Trump announces end of fight to add citizenship question to census

Political News Trump announces end of fight to add citizenship question to census

liveslow/iStock(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump announced Thursday he is backing down from his effort to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, and will instead take executive action that instructs the Commerce Department to obtain an estimate of U.S. citizenship through other means.

“I am hereby ordering every department and agency in the federal government to provide the Department of Commerce with all requested records regarding the number of citizens and noncitizens in our country,” Trump said in a Rose Garden announcement on Thursday afternoon. “They must furnish all legally accessible records in their possession immediately. We will utilize these vast federal databases to gain a full, complete, and accurate count of the noncitizen population.”

Attorney General William Barr later took the podium at the event to congratulate the president on the executive order, and indicated that it marks the end of the three separate ongoing court cases the administration is fighting in Maryland, California and New York over the administration’s efforts to add the question to the census.

“There is simply no way to litigate these issues and obtain relief from the current injunctions in time to implement any new decision without jeopardizing our ability to carry out the census,” Barr said, after insisting that he believed the government’s effort would have inevitably survived a legal review if brought back before the Supreme Court.

But Barr also suggested, near the close of his remarks, that the administration would explore ways to potentially use the information collected from agencies to advise the congressional redistricting process, a move that would almost certainly generate a legal challenge from the same groups that brought lawsuits over the citizenship question.

“There is a current dispute over whether illegal aliens can be included for apportionment purposes,” Barr said. “Depending on the resolution of that dispute, this data may possibly prove relevant.”

The announcement brings to a close weeks of escalating confusion within the government over his demands that the controversial question be included in the census despite a Supreme Court order that had blocked the move.

Director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project Dale Ho, who argued the census case before the Supreme Court, celebrated the announcement in a statement Thursday evening.

“Trump’s attempt to weaponize the census ends not with a bang but a whimper,” Ho said. “He lost in the Supreme Court, which saw through his lie about needing the question for the Voting Rights Act. It is clear he simply wanted to sow fear in immigrant communities and turbocharge Republican gerrymandering efforts by diluting the political influence of Latino communities.”

As recently as Thursday morning, administration officials had been repeatedly suggested the president would take executive action calling for the question be added to the census. It was not immediately clear when and why the final decision was made not to move forward with that plan.

The announcement follows the government’s acknowledgement in court last week that census forms continued to be printed without the question, in compliance with the Supreme Court’s order last month.

In a majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the administration’s previous stated reasoning that it wanted the question added to better enforce the Voting Rights Act, “seems to have been contrived.” However, Roberts also left open the possibility that the question could still be added if the administration presented a rationale that was sufficient.

Following that decision, the Justice and Commerce Departments announced last week that they were dropping any renewed effort to add the citizenship question.

But they reversed course after Trump tweeted that his administration was “absolutely moving forward” with efforts to include the question, sending DOJ lawyers scrambling to work up a new strategy that they could argue in the ongoing New York, Maryland and California cases.

The Justice Department then made a surprise announcement Sunday evening that it planned to completely replace its legal teams arguing those cases, raising speculation that some of the attorneys involved felt uncomfortable with the administration’s path forward.

In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this week, Barr expressed confidence the administration had a legal path to still add the question, and disputed that the swap was a result of any internal objections expressed by the previous legal team.

But in two cases the attempted switch has hit a major roadblock.

Federal judges in both New York and Maryland have denied the government’s attempt to withdraw the previous attorneys, both saying the government has not provided enough information on how a transition between the teams wouldn’t serve to disrupt ongoing legal proceedings.

Immigration and civil rights groups opposing the administration’s efforts have argued that including a citizenship question on the census could reduce response rates in immigrant communities, resulting in federal funding cuts to areas with high minority populations and congressional districts being drawn in a fashion that would politically advantage Republicans.

A Census Bureau report released just last month estimated that adding the question was likely to reduce responses in households with at least one non-citizen by at least 8%.

Officials from both the Justice and Commerce departments had previously argued repeatedly in court that the legal issues surrounding the census had to be resolved by the end of June to begin the printing process so forms could be ready for mailing by March.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Jul 2019

Members of the US Coast Guard board alleged drug-smuggling vessel: Video

U.S. NEWS Members of the US Coast Guard board alleged drug-smuggling vessel: Video

U.S. Coast Guard(NEW YORK) — Dramatic video shows a U.S. Coast Guard cutter, the Munro, pursuing a speeding semi-submersible suspected drug-smuggling vessel in the middle of international waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

In footage taken on June 18, a Coast Guard crew member repeatedly shouts “Stop the boat!” in Spanish at the submersible.

The crew member — a member part of a Coast Guard law enforcement detachment — calls out, “It’s going to be hard to get on.”

One of two Coast Guard boats seen in the video then closes in on the submersible, as two crew members jump on top of it. One of the crew members makes his way to the hatch, pounding on it until an unidentified individual opens it.

The video ends there.

Marine patrol aircraft first spotted the submersible and communicated its location to the Munro, Coast Guard spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Brickey told ABC News.

The cutter then launched a helicopter beyond the line of sight of the submersible, and directed the two smaller boats to its location.

The 45-foot-long submersible was traveling around 10 miles per hour “hundreds of miles off the Ecuadorian/Colombian border,” Brickey said.

The team that boarded the submersible specializes in high-risk boarding and was armed with night vision to see into the submersible’s dark hatch.

Five individuals were on board the vessel, and the Coast Guard seized around 17,000 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $232 million, the spokesperson said.

The use of semi-submersible vessels for drug smuggling is rare, as they are costly to build, according to the Coast Guard.

From May through July, the Coast Guard said that three of its cutters have seized more than 39,000 pounds of cocaine and 933 pounds of marijuana through 14 separate drug busts off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America.

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Posted On 11 Jul 2019

Oklahoma City Thunder trade Russell Westbrook to Houston Rockets in blockbuster deal

Sports News Oklahoma City Thunder trade Russell Westbrook to Houston Rockets in blockbuster deal

Joshua Gateley/ESPN Images(NEW YORK) — The Oklahoma City Thunder have agreed to trade point guard Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul and a package of draft picks, ESPN reports.

The blockbuster move reunites Westbrook with former Thunder teammate James Harden in Houston. Oklahoma City had been working with Westbrook to complete a trade since last week when they traded star Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers and decided to enter a rebuild.

Sources told ESPN that the Rockets were Westbrook’s preferred destination.

The Thunder will receive Houston’s first-round draft picks in 2024 and 2026, as well as the right to swap first-round picks in 2021 and 2025.

Combined with the haul they got for George, the Thunder now have seven first-round selections — in addition to their own — between now and 2026.

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Posted On 11 Jul 2019

‘Respiratory outbreak’ being investigated at retirement community after 54 residents fall ill

U.S. NEWS 'Respiratory outbreak' being investigated at retirement community after 54 residents fall ill

MattGush/iStock(SPRINGFIELD, Va.) — Two people have died and 18 others have been hospitalized after a “respiratory outbreak” at a Virginia retirement community, according to officials.

The Fairfax County Department of Health said that 54 individuals had become ill with “respiratory symptoms ranging from upper respiratory symptoms (cough) to pneumonia” in the last 11 days at Greenspring Retirement Community in Springfield.

In a letter Wednesday to residents obtained by ABC News affiliate WJLA-TV in Washington D.C., Greenspring described symptoms as “fever, cough, body aches, wheezing, hoarseness and general weakness.”

Benjamin Schwartz, a health department director, told ABC News on Thursday that the outbreak had been reported in the assisted-living and skilled-nursing sections. He said the outbreak began with the first case on June 30.

The specific cause of the outbreak had not yet been identified but additional tests of samples were being done, according to Schwartz.

The assisted-living and skilled-nursing facility in Greenspring is home to 263 residents, Schwartz said. He said the two patients who died in the outbreak had been hospitalized with pneumonia but were “older individuals with complex medical problems.”

“One of the things about skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities is [that] when you have a lot of people in close proximity, who have underlying medical conditions, there is an increased risk for outbreaks,” he said. “Seeing a respiratory outbreak in a long-term care facility is not odd. … One thing that’s different about this outbreak is just that it’s occurring in the summer when, usually, we don’t have a lot of respiratory disease.”

Of those initially hospitalized, seven have returned to the retirement home, said Courtney Benoff, regional communications manager for Erikson Living, which owns the retirement home.

The health department said that although there had been no new hospitalizations in the “past couple of days,” residents were still getting sick in the outbreak.

In a statement, Greenspring said that its “highest priority is the welfare of those who live and work on campus.”

“In keeping with this commitment the community has acted with an abundance of caution, and in partnership with the Fairfax County Department of Health, has taken all necessary measures to fully implement proven infection prevention and control strategies. We remain vigilant in our response and will continue to provide frequent and transparent updates to residents, staff and family members,” the retirement home said in a statement.

The Fairfax County Health Department said it is investigating the incident.

The department said that appropriate measures had been taken to reduce the risk of infection and keep residents safe, including closing the facility to new admissions, cancelling group activities, keeping ill residents in their rooms and increasing cleaning.

Residents experiencing any of those symptoms were urged to call the community’s medical center.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Jul 2019

Nearly 120 people in Minnesota reportedly became sick after boating on July 4th weekend

studiodr/iStock(MINNEAPOLIS) — July 4th weekend often brings an influx of people to large lakes across the U.S., but celebrations took a turn for some people who went to Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota.

An investigation was launched by the Hennepin County Public Health Department after nearly 120 visitors reported getting sick.

The department received 116 calls from lake visitors experiencing vomiting and/or diarrhea, according to Lake Minnetonka Conservation District, a regional government agency.

“It is unfortunate that some people that recreated on the lake over the 4th of July holiday reported becoming ill,” the organization said in a statement. “We want everyone to be safe and healthy while enjoying the lake, which is why certain regulations and measures are in place.“

The public health department has since sent water samples to a lab for testing and is still awaiting the results.

A majority of people who reported getting sick were celebrated near an area of the lake called the “Big Island,” according to Lake Minnetonka Conservation District.

Beaches are only closed when high levels of concerning pathogens or contaminants are found, according to the Hennepin County Public Health Department. A small number of beaches are currently closed on the lake.

“There is no reason to believe the lake cannot be used,” the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District said in a statement. “Further, it is unlikely that if a pathogen was introduced and existed at the time, that it would still be present due to natural destruction and dilution.”

The Big Island area of Lake Minnetonka is not a beach and therefore is not an area where the public health department performs a routinely test, according to the agency.

One man who visited the lake during the holiday weekend said he received his test medical results back, and was negative for E. Coli and norovirus, according to ABC affiliate KSTP.

“The definitive source of the illness has not been identified at this time,” Hennepin County Public Health epidemiology manager, Dave Johnson, told ABC News.

“We have been interviewing ill persons to evaluate all potential exposures, including water exposure and foods that were consumed…We have been asking people who are reporting illness to submit stool samples so we can determine the pathogen responsible.”

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Remains found of missing Kentucky mom Savannah Spurlock, man arrested: Police

U.S. NEWS Remains found of missing Kentucky mom Savannah Spurlock, man arrested: Police

Richmond Police Dept. (RICHMOND, Ky.) — The remains of missing Kentucky mom of four Savannah Spurlock have been recovered, authorities announced Thursday, as a man was arrested in connection with the case.

The remains were found behind a home in Garrard County, about 30 miles south of Lexington, on Wednesday night, and were positively identified on Thursday, according to the Kentucky State Police.

That property had been searched several months ago, but no body was found then, Kentucky State Police spokesman Trooper Robert Purdy said.

Spurlock’s cause of death has not yet been determined, Purdy said.

Spurlock, 23, went missing in January after leaving a bar in Lexington with three men, according to authorities.

David Sparks, 23, one of those three men last seen with Spurlock, was arrested on Thursday and charged with abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence, authorities said.

Sparks’ family owns the property where her body was found, Purdy said.

An official told ABC News in February that they knew the three men took Spurlock to a home in the rural county, but not “when, how she left, or what happened to her after that.”

All three men were interviewed, but not charged at the time.

Authorities on Thursday did not discuss the possibility of additional charges.

“Over the coming days detectives will continue their investigation into what led to the death and disappearance of Savannah Spurlock,” Purdy said at a news conference on Thursday.

Spurlock’s mother, Ellen Spurlock, called her daughter’s disappearance her “worst nightmare” in an interview earlier this year. She told ABC News she spoke to her daughter at about 3 a.m. on Jan. 4, while she was with the three men, and nothing seemed unusual.

“When I asked her where she was, she said she was in Lexington,” Ellen Spurlock told ABC News. “She promised she would be home later that morning. She did not seem out of the ordinary.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Jul 2019

Vatican opens tombs, but mystery deepens surrounding 1983 disappearance of teen Emanuela Orlandi

WORLD NEWS Vatican opens tombs, but mystery deepens surrounding 1983 disappearance of teen Emanuela Orlandi

Travel Wild/iStock(ROME) — During the summer of 1983, a teenager named Emanuela Orlandi vanished in Rome.

Over the years, there have been many false starts on her whereabouts as her family doggedly searched for her.

In March, there was a glimmer of hope, when Orlandi’s family received a bizarre tip from unnamed people that the girl’s remains could be in a Vatican cemetery ‘’where an angel was pointing.”

Surprisingly, the Vatican agreed to open two tombs at the Teutonic Cemetery, which dates to the 1800s.

Searchers not only didn’t find Emanuela’s bones — unexpectedly, they found no remains at all.

Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican employer, disappeared 36 years ago after attending a music lesson in the center of Rome and since then her family has determinedly continued to search for her.

Her brother, Pietro Orlandi — a young man at the time of her disappearance — has led the family’s constant push to find the truth about his sister’s disappearance, pursuing multiple false leads, anonymous letters, conspiracy theories and supposed sightings in far off countries.

This is not the first time tombs or possible burial sites have been exhumed in search of Emanuela’s remains. Just last November Roman prosecutors announced that bones found in annex to the Vatican’s Embassy to Italy were not Emanuela’s.

Spurred on by the endless media fascination with this story, her brother has insisted repeatedly over the years that the Vatican could do more to help in solving the mystery. Vatican officials, however, have always denied any involvement with or knowledge of Emanuela’s disappearance.

The two tombs exhumed on Thursday — a development praised by the family — belonged to two German princesses who lived in the 1800’s.

Prior to this morning’s work, Vatican officials had said that DNA tests were to be carried out on the bones found and the results would be known in a number of weeks. However, that was before the Vatican-appointed forensic anthropologist and the small group of about 15 people present –including Pietro Orlandi and the family’s lawyer — discovered that the two tombs contained no bones.

The Vatican issued a statement after this morning’s work at the cemetery had concluded saying that the “research had given negative results: no human findings or funerary urns were found…..the family members of the two Princesses were informed of the results of the research.’’

Speaking to reporters outside Vatican City, Pietro Orlandi said he had not expected to find the tombs completely empty and again called on anyone who knows the truth about his sister to come forward.

Vatican officials are now studying documents about the cemetery to try to ascertain structural changes that were made in the 19th century and between the 1960’s and 70’s and when the bones of the two princesses may have been removed.

This morning’s Vatican statement ends by saying that the Vatican ‘has always shown attention and closeness to the suffering of the Orlandi family and in particular to Emanuela’s mother.’

Emanuela’s mother still lives within Vatican City.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Jul 2019

Angelica Ross makes history with her ‘American Horror Story’ role

Entertainment News  Angelica Ross makes history with her 'American Horror Story' role


Michael Parmelee/FX(LOS ANGELES) — (NOTE: POSE SPOILER ALERT)  Pose actress Angelica Ross is taking Hollywood by storm and making history while she’s doing it.

After her abrupt departure from Ryan Murphy’s hit FX show on Tuesday, Ross announced on Wednesday that she’s already landed her next role on Murphy’s other hit show, American Horror Story: 1984.

“I am ELATED to make history as the first trans actor to secure 2 series regular roles, leaping from #PoseFX to #AHS1984,” she tweeted. “Thank you @MrRPMurphy for the gift of playing Candy & creating my newest role on American Horror Story! I’m so honored & excited to join the @AHSFX family!!!”

Ross has been cast as a series regular on the upcoming season, which is set to pay homage to 1980s slasher films.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ross touched on how Candy’s violent death is an all-to-real scenario for trans women of color.

“It’s one of those things that I feel like, as soon as I heard the information, [I] was devastated and wanted to first ask, ‘Why? Why me? Why Candy?’” she said. “It was just such an echo of the same sentiment to any black trans woman that’s been passing week after week. Why them?”

American Horror Story: 1984 will premiere Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 10 p.m. ET on FX.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Jul 2019

Harris takes fresh aim at Biden’s debate remarks on busing, calls them ‘revisionist history’

Political News Harris takes fresh aim at Biden's debate remarks on busing, calls them 'revisionist history'

Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE(WASHINGTON) — 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris on Thursday took fresh aim at former Vice President Joe Biden over his remarks on busing in the first Democratic debate, calling his efforts to explain “revisionist history.”

“I’m not going to let us engage on a debate stage for who’s going to be the next president of the United States — I’m not going to allow us to engage in revisionist history,” Harris said in a taping of the popular New York-based syndicated radio program “The Breakfast Club” set to air Friday morning.

“I can’t stand on that stage and allow certain conversations to be taking place,” Harris told the radio hosts.

Harris and Biden have been trading barbs for two weeks, following the heated moment during the debate. Their dispute has continued to be personal with Harris making up t-shirts using a photo of her as a young girl in California who was bused and Biden invoking the name of his deceased son Beau, who knew Harris when both served as state attorneys general.

“I was prepared for them to come after me, but I wasn’t prepared for the person coming at me the way she came out,” Biden said during an interview aired on CNN’s “New Day” program. “She knew Beau and knows me.”

Shortly after that part of the CNN interview was aired, Harris communications director Lily Adams also went on CNN, saying she didn’t think it was a personal attack and that presidential debates should include active discussions on candidates’ past actions as well as visions for the future.

“She started off her comments in the debate by saying and affirming that she doesn’t believe that the vice president is racist and she’s always had respect for the vice president,” Adams said. “I can’t speak to why he was or wasn’t prepared. That’s for him and his team to decide and explain. What she was pointing out was a very real disagreement on the record. These are on decisions and actions that he made. This is what a presidential debate is. It’s to decide who has the record, who has the ideas, who has the vision to lead the party against this — against Donald Trump.”

The full interview with “The Breakfast Club” will air Friday at 7 a.m. in which Harris discusses her relationship with Beau Biden, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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Posted On 11 Jul 2019

Tropical Storm Barry nears Louisiana, New Orleans under state of emergency

U.S. NEWS Tropical Storm Barry nears Louisiana, New Orleans under state of emergency

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Tropical Storm Barry formed in the Gulf of Mexico Thursday as the dangerous storm nears the coast, threatening to bring heavy rain, flash flooding and storm surge.

Tropical storm conditions are expected in Louisiana by Friday afternoon with deteriorating conditions Friday night into Saturday along the Gulf Coast. Tornadoes will also be possible Thursday night and Friday across Louisiana and Mississippi as the storm comes closer to shore.

The storm may strengthen to a Category 1 hurricane before it makes landfall Saturday morning along the central Louisiana coast, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday.

“This is going to be a major weather event for a huge portion of the state,” the governor warned.

Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish and Grand Isle are already under mandatory evacuations as a hurricane watch takes effect in the state. In Lafitte, Louisiana, residents rushed to fill up sandbags.

Heavy rains already inundated New Orleans on Wednesday, flooding streets and homes and leaving drivers stranded. As much as 9 inches of rain fell in the city, with more to come.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell declared a state of emergency in the city, but the city has not issued evacuation orders; Cantrell said Thursday, “sheltering in place is our strategy.”

Residents are encouraged to store 72 hours’ worth of food, water and medication for everyone in the home, including pets.

New Orleans Fire Department officials urged residents to pack emergency items in the event of a last-minute evacuation.

“We have to be prepared for all impacts,” the mayor said.

Immigration enforcement has been suspended through the weekend in Louisiana and Mississippi areas impacted by the storm, New Orleans officials said.

“The city of New Orleans, our residents, should not be affected by ICE at all,” the mayor said. “We want them to be protected, we want them to be safe.”

Even if Barry doesn’t strengthen to a hurricane, the main concern is how much water the storm is forecast to bring, from the heavy rain to storm surge.

As much as 20 inches of rain is possible, especially in southern Louisiana, and because the storm is especially slow-moving, the rain will extend inland, flooding the Mississippi River Valley.

Storm surge warnings have been issued for the southeast Louisiana coast, where life-threatening inundation could reach 3 to 6 feet from the mouth of Atchafalaya River to Shell Beach.

A storm surge watch was issued elsewhere along the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts, where the surge may reach 4 feet in some areas.

The Mississippi River in New Orleans is expected to crest at 19 feet, and the levees in New Orleans are 20 to 25 feet — so this is good news for the city, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told ABC News.

But as the forecast may still change, this will be a major test of the city’s levee systems.

Gov. Edwards has requested a federal emergency declaration.

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Posted On 11 Jul 2019