In the News

News and Headlines. 5/21/2019

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

In The News:

Maryland man who drives Batmobile replica ends up tracking down driver after hit-and-run

Bill Gibson, who drives a 1966 Batmobile replica,
Bill Gibson, who drives a 1966 Batmobile replica, tracked down a hit-and-run driver after they struck his vehicle over the weekend. (FOX5)

Gibson — who has tricked his car out with a bat phone, “rocket launchers” that have an actual flame appear and a projector that shows a bat symbol on the road at night — said he was stunned when he pulled over and the other driver sped up and took off.

“So I dial 911 and I’m chasing him,” he told FOX5. “I’m chasing him down and he pulled into a church parking lot.

He came out, got out of his car, looked at the car and tried to offer me money, which, of course, wasn’t going to happen.”

U.S. states cheer April income tax deluge but analysts urge caution

The Republican tax overhaul known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which took effect in 2018 and included a $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions, created a big unknown for budgets, particularly in high-tax states.

In California, where personal income taxes account for about 70% of the state’s general fund revenue, a year-over-year increase of 35.2% last month made up for lagging revenue from the tax in December and January, according to H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the state’s finance department.

The state earlier this month boosted the forecast for the tax in its next budget by $1.78 billion.

Taxes on wages and investment income are a top revenue source for states that collect them.

April is the most important revenue month due to the tax filing deadline and the tendency of taxpayers who owe money to wait until the last minute to pay.

While New York and other states challenge the constitutionality of the state and local tax deduction cap on constitutional grounds in federal court, their budgets are getting whipsawed.

New York State’s net personal tax revenue, which lagged December and January prior year’s collections by $5.28 billion, zoomed 57.4 percent higher last month to $9.21 billion from $5.85 billion a year ago.

The state projected the tax will bring in $380 million more in its budget for the fiscal year that began on April 1 than previously forecast.

John Walker Lindh, American ex-Taliban militant, set to walk free Thursday

"American Taliban" John Walker Lindh. (Spann family/AP)
“American Taliban” John Walker Lindh. (Spann family/AP)

John Walker Lindh, who is currently behind bars in Terre Haute, Indiana, is set to be discharged May 23, several years before he would complete the prescribed 20-year prison sentence he received for joining and supporting the Taliban.

The former Islamist fighter and enemy combatant, named “Detainee 001 in the war on terror,” was arrested in 2001, just months after the Sept. 11 attacks and the start of the war in Afghanistan, along with a group of Taliban fighters who were captured by U.S. forces.

In 2017, the National Counterterrorism Center, according to documents obtained by Foreign Policy, underscored that Lindh continued to “advocate for global jihad and write and translate violent extremist texts.”

When he leaves lockup, Lindh, according to court records viewed by the Washington Post, will need permission to obtain Internet-connected devices, will not be allowed to talk online in any language but English and will be barred from having a passport, among other restrictions.

Cops searching 3 states for ‘armed and dangerous’ person who ‘violently’ assaulted pregnant woman in Maryland

Police are searching for this person, who is considered “armed and dangerous.” (Maryland State Police)

The person, along with three others, “brandished handguns and violently assaulted a pregnant woman inside her apartment before fleeing the scene,” according to officials.

Investigators do not believe the attack was a random act of violence, and are searching throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware for the home invader.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Maryland State Police at 410-996-7814 or 410-996-7800.

Off-duty FDNY firefighter attacked by teens after defending elderly couple, cops say

The 38-year-old off-duty firefighter was traveling on East 86th St. in Manhattan at around 9:25 a.m. Saturday when he noticed six teens “harassing” an elderly couple, a spokesperson with the New York City Police Department told Fox News.

The man reportedly tried to intervene — and police say that’s when one unidentified member of the group punched the firefighter “with a closed fist,” knocking him to the ground.

The suspect then continued assaulting the man while he was down, officials said.

Drama in court as SC mother of 5 slain children sobs during ex-husband’s death penalty trial

Amber Jones cries
Amber Jones cries from the witness stand while being questioned by 11th Circuit deputy Solicitor Suzanne Mayes during the trial of her ex husband, Tim Jone. (The State via AP)

Her ex-husband, Timothy Jones Jr., is on trial for his life. He showed no emotion in footage of the trial being streamed from the Lexington County Courthouse.

Jones, 37, is charged with five counts of murder. His lawyers are trying to have him found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Prosecutors said Jones killed their 6-year-old son in a rage after the boy broke an outlet in their home near Lexington in August 2014.

Jones then strangled 8-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son with his hands and 2-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter with a belt, prosecutors said.

NPR style boss instructs staff on abortion terminology: ‘Babies are not babies until they are born’

NPR supervising senior standards and practices editor Mark Memmott published a “guidance reminder” last week about how the media organization should discuss abortion news on the heels of a new law in Georgia and legislation in Alabama.

“The term ‘unborn’ implies that there is a baby inside a pregnant woman, not a fetus. Babies are not babies until they are born.

They’re fetuses. Incorrectly calling a fetus a ‘baby’ or ‘the unborn’ is part of the strategy used by antiabortion groups to shift language/legality/public opinion,” Memmott wrote, crediting NPR colleague Joe Neel for the tidbit.

The “guidance reminder” raised the eyebrows of Media Research Center’s director of media analysis Tim Graham, who criticized Memmott for “instructing his taxpayer-funded staff” not to concede anything to people who don’t support abortion.

Judicial Watch Scores a Victory Over Antifa Organizer, Who is Also a Middle School Teacher

Yvette Felarca,
Antifa organizer and middle school teacher (!) Yvette Felarca,

Antifa organizer and middle school teacher (!) Yvette Felarca, in addition to two of her comrades, has been ordered by a federal judge to pay a total of $26,000 in legal fees.

The order came after Felarca filed a lawsuit against Judicial Watch and lost.

“Felarca is a prominent figure in By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), a group founded by the Marxist Revolutionary Workers League that protests conservative speaking engagements.

In 2016, Felarca and two of her allies were arrested and charged with several crimes, including felony assault, for inciting a riot in Sacramento. Earlier this year, Felarca was ordered to stand trial for assault.”

NORTH CAROLINA COMPANY FIGHTS FINES AND SUIT OVER FLYING ENORMOUS AMERICAN FLAG

Gander RV in Statesville, NC
Gander RV in Statesville, NC

Camping World flies a 40-by-80-foot flag outside of its Gander RV location in Statesville, North Carolina, as a way to honor military members and veterans.

The city, however, believes Camping World is violating codes that say a flag cannot be more than 25-by-40 feet if it is flown 100 feet from a highway, WSOC reported Monday.

Camping World, an outdoor supply and RV company, said it faces a $50 per day fine retroactive to Oct. 15, 2018.

Immigration:

ICE seeks custody of teen murder suspects for a second time

BALTIMORE – Following the recent arrest of two unlawfully present teens suspected in the violent murder of a young girl in Maryland, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers in Baltimore are again seeking to take custody of the illegal aliens through the ICE detainer process following the Prince George’s County Detention Center’s (PGCDC) failure to cooperate.

Josue Rafael Fuentes-Ponce and Joel Ernesto Escobar, both Salvadoran nationals, were previously arrested on May 11, 2018 when they were arrested by Prince George’s County Police Department (PGCPD) for attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, participation in gang activity, conspiracy to commit murder, attempted robbery, and other related charges.

ICE officers lodged a detainer with PGCDC, however both were released on an unknown date and time without notification to ICE.

On May 16, 2019, PGCPD arrested the same individuals and charged them with first-degree murder.

ICE officers have again lodged detainers with PGCDC and will again seek to take custody of these public safety threats pending the outcome of their criminal proceedings.

Tom Homan on death of teen migrant in US custody: When will Congress ‘wake up’ and act?

Speaking to hosts on “America’s Newsroom” on Tuesday morning, Homan said that Congress’ refusal to address loopholes in the immigration system has continued to put people in harm’s way.

“This isn’t just about enforcement of law but saving lives,” the Fox News contributor argued.

“As long as Congress won’t address the loopholes, people will be put in harm’s way.”

Homan also addressed the comments made by New York Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand, who said that should she be elected, her administration would not use the detention system at all for illegal immigrants.

ICE wants to transport 225,000 immigrants across US

Late afternoon on Tuesday, an official from the International Organization for Migration gives transportation instructions to the group of 32-men and three women at the Desayunador Salesiano Padre Chava shelter in Tijuana, Mexico that have volunteered to return back to their home countries. (Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)

About 90 percent of the immigrants are expected to travel by air. Some airlines, however, have refused to transport the unaccompanied minors.

The contractor must be “highly responsible” and treat all immigrants with “dignity and respect” over the course of the contract, the report stated.

The immigrants will be transported to the Office of Refugee Resettlement centers or family residential facilities throughout the nation.

“Sometimes the contractor will have to plan commercial or charter flights in a period of less than 24 hours,” the document stated, including “on-demand escort services.”

Up-close look at Border Patrol planes flying migrants from the southern border

These flights, operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for Border Patrol, are expected to become more regular as border numbers grow.

On Friday, around 100 migrants were flown from the Rio Grande Valley to San Diego for processing.

But the flights come at a price, to the tune of around $20,000 to $60,000 each — or, as ICE told CBS News, the equivalent of about $9,000 per hour.

“The goal is to get these individuals into a safe and secure environment as quickly as possible,” said Matthew Albence, the acting director of ICE.

He claims that the flights are the most efficient way to transport migrants to less crowded facilities for faster processing, because the numbers at the border are “so overwhelming.”

Deported Migrant Nearly Drowns Infant While Crossing Texas Border River

Photo: U.S. Border Patrol/Del Rio Sector

“Immigrants with children need to recognize the risk of drowning inherent to crossing the Rio Grande River and heed the warnings of our agents,” Del Rio Sector Acting Chief Patrol Agent Randy Davis said in a written statement.

“I am concerned for the families who continue to ignore the warnings and risk their lives and the lives of their children.”

Agents identified the man only as a 26-year-old Honduran national. Officials stated that immigration officers removed the man from the U.S. in 2016.

He now faces criminal charges for illegal re-entry after removal and could face up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.

Politics:

California lawmakers weigh budget proposals to cover health care for illegal immigrants

FILE: An Immigrants Day of Action rally in Sacramento, Calif. (AP)

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed $98 million a year to cover low-income illegal immigrants between the ages of 19 and 25, but the state Assembly’s bill would cover all illegal immigrants over the age of 19 living in California – a proposal that would cost an estimated $3.4 billion.

The proposal comes amid another measure California lawmakers are considering, which will require everyone in the state to purchase health insurance.

Those who refuse would have to pay a penalty.

Top Democrat’s wife may have gained ‘illegal private benefit’ from his committee activities

Rep. Elijah Cummings His wife, Maya Rockeymoore,
Rep. Elijah Cummings His wife, Maya Rockeymoore,

Cummings, 68, a Maryland Democrat, is chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. His wife, Maya Rockeymoore, 48, is the chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party and briefly ran in the state’s gubernatorial race last year.

Cummings was once heavily in debt — in part due to hefty child support payments to his first wife and two other women he had children with — but his financial situation has improved considerably over the past decade.

Cummings struggled with serious financial problems after joining Congress over 20 years ago.

His house was placed in foreclosure, at one point; he owed $30,000 in unpaid taxes to the IRS; and he was taken to court multiple times for thousands in unpaid debts. Cummings said his financial difficulties were due to his hefty child support payments

Since marrying Rockeymoore 11 years ago, Cummings’ financial outlook has improved considerably, according to financial disclosure reports and property records.

The couple currently owns two rental properties in Baltimore worth between $250,000 and $500,000 each, and last year they sold their three-bedroom Victorian row house in northwest Washington, D.C. for $896,000..

As committee chairman, Cummings, is embroiled in a legal battle to obtain President Trump’s tax returns.

Cummings recently subpoenaed Trump’s financial records, prompting the president to sue him in an effort to block the subpoena.

A charity run by the wife of Rep. Elijah Cummings received millions from special interest groups and corporations that had business before her husband’s committee and could have been used illegally, according to an IRS complaint filed by an ethics watchdog group.

The largest contributor to the nonprofit was the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is the charitable arm of pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, a company that is regulated by Cummings’s committee.

The foundation, which gave a total of $5.5 million to Rockeymoore’s consulting firm and $5.2 million to her nonprofit, ceased supporting her groups in 2017.

In recent months, Cummings has been a vocal opponent of Johnson & Johnson, targeting the company as part of the House Oversight Committee’s probe of drug price inflation.

Men Paid More Than Women in Kamala Harris’s Senate Office and Campaign

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 23: California Attorney General Kamala Harris speaks on stage during the Women in the World Summit held In New York on April 23, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images)

The policy proposal from Harris mandates large companies to obtain an “equal pay certification” by showing they are paying men and women equally.

Companies would be fined 1 percent of their daily profits for every 1 percent of a gender pay gap that exists, unless they could prove the gap could be explained by other factors, such as experience or performance.

Analysis found men were paid a higher median salary than women both in Harris’s Senate office and on her campaign.

In her Senate office’s most recent six-month disclosure, covering the period from April 1, 2018, through Sept. 31, 2018, the median male salary disbursement was $34,999 and the median female salary disbursement was $32,999, leaving women with just 94 cents of every dollar paid to men.

The gender pay gap for the previous six-month period, during which the median male salary was $27,167 and the median female salary was $25,749.97, was a nearly identical 6 percent.

The pay gap was even greater during the first full month of Harris’s presidential campaign in February—the median female salary disbursement for the month, $5,763.97, was about 87 percent of the median male salary disbursement, $6,632.23, a further analysis of her campaign filing found.

Collins tears into House Democrats after McGahn skips hearing

The ranking Republican on the House Judiciary committee accused his Democratic colleagues of ‘tearing at the fabric of Congressional oversight.’

Collins specifically called out Chairman Nadler for wanting a ‘fight’ over the truth.

James Comey, Loretta Lynch ‘turning on each other’ amid probe of Russia investigation’s origins: Huckabee

On “America’s Newsroom” Tuesday, Huckabee reacted to the news that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch accused ex-FBI Director James Comey of mischaracterizing her statements while being under oath.

Lynch testified that Comey’s claim that she privately instructed him to call the Hillary Clinton email probe a “matter” instead of an “investigation” left her “quite surprised.”

She made the dramatic remarks at a joint closed-door session of the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees last December.

A transcript of her testimony was released on Monday by House Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins, R-Ga.

LAWSUIT SEEKS ‘CHART OF THE STATUTORY VIOLATIONS’ BY HILLARY CLINTON

“Judicial Watch will continue to press for the chart the FBI has been hiding which details possible violations of law by Hillary Clinton,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said Tuesday.

Judicial Watch said it has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Justice Department for “draft copies of FBI charts containing information on potential ‘statutory violations’ committed by Hillary Clinton in the former secretary of state’s use of a non-secure, non-government email server to conduct government business.”

“Judicial Watch is also suing for draft copies of talking points prepared by the FBI for its officials to use following then-Director James Comey’s July 2016 press conference during which he recommended against prosecuting Clinton for mishandling classified information,” Judicial Watch said.

The Origins of ‘Spygate’: 10 Questions

News that Attorney General William Barr appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham to examine the origins of the Trump–Russia collusion investigations has sent shockwaves across Washington.

Simultaneously, it was reported that Barr is working with the directors of the CIA, the FBI, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to review the intelligence-gathering techniques used to investigate President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The announcements are significant given the amount of information already known, much of which points to irregularities in the investigations and a severe bias.

Ocasio-Cortez says it’s time to ‘move forward’ with Trump impeachment

The freshman New Yorker issued the call to arms to members of her party shortly after White House Counsel Don McGahn defied a subpoena and skipped a committee hearing at Trump’s direction.

The move infuriated Democrats and touched off what could be another high-profile battle over holding a Trump official in contempt of Congress.

“Let me be clear, this committee will hear Mr. McGahn’s testimony, even if we have to go to court to secure it,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y, said at the beginning of the hearing which McGahn did not attend.

World News:

Shanahan: Iranian threats ‘on hold’ thanks to U.S. actions

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan,
Senior national security officials, including Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, are scheduled to brief both houses of Congress on the Iran threat intelligence in closed sessions Tuesday afternoon. | Jacquelyn Martin/Patrick Shanahan

“We have put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans” by Iran or its allies, he told reporters at the Pentagon.

“I just hope Iran is listening,” Shanahan added. “We’re in the region to address many things but it is not to go to a war with Iran.”

He later added that the threats from Iran and its proxies haven’t been eliminated.

“There haven’t been any attacks on Americans. I would consider that a hold,” he said.

“That doesn’t mean that the threats that we’ve previously identified have gone away. Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate.

I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region.”

Seeking Brexit support, May offers vote on new referendum

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May delivers a speech in London, Tuesday, May 21, 2019. The British government is discussing how to tweak its proposed European Union divorce terms in a last-ditch attempt to get Parliament’s backing for Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal with the bloc. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, pool)

In a speech Tuesday, May said the bill would include “a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum” that would give Britons a chance to approve or reject the terms of Brexit.

A referendum is a key demand of opposition lawmakers who have until now rejected May’s deal.

“I do not believe that this is a route we should take,” said May, who has long opposed a new public vote on Brexit. “But I recognize the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue.”

The Brexit referendum, however, will only happen if Parliament backs the EU withdrawal bill and it becomes law, something that still seems unlikely, despite May’s last-minute changes.

Canada delegation pressing China on detained Canadians

Adam Austen, a spokesman for Canada’s foreign minister, said Tuesday that lawmaker Rob Oliphant is in China as part of a Parliament delegation that often visits there and that Oliphant has “raised Canada’s strong concerns regarding the arbitrary detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor during his meetings with Chinese government officials.”

China detained Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Spavor, an entrepreneur, in apparent retaliation for the arrest of a Chinese tech executive who is facing fraud charges in the U.S.

Canada arrested Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou Dec 1. Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, is out on bail awaiting extradition hearings and living in her two Vancouver mansions.

Liverpool Welcomes Tommy Robinson

Tech Watch:

Google AI detected lung cancer better than radiologists, study shows

A radiology technologist looks at a CT scan
A radiology technologist looks at a CT scan of a lung with a tumor at the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center in San Francisco. (Getty Images)

The tech giant trained the algorithm on 42,000 patient CT scans taken during a National Institutes of Health clinical trial and managed to outperform six radiologists in determining whether patients had cancer, according to a study published in Nature Medicine.

The AI was able to detect 5 percent more cancers and cut false positives – that is, when cancer is suspected but a nodule is actually innocuous – by 11 percent from reviewing a single scan, the study says.

Artificial intelligence has long been posited as a way to potentially improve screenings and allow doctors to pinpoint a range of malignant tumors with far more accuracy.

However, Google’s system will need to undergo more rigorous testing before it could be put into medical practice.

Since the study was limited to patients who had already been treated, it is not known whether the system would result in better outcomes when used on new patients.

REPUBLICAN GOOGLE ENGINEER WRITES OPEN LETTER ABOUT COMPANY’S ‘OUTRAGE MOBS’ AND ‘WITCH HUNTS’

The open letter, published Tuesday morning on Medium, was written by software engineer Mike Wacker, who was reported himself multiple times via the company’s anonymous reporting tools.

“If left unchecked,” Wacker wrote, “these outrage mobs will hunt down any conservative, any Christian, and any independent free thinker at Google who does not bow down to their agenda.”

In one case, Wacker describes a fellow Republican employee who was reported for saying nice things about the University of Toronto academic Jordan Peterson.

He was given a note in writing that said, “One Googler raised a concern that you that you appeared to be promoting and defending Jordan Peterson’s comments about transgender pronouns, and this made them feel unsafe at work.”

Scammers use Facebook to trick people into thinking they accidentally donated money to ISIS

According to a new warning from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General, the scammers make contact through a messaging app or even Words with Friends and sometimes fake a romantic interest.

Eventually, the scammer makes up a story about financial hardship and asks for money.

The day after the victim sends the money, they receive a phone call from the fraudster who poses as a law enforcement official — often spoofing the caller ID of a legitimate agency such as DHS.

The federal warning reminds Americans that public law enforcement numbers
can be subject to spoofing.

Instagram: Facebook probes breach of millions of influencer accounts

GETTY IMAGES

TechCrunch, which broke the story, said it included personal information such as email and phone numbers of high profile users known as “influencers”.

The TechCrunch report said the data also included information such as the location of users.

The database itself was stored on an Amazon server and was not protected with a password. An Indian researcher who discovered it had alerted TechCrunch to it.

EXCLUSIVE: More Names on FACEBOOK ‘Hate Agents’ List Revealed, Including Brigitte Gabriel

Lebanese-American conservative author and terrorism expert Brigitte Gabriel
Lebanese-American conservative author and terrorism expert Brigitte Gabriel (ACT for America)

Breitbart News exposed the existence of the “Hate Agents” list last week, after a Facebook insider leaked a partial screenshot showing black conservative leader Candace Owens was also on the list.

The insider, who leaked the information to Breitbart, also shared a partial image of the list.

Following the leak, Facebook admitted that the list exists, but stressed that Owens had not yet been investigated.

More names and details about the list have since been leaked to Breitbart. Copies of the list obtained by concerned Facebook employees appear to have been updated in April, before the recent round of high-profile bans.

The list, an excel spreadsheet, features mostly right-wing figures and some left-wingers, along with examples of “signals” that suggest the individuals might be “hate agents.”

Navy plans to shoot nuclear missile from new Columbia-class sub

An unarmed Trident II D5 missile launches from the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Rhode Island
File photo – An unarmed Trident II D5 missile launches from the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740) off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida, May 9, 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by John Kowalski/Released)

The Navy is preparing to shoot its Trident II D5 nuclear missile from its emerging new Columbia-class submarine as part of a plan to launch the boat’s first patrol ahead of schedule in the late 2020s.

The new boat’s first patrol, which had been slated to launch in 2031, is now on track for 2027, Rucker explained.

While the test-shot will, of course, involve an unarmed missile, it will function as a critical step in preparing the nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine for decades of undersea strategic deterrence.

Rucker said the Navy is now building a special system in Cape Canaveral, Fla., to test the missile systems which will be ready as soon as next year.

Commentary/Opinion:

Tucker: Gillibrand thinks immigrants are better than you

2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand speaks out on immigration and illegal immigrants.