In the News

News and Headlines. 4/26/2019


News and Headlines. In The News, Immigration, Politics, President Trump, World News, Commentary/Opinion.

In The News:


Burial held for Navy petty officer who was MIA in Vietnam for decades

Raul Guerra’s remains were found in 2007 but the Pentagon needed 12 more years to positively identify them–a wait that consumed a friend who grew up with Guerra and who earned a Purple Heart in the Marines in Vietnam five months before Guerra was killed.

“It was not just a friendship, it was a brotherhood,” Randy Valencia told KTLA-TV. “We were brothers and I think any brother would go look for his brother. This was my brother.”

A large crowd attended Guerra’s burial Thursday in Whittier following a memorial service.

Attendees included members of the Montebello Police Department, which issued a news release afterward with the headline, “Petty Officer Raul Guerra Comes Home.”


Todd Leininger, American detained in Venezuela for five years, has been released, sources say


Todd Leininger is seen in this November 2018 video grab in prison in Venezuela.

Todd Leininger, 37, from Bloomington, Indiana, was originally arrested on charges of attempted murder and arms trafficking during an April 2014 visit to Venezuela with his wife, who is of Venezuelan descent.

The charges were later reduced and a Venezuelan court eventually ordered him to be released last November.

But Leininger remained in prison as Venezuelan authorities ignored the order.

According to her social media posts, Leininger’s mother, Barbara, was on her way to pick up her son at the Miami airport on Friday.


WH, POTUS Give Melania a ‘Happy Birthday’ Shoutout — Here Are Some of Her Best Moments in the Last Year

The U.S. first lady Melania Trump is receiving special messages on Friday as she celebrates her 49th birthday on Friday and takes a look back at the last year.

Her husband President Donald Trump gave the “great first lady” a special shoutout at the annual NRA event on Friday when he paused in the middle of his speech and said, “Happy birthday, Melania!”

He also made sure to celebrate her day in a Facebook post, writing, “Happy birthday to our amazing First Lady Melania!”


U.S. Growth of 3.2% Tops Forecasts on Trade, Inventory Boost

Gross domestic product expanded at a 3.2 percent annualized rate in the January-March period, according to Commerce Department data Friday that topped all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey calling for 2.3 percent growth.

That followed a 2.2 percent advance in the prior three months.

The numbers may bolster hopes that growth is stabilizing after its recent soft patch.

Trump, speaking with reporters before departing on a trip on Air Force One, said the GDP numbers were “far higher than the high expectations.”


TRUMP PULLS US OUT OF UN ARMS TREATY

The ATT, an arms agreement signed in 2013 by former President Barack Obama, seeks to regulate the international trade of weapons and was negotiated at the U.N. but was never ratified by Congress.

Trump signed an order on stage during his NRA speech effectively revoking the United States’s signature on the treaty.

The document, Trump said, is a “message asking the Senate to discontinue the treaty ratification process and return the now-rejected treaty right back to me in the Oval Office” where he will “dispose of it.”

“The United Nations will soon receive a formal notice that America is rejecting this treaty,” Trump told the crowd.

“We will never allow foreign bureaucrats to trample on your Second Amendment.”

Trump Just Tore Up The UN Small Arms Treaty

Pres. Trump announced that he is tearing up the UN Small Arms Treaty saying “By taking these actions, we are reaffirming American liberty is sacred and that American citizens live by American laws, not the laws of foreign countries”


Important Harvey Weinstein hearing being held in secret


Harvey Weinstein enters State Supreme Court in New York, Friday, April 26, 2019.
(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Both the prosecution and defense asked that the hearing be held behind closed doors because it focuses on sensitive matters — a prosecution bid to have jurors hear from many other women who say Weinstein violated them.

Judge James Burke in Manhattan said closing the courtroom to the news media and public was “the only means available to avoid the tainting of the jury pool.”

He also rejected the news organizations’ request to unseal documents related to the hearing.

The hearing, Burke said, dealt with material that “is prejudicial to the defendant and is highly inflammatory.”

He said news coverage would


Indiana man sentenced to 100 years for molesting children


Michael Begin Jr. is seen in an undated photo provided by the Clark County, Ind.,
(Clark County, Ind. Jail via AP)

Michael Begin Jr. of Jeffersonville was given his punishment Friday in a Clark County courtroom after the 19-year-old earlier pleaded guilty to 20 counts of child molestation.

Authorities say he molested the children between the ages of 3 and 8 while working at the Clark County Family YMCA and as an elementary school teaching assistant.

He was originally charged in 2017 with two molestation counts, and more charges were added later as additional victims came forward.


Plan with LGBT bans OK’d by United Methodist judicial panel


FILE – In this April 19, 2019 file photo, a gay pride rainbow flag flies along with the U.S. flag in front of the Asbury United Methodist Church in Prairie Village, Kan.
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Conservatives welcomed the decision and said key elements of the policy, called the Traditional Plan, could begin taking effect in January.

Among liberal and centrist opponents of the plan, there was dismay; one group, Reconciling Ministries Network, called for an upsurge of resistance.

The Traditional Plan was adopted in February on 438-384 vote by delegates at a special UMC conference in St. Louis. Most U.S.-based delegates opposed that plan and preferred LGBT-inclusive options, but they were outvoted by U.S. conservatives who teamed with most of the delegates from Methodist strongholds in Africa and the Philippines.

The nine-member judicial council, at the close of a four-day meeting in Evanston, Illinois, ruled that some aspects of the Traditional Plan — mostly related to enforcement of its rules — were unconstitutional under church law.

But the council upheld the bulk of the plan, clearing the way for its implementation in January.


At least 4 people killed in fiery crash involving 24 cars, 4 semis, on Colorado freeway, police say


Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, 23, was “arrested for suspicion of multiple counts of vehicular homicide.” (Lakewood Police)

The accident occurred just before 5 p.m. in the Denver suburb of Lakewood when a truck driver lost control while traveling east on Interstate 70, according to a preliminary investigation.

The collision started a chain reaction and a diesel fuel spill, Lakewood police spokesman Ty Countryman earlier told the Denver Post.

Officials said the driver was headed down a hill when he slammed into lower traffic. The fire was said to be so intense that it melted the roadway and metal off cars.

“This is looking to be one of the worst accidents we’ve had here in Lakewood,” he said. The cause of the crash was under investigation.


Alabama man accused of punching man’s eye out of socket, exploding eyeball with follow-up jab


Justin Wesley Leverett, 37, of Mobile, Ala., (Mobile Police Department)

Justin Wesley Leverett of Mobile was wanted in connection with assault that occurred Saturday afternoon, police said.

The Mobile Police Department said in a statement that during an argument the suspect “punched the victim in the face causing his eye to pop out of its socket.”

“The suspect then punched the eyeball causing it to explode,” police said. Authorities asked the public for their help with any information of Leverett’s whereabouts before announcing Friday that he turned himself in.


PepsiCo sues small farmers in India over potatoes for Lays chips

That said, PepsiCo is offering to drop the case so long as the farmers agreed to join its authorized cultivation program.

“PepsiCo India has proposed to amicably settle with people who were unlawfully using seeds of its registered variety.

PepsiCo has also proposed that they may become part of its collaborative potato farming program,” the company spokesperson stated.

If the farmers don’t want to sign on to PepsiCo’s program, they can sign an agreement and grow other types of potatoes, the PepsiCo spokesperson added.

In a letter to the India’s Ministry of Agriculture, 194 activists called the lawsuit from the food and beverage giant “false and untenable,” according to India Today.

“We believe that the intimidation and legal harassment of farmers is happening because farmers are not fully aware of (their) rights,” they wrote.


Huge great white shark shocks Florida couple as it emerges from water, bites chum bag, wild video shows

“Oh my God,” Grumbo can be heard repeating in the video.

“I’ve certainly never seen anything like this before,” Grumbo, 44, later told the Miami Herald of the wild moment.

The shark, which was estimated to be 15 to 16 feet in length, according to the boat’s captain, Carter Bates, emerged from the water near Summerland Key on Tuesday to get a taste of what was inside Bates’ chum bag.

Bates’ girlfriend, Suzy Gumbo, was quick to film the event, and, as of early Friday afternoon, it had more than 180,000 views and 3,000 shares on Facebook.

Immigration:


Hours after mass escape, migrants chant for food, freedom


Migrants waits for their transfer from an immigration detention center in Tapachula, Chiapas state, Mexico, Thursday, April 25, 2019. 
(AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

It was the largest mass escape from a Mexican immigration center in memory and the latest example of how the government has become overloaded by a flood of Central American, Cuban and Haitian immigrants.

Residents of Tapachula, a city on Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala, reported seeing hundreds of migrants running through the streets late Thursday, some only half dressed, some cramming themselves into passing minivans to escape.

Unarmed immigration agents were simply unable to stop the migrants from fleeing, federal authorities said.


Border Patrol official calls for changing ‘outdated laws’ to deal with surge in illegal crossings

Migrant families face no consequences if apprehended trying to cross the border illegally under present law, Border Patrol chief of Operations Brian Hastings claimed during an appearance on “Fox & Friends.”

“We need a change in the current outdated laws that we’re dealing with for this current demographic and this crisis that we have,” he said.

Hastings said as of Thursday there have been 440,000 apprehensions along the southwest border.

There were 396,000 apprehensions all of last year.And those numbers continue to rise, he said.

IRLI Research: UN is Aiding Caravans, Re-Defining Refugees, and Seeking to Control U.S. Immigration Policy

The UNHCR is providing support and assistance to the large-scale migrant caravans from Central America.

Under the guise of providing humanitarian aid, the UNHCR has dispatched more than 45 staff members to Mexico to ensure that the United States accepts the throngs of asylum-seekers making their way to our southern border.

The UNHCR has stated that refugees and asylum-seekers from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador have been forced into displacement by a confluence of factors that have led to an escalating situation of chronic violence and insecurity.

These factors range from the influence of organized crime such as drug cartels and urban gangs to the limited national capacity—compounded by corruption, poverty, and exclusion—of UN member states to provide protection.

However, these factors are not recognized by U.S. law as criteria for asylum.

The United States has not broadened the statutory definition of a refugee. In asylum and refugee case law in the U.S.,

it is well established that victims of crime, civil war, and civil strife do not qualify as refugees.


Florida measure banning sanctuary cities moves along after clearing its first hurdle

Florida Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando), during a press conference at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, speaks out against bills in the House and Senate that would ban sanctuary cities in the state. (AP)

A House version of the bill, which passed by a 69-47 vote Wednesday, adds that non-complying officials could be suspended or removed from office and face fines of up to $5,000 per day.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign off on the measure, although it’s not clear which version.

Florida is home to 775,000 illegal immigrants out of 10.7 million present in the United States, ranking the state third among all states.

Nine states — Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas — already have enacted state laws requiring law enforcement to comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


Trump Sends Warning to Mexico After Its Soldiers Draw Guns on US Troops in US: ‘Better Not Happen Again!’

“Mexico’s Soldiers recently pulled guns on our National Guard Soldiers, probably as a diversionary tactic for drug smugglers on the Border.

Better not happen again!

We are now sending ARMED SOLDIERS to the Border.

Mexico is not doing nearly enough in apprehending & returning!” Trump tweeted Wednesday.

On April 13 near Clint, Texas, two U.S. Army members were conducting an operation very close to the Rio Grande, which marks the official border between the two countries.

“[F]ive to six Mexican military personnel questioned two U.S. Army soldiers who were conducting border support operations in an unmarked [Customs and Border Protection] vehicle near the southwest border in the vicinity of Clint, Texas,” the Department of Defense told CNN.


PENTAGON SET TO SEND HUNDREDS OF TROOPS TO THE SOUTHERN BORDER


A group of Central American migrants is questioned about their children’s health after surrendering to U.S. Border Patrol Agents south of the U.S.-Mexico border fence in El Paso, Texas, U.S., March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A spokesperson for acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Charles Summers, said Friday that his boss is expected to green light the proposal shortly.

However, the troops will not be allowed to perform any law enforcement role at the border. Instead, around 100 military cooks, 160 drivers and 20 lawyers will be deployed to assist immigration agencies as they deal with the ballooning migrant crisis.

The soon-to-be-deployed troops will help provide meals to detained migrants, drive them in buses, and attorneys with the Department of Defense will help process them.

The moves will allow more Department of Homeland Security officials to focus on enforcing the rule of law, rather than processing the huge numbers of illegal migrants reaching the border.

Politics:


Joe Biden says his proudest moment of Obama’s presidency was ‘not one whisper of scandal’

Biden said that, coincidentally, he and Obama both told press on the same day while in different parts of the country that the thing they were most proud of while in the White House was that there was “not one whisper of a scandal.”

“Not one,” Biden said. “And that’s because of Barack.”

On “The View,” Biden also expanded on his declaration that he asked former President Obama not to endorse him during his campaign run.

He first told reporters of the news on Thursday, saying that “whoever wins this nomination should win it in on their own merits.”

Former Intel Officer Questions Obama’s Response to Russia

The Mueller report did more than just debunk the phony collusion hoax.

It also revealed that President Obama was too corrupt or incompetent to protect our nation from a foreign intelligence threat.


Trump Says He Will Declassify FBI’s Russia Probe Documents, ‘And Much More’


President Donald Trump after a speech at the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, in Atlanta, Ga., on April 24, 2019. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Trump said in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he was “glad” he waited to declassify the documents until after the end of the special counsel’s investigation.

“I thought that maybe they would obstruct if I did it early, and I think I was right,” Trump said.

Trump ordered all of the documents declassified on Sept. 17, 2018, but reversed course four days later.

Trump said at the time that he decided not to declassify the documents after meeting with the Justice Department.

“Everything’s going to be declassified and more, much more than what you just mentioned,” Trump told Hannity in his first on-camera interview since the release of the special counsel’s Russia report.

‘Hannity’ Exclusive: Trump says tables have turned in Russia probe

Full Interview: President Trump weighs in on new Strzok-Page texts, the FISA abuse scandal, and the origins behind the Russia investigation on ‘Hannity.


Maine legislators push to remove ‘he’ and ‘him’ from state’s laws and replaced with gender-neutral terms


Maine Gov. Janet Mills is shown here signing a bill Friday to establish Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Mills added Maine to the growing number of states changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. She also is supporting a push to make the wording of the state’s laws more gender-neutral. (AP)

Rep. Matt Moonen, a Democrat, says he wrote the bill after reading through laws and finding references to mostly male figures in positions of authority.

“The law still refers to the Governor as he, him (or) his, and I kept looking and was increasingly baffled, as I found more places where that is the case,” he said, according to News Center Maine.

Janet Mills was elected last year as the state’s first female governor. Mills and Maine’s first female chief justice, Leigh Saufley, endorsed the proposed changes during a state Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday.


Democratic 2020 Candidates Lag in Charity Donations, Tax Returns Show

With notable exceptions, most high-polling 2020 Democratic presidential candidates gave well below the U.S. average to charity in 2018, according to the deductions claimed on their tax returns.

While Americans give between 2 percent and 4 percent of their incomes on average, most candidates claimed charitable deductions of less than 2 percent of their total incomes.

Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker gave more than 2 percent of their total incomes, according to their returns.

Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman, gave the least, with donations of just $1,166 in 2017 or 0.31 percent of his income. O’Rourke hasn’t yet released his 2018

World News:


Cyprus police widen search after suspected serial killer admits he murdered more women


Firefighters and investigators search the man-made lake near the village of Mitsero outside of the capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, April 26, 2019. Cyprus police are intensifying a search for the remains of more victims at locations where an army officer who authorities say admitted to killing five women and two girls had dumped their bodies. (AP)

The count now has climbed to seven.

Authorities said they are focusing on a military firing range, a man-made lake and an abandoned mine about 20 miles west of the capital Nicosia.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades expressed “deep sorrow and concern” at the slayings and said he shared the public’s revulsion at “murders that appear to have selectively targeted foreign women who are in our country to work.”


Venezuela Opposition Lawmaker Arrested Ahead of Demonstration

Legislator Gilber Caro, 45, a member of Guaido’s Popular Will party, was detained by intelligence officials while eating in eastern Caracas, congresswoman Adriana Pichardo told broadcaster NTN24.

When asked why he was apprehended, Pichardo replied, “We don’t have the slightest idea.” Caro was previously jailed on charges of treason and weapons theft.

The latest arrest comes as Guaido, who says he’s the country’s rightful leader, is crisscrossing the nation calling on his countrymen to take to the streets against President Nicolas Maduro on May 1.

Since January, the 35-year-old lawmaker has led a drive to unseat Maduro, staging major protests and rallying world leaders to isolate the ruling socialists, as he attempts to invoke a constitutional provision to launch an interim government.


Facebook bans political ads from other countries to fight EU election interference

At a press briefing on Friday, Facebook officials said that in order to protect “the integrity of elections,” they would be cracking down on online advertising from being used for foreign interference.

All political advertisers in the EU now need to gain authorisation in the country where ads are being delivered.

In order to gain that authorisation, political groups in Europe will be required to submit documents for identity checks, explained Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice president of global policy solutions.

“We ask them to submit documents and we use technical checks to confirm their identity and location,” said Allan.

Commentary/Opinion:


Candidates See Land of the Free or of the Freeloader?

No candidate (yet) offers Xbox for All or free passes for Avengers: Endgame.

Presumably, politicians still regard some responsibilities as ones best borne by citizens.

But if one goes for a transactional politics in which candidates dangle goodies in exchange for votes, why not give the people what they really want?

Taken to this extreme, even dim people recognize this as demagoguery.

For politicians selling woof tickets to an impeachment that never happens based on the president’s nonexistent collusion with a foreign power, one expects such rabble-rousing.

Still, the current rabble-rousing represents a step-up from the gutter politics that dominated the first few years of the Trump presidency.

Sore losers who accuse victors of cheating cheat themselves out of lessons learned from introspection.

The various policy prescriptions bandied about, however wrongheaded, represent an attempt to present an alternative to, instead of merely boogey man stories about, the Trump presidency.

Donald Trump won the presidency by shifting blue-collar workers from the blue column to the red column.

He tapped into a pervasive feeling of unfairness involving trade deals, immigration policy, and expensive foreign crusaderism that collectively siphoned wealth from working Americans toward elites, foreigners, and government bureaucrats.

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