breaking news


7 things to know now: Trump on wiretapping; March Madness begins; Trudeau, Ivanka go to a show

Published: Thursday, March 16, 2017 @ 7:08 AM
Updated: Thursday, March 16, 2017 @ 7:13 AM


            FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2017, file photo, Kansas coach Bill Self carries his 13th Big 12 championship trophy following the team's NCAA college basketball game against TCU in Lawrence, Kan. In the most damaging instance of legal trouble at Kansas this season, police investigated a reported rape at the dorm that houses the basketball team. No charges have been filed. From there, more headlines kept piling up involving no fewer than four players. Self said he's proud his team has rallied despite the steady stream of issues. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2017, file photo, Kansas coach Bill Self carries his 13th Big 12 championship trophy following the team's NCAA college basketball game against TCU in Lawrence, Kan. In the most damaging instance of legal trouble at Kansas this season, police investigated a reported rape at the dorm that houses the basketball team. No charges have been filed. From there, more headlines kept piling up involving no fewer than four players. Self said he's proud his team has rallied despite the steady stream of issues. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now:

1. Travel ban on hold: A federal judge in Hawaii blocked the second version of President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration Wednesday, questioning whether the administration was motivated by national security concerns when it issued the order. The ban was to go into effect Thursday. Trump called the ruling, 'unprecedented judicial overreach.'

2. Let the ‘madness’ begin: The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament begins Thursday with a full slate of games. In the day’s opening rounds, you can catch Wisconsin and Virginia Tech; Florida State and Florida Gulf Coast and one of the surprise teams in the tournament – Northwestern – playing Vanderbilt.

3. “Things” coming to committee: President Trump told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that his administration would soon be “submitting things” to the House Select Committee on Intelligence concerning the alleged wiretapping of Trump Towers in Manhattan. He told Carlson he will be “perhaps speaking publically about this next week.” Trump has accused former president Barack Obama of wiretapping his campaign during his 2016 presidential run.

4. Budget plan to be released: The White House will release details Thursday of its plan to cut the federal budget. The "America First" budget outline is said to contain deep cuts at the State Department, including a 38 percent reduction in foreign aid spending. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Environmental Protection Agency are said to be facing similar budget cuts. The Defense Department will see a boost in spending.

5. Fed raises rates: The Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates on Wednesday by a quarter of a percentage point, a move that had been expected due to the strengthening of the economy in the past few months. It is the third time the Fed has raised rates since December of 2015.

And one more

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with his guest, Ivanka Trump, took in a show on Wednesday night in New York City. The new musical shines a light on the compassion of Canadians following the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. “Come From Away” highlights the stories of those in the Newfoundland town of Gander who took in travelers after flights to the United States were canceled following the 9/11 attacks.

In case you missed it

Republican tax reform plan may be limited by GOP budget

Published: Saturday, July 22, 2017 @ 6:17 AM

Republican plans for tax reform could be less sweeping than originally envisioned by the White House and GOP leaders in Congress, as a provision in a House GOP budget blueprint would require any tax bill to be ‘budget neutral,’ which would force lawmakers to offset any tax cuts with revenue increases that could be difficult in some cases to gain approval.

Deep in the fine print of the budget resolution for next year, the Republican plan allows for a tax reform bill under budget reconciliation, “if such measure would not increase the deficit for the total of fiscal years 2018 through 2027.”

In other words, you can’t just cut taxes – which technically deprive the federal treasury of revenue, and therefore increase the budget deficit – you have to find revenue to pay for those tax cuts.

And Republicans on the House Budget Committee were actively trumpeting that message.

On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan was touting tax reform during a trip to a New Balance factory in Massachusetts.

“First and foremost, we’re going to cut your taxes,” the Speaker said.

But when a tax plan is deficit neutral – a cut for one person means that revenue must be found somewhere else to offset that reduction – in other words, some other tax increase, mainly one would assume by taking away deductions in the tax code.

And many veterans of Capitol Hill say that’s not going to be easy.

“I spent much of 2011-16 negotiating tax reform proposals in the Senate,” said Brian Reidl, a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, who used to work for Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).

“Revenue-neutral tax reform will make health care look easy,” Riedl said in a post on Twitter.

Key Republicans have made clear that they want to put together a proposal that dramatically simplifies the current tax system.

“So 96% of the people can do their tax return on a single postcard size,” said House Budget Committee Chair Rep. Diane Black (R-TN).

To do that, you would lower tax rates, and then most likely eliminate or reduce tax deductions – and that’s where things get tricky.

Do you get rid of the deduction for mortgage insurance? Lots of people talk about that, but it always goes nowhere.

What about the deduction for state and local taxes? That has bipartisan opposition in and around big cities on the East Coast.

The tax break on employer provided health care benefits? That went nowhere fast in the negotiations over the GOP bill to overhaul the Obama health law.

End or restrict the business interest deduction? Hard to imagine.

Deficit neutral tax reform – it sounds wonky. But it’s a pretty important development that may rein in the scope of a GOP tax plan.

Minnesota man has collected nearly 3 million soda can tabs

Published: Saturday, July 22, 2017 @ 6:06 AM

Soda tabs.
Flickr
Soda tabs.(Flickr)

A Minnesota man has been collecting the tabs from aluminum cans for nearly 30 years, and he is closing in on a major milestone. In a Plexiglas box that is the size of a Dumpster, Jim Spinler has collected nearly 3 million tabs.

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“There’s 2,650,000 in there right now,” the 75-year-old Spinler told the Owatonna Peoples Press. “With the box and the pallet, it’s over 2,000 pounds with all that weight.”

Once he fills the box -- which measures six feet wide, four feet deep and four feet high -- Spinler plans to donate all of the tabs to the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester.

Spinler said he began collecting the tabs during his 50 years as owner of Jim’s Garbage Service, which he sold in 2006. He told the Peoples Press that he sold the business to support the Ronald McDonald House, which supports families of children with serious illnesses who are undergoing treatment at the Mayo Clinic.

“One of my friends got to stay in Ronald McDonald House about 30 years ago. His kid had a kidney infection,” Spinler told the Peoples Press. “So I started collecting, and when I retired, I had 15 five-gallon pails full.”

Many of the tabs he has collected himself, but friends have donated some, too.

Thirty years later, Spinler still plans to donate the tabs to the Ronald McDonald House — but not quite yet. He wants to top off the box first, which he estimates will take right around 3 million tabs.

“Another year. I don’t know how long it’s going to take to fill it,” he said.

The Ronald McDonald House collects the tabs and has volunteers who transport them to local recycling centers. Most years, the money they collect adds up to between $10,000 and $15,000.

Once the box is full, Spinler also plans to reach out to the Guinness Book of World Records. He doesn’t know what the largest pop tab collection on record is, he says, but 3 million has got to be close.

“I’m proud of what I’m doing,” he told the People’s Press. “I wish I’d written down all the people that donated.”

Kentucky must pay attorney fees for couples who sued Kim Davis

Published: Saturday, July 22, 2017 @ 4:48 AM

Kim Davis (right) is the clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky.
Ty Wright/Getty Images
Kim Davis (right) is the clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky.(Ty Wright/Getty Images)

A federal judge ruled Friday that Kentucky taxpayers must foot the bill for more than $220,000 in attorney fees for the couples who were denied marriage licenses by the Rowan County clerk, WKYT reported.

>> Read more trending news

In July 2015, four couples -- two same-sex and two opposite-sex filed suit against Kim Davis, who had refused to issue marriage licenses. Davis cited her religious beliefs for not issuing the licenses and was briefly jailed for contempt of court.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning wrote that “Davis represented the Commonwealth of Kentucky” when she made her refusal. “The buck stops there."”

Bunning, who ruled against Davis in the original lawsuit, said Rowan County and Davis herself were not responsible for paying the $222,695 in attorneys' fees, NPR reported.

William Sharp, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union in Kentucky, said his organization was pleased with the ruling.

“We hope this serves as a reminder to Kentucky officials that willful violations of individuals’ civil liberties ... will not only be challenged but will also prove costly.”

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Scientists will battle mosquito population by releasing 20 million of them

Published: Saturday, July 22, 2017 @ 3:47 AM

Sterile mosquitoes will be used to curtail the population of the insects in California.
PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images
Sterile mosquitoes will be used to curtail the population of the insects in California.(PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)

Mosquitoes are an annoying pest, particularly during the summer. Now, scientists in California are working to shrink the population of the pesky insects that carry disease.

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How? The scientists will be releasing 20 million of them in California.

If that sounds counterproductive, there is a method behind it. The plan is to release millions of sterile male mosquitoes, which will then mate with females, NPR reported. The eggs the females lay won’t hatch, according to researchers.

The project is called Debug Fresno, and scientists said the goal is to trim the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes -- the species responsible for the Zika virus, dengue and chikungunya, NPR reported. The species has been a nuisance in California’s Central Valley since 2013, particularly in Fresno County.

“It’s a terrible nuisance, a terrible biting nuisance. It's changed the way people can enjoy their backyard and it's a threat for disease transmission," Steve Mulligan of Fresno County's Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District told The Washington Post.

Each week for 20 weeks, the company plans to release 1 million of the sterile, non-biting male mosquitoes in two neighborhoods in Fresno County.