A former Russian spy was critically ill after exposure to an "unknown substance," British media reported in a case that immediately drew parallels to the poisoning of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko. National and local authorities said only that a man and a woman were found unconscious Sunday afternoon on a bench in a shopping mall in Salisbury, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) west of London. British media identified him as Sergei Skripal, 66, who was convicted in Russia on charges of spying for Britain and sentenced in 2006 to 13 years in prison. Skripal was freed in 2010 as part of a U.S.-Russian spy swap. read more
On January 5, 2017, it became clear that at least two Washingtonians remained in the dark about the dossier: the President and the Vice-President. That day, in a top-secret Oval Office meeting, the chiefs of the nation's top intelligence agencies briefed Obama and Biden and some national-security officials for the first time about the dossier's allegation that Trump's campaign team may have colluded with the Russians. As one person present later told me, "No one understands that at the White House we weren't briefed about the F.B.I.'s investigations. We had no information on collusion. All we saw was what the Russians were doing. The F.B.I. puts anything about Americans in a lockbox." The main purpose of the Oval Office meeting was to run through a startling report that the U.S. intelligence chiefs were about to release to the public. But, before releasing the report, the intelligence chiefs shared a highly classified version with Obama, Biden, and the other officials. read more
A group of teenagers who survived last month's deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school are joining forces with students in Chicago to combat gun violence nationwide. More than a dozen student activists snacked on pizza Saturday while discussing how gun violence has impacted their communities, according to a tweet Sunday from Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wants the world to know when he's in the building. And so now, at Zinke's behest, the department's Washington headquarters flies a secretarial flag when Zinke arrives for the day and lowers it when he leaves. Flag raising, a Navy tradition, isn't something that's done for other Cabinet officials, and it isn't Zinke's only flamboyance. The former Navy SEAL minted his own challenge coin, rode a horse to his first day of work, and displayed his knife collection in his office before security asked him to remove it. But these stunts are mere distractions from Zinke's real influence as interior secretary. Since he was sworn in on March 1, 2017, to lead the $12 billion agency in charge of federal lands and natural resources, he's made unprecedented changes that could leave a lasting mark on America's wilderness and its environment. read more
A robot named Flippy is now in the kitchen at a fast food restaurant called CaliBurger in Pasadena. We were there for a preview event where Flippy made us some lunch. Your next fast food burger might be cooked by a robot! Flippy is a brand new, burger flipping robot now cooking at a chain called CaliBurger, which serves up California style burgers and fries. read more
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is acknowledging the challenges of his role in the Trump administration, telling The New York Times that being responsible for the agency is a complicated undertaking. "There are more complexities here than in brain surgery," he told the Times in an interview last week. "Doing this job is going to be a very intricate process." The acclaimed surgeon has faced scrutiny in recent months for his leadership over HUD. Last month, CNN obtained a November 2017 complaint from HUD's former chief administration officer, who said she was told to "find money" beyond the legal $5,000 limit for redecorating. In one instance, she alleges that a supervisor said that "$5,000 will not even buy a decent chair."Soon after, it was revealed that HUD spent $31,000 to replace a dining room set for Carson's office. read more
President Donald Trump's aggressive push to reverse Obama-era policies is facing trouble in court. In recent weeks, federal judges have blocked the administration's attempts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), postpone a rule giving low-income families broader access to housing in wealthier neighborhoods, and delay an environmental regulation requiring oil and gas companies to reduce methane leaks. All of these Trump policy changes have hit the same stumbling block: Courts say the administration hasn't followed the proper steps in enacting them, citing a 1940s-era law that's become a key weapon in the legal battle over the president's agenda. Under that law, the Administrative Procedure Act, federal agencies are required to provide a reasoned justification for their policy decisions and offer the public an opportunity to weigh in when they are creating new regulations, making notable changes to existing rules, or scrapping them altogether.
It is an understatement to say that Sam Nunberg is playing with fire. Nunberg, a longtime Trump adviser and former campaign aide who is on the outs with the president, went on a bizarre rampage of media appearances Monday afternoon in which he mocked Special Counsel Robert Mueller, declared his intention to not cooperate before the grand jury in the Russia investigation, and appeared to speculate wildly on President Trump's involvement, or lack thereof, in wrongdoing during the campaign. To the Washington Post, Nunberg announced that he had been subpoenaed by Mueller's grand jury and that he intended to tear up the court document on television rather than comply. To the New York Times, Nunberg complained that Mueller's team had "requested a ridiculous amount of documents"; the subpoena, published by the Post, asks that Nunberg preserve his communications with a variety of Trump affiliates (including the president, Roger Stone and Steve Bannon) from Nov. 1, 2015, to the present. To MSNBC, Nunberg declared that Mueller is "not gonna do anything" and that "I think it would be funny if they arrested me." And on CNN, Nunberg announced: "Donald Trump caused this, because he's an idiot."
President Donald Trump loves putting his name on everything from ties to steaks to water -- and, of course, his buildings. But now the Trump Organization appears to be borrowing a brand even more powerful than the gilded Trump moniker: the presidential seal. In recent weeks, the Trump Organization has ordered the manufacture of new tee markers for golf courses that are emblazoned with the seal of the President of the United States. Under federal law, the seal's use is permitted only for official government business. Misuse can be a crime. read more
Thousands of public school teachers across West Virginia have been on strike for more than a week in protest over their pay and benefits. And despite striking a deal with Governor Jim Justice last Wednesday that would put 277,000 students affected back in school, teachers still won't return to work on Monday as the state's Senate has rejected the agreement. The strike began on Thursday, February 22, the day after Governor Justice, a Republican, signed legislation providing teachers, school service personnel, and state police with a 2% salary increase starting in July and scheduling a 1% pay hike for teachers in 2020 and 2021. Teachers' unions said the raises wouldn't cover cost-of-living increases or address concerns related to public employee insurance programs, health care costs, and payroll tax deduction options. Thousands of teachers, parents, and supporters descended on West Virginia's Capitol in Charleston in protest. read more
Last month's massacre in Parkland, Fla., which killed 17 high school students and staff, kicked off a national conversation about the need for increased gun control. But gun rights supporters are playing offense as well as defense. Despite Parkland, Republican lawmakers in a number of states are quietly advancing a slew of NRA-backed bills. In some cases, they're even citing the shooting as a reason why we need more guns, not fewer. Even as gun control legislation remains stalled in Congress, the NRA has campaigned for 15 measures in 11 states that would further loosen gun restrictions.
President Donald Trump reached a presidential milestone at his Palm Beach County, Florida, golf club on Saturday: One hundred days in office at a golf club that bears his name. Trump, once a critic of presidential golfing, has ignored his own advice and made a habit of visiting some of the many golf courses emblazoned in his moniker. The habit is part of the broader trend of the President and first lady making frequent trips to properties owned and operated by the Trump Organization. According to CNN's count, Trump has exclusively visited four golf clubs he owns during his presidency: Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida; Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida; Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia; and Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. read more
Bomb-sniffing dogs were mistreated by the US Army after returning from duty in Afghanistan, according to an official report. The canines which saved countless lives between 2010 and 2014 were not given proper care and attention, left in kennels for nearly a year and possibly even put down. There was also no screening of people who offered to adopt the animals, according to a report from the US Department of Defense's Inspector General. read more
For unpaid interns on Capitol Hill, secrecy is so much a part of the job that on their first day, many are required to sign sweeping nondisclosure agreements. Employment lawyers reviewed two Hill NDAs obtained by Vox and said they are written in a way that could discourage interns from speaking up about anything, potentially protecting members of Congress and their staff even in cases of harassment or abuse. ... In interviews, 20 current and former Capitol Hill interns said they signed NDAs while working in Republican and Democratic offices in the House and Senate. Vox agreed not to publish their names because they feared professional repercussions, especially given that they signed the agreements. read more
Republicans have raised concern about the US president's plan to impose tariffs on metals, with the party's top lawmaker calling for it to be scrapped. US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said he was "extremely worried" about the impact of a trade war, adding that it could undermine economic gains. But Mr Trump pushed back during a White House meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "We're not backing down," he told reporters on Monday. "I don't think you're going to have a trade war," he said. His comments came an hour after Mr Ryan released a statement urging the White House to reconsider its plan. "We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan," Mr Ryan's spokeswoman AshLee Strong said.
In recent decades the scientific consensus has been that the moon formed billions of years ago from debris cast off when a Mars-sized object dealt Earth a glancing blow. But a radical new theory holds that some long-ago giant collision actually disintegrated Earth, causing it to balloon out into a vast doughnut-shaped cloud of vaporized rock, which the scientists who developed the theory dubbed a "synestia." They say the moon subsequently formed within this cosmic maelstrom. The new theory could reshape ideas about how Earth and other planetary systems came to be, according to the team of astronomers behind it. read more