Skater Mirai Nagasu’s triple axel is a first for a female U.S....

Skater Mirai Nagasu’s triple axel is a first for a female U.S. Olympian

By Karen DeWitt   
Published
Mirai Nagasu (Mitchell Haaseth/NBC)

WASHINGTON — Mirai Nagasu became the first American woman to land a triple axel in Olympic competition, ultimately leading the U.S. to win the bronze medal in team figure skating in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Shortly after, Jamie Anderson overcame immense winds to claim her second gold medal in women’s snowboard slopestyle — one day after 17-year-old Red Gerard won the men’s event. Gerard is the youngest U.S. men’s Olympic champion since 1928.

The action picks back up later today with luge, freestyle and alpine skiing and snowboarding, including Shaun White’s Pyeongchang debut.

Trump budget includes billions to combat opioid epidemic

President Donald Trump’s budget will propose billions of dollars to combat the opioid epidemic plaguing the country, months after the administration designated the crisis a national public health emergency, according to The Hill.

The White House’s fiscal 2019 budget set to be released today will include nearly $17 billion for the opioid epidemic that’s killing more Americans per year than car accidents, according to an outline from the Office of Management and Budget.

The Department of Health and Human Services is set to receive a large chunk of those dollars to expand prevention, treatment, recovery and mental health services — $3 billion for 2018 and $10 billion for 2019, according to the outline.

The two-year budget deal Congress passed includes $6 billion over the next two years to help with mental health and opioid addiction.

OxyContin maker will stop promoting painkiller

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma will stop promoting the painkiller to health care professionals, effective today, according to USA Today.

The decision, which is drawing positive reviews from opioid experts, comes as the industry battles an avalanche of lawsuits across the nation related to an epidemic of opioid abuse.

Purdue has been accused of downplaying OxyContin’s addiction risk. The government claims the results have been tragic — and left agencies with millions in social and health care costs.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle unveil more details on their royal wedding

If you’re planning on attending the British royal wedding this spring, you can finally stake out a spot on the processional route, according to CNN.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding will take place at 12 p.m. GMT (7 a.m. ET), Saturday, May 19, Kensington Palace announced this morning.

The royal wedding will take place in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, the royal residence where Harry lives.

The newlyweds will leave Windsor Castle in a carriage and travel along High Street through the town of Windsor, before returning to the castle by the Long Walk, according to Kensington Palace. Windsor is some 25 miles west of central London.

Trump drops GOP’s traditional goal of balancing budget

President Trump is remaking the Republican economic playbook in his own image, abandoning ideological consistency in ­favor of a debt-busting strategy that will upend how Washington taxes and spends trillions of dollars each year, according to The Washington Post.

Trump’s new budget plan, scheduled to be announced today, that will no longer seek to eliminate the deficit over the next decade, ending a major Republican goal.

Giving up ending the deficit comes after Trump pushed a $1.5 trillion tax cut through Congress, signed a two-year budget deal last week that lifts federal spending limits by $500 billion, and suspends for one year the ceiling on the national debt — moves that will mean a $1 trillion annual budget deficit.

Elite Baltimore police gun unit officers allegedly robbed suspects

Police officers tasked with eradicating Baltimore’s crime-ridden streets of illegal guns instead used their authority to rob suspects of drugs and money, according to federal prosecutors.

Jury deliberations resume today in the sensational corruption trial of former detectives Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor, members of the elite Baltimore Police Department’s now-defunct Gun Trace Task Force.

Hersl and Taylor are fighting charges including racketeering, extortion, filing fraudulent overtime claims and using a firearm in a violent crime. They have pleaded not guilty.

Six other Baltimore police officers have pleaded guilty to similar charges.

A funeral for Colts player Edwin Jackson — killed by driver illegally in U.S.

Funeral services will take place today for Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson, 26, who was killed with his Uber driver when authorities say a drunken driver living illegally in the U.S. struck them along a highway.

Jackson’s funeral is being held at Big Bethel AME Church in his hometown of Atlanta, according to USA Today.

The driver, Manuel Orrego-Savala, was charged Wednesday with four felony counts.

California investigates after ex-Aetna medical director admits he didn’t look at patients’ records in deciding care

California’s insurance commissioner has launched an investigation into Aetna after learning a former medical director for the insurer admitted under oath he never looked at patients’ records when deciding whether to approve or deny care.

The probe centers on a deposition by Dr. Jay Ken Iinuma, who served as medical director for Aetna for Southern California from March 2012 to February 2015, according to the insurer.

During the deposition, the doctor said he was following Aetna’s training, in which nurses reviewed records and made recommendations to him.

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones tells CNN, “If the health insurer is making decisions to deny coverage without a physician actually ever reviewing medical records, that’s of significant concern — and potentially a violation of law.”

Aetna is the nation’s third-largest insurance provider with 23.1 million customers.

Explosion cuts power in some areas of Puerto Rico

An explosion and fire at a power substation caused a blackout in parts of northern Puerto Rico, still recovering from Hurricane Maria, according to CNN.

Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority (PREPA) says on Twitter that 400 megawatts of power generation were lost Sunday.

The fire was caused by a mechanical failure and impacted sections of San Juan, Trujillo Alto, Guaynabo, Carolina, Caguas, and Juncos, PREPA spokesman Carlos Monroig tells CNN.

Monroig said the majority of customers would have power restored, but that communities powered by substations Villa Betina and Quebrada Negrito would likely be without power until this afternoon.

Price hikes at Walt Disney World and Disneyland

Walt Disney World and Disneyland prices rose over the weekend, testing again how much families can afford to pay for a day in the nation’s best-known theme parks, according to USA Today.

Regular ticket pricing is up $4 to $119 for adults and $113 for kids at the Magic Kingdom park in Orlando. On the most expensive days, the new pricing structure means a family of four with two kids will have to pay $526 for a day of fun in the park.

Daily tickets for the Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.,  vary in price, depending on daily demand. A ticket for regular-demand days is now $117, up from $110. The price of a ticket on peak-demand days is $135, up from $124.

Walt Disney Co. has steadily boosted prices at its theme parks over the years, but the amusement centers remain popular.

Lawmakers weigh border patrol access on federal lands

The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing Thursday to discuss the security and environmental impacts of granting the U.S. Border Patrol more access to federal lands, according to The Hill.

The oversight hearing entitled, “The Costs of Denying Border Patrol Access: Our Environment and Security,” comes a week after the committee’s chairman, GOP Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, along with GOP Rep. Bruce Westerman of Arkansas, toured the U.S.-Mexico border.

Bishop has long called for expanded access for border patrol agents on public lands.

Gillibrand: Congress should act if Trump doesn’t resign

Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York says Congress should hold President Trump accountable for the numerous allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against him.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

Gillibrand said in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” “I think he should resign, and if he’s unwilling to do that, which is what I assume, then Congress should hold him accountable. We’re obligated to have hearings.”

Gillibrand, who was among the first to call for former Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota to resign due to sexual misconduct allegations, was also one of several Democratic senators who late last year said Trump should resign due to sexual misconduct allegations that surfaced during the 2016 presidential campaign.

When asked on “60 Minutes” why it took until late last year to call for Trump to be held accountable, Gillibrand said, “something changed” when he was elected, “and I think it changed for women.”

Bannon mulled presidential bid if Trump departed

An excerpt from Josh Green’s Devil’s Bargain published by Politico today details the ambition of Trump’s former top aide, Steve Bannon — to run for president, according to The Hill.

If Trump resigned or was impeached, Green writes about former White House top aide, Steven Bannon, “In such a scenario, who better to succeed Trump than the man who got him elected?”

According to the book, Bannon shared his interest in running for president with only a few close friends and they were never quite sure how seriously to take him. But he did go so far as to select a name for a potential new party: the National Union Party, Green writes.

Bannon on Oprah and the end of patriarchy

Josh Green’s Devil’s Bargain published by Politico today, quotes Steve Bannon saying the end of the patriarchy is near.

Green writes that “Bannon thought Oprah might represent an existential threat to Trump’s presidency if she decided to campaign for Democrats in 2018. She’d flip the House and they’d race to impeach him. But, Bannon says, the movement is bigger than Oprah, referring to her impassioned Golden Globe speech about women’s empowerment last month.

Bannon says, according to Green’s book, “The anti-patriarchy movement is going to undo ten thousand years of recorded history.”

He goes on, ‘You watch. The time has come. Women are gonna take charge of society. And they couldn’t juxtapose a better villain than Trump. He is the patriarch.”

Plastic, plastic, everywhere in our oceans

Microplastics have been found in some of the most remote and uncharted regions of the oceans raising more concerns over the global scale of plastic pollution, according to The Guardian.

Samples taken from the middle of the South Indian Ocean — at latitude 45.5 degrees south — show microplastic particles detected at relatively high volumes, according to Sören Gutekunst, from the Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel. He was surprised by the number of particles given the remoteness of the area.

The highest microplastic levels are centered around Europe’s north Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, where levels range from 180-307 particles/metre cubed.

More than 8m tons of plastic enter the ocean every year, with billions of pieces snagged on coral reefs, killing them.

West Virginia candidate dragged out of capitol for reciting political donations

Testimony before a committee can be boring, but not for Lissa Lucas, a West Virginia native, who began her testimony at a House Judiciary Committee hearing — on a bill that would allow gas companies to drill on owners’ land without unanimous owner consent — by decrying the lack of public debate.

West Virginia law currently requires companies to get 100 percent approval from all owners in a tract of land before they can begin to extract natural gas and other minerals — a law oil and gas companies have opposed for years.

Lucas, a candidate in this year’s Democratic primary for the state’s seventh district, started to read out political donations handed out by oil and gas companies to members of West Virginia’s Republican-controlled lower house, including more than $8,000 to John Shott, head of the House Judiciary Committee.

Shott cut her off, shut off her mic, and two security guards moved. Lucas said, “Drag me out then.”

The committee passed the bill, expected to be approved by West Virginia’s lower House and state Senate and signed into law by GOP Gov. Jim Justice.

Pelosi raises nearly $50 million for House Dems

Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California brought in nearly $50 million during 2017 for House Democrats, Politico reports today.

Pelosi raised $49.5 million last year and had 204 fundraising events in 43 cities, according to the news outlet

Politico added that $47.6 million went directly to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Pelosi in 2015 raised $40.1 million, Politico notes.

House Democrats are planning to take aim at more than 100 congressional districts that are held by Republicans in this year’s midterm elections.

Cruz warns Texas GOP of Democrats midterm threat

GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is warning his party that the “left is going to show up” in the 2018 midterm elections.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) holds a town hall meeting campaign event in Peterborough, N.H. February 7, 2016. Photo: Luke Vargas/Talk Media News
Sen. Ted Cruz (Luke Vargas/TMN)

Cruz, addressing the Fort Bend County GOP, Cruz talked about an “incredible volatility in politics right now,” according to the Texas Tribune.

Cruz said during his keynote address at the party’s Lincoln Reagan Dinner, “Let me tell you right now: The left is going to show up. They will crawl over broken glass in November to vote.”

Cruz also cited the Democrats’ behavior during President Trump’s first State of the Union address last month, saying their refusal to applaud and stand “underscores the political risk in November.”

Cruz’s likely Democratic opponent in November, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, outraised the Texas Republican in the final quarter of 2017. A post last month by a left-leaning firm showed Cruz leading O’Rourke by single digits.

Abuse claims expose fissures in White House in turmoil

President Trump has expressed sympathy for an aide who resigned after spousal abuse allegations, tweeting Sunday in defense of those “whose lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation” but some officials say Rob Porter lied and deserved to be pushed out of his job as White House staff secretary, according to The New York Times.

The Twitter post was in line with Trump’s historic defense of several men accused of sexual misconduct, including himself.

Porter stepped down last week, but denies spousal abuse by two ex-wives, one with a blackened eye.

The White House and administration officials have been scrambling to explain how Porter — who never received top security clearance for his top security job because of the allegations — remained in such a crucial position and initially received the strong support of Chief of Staff John Kelly. Kelly later released a statement saying he was shocked when he learned details of the allegations.

Rob Porter’s ex-wife says she ‘was floored’ by Trump’s response

The ex-wife of a former Trump administration official accused of domestic violence wrote that she was “floored” when President Trump seemingly implied she made up the allegations, according to Politico.

Former White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned last week after accusations of abuse from two of his ex-wives surfaced, including photographs of his first wife with a black eye — allegedly caused by Porter. Porter denied the accusations but nonetheless offered his resignation.

Trump, in an encounter with reporters days later, praised Porter and emphasized his claims of innocence without any mention of his alleged victims.

Jennifer Willoughby, Porter’s second wife, wrote in an op-ed for Time magazine published over the weekend, that “When Donald Trump repeated twice that Rob declared his innocence, I was floored. What was his intent in emphasizing that point? My friend turned to me and said, ‘the President of the United States just called you a liar.’ Yes. And so he did.”

She says, “The truth exists whether the president accepts it or not.”

Unilever threatens to pull ads from social media if it doesn’t oust extremist propaganda

Unilever is warning digital platforms like Google and Facebook to address the proliferation of fake news, or the company will stop advertising with them, CNN reports today.

Unilever marketing head Keith Weed is scheduled to deliver a speech this afternoon at an advertising conference detailing his concerns with the spread of concerning content on social media.

Wood will say, according to CNN, “We cannot continue to prop up a digital supply chain… which at times is little better than a swamp in terms of its transparency.”

Unilever, which owns several brands including Dove, Good Humor and Ben & Jerry’s, reportedly spends close to $2 billion annually on digital advertisements.

Representatives from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube testified last month before the Senate Commerce Committee about how the platforms are handling the spread of extremist propaganda on the internet.

London airport closed after WWII bomb found

The London City Airport remains closed today after a World War II bomb was found in the nearby Thames River Sunday morning, according to USA Today.

Construction workers found the bomb in the King George V Dock, which is near the London City Airport runway. The workers reported the bomb to the Metropolitan Police and the Royal Navy was deployed to assist with assessing the situation, according to the airport.

Police set up a 702-foot exclusion area around the bomb to ensure the public’s safety, Reuters reported.

The airport, located about nine miles east of London, was closed Sunday and remains closed today, according to a statement from airport CEO Robert Sinclair.

Weinstein company sale delayed by New York state lawsuit

The fire sale of the Weinstein company could be spooked by New York’s attorney general suit alleging the studio and its founders repeatedly violated state and city laws barring gender discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual abuse and coercion.

The suit appears timed to at least temporarily stop a sale, according to The New York Times.

The legal action might ultimately kill the proposed deal, putting the Weinstein company — whose co-founder, Harvey Weinstein, is accused of multiple acts of alleged sexual misconduct — on the path to certain bankruptcy.

Gay skater Adam Rippon says he will boycott Team USA White House visit

U.S. figure skater Adam Rippon says he would boycott a visit to the White House, according to a report in The Hill.

Rippon — the first openly gay athlete selected to a U.S. Winter Olympic team — tells The Daily Mail that he would not go to the White House in an effort “to support my community.”

Olympians are typically invited to the White House for a reception, but USA Today reported earlier this month that Rippon refused a meeting with Vice President Pence after the vice president’s staff reached out to the figure skater following his criticism of Pence’s stance on gay rights.

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