News and Headlines: In The News, Politics, World News, Commentary/Opinion.
In The News:
Just over 90 percent of Virginia’s counties have already passed resolutions designating themselves Second Amendment “sanctuaries,” since Democratic lawmakers won control of the state’s legislature on Nov. 5 and have vowed to bring strict gun control to the state.
Some 86 of Virginia’s 95 counties have adopted language intended to deprioritize the enforcement of new gun laws, according to the Washington Examiner.
Another 15 cities and towns have also brought up their own sanctuary language, in anticipation of new gun laws proposed by the Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and the newly Democratic majority set to take control in 2020.
Nikki Kuhnhausen, 17, was last seen alive on June 6 when she left the house with a man she had reportedly met the night before, according to Vancouver police Lt. Tom Ryan.
Her mother reported her missing in June, Ryan said.
David Bogdanov — a 25-year-old who was arrested Tuesday for second-degree murder — spoke to police and confirmed he did pick the 17-year-old up, said Ryan.
“David and Nikki went to a residence in the county, and at this time David says Nikki told him that she was biologically male,” Ryan said at a press conference.
“Bogdanov gave a statement [to police] that that [comment from Kuhnhausen] made him really, really uncomfortable and disturbed him.
A suspect stabbed multiple victims, one fatally, at a Wells Fargo bank in a shopping center in Oregon on Wednesday morning, according to the Beaverton Police Department.
The suspect stabbed the victims at a bank in the Murray Hill neighborhood of Beaverton, less than 10 miles outside Portland. Officers said there were three victims.
The suspect stole a car and drove away before being captured by police in a residential neighborhood a few miles away, according to Fox 12 Oregon.
Dec. 18 (UPI) — An Illinois judge sentenced two men to decades in prison Wednesday for the shooting death of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee nearly four years ago.
The gunman, Dwright Boone-Doty, 25, will serve 90 years in prison while his accomplice, Corey Morgan, 31, will serve 65 years in prison.
Juries found the two men guilty in October of first-degree murder charges for killing Tyshawn in a Chicago alley in November 2015. Prosecutors said Boone-Doty lured the boy into the alley and shot him as Corey Morgan stood by.
The Supreme Court has agreed to consider how much protection church schools have from government intervention when it comes to choosing teachers for its religion classes.
The top court agreed on Wednesday to weigh in on two religious school employment cases where two Californian Catholic elementary schools were sued for job discrimination when they did not renew the teachers’ contracts. The court has consolidated the two cases.
It will be the second religious school case to test the boundaries for the separation of church and state in the court this term.
The Supreme Court has already agreed to hear another dispute on the legality of a Montana law that bars religious schools from receiving scholarships funded by public money.
New York Judge Maxwell Wiley ruled that state law precludes prosecution because the case state prosecutors brought forward was too similar to one that led to convictions against Manafort.
“The law of double jeopardy in New York state,” he said, “provides very narrow exceptions for prosecution. The indictment is dismissed.”
Prosecutors accused Manafort of mortgage fraud, admitting earlier in the year that the charge was similar.
“The People’s prosecution is exactly the type of prosecution that New York’s double jeopardy statute explicitly permits: a successive prosecution where the harms caused to New York were not redressed by the prior prosecution,” they wrote in court papers filed in October.
Todd Blanche, Manafort’s attorney, who had argued that the case should be dropped because of double jeopardy laws, said in a statement after Wiley’s ruling: “We have said since the day this indictment was made public that it was politically motivated and violated New York’s statutory double jeopardy law.”
Social Security’s total costs will exceed income in 2020 for the first time since 1982, the latest report from the publicly funded retirement program’s trustees projects.
Without policy changes, costs are expected to exceed income every year thereafter, trustees warn.
“The Trustees recommend that lawmakers address the projected trust fund shortfalls in a timely way in order to phase in necessary changes gradually and give workers and beneficiaries time to adjust to them …,” according to the report.
“With informed discussion, creative thinking, and timely legislative action, Social Security can continue to protect future generations.”
About 45 million retired workers currently receive Social Security benefits, as do about 22 million disabled workers and survivors of workers who have died.
BALTIMORE (WBFF) — Maryland U.S. Attorney will be joined by Federal, State, and Local Law enforcement officials to announce surge if law enforcement to address persistent violent crime in Baltimore at a press conference this morning.
Attorney General William P. Barr and leadership from four Department of Justice law enforcement agencies will announce a new initiative to reduce violent crime at a press conference at 2:30 p.m. today.
Following the Attorney General’s announcement, at 3:30 p.m. the U.S. Attorney along with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials will have a press conference to discuss Baltimore’s participation in the new program and other violence reduction initiatives.
In July 2017, Atavist Magazine, a long-form journalism website, was preparing to publish a piece by David Mark Simpson about Steve Farzam. Farzam is a member of the prominent Farzam hotel family and a top executive at the luxury Shore Hotel — a Santa Monica icon overlooking the Pacific Coast Highway.
The article was an exposé detailing Farzam’s previously untold history of reckless, sometimes criminal behavior. It included law enforcement allegations that Farzam ilegally possessed and trafficked automatic weapons and impersonated FBI officers.
It also included information from Farzam’s 2015 criminal case, where he was charged with 77 counts and pleaded to unauthorized computer access, impersonation of an FBI agent, and possession of an assault rifle….
Barr sat down with Martha MacCallum as the House of Representatives was debating two articles of impeachment ahead of an expected floor vote.
The top law enforcement officer noted that the Constitution specifically includes a high standard for impeachment, and said he does not believe the allegations against President Trump meet that standard.
“The articles of impeachment here do not allege a violation of law, and it looks as if it’s going to be along partisan lines — I think — you know, I’m concerned about it being trivialized and used as a political tool.”
Barr also addressed comments made by Comey in the wake of Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz’s report and subsequent testimony regarding the FBI’s conduct during the Russia probe.
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Wednesday left the door open to the possibility that political bias played a role when FBI officials launched a probe—codenamed Crossfire Hurricane—into a Trump campaign aide in 2016.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the head of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, questioned Horowitz about his probe into the FBI’s FISA application to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page for as long as a year.
Johnson noted that Horowitz’s report found that Bill Priestap, the former FBI assistant director of counterintelligence, didn’t show any political bias when he opened the investigation. He said Horowitz, however, found evidence of political bias during his yearslong investigation.
“We found through the text messages evidence of people’s political bias, correct,” the inspector general told the panel.
Rep Ken Buck, House Judiciary Committee, cites a number of Democrats who abused power to undermine democracy and win elections, but none were impeached.
A new poll released hours before the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives was poised to impeach President Trump indicates that by a slight 51-45 percent majority, Americans oppose removing the president from office.
The survey – released Wednesday morning by Gallup – also points to a drop in support for impeachment from October, when the inquiry into Trump got underway.
At that time, according to Gallup, Americans supported impeachment by a 52-46 margin.
And the poll, which was conducted Dec. 2-15, indicates that the Republican incumbent’s approval rating has edged up the past two months – from 39 percent in October to 45 percent now – as the House held blockbuster public hearings.
Rep. Steve King EVISCERATES Democrats and Joe Biden on Criminal Actions in Ukraine.
The Trump campaign is renewing a furious attack against vulnerable Democratic lawmakers and party leaders who vote for impeachment.
The campaign is also targeting Democratic leaders such as House Judiciary Committee Jerrold L. Nadler of New York, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff of California, with real-time fact-checking online during the impeachment debate in the House.
The War Room also went after Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas.
“Democrats are preparing to make the biggest mistake in American history because they can’t get past their blind hatred of President Trump,” said campaign spokeswoman Erin Perrine ahead of the impeachment vote.
“Team Trump will hold Democrats accountable for every lie they make today and voters will hold them accountable in November 2020.”
DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz explained the new investigation into how the bureau handles the FISA process in its other cases during a Wednesday hearing in front of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee focused on last week’s FISA report.
“The concern is that this is such a high-profile, important case.
If it happened here, is this indicative of a wider problem — and we will only know that when we complete our audit — or is it isolated to this event?” Horowitz said.
“Obviously, we need to do the work to understand that.”
Commentary/Opinion: Quid Pro Joe needs to be investigated.
The President wouldn’t be doing his job if we don’t follow the evidence.
Watch this video if you want proof that Joe Biden and the Democratic talking points are flat out wrong.
Dec. 18 (UPI) — South Korea could send a guided missile destroyer warship to the Middle East as the United States calls on security partners to step up joint defense of a key oil-shipping route.
The 4,400-ton Wang Geon is scheduled to leave South Korea for a mission in the Gulf of Aden. Its role in defending the Strait of Hormuz cannot be ruled out, South Korean newspaper Seoul Shinmun reported Wednesday.
A Seoul government official told the paper discussions for “various deployment plans” are under way, and that no plans have been finalized.
Dec. 18 (UPI) — British grocery store chain announced a recall of Heinz By Nature baby food jars after metal fragments were discovered in a jar.
Britain’s Food Standards Agency said Tuesday it appeared a single jar of the baby food had been tampered with.
The recall affects Heinz By Nature baby food in the 7-plus month range sold at Tesco stores. The same products at other retail locations are not affected.
Heinz recommends customers don’t feed affected products to their children. They advise customers to return the products to the Tesco store for a full refund.
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said that the Global Forum on Refugees had broadened responsibility-sharing for 25.9 million refugees who have fled war and persecution, mainly exiled in poor neighboring countries.
Grandi told a final news conference that the $3 billion was in addition to the World Bank and other pledges. The private sector pledged $250 million, but all the figures were preliminary, Grandi said.
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump said in September that it planned to allow only 18,000 refugees to resettle in the United States in the 2020 fiscal year, the lowest number in the history of the modern refugee program.
A woman was arrested by Greek police on Wednesday after allegedly abandoning a baby boy in a dumpster, and stands accused of attempted infanticide, authorities said.
The woman, 24, is believed to be the child’s mother and left her son in a garbage dumpster for several days before he was discovered by a bystander, according to The Associated Press.
The bystander was outside feeding stray cats when she heard the newborn crying. She called the police, who arrived on the scene and rescued the infant.
According to media reports in the UK, the driver used “excessive” amounts of an aerosol-based air freshener before lighting up a cigarette.
The man was able to escape the subsequent explosion without major injuries, but the same can’t be said of the car.
When the gas from the spray air freshener ignited it blew out the rear windshield and car windows and caused the doors to buckle.
Police told the press the accident, which occurred while the car wasn’t in motion, could have been much worse.
LONDON (AP) — Britain’s competition watchdog on Wednesday signaled its willingness to push for stricter rules to counter Google and Facebook ‘s dominance of online advertising.
The Competition and Markets Authority said in an interim report it’s concerned that the U.S. tech giants have become “entrenched” players in the U.K.’s 13 billion pound ($17 billion) digital advertising market, with “negative consequences” for the people and businesses that use them.
Google’s 6 billion pounds in search advertising revenue last year accounted for more than 90% of the U.K. total, while Facebook’s 2 billion pounds in display ad revenue was equivalent to almost half the U.K. total.
The study, published Tuesday in The Conversation, examined the impact of the UN’s long-running Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which ran from 2004 to 2017.
Researchers from Birmingham University and Queen’s University, Ontario, interviewed more than 2,500 Haitians for the study, of which 265 subjects – or about 10 percent – told stories of children fathered by UN personnel.
It said “girls as young as 11 were sexually abused and impregnated by peacekeepers and … ‘left in misery’ to raise their children alone.”
1) The Israeli military concluded a wide-scale exercise in its northern Command, along the border with Lebanon and Syria – as part of continued efforts by the IDF to prepare the Jewish State for a multi-front war.
2) Nation-wide unrest is seemingly escalating in Israel’s northern neighbor, Lebanon – with clashes reported across numerous cities and towns.
3) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for the resettlement of one million Syrian refugees, out of the 3.7 million currently hosted by his country, in a “safe zone” that was established by the Turkish military in the northern part of Syria.
Oh my! See what happened when Will Witt asked Americans if they know our National Anthem. 🤔😅 (Do you know it?)