Saturday, February 17, 2018

Romney, seeking US Senate seat, calls for action against mass shootings

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Just hours after announcing plans to run for a U.S. Senate seat in Utah, former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney took the stage Friday night in Provo to draw attention to a matter clear across the country: this week’s massacre in Florida.

“I think we can’t just sit and wait and hope for things to get better,” Romney said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. “It is wrong and unacceptable for children in our schools to fear for their lives.”

Romney called for preventive measures, such as strengthening the FBI database for firearm background checks and enhancing school security with police patrols and intervention teams, as steps states should consider to prevent such tragedies.

Romney is considered the heavy favorite to replace the retiring Orrin Hatch.

After losing the 2012 presidential race, the former Massachusetts governor moved to Utah, where he has deep roots from his time at Brigham Young University and his role in repairing the image of the scandal-plagued 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Romney briefly outlined his platform for his campaign in a video message posted to Twitter, where he touched on immigration, fiscal responsibility and took what seemed to be a jab at President Donald Trump.

“Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in Washington,” Romney says in the video. “Utah has balanced its budgets. Washington is buried in debt. Utah exports more abroad than it imports. Washington has that backwards. Utah welcomes legal immigrants from around the world. Washington sends immigrants a message of exclusion.”

Romney’s announcement didn’t come as much of a surprise, but it was delayed after Wednesday’s shooting in Parkland, Fla.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. 

Benjamin Brown is a reporter for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bdbrown473.

Chase by Georgetown Police Ends in Arrest

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Image courtesy Georgetown PD

Image courtesy Georgetown PD

A New York man has been arrested by Georgetown Police after a chase early Saturday morning.   Police tried to stop the vehicle for a traffic violation on Route 113.  The driver – sped off and ended up heading northbound on the southbound side of Route 113.  Near Ellendale he tried to cross the median and lost control of the vehicle.  The driver ran off on foot but was located and arrested near Route 16.  Police found marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin and Oxycodone pills and over $5700 in cash as well as several guns and boxes of ammunition.  Police have charged 40 year old Dakwan Taylor with multiple drug and weapons offenses.  He’s being held at SCI in default of a cash bond.


 

Girl, 4, fatally shot inside car; suspect arrested

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Authorities say a suspect in the fatal shooting of a 4-year-old girl sitting in a car with young siblings and her grandmother in northeastern Ohio has been arrested.

Police say 31-year-old Darnell Bitting was arrested around 4 p.m. Saturday in Akron

Akron police spokesman Lt. Rick Edwards says the shooting happened around 10:30 p.m. Friday after the children’s mother pulled in front of a house to retrieve belongings and broke windows when no one answered the door.

Edwards says a man stepped outside with a rifle and fired one shot at the car, striking the 4-year-old, who was sitting in the back seat. She was pronounced dead at an Akron hospital. The other children are girls ages 3, 6 and 7.

Police have not identified the girl or her mother.

Woman killed husband, 2 adult kids before killing herself

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Autopsies show a suburban Detroit woman fatally shot her husband, son and daughter before killing herself.

The Oakland County medical examiner’s office says 47-year-old Daniel Stuart was a victim of a homicide, along with 27-year-old Steven Stuart and 24-year-old Bethany Stuart.

Investigator Keith Batchelor tells the Detroit Free Press that 45-year-old Lauren Stuart killed herself with a gun. The bodies were discovered Friday at their home in Keego Harbor, which is about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northwest of Detroit.

A neighbor, Jacquelyn Tristani, says the family was quiet and that Lauren Stuart would occasionally borrow tools. She says sometimes “you don’t know your neighbors like you maybe should.”

___

Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com

Vatican investigator meets with Chile abuse victim in NYC

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A Vatican sex-crimes investigator is meeting in New York with one of the key victims in the Chilean abuse scandal that involves a bishop Pope Francis has vigorously defended.

The meeting on Saturday between Archbishop Charles Scicluna and whistleblower Juan Carlos Cruz will take place at a Roman Catholic church in Manhattan, the same day Pope Francis revived his lapsed sex abuse advisory commission by naming new members, after coming under fire for his overall handling of the scandal.

The initial three-year mandate of commission members had lapsed two months ago, on Dec. 17. Francis named nine new members Saturday and kept seven from the initial group. A Vatican statement said survivors of abuse are included, but didn’t identify them to protect their privacy.

Meanwhile, Scicluna is investigating accusations against Bishop Juan Barros, a protege of Chile’s most notorious predator priest, the Rev. Fernando Karadima.

Cruz and two others have said Barros witnessed the abuse Karadima inflicted on them and ignored it. Barros has denied seeing or knowing of any abuse.

“I never knew anything about, nor ever imagined, the serious abuses which that priest committed against the victims,” he told The Associated Press recently.

The Vatican removed Karadima from ministry and sentenced him to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” in 2010 for his crimes. But Francis angered many when he appointed Barros the bishop of Osorno, Chile, in 2015.

Francis vetoed a proposal from the leadership of Chile’s bishops that Barros and two other bishops trained by Karadima resign and take a year’s sabbatical.

Francis has said he overruled the recommendation and rejected Barros’ resignation twice because he had no evidence of Barros’ wrongdoing.

But the AP reported this month that Francis received an eight-page letter from Cruz in April 2015 detailing his abuse and Barros’ complicity. Cruz had mailed similar versions of the letter to the pope and his ambassador in Santiago but never received any response.

Cruz now lives and works in Philadelphia. During an interview on Friday night with the Associated Press, Cruz said that several people had asked him to send information to Scicluna.

“I know about four or five people, priests and people who are not priests” who want to send information to the archbishop, he said. Some of them will also be interviewed by Scicluna, he added.

Cruz also said that during his meeting Saturday he will tell Scicluna about the alleged role that Chilean Cardinals Francisco Javier Errázuriz and Ricardo Ezzati played in the cover-up. The cardinals have all publicly denied any wrongdoing. He said he will also mention the names of some bishops, who, like Barros, were taught by Karadima.

“I think these bishops also need to be sanctioned,” he said. “They had a very active role in all of this. They saw the same as Barros saw.”

Scicluna had planned to speak with him by Skype but switched to an in-person interview in New York after the AP reported that Cruz’s letter had been hand-delivered to the pope.

In the letter written in Spanish, Cruz begs for Francis to listen to him and make good on his pledge of “zero tolerance” for sex abuse.

He described how Karadima would kiss Barros and fondle his genitals, and do the same with younger priests and teens, and how young priests and seminarians would fight to sit next to Karadima at the table to receive his affections.

“More difficult and tough was when we were in Karadima’s room and Juan Barros — if he wasn’t kissing Karadima — would watch when Karadima would touch us — the minors — and make us kiss him, saying: ‘Put your mouth near mine and stick out your tongue.’ He would stick his out and kiss us with his tongue,” Cruz told the pope. “Juan Barros was a witness to all this innumerable times, not just with me but with others as well.”

“Juan Barros covered up everything that I have told you,” he added.

5 ways to combat package theft

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With more and more American consumers shopping online, package theft is a legitimate concern for busy homeowners. According to a recent study from video security company Blink, rural areas have a higher rate of packages being stolen, citing North Dakota, Vermont, Arkansas and New Mexico as the states with the highest rates of package theft.

No matter how major or minor a purchase may be, no one wants to have their deliveries stolen before they even make it inside the house. To that end, Blink’s in-house home expert David Laubner shared five savvy strategies for combatting package theft and keeping your home secure.

MILLENNIALS CAN ACTUALLY AFFORD HOMES IN THESE 5 CITIES — PROBABLY

1. Schedule deliveries for when you are home

“Many delivery services will give you options for scheduling a package delivery. For instance, if you work all week, you may be able to pay a little extra to have the item sent to your home over the weekend. Other companies even offer night deliveries!” Laubner advises. “If your schedule is sporadic, more often than not you can request a specific window of time during which the package will be delivered”

2. Leave delivery drop-off instructions

“Want your package placed at the back door or behind a planter on your porch instead? Leave a note specifying what less conspicuous spot you would like it left. Some frequent shoppers have even opted for a locked box on their front steps, and provided the delivery driver with the combination!”

“You can specify the specific drop-off location and instructions ahead of time with the USPS, FedEx and UPS online.”

COUPLE WHO BOUGHT ‘AMERICAN HORROR STORY’ MANSION SUES SELLER, ALLEGING NOBODY TOLD THEM HOME’S HISTORY

3. Install an outdoor security camera

“Position an outdoor home security camera to point directly at your front door so you can keep an eye out for weekly deliveries like Amazon Prime, Blue Apron, Stitch Fix and more,” Laubner says.

4. Require a signature upon delivery

“If you have a spouse, roommate, or adult child that is at home during the day, opt to have the delivery service carrier require a signature before handing off the package. This way there is documentation of both the written transaction and an actual delivery of the item.”

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5. Place security stickers and yard signs on your property

“Something that always keeps burglars guessing are security yard signs and stickers. Place them strategically in areas of your property where they will catch the attention of someone walking on your property,” Laubner suggests.

“For example, yard signs should be placed as close to the street as possible (and in more than one location!), whereas stickers should be placed on first floor windows and glass screen doors. Show that your home isn’t one to be messed with!”

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

Trump pushes back against 'Fake News Media' coverage of Russian meddling

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President Trump pushed back Saturday against coverage by what he called the “Fake News Media” on revelations about Russian meddling in the 2016 election — saying the meddling began well before he ran for office and citing a Facebook official who said swaying the election was not Russia’s main goal.

A federal grand jury on Friday indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies for allegedly interfering in the 2016 presidential election, in a case brought by FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller that detailed a plot to “sow discord in the U.S. political system.”

On Twitter, Trump cited parts of the indictment that said the Russian-based Internet Research Agency started work in 2014 — which he noted was long before he announced his run for the presidency in June 2015.

“Maybe they knew I was going to run even though I didn’t know,” he quipped.

He then quote-retweeted the vice president of Facebook ads, Rob Goldman, who had written that the majority of the Russian spending on ads occurred after the election, and that swaying the election was not the main goal of those ads.

“The Fake News Media never fails,” Trump tweeted, presumably referring to coverage he believes has played down those details.

Goldman, however, had gone on to clarify that “the Russian campaign was certainly in favor of Trump.”

Earlier, Trump tweeted a quote from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who said at a news conference Friday that the indictment does not allege that there was any American who knowingly participated in illegal activity from the Russians.

Notably, Trump stayed away from attacking the investigation or Mueller directly, instead hailing the indictment as vindication of his claim that there was no collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign.

Trump tweeted Friday that “The Trump campaign did nothing wrong — no collusion!”

“The results of the election were not impacted.”

– Presidential tweet

“Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President,” Trump tweeted. “The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”

In the 37-page indictment, signed by Mueller, the defendants are accused of spreading derogatory information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, denigrating Republican candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio — and ultimately supporting Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and Trump.

Rosenstein said the scheme involved setting up hundreds of social media accounts using stolen or fictitious identities to make it appear as if the accounts were controlled by individuals in the U.S. He said the defendants posed as politically active Americans and recruited “real Americans” to stage rallies and engage in political activities — although he added that those Americans did not know they were communicating with Russians.

13 RUSSIAN NATIONALS INDICTED FOR INTERFERING IN US ELECTIONS

He also said that after the election, the group worked to sow discord by staging rallies both in favor of President-elect Trump and in opposition to him.

According to the special counsel, the indictment charges the defendants with conspiracy to defraud the United States, three defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants with aggravated identity theft.

Fox News’ Judson Berger and Alex Pappas 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.

Mueller team alleges Manafort 'bank fraud,' in new court filings

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his legal team say they have uncovered additional “bank fraud” and other “criminal conduct” by Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign manager, according to court documents obtained by Fox News.

The allegations are part of negotiations between Mueller’s team and Manafort’s lawyers to allow their client to remain free on $10 million bail.

Manafort was indicted in October on federal charges of money laundering and failing to register as  a foreign agent, in connection with Mueller’s investigation for the Justice Department into whether President Trump or any of his campaign associates colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential elections.

The document signed Friday by Mueller’s team is in response to Manafort lawyers’ continuing efforts to present a bail package — essentially based on Manafort’s real estate holdings — to keep their client out of confinement and allow him some freedom to leave his Northern Virginia residence.

“The proposed package is deficient in the government’s view, in light of additional criminal conduct that we have learned since the court’s initial bail determination,” Mueller’s team wrote. “That criminal conduct includes a series of bank frauds and bank fraud conspiracies, including criminal conduct relating to the mortgage on the Fairfax (Virginia) property, which Manafort seeks to pledge.” 

Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after briefing the U.S. House Intelligence Committee on his investigation of potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein - RC12D3A49610

The document also states that the federal government has “substantial evidence” that Manafort secured that mortgage through a series of false and fraudulent representations to The Federal Savings Bank — including “doctored profit and loss statements.”

The team said it would provide more evidence at Manafort’s next bail hearing — “which the court may find relevant to the bail risk posed by Manafort.”

Manafort’s legal team did not respond to email requests Saturday for comment on the Mueller team allegations.

Lawyers and the defendants are under a gag order imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, limiting their out-of-court statements about the case, according to Politico.

The Mueller team’s overarching argument in the document appears to be that a bank or banks could foreclose on at least some of the properties in the package, which means that they could no longer be included in Manafort’s bail package.

“The Fairfax property is claimed by Manafort to have no mortgage. In fact, it was posted to secure a mortgage of over $9 million from The Federal Savings Bank,” the Mueller team also wrote. “It is misleading to claim the Fairfax property has no mortgage.”

Mikaela Shiffrin admits to napping between Olympic skiing runs

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That’s one way to go for the gold.

On Feb. 15, skier Mikaela Shiffrin took home gold for Team USA in the women’s giant slalom event. While her Olympic competitors were likely abuzz with anxiety, the 22-year-old Colorado native kept her cool with a customary ritual before her victory-cinching second run: napping.

“I do it on every race. There’s always a little bit of time between the first and the second run and I think I had an hour today where I could sort of lie down for an hour on a bench in corner of the lodge,” Shiffrin told USA Today. “Yeah, I had my music on, my big headphones and noise canceling so I couldn’t hear anything except my music and I fell asleep.’’

RED STRIPE BUYS JAMAICAN BOBSLED TEAM NEW SLED AFTER COACH QUITS

“Today I didn’t really fall asleep, but it was somewhere in between. It’s nice,” she added. “For me, that’s one of my favorite times during a race day is when I can like lie down and take a deep breath and get ready for the next run.’’

Of course, Twitter had a lot to say about the ski star’s wellness habit, likening her to a “superhuman.” As evidenced by photos she’s shared on social media, Shiffrin is a longtime fan of rest and relaxation.

DESIGNERS SPILL SECRETS OF OLYMPIC FIGURE SKATING OUTFITS

“Level of calm I aspire to achieve: Mikaela Shiffrin being able to take a nap in between slalom runs competing for a gold medal…” one user wrote.

“While you were sleeping: Mikaela Shiffrin took a nap, then won gold. As one does,” another quipped.

An essential element of her daily regime, Shiffrin told Outside Magazine that though she averages at ten hours of sleep every night, she wakes up excited to later go back to bed.

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“[T]he first thought I’ll have [upon waking up] is: I cannot wait for my nap today. I don’t care what else happens. I can’t wait to get back in bed,” she told the outlet.

Envisioning victory on the slope sounds like sweet dreams, indeed.

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

13 dead as helicopter assessing Mexico quake damage plummets

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Thirteen people were killed and 16 injured when a military helicopter carrying high-ranking officials to assess the damage from a powerful earthquake crashed in southern Mexico, officials said Saturday.

All the victims were on the ground.

The Oaxaca state prosecutor’s office said in a statement that Friday’s crash resulted in the deaths of five women, four men and three children at the scene. An injured victim died later at the hospital.

A state government official said the chopper crashed into a group of people who had been spending the night outside after a powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the area Friday in the early evening. Aftershocks had caused people to flee their homes for fear they would collapse.

The Defense Department said the crash happened as the Blackhawk helicopter was preparing to land on a vacant lot in the city of Jamiltepec, about 19 miles from the area of Pinotepa Nacional.

Mexico’s Interior Department said that the helicopter was carrying Secretary Alfonso Navarrete and Oaxaca state Gov. Alejandro Murat, who were evaluating reports of damage from the earthquake. Neither suffered serious injuries.

Earlier reports said the chopper crashed on top of two vans in an open field.

Both Navarrete and the defense department said they regretted the loss of life in Friday’s accident.

The same city where the accident occurred also saw significant destruction from the earthquake. About 50 homes were damaged, as well as the town hall and church, according to the Interior Department.

Two people suffered fractures and non-life threatening injuries in Pinotepa Nacional in Santiago Jamiltepec.

The damage was minimal compared with the toll from an 8.2-magnitude quake that struck in the same general area on Sept. 7 and a 7.1 quake on Sept. 19, which killed 471 people and damaged over 180,000 houses in eight states, including Mexico City.

But 5.8 aftershock that struck Friday, about an hour after the 7.2-magnitude quake led some residents of Jamiltepec to decide to spend the night outdoors, a common practice after strong shakes in the balmy region.

The military helicopter apparently flipped and fell on top of the townspeople as it attempted to land.

Navarrete told local media that “as the army helicopter we were travelling in tried to land, the pilot lost control, the helicopter fell and flipped.”

Jorge Morales, a local reporter who was aboard the helicopter when it crashed, described harrowing moments as the pilot lost control and the helicopter attempted to touch down in a swirl of dust.

“The moment the helicopter touched down it lost control, it slid– like it skidded– and it hit some vehicles that were parked alongside the area that had been defined for the landing,” he told a Mexican television news program. “In that moment, you couldn’t see anything, nothing else was heard beside the sound that iron makes when it scrapes the earth.”

The U.S. Geological Survey originally put the magnitude of Friday’s quake at 7.5 but later lowered it to 7.2.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The Latest: Chile abuse victim: story is finally heard

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The Latest on a Vatican sex-crimes investigator meeting in New York with one of the key victims in the Chilean abuse scandal (all times local):

3 p.m.

A key victim in the Chilean sex abuse scandal says he feels his story finally has been heard after meeting with a Vatican sex-crimes investigator for more than three hours.

Whistleblower Juan Carlos Cruz met with Archbishop Charles Scicluna at a Roman Catholic church in Manhattan on Saturday.

Scicluna is investigating accusations against Bishop Juan Barros, a protege of Chile’s most notorious predator priest, the Rev. Fernando Karadima.

Cruz and two others have said Barros witnessed the abuse Karadima inflicted on them and ignored it. Barros has denied seeing or knowing of any abuse.

The scandal has tarred the reputation of Pope Francis. Francis angered many when he appointed Barros a bishop in 2015. On Saturday, the pope revived his lapsed sex abuse advisory commission by naming new members.

___

12:01 a.m.

A Vatican sex-crimes investigator is meeting in New York with one of the key victims in the Chilean abuse scandal.

Saturday’s meeting between Archbishop Charles Scicluna and whistleblower Juan Carlos Cruz will take place at a Roman Catholic church in Manhattan.

Scicluna is investigating accusations against Bishop Juan Barros, a protege of Chile’s most notorious predator priest, the Rev. Fernando Karadima.

Cruz and two others have said Barros witnessed the abuse Karadima inflicted on them and ignored it. Barros has denied seeing or knowing of any abuse.

The scandal has tarred the reputation of Pope Francis. Francis angered many when he appointed Barros a bishop in 2015.

Senate's voting order on immigration plans a likely factor in this week's failures

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The Senate perhaps failed this week to advance any of its immigration-border security plans because of the order in which members voted on the four proposals.

Pitchers and catchers are now in Arizona and Florida for spring training. And even in Cactus and Grapefruit League games, the batting order means a lot in baseball.

A speedy guy with a high on-base percentage hits first. Someone who makes contact a lot bats second. The “RBI” men bat third, fourth and fifth. The light-hitting folks just north of the Mendoza line bat seventh and eighth. In the National League, pitchers hit ninth.

But what if the rules were tilted so that in a clutch situation, the home team required the visitors to bring up their worst hitters? What if the rules dictated that when home team had its best hitters coming to the plate in the bottom of the ninth that the visitors had to summon their worst reliever from the bullpen?

It doesn’t work that way in baseball. Everyone bats in the same order, regardless of circumstances, unless there’s a pinch-hitter.

There’s a typical batting order in the Senate, too. And while it may be advantageous to some to alter the lineup depending on the “game” situation, it’s not really practical and doesn’t align with Senate custom.

That may be why the Senate failed to advance any plan this week on immigration, DACA and border security.

The senate majority leader is the “first among equals.” It’s Senate tradition to yield to the leader, who’s first to speak on the floor, sets the schedule, determines what issues are in play and sets up the voting order.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arranged an agreement with all 100 senators Thursday afternoon to take procedural votes on four amendments.

Each required 60 to end debate. The primary amendment was a border security/DACA/immigration measure backed by President Trump, pushed by conservatives and drafted by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

Next was a bipartisan approach written mainly by Sens. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., and Angus King, Independent-Maine, and facilitated by Susan Collins, R-Maine.  Then there was an initiative by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.,  to bar sanctuary cities from receiving federal assistance.

Finally, there was a DREAM Act/border security measure written by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Chris Coons, D-Del.

The so-called DREAM Act would provide permanent, legal protections for immgrants brought to the U.S illegally by their parents.

The are temporarily protected by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program that Trump is ending.

Congressional Republicans are also trying improve federal immigration policy, particularly ending immigration programs based on family ties or a lottery that they argue pose security risks.  

The Senate usually votes on amendments in reverse. So McCain/Coons was first, followed by Toomey, then Rounds/King and finally, Grassley. McConnell made it clear he supported the Grassley effort. And since McConnell is majority leader, he made the Grassley amendment the “baseline” for the immigration/DACA debate.

But this is where things get interesting.

On Wednesday night, multiple sources indicated that the voting sequence could be key to advance any measure. In other words, the Senate may need a good power hitter at the plate at just the right moment. Or perhaps the leadoff man capable of swiping a base or two.

The Rounds/King bipartisan package was slotted as the third of four votes in the Senate queue. And since the plan was bipartisan, it’s no surprise that amendment scored the most votes: 54. But it needed 60 to break a filibuster. The fourth-and-final vote was the conservative, partisan plan pushed by McConnell and President Trump.

In a stunning rebuke, that measure commanded a meager 39 yeas. In fact 60 senators voted against ending debate on that effort. It takes 60 yeas to quash a filibuster or “invoke cloture” in the Senate. Sixty nays is like invoking reverse cloture. In fact, just moments before the roll call tally, Grassley told senators in a floor speech that his amendment “is the only plan that can become law because the president supports it.”

And then Grassley got clocked.

It’s typical for the majority leader to favor the baseline or “preferred” piece of legislation, perhaps slotting it in the final-vote position. But multiple sources on both sides of the aisle argued that the Senate may have had a better chance at kissing 60 yeas to break a filibuster had leaders rejiggered the sequence so that the bipartisan measure went last.

Such a maneuver wouldn’t have been unprecedented. But it would have been rare and perhaps tricky parliamentarily.

The bipartisan package had the most votes. So if it’s the final vote, some senators believe they could have persuaded a few more of their colleagues to vote yes. After all, it’s a “bipartisan” effort. And it was the last-ditch effort to do something on immigration and DACA. No other amendment marshaled 60 yeas. Senators would realize the impasse would continue. That’s why some suggest that senators who weren’t originally enamored with the bipartisan package may have accepted something less than perfect and voted yes.

By the same token, Senate sources argue that the sequencing may have condemned the Grassley plan to receive the fewest votes. By its nature, the final vote was on a conservative amendment. It was likely to only court Republicans — though three Democrats voted yes: Sens. Joe Donnelly, of Indiana; Joe Manchin, of West Virginia; and Heidi Heitkamp, of North Dakota.

All are moderate Democrats facing competitive re-elections this fall in states Trump won in 2016. A staggering 13 Republican senators voted nay, rejecting the wishes of the president. It’s possible the number of no votes ballooned because senators realized the gig was up and nothing could hit 60.

So Republicans voted nay, not only because they disliked the conservative plan, but because some realized the impasse would continue. It wasn’t worth voting yes on something doomed to fail. That may have helped suppress the vote total on the Grassley package.

That said, there were a lot of factors working against the bipartisan measure.

Just before the vote, Sen. Tom Cotton — an Arkansas Republican and ardent supporter of the Grassley measure — decried the bipartisan initiative as the “olly olly oxen free amendment.”

Perhaps. But it may have encountered a different fate with a different vote structure.

But just like in baseball, the Senate can’t change the lineup just to receive a desired outcome. Bringing up the number three batter when the number seven batter is due at the plate. And it’s not even clear that everyone wanted an outcome on immigration, DACA and border security.

Teams substitute on the fly in football, basketball and hockey to get the best matchup they can against an opponent. But in baseball, batting order remains the same unless there are pinch-hitters, pinch-runners and double-switches. In baseball, you accept the matchup as it comes. And the same is true in the U.S. Senate.

Senate's voting order on immgration plans likely factor in this week's failures

0

The Senate perhaps failed this week to advance any of its immigration-border security plans because of the order in which members voted on the four proposals.

Pitchers and catchers are now in Arizona and Florida for spring training. And even in Cactus and Grapefruit League games, the batting order means a lot in baseball.

A speedy guy with a high on-base percentage hits first. Someone who makes contact a lot bats second. The “RBI” men bat third, fourth and fifth. The light-hitting folks just north of the Mendoza line bat seventh and eighth. In the National League, pitchers hit ninth.

But what if the rules were tilted so that in a clutch situation, the home team required the visitors to bring up their worst hitters? What if the rules dictated that when home team had its best hitters coming to the plate in the bottom of the ninth that the visitors had to summon their worst reliever from the bullpen?

It doesn’t work that way in baseball. Everyone bats in the same order, regardless of circumstances, unless there’s a pinch-hitter.

There’s a typical batting order in the Senate, too. And while it may be advantageous to some to alter the lineup depending on the “game” situation, it’s not really practical and doesn’t align with Senate custom.

That may be why the Senate failed to advance any plan this week on immigration, DACA and border security.

The senate majority leader is the “first among equals.” It’s Senate tradition to yield to the leader, who’s first to speak on the floor, sets the schedule, determines what issues are in play and sets up the voting order.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arranged an agreement with all 100 senators Thursday afternoon to take procedural votes on four amendments.

Each required 60 to end debate. The primary amendment was a border security/DACA/immigration measure backed by President Trump, pushed by conservatives and drafted by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

Next was a bipartisan approach written mainly by Sens. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., and Angus King, Independent-Maine, and facilitated by Susan Collins, R-Maine.  Then there was an initiative by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.,  to bar sanctuary cities from receiving federal assistance.

Finally, there was a DREAM Act/border security measure written by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Chris Coons, D-Del.

The so-called DREAM Act would provide permanent, legal protections for immgrants brought to the U.S illegally by their parents.

The are temporarily protected by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program that Trump is ending.

Congressional Republicans are also trying improve federal immigration policy, particularly ending immigration programs based on family ties or a lottery that they argue pose security risks.  

The Senate usually votes on amendments in reverse. So McCain/Coons was first, followed by Toomey, then Rounds/King and finally, Grassley. McConnell made it clear he supported the Grassley effort. And since McConnell is majority leader, he made the Grassley amendment the “baseline” for the immigration/DACA debate.

But this is where things get interesting.

On Wednesday night, multiple sources indicated that the voting sequence could be key to advance any measure. In other words, the Senate may need a good power hitter at the plate at just the right moment. Or perhaps the leadoff man capable of swiping a base or two.

The Rounds/King bipartisan package was slotted as the third of four votes in the Senate queue. And since the plan was bipartisan, it’s no surprise that amendment scored the most votes: 54. But it needed 60 to break a filibuster. The fourth-and-final vote was the conservative, partisan plan pushed by McConnell and President Trump.

In a stunning rebuke, that measure commanded a meager 39 yeas. In fact 60 senators voted against ending debate on that effort. It takes 60 yeas to quash a filibuster or “invoke cloture” in the Senate. Sixty nays is like invoking reverse cloture. In fact, just moments before the roll call tally, Grassley told senators in a floor speech that his amendment “is the only plan that can become law because the president supports it.”

And then Grassley got clocked.

It’s typical for the majority leader to favor the baseline or “preferred” piece of legislation, perhaps slotting it in the final-vote position. But multiple sources on both sides of the aisle argued that the Senate may have had a better chance at kissing 60 yeas to break a filibuster had leaders rejiggered the sequence so that the bipartisan measure went last.

Such a maneuver wouldn’t have been unprecedented. But it would have been rare and perhaps tricky parliamentarily.

The bipartisan package had the most votes. So if it’s the final vote, some senators believe they could have persuaded a few more of their colleagues to vote yes. After all, it’s a “bipartisan” effort. And it was the last-ditch effort to do something on immigration and DACA. No other amendment marshaled 60 yeas. Senators would realize the impasse would continue. That’s why some suggest that senators who weren’t originally enamored with the bipartisan package may have accepted something less than perfect and voted yes.

By the same token, Senate sources argue that the sequencing may have condemned the Grassley plan to receive the fewest votes. By its nature, the final vote was on a conservative amendment. It was likely to only court Republicans — though three Democrats voted yes: Sens. Joe Donnelly, of Indiana; Joe Manchin, of West Virginia; and Heidi Heitkamp, of North Dakota.

All are moderate Democrats facing competitive re-elections this fall in states Trump won in 2016. A staggering 13 Republican senators voted nay, rejecting the wishes of the president. It’s possible the number of no votes ballooned because senators realized the gig was up and nothing could hit 60.

So Republicans voted nay, not only because they disliked the conservative plan, but because some realized the impasse would continue. It wasn’t worth voting yes on something doomed to fail. That may have helped suppress the vote total on the Grassley package.

That said, there were a lot of factors working against the bipartisan measure.

Just before the vote, Sen. Tom Cotton — an Arkansas Republican and ardent supporter of the Grassley measure — decried the bipartisan initiative as the “olly olly oxen free amendment.”

Perhaps. But it may have encountered a different fate with a different vote structure.

But just like in baseball, the Senate can’t change the lineup just to receive a desired outcome. Bringing up the number three batter when the number seven batter is due at the plate. And it’s not even clear that everyone wanted an outcome on immigration, DACA and border security.

Teams substitute on the fly in football, basketball and hockey to get the best matchup they can against an opponent. But in baseball, batting order remains the same unless there are pinch-hitters, pinch-runners and double-switches. In baseball, you accept the matchup as it comes. And the same is true in the U.S. Senate.

Stock market's new 'wall Of worry' is built on inflation and rate fears

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The U.S. stock market on Friday posted one of its best weekly performances in years, recapturing half of the losses from the startling market correction earlier this month and discovering a new “wall of worry” to climb. 

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The S&P 500 closed nearly flat at 2,732. 22 on Friday and booked a 4.3% weekly gain, and is now only 5% below the all-time peak set in January. Dow industrials also halved its peak-to-trough losses, while both indexes are up about 2% year to date. 

The latest six-day advance was only briefly interrupted Friday by the indictment of 13 Russian citizens for allegedly interfering in the 2016 U.S. election.

Investors will have a chance to reflect on the performance over a three-day weekend, with U.S. financial markets closedon Monday in observance of the Presidents Day holiday. 

Erin Browne, head of asset allocation at UBS in a note to clients said the recent selloff that sent markets into their first 10% correction in two years had been primarily driven by technicals rather than fundamentals. 

“Events over the past few weeks serve as a salutary reminder of both the dangers of crowded positions and of the power of technical forces when combined with consensual positioning,” Browne said. 

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“Importantly, we do not believe that the very strong global growth and earnings backdrop has suddenly evaporated,” she said. 

Indeed, the fourth-quarter earnings season has been quite remarkable. According to John Butters, senior earnings analyst at FactSet, out of around 400 S&P 500 companies who have reported results, 75% beat on profits and 78% beat sales estimates. 

Whether the stock market fully regains confidence in earnings and the economy will become clear in the next few weeks. 

So far, a V-shaped recovery is taking hold, matching the speed of the decline, though investors aren’t quite out of the woods yet, according to Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. 

“Seasoned investors will be watching for the retests of the lows. For now, we just added a new wall of worry to climb and that is inflation,” said Krosby. 

The wall of worry is a term used to describe the stock market’s tendency to overcome potentially negative factors as it climbs. It’s a contrarian concept in that investors fear stocks can stall once the concerns making up the wall of worry have been dispatched. 

Interestingly, fears of rising inflation and higher borrowing costs–whether rational or irrational–were blamed for triggering the stock market selloff in the first place. 

“We are no longer in the Goldilocks environment, when bad news was good news. Now, the good news is seen as bad news. The market is trying to figure out whether the growth in earnings will keep up with the pace of inflation,” Krosby said. 

Investors have reasons to fear inflation, even though it has remained subdued for a long time. Even the latest data show that inflation is still below trend and the Federal Reserve’s target of 2%. 

Higher inflation and subsequent higher borrowing costs can destabilize companies and households with high debt levels. Unwinding of highly leveraged portfolios would almost certainly hit risky assets such as stocks or junk bonds. 

But even if stocks post positive returns amid heightened volatility, higher inflation (whether driven by solid economic growth or not) would reduce real returns or both stocks and bonds. 

What has changed in the big picture is how the Fed operates in an environment of rising inflation and rising interest rates, Krosby said. 

“We’re in a situation where the Fed is actively trying to reduce their balance sheet by selling bonds at the same time when the government will need to borrow more than a trillion dollars to finance the deficit. Yields will have to go higher,” Krosby said. 

“Markets will be fine with higher yields and higher inflation as long as the economy is solidly expanding and companies are able to pass on the price hikes onto the consumers,” Krosby said. 

Next week, investors will be able to get some clues about the Federal Reserve’s thinking from the minutes of the January policy meeting, the last chaired by Janet Yellen. 

The new chairman, Jerome Powell, in remarks during his swearing-in ceremony on Feb. 13 suggested that the Fed will push ahead with scheduled rate increases. Meanwhile, other policy makers played down market volatility. 

Apart from Fed minutes due on Wednesday at 2 p.m. Eastern, the calendar is light on economic news. Flash PMI and existing home sales figures are due on Wednesday and weekly jobless claims are due on Thursday. 

Several Fed officials are also scheduled to speak. Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President Patrick Harker and Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari are scheduled to speak on Wednesday. New York Federal Reserve Bank President William Dudley is slated to speak on Thursday, while Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President Loretta Mester and San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams have speaking engagements on Friday.

Why General Motors Could Be Leaving Korea for Good

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In recent years, General Motors (NYSE: GM) has posted consistently strong profits in its two largest markets: North America and China. However it has struggled in the rest of the world. As a result, management has moved aggressively since 2015 to exit markets where there was no clear path to sustainable profitability.

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These moves helped lift the General to a record profit in 2017. That said, one long-standing problem remains: GM Korea. The company has signaled that fixing its Korean business is a top priority for 2018. It’s seeming increasingly likely that GM will ultimately have to end its manufacturing operations there to achieve this goal.

General Motors begins the downsizing process

Management first publicly raised the need for restructuring at GM Korea during General Motors’ fourth-quarter earnings call earlier this month. The company didn’t wait long to get started. Last week, it announced that it will close its manufacturing complex in Gunsan by the end of May.

The Gunsan plant has been running at about 20% of capacity for the past three years, which is a recipe for big losses. This underutilization came about mainly from GM’s late-2013 decision to stop selling Korean-built Chevrolets in Europe in the face of heavy losses. To make matters worse, domestic sales in South Korea plunged 27% last year.

In conjunction with closing the Gunsan facility, General Motors expects to record a one-time asset impairment charge of approximately $475 million. It will also incur cash charges of up to $375 million for severance pay and other labor-related expenses.

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This is just the start

GM has signaled that it is just beginning its restructuring effort in South Korea. The company operates three additional assembly plants in the country, and it will make decisions about their future in the coming weeks. Closing all of them is not out of the question.

Indeed, GM Korea’s problems go far deeper than underutilization of its factory capacity. Labor costs have increased by more than 50% since 2010, according to GM President Dan Ammann. Meanwhile, worker productivity is dreadful. It takes almost three hours longer to build a car in GM’s Korean factories than at its U.S. facilities. Periodic strikes have further crippled profitability in the country.

Nevertheless, General Motors has presented a plan to preserve thousands of jobs and maintain a significant manufacturing presence in South Korea. This would entail allocating new products to the country and making significant investments to retool the remaining production facilities.

There are big strings attached to this offer, though. GM seems to want some combination of tax breaks, a capital infusion from the Korea Development Bank (already a minority shareholder in GM Korea), and pay concessions by the labor union.

It will take a miracle to save this sinking ship

General Motors has stated that it needs to make critical product allocation decisions in early March, so there isn’t much time to reach a consensus among all of the interested parties in South Korea. This makes it rather unlikely that GM will be able to salvage its Korean unit.

Predictably, the labor union has come out swinging, blaming GM Korea’s problems on bad management and opposing any layoffs or pay cuts. It’s hard to see the union completely reversing course in the next few weeks — and as long as the union refuses to compromise, it would be irresponsible of GM’s management to throw good money after bad by making further investments in South Korea.

If General Motors does decide to wind down manufacturing in South Korea, a lot of GM Korea’s production could be reallocated to Mexico (and perhaps also China and India). Mexico’s broad network of trade deals and relatively low operating costs make it an ideal export hub. The additional volume could also help keep GM’s Mexican factories busy if the company is forced to move some production from Mexico to the U.S. to appease the Trump administration.

Most of the big decisions about the future of GM Korea will be made within the next month. As of now, the likelihood of a successful restructuring seems quite small.

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Adam Levine-Weinberg owns shares of General Motors. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The FBI looks like the Federal Bureau of Incompetence after ignoring warning about Florida gunman

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Wasn’t there something eerily and disgracefully familiar about the news that the FBI had a highly specific warning about the murderous intentions of Nikolas Cruz, the gunman who has confessed to shooting and killing 14 students and three adults at a Florida high school Wednesday?

Doesn’t it remind you of the way that after nearly every single one of the Islamist terror attacks of the last few years – whether in America, in Britain or elsewhere – a devastating phrase soon emerges? The attacker was “known to the authorities.”

Just take the case of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombers. We learned soon afterwards that the Russian authorities handed the FBI a file on one of them, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, in 2011 detailing his links to radical Islam.

In congressional testimony, the then-director of the FBI – yes, it was our old friend Robert Mueller – also admitted that Tsarnaev had come to the attention of the FBI on two previous occasions. Worse, the FBI received two tips in 2012 regarding Tsarnaev’s links to extremists connected to a Boston mosque.

Despite all these specific warnings to the FBI, Tsarnaev and his brother went on to mount their vile attack. Three people died and hundreds were injured, including 16 who lost limbs.

The Fort Hood attacker, Army Maj. Nidal Hassan, was known to the FBI before he shot and killed 13 people and injured 30 others in 2009. The Pulse nightclub killer, Omar Mateen, who shot and killed 49 people and wounded 58 others in 2016, had been investigated by the FBI months before.

And now this: last September, the FBI received a tip about someone called “Nikolas Cruz” who was boasting online about his plans to become a “professional school shooter.” In January, there was an even more specific warning.

It’s worth reading the FBI’s statement in full:

“On January 5, 2018, a person close to Nikolas Cruz contacted the FBI’s Public Access Line (PAL) tipline to report concerns about him. The caller provided information about Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting. Under established protocols, the information provided by the caller should have been assessed as a potential threat to life.

“The information then should have been forwarded to the FBI Miami Field Office, where appropriate investigative steps would have been taken. We have determined that these protocols were not followed for the information received by the PAL on January 5. The information was not provided to the Miami Field Office, and no further investigation was conducted at that time.”

And then the unforgivably pathetic response from FBI Special Agent Robert Lasky, that he and his colleagues “truly regret any additional pain this has caused.”

Regret? Regret? Is that the best they can do? Seventeen people are dead because of the FBI’s bungling and incompetence. The FBI looks like the Federal Bureau of Incompetence in this instance.

Of course, we should at this point add our ritual acknowledgment that the agents of the FBI are brave men and women who work hard and put themselves in danger to keep us safe. Yes, that’s true. But it’s also getting a bit tired, isn’t it?

We have to acknowledge the truth: the FBI, like so many other parts of the federal bureaucracy, is a bloated mess that seems impervious to any kind of public accountability. The leadership of the FBI seems too busy pursuing political vendettas to do its own job properly or put its own house in order.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., described the FBI’s incompetence as “inexcusable.” Florida Gov. Rick Scott called for FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign. Many Americans will agree wholeheartedly.

But this problem goes deeper than one agency – in fact, it goes to the current and vital argument about the Deep State. There is no doubt that we have a permanent bureaucracy in the U.S. government that exists primarily to pursue its own agenda, regardless of who the people elect. The FBI is unquestionably part of it.

One of the characteristics of the permanent bureaucracy is to seek to always increase its own size and power. So in the wake of incidents like Wednesday’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, we inevitably get the calls for “more resources,” “more powers” and “new laws.”

These calls would be more persuasive if the FBI and other parts of the federal bureaucracy were better stewards of the resources they already have and actually used the powers they already have.

The call for new laws – instead of more competent application of the laws we already have – is precisely how we end up with a bloated bureaucracy that pursues its own agenda but fails to do its basic job.

We will be debating all this and more on “The Next Revolution” this Sunday at 9 p.m. on Fox News Channel. Hope you can join us!

4 Things FireEye Management Wants You to Know

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Capping off a turnaround year, FireEye (NASDAQ: FEYE) posted solid fourth-quarter results, which gave the stock a post-earnings bump. The cybersecurity company has been under the microscope lately, with the stock down 55% in the last three years, and a new CEO, Kevin Mandia, who has a plan to right the ship.

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As you’ll see below, Mandia had a lot to say about the record-setting quarter and what’s going right. Read on for details of the record results, new product sales, and how its marketing message and sales force are improving to give management confidence that growth will continue into 2018.

1. It had a record quarter

In regards to our Q4 performance, we exceeded our guidance ranges for all of our key financial metrics. Our Q4 billings of $242.2 million were the second highest in our history. … Our quarterly revenue exceeded $200 million for the first time ever. … FireEye Endpoint Security had its best quarter ever, Mandiant Services had their best quarter ever, our threat-intelligence business had its best quarter ever. Our appliance sales increased year over year for the first time since Q3 of 2015, and we had more million-dollar transactions than any other quarter in our history.

— CEO, Kevin Mandia

Any way you measure it, FireEye had a great quarter. The company has been focused on its turnaround since Mandia became CEO in June 2016, and this quarter’s results show that the momentum from all the changes has materialized. Combined with its 9.5% revenue growth for the quarter, the company projected over 9% growth for 2018 (at guidance midpoint), which shows that management is confident growth has returned.

2. Its flagship product’s growth is accelerating

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Helix gained momentum in Q4 as we added 116 customers to the platform, up from 57 customers adopting Helix in the third quarter. We were especially pleased to see customers adopting Helix across a wide range of geographies and industries. … In fact, after only three full quarters of availability, Helix has been adopted by customers in 14 countries and in 11 different industries.

— Mandia

FireEye’s newest product, Helix, brought together all the company’s disparate products that it had built over the years from numerous acquisitions and product development efforts and put them into a single platform in the cloud. Since release at the end of Q1-2017, the product has seen widespread customer adoption despite the efforts required to upgrade. The company went on to say that 20% of the $1 million deals in the quarter had Helix as a significant revenue contributor. It’s an encouraging sign that not only are customers buying the new product, but it also is becoming a meaningful revenue contributor.

3. Its marketing is better

Our innovation allows us to simplify our go-to-market strategies on multiple fronts including pricing, packaging and messaging. Our new chief marketing officer Vasu Jakkal and her team are laser-focused on simplifying our messaging and getting the FireEye story out to our customers, partners and our prospects. I believe their initiatives are already producing results, and we are just getting started.

— Mandia

With FireEye’s transition to a single comprehensive cloud-based service, it is a great opportunity to simplify its go-to-market message. Mandia said that the company’s customers are saying, “Hey, listen: Take care of this security problem for me …” A more concise message about how FireEye can help deliver a comprehensive security solution allows the sales team to talk with more than just the customer’s tech team. This new go-to-market strategy has already shown benefits for the sales force.

4. The sales team is more productive

Over the past year, the productivity and morale of our sales team has improved dramatically under the leadership of our head of sales Bill Robbins and his new team. We entered 2018 with an energized, execution-oriented field of sales professionals, supported by a new marketing machine …

— Mandia

FireEye made a number of key changes in its sales leadership in the past year, and it’s paying off. Frank Verdecanna, chief financial officer, pointed to the record number of $1 million sales transactions in the quarter as evidence that sales productivity has improved. Additionally, the company met or exceeded its sales goals in every region around the world. This “energized” sales team will be crucial for the company to maintain the growth momentum into 2018.

To put a cherry on the fourth-quarter sundae, FireEye met its commitment to post a non-GAAP operating profitability. This was the first time in company history that it achieved that result. Investors have been waiting a long time to see this kind of quarter from FireEye and will be looking for a repeat performance in Q1.

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Brian Withers owns shares of FireEye. The Motley Fool recommends FireEye. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Minnesota terror case shows challenge of predicting attacks

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After Tnuza Jamal Hassan was stopped from flying to Afghanistan last September, she allegedly told FBI agents that she wanted to join al-Qaida and marry a fighter, and that she might even wear a suicide belt.

She also said she was angry at U.S. military actions overseas and admitted that she tried to encourage others to “join the jihad in fighting,” but she said she had no intention of carrying out an attack on U.S. soil, according to prosecutors. Despite her alleged admissions, she was allowed to go free.

Four months later, the 19-year-old was arrested for allegedly setting small fires on her former college campus in St. Paul in what prosecutors say was a self-proclaimed act of jihad. No one was hurt by the Jan. 17 fires at St. Catherine University, but her case raises questions about why she wasn’t arrested after speaking to the agents months earlier and shows the difficulty the authorities face in identifying real threats.

“She confessed to wanting to join al-Qaida and took action to do it by traveling overseas. Unless there are other circumstances that I’m not aware of, I would have expected that she would’ve been arrested,” said Jeffrey Ringel, a former FBI agent and Joint Terrorism Task Force supervisor who now works for a private security firm, the Soufan Group, and isn’t involved in Hassan’s case. “I think she would’ve met the elements of a crime.”

Authorities aren’t talking about the case and it’s not clear how closely Hassan was monitored before the fires, if at all. When asked if law enforcement should have intervened earlier, FBI spokesman Jeff Van Nest and U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Tasha Zerna both said they couldn’t discuss the case.

Counterterrorism experts, though, say it seems she wasn’t watched closely after the FBI interview, as she disappeared for days before the fires. But the public record in a case doesn’t always reveal what agents and prosecutors were doing behind the scenes.

Authorities are often second-guessed when someone on their radar carries out a violent act. Some cases, including Wednesday’s mass shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people, reveal missed signs of trouble. The FBI has admitted it made a mistake by failing to investigate a warning last month that the suspect, Nikolas Cruz, could be plotting an attack.

U.S. officials were also warned about Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev two years before his 2013 attack, though a review found it was impossible to know if anything could’ve been done differently to prevent it. And the FBI extensively investigated Omar Mateen, the gunman in the June 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting. As part of an internal audit, then-FBI Director James Comey reviewed the case and determined it was handled well.

Hassan, who was born in the U.S., has pleaded not guilty to federal counts of attempting to provide material support to al-Qaida, lying to the FBI and arson. She also faces a state arson charge. One fire was set in a dormitory that has a day care where 33 children were present.

Although her attempts to set fires largely failed, Hassan told investigators she had expected the buildings to burn down and “she hoped people would get killed,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Winter said in court. He added that she was “self-radicalized” and became more stringent in her beliefs and focused on jihad.

Hassan’s attorney, Robert Sicoli, declined to talk about whether the family saw warnings. Her mother and sister declined to speak to The Associated Press.

According to prosecutors, Hassan tried to travel to Afghanistan on Sept. 19, making it as far as Dubai, United Arab Emirates, before she was stopped because she lacked a visa.

Prosecutors say that when the agents interviewed Hassan on Sept. 22, she admitted she tried to join al-Qaida, saying she thought she’d probably get married, but not fight. When pressed, she allegedly told investigators she guessed she would carry out a suicide bombing if she had to do it but she wouldn’t do anything in the U.S. because she didn’t know whom to target.

Hassan admitted that she wrote a letter to her roommates in March encouraging the women to “join the jihad in fighting,” prosecutors allege. The letter was initially reported to campus security, and it’s unclear when it was given to the FBI or if the agency made contact with Hassan before the September interview.

It’s also unknown how closely U.S. authorities were monitoring Hassan between the interview and Dec. 29, when she was barred from traveling to Ethiopia with her mother. Prosecutors say at the time, Hassan had her sister’s identification and her luggage contained a coat and boots, which she wouldn’t have needed in Ethiopia’s warm climate.

Hassan later ran away from home and her family reported her missing Jan. 10. Her whereabouts were unknown until the Jan. 17 fires.

Ron Hosko, a retired assistant director of the FBI’s criminal division who has no link to Hassan’s case, said that based on an AP reporter’s description of it, “I would certainly look at this person, not knowing more, as somebody who would be of interest to the FBI.” However he cautioned that the public doesn’t know the extent of the agency’s efforts to monitor Hassan, including whether she was under surveillance, what sort of background investigation was done and how agents might have assessed her capacity to follow through on a threat. He also said the FBI might have made decisions based on her mental capacity.

“Not every subject requires 24/7 FBI surveillance,” he said. The reality is that hard decisions on resources are being made constantly, with the biggest perceived threats receiving the most attention.

“I’m sure there are plenty of days where they hope they are right and they are keeping their fingers crossed,” he added.

Stephen Vladeck, professor of law at the University of Texas, said monitoring possible threats is a delicate balance, and law enforcement can’t trample civil rights while trying to prevent violence.

“This is a circle that can’t be squared,” he said. “We are never going to keep tabs on every single person who might one day pose a threat.”

___

Follow Amy Forliti on Twitter: https://twitter.com/amyforliti . More of her work at: https://apnews.com/search/amy%20forliti

Red Stripe buys Jamaican bobsled team new sled after coach quits

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Talk about putting it on the tab.

On Feb. 14, Jamaica’s women’s bobsled team found themselves in pinch when their coach Sandra Kiriasis dramatically quit just days before their Olympic debut in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games. Worse yet, Kiriasis threatened to take their bobsled with her, BBC reports. Fortunately, Jamaican lager Red Stripe came to the rescue via Twitter.

“No bobsled, no problem. If you need a new ride @Jambobsled, put it on @RedStripe’s tab. DM us and we’ll be in touch,” the company’s USA account tweeted on Feb. 15.

PYEONGCHANG OLYMPIC VILLAGE CAFETERIA HAS AN 18-PAGE MENU

“Please contact us (your DMs are not open) US (315) 558-2302” the team replied.

In the days since, Red Stripe senior marketing manager Andrew Anguin confirmed to Adweek that the company has proudly purchased a bobsled for Team Jamaica.

“The games are an honor to compete in, and as the No. 1 beer in Jamaica, we want to help those athletes realize their dreams. The athletes clearly have no quit, so we would love to do our part and put the cost of a new bobsled on our “bar tab”” Anguin said.

P.F. CHANG’S OFFERING ‘PYEONGCHANG LETTUCE WRAPS FOLLOWING ON-AIR FLUB BY CHICAGO NEWS STATION

The gift of a $50,000 Olympic regulation bobsled is surely appreciated by Team Jamaica, which relied on Internet donations to raise $80,000 for the men’s bobsled team to attend the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, the outlet noted.

Naturally, Twitter users have eagerly followed the entire exchange unfold online, championing both Red Stripe’s goodwill and the island nation’s bobsledding team.

Outfitted with their new gear, here’s hoping that Team Jamaica goes for the gold, indeed.

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

Marsha Blackburn says she will run for Senate even if Corker reconsiders retirement

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Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., is brushing off reports that Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker is reconsidering retirement — saying that she intends to run for the seat regardless, arguing that she will win in November no matter what Corker does.

Corker fell out with Trump last year after he criticized Trump’s temperament and his response to violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, leading Trump to fire back that Corker “couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee.”

However, there are signs that Corker is reconsidering his decision.

On Friday, former Rep. Stephen Fincher who was running in the GOP primary announced he was ending his bid, and urged Corker to jump back into the race. Fincher’s announcement came as The Washington Post reported that Corker had “reconnected” with the president and they had cleared the air somewhat. Sources close to Corker told Fox News this week that their relationship had improved.

A Corker spokeswoman said the senator is “listening closely” to calls for him to re-enter the race.

“In recent days, people across Tennessee have reached out to Senator Corker with concerns about the outcome of this election because they believe it could determine control of the Senate and the future of our agenda,” Corker spokeswoman Micah Johnson said in a statement. “The senator has been encouraged to reconsider his decision and is listening closely.”

Corker has recently had conversations with the White House and his Republican colleagues in the Senate about the possibility of reversing his decision to retire, Fox News learned. He has until April 5 to file for re-election.

CORKER ‘LISTENING’ TO THOSE URGING HIM TO RETHINK RETIREMENT

But Blackburn on Friday said that she will run regardless of what Corker decides.

“I am running, and I’m going to win,” Blackburn said when asked about a possible Corker re-entry on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show. “I think what Tennesseans want to see, Hugh, is a true conservative in the U.S. Senate. They want to see somebody there that is going to back Donald Trump and his agenda.”

When she was asked if she thinks she would beat Corker, she replied: “I certainly do.”

Blackburn was likely buoyed by some polls showing her holding a commanding lead over Corker should he jump back in the race. According to The Tennessean, a poll by a pro-Blackburn PAC found that found 55 percent of respondents favored Blackburn, while only 26 percent favored Corker.  

That poll also found that in a head-to-head matchup between Blackburn and Democratic challenger former Gov. Phil Bredesen, 44 percent of likely voters said they favored Blackburn, while Bredesen netted 39 percent.

But another recent poll, conducted by Republican pollster Glen Bolger and obtained by Fox News, showed Bredesen with 47 percent to Blackburn’s 45 percent in a hypothetical matchup.

Should Corker re-enter the race, his supporters are likely to present Blackburn as an extreme candidate who will lose the race to Bredesen if she wins the primary. Fincher teased such an attack when he emphasized he was backing Corker because it was important to support a candidate who could win in December.

“The party must get behind a candidate that can win in November and stop Democrat Phil Bredesen, who would be a rubber stamp for the Chuck Schumer liberal agenda,” Fincher said in a statement to The Tennessean

According to the Associated Press, some Tennessee Republicans and national GOP figures are concerned that Bredesen will use Blackburn’s conservatism against her among voters who have elected a number of center-right dealmakers. Corker’s chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee is also viewed as an asset that Bredesen would struggle to match.

But Blackburn’s dismissed concerns that she would be beaten by a Democrat as sexism.

“Anyone who thinks Marsha Blackburn can’t win a general election is just a plain sexist pig,” campaign spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said in the statement. “She’s the best fundraiser in the country and is beating Phil Bredesen in several polls. We aren’t worried about these ego-driven, tired old men. Marsha has spent her whole life fighting people who told her she wasn’t good enough and she will do it again.”

It also isn’t clear what role, if any, President Trump would play in backing either candidate. Trump may feel he was burned by wading into the Alabama Republican Senate primary in 2017, where he backed then-Sen. Luther Strange against conservative challenger Roy Moore.

During that primary he admitted he “might have made a mistake” in backing Strange, who went on to lose to Moore — who in turn lost to Democratic challenger Doug Jones in the election after Moore was dogged by allegations of sexual misconduct.

Fox News’ Mike Emanuel and The Associated Press 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.

Conforto a welcome sight in batter's box

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — It seemed little coincidence that manager Mickey Callaway and owner Fred Wilpon both lingered on the same back field Saturday morning, watching the proceedings at Mets camp. Yes, Matt Harvey was throwing live batting practice and that’s always a draw. But for the Mets, there was perhaps no more welcome sight than Michael Conforto digging into the left-handed batter’s box.

Recovering from left shoulder surgery, Conforto has not yet been cleared to swing. But he nonetheless stood in against Harvey, tracking pitches to keep his timing as sharp as possible.

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — It seemed little coincidence that manager Mickey Callaway and owner Fred Wilpon both lingered on the same back field Saturday morning, watching the proceedings at Mets camp. Yes, Matt Harvey was throwing live batting practice and that’s always a draw. But for the Mets, there was perhaps no more welcome sight than Michael Conforto digging into the left-handed batter’s box.

Recovering from left shoulder surgery, Conforto has not yet been cleared to swing. But he nonetheless stood in against Harvey, tracking pitches to keep his timing as sharp as possible.

Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Gear

Conforto and the Mets have been quiet regarding his timetable, admitting only that he won’t be ready for Opening Day. An early reporter to Mets camp, Conforto continues to throw daily with his right, non-surgically repaired arm as he works toward resuming full baseball activities.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

In addition to Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Seth Lugo and prospect Corey Oswalt all threw live batting practice on Saturday.

Lean on me
When the Mets filled out Callaway’s inaugural coaching staff this winter, they did not include a single person with managerial experience.

Callaway considers that a non-issue given the years of service time hitting coach Pat Roessler, pitching coach Dave Eiland and others have accrued throughout long baseball careers. Callaway’s bench coach, Gary DiSarcina, has spent the past four years in big league dugouts, including a 2017 stint as longtime manager John Farrell’s bench coach in Boston.

Video: Mickey Callaway talks Mets’ pitching rotation

From Farrell, DiSarcina said, he learned how to prepare for opponents and manage games. He plans to apply those lessons to the dugout in Flushing.

“I think the most important thing is to physically stay next to him, stay by him, and not hold back if I see something or I think something that could work,” DiSarcina said. “And it’s not just going to be in the dugout. It’s going to be pregame, pre-series.”

If DiSarcina is doing his job, he said, he will begin peppering his manager with situational advice in the middle innings, offering pinch-hit and defensive substitution suggestions so that Callaway can focus on the pitching side of things.

“He should never feel alone as a manager,” DiSarcina said. “It’s a tough market, New York, big league baseball. In big markets, it can be a microscope sometimes.”

Quotable
“He immediately caught my eye. That’s what they look like, a big league shortstop, impact player. … There’s not a lot of those guys around.” –DiSarcina, a Major League shortstop for 12 seasons, on Amed Rosario.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

Are female-led companies the answer to sexual misconduct?

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The Weinstein Co. thought it had found a path to survival. A group of investors led by a respected businesswoman offered to acquire the company, rebrand it and install a female-led board of directors. It was an eye-catching idea in a country where men dominate corporate boards in almost every industry.

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Unmoved, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman threw a wrench in the deal, filing a lawsuit against the company partly out of concern that executives who failed to protect Harvey Weinstein’s accusers would continue to run the operation. Swiftly, the Weinstein Co. fired its president and chief operating officer, David Glasser, late Friday, only five days after the lawsuit. A statement announcing the firing was released to the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.

The set of moves raised the question: Is putting women in charge of a company enough to guarantee an environment safe from sexual misconduct? In the wider business world, promoting more women to boards and the C-Suite is considered a critical step, but critics caution it is not enough, particularly when it comes to turning around a company so engulfed in scandal that it has become the poster child for sexual misconduct.

“Just having a female-led board is not enough of a solution. You need to disrupt the disease within the culture and that is an entire ecosystem change,” said Lisen Stromberg, COO of the 3 Percent Movement, an organization that promotes gender equality in advertising companies.

The $500 million acquisition proposal was put together by Maria Contreras-Sweet, a former U.S. Small Business Administrator under the Obama administration. She had no background in the film industry but her proposal beat out several offers from established entertainment companies including Lionsgate and Miramax, the studio formerly led by the Weinstein brothers.

The cornerstone of her vision was “reorganizing the company as a woman-led venture” that would create a “new model for how an entertainment company can be both financially successful and treat all its employees with dignity and respect,” according to a November letter to the Weinstein Co. board. That included establishing a female-majority board of directors, with Contreras-Sweet as chairwoman, and women investors controlling its voting stock.

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LAYERS UPON LAYERS OF COMPLICATIONS

To be sure, a female-led board of directors at any prominent company would be a rarity.

In the last census by the Alliance of Board Diversity, women held about 20 percent of board seats at Fortune 500 companies in 2016. That was up from just under 17 percent in 2012, according to the study, which was conducted with Deloitte, an auditing, taxes and consulting services provider.

The number of women on boards does not tell the full story of what workplaces look like deeper inside company, or across an industry.

The census also found that women are slightly more likely to serve on multiple boards than men. That may suggest, the report said, that the pool of female candidates for top positions is shallower than the board membership rates would indicate, and that women are still rising slowly through the ranks of many industries.

Stromberg said the factors are numerous when she advises companies trying to promote women into leadership roles. She studies hiring trends and asks if women are languishing at certain levels. She looks at family leave policies, the types of assignments women get and whether their work is submitted for awards as often as their male counterparts.

“There are layers upon layers of complications that are necessary to be able to unpack whether this is an environment where women can thrive,” Stromberg said.

One recent case in point involved Fidelity, one of the few investment management firms led by a woman. The company last year fired two fund managers over allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate comments. The company has several women in top executive posts, including CEO Abigail Johnson, who has led the company founded by her family since 2014. But Johnson has spoken openly of the challenges of recruiting more women into an industry where most fund managers are men, with Fidelity being no exception.

Still, Johnson won praise for her handling of the misconduct complaints, which included firing a star fund manager and taking the unusual step of moving her office from the executive suit several floors down to where portfolio managers and traders sit.

Marcus Noland, the executive vice president at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said putting more women on corporate boards makes a difference both in discouraging misogyny and in attracting more women into a company. One study conducted by the Peterson Institute, which analyzed data on more than 20,000 companies across the world, found a statistical correlation between the presence of women on boards and those in executive positions.

“I just can’t imagine a board that was female-led, where women were able to manage management, allowing this sort of misogynistic conduct to have gone on,” Noland said.

___

HOW DEEP THE ACCUSATIONS GO

Richard Levick, chairman and CEO of the crisis management firm LEVICK, said the gender of the board members is no guarantee of their commitment to an independent investigation into Weinstein’s conduct, including who might have been complicit.

“What were their plans for an independent investigation?” Levick said. “Are they aware of how deep the accusations go in terms of the enabling? You need to have a board that understands that the investigations will take you wherever the facts lead to.”

Schneiderman said he wanted to make sure that potential buyers knew about the “pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation, and discrimination” that occurred at the Weinstein Co.

The Weinstein Co. has not responded to requests for comments on the lawsuit. Weinstein’s lawyer, Ben Brafman, said many of the allegations were “without merit.”

Schneiderman insisted that any deal must oust executives who allegedly covered up misconduct. He said he was concerned about reports that Glasser, the executive dismissed Friday, would be named CEO of the new company. Without naming Glasser, his lawsuit said the company’s former COO had handled numerous complaints from employees against Weinstein, none of which resulted in an investigation.

Contreras-Sweet has declined to comment publicly on her proposed purchase. In her letter to the Weinstein Co. board, Contreras-Sweet asked the company to agree to a mediation process with Weinstein’s accusers and pledged to establish a litigation fund to supplement existing insurance coverage. Her proposal won the backing of activist attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing a number of Weinstein’s accusers. She said she was convinced of Contreras-Sweet’s commitment to the victims and criticized Schneiderman’s lawsuit.

Others were skeptical. Cris Armenta, a lawyer who is representing several of Weinstein’s accusers in a proposed class-action lawsuit, said there were unanswered questions, including who would monitor the fund and who would decide how to distribute it. She criticized the Contreras-Sweet group for failing to contact her.

“When I saw this deal going down and no one reached out to me, I thought, either they don’t have competent lawyers, or this is a show,” Armenta said. “It’s like buying a car and it needs work, and you don’t know how much work it needs, and you don’t even call the mechanic.”

Jailed Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan reported hospitalized

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Prominent Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan, who was jailed this month during an investigation of two alleged cases of rape, has reportedly been hospitalized.

An online site campaigning for Ramadan’s release said on Saturday that his family had learned of his hospitalization. French media, citing sources close to the case, reported that he was hospitalized on Friday.

Ramadan’s French wife, Iman, said in a video posted Wednesday on the Free Tariq Ramadan site that her husband suffers from a “severe chronic illness” and treatment for it is unavailable in jail.

The 55-year-old scholar was handed preliminary rape charges this month in two cases, one that allegedly took place in 2009 and the other allegedly in 2012.

Ramadan denies any wrongdoing and has filed a lawsuit claiming the allegations are false.

Florida school shooting suspect investigated by state after he posted video on social media cutting himself

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The teenager accused of carrying out a school shooting in Florida Wednesday was investigated by the state’s child welfare agency after he cut himself in a video he posted to social media.

The Miami Herald obtained records from Florida’s Department of Children and Families and reported Saturday that Nikolas Cruz, 19, posted a video on Snapchat, a social media site, showing him cutting his arms in 2016.

The agency was called to investigate the video. Cruz, then 18, was listed as an “alleged victim” of medical neglect and inadequate supervision; his adoptive mother, then 68-year-old Lynda Cruz, the “alleged perpetrator.”

A video monitor shows school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz, left, making an appearance before Judge Kim Theresa Mollica in Broward County Court, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Cruz is accused of opening fire Wednesday at the school killing more than a dozen people and injuring several. (Susan Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool)

The state investigated after Nikolas Cruz posted a video of himself on Snapchat showing him cutting himself.  (AP)

“Mr. Cruz was on Snapchat cutting both of his arms,” the Florida DCF abuse hotline was told in August 2016. “Mr. Cruz has fresh cuts on both his arms. Mr. Cruz stated he plans to go out and buy a gun.”

ALLEGED FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTER NIKOLAS CRUZ WAS REPORTED TO FBI, COPS, SCHOOL – BUT WARNING SIGNS MISSED

The paper reported Cruz might have been going through a tough time before he cut himself. He reportedly had just split from his girlfriend who was not faithful to him, got into a fight with a person and he allegedly drew a “Nazi symbol” on his backpack, the Miami Herald reported.

The agency’s investigation wrapped up on Nov. 12, 2016. The agency concluded that the teenager had not been mistreated by his mother, was receiving adequate care from a mental health counselor and was attending school.

“Henderson (Mental Health clinic) came out and assessed the (victim and) found him to be stable enough not to be hospitalized,” the DCF report said.

His mother died of pneumonia on Nov. 1, 2017.

This photo provided by the Broward County Jail shows Nikolas Cruz. Authorities say Cruz, a former student opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, killing more than a dozen people and injuring several. (Broward County Jail via AP)

An investigation found Nikolas Cruz was not mistreated by his mother.  (Broward County Sheriff’s Office)

Cruz was reportedly diagnosed with autism but the claim was never verified.

Michael Alessandri, a professor at the University of Miami, told the Miami Herald Cruz’s autism diagnosis was not the reason he allegedly carried out the massacre.

“It is a terrible, terrible tragedy,” Alessandri said. “I can assure you that autism is not what pulled the trigger for this young man,” he added.

“This is unquestionably an issue of mental illness. Autism is not that. It is a social communication disorder, not a violent disorder.”

NIKOLAS CRUZ COULD PLEAD GUILTY IN FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTING TO AVERT DEATH PENALTY, LAWYER SAYS

The documents provide further evidence that Cruz was a troubled teen before being charged with 17 counts of murder in the Wednesday attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. At least 17 people were killed in the shooting.

An early morning fog rises where 17 memorial crosses were placed, for the 17 deceased students and faculty from the Wednesday shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. As families began burying their dead, authorities questioned whether they could have prevented the attack at the high school where a gunman, Nikolas Cruz, took several lives. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

At least 17 people were killed in the shooting Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.  (AP)

The teenager arrived at the school in an Uber while carrying a bag that contained his AR-15, police said. He is accused of walking through the school’s hallways, opening fire at random people before he attempted to blend in with the other students fleeing the scene. After the shooting, he went to Walmart then to McDonald’s before he was arrested.

Cruz made his first court appearance Thursday afternoon after being charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. He was ordered held without bond. The teenager reportedly might plead guilty to his crimes in order to avoid the death penalty.

Court documents showed he confessed to the shooting.

The troubled teen began showing what may have been warning signs before his shooting rampage. Cruz’s neighbors told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel he would shoot at chickens while students at the school said he talked about shooting lizards and other small animals. His social media page was filled with pictures of him posing with guns.

Carrie Hernandez, of Coral Springs, places flowers under an overpass, at the edge of the crime scene, near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where students sought shelter after the Wednesday shooting at the school, in Parkland, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. As families begin burying their dead, authorities are questioning whether they could have prevented the attack at the high school where a gunman, Nikolas Cruz, took several lives. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Nikolas Cruz may have began showing warning signs before the school shooting.  (AP)

A report by BuzzFeed also showed that authorities were called to Cruz’s home at least 36 times over the course of six years.

On Friday, the FBI acknowledged the agency failed to investigate a warning from Jan. 5 that Cruz could be plotting an attack.

“Under established protocols, the information provided by the caller should have been assessed as a potential threat to life,” the FBI statement said. “We have determined that these protocols were not followed for the information received by the PAL on Jan. 5.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray said the bureau would review what had happened.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Latvian media say central bank chief's office raided

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Latvia’s state broadcaster says the national anti-corruption agency has raided the office and a property of the head of the country’s central bank, Ilmars Rimsevics.

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LTV reported on Saturday that the raid took place on Friday. It aired footage that appeared to show Rimsevics arriving at the agency’s offices.

The agency, called KNAB, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Its official account on Twitter said it neither confirms nor denies the reports of the raid.

Latvia is a member of the European Union and uses the euro as its currency. As the head of the central bank, Rimsevics is on the European Central Bank’s council of monetary policy rate-setters.

The Bank of Latvia could not be immediately reached for comment. The spokeswoman at the European Central Bank declined to comment.