Saturday, February 24, 2018

US men's curling team accidentally given women's gold medals

0

There was a little bit of confusion during the medal ceremony for Men’s Olympic Curling on Saturday at the Pyeongchang Games.

After the victorious American teammates took their place on the top step of the podium and gold medals were draped around their necks, they noticed they’d received the awards engraved for the women’s winners.

US WINTER OLYMPIC 2018 MEDAL WINNERS

Only Joe Polo, the team’s alternate, received the correct men’s medal, WNBC reported.

No sweat, though. The mixup was quickly fixed and the men got the appropriate medals they deserved.

United States's skip John Shuster puts his hands near his gold medal after winning the men's final curling match against Sweden at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

The United States’ John Shuster puts his hands near his gold medal after winning the men’s final curling match against Sweden at the 2018 Winter Olympics on Saturday.  (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Making light of the gaffe with a positive attitude, athlete John Schuster simply said, “A gold medal in curling is a gold medal in curling.”

Schuster, along with teammates Tyler George, Matt Hamilton, John Landsteiner and Polo, clinched the top prize in a 10-7 win over Sweden, scoring the underdog Americans their first-ever gold medal in men’s curling.

IVANKA TRUMP FLEW COMMERCIAL TO THE OLYMPICS

Sweden, the reigning world champion, finished second for silver, and Canada placed third, scoring bronze.

White House senior adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump was in the arena for the curling final, cheering on the American squad. She’ll be leading the U.S. delegation at the Olympics closing ceremony on Sunday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Democrats' FISA memo rebuttal: What's under those black bars?

0

The House Intelligence Committee on Saturday released the Democratic rebuttal to a GOP memo that outlined alleged government surveillance abuses during the 2016 presidential campaign. And that rebuttal came with heavy redactions.

The Democratic memo was voted out of committee earlier this month but was redrafted after the White House demanded that sensitive information be stripped out before the document was made public. The Justice Department and the FBI claimed the initial draft would reveal information about sources and methods, ongoing investigations, and other sensitive information.

DEMS’ REBUTTAL TO GOP FISA MEMO IS RELEASED; TRUMP DEEMS IT A ‘BUST’

That 10-page memo was significantly redacted, and left readers with a mystery to ponder: What’s under the black bars blocking sometime-lengthy segments of text.

The majority of redactions appear to be related to intelligence about Russian activities, particularly in regard to contacts that former Trump adviser Carter Page had with Russian-linked individuals. Republicans claim that in seeking a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against Page, the DOJ and the FBI abused the process by omitting information about the political motivations and funding behind an anti-Trump dossier the agencies purportedly relied on in pursuit of that warrant.

One section that has multiple redactions is under the heading of “Page’s connections to Russian Government and Intelligence Officials.” Segments redacted include what Page had an “extensive record” of doing before he joined the Trump campaign. It also redacts the details of a Russian intelligence officer’s alleged targeting of Page for recruitment.

One lengthy redaction relates to another Trump aide, George Papadopoulos, who had a conversation with individuals linked to Russia in April 2016. The information those individuals passed to Papadopoulos is redacted, but the memo says that it was that information which led the FBI to initiate a counterintelligence investigation in July 2016.

A line in the same paragraph gives some indication as to the redacted information by saying that the committee would later learn “that the information the Russians could assist by anonymously releasing were thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails.”

In another section, it redacts the name of an FBI agent, as well as appearing to redact the number and name of individuals into whom the FBI had opened sub-inquiries. It also redacts information related to compensation that the FBI considered giving to dossier author and former British spy Christopher Steele.

Perhaps most significantly, in the process of countering the Republican claim that the DOJ relied on the anti-Trump dossier for its FISA warrant, the Democratic rebuttal outlines “additional information obtained through multiple independent sources that corroborated Steele’s reporting. It then provides three bullet-pointed paragraphs, almost all of which are redacted.

While Democrats claimed that the memo undermines many of the claims in the GOP memo, Republicans were quick to dismiss the Democrats’ memo — even issuing their own lengthy rebuttal to the rebuttal.

President Trump, meanwhile, took to Twitter to declare it a “total political and legal BUST.”

Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for FoxNews.com. He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.

Texas high school teacher on administrative leave after recording student fight

0

A Texas high school teacher has reportedly been placed on administrative leave after allegedly recording a fight between two students instead of intervening.

Cody Cunningham, a spokesman for McKinney Independent School District, confirmed to WFAA that a fight seen in the video did in fact take place at McKinney High School on Wednesday and that the teacher involved has been place on administrative leave while an investigation is conducted.

In the video, recorded on Snapchat and shared by thousands via Twitter, the unidentified teacher can reportedly be seen laughing while recording two students fighting inside a classroom.

“McKinney ISD cannot discuss personnel matters in detail, but has taken swift and appropriate action in accordance with district policies,” Cunningham told the news outlet.

He added that it is district policy to “make every attempt to stop, or at a minimum de-escalate, any altercation between students,” WFAA reported.

“This type of behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in McKinney ISD.”

Dems' rebuttal to GOP FISA memo is released; Trump deems it a 'bust'

0

President Trump on Saturday dismissed a Democratic rebuttal to the GOP memo outlining government surveillance abuses in the 2016 campaign as a “total political and legal bust,” claiming that it only confirms the ”terrible things” that were done by the nation’s intelligence agencies.

The rebuttal, written by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, concluded that officials at the FBI and Justice Department “did not abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign.”

Democrats sought to counter claims made in a Republican memo released this month that the FBI and DOJ relied on a Democrat-funded anti-Trump dossier to ask the FISA court for a warrant to monitor Trump adviser Carter Page. Democrats have claimed that the Republican memo leaves out important information.

But Trump was unimpressed by the 10-page memo.

Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff, D-Calif., countered, saying it confirmed the FBI had in fact acted appropriately.

Republicans had found that the DOJ and FBI left out the Democratic National Committee’s and Hillary Clinton’s campaign’s funding of the dossier, as well as the anti-Trump motivations of author and former British spy Christopher Steele in its request for a warrant. Republicans have pointed to the revelations as proof that intelligence agencies had abused surveillance powers.

The Democratic rebuttal backed the FBI and DOJ in its seeking of the FISA warrant.

“In fact, DOJ and the FBI would have been remiss in their duty to protect the country had they not sought a FISA warrant and repeated renewals to conduct temporary surveillance of Carter Page, someone the FBI assessed to be an agent of the Russian government,” the rebuttal said, adding that the DOJ met the “rigor, transparency, and evidentiary basis” needed to meet FISA’s probable cause requirement.

The rebuttal finds that the FBI had an “independent basis” for investigating Page’s motivations, and that he had been targeted for recruitment by the Russians. It also claims that the DOJ “repeatedly informed the Court about Steele’s background, credibility, and potential bias.” It also says that the Justice Department infomed the FISA court that Stelle was hired by “politically-motivated U.S. persons and entities and that his research appeared intended for use “to discredit” Trump’s campaign.

The rebuttal adds that the DOJ only made “narrow use” of information from Steele’s sources and that  in later FISA renewals the DOJ provided “additional information obtained through multiple independent sources” that backed up Steele’s reporting. It also challenges the Republican assertion that the FBI authorized payment to Steele, saying that it neglected that the payment was cancelled.

The memo, however, does not directly challenge the Republican assertion that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testified to the House Committee that they would not have sought the Page surveillance warrant if it hadn’t been for the dossier.

The rebuttal was voted out of committee earlier this month but was ordered to be redrafted after the White House demanded that sensitive information be stripped out before the document be made public. The Justice Department and FBI claimed the initial draft would reveal information about sources and methods, ongoing investigations, and other sensitive information.

Schiff said the minority’s memo should “put to rest” any concerns about conduct by the intelligence agencies.

READ THE GOP MEMO

“Our extensive review of the initial FISA application and three subsequent renewals failed to uncover any evidence of illegal, unethical, or unprofessional behavior by law enforcement and instead revealed that both the FBI and DOJ made extensive showings to justify all four requests,” Schiff said in a statement.

The Democratic rebuttal seemed unlikely to mark an end to the ongoing fight over the FISA application and the role of that dossier. Republicans on the committee immediately responded to the memo’s release with its own rebuttals to the Democratic claims. For instance, while the Democrats say that the court was given information about the political motivations of Steele, Republicans say that such a statement is “buried in a footnote” that obscures rather than clarifies his motives.

“The American people now clearly understand that the FBI used political dirt paid for by the Democratic Party to spy on an American citizen from the Republican Party,” Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif. said in a statement.

“Furthermore, the FISA court was misled about Mr. Page’s past interactions with the FBI in which he helped build a case against Russian operatives in America who were brought to justice. It defies belief that the Department of Justice and FBI failed to provide information to a secret court that they had provided to an open federal court regarding their past interactions with Mr. Page,” he said.

The White House called the rebuttal a “politically driven document” that fails to answer the concerns raised by the Republican memo.

“As the Majority’s memorandum stated, the FISA judge was never informed that Hillary Clinton and the DNC funded the dossier that was a basis for the Department of Justice’s FISA application,” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

“In addition, the Minority’s memo fails to even address the fact that the Deputy FBI Director told the Committee that had it not been for the dossier, no surveillance order would have been sought,” she added.

A Republican source dismissed the rebuttal, saying that the Democrats “want the public to look at the trees, and not the forest, the big picture that DOJ and Justice relied heavily on the dossier to surveil an American citizen, and withheld from the court that the research was funded by the DNC and Clinton campaign.”

On Twitter, Trump reacted to the claim that the judge was never informed of the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign’s funding by tweeting: “Wow!”

Democrats have claimed that the Republican memo was an effort to attack FBI Director Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in 2016. Trump had previously said that the memo “totally vindicates” him in the investigation.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge, Jennifer Bowman and Jason Donner contributed to this report.

Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for FoxNews.com. He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.

CPAC's Schlapp, ex-RNC Chairman Steele have tense exchange over racial comment

0

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Steele on Saturday challenged CPAC organizer Matt Schlapp over a group spokesman’s suggestion that Steele was appointed to lead the RNC only because he is black, and Schlapp’s response.

The exchange occurred on a Sirius XM radio show amid the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, in Washington, D.C., and one day after CPAC Communications Director Ian Walters said: “We elected Mike Steele as chairman because he was a black guy. That was the wrong thing to do.”

Schlepp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC, apologized for the situation and said he loved Steele and considered him a friend. However, Steele took issue with Schlapp saying that he wasn’t going to “separate himself from Ian.”

RNC Chairman Michael Steele speaks at the 2010 Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans April 10. (Reuters Photo)

Several minutes later, Schlapp, who, like Steele, is a Sirius satellite radio host, said, “Those words that tumbled out of his mouth, I believed were unfortunate words.”

Steele, a former Maryland lieutenant governor, called the words “stupid,” not “unfortunate.”

“Call it what it is,” Steele, RNC chairman from 2009 to 2011, continued in the roughly nine-minute exchange. “It is stupid to sit there and say that we elected a black man chairman of the party and that was a mistake. Do you know how that sounds to the black community?”

Walters apologized to Steele for the remarks.

Schlapp suggested throughout the exchange that some of the criticism directed at Steele is because of how he ran the RNC, and over his more recent criticism of the Republican Party.

Schlapp said he understood how such remarks, made at a Friday night dinner, are being perceived by African-Americans and the rest of America.

“I’ve spent 41 years in this party,” Steele later said. “I have taken crap you have no idea about, and I have carried this baggage. And for him to stand on that stage and denigrate my service to this party, and for you as a friend to sit there and go, ‘Well, you have been critical of this party …’ There is only one word I can say, and I can’t say it on this air.”

The Latest: Colleges lend support to student protesters

0

The Latest on the backlash against the National Rifle Association after a deadly school shooting in Florida (all times local):

6:05 p.m.

Continue Reading Below

Dozens of college and universities are telling students who may face discipline at their high schools for participating in gun control demonstrations to relax: It won’t affect their chances of getting into their schools.

Nearly 50 schools including Yale, Dartmouth and UCLA have taken to social media to reassure the students. Several applauded the teenagers’ activism.

The Feb. 14 mass shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead has sparked calls for walkouts, sit-ins and other actions on school campuses across the U.S.

A Texas school superintendent warned that students would face a three-day, out-of-school suspension if they joined the growing protests. Another in Wisconsin said students could be excused with parental consent.

Buzzfeed first reported that the colleges were posting the messages.

___

5 p.m.

A lawmaker is calling on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to remove Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel from office after a mass shooting at a high school that killed 14 students and three educators.

In a letter sent to Scott on Saturday, Rep. Bill Hager cited the resignation of a school resource officer who didn’t enter the freshman building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when the shooting started on Feb. 14. Israel has since said that he’s investigating claims by Coral Springs police officers that several of his deputies didn’t enter the building during the shooting.

As governor, Scott has the power to remove a sheriff for neglect of duty and incompetence.

Hager, a Republican from Boca Raton, also cited 23 calls to the sheriff’s office about 19-year-old suspect Nikolas Cruz.

Hager’s letter said the sheriff “was, or should have been aware of the threat Cruz presented to his community and chose to ignore it.”

___

4:30 p.m.

The National Rifle Association says companies that are severing ties with the gun rights group and its members are wrongly punishing them for a shooting at a Florida high school that claimed 17 lives.

In a statement sent Saturday, NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said the group’s 5 million members have long enjoyed discounts and benefits from many American corporations.

“Since the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, a number of companies have decided to sever their relationship with the NRA, in an effort to punish our members who are doctors, farmers, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, nurses, shop owners and school teachers that live in every American community,” the statement said.

The group says it had “nothing at all to do with the failure of that school’s security preparedness … or the cruel failures of both federal and local law enforcement.”

Companies, including Delta and United Airlines, said joined the list that cut ties to the gun industry since the Feb. 14 shooting at the school in Parkland.

The NRA statement called the moves a “shameful display of political and civic cowardice.”

___

11:30 a.m.

Delta and United Airlines are cutting ties with the National Rifle Association, the latest in major companies to do so following the deadly shooting at a Florida high school earlier this month.

Both Delta and United said Saturday they will no longer offer discounted fares to NRA members to attend their annual meetings, and both have asked the gun rights group to remove any references to their companies from the NRA website.

A growing number of large companies have announced they are cutting or reducing ties with the NRA. Rental car company Hertz will no longer offer a discount program to NRA members and First National Bank of Omaha said it will not renew a co-branded credit card it has with the NRA.

___

A large Wall Street money manager wants to engage with major weapons manufacturers about their response to the school massacre in Parkland, Florida.

Blackrock Inc. is among the largest stakeholders in Sturm Ruger & Co., American Outdoor Brands Corp. and Vista Outdoor Inc., but it holds only indirect investments in those gun manufacturers. The gun makers are contained within an index, meaning Blackrock can’t dump their shares directly.

However, spokesman Ed Sweeney says Blackrock will be “engaging with weapons manufacturers and distributors to understand their response to recent events.”

Through its index funds, Blackrock holds a 16.18 percent stake in Sturm Ruger, an 11.91 percent stake in Vista, and a 10.5 percent stake in American Outdoor, according to the data firm Factset.

Continue Reading Below

Democratic rebuttal to GOP FISA memo sparks reactions from politicians

0

The House Intelligence Committee on Saturday released a long-anticipated Democratic rebuttal that attempts to dismantle claims made in a GOP memo alleging the government used improper surveillance tactics during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The rebuttal claims that officials at the FBI and Justice Department “did not abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign.”

The Democratic rebuttal backed the FBI and DOJ in its pursuit of the FISA warrant, saying that the agencies “would have been remiss in their duty to protect the country had they not sought a FISA warrant and repeated renewals to conduct temporary surveillance of Carter Page, someone the FBI assessed to be an agent of the Russian government.”

They added that the DOJ met the “rigor, transparency, and evidentiary basis” needed to meet FISA’s probable cause requirement.

The GOP memo, released in early February, asserted that the FBI and DOJ relied on a Democrat-funded anti-Trump dossier to ask the FISA court for a warrant to monitor Page, a one-time adviser to President Donald Trump. They also claimed that the agencies left out the DNC’s funding of the dossier and the anti-Trump motivations of author Christopher Steele, a onetime British spy, in its request for a warrant.

The Democratic memo was voted out of committee earlier this month but a redrafting was ordered after the White House demanded that sensitive information be stripped out before the document be made public. The Justice Department and FBI claimed the initial draft would reveal information about sources and methods, ongoing investigations and other sensitive information.

Here are some reactions to the memo:

White House

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders calls the rebuttal a “politically driven document” which “fails to answer serious concerns raised by the Majority’s memorandum about the use of partisan opposition research from one candidate, loaded with uncorroborated allegations, as a basis to ask a court to approve surveillance of a former associate of another candidate, at the height of a presidential campaign.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff, who spearheaded the rebuttal’s release, said it should “put to rest” any concerns about conduct by the intelligence agencies. Along with a copy of the memo, he tweeted Saturday: “Some time ago, Republicans on our committee released a declassified memo that omitted and distorted key facts in order to mislead the public and impugn the integrity of the FBI. We can now tell you what they left out.”

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, who spearheaded the release of the GOP memo, said in a statement that Americans “now clearly understand that the FBI used political dirt pair for the by Democratic Party to spy on an American citizen from the Republican Party.”

“Furthermore, the FISA court was misled about Mr. Page’s past interactions with the FBI in which he helped build a case against Russian operatives in America who were brought to justice,” Nunes said. “It defies belief that the Department of Justice and the FBI failed to provide information to a secret court that they had provided to an open federal court regarding their past interactions with Mr. Page.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, tweeted that “the Schiff memo is a well-considered rebuttal to the misinformation in the Nunes memo,” which she added, “shouldn’t have seen the light of day.”

Fox News’ Adam Shaw, Madeline Farber and Kaitlyn Scallhorn contributed to this report.

Who is Adam Schiff? What to know about the Democrat and his Twitter war with Trump

0

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has been leading the charge against the GOP’s memo, calling it a “political hit job” on the FBI.

“If the memo was really about oversight, committee members would want to read the underlying documents and bring in the FBI. Republicans voted against both,” Schiff tweeted on Feb. 4, two days after the panel released the “surveillance” memo.

The four-page memo, released by the House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., on Feb. 2 claimed the infamous Trump dossier “formed an essential part” of applications by the FBI and Justice Department to spy on onetime Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Schiff has called the Republicans’ memo “shoddy” and “misleading,” claiming it was released only to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

“The president’s decision to publicly release a misleading memo attacking DOJ & FBI is a transparent attempt to discredit these institutions,” Schiff added. “We’ll fight to release our classified response.”

Schiff requested the committee release Democratic members’ own 10-page memo, with the promise to send it to the Justice Department for redactions — and the committee did just that on Feb. 24. 

In a statement, Schiff said the Democratic memo should “put to rest” any concerns about conduct by the intelligence agencies. 

“Our extensive review of the initial FISA application and three subsequent renewals failed to uncover any evidence of illegal, unethical, or unprofessional behavior by law enforcement and instead revealed that both the FBI and DOJ made extensive showings to justify all four requests,” Schiff said.

The memo’s release comes  after the White House told Democratic lawmakers that the memo required certain redactions before it could be made public.

“The Democrats sent a very political and long response memo which they knew, because of sources and methods (and more), would have to be heavily redacted, whereupon they would blame the White House for lack of transparency. Told them to re-do and send back in proper form!” Trump tweeted after the rubuttal’s release was halted earlier this month. 

Here’s what you need to know about Schiff, his notable career moves and his recent Twitter exchanges with the president.

Who is Adam Schiff?

As a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School, Schiff started his career in law. He spent six years working in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.

During his time as assistant U.S. attorney, Schiff prosecuted the first FBI agent ever to be convicted of espionage for passing secret documents to the Soviets.

“This is a betrayal tinged with hypocrisy,” Schiff said at the trial for former FBI agent Richard Miller, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison, The New York Times reported. “We have here an agent who did just exactly what he was supposed to protect against.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D. Calif., has been vocal about his objections to the GOP memo released on Feb. 2.  (Handout)

Eventually, Schiff moved on to politics.

He was elected to the California State Senate in 1996, serving four terms before heading to the House of Representatives. The Democrat has been serving in Congress since 2001.

In recent years, Schiff has shifted his focus to foreign policy and national security. He now sits as a ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee and was a member of the Benghazi Select Committee, according to a biography on his official website.

Schiff’s reaction to the FISA memo

Schiff recently said he believed the White House may have been behind the memo in an attempt to interfere with the Russia probe.

“I think it’s very possible his staff worked with the White House and coordinated the whole effort with the White House,” Schiff said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week.”

The president said the memo completely “vindicates” him in the Russia investigation, though he said the “Russian witch hunt” would  most likely continue.

“There was no collusion and there was no obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead),” Trump tweeted on Feb. 2. “This is an American disgrace!”

But Schiff said, while misleading, the memo was proof there was collusion with the Russians.

“Quite the opposite, Mr. President,” Schiff replied on Twitter. “The most important fact disclosed in this otherwise shoddy memo was that FBI investigation began July 2016 with your advisor, Papadopoulos, who was secretly discussing stolen Clinton emails with the Russians.”

Schiff versus Trump: The Twitter war continues

Trump targeted “Little Adam Schiff” on Feb. 5, calling him one of the “biggest liars and leakers in Washington,” as both parties continued to argue over the newly released FISA memo.

“Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper!” Trump tweeted. “Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!”

Within minutes, Schiff fired back, tweeting: “Mr. President, I see you’ve had a busy morning of ‘Executive Time.’ Instead of tweeting false smears, the American people would appreciate it if you turned off the TV and helped solve the funding crisis, protected Dreamers or…really anything else.”

Trump’s tweet came shortly before Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told “Fox & Friends” that there have been “almost 100 leaks” by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee related to the Russia investigation. 

Trump’s tweet also reflected frustration with a host of figures, including Schiff’s Senate counterpart – Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who sits as ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which conducted its own Russia probe. He also named former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

UN Security Council approves 30-day cease-fire in Syria despite Russian delays

0

The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a resolution demanding 30-day cease fire in Syria so that it can deliver humanitarian aid and evacuate the critically ill and wounded.

The proposal was approved after a two day delay caused by a lack of support from Russia, which said that an immediate cease-fire was unrealistic.

The resolution was amended late Friday to remove a stipulation that the cease-fire take effect in 72 hours. With that, Russia voted in favor of the resolution.

Despite passing the resolution, U.N. members were quick to criticize Russia for the delay.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said that Russia’s attempts to initially delay the vote cost lives. “In the three days it took us to adopt this resolution, how many mothers lost their kids to the bombing and shelling? How many more images did we need to see of fathers holding their dead children?” she said.

“The Syrian people should not have to die waiting for Russia to organize their instructions from Moscow, or to discuss it with the Syrians.”

Haley’s comments were seconded by U.K. Ambassador Stephen Hickey. “While we have been arguing over commas, Assad’s planes have been killing more civilians in their homes and in their hospitals, imposing unbearable suffering,” he said in a statement.

“In the face of escalating violence, devastation and suffering, we must all now take practical steps to improve the situation for those living and dying in a hell of one man’s making.”

While there is no set time for the cease-fire to begin, Ambassador Olof Skoog of Sweden said that humanitarian convoys and medical teams are standing by and “ready to go.”

According to the proposal, 5.6 million Syrians are in “acute need,” of help, 2.9 million of which are in hard to reach and besieged areas.

The resolution calls for all parties to immediately lift the sieges of populated Syrian cities, but the council authorized one exemption. It said that attacks directed at extremists from the Islamic State group and all Al Qaeda affiliates would be allowed to continue.  

Fox News’ Ben Evansky and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From politicians, polarized reactions to long-awaited Democratic countermemo

0

The House Intelligence Committee on Saturday released a long-anticipated Democratic rebuttal that attempts to dismantle claims made in a GOP memo alleging the government used improper surveillance tactics during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The rebuttal claims that officials at the FBI and Justice Department “did not abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign.”

The Democratic rebuttal backed the FBI and DOJ in its pursuit of the FISA warrant, saying that the agencies “would have been remiss in their duty to protect the country had they not sought a FISA warrant and repeated renewals to conduct temporary surveillance of Carter Page, someone the FBI assessed to be an agent of the Russian government.”

They added that the DOJ met the “rigor, transparency, and evidentiary basis” needed to meet FISA’s probable cause requirement.

The GOP memo, released in early February, asserted that the FBI and DOJ relied on a Democrat-funded anti-Trump dossier to ask the FISA court for a warrant to monitor Page, a one-time adviser to President Donald Trump. They also claimed that the agencies left out the DNC’s funding of the dossier and the anti-Trump motivations of author Christopher Steele, a onetime British spy, in its request for a warrant.

The Democratic memo was voted out of committee earlier this month but a redrafting was ordered after the White House demanded that sensitive information be stripped out before the document be made public. The Justice Department and FBI claimed the initial draft would reveal information about sources and methods, ongoing investigations and other sensitive information.

Here are some reactions to the memo:

White House

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders calls the rebuttal a “politically driven document” which “fails to answer serious concerns raised by the Majority’s memorandum about the use of partisan opposition research from one candidate, loaded with uncorroborated allegations, as a basis to ask a court to approve surveillance of a former associate of another candidate, at the height of a presidential campaign.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff, who spearheaded the rebuttal’s release, said it should “put to rest” any concerns about conduct by the intelligence agencies. Along with a copy of the memo, he tweeted Saturday: “Some time ago, Republicans on our committee released a declassified memo that omitted and distorted key facts in order to mislead the public and impugn the integrity of the FBI. We can now tell you what they left out.”

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, who spearheaded the release of the GOP memo, said in a statement that Americans “now clearly understand that the FBI used political dirt pair for the by Democratic Party to spy on an American citizen from the Republican Party.”

“Furthermore, the FISA court was misled about Mr. Page’s past interactions with the FBI in which he helped build a case against Russian operatives in America who were brought to justice,” Nunes said. “It defies belief that the Department of Justice and the FBI failed to provide information to a secret court that they had provided to an open federal court regarding their past interactions with Mr. Page.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, tweeted that “the Schiff memo is a well-considered rebuttal to the misinformation in the Nunes memo,” which she added, “shouldn’t have seen the light of day.”

Fox News’ Adam Shaw, Madeline Farber and Kaitlyn Scallhorn contributed to this report.

The Latest: Lawmaker calls for sheriff's removal

0

The Latest on the backlash against the National Rifle Association after a deadly school shooting in Florida (all times local):

5 p.m.

Continue Reading Below

A lawmaker is calling on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to remove Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel from office after a mass shooting at a high school that killed 14 students and three educators.

In a letter sent to Scott on Saturday, Rep. Bill Hager cited the resignation of a school resource officer who didn’t enter the freshman building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when the shooting started on Feb. 14. Israel has since said that he’s investigating claims by Coral Springs police officers that several of his deputies didn’t enter the building during the shooting.

As governor, Scott has the power to remove a sheriff for neglect of duty and incompetence.

Hager, a Republican from Boca Raton, also cited 23 calls to the sheriff’s office about 19-year-old suspect Nikolas Cruz.

Hager’s letter said the sheriff “was, or should have been aware of the threat Cruz presented to his community and chose to ignore it.”

4:30 p.m.

The National Rifle Association says companies that are severing ties with the gun rights group and its members are wrongly punishing them for a shooting at a Florida high school that claimed 17 lives.

In a statement sent Saturday, NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said the group’s 5 million members have long enjoyed discounts and benefits from many American corporations.

“Since the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, a number of companies have decided to sever their relationship with the NRA, in an effort to punish our members who are doctors, farmers, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, nurses, shop owners and school teachers that live in every American community,” the statement said.

The group says it had “nothing at all to do with the failure of that school’s security preparedness … or the cruel failures of both federal and local law enforcement.”

Companies, including Delta and United Airlines, said joined the list that cut ties to the gun industry since the Feb. 14 shooting at the school in Parkland.

The NRA statement called the moves a “shameful display of political and civic cowardice.”

___

11:30 a.m.

Delta and United Airlines are cutting ties with the National Rifle Association, the latest in major companies to do so following the deadly shooting at a Florida high school earlier this month.

Both Delta and United said Saturday they will no longer offer discounted fares to NRA members to attend their annual meetings, and both have asked the gun rights group to remove any references to their companies from the NRA website.

A growing number of large companies have announced they are cutting or reducing ties with the NRA. Rental car company Hertz will no longer offer a discount program to NRA members and First National Bank of Omaha said it will not renew a co-branded credit card it has with the NRA.

___

A large Wall Street money manager wants to engage with major weapons manufacturers about their response to the school massacre in Parkland, Florida.

Blackrock Inc. is among the largest stakeholders in Sturm Ruger & Co., American Outdoor Brands Corp. and Vista Outdoor Inc., but it holds only indirect investments in those gun manufacturers. The gun makers are contained within an index, meaning Blackrock can’t dump their shares directly.

However, spokesman Ed Sweeney says Blackrock will be “engaging with weapons manufacturers and distributors to understand their response to recent events.”

Through its index funds, Blackrock holds a 16.18 percent stake in Sturm Ruger, an 11.91 percent stake in Vista, and a 10.5 percent stake in American Outdoor, according to the data firm Factset.

Continue Reading Below

White House, Schiff spar over Dems' surveillance memo

0

The White House and the top Democrat on the House Intelligence committee sparred Saturday over the release of the memo by Democrats regarding the alleged surveillance abuses in the Russia investigation.

“Some time ago, Republicans on our committee released a declassified memo that omitted and distorted key facts in order to mislead the public and impugn the integrity of the FBI,” said California Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee’s top Democrat. “We can now tell you what they left out.”

Schiff led efforts to release the memo, a rebuttal to the one Republican leaders of the GOP-controlled committee released earlier this month.

The memo alleged that the Justice Department obtained a surveillance warrant on one-time Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, based on a loosely verified anti-Trump dossier, paid for at least in part by Democrats, including the 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. The warrant request was made to the federal Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Trump allowed the release of the Republican and Democratic memos.

“While the Democrats’ memorandum attempts to undercut the president politically, the president supported its release in the interest of transparency,” the White House said Saturday, after the memo was released.

“Nevertheless, this politically driven document fails to answer serious concerns raised by the (GOP’s) memorandum about the use of partisan opposition research from one candidate, loaded with uncorroborated allegations, as a basis to ask a court to approve surveillance of a former associate of another candidate, at the height of a presidential campaign.

“As the majority’s memorandum stated, the FISA judge was never informed that Hillary Clinton and the (Democratic National Committee) funded the dossier that was a basis for the Department of Justice’s FISA application. In addition, the minority’s memo fails to even address the fact that the deputy FBI director told the committee that had it not been for the dossier, no surveillance order would have been sought. As the president has long stated, neither he nor his campaign ever colluded with a foreign power during the 2016 election, and nothing in today’s memo counters that fact.”

California GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the Intelligence committee, said Saturday: “The American people now clearly understand that the FBI used political dirt paid for by the Democratic Party to spy on an American citizen from the Republican Party.

“Furthermore, the FISA court was misled about Mr. Page’s past interactions with the FBI in which he helped build a case against Russian operatives in America who were brought to justice. It defies belief that the Department of Justice and FBI failed to provide information to a secret court that they had provided to an open federal court regarding their past interactions with Mr. Page.”

Comparisons between Ivanka Trump, Kim Jong Un’s sister are sickening – Media can’t decide which way to lean

0

Ivanka Trump is in South Korea for the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympic Games and, inevitably, she is being compared to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, who attended the opening ceremonies.

The disgusting fawning over Kim Yo Jong at the start of the Olympics exposed a truth about much of America’s mainstream media: any enemy of President Trump will be showered in praise.

It didn’t matter than Kim Jong Un is a brutal despot who is starving his own people, allows no freedom, and imprisons or kills his opponents. A documentary called “Secret State of North Korea” – made in 2014 using video smuggled out of North Korea – showed people in the countryside eating grass. What mattered was the opportunity to show up Donald Trump.

Writing in the New York Post at the start of the Olympics about the fawning coverage given Kim Yo Jong, Bethany Mandel, who frequently fundraises to rescue North Korean refugees hiding in China noted that it was “strange reading a red carpet-like report about a member of a regime that has concentration camps the size of Los Angeles, where children have been secretly photographed starving in the streets and whose leader uses anti-aircraft weaponry to execute his political enemies.”

Kim Yo Jong isn’t to be celebrated, nor compared to a free woman like Ivanka Trump, who represents a country of free people. Kim Yo Jong should be confronted about her brother’s atrocities at every opportunity.

But no, in the choice between Ivanka Trump or the sister of a murderous dictator (who is, actually said to have killed one of his other siblings), the American media just can’t decide which way to lean.

Writing in the Daily Beast on Friday, in a piece headlined “Ivanka Trump Struggles With Winter Olympics Charm Offensive,” Donald Kirk wondered about Ivanka and Kim Yo Jong, “which de facto ambassador won the charm offensive at the Winter Games?” He concluded it was a draw.

Meanwhile Newsweek set up  a competition with the headline: “IVANKA TRUMP READY FOR PR BATTLE WITH KIM JONG UN’S SISTER AT WINTER OLYMPICS CLOSING CEREMONY.”

Jessica Kwong wrote in Newsweek: “Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, captured hearts during the Winter Olympics opening ceremony. She was dubbed North Korea’s Ivanka, stealing the spotlight from stern U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who was under direct orders to shun the North’s propaganda campaign.”

There’s something comically backward about the idea that Vice President Mike Pence was under “direct orders” while Kim Jong Un’s sister was not. And there’s something terribly wrong about celebrating the representative of the country that kills people who wish to leave, starves children and generally has its boot on the necks of its people.

Kim Yo Jong isn’t to be celebrated, nor compared to a free woman like Ivanka Trump, who represents a country of free people. Kim Yo Jong should be confronted about her brother’s atrocities at every opportunity.

The American media think they are brave when they call Ivanka Trump “complicit” to her father’s agenda. Actual bravery would be to challenge Kim Yo Jong to do something about the horrors perpetrated by her brother on the North Korean people.

Karol Markowicz is a columnist at the New York Post. She has also written for Time, USA Today, The Observer, Heat Street, Federalist, Daily Beast and elsewhere.

What is the Democrats' rebuttal to Nunes' memo? 5 things to know about the document

0

The House Intelligence Committee on Saturday officially released the Democratic rebuttal to the controversial GOP memo that purported to show improper use of surveillance by the FBI and Justice Department during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The news comes after the White House told Democratic lawmakers on Feb. 9 to revise their rebuttal memo regarding the Russia investigation, saying that the document required certain redactions before it can be made public. 

Earlier this month, Trump made public a memo written by Republicans on the committee that detailed alleged surveillance abuses by the FBI and the Justice Department in its probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump stirred controversy with his assertion that the memo “totally vindicates” him of any wrongdoing.

In light of the countermemo’s release, here are some key takeaways. 

Redactions

There were several redactions in the rebuttal memo released on Saturday. 

Previously, California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, said he is wary that Trump could make redactions in the document for “political purposes.”

However, Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, has said the memo contains information that he would be “uncomfortable” about seeing released without redaction by the White House. The redacted bits likely refer to sources of information and methods of intelligence gathering.  

‘Bolster’ FBI credibility

The rubuttal released on Saturday claims that officials at the FBI and Justice Department “did not abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign.”

The original memo said ex-British spy Christopher Steele’s controversial dossier – a 35-page document compiled for the firm Fusion GPS – was the catalyst for a surveillance warrant to spy on Carter Page, a former foreign adviser to Trump.

The surveillance warrant and renewals did not mention that the dossier was paid for, at least in part, by the Democratic National Committee and the campaign for Hillary Clinton, according to the memo spearheaded by Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

But Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., told Fox News the Democrats’ document “bolsters” the FBI’s credibility in the Russia probe. He said the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was given a “voluminous amount” of evidence to obtain the warrant to spy on Page.

The Democratic rebuttal released on Saturday claims that the FBI had an “independent basis” for investigating Page’s motivations. The rubuttal also asserts that the DOJ “repeatedly informed the Court about Steele’s background, credibility, and potential bias.” 

Contradicting the Nunes memo

Swalwell also said the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court was aware of the “likely political motivation” behind the dossier – a direct contradiction of what the Republicans’ memo detailed.

“The court weighed that and still granted the application,” Swalwell said. “There was a bias, but the evidence was so overwhelming, the application was granted anyway.”

graphic

Schiff said previously that his party’s memo would “help inform the public of the many distortions and inaccuracies in the majority memo.”

“Our extensive review of the initial FISA application and three subsequent renewals failed to uncover any evidence of illegal, unethical, or unprofessional behavior by law enforcement and instead revealed that both the FBI and DOJ made extensive showings to justify all four requests,” Schiff said in a statement on Saturday. 

Further politicization of the probe

The Democrats’ memo is largely seen as a rebuttal to the GOP’s document, intensifying the partisan divide on the House Intelligence Committee.

After the rebuttal document’s release, the White House called it a “politically driven document” that fails to answer the concerns raised by the Republican memo.

“As the Majority’s memorandum stated, the FISA judge was never informed that Hillary Clinton and the DNC funded the dossier that was a basis for the Department of Justice’s FISA application,” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

“In addition, the Minority’s memo fails to even address the fact that the Deputy FBI Director told the Committee that had it not been for the dossier, no surveillance order would have been sought,” she added.

And ahead of the document’s release, Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., said the memo was not accurate for “a million different reasons,” Politico reported.

Review by FBI and DOJ

The Democrats’ memo was shared with the FBI and Justice – something Republicans did not do before releasing their document, Schiff said, according to Politico.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @K_Schallhorn.

The Latest: NRA lashes out at boycott in wake of shooting

0

The Latest on backlash against the National Rifle Association in the wake of a deadly school shooting in Florida (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

Continue Reading Below

The National Rifle Association says companies that are severing ties with the gun rights group and its members are wrongly punishing them for a shooting at a Florida high school that claimed 17 lives.

In a statement sent Saturday, NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said the group’s 5 million members have long enjoyed discounts and benefits from many American corporations.

“Since the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, a number of companies have decided to sever their relationship with the NRA, in an effort to punish our members who are doctors, farmers, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, nurses, shop owners and school teachers that live in every American community,” the statement said.

The group says it had “nothing at all to do with the failure of that school’s security preparedness … or the cruel failures of both federal and local law enforcement.”

Companies, including Delta and United Airlines, said joined the list that cut ties to the gun industry since the Feb. 14 shooting at the school in Parkland.

The NRA statement called the moves a “shameful display of political and civic cowardice.”

___

11:30 a.m.

Delta and United Airlines are cutting ties with the National Rifle Association, the latest in major companies to do so following the deadly shooting at a Florida high school earlier this month.

Both Delta and United said Saturday they will no longer offer discounted fares to NRA members to attend their annual meetings, and both have asked the gun rights group to remove any references to their companies from the NRA website.

A growing number of large companies have announced they are cutting or reducing ties with the NRA. Rental car company Hertz will no longer offer a discount program to NRA members and First National Bank of Omaha said it will not renew a co-branded credit card it has with the NRA.

___

A large Wall Street money manager wants to engage with major weapons manufacturers about their response to the school massacre in Parkland, Florida.

Blackrock Inc. is among the largest stakeholders in Sturm Ruger & Co., American Outdoor Brands Corp. and Vista Outdoor Inc., but it holds only indirect investments in those gun manufacturers. The gun makers are contained within an index, meaning Blackrock can’t dump their shares directly.

However, spokesman Ed Sweeney says Blackrock will be “engaging with weapons manufacturers and distributors to understand their response to recent events.”

Through its index funds, Blackrock holds a 16.18 percent stake in Sturm Ruger, an 11.91 percent stake in Vista, and a 10.5 percent stake in American Outdoor, according to the data firm Factset.

Continue Reading Below

Immigration, spending deadlines, short House week add to Congress' dilemmas this week over gun laws

0

It was a typical retreat to the usual positions after the Parkland, Florida, school massacre.

The media delved into wall-to-wall coverage as reporters and satellite trucks invaded the state’s Broward County. #MSDStrong hashtags and logos dotted the virtual and South Florida landscape. Congressional Democrats excoriated Republicans for failing to act on assault weapons and enhanced background checks.

Most GOP lawmakers said little besides offering condolences. Many Republicans veered away from the now-pasteurized “thoughts and prayers” bromide that once punctuated mass shootings. The National Rifle Association laid low at first.

Then after a requisite blackout period, the gun-rights group returned to the oft-used script, which blamed the media and Democrats for the melee, criticized efforts to curb the availability of weapons and spoke of how more firepower could prevent future bloodbaths.

Twitter bots and conspiracy theorists attacked those who survived the shooting, accusing some who surfaced in media as “crisis actors.”

They argued that Parkland was yet another false flag — an effort engineered by the “deep state” as part of “Operation Mockingbird” to manipulate public opinion, propagandize gun violence and prompt the mass confiscation of weapons.

A similar stage play ensues after each mass shooting. Everyone has their roles. There’s no rehearsing. This has happened so many times that everyone says and does essentially the same thing.

It’s gone on for so long that some of the main players long ago exited the stage. The scene between Charlton Heston and Michael Moore in “Bowling for Columbine” is but a distant memory.

The conventional cast includes Dana Loesch and Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo.

Some have been involved in drama for decades. Consider California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who became mayor of San Francisco after she came upon the bodies of deceased Mayor George Moscone and San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk after their 1978 assassinations at city hall.

All characters in this drama may be “crisis actors” of another sort until something changes to halt the chaos in this never-ending macabre theatre. There’s a crisis. Everyone acts. Nothing happens.

We’ve seen Orlando Strong. Vegas Strong. Newtown Strong. Charleston Strong. Aurora Strong. Echoes from the first acts like Virginia Tech and Littleton barely resonate today. Few involved on either side of the debate can even recall San Ysidro, Calif., and Killeen, Texas.

Look those up sometime.

So Congress returns to session Monday after a week-long recess. We’ll see if there are any new lines added to the gunplay canon.

“Bump stocks” entered the vernacular after Las Vegas. There’s been a tug of war since last fall between Congress and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms over who has jurisdiction to regulate and ban bump stocks, attachments that enables a semi-automatic rifle to fire more quickly.

There was lots of chatter about Congress addressing bump stocks following the massacre at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on the Vegas Strip. But it’s now late-February.

That conversation never fully gelled. However, talk about Congress acting on bump stocks is now back in the conversation after what went down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida — which didn’t involve a bump stock.

There will certainly be a debate offstage when Congress returns to work in the coming days. But little will unfold on the House and Senate floors.

The House plans to meet on just Monday and Tuesday, cancelling other activity so evangelist Billy Graham may lay in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

A fight over DACA, border security, a wall and immigration could eclipse the gun conversation and potentially commandeer floor time in March. President Trump on March 5 formally sunset the Obama administration’s DACA program, that protects some younger illegal immigrants from deportation.

However, that deadline is up in the air due to pending court cases. And despite a bipartisan, two-year, broad spending agreement, the government is set to run out of money on March 23.

A failure to address DACA and the president’s spending request for a border wall is the flashpoint in the next round of negotiations — again — because much like the gun debate, nothing is settled on that score, either.

In fact, multiple congressional observers compare immigration reform and DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, to the firearms issue: an intractable, white-hot topic that seemingly never finds resolution.

What parliamentary options do Democrats have to pry loose action on guns? The gun sit-in led by Democratic Reps. John Lewis, Georgia, and John Larson, Conn., certainly garnered a lot of attention in the summer of 2016.

And yet here we are. Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy’s nearly 15-hour speech on the chamber floor a week later certainly galvanized activists on the left.

And yet … .

The Senate observed the seemingly-perfunctory “moment of silence” the day after the Parkland shooting. The House appeared poised to do the same. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., even announced that intention at his weekly press conference.

Initially, the House considered holding the moment of silence vigil a week ago Thursday during its final vote sequence, just before lawmakers scattered from Washington on recess.

But a number of factors postponed the Parkland moment of silence. U.S. Capitol Police dragged out of the chamber dozens of demonstrators who erupted in chants, protesting against changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

There was confusion as to how many votes the House may take in that series. The House typically designates the moment of silence ritual to fall between the first and second roll call vote. That way, all members are on hand to take part and aren’t running in to make the vote or bolting out the door on the next. Third, Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., who represents Parkland, wasn’t in Washington. Instead, Deutch was in Florida meeting with constituents after the shooting.

A leadership source said the House would wait to hold the moment of silence until Deutch returned to Washington following the recess.

However, something did happen amid the moment of silence confusion last week. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., who leads the Democrats’ task force on combatting gun violence, stood by the leadership table on the floor and sought recognition just after the votes ended. Thompson posed a “parliamentary inquiry” to the chair, asking when members may consider gun legislation.

The House ruled Thompson’s interrogative out of order.

The Parkland moment of silence is expected in the coming days. It’s unclear if the House or Senate does much more than that on guns in the near future.

Otherwise, the play’s the same. Out-of-town TV crews. #SomethingStrong. Democrats pushing for stronger gun regulations. Trolls fearmongering online. The NRA arguing for looser gun restrictions.

Little changes. The crisis continues. And everyone is reduced to stage actors, uttering the same lines again.

Lioness at Oklahoma City zoo grows mane, baffles veterinarians

0
Two lionesses watch their cubs in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya's most spectacular and best-known wildlife sanctuary, March 21, 2006. The Maasai Mara is part of the vast Serengeti-Mara ecosystem that stretches across the border with Tanzania. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti - GF1DSGKAZEAA

The lioness at the Oklahoma City Zoo mysteriously began growing a mane.  (Reuters )

Veterinarians at the Oklahoma City Zoo are baffled by an 18-year-old lioness’ new hairdo.

The lioness, Bridget, mysteriously began to grow a mane between March and November of last year, the zoo said.

While male lions typically develop a mane at one year of age due to an increase in testosterone, it is “exceptionally rare” for females to ever grow the extra hair, Gretchen Cole, an associate veterinarian at the Oklahoma City Zoo, told ABC News.

“After a while, it became obvious to everybody that Bridget was developing something a little different,” Cole said.

While Bridget’s mane is rare, it’s not the first time a lioness has grown a mane, according to the Oklahoma City Zoo.

A 13-year-old lioness living at the National Zoo in South Africa began to develop a mane in 2011 due to a  problem with her ovaries. Her body produced too much testosterone as a result. And five lionesses living in Botswana were seen with manes in 2014, according to the Oklahoma City Zoo.

A benign tumor on Bridget’s adrenal or pituitary glands could also be the cause, according to the zoo, as those glands regulate testosterone and other hormones.

There’s also a chance that Bridget’s condition could be genetic.

To determine the cause, veterinarians took Bridget’s blood and will compare it to a sample of her sister Tia’s blood. Unlike Bridget, Tia, who is also 18-years-old, has remained mane-less.

Thankfully, Bridget’s veterinarians don’t think the lioness’ quality of life will be affected by the condition. Overall, Bridget, who is considered to be “geriatric,” is in good health, Cole said, adding that big cat has retained her “strong attitude.”

Chip and Joanna Gaines are hiring at Magnolia

0

Dust off that resume, “Fixer Upper” fans, because Chip and Joanna Gaines are officially hiring.

On Feb. 21, Joanna made the exciting announcement on Instagram. Looking to recruit new talent for the creative department of the Magnolia empire by hosting a “different kind of job fair” in their hometown of Waco, Texas, the soon-to-be mother of five directed to users to apply on Magnolia.com.

DISNEYLAND JUST OPENED A HOME GOODS STORE IN DOWNTOWN DISNEY

“And remember, it takes all types of creative people to build something beautiful – there’s no real formula to what we’re looking for other than creativity, passion for what you do and a willingness to move to Waco, Texas!” the HGTV star wrote.

As for the job description itself, the Gaines are evidently “looking for all types of creatives” with skills in “blogging, photography, photo styling, social media specific skills, writing, graphic design, calligraphy, web design, etcetera.” For now, interested individuals are encouraged to submit their portfolios or resumes electronically and fill out an online questionnaire.

TAYLOR SWIFT’S NEIGHBORS NOT HAPPY ABOUT LIVING ON SAME BLOCK: ‘WE DON’T NEED CELEBRITIES HERE’

After that, select candidates will be invited to the two day recruitment event at Magnolia over a weekend in March, where they are invited to meet with the creative department and “get a better idea of how we could work together.”

Though selected candidates must pay for their own food and transportation, some meals will be provided, and the trip itself is a mini vacation to the much buzzed- about Waco. Whatever facet of the Magnolia empire the Gaines’ are looking to hire some extra hands for, be it their real estate, home improvement, décor, market, restaurant, hotel, or literary pursuits, working for the famous pair sounds like a dream job, indeed.

FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK FOR MORE FOX LIFESTYLE NEWS

Janine Puhak is an editor for Fox News Lifestyle. Follow her on Twitter at @JaninePuhak

More than 20 Red Cross employees were fired or quit over alleged sex misconduct since 2015, charity says

0

Since 2015, more than 20 employees at the International Committee of the Red Cross have not returned to their posts due to alleged sexual misconduct, according to a Saturday report.

Twenty-one staff members either quit or were terminated in recent years after it was determined that they broke agency policy by allegedly paying for sexual services, ICRC Director-General Yves Daccord told The Associated Press. An additional two people, believed to have engaged in sexual misconduct, did not have their contracts renewed, he said.

“I am deeply saddened to report these numbers,” he said. “This behavior is a betrayal of the people and the communities we are there to serve.”

Due to the organization’s vast footprint around the globe, employing more than 17,000 people, Daccord said it was possible that there are additional instances of misconduct that were either not reported or not handled appropriately.

Another charity organization, Plan International UK – who works to help children – has also reportedly uncovered cases of alleged inappropriate behavior. The group said it has identified and confirmed six instances of sexual abuse of children by staff, volunteers or partner organizations. They have promised to do more to prevent misconduct.

OXFAM SAYS STAFF INTIMIDATED WITNESSES IN HAITI SEX SCANDAL

The news from the two charities follow recently-revealed allegations that senior staff members of the British extension of Oxfam International – which works to combat poverty and offers assistance during disasters – used prostitutes and downloaded pornography while working in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake.

Seven of the charity’s employees either resigned or were dismissed following an internal investigation. The Times of London initially reported the story, according to The New York Times.

Oxfam Great Britain’s work in Haiti has since been suspended for two months while the country’s government looks into the misconduct claims, The New York Times said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

UPDATED: Blades Water Distribution Hours Change Monday; Public Meeting Thursday Night

0

UPDATED – 2-24-18 – The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), the Division of Public Health (DPH) and the Town of Blades continue to provide alternative water for drinking and cooking to Blades and area residents on private wells who request it. Hours for water distribution are Noon to 8 p.m. at the Blades Fire Hall, 200 East Fifth Street, Blades, DE 19973. Starting Monday, Feb. 26, water will be distributed from the Blades Town Hall, 20 West Fourth Street, Blades, DE 19973, with hours of 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

DNREC and DPH earlier this week announced that carbon filtration has significantly lowered perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in the Town of Blades water system below the US Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory level for PFCs, and that the town’s water is safe for drinking and cooking upon completion of residents’ flushing of their home water systems.

DNREC, DPH and the Town of Blades also have scheduled a second public meeting on the town’s drinking water and private well water in the area. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 1 at the Blades Fire Hall. Representatives from both state agencies and the town will present updates on Blades’ area drinking water and will answer questions.

======================================================

UPDATED – 2-23-18 – The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), the Division of Public Health (DPH), and the Town of Blades continued to recommend that residents who are on the town’s public water system from Blades’ new carbon filtration system flush the water, if they haven’t already, through their homes before using town water for drinking, cooking, and brushing teeth.

The two state agencies announced Thursday that carbon filtration has significantly lowered perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in the town’s water system significantly below the US Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory level for PFCs, and that the town’s water is safe for everyday use as above upon completion of residents’ flushing of their home water systems.

=============================================

UPDATED – 2-22-18 – The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), the Division of Public Health (DPH), and the Town of Blades today announced that the town’s new carbon filtration system has significantly lowered perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in the town’s water system below the US Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory level for PFCs, and that the town’s water will be safe for drinking and cooking upon completion of residents’ flushing of their home water systems.

Results from testing of the town’s water after carbon filtration returned a PFC level of 3.4 parts per trillion (3.4 ppt) compared to EPA’s health advisory of 70 ppt.

Blades has completed the flushing of municipal water through carbon filtration. As the final step in the process for removing PFCs from the town’s water, residents who are on public water are recommended to begin flushing water through their homes before using it for drinking, cooking, and brushing teeth.

Blades residents should begin flushing their homes by following these steps in order:

  1. Turn on outside faucets for 10 minutes. All faucets can be turned on at once. Shut off faucets after 10 minutes.
  2. Turn bathtub faucets/showers on full Hot until the water cools. All bathtub faucets/showers should be turned on at the same time. Shut off bathtub faucets/showers after water from the fixtures starts to cool.
  3. Turn other faucets on one at a time for 5 minutes each (Hot and Cold can be turned on simultaneously). Start on the first floor and continue to the second floor and any additional levels.
  4. Showers and tubs should be run a second time until Hot water cools, out of an abundance of caution.
  5. Flush all toilets one time.
  6. Remove and dispose of all ice from refrigerator ice makers. If you also have a water dispenser on your refrigerator, run three gallons of water through it.
  7. Tankless water heaters or point-of-use (e.g. under the sink) water heaters, if in use, should be flushed for 30 minutes.

NOTE: This plan is for single-family residential properties ONLY. Commercial, industrial, institutional, and multi-family units need to be advised on a case-by-case basis. Anyone who has questions can call the DPH Office of Drinking Water at 302-741-8630Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

DNREC and DPH continue to provide Blades and area residents with private wells with alternative water for drinking and cooking needs. Hours for water distribution are Noon to 8 p.m. at the Blades Fire Hall, 200 East Fifth Street, Blades, DE 19973.

=================================================

UPDATED – 2/21/18 – The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Division of Public Health today continue to monitor the Town of Blades’ flushing of the public water supply through the town’s new carbon filtration system. As Blades prepares to return to full use of public water, town residents will be receiving instructions in the near future for flushing their home water systems.

As sampling results come in for private wells in the Blades area, DNREC and DPH will be reaching out to those impacted residents. Assistance will be provided with their drinking water supply if test results warrant it.

DNREC and DPH continue to provide the Town of Blades and area residents with alternative water for drinking and cooking needs. Hours for water distribution are Noon to 8 p.m. at the Blades Fire Hall, 200 East Fifth Street, Blades, DE 19973. While Blades flushes municipal water through the carbon filtration system, area residents are encouraged to continue using the water provided by DNREC and DPH.

For the drinking and cooking water provided daily by the Delaware National Guard at the Blades Fire Hall, area residents should remember to bring their own containers for filling.

====================================================

UPDATED – 2/19/18 – The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the Division of Public Health, and the Town of Blades reminds town and area residents that the hours for water distribution changed today to Noon – 8 p.m. at the Blades Fire Hall, 200 East Fifth Street, Blades, DE 19973. The town’s public water system is on carbon filtration to remove perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), but Blades and nearby area residents are encouraged to continue using the water provided by DNREC and DPH for drinking, cooking and brushing teeth until results of samples taken Friday by EPA are returned later this week.

As Blades prepares to return to full use of public water, residents will be provided instructions this week for flushing their home water systems. While Blades continues flushing municipal water through the new filtration system, residents may see water flowing from town hydrants.

For the drinking water provided daily by the Delaware National Guard at the Blades Fire Hall, Town of Blades and nearby residents should remember to bring their own containers for filling.

=======================================================

UPDATED – 2/18/18 – Work to flush the Town of Blades water supply through the new carbon filtration system is continuing.  DNREC and Public Health officials say the town’s water system is now fully on the new carbon filtration which will remove the PFCs from the water supply.  Samples were taken Friday by the EPA – the results should be back next week.  However until those results are known, Blades and nearby residents are encouraged to continue using alternative water available at the Blades Fire Hall for drinking, cooking and brushing your teeth.

=============================================

Original story – 2/15/18 – A new carbon filtration system arrived in Blades yesterday. DNREC, Public Health, and Blades engineers all working to install and connect the towns water supply to the system.

However, officials cautioned Tuesday night it could take up to 2 weeks before the system is installed, flushed, primed, and the water tested to make sure the filter is working properly.

Until then, residents should continue to get drinking and cooking water from the National Guard at the Blades Fire Hall, although officials say residents can use tap water for bathing, laundry, and other household chores.

Plawecki keen to take Piazza's advice

0

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Hall of Fame catcher and Mets icon Mike Piazza was in camp Saturday, briefly speaking to reporters and meeting with hitters. Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki, a career .222 hitter who hit .260 last season, said he is taking Piazza’s advice to heart.

“[I’m] just kind of listening to his knowledge on what he thought when he hit and how he handled hitting with catching,” said Plawecki, who will likely serve as the team’s backup catcher behind Travis d’Arnaud. “Ultimately, just kind of his process back when he played, and [it’s] good to hear from a guy like him.”

View Full Game Coverage

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Hall of Fame catcher and Mets icon Mike Piazza was in camp Saturday, briefly speaking to reporters and meeting with hitters. Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki, a career .222 hitter who hit .260 last season, said he is taking Piazza’s advice to heart.

“[I’m] just kind of listening to his knowledge on what he thought when he hit and how he handled hitting with catching,” said Plawecki, who will likely serve as the team’s backup catcher behind Travis d’Arnaud. “Ultimately, just kind of his process back when he played, and [it’s] good to hear from a guy like him.”

View Full Game Coverage

The meeting with Piazza was open to all hitters, not just Plawecki and the backstops. Plawecki drove in a run in with a bases-loaded walk and later lined a two-run single before being thrown out at second base in his two plate appearances in the Mets’ 10-5 loss to the Cardinals on Saturday.

Tweet from @Mets: Plawecki talks about having @mikepiazza31 in camp and how he can learn from the #Mets legend. pic.twitter.com/a0SoZv3Sso

Bruce thankful to be back
With Mets stars Yoenis Cespedes and David Wright injured last season, Jay Bruce — who signed a $39 million contract to return to the club last month — stepped up. He slashed .256/.321/.520 with 29 home runs and 75 RBIs in 103 games for New York before a summer trade to the Indians.

Bruce, 31, finished the season with a career-high 36 home runs and posted his most valuable season in WAR (2.9, per Baseball-Reference) since a 5.3 mark as a 26-year-old in 2013 with the Reds. He also hit .278 with two home runs and four RBIs in a five-game American League Division Series loss to the Yankees.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

He’s grateful to be back with the Mets.

“I take a lot of pride in being an impact player in the Major Leagues,” Bruce said. “I’ve been able to stick around. This is gonna be my 11th season, and it’s something I’m going to continue to evolve and get better.”

Bruce said it was the feeling of unfinished business which drew him back to New York, aside from the opportunity to escape the slow free-agent market.

“My wife and I, we love [New York City], so getting here in 2016 and being a part of the playoff team was a lot of fun,” said Bruce, who hit .245 with 37 home runs and 94 RBIs across 153 games with the Mets from 2016-17. “We didn’t play as well as a team as we wanted to last year, but I think we have the pieces in place to bounce back and make some noise.”

Video: Jay Bruce on returning to the Mets

Worth noting
Seth Lugo was strong in his two innings of work against the Cardinals, striking out one and only allowing one hit against eight hitters. As for reliever Kevin McGowan, who was summoned from Minor League camp after being designated for assignment last month, the results were less than stellar. McGowan allowed four runs in two-thirds of an in inning.

• The Mets did a good job forcing All-Star Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez to throw more pitches than he would’ve liked, with the 26-year-old throwing 42 pitches and only getting four outs.

• Though Tim Tebow‘s No. 83 jersey remains up in his locker, there is no news on when the quarterback-turned-outfielder will make his Grapefruit League debut.

• Saturday was Glove Day in Port St. Lucie, with Todd Frazier, Juan Lagares, and Michael Conforto among the players getting new equipment from Wilson Sporting Goods.

Up next: The Mets will host the Marlins on Sunday afternoon at 1:10 ET for the final tilt of their opening three-game homestand. Robert Gsellman will start for the Mets against Tyler Cloyd, with Jeurys Familia, Jerry Blevins, and Rafael Montero among the other pitcher who will see work. Watch the game live on MLB.TV.

Jake Elman is a contributor to MLB.com

House Intelligence Committee releases Dem rebuttal to GOP FISA memo

0

The House Intelligence Committee on Saturday released a Democratic rebuttal to the GOP memo that outlined alleged government surveillance abuses during the 2016 presidential campaign.

This is a developing story, check back for updates.

Father and daughter's ‘Redbone’ remix to sell Girl Scout cookies goes viral

0

These days, young girls are more creative than ever in their attempts to market Girl Scout cookies. From vlogging painfully honest critiques to setting up shop outside a weed dispensary, Generation Z knows how to make a sale. But one trooper is rising above the rest with an adorable remix to Donald Glover’s “Redbone” — the psychedelic soul song that opens Academy Award-nominated thriller “Get Out.”

In “Girl Scout Cookies,” Seymore Harrison Jr. — adorned in a purple “Citizen of Wakanda” “Black Panther” shirt — and a doe-eyed Charity Joy tag-team what might be the cutest baked goods sales pitch of all time. The video, which was posted on February 18, already has nearly 2.5 million views.

“Thin Mints, you wanna order some before it’s too late. We also got Trefoils and they taste great. Tagalongs will make you feel fine,” Charity sings to an instrumental track.

More from The Daily Meal:

“Samoas are coconut cookies with caramel. You wanna get them now because they’re gonna sell. I promise it is worth your time,” the two join in together. “If you want ‘em, you can have ‘em. If you need ‘em, you can buy ‘em, oh! If you want ‘em, you can buy ‘em. Now stay woke, buy these cookies. Girl Scout sellin’ delicious cookies. Now stay woke, buy these cookies. Don’t you wait too late.”

According to Charity’s Girl Scout page it’s this young business woman’s first year selling cookies.

“She set her goal for 1,300 and placed it on her vision board because that gave her a trip to Disney,” Charity’s mom, Patrice Harrison, told The Daily Meal. “She had been to Disney this past summer but I became extreme ill while there and was hospitalized and my husband was out of town so she wanted to reach her goal to go as a family.”

So far, the cute kid has sold over 1,800 boxes out of a new 2,500 goal that would also help her peers unlock fun rewards and activities. People wishing to support Charity’s campaign can do so by purchasing four or more boxes of cookies that cost $4 to $6 each.

But in other news, if you’d rather drink your sweets, Dunkin’ Donuts is introducing three Girl Scout-inspired flavors nationwide on February 26. USA Today reports that the breakfast brand will offer Thin Mint, Coconut Caramel, and Peanut Butter Cookie hot and iced coffees, lattes, macchiatos, and frozen beverages.

This story originally appeared in The Daily Meal.

Police nab twin brother school coaches a week apart on child porn charges

0

Twin brothers have lost their California school jobs after being busted on child pornography charges a week apart in separate cases.

Clifford and Clinton Pappadakis, both 47 and residents of San Jose, face felony charges of possessing child pornography after their arrests by the San Jose Police Department.

Clinton Pappadakis was arrested this week, a week after his brother.

Clifford Pappadakis was a teacher and cross-country coach at Willow Glen Middle School in San Jose. He was fired Dec. 31 while under investigation, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

‘GLEE’ STAR MARK SALLING’S ESTATE MAY NOT PAY CHILD PORNOGRAPHY VICTIMS

Clinton Pappadakis was a track coach at San Jose’s Oak Grove High School for more than 20 years. The East Side Union High School District said he had been released from his coaching duties following his arrest, according the paper.

Scott Young, a rival coach at Santa Teresa High School, told the paper that Clinton Pappadakis was a respected coach. “This is not something I thought was a possibility,” he said. “It’s just sad and disheartening.”

The investigation against Clifford Pappadakis began in September when parents reported him to school staff, police said. They accused him of taking photographs of female students.

The Mercury-News reported that the principal seized Clifford Pappadakis’ school laptop and a USB drive and discovered photos zoomed in the private areas of middle school and high school girls.

The police report says Clifford Pappadakis broke down when he asked the principal for the USB drive back saying that “there were pictures in there that he would not put on the school website,” the paper reported.

The charges against Clifford Pappadakis also include taking exploitive photos of school girls, police said.

RETIRED PRIEST WHO FOUGHT AGAINST CHILD SEX ABUSE ARRESTED FOR CHILD PORNOGRAPHY: REPORT

The police report says the pornographic images of children in the possession of Clifford Pappadakis did not appear to have been taken by him, according to the paper.

The unrelated investigation against Clinton Pappadakis also began in September after he was reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for “suspicious activity,” the paper reported.

Police said they executed a search warrant at Clinton Pappadakis’ home and discovered child pornography on multiple devices.

East Side Union superintendent Chris Funk issued a statement, saying, “We are disappointed to learn of these allegations as we expect our employees to be professional and ethical in their interactions with students, other employees, and the community,” he said.

Amazon is driving head-on into UPS and FedEx

0

Amazon.com has been preparing to go after UPS and FedEx for years. Now, the online retailer looks as though it’s finally making the big leap to into package delivery.

Continue Reading Below

The Wall Street Journal recently reported the launch of a new “Shipping with Amazon” service that ships packages from businesses to customers, and though it currently is only offered in Los Angeles for third-party merchants selling on its website, it seems clear it won’t be long before it becomes an option for anyone to take advantage of nationwide. The real question is, when will Amazon do what’s truly necessary for it to become a viable rival to the shipping giants?

A long time coming

Ever since the shipping debacle of Christmas 2013, when UPS and, to a lesser extent, FedEx were buried under a blizzard of last-minute e-commerce orders that they could not finish delivering until weeks afterward. It left Amazon.com issuing a large number of refunds to customers, and since then, the e-commerce giant has been moving to take greater control of its delivery function.

To reduce its reliance on UPS and FedEx, Amazon undertook a number of initiatives to improve its fulfillment infrastructure:

  • Utilized third-party delivery to a greater degree;
  • Used its dozens of distribution centers to get packages closer to the customer for final-mile delivery;
  • Began developing a drone delivery service;
  • Started an ocean freight service 
  • Tested an Uber-like app that would pay people to drive packages to locations they’re already going toward;
  • A few years ago, it was rumored Amazon seriously considered acquiring FedEx as a means of buying into an existing shipper; more recently it’s been said to be interested in acquiring shipping and logistics firm XPO Logistics (NYSE:XPO)
  • Launched Prime Air, a cargo delivery service, using 40 planes from Atlas Air and Air Transport Services Group
  • Is building an air cargo hub in Kentucky for the service.

At the time of the Prime Air launch, Amazon said the service would be expanded in the coming years. Now, it looks like as though that time has come — and with good reason.

Shipping is a huge expense for Amazon. The company spent $21.7 billion on it worldwide in 2017, a 34% increase over the year before, and almost double what it spent in 2015.

According to The Wall Street Journal report, Amazon could save about $3 per package, or $1.1 billion annually, by having more control over its shipments over long distances. That would allow it to charge even less for goods, a key component of its strategy as rivals like Walmart and Target gear up their own responses to thwart Amazon.

Amazon’s competitive advantage

In its annual filing with the SEC, Amazon notes that improving its operating efficiencies allows it to reduce prices for its customers, and one way it’s able to do that is through shipping offers.

The real change for Amazon will come when it expands this service beyond its own merchants, and deploys an even larger fleet of trucks to assume most or all of its last-mile delivery functions. That may still be years away, unless it acquires XPO or some other transportation firm.

Although the online retailer does have a fleet of trucks it can use to make deliveries, to start anyway, the “last mile” of Shipping with Amazon will still be handled by the U.S. Postal Service and other carriers. But it’s clear it wants to streamline its delivery process even further.

Amazon.com now accounts for between 5% and 10% of UPS’ revenue and 3% of FedEx’s, but the real threat will come when its shipping service starts peeling away customers from the two giants. This new offering folds another layer of the overall customer experience into Amazon’s ecosystem, and soon, it may begin folding more outside businesses in as well.

Continue Reading Below