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    When asked about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in which 17 people were killed, former Miami Heat star LeBron James had one question: >> Read more trending news “How is it possible that we can have minors go buy a gun?” Nikolas Cruz, accused of the killings, is actually 19 and legally bought the AR-15 semiautomatic weapon that was used during the Feb. 14 incident. Still, James, the Cavaliers’ superstar, and other players with ties to South Florida could not make sense of the tragedy. The players were asked about the shooting during Saturday’s media day for the NBA All-Star Weekend. “We have a kid who wasn’t legally unable (sic) to buy a beer at a bar, but he can go buy an AR-15?” James said “It doesn’t make sense. I’m not saying it should be legal for him to go buy beer. But how is it possible that we can have minors go buy a gun?” Heat guard Wayne Ellington, who was fourth in Saturday’s 3-point contest, said the nation has to “come together” to makes changes so these mass shootings do not continue to occur. The shooting was the ninth deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, five of those coming in the last six years. WATCH: Florida school shooting survivor slams politicians, NRA in emotional speech “I was at a loss for words,” Ellington said. “I couldn’t understand what’s going on, why (this) is going on in the world. Do we need to change? These young people doing unexplainable things, hurting each other and hurting innocent people it’s so unfortunate and sad, it’s something I don’t know how we can change but it’s something we need to come together and figure out.” John Collins, the Atlanta Hawks rookie from Palm Beach County, was calling home to try to understand what was happening. “It was a real shock to me,” said Collins, who played in Friday’s Rising Stars Challenge. “Obviously, I never expected something like that to happen. I know a couple of people that were affected by that tragedy. You got to say your prayers and sending your condolences and thoughts to the victims.” What are the worst school shootings in modern US history? James, though, was the most outspoken in calling for gun control. “We’ve seen these schools and these tragedies happen in America and there’s been no change to gun control,” James said. “I don’t have the answer to this. But we have to do something about it. We’re all sending our kids to school, right? We drop them off at 8 o’clock. At 3:15 they’re going to be ready to get picked up. Either we’re picking them or someone in our family is picking them up or they have to take a bus or there’s aftercare and they stay until 5. If they have study hall they stay until 5:30 or whatever. But we all feel like our kids are going to return, right? “To the families in Parkland, down in Broward County, it’s sad and I’m sorry and it’s just a tragedy and I hope we don’t continue to see this because it’s too many in the last 10 years with guns.” James, meanwhile, has been embroiled in a social media debate with Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham, who said that athletes like James should 'keep the political commentary to yourself.” “Or as someone once said, 'Shut up and dribble,’” Ingraham said. Ingraham was referencing an interview that James and Kevin Durant taped in January with ESPN’s Cari Champion for a show called “Uninterrupted.” The two NBA stars spoke about the political climate in the United States and had harsh criticism for President Donald Trump, ESPN reported. Durant, in an interview with USA Today on Friday, said Ingraham's comments were 'racist.'  “That was definitely an ignorant comment (by Ingraham). I do play basketball, but I am a civilian and I am a citizen of the United States, so my voice is just as loud as hers, I think -- or even louder.” James, on his Instagram account, posted a photo of a neon sign that read “I am more than an athlete.” Ingraham released a statement Saturday defending her comments, ESPN reported. 'In 2003, I wrote a New York Times bestseller called 'Shut Up & Sing,' in which I criticized celebrities like the Dixie Chicks and Barbra Streisand, who were trashing then-President George W. Bush. I have used a variation of that title for more than 15 years to respond to performers who sound off on politics,” Ingraham wrote. “If pro athletes and entertainers want to freelance as political pundits, then they should not be surprised when they're called out for insulting politicians. There was no racial intent in my remarks -- false, defamatory charges of racism are a transparent attempt to immunize entertainment and sports elites from scrutiny and criticism.
  • Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt is postponing a planned trip to Israel. The decision comes as Pruitt is under pressure over the cost of his travel, including frequent first-class flights. EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman confirmed the trip's postponement in an email Sunday. She did not explain why the trip had been postponed or immediately respond to an email asking whether the decision was related to the recent reports about Pruitt's travel. Pruitt has said a 'toxic environment politically' required first-class travel and protection from a 24-hour security detail. According to travel vouchers obtained by an environmental organization, Pruitt and staffers billed taxpayers nearly $200,000 for his trips over six months last year. The postponement of the Israel trip was first reported by The Washington Post.
  • Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who signed laws making it legal to carry concealed weapons at daycare facilities and college campuses, said he has “no confidence” Congress will approve what he called “common-sense gun laws” in the wake of a mass shooting last week at a Florida high school. >> Read more trending news During an interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Kasich, who earned the endorsement of the National Rifle Association during his 2014 re-election campaign, indicated he would support “reasonable things,” such as full background checks for people buying guns and banning what are known as bump stocks, which allow a semi-automatic weapon to fire like an automatic weapon. “You’re never going to fix all of this,” Kasich said. “But common-sense gun laws make sense.” In a major reversal, Kasich suggested he might support a ban on an the sale of AR-15 semiautomatic weapons like the one used in the Florida attack. Kasich said, “If all of a sudden you couldn’t buy an AR-15, what would you lose? Would you feel as though your Second Amendment rights would be eroded because you couldn’t buy a God-darned AR-15?” “These are the things that have to be looked at and action has to happen,” Kasich said. In 1994 as a member of Congress, Kasich voted to ban the production and sale of 19 semi-automatic assault weapons. But when he ran for president in 2016, Kasich called the ban “superfluous and we don’t need laws that are superfluous. It didn’t have any impact.” >> Florida school shooting: What we know about the victims The ban on the sale of semiautomatic weapons expired in 2004 when Congress failed to renew it. Kasich said he has formed a committee “on both sides of the issue” in Ohio to “look at everything” about improving gun safety. Neither Kasich nor his aides have said who is on the committee, but he said he was “hopeful” they would produce recommendations. “If they don’t produce anything, I’ll put my own stuff out,” Kasich said. David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said he was “glad” Kasich is on national TV and “speaking out” on guns. “Hopefully he’s got some ability to work with the statehouse to find solutions and roll back some of the worst pieces of legislation they pushed through in the last seven years,” Pepper said.
  • The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local): 12:45 p.m. President Donald Trump will hold a listening session with high school students this week following the deadly school shooting in Florida. A White House schedule says Trump will host students and teachers Wednesday. He also will meet with state and local officials on school safety on Thursday. The White House did not immediately answer questions about what students would be attending the session. Students who survived the shooting in Parkland that left 17 dead have focused their anger on the president, urging him and other elected officials to do something about gun violence. The president visited the community Friday, seeking out victims at a hospital and meeting first responders. Otherwise, his attention has been almost fully on the Russia investigation, the subject of a series of tweets he fired posted Sunday. ___ 9 a.m. President Donald Trump is venting his fury over the Russia probe. In a rapid-fire series of tweets from his Florida estate, he's arguing that the Obama administration bears some of the blame for the election meddling and insisting that he never denied the Russian involvement. Trump in the past has repeatedly expressed skepticism over Russian interference in the 2016 election that put him in the White House. Trump also argued Sunday that the ongoing investigations are just what the Russians want, saying: 'Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!
  • The warnings around Nikolas Cruz seemed to flash like neon signs: expelled from school, fighting with classmates, a fascination with weapons and hurting animals, disturbing images and comments posted to social media, previous mental health treatment. In Florida, that wasn't enough for relatives, authorities or his schools to request a judicial order barring him from possessing guns. Only five states have laws enabling family members, guardians or police to ask judges to temporarily strip gun rights from people who show warning signs of violence. Supporters of these measures, deemed 'red flag laws' or gun-violence restraining orders, say they can save lives by stopping some shootings and suicides. Florida, where Cruz is accused of using an AR-15 assault weapon to kill 17 people at his former high school, lacks such a law. He was able to legally own the semi-automatic rifle, even though his mother, classmates and teachers had at times described him as dangerous and threatening, and despite repeated police visits to his home. Red flag legislation has been introduced by Democratic state lawmakers, but it hasn't been heard during this year's session, and its fate is uncertain in a state Legislature controlled by Republicans who generally favor expanding gun rights. After Wednesday's shooting, Republican Gov. Rick Scott said he will work to make sure people with mental illnesses don't have access to guns, but offered no specifics. Florida's GOP Sen. Marco Rubio -- facing withering criticism over his acceptance of $3.3 million in career campaign cash donated through the National Rifle Association -- is going a step further now. Rubio said on a Sunday morning show that state legislators should 'absolutely' consider enacting a law enabling family members or law enforcement officials to ask a court to remove guns from a person who poses a danger. Rubio, who once served as Florida's House speaker, told Miami CBS affiliate WFOR that it's an 'example of a state law' that could have helped prevent the Florida shooting. In 2014, California became the first state to let family members ask a judge to remove firearms from a relative who appears to pose a threat. Its legislature took action after a mentally ill man, Elliot Rodger, killed six students and wounded 13 others near the University of California, Santa Barbara, before killing himself. California's law also empowers police to petition for the protective orders, which can require authorities to remove firearms for up to one year. Connecticut, Indiana, Oregon and Washington also have some version of a red flag law. More than a dozen others, including Hawaii, New Jersey and Missouri, are considering bills to enable family members or police to petition the courts to take weapons away from people showing signs of mental distress or violence. The Florida shooting has revived debate about whether teachers and school administrators should have that authority as well, given that people at Cruz's high school witnessed much of his erratic behavior. California lawmakers voted to expand their law in 2016 so that high school and college personnel, co-workers and mental health professionals can seek the restraining orders, but Gov. Jerry Brown called the effort premature and vetoed it. State Assemblyman Phil Ting, a San Francisco Democrat, said he plans to reintroduce the bill. 'We need to make sure that when people see signs, they have every ability to do something about getting guns out of the hands of mentally ill and dangerous people,' Ting told The Associated Press. Circumstances similar to those in Florida played out seven years ago in the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona. Jared Loughner had become increasingly disruptive and erratic at his community college in the months leading up to the shooting, frightening students and causing teachers to request campus police officers be on hand during his classes. Eventually, the school threatened him with suspension. Soon after, he went to a gun store and legally bought the weapon he used to attack Giffords as she met with constituents, shooting her in the head and killing six people. Without red flag laws, the main recourse available to family members is to have a troubled loved one committed to a psychiatric institution. Federal law permanently bans anyone who has been involuntary committed from owning guns, but such actions are more difficult to carry out than red flag laws, which are intended to be quick and temporary and have a lower standard of proof. Without such a commitment, formal adjudication of serious mental illness or a felony conviction, many people can pass background checks and possess guns they already own. The red flag laws act as a sort of timeout, so someone in psychological distress can get counseling while their fitness to possess a gun is evaluated, said Laura Cutilletta, legal director of the Giffords Law Center. 'It's a way to allow for temporary removal of firearms in a situation just like this: where somebody has made threats, where they have been expelled from school because of those threats, they're in counseling, and parents or the school or whoever it is understands that this person poses a threat,' she said. Many gun-rights activists oppose the laws. They say they can be used to unfairly take away rights from people who have not been convicted of crimes, nor professionally evaluated for mental illness. The NRA's lobbying arm has said such laws enable courts to remove Second Amendment rights 'based on third-party allegations and evidentiary standards' that are lower than what's required in criminal proceedings. Connecticut led the way with a 1999 law, passed after an employee shot and killed four executives at state Lottery headquarters. It allows police to remove guns based on probable cause that a person poses a 'risk of imminent personal injury.' In a study published last year, researchers at Duke, Yale, Connecticut and Virginia estimated that dozens of suicides have been prevented by the law, roughly one for every 10 gun seizures carried out. They said such laws 'could significantly mitigate the risk' posed by the small number of legal gun owners who might suddenly pose a significant danger. ___ Foley reported from Iowa City, Iowa. ___ Associated Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper in Sacramento; Gary Fineout and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida; and Lisa Marie Pane in Atlanta contributed to this report.
  • Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel blasted politicians after a gunman killed 17 people at a Parkland, Florida, high school, saying that if gun laws don’t change, “you will not get re-elected in Broward County.” >> WATCH: Florida school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez slams politicians, NRA in emotional speech According to the Huffington Post, while speaking at a vigil in Parkland for the victims of the shooting, Israel said, “If you’re an elected official, and you want to keep things the way they are ― if you want to keep gun laws as they are now ― you will not get re-elected in Broward County.” >> Click here to watch The vigil was attended by thousands at an amphitheater that was lit by candles and had 17 4-foot angels – one for each of the victims who was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. >> On Rare.us: 'Thoughts and prayers' check raises eyebrows on social media after the Florida shooting Last week, Israel called on lawmakers to allow law enforcement officers to involuntarily detain people who post questionable and disturbing content on social media. “We need to have the power to take that person and bring them before mental health professionals at that particular time, involuntarily, and have them examined,” he said, the Huffington Post reported. “People are going to be rightfully concerned about their rights ― as am I. But what about these students? What about the rights of young kids who go to schools?” >> PHOTOS: Remembering Parkland, Florida, school shooting victims He added that he wishes law enforcement officials could act “if they see something on social media, if they see graphic pictures of rifles and blood and gore and guns and bombs, if they see something, horrific language, if they see a person talking about ‘I want to grow up to be a serial killer.’” Democrats in Congress are already calling for gun control while Republicans are saying that it’s too soon to talk about it. >> Classmate of Nikolas Cruz: ‘No one has ever been a friend to him’ Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said during a press conference Thursday that we need to think less about fighting “each other politically” in the wake of the shooting. “This is one of those moments where we just need to step back and count our blessings,” he said Thursday at a news conference, according to CNN. “We need to think less about taking sides and fighting each other politically, and just pulling together. This House, and the whole country, stands with the Parkland community.” >> Florida school shooting timeline: Seven minutes, three floors and 17 dead Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., tweeted that Congress should vote on measures to implement “universal background checks, a ban on military-style weapons and a prohibition of those on the terror watchlist from purchasing firearms.” >> Read more trending news  Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, said Congress will have “another round” of this debate, but admitted that it’s hard to get any sort of gun legislation passed. Read more here.
  • As the nation mourned, President Donald Trump kept largely silent about the Florida school shooting victims and the escalating gun control debate, instead raging at the FBI for what he perceived to be a fixation on the Russia investigation at the cost of failing to deter the attack. From the privacy of Mar-a-Lago, Trump vented about the investigation in a marathon series of tweets over the weekend. He said Sunday 'they are laughing their asses off in Moscow'' at the lingering fallout from the Kremlin's election interference and that the Obama administration bears some blame for the meddling. Trump was last seen publicly Friday night when he visited the Florida community reeling from a school shooting that left 17 dead and gave rise to a student-led push for more gun control. White House aides advised the president against golfing so soon after the tragedy, so Trump spent much of the holiday weekend watching cable television news and grousing to club members and advisers. Amid a growing call for action on guns, the White House said Sunday the president will host a 'listening session' with students and teachers this week, but offered no details on who would attend or what would be discussed. On Monday, 17 Washington students plan a 'lie-in' by the White House to advocate for tougher gun laws. Students who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland are planning a march on Washington next month to pressure politicians to take action on gun violence. Some lawmakers said it would take a powerful movement to motivate Congress. 'I am not optimistic that until there is real action by the American public to demand change in Congress that we're going to see real action to confront gun violence out of this Congress,' said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., on CBS' 'Face the Nation.' Throughout the weekend, the president's mind remained on Russia after an indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday charged 13 Russians with a plot to interfere in the U.S. presidential election. Trump viewed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's declaration that the indictment doesn't show that any American knowingly participated as proof of his innocence and is deeply frustrated that the media are still suggesting that his campaign may have colluded with Russian officials, according to a person who has spoken to the president in the last 24 hours but is not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations. He has fumed to associates at Mar-a-Lago that the media 'won't let it go' and will do everything to delegitimize his presidency. He made those complaints to members who stopped by his table Saturday as he dined with his two adult sons and TV personality Geraldo Rivera. Initially pleased with the Justice Department's statement, Trump has since griped that Rosenstein did not go far enough in declaring that he was cleared of wrongdoing, and grew angry when his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, gave credence to the notion that Russia's meddling affected the election, the person said. Trump's frustration bubbled over on Twitter, where he stressed that the Russian effort began before he declared his candidacy, asserted that the Obama administration bears some blame for the election meddling and insisted he never denied that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 U.S. campaign. James Clapper, a former director of national intelligence, said on CNN's 'State of the Union' that the president was not focusing on the bigger threat. 'Above all this rhetoric here, again, we're losing sight of, what is it we're going to do about the threat posed by the Russians? And he never — he never talks about that,' said Clapper. 'It's all about himself, collusion or not.' Trump tweeted about the nation's 'heavy heart' in the wake of the shooting and noted the 'incredible people' he met on his visit to the community. But he also sought to use the shooting to criticize the nation's leading law enforcement agency. Trump said late Saturday that the FBI 'missed all of the many signals' sent by the suspect and argued that agents are 'spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.' The FBI received a tip last month that the man now charged in the school shooting had a 'desire to kill' and access to guns and could be plotting an attack. But the agency said Friday that agents failed to investigate. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican and frequent Trump critic, called that tweet an 'absurd statement' on CNN's 'State of the Union,' adding that the 'FBI apparently made a terrible mistake, and people should be held accountable. But we need leadership out of the executive.' Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stressed on ABC's 'This Week' that the indictment was not the end of the Mueller probe. 'I'd caution everybody to not believe that this is yet over, because there's lots of other places where Director Mueller to look regarding potential Russian involvement in all this,' said Christie, a Republican. 'I think we've unfortunately got more, more to learn and more to come, in the, in the days and weeks ahead.' --- Lemire contributed from Paradise Island, Bahamas.
  • In the wake of a fresh round of indictments in the wide-ranging investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election campaign, President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday and Sunday to repeatedly express his frustration with the probe, again proclaiming his innocence, attacking his critics, and demanding attention instead on actions of the Obama Administration and Hillary Clinton. “I never said Russia did not meddle in the election,” the President tweeted on Sunday morning – though Mr. Trump has been very slow to embrace the concept that Russia was at fault, as he derided the investigations into Russian interference in 2016. “They are laughing their asses off in Moscow,” the President said on Twitter. “Get smart America!” Those were just a sampling of a number of tweets from this weekend, as the President let off steam on a number of fronts. I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said “it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.” The Russian “hoax” was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018 If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018 Finally, Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control, is now blaming the Obama Administration for Russian meddling in the 2016 Election. He is finally right about something. Obama was President, knew of the threat, and did nothing. Thank you Adam! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018 The President even rebuked his own National Security Adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster, over a point that Mr. Trump and his supporters have zeroed in on repeatedly – a lack of evidence that ties any Russian operation to the Trump Campaign. “General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians,” as the President again tried to switch the attention of the moment to questions that the GOP has raised about Hillary Clinton, the Steele Dossier, and the Democratic National Committee. General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018 Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein stated at the News Conference: “There is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2018 Funny how the Fake News Media doesn’t want to say that the Russian group was formed in 2014, long before my run for President. Maybe they knew I was going to run even though I didn’t know! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2018 “The Fake News Media never fails,” the President wrote on Saturday, repeatedly making the argument that any Russian interference in 2016 did not tip the scales of the election in his favor. “Funny how the Fake News Media doesn’t want to say that the Russian group was formed in 2014, long before my run for President,” the President added. “The Russian “hoax” was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!” he tweeted. Critics of the President noted what was missing in his Saturday and Sunday tweets about the Russia investigation was any pledge by Mr. Trump to implement tougher sanctions against Russia which were approved by the Congress, or to order tougher measures to stop any Russian meddling. Last week, the nation’s top intelligence officials all agreed that Russia was going to try to repeat their 2016 effort in the 2018 election – asked by Democrats if there was any specific order from the President to focus on that threat, the intelligence chiefs only indicated that they were focused on the matter. “Look, this is pretty simple,” said retired Gen. Michael Hayden, a former head of the National Security Agency. “The Russians objective was to mess with our heads.” “Based on his late PM – this AM joint Twitter meltdown, it’s safe to say “Trump” is having a nervous breakdown as Mueller’s walls close in,” said John Schindler, a former U.S. intelligence official who has been highly critical of the President’s statements on the Russia probe. Late on Saturday night, the President also drew in the Russia investigation to criticize the FBI over the mass shooting at a high school in Florida last week. ” They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign,” the President said. Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018 Here is the latest Russia indictment from last Friday.
  • President Donald Trump lashed out at the FBI Saturday night, saying the agency 'missed all of the many signals' sent by the suspect in the Florida school shooting and arguing they are 'spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.' Trump said on Twitter: 'This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign - there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!' The FBI received a tip last month that the suspect in the Florida school shooting had a 'desire to kill' and access to guns and could be plotting an attack. But the agency said Friday that agents failed to investigate. The FBI's acknowledgment that it mishandled the tip prompted a sharp rebuke from its boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and a call from Florida's Republican Gov. Rick Scott, a Trump ally, for FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign. Trump and other Republicans have heavily criticized the FBI. They are still dissatisfied with its decision not to charge Hillary Clinton with crimes related to her use of a private email server, and they see signs of bias in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of possible Trump campaign ties to Russia.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden is tiptoeing toward a potential presidential run in 2020, even broaching the possibility during a recent gathering of longtime foreign policy aides. Huddled in his newly opened office steps from the U.S. Capitol, Biden began a planning meeting for his new diplomacy center by addressing the elephant in the room. He said he was keeping his 2020 options open, considering it a real possibility. He insisted he had made no decision, and didn't need to yet, according to five people who either attended the meeting or were briefed on it by those who did. Biden also expressed interest in bringing those in the room onto his team if he decides to launch a campaign. At the same time, he gave them an out: There would be no hard feelings if they decided they were content in their current roles outside of government, said the people, who demanded anonymity to discuss a private meeting. The political world has long tried to game out Biden's plans for 2020. After all, he came close to running last time only to see President Donald Trump pull off a victory that many Democrats openly suggest wouldn't have happened had he, not Hillary Clinton, been their nominee. Several people came away from the meeting with the impression that if no strong Democratic candidate emerges in the next year or so, Biden would feel strongly compelled to run. A presidential candidate twice before, Biden would be 78 on Inauguration Day if elected in 2020, a concerning prospect for some Democrats even though he's only a few years older than Trump. One possibility that Biden's longtime advisers have discussed privately is that he could announce his intention to serve only one term, clearing the path for his running mate to take over in 2024 and potentially setting up Democrats for a 12-year White House stretch. Biden's brief discussion about his 2020 deliberations came as he brought foreign policy staffers together to set the 2018 agenda for the newly opened Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement — where many of them are now working, including Colin Kahl, his vice presidential national security adviser, and Steve Ricchetti, his former chief of staff. Eli Ratner, his former deputy national security adviser, and Mike Carpenter, the former Pentagon and State Department official who's now the center's senior director, also attended, as did Julianne Smith, a Biden adviser in the Obama administration's first term who now works at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank. A Biden spokesman declined to comment. But in a recent NBC News interview, Biden said he'd decide on running in 2020 based on whether it was 'the right thing to do.' 'I'm focused on one thing: electing a Democratic Congress to stop this erosion of the core of who we are,' Biden said. 'I'll look at that a year from now. I have plenty of time to consider whether or not to run.' The meeting was one of several signs that Biden is beginning to position himself as an alternative to Trump. Biden has started denouncing the current president's leadership more frequently in public, as he crisscrosses the United States and beyond to promote his new book, his cancer initiative, his new domestic policy institute in Delaware, the diplomacy center and his new political action committee, American Possibilities. He's also been gearing up to play a major role campaigning for Democrats seeking to retake the House and Senate in the 2018 midterms. 'Donald Trump's looking out for Donald Trump. Republicans are looking out for Donald Trump. Who's looking out for everyone else? Democrats,' Biden wrote in a recent fundraising pitch to the PAC's supporters. He said in 2018, he would 'beat a path all across this country to stand up for leaders who will stand up for all of us.' In 2015, Biden's face was plastered across cable news channels and newspaper front pages for months as he carried out a lengthy deliberation about whether to challenge Clinton for the nomination. Ultimately, he decided he and his family weren't in position to run so soon after his son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, died from brain cancer earlier that year. Yet many Democrats have argued that his 'everyman' brand and blue-collar appeal would make him particularly well-suited to challenge Trump. ___ This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Eli Ratner, not Ratney. ___ Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

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  • The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office is asking for your help in trying to find Steven Christofer Haramia who deputies say left his residence early Saturday morning, possibly around 3am. Deputies say Haramia has several medical conditions which require continued medication. The sheriff’s office says Haramia was last seen wearing a white t-shirt and a camouflage jacket, with black Nike shoes. Deputies describe him as 5’9, 155 lbs, with black hair and brown eyes.  The sheriff’s office said they were searching for Haramia Sunday with their helicopter near the Heritage Park community in St. Augustine.  Deputies say if you know where Haramia is you can call the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office at 904-824-8304.      
  • Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel blasted politicians after a gunman killed 17 people at a Parkland, Florida, high school, saying that if gun laws don’t change, “you will not get re-elected in Broward County.” >> WATCH: Florida school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez slams politicians, NRA in emotional speech According to the Huffington Post, while speaking at a vigil in Parkland for the victims of the shooting, Israel said, “If you’re an elected official, and you want to keep things the way they are ― if you want to keep gun laws as they are now ― you will not get re-elected in Broward County.” >> Click here to watch The vigil was attended by thousands at an amphitheater that was lit by candles and had 17 4-foot angels – one for each of the victims who was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. >> On Rare.us: 'Thoughts and prayers' check raises eyebrows on social media after the Florida shooting Last week, Israel called on lawmakers to allow law enforcement officers to involuntarily detain people who post questionable and disturbing content on social media. “We need to have the power to take that person and bring them before mental health professionals at that particular time, involuntarily, and have them examined,” he said, the Huffington Post reported. “People are going to be rightfully concerned about their rights ― as am I. But what about these students? What about the rights of young kids who go to schools?” >> PHOTOS: Remembering Parkland, Florida, school shooting victims He added that he wishes law enforcement officials could act “if they see something on social media, if they see graphic pictures of rifles and blood and gore and guns and bombs, if they see something, horrific language, if they see a person talking about ‘I want to grow up to be a serial killer.’” Democrats in Congress are already calling for gun control while Republicans are saying that it’s too soon to talk about it. >> Classmate of Nikolas Cruz: ‘No one has ever been a friend to him’ Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said during a press conference Thursday that we need to think less about fighting “each other politically” in the wake of the shooting. “This is one of those moments where we just need to step back and count our blessings,” he said Thursday at a news conference, according to CNN. “We need to think less about taking sides and fighting each other politically, and just pulling together. This House, and the whole country, stands with the Parkland community.” >> Florida school shooting timeline: Seven minutes, three floors and 17 dead Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., tweeted that Congress should vote on measures to implement “universal background checks, a ban on military-style weapons and a prohibition of those on the terror watchlist from purchasing firearms.” >> Read more trending news  Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, said Congress will have “another round” of this debate, but admitted that it’s hard to get any sort of gun legislation passed. Read more here.
  • Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed Wednesday by a gunman, will reopen Thursday, according to a statement from Broward County Public Schools. >> Read more trending news Only staff members will be allowed back on the sprawling campus in northwest Broward County. There is no mention in the statement when students will be permitted to return. The school remains a crime scene and will be closed through Wednesday. Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at the school, is facing 17 first-degree murder counts after he confessed to shooting 14 students and three staff members around 2:30 p.m.
  • As of early Sunday morning, FDOT says for the next 2 years, traffic will be shifted on the Fuller Warren Bridge beginning at the Park Street ramp all the way past the San Marco Boulevard exit. FDOT says drivers heading south will see lanes shift to the inside and that shift will create a work zone for construction crews to start expansion work on the Fuller Warren as part of the Your 10&95 project. We told you about this shift back in November, and due to weather and other circumstances, its been pushed back until today. FDOT says, as part of the project, construction crews will be adding another lane on I-95 in both directions on the Fuller Warren as well as a Shared Use Path. The path will be available for people walking or riding their bike from Riverside to San Marco, or vice versa. FDOT is urging drivers to use caution through this area, for your safty, as well as the construction crews safty. The Your 10&95 project is projected to be compleated by the summer of 2020.
  • Construction crews have been working on the Florida Department of Transportation’s Your10&95 project since May of 2017.  While crews have nearly a year of construction under their belt, the project still has two more years to go. FDOT says they expect the complete project to be done by the summer of 2020.  The goal of the Your10&95 project is to make operational improvements and enhancements to the interchange at I-95 and I-10, The Fuller Warren Bridge, and along east side of U.S. 17 north between McDuff Avenue and Rosselle Street. FDOT says the construction is necessary to cope with the increasing volume of traffic.  “Approximately 250,000 vehicles use the interchange every day, but that is expected to rise dramatically to approximately 290,000 daily users in 2040.” Changes to I-95 and the Fuller Warren: This project will widen the Fuller Warren Bridge expanding northbound and southbound lanes from three lanes to four. Construction crews will also add a Shared Use Path on the Fuller Warren for pedestrians and bicyclists connecting San Marco and Riverside neighborhoods. Pedestrians and bicyclists will not have to worry about their safety, FDOT says they will be separated from traffic by a 10-foot shoulder and a stand barrier wall that is three and a half feet, with an additional curved fence. FDOT says a traffic shift is expected to happen on I-95 southbound along the Fuller Warren Bridge during the month of February. It was originally slated to happen on December 4th, 2017. FDOT says the southbound to the inside of the Fuller Warren Bridge beginning at the Park Street ramp, and go back to its normal configuration after the exit ramp to San Marco Boulevard.  Changes to I-10:  Construction crews will be working to provide a dedicated ramp to Irene and Stockton Street. This is aimed at reducing the weaving traffic merging from I-95 southbound to I-10 west. FDOT says crews will be widening the overpass from I-95 north to I-10 westbound, allowing for future improvements along I-10 west. When it comes to lane closures on the interstates, FDOT says they do not plan to have lanes closed during the day between 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Changes to U.S. 17 North: New sound barriers will be built for the neighborhoods along the east side of U.S. 17 north from McDuff Avenue to Rosselle Street. FDOT says there will be lane closures on U.S. 17 North to make this a reality. However, lane closures will not happen between 6 a.m. – 10 a.m. and no closures southbound on U.S. 17 from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. The Florida Department of Transportation hired Archer Western as the contractor to complete this project for $126 million.  Click here to learn more about the Your10&95 project and to get a heads up on when you can expect to see lane closures and shifts for your ride.   

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