In the News

News and Headlines. 3/21/2019


News and Headlines. In The News, Politics, World News, Tech Watch, Commentary/Opinion.

In The News:


Baby cough syrup sold at Dollar General recalled after harmful bacteria discovered

DG/health Naturals baby Cough Syrup + Mucus discovered the bacteria after testing, according to the FDA notice of the voluntary recall by Kingston Pharma.

One in ten bottles showed low levels of Bacillus cereus, two in ten bottles showed low levels of Bacillus circulans.

The cough syrup production has been stopped while the Food and Drug Administration and the company investigate the source of the bacteria.


Unprecedented spring flooding possible, US forecasters say

This Wednesday, March 20, 2019 aerial photo shows flooding near the Platte River in in Plattsmouth, Neb., south of Omaha.(DroneBase via AP)

More than 200 million Americans are at risk for some kind of flooding, with 13 million of them at risk of major inundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in its spring weather outlook .

About 41 million people are at risk of moderate flooding.

Major flooding now occurring in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Missouri and other Midwestern states is a preview of an all-too wet and dangerous spring, said Mary Erickson, deputy director of the National Weather Service.

“In fact, we expect the flooding to get worse and more widespread,” she said.


Eighth grader suspended for honoring troops speaks out

Carlin was recreating a “battle cross” monument for a Celina Middle School history project.

He said his teacher knew all about it but administration officials suspended him for 3 days for bringing a toy gun on campus, which violated school policy.

The Celina school board said it would not make any statement that violates a “student’s right to privacy.”

A protest was held at the school Wednesday to support Carlin.

“The community is standing behind me on this,” Carlin said. “They held a protest and it is still going on today.”


Cops arrest 16 suspects in $35M pot bust in Atlanta

Police said they raided five large “grow houses” in Clayton, Gwinnett and Henry counties.

Each house had between 340 and 1,500 pot plants inside that were tended to with sophisticated equipment used to manufacture high-grade marijuana, according to authorities.

The 16 suspects rounded up in the sting belong to two large drug trafficking organizations that operate across the southeast, authorities said. The suspects range in age from 26 to 54 and were “embedded” in the community.


Louisiana Convenience Store Owner Accused of $1.2 Million Food Stamp Fraud

Authorities arrested Mohammad Abudayeh, 25, of Alexandria, on March 14 and charged him with multiple fraud charges— including money laundering, unauthorized use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, racketeering, computer fraud, and bank fraud.

The Louisiana State Police Insurance Fraud Unit opened an investigation into the owner of an Alexandria convenience store in June 2018 after receiving a tip that he had been purchasing SNAP benefits from patrons receiving those benefits.


SHERIFF QUITS OVER ALLEGEDLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL JAIL CONDITIONS IN ONE OF OKLAHOMA’S POOREST COUNTIES

Former Nowata County Sheriff Terry Sue Barnett resigned after a judge mandated she reopen the jail, something Barnett characterized as “just wrong” in a statement, according to NBC News.

County commissioners named Mirta “Mickey” Hallett, a retired major with the Nowata County Sheriff’s Office, as Barnett’s interim replacement Wednesday, reported the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise.

“I’ve said from the beginning that if I became sheriff, I would serve the citizens by standing up and doing the right things,” Barnett said in a statement.

“This is just wrong, and I wasn’t going to put human beings in that jail until we knew what was going on.”


The Latest: 5 Suspects Plead Not Guilty to Terror Counts

FILE – This Aug. 13, 2018 pool file photo shows defendants, from left, Jany Leveille, Lucas Morton, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and Subbannah Wahhaj entering district court in Taos, N.M., for a detention hearing. (Roberto E. Rosales/The Albuquerque Journal via AP, Pool, File) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Five people arrested at a New Mexico compound where a 3-year-old boy was found dead have pleaded not guilty to new federal charges.

The charges include a terrorism-related count that accuses them of supporting a plan to attack law enforcement officers and other government employees.

The two men and three women living at the compound raided in August were arraigned Thursday on charges handed down last week in a superseding indictment.


California woman arrested for elder, animal abuse after dad, 96, found in home with up to 700 rats, cops say

Eight dogs, two rabbits, a cat, a parrot and 55 pet rats were removed from the home. (Ventura County Sheriff’s Office)

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Catherine Ann Vandermaesen, 65, was arrested last Thursday on suspicion of felony elder abuse and misdemeanor animal abuse after authorities visited the home in Ojai, located northwest of Los Angeles.

The sheriff’s office said when deputies made contact with Vandermaesen and her sister, they did not want the deputies to enter the home and “insisted all occupants at the location were fine.

” Deputies also asked to see the sisters’ 96-year-old father, but both daughters would only agree to bring the man out in a wheelchair after refusing to allow deputies inside.

Vandermaesen’s elderly father and her 74-year-old sister, who deputies described as a “possible victim,” were taken by ambulance to a hospital. Authorities did not disclose their conditions.


Arizona skating rink brawl captured on surveillance video, cop seen using Taser on teen

The Great Skate in Glendale was hosting an all-night event Saturday when several fights broke out inside and outside the venue about 9 p.m., FOX10 reported.

Glendale police, who on Wednesday released video of the melee, said the fights began when staff members started turning away 200 people waiting to get inside the rink.

The event had reached capacity, with more than 500 people inside the building.

Surveillance video showed several teens on roller skates lunging at each other.

Police said they used pepper spray to disperse groups and officers acted accordingly to halt the “mob-like environment.”


Springs double shooting suspect pleads guilty to reckless manslaughter

Donte Mayo, 24,
Donte Mayo, 24,

Police investigated a double shooting near downtown Colorado Springs that happened late October.

One of the victims died at a hospital days later, while the other victim was left in serious condition.

Donte Mayo, 24, was arrested for first-degree murder, but those charges were dismissed, District Attorney Dan May said via twitter.

Mayo was sentenced to eight years in prison.


‘Meteor’ over Los Angeles turns out to be stunt for last supermoon of 2019

Skydivers from the Red Bull Air Force leaped from a helicopter 4,000 feet above Los Angeles and swooped into the downtown at more than 120 mph to celebrate the final supermoon of 2019. (Michael Clark/Red Bull Content Pool)

The spectacle was reported around 7:30 p.m., with many taking to Twitter to share videos and photos of the sight.

“What is this flying item on fire above downtown Los Angeles?” Dennis Hegstad wrote.

Others shared what they saw over the downtown area.

The spectacle even drew the attention of the Los Angeles Police Department, who reassured the public that the streak of the light was not Mars attacking.


Country singer Justin Carter dead at 35 after accidental shooting

Carters’ mother, Cindy McClellan, told Fox News her son was filming a music video in Houston, Texas, on Saturday when a gun in his pocket “went off and caught my son in the corner of his eye.”

“He was a wonderful artist,” McClellan said. “He was the voice, he was the total package and we’re trying to keep his legend [alive].”

Carter leaves behind two young daughters, Dixie and Kaylee.


JetBlue pilots drugged, raped female crew members in sick ‘fantasy’ assault, lawsuit claims

The plaintiffs are seeking at least $75,000 in damages in relation to the alleged May 2018 attack.

Earlier this week, Jane Doe #1 of Riverton, Utah, and Jane Doe #2 of Fort Worth, Texas, filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York, claiming that JetBlue pilots Eric Johnson and Dan Watson attacked the three women during a layover at the Intercontinental Hotel in San Juan, NY Daily News reports.

According to the lawsuit, Johnson and Watson met the three women on the beach on May 9 during the layover.

After telling the trio that they worked for JetBlue, the men offered the flight crew staffers beers from a lunch bag, which the women consumed, unaware that the drinks were allegedy laced with drugs.

Politics:


Trump signs executive order to promote free speech on college campuses

“We’re here to take historic action to defend American students and American values,” Trump said, surrounded by conservative student activists at the signing ceremony. “They’ve been under siege.”

“Under the guise of speech codes, safe spaces and trigger warnings, these universities have tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity and shut down the voices of great young Americans like those here today,” he said.

A senior administration official said the order directs 12 grant-making agencies to use their authority in coordination with the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to ensure institutions that receive federal research or education grants promote free speech and free inquiry.

White House officials say it will apply to more than $35 billion in grants.


Economic models indicate Trump on track to win re-election in ‘landslide’: report

According to a report in Politico, a flourishing U.S. economy – featuring low unemployment numbers, cheaper gas prices and rising wages – paired with the historical advantage that incumbent presidents enjoy give Trump a strong shot at winning a second term in a “landslide.”

“The economy is just so damn strong right now and by all historic precedent the incumbent should run away with it,” Donald Luskin, the chief investment officer of TrendMacrolytics, a research firm that predicted Trump’s 2016 win, told Politico. “I just don’t see how the blue wall could resist all that.”

Yale economist and pioneering election forecaster Ray Fair reportedly also has Trump currently winning re-election on the back of the booming economy and his incumbent’s advantage.

“Even if you have a mediocre but not great economy — and that’s more or less consensus for between now and the election — that has a Trump victory and by a not-trivial margin,” Fair told Politico, predicting that Trump would pick up 54 percent of the popular vote compared with just 46 percent for the


Mississippi Legislature Passes Bill to Ban Abortions When Unborn Baby’s Heart Starts Beating

If enacted, the bill would ban almost all abortions in the state. An unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable at about six weeks of pregnancy, though research suggests a baby’s heartbeat may begin as early as 18 days after conception.

The bill would allow exceptions for medical emergencies. Abortionists who violate the legislation could face criminal charges.

On Tuesday, the state Senate approved a final version of the bill after the state House made amendments to it earlier this month, the Clarion Ledger reports.


Mississippi Gov. Bryant signs ‘heartbeat bill,’ enacting one of strictest abortion laws in nation

Mississippi is just the latest in a growing list of Republican-led states considering similar actions this year.

The law would make it illegal for a woman to have an abortion after approximately six weeks of pregnancy.

“We will all answer to the good Lord one day. I will say in this instance, ‘I fought for the lives of innocent babies, even under the threat of legal action,” Bryant responded.


Top House Republican on mission to publish explosive Russia probe files

Amid the frenzied anticipation over the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee has made a mission of publishing a slew of transcripts from closed-door interviews by the panel dating back to the GOP majority.

Last week, Ranking Member Doug Collins, R-Ga., unilaterally published hundreds of pages from interviews with former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, containing juicy details about the anti-Trump so-called “insurance policy” (concerning the Russia probe), their affair and even the steps DOJ officials allegedly took to avoid serious charges for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 email investigation.

And that’s just the start.

“There’s plenty more—at least 20 or more transcripts as part of this investigation,” Collins told Fox News in an interview this week.

“We’re going through, not in a set order, but we want to make sure they’re ready to go.”


Former R.I. congressional candidate pleads guilty to fraud, campaign finance violations

Harold Russell Taub, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully against Democratic Rep. David Cicilline in 2016, solicited more than $1.6 million to two organizations he falsely presented as political action committees.

According to the Justice Department, Taub used more than half of what he collected for “purely personal expenses.”

Taub, 30, said donations to the two organizations — which he called Keeping America in Republican Control and Keeping Ohio in Republican Control — would be used to support GOP candidates in federal and state races.

He did not register either entity with the Federal Election Commission or make proper reports to the federal agency as required by law.


Roger Stone pleading the Fifth, won’t cooperate with House Judiciary Committee

The panel requested documents highlighting any “obstruction of justice, corruption, and abuse of power” by Trump from 81 individuals and entities connected to Trump, his campaign, and his associates in an attempt to uncover alleged obstruction of justice, corruption, or abuses of power by the president.

“This reply in response to the request by you, is written with the utmost respect for the committee and its staff. Mr. Stone’s invocation of the his Fifth Amendment rights must be understood by all to be the assertion of a Constitutional right by an innocent citizen, who is currently defending his innocence, and one who denounces secrecy for the purposes of advancing innuendo,” said a letter from Stone’s attorney, Grant Smith.

“As a current criminal defendant, with the presumption of innocence guaranteed to him, it is not in Mr. Stone’s best interest to participate in any additional proceedings, outside those in federal court, until the charges are resolved,” the letter from Smith said.

“Neither will Mr. Stone confirm for your Committee the existence of, or produce any documents requested, for the purpose of being used against him in anyway or to further the political agenda of people who want nothing more than to avenge the loss of their chosen candidate for president in 2016 by deposing the legally elected office holder,” the letter added.


Gillibrand: Give Social Security to illegal immigrants

Gillibrand’s comments are striking given her past as an immigration hawk. In 2009, the New York senator voted to increase funding for ICE and once said she believed English should be the official language of the United States.

Under current U.S. law, only legal immigrants are entitled to Social Security benefits after paying into the program for the requisite amount of time.

According to a 2010 analysis by the Social Security Administration’s Office of Retirement and Disability Policy, the program’s trust fund is expected to be exhausted by 2037.

Social Security either has or is expected to soon begin paying out more in benefits than it earns in revenues.


PROGRESSIVE ORGANIZATION CALLS FOR 2020 DEMS TO BOYCOTT AIPAC AND MANY ARE

AIPAC, an organization “committed solely to strengthening, protecting and promoting the U.S.-Israel relationship,” has its three-day conference scheduled for next week.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are all confirmed speakers for the conference.

Multiple Democratic presidential candidates: South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Former Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Julian Castro and California Sen. Kamala Harris have all announced that they will not be in attendance for this year’s conference.

World News:


ISIS has officially crumbled and last stronghold liberated

It’s the first time since we’ve been here in Syria for five days that the bombs have stopped dropping and the gunfire has disappeared.

We have witnessed the end of the caliphate – the brutal empire that once ruled over 8 million people – is gone.

Troops here are now bringing down the black flags of ISIS. The flags no longer fly over the town, instilling fear.

The last five days, Fox News has witnessed the last major offensive up close -– with U.S.-backed SDF forces attacking ISIS from three sides, pushing the fighters back, house to house, then tent to tent, against the Euphrates River.


Trump says US should recognize Israeli sovereignty over disputed Golan Heights

Israeli army Merkava tanks gather
Israeli army Merkava tanks gather in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, on January 20, 2019. (JALAA MAREY/AFP/Getty Images)

In a tweet Thursday afternoon, Trump said it’s important for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s control over what he called an area of “critical strategic and security importance to Israel” and stability in the region.

“After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!” Trump tweeted.

Trump’s tweet came as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Jerusalem. Reporters asked Pompeo about the issue, but he declined to answer.


Draft text: EU offers Brexit delay to May 22

British Prime Minister Theresa May had proposed an extension to the Brexit process to June 30.

“The European Council commits to agreeing, before 29 March 2019, to an extension until 22 May 2019, provided the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by the House of Commons next week,” the draft conclusions say.

“Given that the United Kingdom does not intend to hold elections to the European Parliament, no extension is possible beyond that date.”

The pointed reference to May closing off the possibility of U.K. participation in the EU election highlighted the dismay among EU27 leaders that the British prime minister did not at least leave open the path toward a longer extension.


Chinese visit to Italy seeks closer ties, stirs suspicions

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has pledged to sign the memorandum of understanding on Saturday, despite objections from U.S. allies and doubts within the coalition government that it could give China greater political influence in Europe and the West.

But Xi’s visit, at the invitation of Italian President Sergio Mattarella, also aims more broadly at deepening trade and cultural ties.

Conte has even suggested that Italy could play a role in easing tensions over trade between China and the United States.


Venezuelan intel agents arrest top opposition aide after allegedly planting firearms, grenade in night raid

The detention of Guaido’s chief of staff, Roberto Marrero, came shortly after the Venezuelan authorities entered and searched the homes of Marrero and opposition lawmaker Sergio Vergara on Thursday.

Vergara said he was woken up by heavy banging at his door and agents pointing weapons at him.

Both officials accompanied the interim leader on a recent Latin American tour to galvanize opposition to the socialist Nicolas Maduro regime and shore up support for Guaido as the legitimate leader of the country.


Iraq ferry sinking: at least 70 people drown in Mosul

Maj Gen Saad Maan, the interior ministry spokesman, said 71 people had died and 55 had been rescued, among them 19 children.

The health ministry spokesman, Seif al-Badr, said the victims included 33 women, 12 children and 10 men.

He said 30 people were rescued, adding that search operations were still under way and it was not known how many people were on the ferry.


Where villages once stood, Africa now has an inland ocean

People wait for a boat ride to be evacuated through the flood waters following cyclone force winds and heavy rain near the coastal city of Beira, Mozambique, Wednesday March 20, 2019. (Josh Estey/CARE via AP)

Floodwaters are rushing across the plains of central Mozambique, submerging homes, villages and entire towns.

The flooding has created a muddy inland ocean 50 kilometers (31 miles) wide where there used to be farms and villages, giving credence to Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi’s estimate that 1,000 people may have been killed.

Torrential rains lifted — at least temporarily — Thursday, and floodwaters began to recede in Beira, the worst-hit city, and in the countryside, according to a Mozambican government report.

Aid groups were working non-stop to rescue families clinging to tree branches and rooftops for safety from the surging waters.


Swiss police arrest woman, 75, over fatal stabbing of child

Basel police said in a statement that the boy was walking home from school shortly after midday Thursday when he was stabbed.

His teacher found the child lying on the ground with serious injuries and called emergency services, but the boy later died in a hospital.

Authorities said the elderly woman presented herself to prosecutors “and informed them that she had attacked the child.”


BOOKSTORE REMOVES JORDAN PETERSON BOOK OVER MOSQUE SHOOTING, CONTINUES SELLING ‘MEIN KAMPF’

Management at Whitcoulls, one of the largest bookstores in New Zealand, said it would be wrong to support Peterson by selling “12 Rules For Life:

An Antidote For Chaos” in light of “some extremely disturbing material being circulated prior, during and after the Christchurch attack,” according to an apparent customer service email, likely referencing a photograph in which Peterson embraced a fan wearing an “I’m A Proud Islamaphobe” T-shirt.

The store, however, continues to offer Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and Albert Cooper’s “Why Islamic Society Is Not Compatible With American Society,” according to its website.

Tech Watch:


Over 20,000 Facebook employees had access to 600 million user passwords

Facebook will alert all users whose passwords were stored in plain text, including hundreds of millions of users of Facebook Lite, a version of the social network designed for slow internet connections and low-specification phones, which is typically used in developing nations.

It will also notify tens of millions of other Facebook users and tens of thousands of Instagrammers.

Facebook didn’t reveal the full extent of the issue, though an anonymous senior Facebook employee told Krebs on Security up to 600 million passwords were stored in plain text, and suggested some credentials have been stored in this way since 2012.

More than 20,000 employees were able to search the data, the employee said — Facebook employed 35,587 people as of the end of 2018.

Access logs reportedly show around 2,000 engineers or developers “made approximately nine million internal queries for data elements that contained plain text user passwords.”


LGBT groups pressure Google to remove conversion therapy app

The controversial Living Hope Ministries app, which was removed by Apple from the App Store in December, has drawn opposition in the form of a petition with 139,000 signatures and letters to Google CEO Sundar Pichai from two prominent advocacy organizations.

“We have been urging Google to remove this app because it is life-threatening to LGBTQ youth and also clearly violates the company’s own standards.

Amazon, Apple and Microsoft have taken action to remove the app from their platforms, but so far Google has refused despite our warnings about the dangers,” a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT rights group in the U.S., told Axios.

Commentary/Opinion:

Tucker: There is no real immigration debate

Chamber of Commerce, Democrats push the narrative that mass influxes of immigrants grow the economy.

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