Trump fires FBI Director James Comey
1. FBI Director James Comey was fired from his position by President Donald Trump. The FBI director position is independent, non-partisan and supposed to be politically isolated. Any investigations launched by the department and run by the director are unbiased and fair. This is the second time in American history that an FBI director was fired. Trump said he was fired because of how he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server.
2. Comey was leading the investigation into Russia's involvement with the Trump presidential campaign and his White House staff. He reportedly asked for more resources in the investigation just days before he was fired from his position. Comey apparently learned the news from TV reports. Republicans are mostly supporting Trump's decision to fire Comey, but Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said the firing could lead to impeachment proceedings.
3. So, did Trump go too far in firing Comey?
Your Thoughts?Weigh In.
A dispute over whether the US government deported an undocumented immigrant with protected status reignited Wednesday after details about the case were released by the Department of Homeland Security. Lawyers for the man said their client was apprehended by Border Patrol and deported to Mexico on February 18. The Department of Homeland Security said on Wednesday that that had never happened. Lawyers for the deported man are also arguing in a lawsuit that he was deported despite having protected legal status under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This was a program enacted by executive order under President Obama. Trump has not dismantled it yet, but this action calls to question his support of the program.
Turkey referendum gives sweeping powers to president
1. Turkey's citizens voted in a national referendum to grant their president sweeping powers that could bring an end to democracy in the country. Voters cast ballots on an 18-article constitutional reform package that would change Turkey's parliamentary system into a powerful executive presidency. Under the new constitution, the position of prime minister would disappear, to be replaced by several vice presidents. The Turkish president would become the head executive and the head of state. And, most notably, the president alone will be able to declare a state of emergency and dismiss parliament.
2. The referendum passed with 51.4 percent of the vote. Turkey's current president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party have argued that the new constitution streamlines decision-making and avoids unwieldy parliamentary coalitions. They have argued that the current parliamentary system has been holding Turkey back. Citizens who voted in favor of the changes say they believe Turkey's future would be safer and more prosperous with President Erdogan and his new powers.
3. So, is the referendum granting too much power to Turkey's president?
Your Thoughts?Weigh In.
The United States dropped its biggest non-nuclear bomb, known as the "mother of all bombs," on ISIS positions in Afghanistan. The U.S. military has described it as a tactical move. The GBU-43/B Massive Ordinance Air Blast bomb was dropped Thursday night on a network of fortified underground tunnels that ISIS had been using to stage attacks on government forces. The strike killed 36 ISIS fighters, Afghan officials said. The bomb is GPS-guided and has the power to destroy an area equivalent to nine city blocks. The blast destroyed three underground tunnels as well as weapons and ammunition but no civilians were hurt, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.
The Justice Department announced Wednesday that two Russian intelligence agents and two other people were indicted on charges stemming from the hacking of at least half a billion Yahoo accounts. The defendants were able to gain information about "millions of subscribers" at Yahoo, Google and other webmail providers late last year, according to the Justice Department. The two Russian Federal Security Service agents Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin allegedly paid co-conspirators to access email accounts.
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits has hit a 44-year low. Claims for state unemployment benefits have dropped by 19,000. Only 223,000 people filed for benefits. This is the lowest this number has been since March 1973, according to the Labor Department. This is the 104th straight week where claims were below 300,000. The decreased number of Americans filing for benefits indicates a healthy labor market. This stronger labor market combined with rising inflation could push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates soon.
Mardi Gras got serious after a drunk driver drove into a parade crowd, injuring 28 people. According to New Orleans police, 25-year-old Neilson Rizzuto had three times the legal alcohol limit. He is being charged with two counts of first-degree vehicular negligence, one count of reckless operation and one count of hit-and-run driving. The youngest person to be injured is 3-years-old. Rizzuto's bail is set at $125,000.
J.C. Penny announced that it will close anywhere from 130 to 140 stores and two distribution centers over the next two months. The company is aiming to improve profitability in light of online shopping. The closures represent 13 to 14 percent of J.C. Penny's current store count, which is also less than 5 percent of total annual sales. The company said it would initiate a voluntary early retirement program for 6,000 eligible employees. J.C. Penny is looking for ways to increase sales while improving its e-commerce.
Thousands of businesses slowed down on A Day Without Immigrants, a protest in response to President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Several restaurants in the Pentagon, including Sbarros, Taco Bell, and Qdoba, closed their locations. Rick Bayless and Jose Andres closed their respective restaurants. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.7 percent of the workforce are foreign-born people working in the United States. An estimated 11.1 million undocumented immigrants lived in the United States in 2014. Forty percent of Forbes 500 companies were started by immigrants and 47 percent of the workforce expansion from 2004-2014 was due to immigrants.
Trump's national security adviser resigns
1. National security adviser Michael Flynn has resigned from his position in the Trump administration after Flynn offered potentially-illegal assurances to the Russian ambassador and gave false accounts of that conversation to White House officials. Russian lawmakers called Flynn's resignation the result of American paranoia toward Moscow and a campaign by Trump's opponents to damage relations between Russia and the United States.
2. However, House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz said his committee has no plans to investigate the conversations or how Flynn briefed White House officials about them. According to Chaffetz, further investigation falls to the House Intelligence Committee instead. But Intelligence Committee Chair David Nunes said his committee won't investigate either, citing executive privilege. This is a privilege that is usually claimed by the president as justification for withholding information that may be of public interest.
3. So should Congress investigate the circumstances leading to Flynn's resignation?
Your Thoughts?Weigh In.
About 188,000 residents in and near Oroville, California were forced to evacuate after a hole in an emergency spillway in the Oroville Dam threatened to flood the area. Highways were clogged leading out of the area Sunday night through early Monday. By early Monday, the water level in the man-made Lake Oroville had dropped to a point where water was no longer overflowing. Water flows over the emergency spillway at 901 feet. The level reached its peak at 902 feet early Sunday morning and dropped Monday to 898 feet. Northern California received 228 percent more than its normal rainfall for this time of year. The area's average rainfall of 50 inches per year has been broken with 68 inches just in the first month and a half of 2017.
The Northeast is expecting around 12 inches of snowfall. Many parts of the Northeast experienced unusually warm weather Wednesday, but temperatures are expected to drop quickly by Thursday morning. A snowstorm is expected to hit areas from Massachusetts to Washington, D.C. Some cities are expected to receive as much as 2 inches of snow per hour throughout the day. The snow isn't expected to stick at first, but as more and more of it falls, commuters can expect to face the snowfall during their morning drive Thursday morning.
Trump's immigration order causes confusion and disarray
1. On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries and an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees. This order followed through on one of Trump's controversial campaign promises to ban all Muslims from entering the country. Trump and Republicans claim that the order is meant to increase security and keep Americans safe.
2. The executive order caused confusion and protests at international arrival terminals around the country. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and many other Democratic lawmakers traveled to international airports over the weekend to join protesters. Opponents of the order said that the order violates the American principle of religious tolerance. Democrats also plan to introduce legislation that could potentially overturn Trump's executive order.
3. So, should the order stay in place?
Your Thoughts?Weigh In.
Prosecutors in New York said a traveler has been charged with hate crimes after verbally and physically assaulting a Muslim airline employee at John F. Kennedy International Airport Wednesday. Robin Rhodes, from Massachusetts, attacked a Delta employee who was wearing a hijab. The employee was working in the airport's Delta Sky Lounge. Prosecutors said Rhodes began shouting profanities at the woman, ranting about Islam and ISIS and then kicked her. He also prevented her from getting away. According to prosecutors, he said, “Trump is here now. He will get rid of all of you. You can ask Germany, Belgium and France about these kind of people. You will see what happens.”
President Donald Trump is preparing to issue executive orders that would allow the controversial Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines to move forward. This would have an immediate impact in North Dakota, where the last section of the Dakota Access pipeline is set to be laid down. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and other Native American groups has been protesting the pipeline, which they say would put their water supply in danger of contamination and disturb sacred burial and archaeological sites.
Trump pulls out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership
1. President Donald Trump has pulled the United States out of the hotly debated Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. This is a trade deal between the U.S. and 11 other nations in the Pacific Ocean. On the surface, this doesn't really change much. The TPP isn't law because Congress hasn't voted to ratify it. So the American economy won't be facing any changes any time soon. All this move does is ensure Trump has fulfilled a campaign promise.
2. While some democrats, including Bernie Sanders, support the move, others see Trump pulling out of the TPP has a signal that he will move on to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. And Trump announced he planned to do just that on Sunday. NAFTA has been in effect for many years and changes to that deal would ultimately affect the American (and world) economy. Many critics of both trade deals say they benefit corporations much more than the average worker.
3. So, should America stop participating in the global economy?
Your Thoughts?Weigh In.
In response to Donald Trump being sworn in as president, protests to the new administration have sprung up across the country. In Washington, D.C., demonstrators started throwing rocks and bottles at police — resulting in two police officers injured and 95 protestors arrested. In New York City, thousands of protestors flooded Columbus Circle, Broadway, and several blocks of Central Park West. These demonstrators were joined by celebrities including Robert De Niro and Cher. In Texas, University of Texas at Austin students staged a protest against President Trump. They marched along streets near the Texas capitol.
A Miami Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration was interrupted by gunfire that injured eight people, including five juveniles. An 11-year-old and a 13-year-old were grazed by bullets and were treated on the scene, the Miami Herald reported. Five other injured people were stable in the hospital. Another victim was in critical condition after suffering several gunshot wounds. Police said they recovered two firearms and took two people into custody for questioning, but not suspects were identified on Tuesday night.
For the first time in 11 years, the Sacramento River floodgates were opened Monday. Officials released water from the Folsom Lake reservoir and several others to prevent flooding. An impending storm is expected to bring 7 feet of snow in higher elevations to the state. By the end of the week, the total for the year could already be up to 20 feet. “We haven’t seen an event of this magnitude in at least a decade,” state climatologist Mike Anderson said to the Los Angeles Times.
Five people were killed and eight injured after a shooter opened fire at the Fort Lauderdale airport on January 6. Iraq veteran Esteban Santiago, 26, is the suspected shooter. Santiago checked a bag with a gun when he flew from Anchorage to Florida on a Delta Air Lines flight. He picked up his bag, went to the bathroom to load his gun and emerged shooting. After emptying magazines of bullets, he laid on the ground waiting for his arrest.
A Long Island Rail Road train crashed at Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal and came off the tracks Wednesday morning. The train was reportedly running late during rush hour. Around 103 people were injured in the crash and some were thrown from their seats. All injuries suffered were minor. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a press conference that the worst injury was a "possible" broken leg. Authorities are investigating why the operator failed to stop the train in time to prevent the crash.
A raise is always a great way to start the year. Minimum wages are slated to increase in 19 states. Massachusetts and Washington will increase to $11 per an hour— the highest minimum wage in the country. California is raising its wage to $10.50 for businesses with 26 or more employees. Wages are being raised regionally in New York State. Arizona, Maine, Colorado and Washington, Alaska, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio and South Dakota, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Michigan and Vermont are all raising wages. Wages are gradually being raised to $15 an hour.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he plans to repair relations with the United States under President Donald Trump. This comes after Putin threatened to dismiss American diplomats from Russia in response to President Barack Obama expelling 35 Russian intelligence operatives from the United States. Putin refraining from deporting American diplomats comes as somewhat of a surprise. Russian's foreign ministry had previously signaled that U.S. diplomats would be expelled from Moscow and St. Petersburg.
A stray backpack prompted a partial evacuation of Trump Tower Tuesday. Bomb squad technicians quickly discovered that the unattended bag was harmless, filled with children's toys. President-elect Donald Trump lives in the building and has offices there, but he was at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida when the bag was discovered. New York Police Department spokesman Stephen Davis said the bomb squad gave the "all clear" around 5 p.m. after examining the bag.
Eight disturbances were reported in shopping malls around the country on Monday — the day after Christmas. These reports spread quickly across social media as shoppers flocked to malls in search of post-holiday deals. Disturbances that led to some malls being evacuated occurred in Elizabeth, New Jersey; Fayetteville, North Carolina; East Garden City, New York; Aurora, Colorado; Tempe, Arizona; Beachwood Place, Cleveland; and Memphis, Tennesse. All injuries incurred were either minor or not life-threatening. Memphis police arrested seven people in connection with the incident. No one has confirmed what caused any incident, but there is some discussion of social media's role in the events.
The death toll for fireworks market explosion has reached 35 people. More than 100 people were injured or killed Tuesday in Tultepec, a town north of Mexico City, when fireworks simultaneously went off causing a series of explosions. The cause of the explosions has not been released. About 10 of the 300 fireworks stands are still intact. The San Pablito Market has experienced previous explosions.
Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov was killed after being shot in the back by an off-duty policeman Monday. Three others were injured when the gunman opened fire at a photo exhibit in the Turkish capital, Ankara. The gunman shouted “don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria,” “God is great! Those who pledged allegiance to Muhammad for jihad. God is great!” He was shot to death by policemen on site. Turkey and Russia have been at odds about Russian invovlement in the Syrian qar since they support opposing sides. Russia considers the assult a terrorist attack.
A chemical leak from an asphalt plant has contaminated the water supply in Corpus Christi, Texas. The city has warned residents not to drink or bathe in tap water. Even boiling the water will not make it safe. Residents are forced to purchase bottled water for drinking, cooking and bathing. The chemical that has leaked into the water supply is called Indulin. It is corrosive and can burn a person's skin if in concentrated amounts. It can also cause damage to internal organs if ingested. The chemical is classified as hazardous by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. City officials eased some restrictions on tap water use Friday while workers flushed water pipes to clear away any traces of the chemical.
More than 1 billion Yahoo accounts were breached in August 2013 according to the company. This data theft is different from the 500-million-account breach that Yahoo disclosed in September. The new 1-billion-account breach is now the largest on record. Information stolen includes names, email addresses, phone numbers, date of birth and hashed passwords. Payment, bank account, and credit information were not stolen. Yahoo shares fell 2 percent.
Edgar Maddison Welch fired an assault rifle multiple times inside a pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C. while he claimed to be investigating the internet conspiracy theory called "pizzagate." Welch hails from North Carolina and appeared in court in the District of Columbia Tuesday. He has been in jail since the December 4 shooting. No one was harmed. The restaurant, Comet Ping Pong, has been falsely rumored to be the host of a child sex trafficking ring run by Democrats. The conspiracy theory has been thoroughly debunked.
Five elementary students died and 12 students were hospitalized after a school bus accident in Chattanooga. The school bus driver, 24-year-old Johnthony K. Walker, was speeding before he swerved into an elevated driveway. Walker is charged with five counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment, and reckless driving. There were 37 students on board when the bus crashed.