Onslow County magistrate raises HELL at Jacksonville’s “Jazz In The City”
Governor Roy Cooper issues State of Emergency for Eastern North Carolina
“I want them to suffer,” Tre’ McFadden’s mother Monica Jones says at Saturday protest
BREAKING NEWS: Man shot in back of head and killed at The Cave strip club
By RICHARD LARDNER
WASHINGTON (AP) — Symbols of American promise have turned into emblems of American dysfunction amid a dispute in Congress over spending and immigration that has forced scores of federal agencies and outposts to close their doors.
The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island have turned away visitors in New York, due to what the National Park Service described as “a lapse in appropriations,” a bureaucratic term for a lack of money. In Philadelphia, crowds of tourists have been told that Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed, and the Liberty Bell are closed.
The shuttered icons were some of the easiest-to-spot impacts of the partial government closure. Funds ran out at midnight Friday, leaving 48 hours before the most dramatic effect — the furloughing of nearly a million federal employees — goes into effect.
As in shutdowns past, federal services were carved into two categories — essential and non-essential — with the former set to carry on as normal. In that category, the mail will be delivered and Social Security checks still go out, the air traffic control system stays up and running, as do the FBI, Customs and Border Protection and veterans hospitals.
Still, there were plenty of inconveniences to irk American taxpayers.
While active-duty troops will stay at their posts during a shutdown, people stationed overseas were touched by the political fallout almost immediately. The American Forces Network, which broadcasts American radio and television programming in Europe and other locations outside the U.S., put a message on its Facebook page that said its services would not be available “due to the government shutdown.”
The notice sparked a series of angry reactions from viewers, with several noting that the timing couldn’t have been worse: The NFL conference championships will be played Sunday. “During NFL PLAYOFFS?!” one post read. “AFN, start a GoFundMe & broadcast these games! Make it happen!”
Yet congressional Republicans and Democrats appeared no closer Saturday to settling their differences over immigration policy and striking an agreement to fund the government. The longer the shutdown lasts, the worse the effects will be. Almost half the 2 million civilian federal workers will be barred from doing their jobs if the shutdown extends into Monday.
That’ll put on hold a swath of government functions, from the processing of new veterans benefits claims to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s support for the government’s annual seasonal flu program. At the Internal Revenue Service, more than half of the 80,565 employees will be barred from working just as tax filing season is beginning and the agency is dealing with the sweeping changes made by the new GOP tax law.
Until then, much of the immediate fallout was in Washington, where lawmakers carried out the part of jobs that involve assigning blame.
There were few signs of shutdown at the Capitol, where lawmakers spent most of the day making speeches about the dispute. A women’s march carried on as planned, under the eye of U.S. Park Police protection. Vice President Mike Pence did not reschedule a visit to the Middle East, the administration labeling the trip “integral” to U.S. national security and diplomacy.
Trump’s own next scheduled trip was up in the air. The president was due to leave for the Swiss Alps on Wednesday evening to participate in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. A number of White House staffers and agency advance teams are already there awaiting his arrival.
The president was forced to cancel his plan to attend a fundraiser Saturday night at his Florida estate.
Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters Friday that a shuttering of the government would “look very different” from the 16-day government closure in 2013 under President Barack Obama. He said the previous administration “weaponized” the government shutdown in budget negotiations and did not encourage agencies to lessen the impact with unobligated funds. He said, “They chose to make it worse.”
Underscoring the point, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke tweeted a photo of himself talking to students at the World War II Memorial in Washington, blocks from White House.
The memorial and other open-air parks were open Saturday unlike in 2013 when they became a flashpoint in the government shutdown, as veterans were denied the right to visit and protested loudly. House Republicans in particular took up their cause and slammed Obama and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
“Not all parks are fully open, but we are all working hard to make as many areas as accessible to the public as possible,” Zinke said.
But several famous locations were closed shortly after the shutdown started. In New York, the National Park Service said the closure of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island was effective immediately and until further notice.
“To get this close where you can see them, and the government shuts them down — that’s very, very frustrating,” said Dan O’Meara, a firefighter from Fresno, California, who is descended from an Irish immigrant family that entered through Ellis Island. “But now, we’re not allowed to go out there and see it.”
At Independence Hall in Philadelphia, security guards wearing all black stood around the hall, shooing away people who got too close. A park ranger did the same at the doorway into the building that surrounds the Liberty Bell, saying “something’ll have to happen in Washington” when asked when it would reopen.
Gaetana Dimauro, 34, a property inspector from Adelaide, Australia, sat near the blocked off entrance of the Liberty Bell in a bright red New Jersey Devils sweater.
“Huh,” she asked when told about the shutdown, “I had no idea that it’d be closed.”
A national monument in northern New Mexico is mostly closed to visitors because of the shutdown. Officials of Bandelier National Monument at Los Alamos say campgrounds, the visitor center and other main areas of the monument are closed as of Saturday but that the entrance road and a few trails remain open.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s childhood home, historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and the visitor center at MLK National Historic Site in Atlanta are closed. And Big Cypress National Preserve, Everglades National Park and other federally managed natural areas in Florida will be partially closed.
The shutdown wasn’t knocking “Old Ironsides” out of commission. The USS Constitution, the world’s oldest commissioned warship, will remain open to tourists during the shutdown at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston, officials said.
Associated Press writers Matthew Daly in Washington, Anisha Frizzell in Atlanta, Bob Salsberg in Boston, Paul Davenport in Phoenix, Anthony Izaguirre in Philadelphia, and Julie Walker in New York contributed to this report.
Contact Richard Lardner on Twitter at http://twitter.com/rplardner
The Latest: 13 Russians accused of plot to disrupt election
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the indictments in the special counsel’s Russia probe (all times local):
The U.S. special counsel has accused 13 Russians of an elaborate plot to disrupt the 2016 presidential election, charging them with running a huge but hidden social media trolling campaign aimed in part at helping Republican Donald Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The federal indictment, brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, represents the most detailed allegations to date of illegal Russian meddling during the campaign that sent Trump to the White House.
The Russian organization was funded by a wealthy St. Petersburg businessman with ties to the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin.
Trump is claiming vindication, but the indictment does not resolve the collusion question at the heart of the continuing Mueller probe.
A spokesman for Hillary Clinton says the indictments in the special counsel’s Russia probe confirm “what we’ve long known.”
Nick Merrill says on Twitter, “Time will tell us more, but Russia went to great lengths to undermine our democracy, & the President won’t protect us.”
The indictment by federal prosecutors alleges that Russians used bogus social media postings and ads falsely purchased in the name of Americans to sway political opinion during the campaign between Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.
Merrill tweets, “No matter your politics, it’s un-American. We have an adversary that is laughing at us, who will act again.”
Facebook says it is doubling its security staff to 20,000 and actively working with the FBI to stop election interference by Russians and others.
The company’s statement is in response to the indictment of 13 Russians and three Russian organizations by federal prosecutors. The charges shed light on the extent to which Russians manipulated social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Joel Kaplan is Facebook vice president of global policy. He says officials know they have more to do to prevent future attacks, and are committed to staying ahead of deceptive and malevolent activity.
A Twitter spokeswoman said the company has no comment, and YouTube has not yet responded.
President Donald Trump says “far-fetched theories” about collusion in the 2016 election “only serve to further the agendas of bad actors, like Russia.”
Trump is reacting to news that special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted 13 Russians and three Russian organizations for plotting to influence the 2016 campaign.
Trump says, “It’s time we stop the outlandish partisan attacks.”
The Russians are accused of using social media propaganda aimed at helping Trump and harming the prospects of Democrat Hillary Clinton. The indictment alleges that the Russians cooperated with “unwitting” Trump campaign staffers and outside backers who did not know their true identities.
Trump says, “We must unite as Americans to protect the integrity of our democracy and our elections.”
The attorney for the California man who pleaded guilty in the Russia probe says his client made a mistake.
The lawyer tells The Associated Press that Richard Pinedo’s connection to Russian meddling “is way beyond anything he could have possibly imagined” being involved in.”
The lawyer says Pinedo thought he was helping people fraudulently open online bank accounts, but that Pinedo had no idea “his customers were foreign nationals” trying to meddle in the election.
Jeremy Lessem says his client will not make any public statements.
Pinedo is from Santa Paula, California. He pleaded guilty earlier this month to using stolen identities to set up bank accounts that were then used by the Russians.
“No collusion.” That’s the reaction of President Donald Trump to the indictment of 13 Russians and three Russian companies for plotting to meddle in the 2016 election.
The president tweeted Friday that the indictment shows, “The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”
The Russians were charged Friday with using social media propaganda aimed at helping Trump and harming the prospects of Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Trump notes that the Russian influence campaign is alleged to have started in 2014, “long before” he declared his candidacy.
He says, “The results of the election were not impacted.”
In fact, while prosecutors have not alleged that meddling altered the election’s outcome, the indictment does not rule it out.
The online payment company PayPal has been unexpectedly drawn into the Russia probe. Federal prosecutors allege that Russian criminals used PayPal to help pay for propaganda aimed at influencing voters in the 2016 election.
Thirteen Russians and three Russian companies were charged Friday with plotting to interfere in the election.
In the indictment, prosecutors allege the defendants used PayPal as a primary conduit to transfer money for general expenses as well as to buy Facebook ads. Prosecutors say the accounts were opened using fake identities to help bypass PayPal’s security measures.
PayPal says it is cooperating with the Justice Department. A spokesman says, “PayPal is intensely focused on combatting and preventing the illicit use of” its services and works closely with law enforcement, including in this instance.
A California man has pleaded guilty to unwittingly selling bank accounts to Russians meddling in the US elections.
Richard Pinedo of Santa Paula pleaded guilty earlier this month to using stolen identities to set up bank accounts that were then used by the Russians. A Justice Department spokeswoman says Pinedo did not know at the time he was dealing with Russians.
The plea deal is the third in special counsel Robert Mueller’s continuing Russia probe. It was revealed the same day prosecutors charged 13 Russians and three Russian companies with an extensive scheme to meddle in the U.S. elections.
A Russian businessman known as “Putin’s chef” who was indicted Friday by federal prosecutors says “Americans are very impressionable people.” He says he’s not upset to be named in the indictment.
Thirteen Russians and three Russian companies were charged Friday with a plot to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election through social media propaganda.
The indictment says the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm, started interfering as early as 2014 in U.S. politics, extending to the 2016 presidential election.
The indictment says the agency was funded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a St. Petersburg businessman dubbed “Putin’s chef” because his restaurants and catering businesses once hosted the Kremlin leader’s dinners with foreign dignitaries.
Prigozhin was quoted by Russia’s state news agency as saying Americans “see what they want to see.”
One of those indicted in the Russia probe is a businessman with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Yevgeny Prigozhin (pree-GOH’-zhin) is an entrepreneur from St. Petersburg who’s been dubbed “Putin’s chef” by Russian media.
His restaurants and catering businesses have hosted the Kremlin leader’s dinners with foreign dignitaries. In the more than 10 years since establishing a relationship with Putin, his business has expanded to services for the military.
Prigozhin’s assets also include an oil trading firm that reportedly has been sending private Russian fighters to Syria. Prigozhin is on the list of those sanctioned by the U.S.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says there’s no allegation that any Americans were “knowing participants” in what federal prosecutors call an elaborate plot to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Thirteen Russians and three Russian companies were charged Friday with plotting to meddle in the election through social media propaganda aimed at helping Republican Donald Trump and harming the prospects of Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Charges were brought by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller and represented the most direct allegation to date of illegal Russian meddling during the election.
Rosenstein said Friday that there is “no allegation in this indictment” that any American was a knowing participant.
The deputy attorney general says a new indictment does not allege that Russian meddling altered the outcome of presidential election.
Federal prosecutors have announced charges against 13 Russians and three Russian entities with an elaborate plot to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The indictment was brought by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller. It alleges that Russians used bogus social media postings and advertisements fraudulently purchased in the name of Americans to sway political opinion during the race between Republican Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says the indictment does not include allegations that the plot swayed the outcome of the vote.
Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein says the goal of 13 Russians and three Russian entities charged Friday was “spreading distrust” of 2016 candidates and the political system.
The indictment details an elaborate plot to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The indictment was brought by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller. It alleges that Russians used bogus social media postings and advertisements fraudulently purchased in the name of Americans to sway political opinion during the race between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Thirteen Russians and three Russian entities were charged Friday with an elaborate plot to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, federal prosecutors announced Friday.
The indictment, brought by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, alleges that Russians used bogus social media postings and advertisements fraudulently purchased in the name of Americans to sway political opinion during the race between Republican Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent.
The charges are the most direct allegation to date of illegal Russian meddling in the election.
The goal, the indictment says, was to “sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 presidential election.”
The charges arise from Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the election and whether there was improper coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
Trump cites mental health _ not guns _ in speech on shooting
By CATHERINE LUCEY
WASHINGTON (AP) — Declaring the nation united and grieving with “one heavy heart,” President Donald Trump promised Thursday to tackle school safety and “the difficult issue of mental health” in response to the deadly shooting in Florida. He made no mention of the scourge of gun violence.
Not always a natural in the role of national comforter, Trump spoke deliberately, at one point directly addressing children who may feel “lost, alone, confused or even scared.”
“I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be,” Trump said. “You have people who care about you, who love you, and who will do anything at all to protect you.”
While Trump stressed the importance of mental health and school safety improvements, his latest budget request would slash Medicaid, the major source of federal funding for treating mental health problems, and cut school safety programs by more than a third. Last year, he signed a resolution blocking an Obama-era rule designed to keep guns out of the hands of certain mentally disabled people.
The president spoke to the nation from the White House, one day after a former student with an AR-15 rifle opened fire at a high school in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people and injuring 14 more. It was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, more than five years ago.
Trump, who owns a private club in Palm Beach, Florida, about 40 miles away, said he planned to visit the grieving community, but no date was immediately set. He canceled plans to promote his infrastructure plan in Orlando on Friday and to attend a campaign rally in Pennsylvania next week.
Trump’s silence on guns was noted with displeasure by many who are seeking tougher firearm restrictions. But the White House said the president wanted to keep his remarks focused on the victims. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the point was “to talk about grief and show compassion in unifying the country.”
Before he was a candidate, Trump at one point favored some tighter gun regulations. But he embraced gun rights as a candidate, and the National Rifle Association spent $30 million in support of his campaign
During his brief, televised statement, Trump said he wanted to work to “create a culture in our country that embraces the dignity of life,” a phrase likely to resonate with his conservative base.
He pledged to work with state and local officials to “help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health,” adding that safe schools would be a key focus when he meets with governors and state attorneys general later this month.
Trump made no specific policy recommendations, and he did not answer shouted questions about guns as he exited the room.
In contrast, former President Barack Obama tweeted out a call for “long overdue, common-sense gun safety laws.” Obama wrote: “We are grieving with Parkland. But we are not powerless. Caring for our kids is our first job.”
In reacting to previous mass shootings, Trump has largely focused on mental health as a cause, dismissing questions about gun control. After a shooting at a Texas church in November left more than two dozen dead, the president said, “This isn’t a guns situation.”
The 19-year-old suspect in Florida, Nikolas Cruz, is a troubled teenager who posted disturbing material on social media. He had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for “disciplinary reasons,” Broward County, Florida, Sheriff Scott Israel said.
The profile photo on Cruz’s Instagram account showed a masked face wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat like those associated with Trump’s campaign.
The leader of a white nationalist militia called the Republic of Florida said Cruz was a member of his group and had participated in exercises in Tallahassee. But neither the Sheriff’s Office in Tallahassee nor the Southern Poverty Law Center could confirm any link between Cruz and the militia.
Trump was criticized in early August for saying that both white nationalists and counter-protesters were responsible for the violent clashes at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
While Trump has offered somber responses to some tragedies, he has also drawn criticism for other reactions.
After the Orlando shootings at a gay nightclub that left 49 dead in June 2016, then-candidate Trump tweeted, “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism.” In the wake of a deadly terror attack in London last June, he went after Mayor Sadiq Khan on Twitter.
News of Wednesday afternoon’s shooting had come as the White House was embroiled in a weeklong scandal surrounding the handling of domestic abuse allegations against Rob Porter, a top aide who resigned last week.
The typically daily White House press briefing was repeatedly delayed, as aides tried to craft a strategy on that issue. One option was to have chief of staff John Kelly, who has come under intense pressure for his handling of the Porter matter, be part of the briefing, according to two White House officials not authorized to publicly discuss internal deliberations.
Once the magnitude of the Florida tragedy became clear, the White House canceled the briefing. The president tweeted his condolences and the White House deliberated its next move.
Kelly was not in the room when Trump addressed the nation on Thursday morning, and his job security remained an open question. But with the West Wing focused on the shooting aftermath, any immediate change seemed unlikely
Associated Press writer Jonathan Lemire contributed from New York. AP writers Zeke Miller, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Maria Danilova contributed from Washington.
‘Dreamers’ left in limbo as Senate rejects immigration bills
By ALAN FRAM and KEVIN FREKING
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate left hundreds of thousands of “Dreamer” immigrants in limbo Thursday, rejecting rival plans that would have spared them from deportation and strengthened the nation’s border security. Senators dealt President Donald Trump an especially galling defeat as more than a quarter of fellow Republicans abandoned him on an issue that helped propel him to the White House.
Also defeated was a plan by a bipartisan group of senators who offered a compromise that would have shielded the young immigrants and financed Trump’s demands for money to build his coveted border wall with Mexico, though more gradually than he wants. Eight Republicans joined most Democrats in backing that plan, but it fell short after the White House threatened a veto and GOP leaders opposed it.
The day’s votes, in which four separate proposals were defeated, illustrated anew Congress’ steep challenge in striking a deal on an issue that’s proven intractable for years and on which each party’s most fervent supporters refuse to budge. The outcome suggested there may be no permanent solution soon to help the Dreamers, who were brought to the U.S. as children, despite their sky-high support in public polling.
The Senate votes left the young immigrants facing a March 5 deadline that Trump has given Congress for restoring the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, that he annulled last year. Federal courts have blocked him temporarily from dismantling the Obama-era initiative, but without congressional action the immigrants will face growing risks of deportation as their protections expire.
“Dreamers” are immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and now risk deportation because they lack permanent authorization to stay. DACA gives them the ability to live and work in the U.S. for two-year periods that can be renewed.
“It looks like demagogues on the left and the right win again on immigration,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who helped craft the bipartisan package but also backed Trump’s plan. He added, “The only way forward is for President Trump to grab the reins and lead us to a solution.”
That scenario wasn’t in sight Thursday. The White House trashed the bipartisan proposal as “dangerous policy that will harm the nation,” denouncing a provision directing the government to prioritize enforcement efforts against immigrants who arrive illegally — beginning in July. Trump proved unwilling to fold on his demands for a tougher bill, reflecting the hard-line immigration stance that fueled his presidential run.
After the Senate rejected all four proposals on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blamed Democrats for failing to accept what he said was a “generous” offer from Trump.
“They turned away from a golden opportunity to solve the issue,” said McConnell. He expressed openness to considering a future compromise but said, “For that to happen, Democrats will need to take a second look” at Trump’s demands.
Trump had dangled a chance for citizenship for 1.8 million young immigrants, meeting a top Democratic demand. But that plan also included $25 billion to build his border wall with Mexico and enact other border security measures, tighter curbs on relatives whom legal immigrants could sponsor for citizenship and an end to a visa lottery that encourages immigration from diverse nations.
No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas said after the votes that lawmakers might consider temporarily protecting Dreamers from deportation in a government-wide spending measure Congress will consider next month.
He said that approach “to me is not great, but that’s kind of where we are.”
Democrats said Trump was the major hindrance to a broader deal.
“This vote is proof that President Trump’s plan will never become law,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York. “If he would stop torpedoing bipartisan efforts, a good bill would pass.”
The Senate derailed Trump’s proposal by voting 60-39 against it — 21 votes shy of the 60 it needed to survive.
The White House reacted angrily Thursday night, releasing a statement accusing “Schumer Democrats” of not being serious about DACA, immigration reform or homeland security.
And yet, 14 Republicans — more than 1 in 4 — joined 46 Democrats in opposition. The “no” votes included some of the chamber’s most conservative Republicans, many of whom were uncomfortable with offering citizenship to immigrants here illegally.
Just three Democrats backed Trump’s proposal, all of them facing dicey November re-election in states he carried easily in 2016: Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin.
The vote on the bipartisan plan was 54-45, six short of the required 60. Eight Republicans who helped craft that compromise supported it, and three Democrats voted “no” including Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who’s viewed as a 2020 presidential hopeful.
That proposal offered the citizenship pathway for Dreamers and $25 billion for border security, but doled it out over 10 years. Trump’s bill would have prevented legal immigrants from sponsoring parents and siblings for citizenship and would have ended a visa lottery aimed at allowing more diverse immigrants into the U.S. The compromise bill would have left the lottery system intact but barred Dreamers who obtain citizenship from sponsoring their parents.
The bipartisan measure’s sponsors included eight GOP senators. It was produced by a group led by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democrat Manchin.
Also rejected was a modest plan by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Chris Coons, D-Del. It would have let many Dreamers qualify for permanent residency and directed federal agencies to more effectively control the border by 2020. But it didn’t offer a special citizenship pathway, raise border security funds or make sweeping changes in legal immigration rules.
A proposal by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., was killed that would have blocked federal grants to “sanctuary cities,” communities that don’t cooperate with federal efforts to enforce immigration laws.
Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor and Ken Thomas contributed to this report.