early that morning Jack Welch, the legendary head of General Electric was about to be interviewed, when all of a sudden, they cut away." Trump then went on to talk about the various theories circulating in real time about what had happened -- "It was a boiler fire, but I knew that boilers weren't at the top of a building. It was a kitchen explosion at Windows on the World. ... Nobody knew what happened" -- before adding that he "saw a second plane go into the second tower" from his office window in midtown Manhattan. more...  

By Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner
President Trump vowed Wednesday to strike back with power the United States “has never used before” if the country faces another attack similar to those that occurred Sept. 11, 2001, pledging that any would-be perpetrators “will never have seen anything like what will happen to them.” The president was speaking at the Pentagon during a memorial on the 18th anniversary of the attacks, in which nearly 3,000 people were killed in New York, Shanksville, Pa., and Arlington, Va. “The last four days, we have hit our enemy harder than they have ever been hit before, and that will continue,” Trump said, apparently referring to the Afghanistan war and drawing applause from the crowd. “And if for any reason they come back to our country, we will go wherever they are and use power the likes of which the United States has never used before — and I’m not even talking about nuclear power. They will never have seen anything like what will happen to them.” The appearance was Trump’s third commemorating the Sept. 11 attacks since becoming president. Last year, he visited Shanksville, where he paid tribute to the passengers of Flight 93, who died disrupting the plan of terrorists to crash one of their hijacked planes into the U.S. Capitol. At the Pentagon on Wednesday, Trump told attendees that “for every American who lived through that day, the September 11 attack is seared into our soul.” He noted that he had called off negotiations over the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan after the Taliban took responsibility for an attack last week that killed a U.S. soldier. Trump had invited Afghan and Taliban leaders to Camp David but abruptly announced via Twitter that he had canceled the previously-undisclosed summit. “We had peace talks scheduled a few days ago,” Trump said. “I called them off when I learned that they had killed a great American soldier from Puerto Rico and 11 other innocent people. They thought they would use this attack to show strength, but actually, what they showed is unrelenting weakness.” more...    

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called Wednesday on Muslims to attack U.S., European, Israeli and Russian targets in a speech on the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks online activity of jihadist groups, reported that in a video released by the militant group, the 68-year-old al-Zawahiri also criticizes "backtrackers" from jihad, referring to former jihadis who changed their views in prison and called the 9/11 attacks unacceptable because innocent civilians were harmed. "If you want Jihad to be focused solely on military targets, the American military has presence all over the world, from the East to the West," he said. "Your countries are littered with American bases, with all the infidels therein and the corruption they spread." The coordinated al Qaeda hijackings on Sept. 11, 2001 killed nearly 3,000 people, when airliners slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and another crashed in rural Pennsylvania. Al-Zawahiri's speech was recorded in a 33-minute, 28-second video produced by the group's as-Sahab Media Foundation. As an indicator of when the speech may have been recorded, al-Zawahiri references President Donald Trump's recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, which was announced on March 25. He calls on Palestinians to seek "martyrdom" by attacking Israelis with a suicide vest in response. Al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian, became leader of al Qaeda following the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan by U.S. Navy SEALs. He is believed to be hiding somewhere in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border regions. A July report by the U.N. cited reports that he is "in poor health" but provided no details. more...    

By Meg Wagner
On Sept. 11, 2001, two filmmakers making a documentary about a New York firefighter found themselves instead documenting the attacks in Lower Manhattan. Right after the first plane crashed, Jules Naudet followed FDNY rescue crews into the burning North Tower of the World Trade Center. His brother Gédéon Naudet filmed back at the firehouse before making his way to Ground Zero. The video they captured would later become a documentary: "9/11." The brothers, along with retired firefighter and filmmaker James Hanlon, spoke to CNN about their experiences. Their footage — raw, chaotic and nearly inconceivable — offers a rare look into a day that continues to haunt the nation. more...

By Eric Levenson, CNN
(CNN) - It's been 18 years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the day that never ends.
Events in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania -- each of which saw destruction and disaster that day -- will be held on Wednesday to remember the victims and first responders. Nearly 3,000 people died when hijackers took control of four commercial airplanes and crashed them into the World Trade Center buildings, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. More have died since from illnesses related to the destruction. An American flag is unfurled at sunrise at the Pentagon in Washington on the 18th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Vernoy Paolini places a Canadian flag in the name of a Canadian victim of the September 11 terrorist attacks at the National September 11 Memorial on Wednesday. more...   

By Julia Arciga
A former FBI analyst reportedly pleaded guilty to obtaining copies of conspiracy theorist Jack Burkman’s emails and passing them along to his superiors and the press. According to The Washington Post, Mark Tolson pleaded guilty to accessing Burkman’s email account without authorization. Prosecutors say Tolson’s wife worked for Burkman between late 2017 and mid-2018. After Tolson learned that Burkman would be holding a press conference with a woman who accused Special Counsel Robert Mueller of sexual assault, he allegedly asked his wife if she still had access to Burkman’s email. The couple then allegedly photographed and printed “emails of interest,” shared the information with a reporter, and offered the reporter Burkman’s email password. Tolson is also accused of giving the emails to an FBI official because he believed them to be “illegal.” more...

By Dana Milbank
This is how the Trump administration goes about the quiet business of incapacitating the U.S. government. President Trump spent his summer making war on Denmark, attacking Baltimore, destabilizing the world economy, sending an imaginary hurricane to Alabama and ousting his national security adviser, among other things. But while everybody was watching those fireworks, Trump’s underlings — some far more competent than he — were toiling in the shadows to hand over public lands to the tender mercies of oil and gas companies. The scheme, rolled out over the summer, was ostensibly to put the Bureau of Land Management closer to the lands it manages by moving personnel out of Washington. That makes sense until you consider: 1. Ninety-seven percent of the BLM’s employees already are outside of Washington, and the few hundred in the capital do things such as coordinate with Congress and other agencies; now half the congressional affairs staff, I’m told, will work out of Reno, Nev. — 2,600 miles from Capitol Hill. 2. BLM organized this with cursory analysis of impacts and costs and no significant consultation with Congress, American Indian tribes or BLM staff. 3. BLM decided to locate its new headquarters in Grand Junction, Colo., hours from a major airport but just down the road from the hometown of Interior Secretary (and former oil and gas lobbyist) David Bernhardt, who presides over BLM. more...

Millions of people have been working without basic labor protections.
By Alexia Fernández Campbell
After two hours of debate Tuesday, it happened: The California Senate voted on AB 5. It passed. Democratic lawmakers applauded. Supporters of the bill cheered online. “I have tears in my eyes and goosebumps on my limbs,” wrote Veena Dubal, a law professor at University of California Hastings. AB 5’s passage — which still needs the formality of a state assembly vote and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature, both of which are expected — could easily be seen as just another progressive victory in California. But it is more than that. It is a historic moment for the US labor movement too. By making it hard for employers to misclassify employees as independent contractors, potentially millions of California workers who’ve been kept off payrolls will get basic labor rights for the first time, like overtime pay and unemployment benefits. This includes janitors, construction workers, security guards, and hotel housekeepers — and yes, this group also includes Uber and Lyft drivers. “Symbolically, this is huge,” César Rosado Marzán, a labor law professor and co-director of the Institute for Law and the Workplace at the Illinois Institute of Technology, told me. “The pride of California is tech. Now they’re passing a law that says these people are your employees, and you need to take care of them. It shows that labor unions and activists have a lot of pull.” The passage of AB 5 also means millions of new workers will now have a right to join labor unions. To get a sense of how big this workforce is, consider this: When state tax investigators audited about 8,000 California businesses in 2017, they discovered nearly half a million employees had been misclassified or otherwise left off payrolls. more...    

By Angelica LaVito
The Trump administration is preparing to ban flavored e-cigarettes as federal health officials call for restrictions to combat an outbreak of a mysterious lung disease that has sickened hundreds and killed at least six people, U.S. health secretary Alex Azar told reporters Wednesday. The Food and Drug Administration is finalizing its guidance to remove e-cigarette flavors other than tobacco from the market because children are attracted to other flavors, Azar said, following a meeting at the Oval Office with President Donald Trump. It could take the FDA several weeks to develop the guidelines, he said. The administration will also take enforcement action if it finds e-cigarette makers are intentionally targeting children, Azar said. Azar and acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless briefed Trump on new data showing a surge in teen vaping. Results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey have not been made public yet. Last year’s survey showed skyrocketing use among middle and high school students, prompting the FDA to label teen vaping an “epidemic.” The meeting comes as members of Congress increasingly pressure the administration to rein in the e-cigarette industry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating more than 450 cases of lung disease officials suspect were caused by vaping. more...

By Jacob Pramuk
For much of Trump’s presidency, Americans have broadly held glowing views of the economy — even as a majority of them disapprove of how he has handled his job overall. The good grades for Trump started to slip in recent weeks as fears about a looming recession crept into financial markets and pockets of the general public. A CNN/SSRS poll released Tuesday found 48% of registered voters approve of how the president is handling the economy — down from a peak of 56% in April. In a separate Washington Post-ABC News poll released this week, 46% of adults surveyed said the same, a drop from 51% in July. In addition, 56% of respondents said the economy is either excellent or good, a decline from 65% in November 2018. A majority, or 60%, of those surveyed said they consider a recession either somewhat or very likely in the next year. Trump’s approval rating on the economy dropped to 46% in a Quinnipiac University survey released late last month, down 2 percentage points from May. The 61% share of voters describing the economy as excellent or good was the lowest in a Quinnipiac poll since April 2018. more...  

A suspect was in custody after multiple stabbings in an industrial area of Florida's capital city, authorities said Wednesday. The Tallahassee Police Department said in an online news release that they were called to an industrial area in the city for a stabbing Wednesday morning. The stabbing took place at Dyke Industries, according to the police. When they arrived, they found multiple people with stab wounds. The stabbing victims required immediate medical attention, according to police. more...

Curtis Whitson and his family were days into a scenic, Father's Day weekend trip in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park back in June when they got trapped at the top of a 40-foot waterfall in the Arroyo Seco Canyon. Now, we're learning new details about how Whitson, his girlfriend and 13-year-old daughter were miraculously rescued. Whitson told the Washington Post he hiked the same route seven years ago and descended the very same waterfall by rappelling down a rope attached to its side. But this time, there was no rope to be found and it was too dangerous to backtrack.  So, stranded miles from the nearest campground and without cell service, he wrote an SOS note on a bar order pad his girlfriend apparently brought to keep score playing card games: "We are stuck here at the waterfall. Get help please." He put the note in a green water bottle, carved "help" into its side, and tossed the message downstream. Todd Brethour and Tony Ramage are with the California Highway Patrol Air Operations Unit. They found Whitson around midnight on June 15, just hours after hikers found his floating message. "I've never heard any kind of a message for assistance coming down a river in a water bottle," Brethour said. At that point, it was too dark to stage the rescue but by the next morning, CHP officers descended on Whitson's campsite, where the family had spelled SOS on a tarp with rocks, and airlifted the trio of hikers to safety. more...    

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
(CNN) - On Tuesday night, Republicans escaped a cataclysm.
Republican Dan Bishop beat Democrat Dan McCready in a special election in North Carolina's 9th District, an outcome that, given the clear Republican lean of the suburban Charlotte district, should have been a lay-up for the GOP. Bishop won by 2 points after both national parties spent more than $10 million in the district. That Bishop won -- whether by two votes, 2 points or 20 points -- averts what would have been an absolute panic within the GOP conference had he come up short. Politics is, at its essence, about winning and losing -- and when you have a party coming off as sweeping a defeat as House Republicans suffered in 2018, it's always a good thing to wind up on the victorious side of the ledger. But it is also true that Bishop's victory -- and the way in which it was achieved -- should still be read as a warning sign for a party that is dealing with a very unpopular President and a decidedly unsettled political environment. Consider: 1) President Donald Trump won this seat by 12 points in 2016. Mitt Romney won it by 10. A Democrat hasn't represented this area in Congress since the 1960s. 2) There are 34 seats currently held by Republican incumbents where Trump won by less in 2016 than he did in North Carolina's 9th. 3) National Republicans will not be able to spend multiple millions next November to save every seat with the political profile of the North Carolina seat. "To be clear: a ~2% Bishop (R) victory in #NC09, a district that voted for Trump by 12%, is still bad news for the House GOP overall," tweeted David Wasserman, the House editor for the non-partisan political handicapping site the Cook Report. "It won't do anything to convince House Rs undecided about seeking reelection in 2020 that they're in position to win back the majority." Now, it is also true that Republicans faced unique challenges in the 9th -- due to the fact that the 2018 result was thrown out due to widespread alleged absentee ballot fraud by a consultant affiliated with the Republican nominee's campaign. That isn't something they will need to deal with in the vast majority of other competitive districts in the country. more...

The evangelical leader came under fire as photos undercut his denials.
By Ed Mazza
Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr., the head of Liberty University and a prominent supporter of President Donald Trump, denied the explosive allegations made in a Politico story that dropped this week. He also claimed to be the victim of an “attempted coup” at the university. But at least one of Falwell’s denials is already falling apart. He denied being on the Miami party scene at the Wall club in 2014. “There was no picture snapped of me at Wall nightclub or any other nightclub,” Falwell said, and claimed any image showing as much was “photo-shopped.” Politico posted the images on its website. Then, after Falwell’s “photo-shop” accusation, the agency that provided the pics stepped in. “For 21 years, I have maintained an impeccable reputation for documenting Miami Beach’s storied social scene,” wrote Seth Browarnik, founder of the World Red Eye photo agency. Browarnik said he initially didn’t know why Politico was interested in buying one of his 2014 images. When Browarnik learned that it was because Falwell was one of the partiers ― and that the evangelical leader had claimed it was a fake ― he searched his archives and located more pictures of Falwell and his son, Trey Falwell, then posted the images on his website. Browarnik told The Miami Herald that Falwell’s accusation had motivated him to dig through his archives to find more. “If you want to say you weren’t there, fine. But going and saying I ’photo-shopped?” he said. “This is coming after my livelihood and reputation, which is pristine.” In the Sept. 9 article, Politico reported that more than two dozen current and former Liberty University officials “describe a culture of fear and self-dealing” at the Christian college. Sources claim the conservative leader was partying in nightclubs and graphically discussing his sex life with employees. Twitter users also slammed Falwell for “hypocrisy,” especially given that, as Politico reported, Liberty University restricts co-ed dancing and forbids drinking: more...

By Hemant Mehta
In response to POLITICO‘s lengthy article about Jerry Falwell, Jr. and the way he’s wielded power and fear over people at Liberty University, Falwell now says he’s getting the FBI to look into the breach of security at his school. Because employees who tell the world about their shitty boss by speaking with a journalist are a national security problem that must be stopped. Here’s The Hill: Falwell said in an exclusive interview that in the coming days the FBI will review university documents at the Lynchburg, Va., campus. He accused former colleagues of stealing school property in the form of emails and then sharing them with reporters in an effort to damage his reputation. The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment. “Our attorneys have determined that this small group of former board members and employees, they’re involved in a criminal conspiracy, are working together to steal Liberty property in the form of emails and provided them to reporters,” Falwell Jr. said. For most people, watching your former friends share private messages with the public is just a typical Facebook fight. For Falwell, it amounts to a criminal conspiracy to take him down like he’s some Christian Mafia Boss. Oh well. Thoughts and prayers all around. Maybe one day he’ll realize that if he was just better at his job, students and staffers wouldn’t have to talk to reporters about how awful the culture is at Liberty. (There’s a reason no one’s leaking emails talking about how amazing Falwell is.) I’m sure he can just call a pool boy to clean up his crocodile tears. Incidentally, there was a passage in Brandon Ambrosino‘s article about Falwell going to a Miami nightclub. That in itself isn’t all that scandalous, but Liberty prohibits co-ed dancing and alcohol, so it would be the height of hypocrisy to see Falwell livin’ it up like that. Ambrosino told Falwell he had a picture of him and his son Trey at the club. Falwell didn’t take that information well: more...

By Jordan McDonald
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. claimed Tuesday he is the target of a “criminal conspiracy” by former board members to oust him — and said he is sharing information about that alleged plot with the FBI. Falwell’s claims, which were made during an interview with Hill.TV, came a day after a bombshell Politico article detailing his leadership of Liberty University, a private Christian college in Lynchburg, Virginia. That article, citing “more than two dozen current and former high-ranking Liberty University officials and close associates of Falwell,” described a so-called “culture of fear and self-dealing” at the university, which was founded by Southern Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell Sr., who also co-founded the Moral Majority. Politico’s sources detailed Falwell Jr.’s involvement in projects and real estate deals that have benefited his family and friends. “We’re not a school; we’re a real estate hedge fund,” said a senior university official quoted by Politico. “We’re not educating; we’re buying real estate every year and taking students’ money to do it.” more...

By Peter Baker, Lisa Friedman and Christopher Flavelle
WASHINGTON — The White House was directly involved in pressing a federal scientific agency to repudiate the weather forecasters who contradicted President Trump’s claim that Hurricane Dorian would probably strike Alabama, according to several people familiar with the events. Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, to have the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publicly disavow the forecasters’ position that Alabama was not at risk. NOAA, which is part of the Commerce Department, issued an unsigned statement last Friday in response, saying that the Birmingham, Ala., office was wrong to dispute the president’s warning. In pressing NOAA’s acting administrator to take action, Mr. Ross warned that top employees at the agency could be fired if the situation was not addressed, The New York Times previously reported. Mr. Ross’s spokesman has denied that he threatened to fire anyone, and a senior administration official on Wednesday said Mr. Mulvaney did not tell the commerce secretary to make such a threat. The release of the NOAA statement provoked complaints that the Trump administration was improperly intervening in the professional weather forecasting system to justify the president’s mistaken assertion. The Commerce Department’s inspector general is investigating how that statement came to be issued, saying it could call into question scientific independence. more...

New Washington Post-ABC polling shows Trump’s approval rating sinking. His response was to lash out.
By Aaron Rupar
A new Washington Post-ABC News survey contains bleak news for President Donald Trump on nearly every front. Heading into the 2020 campaign, it shows his approval rating slipping significantly over the last month, in large part because people blame him for the possibility of an economic downturn. Trump shot back in a characteristic manner: by attacking the Post in particular and mainstream media polling in general. But there are a couple of glaring problems with his response. “ABC/Washington Post Poll was the worst and most inaccurate poll of any taken prior to the 2016 Election,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday. “When my lawyers protested, they took a 12 point down and brought it to almost even by Election Day. It was a Fake Poll by two very bad and dangerous media outlets. Sad!” In a follow-up tweet, Trump opined that “[o]ne of the greatest and most powerful weapons used by the Fake and Corrupt News Media is the phony Polling Information they put out. Many of these polls are fixed, or worked in such a way that a certain candidate will look good or bad. Internal polling looks great, the best ever!” Trump, of course, has a long history of attacking polls that don’t reflect well on him. But his specific claim about “inaccurate” 2016 polling is simply false, and there’s good reason to believe he’s also not telling the truth about his internal polling. More broadly, Trump’s tweets on Tuesday suggest that instead of trying to have a sincere reckoning with his political shortcomings, he’s in denial about them. If his approval rating is sagging, that’s because the poll was rigged. If more than one poll indicates that, a conspiracy must be at play. more...

By Shane Croucher
Economists at Moody's Analytics estimate in a report that further escalation of President Donald Trump's trade war with China could cost the American economy hundreds of thousands of jobs and plunge it into a deep recession. Moody's says there is a 35 percent probability that the trade war will escalate. It modeled the potential impacts of an escalating trade conflict between the U.S. and China, which has seen tariffs imposed on much of the $540 billion in Chinese goods imports. "Given the high-stakes game of chicken, it is not difficult to imagine a darker scenario in which tariffs on all U.S.-China trade rise further and additional nontariff barriers are imposed," the Moody's report says. "In this scenario, we assume that tariffs on all U.S.-China trade rise to 30 percent and that a series of nontariff barriers take effect. "These include Chinese bans on U.S. technology exports, voluntary boycotts of U.S. brands, revoked market licenses for U.S. firms, a sharp devaluation of the yuan, and a threat to sell China's vast holdings of U.S. Treasuries." The scenario also assumes U.S. retaliation, the failure of Congress to ratify the new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, a 25 percent tariff on all vehicle imports, and a substantial knock-on effect of the escalation on the global economy, damaging demand and sentiment. "The result is a large pullback in investment that, along with price increases and ruffled consumers, causes U.S. and global GDP to contract sharply," according to the Moody's model for trade war escalation. more...

By Anna Kaplan
A Sacramento woman has been hospitalized in a “semi-comatose” state after using a face cream contaminated with mercury, Sacramento County health officials said. The unidentified woman reportedly obtained a container of Pond’s anti-wrinkle skin cream “through an informal network that imported the cream from Mexico,” the county said in a statement. The mercury was added to the cream by a “third party after purchase,” according to the statement. There have been 60 cases of poisonings linked to “foreign brand, unlabeled, and/or homemade skin creams” that contained less toxic forms of mercury across California. However, the methylmercury poisoning case in connection with the skin cream is the first of its kind in the United States, according to the county health department. more...

By Allyson Chiu
After hosting a rally in North Carolina with Vice President Pence earlier this week and then blasting out endorsements for two GOP candidates running in special elections there, President Trump closely tracked the returns on Tuesday night. When it became clear that both men vying for open House seats had won, the president took to Twitter in triumph. In a flurry of tweets sent well into early Wednesday morning, Trump celebrated the “TWO BIG VICTORIES” and boasted about his influence on the results — while also taking time to bash the “Fake News” and share a photo suggesting a third term for himself. “BIG NIGHT FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY,” he tweeted in all-caps. “CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL!” The wins came as Trump has faced downturns in national polling and amid new White House turmoil as he ousted national security adviser John Bolton. A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Tuesday found that 56 percent of voting-age Americans say they disapprove of Trump’s performance in office, and his approval rating among that demographic stands at 38 percent. more...


Opinion by Elie Honig
(CNN) - When I was a new Justice Department prosecutor preparing for one of my first trials, a supervisor gave me a valuable piece of strategic advice: Go for the jugular, not every capillary. Don't get bogged down trying to prove every detail of every last bad act or misdeed. Instead, pick out the subject's worst conduct, offer up your strongest proof and make it hit hard. I'd offer the same advice to the House Judiciary Committee as it considers a resolution to define the substance and scope of its impeachment inquiry. The Judiciary Committee reportedly will focus on a wide range of topics, including four pillars: (1) involvement by Trump associates in Russian interference in the 2016 election, (2) Trump's alleged role in illegal hush money payments to two women who claim they had affairs with him, (3) Trump's alleged dangling of pardons to immigration officials who might break the law to get a border wall built and (4) Trump's potential Emoluments Clause violations and use of the presidency for personal profit. If you look at that list and wonder, "What's the connective tissue?" the answer is simple: President Donald J. Trump. However, beyond the fact that all four areas touch on potential wrongdoing by Trump, they share little or nothing in common. There is no substantive through-line. The audience -- Congress and the American public -- will have its focus fragmented, and the committee will find itself trying to run in four (or more) directions at once. Sure, Trump has opened many doors by his norm-defying -- and potentially illegal -- conduct. But, strategically, Democrats won't get far if they try to tackle everything Trump may have done wrong all at once. The Judiciary Committee should focus primarily on the issue of emoluments and Trump's alleged use of the presidency for personal enrichment. First, the notion of elected officials using public office to line their own pockets carries visceral appeal; people care and will not be apt to simply brush it aside. The Constitution prohibits a president from receiving any income or gift (beyond his regular government salary) from a foreign government, the US government or any state. And it is inherently offensive to fundamental notions of democracy for a president to profit from his office. Even Trump's ideological supporters will have a hard time justifying profiteering. more...

Compare what the "Desperate Housewives" star faces to Tanya McDowell's punishment
By D. Watkins
Most people with basic common sense understand the race problem that exists in this country. They know that many black people don’t get a fair shake. But frequently I encounter honestly confused white people at book events who have little to no proximity to black people, other than authors swinging through their town to promote their race books — the single black dude who luckily made it out because of some rare opportunity, which leads them to believe everyone can, even those without the same opportunities — and who simply think that racism ended with slavery, and that systemic or structural racism doesn’t exist. So here’s a clear example for those who don’t get it. Most parents, regardless of ethnicity, economic background or social class, want their kids to receive a great education. We know that education opens doors, creates opportunities and is a key in leading a happy, meaningful life. Back in 2011 Tanya McDowell was homeless and living in her van. She wanted her five-year-old son to receive a quality education, so she enrolled him in Brookside Elementary of the Norwalk School District. He was later kicked out due to a residency issue, so he transferred to Bridgeport schools. more...

By Christina Maxouris and Amanda Watts, CNN
(CNN) - Jarrid Wilson, a popular pastor known for his work in mental health advocacy at a Southern California megachurch, has died by suicide, Senior Pastor Greg Laurie with Harvest Christian Fellowship Church said in a statement. Wilson joined the church as an associate pastor last year and has since spoken out many times about the issue of mental health, Laurie said. Wilson and his wife founded an outreach called "Anthem of Hope" designed to help people dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts. "Jarrid also repeatedly dealt with depression and was very open about his ongoing struggles," Laurie said. "He wanted to especially help those who were dealing with suicidal thoughts." He is survived by his wife, Juli, and two young sons, according to Laurie's post. On his verified Twitter page, Wilson had posted several times about September as National Suicide Prevention Month. In a post on Monday, he wrote, "Loving Jesus doesn't always cure suicidal thoughts. Loving Jesus doesn't always cure depression. Loving Jesus doesn't always cure PTSD. Loving Jesus doesn't always cure anxiety. But that doesn't mean Jesus doesn't offer us companionship and comfort. He ALWAYS does that." more...

“I thought it was a joke and then I started screaming,” McCain said of the revelation that Trump invited terrorists to Camp David but refused entry for Bahamian refugees.
By Justin Baragona
The women of The View on Tuesday tore into President Donald Trump for rejecting over a hundred Bahamian survivors of Hurricane Dorian, with conservative co-host Meghan McCain taking the president to task for inviting the Taliban to Camp David but refusing entry into the United States for refugees of a natural disaster. After more than one-hundred evacuees were forced off a ferry heading to Florida because they didn’t have visas, acting Customs and Border Protection chief Mark Morgan reassured hurricane survivors that they would be allowed to enter the United States, claiming there was just “some confusion” in the aftermath of the devastating storm that nearly wiped out the islands. Trump, however, saw things differently, claiming America needed to be extra careful with who it allows in from the Bahamas. “I don’t want to allow people that weren’t supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States including some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers,” he said to reporters on Monday. “You know, this is a guy who has the Taliban—he’s going to have a big meeting with the Taliban,” liberal co-host Joy Behar exclaimed. “He loves Kim Jong-Un and Putin, and yet these people who are fleeing a hurricane are suddenly criminals. He’s so despicable. He makes my head stand up—my hair. I can’t stand him!” more...

By Gregory Krieg and Kate Sullivan, CNN
Washington (CNN)North Carolina state Sen. Dan Bishop defeated Democrat Dan McCready in the North Carolina 9th District's special congressional election, giving Republicans a narrow victory in the GOP-leaning district where President Donald Trump won by 12 points in 2016.
The race drew national attention as a potential 2020 bellwether, in a district that stretched from the Charlotte suburbs to the military town of Fayetteville. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both made eleventh hour trips to the district on Monday in an effort to bolster Bishop.
The "do-over" special election came after the state board of elections refused to certify the 2018 House race results in the district after fraud allegations, ordering a new election. Trump was not on the ballot, but Bishop's narrow victory in a race widely viewed as a referendum on the White House will provide a small measure of comfort to Republicans in 2020. Republicans normally would have been expected to dominate in a district that Trump won, but data released to the public ahead of the Tuesday vote showed a close race, underscoring GOP troubles in the suburbs during the Trump era. The President's approval rating in a number of recent of polls is approaching lows not seen since 2017. Trump's message ahead of the special election, which echoed his speeches before the midterms last year, might have helped drag Bishop over the finish line in the 9th Congressional District, but a similar Republican-Democrat split there next year would likely spell doom for Trump. more...

The toll in human lives lost from the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, extends beyond the nearly 3,000 people killed as a direct result of the assault. That reality will be acknowledged Wednesday as part of remembrance ceremonies on the 18th anniversary of the deadliest terrorist acts on American soil. Tributes will be held, among other places, at the memorial plaza at the World Trade Center site in New York City, in the Washington area and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on the field where United Flight 93 crashed after passengers and crew members foiled hijackers’ plot to slam the plane into the U.S. Capitol. The somber, nonpartisan commemorations have been touched by controversy this year after President Donald Trump announced he had planned to have secret meetings Sunday with leaders of the Taliban, the militant Afghan group that supported 9/11 leader Osama bin Laden. more...

By Jay Hancock and Elizabeth Lucas, Kaiser Health News
Heather Waldron and John Hawley are losing their four-bedroom house in the hills above Blacksburg, Virginia. A teenage daughter, one of their five children, sold her clothes for spending money. They worried about paying the electric bill. Financial disaster, they said, contributed to their divorce, finalized in April. Their money problems began when the University of Virginia Health System pursued the couple with a lawsuit and a lien on their home to recoup $164,000 in charges for Waldron’s emergency surgery in 2017. The family has lots of company: Over six years ending in June 2018, the health system and its doctors filed 36,000 lawsuits against patients, seeking a total of more than $106 million, seizing wages and bank accounts, putting liens on property and homes and forcing families into bankruptcy, a Kaiser Health News analysis found. Unpaid hospital bills are a leading cause of personal debt and bankruptcy across the nation, and hospitals from Memphis to Baltimore have been accused of pushing families over the financial edge. UVA stands out for the scope of its collection efforts and how persistently it seeks payment, pursuing poor as well as middle-class patients for almost all they’re worth. more...

By KATY O'DONNELL
The U.S. housing finance system is worse off today than it was on the cusp of the 2008 financial crisis, Republican lawmakers and Trump administration officials warned on Tuesday. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-controlled enterprises that stand behind half the country's mortgages, are way too undercapitalized, and lending standards have actually deteriorated since the housing crash, the officials said. “This whole thing is a car wreck. It’s a dumpster fire,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on the White House’s proposal to overhaul the way the nation finances mortgages. “We spent $190 billion of taxpayer money, and we’re in worse shape,” he said, referring to the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were seized by Treasury a decade ago to stave off catastrophic losses in the crisis. The hearing kicked off what promises to be a highly contentious debate over the plans released last week by the Departments of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development to scale back the federal government’s massive role in the mortgage market. Republicans are focusing on what they say are growing risks in the system, while Democrats are mostly concerned about providing affordable housing. The Treasury blueprint would overhaul Fannie and Freddie before releasing them from government control. A major component of the plan is building the companies’ capital so they would be able to withstand an economic downturn without turning to taxpayers again. Right now, the companies are only allowed to retain a combined $6 billion in capital despite owning or guaranteeing $5.5 trillion of mortgages. “I will tell you as a safety-and-soundness regulator, when I look at a $3 trillion institution that is leveraged 1,000 to 1, it keeps me up at night,” Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria, the companies’ regulator, told the committee. more...

Owner of Miami nightlife website finds additional images rebutting Jerry Falwell Jr.’s claims of photoshopping.
By BRANDON AMBROSINO
One day after POLITICO published a piece in which Jerry Falwell Jr. denied visiting a Miami Beach nightclub in July 2014 and alleged that any images showing such were “photo-shopped,” a new trove of photos showing Falwell at the club has been released. Seth Browarnik, the owner of World Red Eye, a photography company that documents Miami’s bustling nightlife scene, says he was unaware how many photos he had of Falwell until Falwell alleged that his site’s images were manipulated—prompting Browarnik to explore his photo archive to prove otherwise. On Tuesday, Browarnik published the newly unearthed photos on his website, WorldRedEye.com, along with a strongly worded “rebuke” of Falwell’s claim of photoshopping. “First things first,” Browarnik told me over the phone, “we didn’t even know [Falwell] was in the photos. Number one! Finding him in the crowd is like a ‘Where’s Waldo?’” Browarnik lives high up in a South Beach skyrise, from which he can see the Falwell-owned Miami Hostel. Not that the owners of the flophouse crossed Browarnik’s mind that often. He didn’t even know his company had taken any photos of Liberty University’s first family partying at Wall, a Miami Beach nightclub, until he saw them identified in the piece published by POLITICO yesterday. “All of a sudden, I scroll down and say, ‘Oh my god!’” Browarnik said. It wasn’t an exclamation of excitement as much as indignance. In the article, Jerry Falwell Jr. repeatedly claimed that the photos—which POLITICO obtained from World Red Eye, which World Red Eye has had on their website for five years, and which show Falwell partying at Wall on July 19, 2014—were manipulated. “If the person in the picture is me, it was likely photo-shopped,” Falwell said. Browarnik said he felt insulted. “My integrity is everything in this business,” he said. Jerry Falwell Jr. did not immediately respond to a request for comment. For the past 21 years, Browarnik has photographed Miami nightlife. Because of his trusted reputation as a photographer, he thought it was important to quickly quash Falwell’s accusation. “That’s why I have an archive of five million photos,” Browarnik told me. “That’s why we catalog everything.” While reviewing images from the night in question, Browarnik discovered several previously unpublished photos from that evening in which Jerry Falwell Jr. and other members of the Falwell family can be seen—including Jerry’s wife, Becki, sons Trey and Wesley, and Trey’s wife, Sarah. In the images, the Falwells can be seen in the middle of the club’s dance floor while lasers and other light effects reflect around them. In at least two photos, Falwell family members can be seen holding alcohol. (Liberty University is notoriously strict about alcohol consumption, and students can receive demerits for co-ed dancing and be expelled for drinking.) more...

By JEREMY B. WHITE and CARLA MARINUCCI
OAKLAND — California officials scrambled Tuesday to decipher a report that the Trump administration is planning to intercede in the state’s homelessness crisis. No issue is dominating the agenda in California like the housing shortage and homelessness spike, with mayors, state lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom grappling to ameliorate an epidemic that is unavoidable on city streets. OAKLAND — California officials scrambled Tuesday to decipher a report that the Trump administration is planning to intercede in the state’s homelessness crisis. No issue is dominating the agenda in California like the housing shortage and homelessness spike, with mayors, state lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom grappling to ameliorate an epidemic that is unavoidable on city streets. A day earlier, the chief of state and federal affairs for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti revealed the Trump delegation’s visit, saying it was an opportunity for the city to explain “our strategic plan around homelessness and sanitation deployment and Skid Row engagement.” “They’re just not thoughtful, and quite frankly not smart enough, to know what we’re doing,” Garcetti aide Breelyn Pete said at a POLITICO event. more...

By LAURAN NEERGAARD
WASHINGTON (AP) — When researchers at the University of Kentucky compare brains donated from people who died with dementia, very rarely do they find one that bears only Alzheimer’s trademark plaques and tangles — no other damage. If they do, “we call it a unicorn,” said Donna Wilcock, an Alzheimer’s specialist at the university’s aging center. Contrary to popular perception, “there are a lot of changes that happen in the aging brain that lead to dementia in addition to plaques and tangles.” That hard-won lesson helps explain how scientists are rethinking Alzheimer’s. For years researchers have been guided by one leading theory — that getting rid of a buildup of a sticky protein called amyloid would ease the mind-robbing disease. Yet drug after drug has failed. They might clear out the gunk, but they’re not stopping Alzheimer’s inevitable worsening. more...

By Rachel Frazin
President Trump has directed officials to crack down on homelessness in California, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing four government officials familiar with the matter. Officials have reportedly discussed getting homeless people off the streets in areas including Los Angeles and into government-backed facilities. The Post reported that the talks have ramped up in recent weeks. Two officials told the Post that ideas such as tearing down existing homeless camps and creating new facilities or refurbishing old ones to give the federal government more control over health care and housing are being considered.  The administration reportedly has not completed a final plan. Officials from the White House, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Domestic Policy Council were in California this week for discussions, according to the Post. Officials said that Los Angeles' "skid row" area was one focus. more...

The Senate majority leader worked to keep money out of Kentucky coal miners’ hands—even as he maneuvered to steer federal cash to an aluminum plant connected to a Putin ally.
By Erin Banco
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last month blocked a measure that would have used Treasury Department funds marked for Appalachian development to help pay for coal miners’ health care and pensions in his home state of Kentucky. But just a few months earlier, McConnell successfully steered near-identical Treasury funds for Appalachia to bankroll a Kentucky aluminum plant connected to an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Democrats on Capitol Hill have raised concerns for months about McConnell’s connection to the aluminum plant. It’s one of several reasons why McConnell’s political opponents have tried to stick him with the nickname “Moscow Mitch.” But what’s gone largely unnoticed as the sobriquet has become a social media trending topic is how McConnell worked to keep money out of coal miners’ hands—even as he maneuvered to steer federal funds to the Russian-linked plant. The scrutiny started in January, when McConnell voted to lift sanctions on Rusal, a Russian aluminum company formerly headed by Putin ally Oleg Deripaska, despite several of his Republican colleagues defecting and voting no. Rusal’s de-listing caused an uproar among Democrats on Capitol Hill who viewed the deal the Treasury Department put together with Rusal as too lenient. Then, in April, the focus turned to McConnell. Just days after the Treasury Department announced the official de-listing of Rusal, the company announced a $200 million investment in the Braidy Industries aluminum plant in the northeastern part of Kentucky. Democrats raised questions about how much McConnell knew about Rusal’s investment plan before he voted for sanctions relief. Rusal is the only outside investor in the plant. In a statement to The Daily Beast, a Braidy Industries spokesperson said the company has never lobbied members of Congress on sanctions issues and began working with law firm Akin Gump in May 2019 for “general government relations representation.” The spokesperson also said no employee or director of the company has ever spoken to McConnell about Rusal. But McConnell’s connection to the Rusal-Braidy aluminum plant is deeper than previously understood. At the same time Rusal was lobbying the Trump administration to get off the U.S. sanctions list, McConnell was advocating for federal funds to be diverted to help with construction of the Braidy plant in Kentucky. more...

by Alana Goodman & Steven Nelson
One of the people President Trump honored for his heroism during a mass shooting in an El Paso Walmart last month was arrested by the Secret Service during his visit to the White House on Monday due to an outstanding criminal warrant, law enforcement officials told the Washington Examiner. Police say his tale of heroics does not match video evidence. Chris Grant, 50, was shot in the ribs and a kidney during the Aug. 3 rampage that claimed 22 lives. He was not present for a White House ceremony Monday, but his mother Minnie Grant, 82, accepted a signed certificate on his behalf. Grant said in a series of interviews that he sought to spare fellow shoppers by picking up bottles and throwing them at the gunman, with at least one hitting or nearly striking him. A Gofundme account raised $16,917 on his behalf. Grant was photographed when he arrived at Washington's Reagan-National Airport and outside the White House with his family. "Nobody bothered to check with us," said El Paso police spokesman Sgt. Enrique Carrillo. "They would have been informed, as I am telling you now, that our detectives reviewed hours of video and his actions did not match his account." Carrillo said Grant was visible in footage from the store, but he did not say what he was doing during the massacre. "His statements were inconsistent with what was revealed on video," Carrillo said. He was arrested by the Secret Service for being a "fugitive from justice," according to a spokesperson for the Washington Metropolitan Police Department. Grant has a criminal record for theft and evading arrest, according to Texas court documents reviewed by the Washington Examiner. He was sentenced to eight months in prison for car theft in March, after pleading guilty to stealing a silver 2009 Mazda 6. In 2016, he pleaded guilty and was also sentenced to 18 days in jail for stealing TVs from a Sears in Richardson, Texas. He pleaded guilty to evading arrest in Collins County in 2016. A Secret Service spokesperson said: “On Monday, Sept. 9, 2019, a White House visitor with an arrest warrant was temporarily detained by U.S. Secret Service Uniformed Division Officers. It was subsequently determined that while the arrest warrant was still active, the agency that issued the warrant would not extradite, at which time the individual was released from Secret Service custody.” more...



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