In the News

News and Headlines. 2/21/2020

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

In The News:

AP Exclusive: DEA agent accused of conspiring with cartel

FILE - This June 13, 2016 file photo shows Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents in Florida. On Friday, Feb. 21, 2020,
FILE – This June 13, 2016 file photo shows Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents in Florida. On Friday, Feb. 21, 2020,the FBI arrested U.S. federal narcotics agent Jose Irizarry and his wife, Nathalia Gomez Irizarry,
(Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)

The FBI arrested Jose Irizarry and his wife, Nathalia Gomez-Irizarry, Friday at their home near San Juan, Puerto Rico, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the case.

In an indictment unsealed Friday, federal prosecutors in Tampa, Florida, accuse Irizarry of “secretly using his position and his special access to information” to divert millions in drug proceeds from DEA control.

The indictment was handed up a week after another former DEA agent was sentenced to four years in federal prison for his role in a decade long drug conspiracy that involved the smuggling of thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Puerto Rico to New York.

Judge sentences Houston woman to 50 years in teen’s human trafficking case

Photo: Harris County District Attorney's Office
Photo: Harris County District Attorney’s Office

Marilyn Joy Wilkes, 27, pleaded guilty last year to charges of sexual assault of a child under 17, human trafficking and compelling prostitution.

Prosecutors accused her of a monthlong pimping operation where she raped the teen, forced her to solicit strangers for sex in southwest Houston and made her see buyers at their homes or in a motel room on F.M. 1960.

When the girl refused to work, Wilkes would retaliate by punching her in the face, burning her with cigarettes and stomping on her head, according to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

Marrero man inappropriately touched girl, took her underwear and asked for nude photos, JPSO says

Craig Baudoin

Photo from JPSO
Craig BaudoinPhoto from JPSO

The girl told investigators Baudoin touched her, and forced her to kiss him and touch his genitals, authorities said.

Baudoin also convinced the girl to give him her underwear. In the weeks after, Baudoin sent the girl text messages seeking nude photographs, Rivarde said.

The girl’s father contacted police in San Antonio in June after he discovered Baudoin’s text messages on his daughter’s cell phone. Police there contacted the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, Rivarde said.

A detective obtained a warrant for Baudoin’s arrest on Dec. 19. The U.S. Marshals Service took him into custody Tuesday at a home in Marrero.

Mom of missing 15-month-old girl gave inaccurate information: Sheriff

If you see the vehicle or the child, call 1-800-TBI-FIND!
If you see the vehicle or the child, call 1-800-TBI-FIND!

Evelyn’s mother, Megan “Maggie” Boswell, who has full custody, is cooperating, but some information she’s given to investigators is not accurate, according to Cassidy.

“During our interviews, her stories aren’t leading up to stuff that we went out and checked on. Video surveillance, eye witness testimony,” he said at Friday’s news conference.

“A lot of her information hadn’t been accurate.”

Evelyn’s father, Ethan Perry, who is on active duty in the U.S. military, stationed in another state, has been cooperating, according to the sheriff.

Those who know about Evelyn’s whereabouts are believed to be driving a gray 2007 BMW with front-end damage, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) officials said. The car has the Tennessee license plate 3M9-6W9.

Jury in Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial deadlocked on 2 counts, sent back to deliberate

In a note sent to the judge during their lunch break, jurors posed a question asking if it were permissible for them to be hung on two counts of predatory sexual assault while reaching a unanimous verdict on other three charges.

After consulting with prosecutors and Weinstein’s lawyers, Judge James Burke told the jury of seven men and five women to keep working toward a unanimous verdict on all charges and sent them back to continue deliberating.

Weinstein’s lawyers said they would accept a partial verdict, but prosecutors declined, and Burke refused to do so.

Terrifying moment dangerous dog attacks 5-year-old girl outside church

Surveillance footage shows a dog attack a child in a Colorado Springs, Colo. church parking lot
Surveillance footage shows a dog attack a child in a Colorado Springs, Colo. church parking lot. (Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region)

The Humane Society released horrifying footage of a dog lunging at a young girl in a church parking lot to highlight “dangerous pets.”

Three adults jumped in to help get the dog off the girl, who reportedly sustained moderate puncture wounds to her left bicep and forearm, requiring immediate medical attention.

The owner, who was arrested and charged with unlawful ownership of a dangerous animal, euthanized the dog after the attack.

Authorities arrest 14-year-old gang member for allegedly carjacking and tying up victim in Rialto

The investigation revealed the victim was in Rialto the night before when he was approached by two suspects.

One suspect pointed a firearm at the victim and forced him to his silver Mercedes SUV, where they used his shoe laces to tie him up.

The suspects kidnapped the victim and drove him around while they attempted to withdraw money from various ATM machines.

Then the suspects drove the victim to a vacant residence in Highland, where they stripped him of his clothing and hogtied him before leaving.

A good Samaritan heard the victim yelling for assistance and entered the residence to untie him.

U.S. prepares for coronavirus pandemic, school and business closures: health officials

The United States has yet to see community spread of the virus that emerged in central China in late December.

But health authorities are preparing medical personnel for the risk, Nancy Messonnier, an official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told reporters on a conference call.

In coming weeks, if the virus begins to spread through U.S. communities, health authorities want to be ready to adopt school and business closures like those undertaken in Asian countries to contain the disease, Messonnier said.

The CDC is taking steps to ensure frontline U.S. healthcare workers have supplies they need, she added, by working with businesses, hospitals, pharmacies and provisions manufacturers and distributors on what they can do to get ready.

Teacher suspended after washing out student’s mouth with hand sanitizer

Six students told Palm Beach County school district officials that the teacher grabbed a bottle of hand sanitizer and pumped it into the student’s mouth, an investigative report said.

Duhart admitted to school investigators that she put the hand sanitizer near the student’s mouth but said that he grabbed the bottle and pumped it into his own mouth, the newspaper reported.

“I was really unaware that anything occurred until he left,” she told investigators. “He returned to the class and I allowed him to wash out his mouth.”

Police Body-Camera Footage Shows Shootout With Antisemitic Assailants at New Jersey Kosher Supermarket

A still image from police body-camera footage of the shootout at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, New Jersey, Dec. 10, 2019. Photo: Screenshot.
A still image from police body-camera footage of the shootout at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, New Jersey, Dec. 10, 2019. Photo: Screenshot.

Police body-camera footage emerged on Thursday showing part of the Dec. 10 exchange of fire with antisemitic shooters at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, New Jersey.

The perpetrators of the atrocity were David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50.

Anderson was described as a “one-time follower of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement,” and he had posted antisemitic and anti-police messages online in the past.

A police officer, Joseph Seals, was shot dead in a confrontation with the attackers before they arrived at the supermarket.

‘Predatory’ DC government issues record $1B in fines to drivers: report

STOCK - A traffic light and a surveillance camera.
STOCK – A traffic light and a surveillance camera. Washington, D.C. has used parking tickets, speed cameras and more to rack up over $1 billion in revenue from drivers over a three year period, according to WJLA. (iStock)

Regarding the stunning figure, AAA Mid-Atlantic public relations manager John Townsend told the WJLA that he has not seen another city treat drivers the way D.C. does.

“I don’t know another local jurisdiction in the entire nation that has generated as much money from traffic tickets, parking tickets and moving violations,” he said.

“That tells us that things are out of control and out of hand in the District of Columbia.”

Advertisements

Cross targeted by atheists will remain standing on Florida public property

The historic 34-foot cross stands in Bayview Park in Pensacola, Florida. (Becket)
The historic 34-foot cross stands in Bayview Park in Pensacola, Florida. (Becket)

The court ruled Wednesday that the Bayview Cross in Pensacola, which was built ahead of World War II as a place for the community to gather, does not violate the Constitution.

“The Supreme Court has now made clear that religious symbols are an important part of our nation’s history and culture,” Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, said in a statement.

The federal appeals court ruled the cross is constitutional, noting it has become “embedded in the fabric of the Pensacola community” and that removing it could “strike many as aggressively hostile to religion.”

Border protection officer, family found dead in Florida home in apparent murder-suicide, police say

A preliminary investigation gave officers grounds to enter the home, at which point they discovered four deceased people, including an adult male, an adult female and two juvenile boys–one middle school-age, and the other high school-age.

Mina identified the adult male only as a Customs and Border Protection officer assigned to Orlando International Airport. CBP called local authorities to check on the officer after not hearing from him for an undisclosed period of time.

Mina said that the male suspect appeared to have shot his family before turning the gun on himself in an apparent murder-suicide. He would not say how long the bodies had been inside the home.

Politics:

Maxine Waters: Crips and Bloods ‘in the Hood’ Have ‘More Integrity’ Than Trump

Waters said, “This guy is a street player. He’s a guy that has conned folks. He has flirted with gangsters.

I have worked in some of the toughest communities. I’ve worked with gangs, I’ve worked with Crips, I’ve worked with Bloods.

And there’s more integrity in many of these young people in the hood than this man has.”

US Ambassador: Proof That Trump’s Style Is Working (Pt.3)| Richard Grenell | POLITICS | Rubin Report

Commentary/Opinion:
Dave Rubin of The Rubin Report talks to Richard Grenell (US Ambassador to Germany) about what it’s like to be the US Ambassador to Germany under President Trump.

Richard details what he calls the Trump doctrine to foreign policy and whether or not it’s effective.

He gives numerous examples of international policies that Barack Obama could not get accomplished that Trump and his negotiation skills have successfully gotten done.

Richard also describes how an America first policy benefits us, but other nations as well. All this and more.

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom: ‘Doctors should be able to write prescriptions for housing’

“Doctors should be able to write prescriptions for housing the same way they do for insulin or antibiotics,” Newsom wrote on Twitter on Friday.

“We need to start targeting social determinants of health. We need to start treating brain health like we do physical health.

What’s more fundamental to a person’s well being than a roof over their head?”

“What’s the difference between that and a county jail?” Democratic state Sen. Jim Beall said, in expressing concern about that method.

Will 4 Mysterious ‘Spygate’ Figures Be Emerging Soon

While there is an exhaustive amount of publicly available information and evidence concerning the actions of most people involved in the creation of the false Trump-Russia collusion narrative, four important figures in the story still remain as elusive and mysterious as ever.

Two of these mysterious figures are academics who appear to have long been involved in intelligence work.

One is a still-serving FBI agent who appears to have played a key role in almost every major part of the agency’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation.

And one is still a top Department of Justice (DOJ) official, although he’s been demoted several times.

Warren Dumps Vow to Reject Super PACs, Cites Sexism

Source: AP Photo/Elise Amendola
Source: AP Photo/Elise Amendola

“Elizabeth rejects the help of Super PACs and would disavow any Super PAC formed to support her in the Democratic primary,” a hopeful statement posted to her campaign website vows.

But in light of disappointing results in early primaries and tumbling in national polls, the progressive Massachusetts senator is seeing things in a different light.

After blasting wealthy candidates for taking super PAC money during the Wednesday debate, Warren cited gender disparity among the 2020 field of Democrats as the reason to abandon her own principled stance on the subject.

Warren: Green New Deal Doesn’t Go ‘Far Enough’

“What I want to see us do is get off an oil economy, and not only for ourselves, but for the rest of the world,” Warren said during a CNN town hall event.

“I want to see us move entirely to green, and let me say on this, I not only support a Green New Deal, I don’t think it goes far enough,” she added.

“I also have a blue new deal cause we have got to be thinking about our oceans as well that we need to protect.”

RNC outpaces DNC January fundraising by staggering numbers

Commentary/Opinion:
RNC Senior Data Adviser and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh discusses Trump’s campaign and fundraising for the political parties and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s position reversal on accept super pac support.

Florida’s parental-consent-abortion bill headed to DeSantis’ desk

Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, listens to the debate Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020,
Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, listens to the debate Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, on her sponsored parental-consent-abortion bill during session in Tallahassee.
Steve Cannon / AP

Also as expected, House Democrats again staged a spirited opposition on the House floor, filing numerous amendments certain to be rejected during nearly three hours of debate that, when called to conclusion, induced applause from the 140-member body.

The House approved Senate Bill 404, sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, in a mostly partisan 75-43 vote. SB 404, which passed the Senate on Jan. 30 in a 23-17 vote, substituted its House companion, House Bill 265, filed by Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach.

The Florida Supreme Court struck down the state’s parental-consent law in 1989. Current state law requires parents only be notified if a minor daughter plans an abortion.

Republicans say Illinois schools held ‘hostage’ in governor’s budget plan

After Illinois state lawmakers toiled for years over changing the formula for how the state funds school districts, Republicans said Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposal to hold back millions unless voters approve a progressive income tax puts that in jeopardy.

Pritzker proposed his budget Wednesday. It called for spending $42 billion in state money, but $1.4 billion of that hinges on voters approving his proposed constitutional amendment for a progressive income tax.

Illinois has a flat income tax where every taxpayer pays the same flat rate of 4.95 percent, regardless of income. The progressive tax would change that to require higher earners to pay higher rates.

World News:

France: Macron Vows Crackdown on Political Islam

Macron speaks to the media in Mulhouse, on February 18, 2020, shortly before making the major policy speech in which he vowed to fight what he called "Islamist separatism."
Macron speaks to the media in Mulhouse, on February 18, 2020, shortly before making the major policy speech in which he vowed to fight what he called “Islamist separatism.” (Photo by Sebastien Bozon/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Macron also vowed to fight what he called “Islamist separatism” and to lead what he described as a “Republican reconquest” aimed at reasserting state control over Muslim ghettoes — so-called no-go zones (zones urbaines sensibles, sensitive urban zones) — in France.

Macron outlined a four-pronged strategy to combat Islamism in the country: 1) fight against foreign influences in schools and places of worship; 2) reorganize Muslim worship in France in accordance with the principles of secularism and French law; 3) fight against all manifestations of Islamist separatism and communitarianism; and 4) reassert state control over all parts of France.

Macron’s speech, which comes just weeks before municipal elections set for March 15 and 22, is part of an effort to elicit support from conservative voters.

The government has faced criticism over its lackluster efforts to promote Muslim integration in France, which is home to Europe’s largest Muslim population, estimated to number around 6 million, or 8 percent of the population.

South Korean Coronavirus Cases Explode After “Super Spreader” Event

After four largely uneventful weeks in which South Korea had confirmed just 30 cases, the number of cases has soared five fold in just three days, rising from 31 cases on Tuesday to 156 on Friday (local time), in what appears to be a very aggressive exponential increase.

Earlier in the day, officials said the city of Daegu was facing an “unprecedented crisis” after coronavirus infections that centred on a controversial “cult” church, linked to a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, surged over the past two days.

The city of 2.5 million people, which is two hours south of the capital Seoul, was turned into a ghost town after health officials said the bulk of country’s 31 new cases announced on Thursday were linked to a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus (and now another 39).

Brazil sends armed forces to north-east to quell violence from police strike

Hooded and masked police officers gather during a second day of police strike in Fortaleza, Ceará, in Brazil.
Hooded and masked police officers gather during a second day of police strike in Fortaleza, Ceará, in Brazil. Photograph: Jarbas Oliveira/EPA

The decision late on Thursday came after chaotic scenes in which a local senator was shot and wounded after he drove a digger at a picket line manned by masked police officers.

“To the people who are committing crimes,” Bolsonaro said, “they have to understand that the men in green are coming, and it’s going to get ugly.”

Military police strikes in Brazil are illegal – and often very bloody: a 2017 strike in Espírito Santo state saw more than 200 murders in three weeks.

According to the G1 news site, Ceará, a costal state of nearly 9 million people, recorded 51 homicides in 48 hours of the strike.

Nine of the state’s 43 military police barracks have been occupied by masked men.

Croatian singer faces criminal charges for ‘mocking’ national anthem

Josipa Lisac is known in Croatia for her idiosyncratic performances and fashion
Josipa Lisac is known in Croatia for her idiosyncratic performances and fashion

Her performance struck a different tone to the national anthem’s usual sombre, bombastic delivery.

But in a criminal complaint, Bosko Zupanovic alleges Josipa Lisac’s rendition was “not socially acceptable” and broke Croatian law.

Mr Zupanovic – who owns several businesses and a local website – alleges that Ms Lisac used “mocking articulations and tonalities” to ridicule the country.

“I don’t want media attention,” Mr Zupanovic told news outlet Index.hr. “I used my time to write this application because I considered that it was my civic duty.”

US, Taliban ‘reduction of violence’ will start tonight, official says

In this 2019 file photo, Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban's political office in Doha, speaks to the media in Moscow, Russia.
In this 2019 file photo, Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, speaks to the media in Moscow, Russia. (AP)

A senior U.S. State Department official told the Associated Press that after the seven-day period passes, the long-sought-after agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban will be approved at the end of the month in Doha, Qatar, paving the way for a withdrawal of U.S. troops.

“We are preparing for the signing to take place on February 29,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement issued Friday. “Intra-Afghan negotiations will start soon thereafter, and will build on this fundamental step to deliver a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire and the future political road map for Afghanistan. ‘’

Under the terms of the “reduction in violence” — which covers all of Afghanistan and also applies to Afghan forces — all sides have committed to end attacks for a seven-day period.

For the Taliban, that includes roadside bombings, suicide attacks and rocket strikes.

Iran Says Coronavirus Has Spread to Several Cities, Reports Two New Deaths

An Iraqi medical staff member checks a passenger’s temperature, amid the new coronavirus outbreak,
An Iraqi medical staff member checks a passenger’s temperature, amid the new coronavirus outbreak, upon her arrival to Shalamcha Border Crossing between Iraq and Iran, Feb. 20, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Essam al-Sudani.

Iran confirmed 13 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total in the country to 18, with four of the total having died.

“Based on existing reports, the spread of coronavirus started in Qom and with attention to people’s travels has now reached several cities in the country including Tehran, Babol, Arak, Isfahan, Rasht and other cities,” health ministry official Minou Mohrez said, according to the official IRNA news agency.

“It’s possible that it exists in all cities in Iran,” she said.

Ukrainians throw bricks at buses carrying coronavirus evacuees from China

Ukrainian riot police run to push protesters, who planned to stop buses carrying passengers evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan,
Ukrainian riot police run to push protesters, who planned to stop buses carrying passengers evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, outside Novi Sarzhany, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (AP)

Officials deplored the violence and the country’s health minister pledged to share evacuees’ quarantine for two weeks in a bid to reassure protesters who fear they’ll be infected.

Buses carrying evacuees were finally able to reach the designated place of quarantine after hours of clashes.

The masked evacuees, exhausted by the long journey, were peeking through bus windows as they drove slowly under a heavy police escort.

Stones shattered a window in one of the buses, but the evacuees appeared unhurt.

Commentary/Opinion:

Brent Bozell: On Media Bias, the Death of Local News, and the 30-Year Decline of the News Industry

Just how has the media industry changed over the last 30 years? Can media bias be empirically measured?

Despite the information revolution, how are people actually getting less information instead of more?
Why is local news no longer being covered?

And, how have social media and big tech transformed the media landscape and American politics?

In this episode, we’ll sit down with Brent Bozell, the founder and president of the Media Research Center, a conservative media watchdog that, by its own account, measures and identifies left-leaning bias.

Bozell is also the publisher of NewsBusters and CNSNews.com.