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Jamie Dupree's Washington Insider

    Flanked by several progressive Democrats from the U.S. House, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) unveiled plans on Monday to zero out well over $1 trillion in college student loan debt held by Americans, part of a broader call by some lawmakers to make tuition much more affordable for students at public colleges and universities. 'If you can bail out Wall Street, you can bail out the middle class of this country,' Sanders said at a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol. 'We have a generation of people who are drowning in debt,' said Sanders, as he urged older Americans to realize that times have dramatically changed since they were able to use Pell Grants or a part time job to help pay their college tuition. 'It was literally easier for me to become the youngest woman in American history elected to Congress than it is to pay off my student loan debt,' said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). There were different pieces of legislation released today on the issue - one from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is titled the 'Student Debt Cancellation Act of 2019' - and focuses just on the issue of erasing student debt. Omar's bill would also prevent the loan forgiveness from being considered taxable income for an individual, and does not allow any refunds of payments already made. 'Corporations and the wealthiest Americans have repeatedly gotten tax breaks and bailouts,' said Omar. 'It’s time for a bailout for the 45 million Americans who are shackled with student debt.' The immediate reaction among Republicans and conservatives was skeptical - to say the least. 'Universities will be able to increase tuition at will if they know the gov’t is just going to forgive the debt anyway,' tweeted Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH). The plan from Sanders and others would apply to all with student loan debt - no matter their current income levels. His bill would also aim to drastically reduce the cost of tuition at public colleges and universities - with a total cost estimate of $2.2 trillion. 'The estimated $2.2 trillion cost of the bill would be paid for by a tax on Wall Street speculation,' Sanders said in a release about the legislation. The plan would institute a transaction tax of 0.5 percent on stock trades, as well as a 0.1 percent fee on bonds, and a .0005 percent fee on derivatives.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Monday that a government ban on the registration of what federal officials believe are 'immoral or scandalous' trademarks violates the First Amendment, saying it was not right that free speech would protect 'good morals,' but not trademarks which 'denigrate those concepts.' 'The registration of such marks serves only to further coarsen our popular culture,' Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the Court. 'But we are not legislators and cannot substitute a new statute for the one now in force.' The case involved artist and entrepreneur Erik Brunetti, who wanted a trademark for his clothing like 'FUCT' - which he says is pronounced not as a word, but with the individual letters, F-U-C-T.  'But you might read it differently and, if so, you would hardly be alone,' Kagan wrote for the Court, as patent and trademark officials refused to approve Brunetti's request, labeling it a 'total vulgar.' This ruling overturned those decisions. While agreeing with the basics of the decision, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a concurring opinion that while the decision protects free speech, the results might offend many people. 'The Court’s decision today will beget unfortunate results,' Sotomayor wrote in a concurrence with Justice Stephen Breyer. “Everyone can think of a small number of words (including the apparent homonym of Brunetti’s mark) that would, however, plainly qualify,” Sotomayor added. The decision could have implications past trademarks, as states routinely reject vanity license plate applications because of certain words which would be used. You can read the full ruling here.
  • With a new Acting Secretary of Defense taking charge at the Pentagon on Monday, the Trump Administration continues to feature a number of leaders in top federal agencies and departments of the Executive Branch who have been appointed on a temporary basis, many without ever being officially nominated to fill that position. For President Donald Trump, that's not a bad thing. 'Acting gives you much greater flexibility. A lot easier to do things,' the President told reporters last week when Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan withdrew as a possible nominee for the post Defense Secretary.  Some in Congress - in both parties - see it differently. 'When you have 'acting' after your name, you're not it,' Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) told reporters after the President notified him of Shanahan's departure. 'Every position at DHS (Department of Homeland Security) with responsibility for immigration or border security is now held by a temporary appointee,' said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL). Experts on the workings of government see the trend in 'Acting' officials in simple terms - it's a question of power. 'I argue that presidents strategically use their prerogative to immediately fill vacancies with unconfirmed 'acting' officials, or leave them empty, to expand their executive power,' said Christina Kinane of Yale University's Department of Political Science. But the Federal Vacancies Reform Act puts a limit of 210 days on how long there can be 'acting' officials in some of these posts, though there are a variety of ways to circumvent that time frame. Here are some examples from federal agencies and departments on what their leadership rosters look like: 1. The Department of Defense. With the departure of Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Army Secretary Mark Esper for the job of Secretary of Defense. While that nomination is not official as yet, two things should be noted: because of the laws governing how long someone can temporarily fill that job, Esper might only be able to serve as 'Acting Secretary' until July 30. And if he is officially nominated for the post, someone else would have to take that 'Acting' job during his confirmation process.  At the Pentagon, that's not the only top job with a temporary appointee. The number two slot of Deputy Secretary of Defense - that was Shanahan's old job - is being temporarily filled by the military's Comptroller David Norquist, who is 'Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary of Defense.' Like Esper, the President says he will nominate Norquist for that post, but it has not happened as yet. The number three job at the Pentagon is in the hands of Lisa Hershman, as the Acting Chief Management Officer. In terms of the service branches, there is an Acting Secretary of the Air Force, and with the Army Secretary moving up, there will soon be an Acting Secretary of the Army as well. In other words, much of the Pentagon leadership is in an 'acting' mode at this point - and will be that way for months to come. 2. Department of Homeland Security. In terms of high-profile positions in the Trump Administration, DHS may be the most clear cut example of where temporary leaders are being used. The Acting Secretary is Kevin McAleenan, the former head of the Border Patrol. He's well respected, but has not been nominated for the DHS post. His top aide is a 'Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary.' According to the DHS website, there are 13 senior officials working in an 'Acting' capacity in the various agencies in DHS. There is an Acting head of FEMA. USCIS - the agency for legal immigration - is led by an Acting official who has not been nominated for the post. His top deputy is an Acting Deputy Director. The Border Patrol doesn't even have an 'Acting Director' but rather a 'Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner.' Immigration and Customs Enforcement has an 'Acting' leader, who has not been nominated for the job. 3. Interior Department. Like the Department of Homeland Security, the Interior Department has a series of agencies with temporary leaders. For example, the Bureau of Land Management doesn't have an 'Acting Director,' but instead, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Land and Minerals Management, Casey Hammond, is 'exercising the authority' of BLM Director. Under Hammond, there are six top slots in the BLM organizational chart which are listed as 'Acting.' The National Park Service, like the BLM, does not have an 'Acting Director,' but rather a Deputy Director - Dan Smith - who is 'exercising the authority of the Director.' The Park Service has a number of acting officials in other top slots - Acting Deputy Director of Operations, Acting Chief of Staff, and five Acting Assistant Directors for various functions. The Acting Deputy Director, David Vela, was nominated by President Trump in 2018 for the job of Director at the Park Service, but the nomination was never voted on. President Trump has not sent the Senate a new nominee for the Park Service in 2019 as yet. It's the same story at Fish and Wildlife Service. Like the BLM, there is no Acting Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, but instead, Margaret Everson is the 'Principal Deputy Director Exercising the Authority of the Director.' No one has been nominated to head the agency. 4. In charge, but not nominated. There are plenty of examples in federal departments and agencies of officials being charge, with no nominee in the pipeline before the U.S. Senate, as it's not a question of delays on Capitol Hill for why a top official is not in a certain federal post. Norman Sharpless is the acting head of the Food and Drug Administration; there is no nominee for the position. OSHA - the Occupational Safety and Health Administration - has an Acting leader, Loren Sweatt, but no nominee for the post. One could rattle off many more 'acting' officials in various Undersecretary, Assistant Secretary, and Deputy Secretary jobs in the federal government. How long can people serve in an 'Acting' capacity? The Federal Vacancies Reform Act says 210 days - but there are a lot of ways that can be extended, or the clock can be reset. 5. Office of Personnel Management. This may be one of the most interesting situations where a federal agency has an acting leader. OPM is basically the Human Resources department for the federal government, and the temporary leader in charge is also serving as a top White House official, pressing a plan to entirely get rid of the department. Oddly enough, while the White House is trying to do away with OPM, President Trump nominated Dale Cabaniss to head the agency back in March.
  • With new reports of migrant children being held in facilities with inadequate food, water and sanitation along the Mexican border, Democrats on Friday finally unveiled a $4.5 billion plan to care for the surge of migrants being held by the U.S. Government, but it's not clear if Congress will act before the end of June as lawmakers get ready to leave town for a July Fourth break. The bill from House Democrats was along the same lines as a $4.6 billion measure approved by a Senate panel on Wednesday - but there was no guarantee either measure would be voted on in coming days on Capitol Hill. 'This bill is a sensible compromise that reflects American values by promoting the just and humane treatment of migrants,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA). But Republicans said the lengthy delay from House Democrats in introducing a plan was unacceptable, coming over seven weeks after President Donald Trump officially asked for over $4 billion in humanitarian aid. As the weekend arrived, the new bill from Democrats was not yet scheduled for a vote in the full House; in the GOP-led Senate, there was no date certain either for when a vote might take place on the extra money, as outside groups demanded immediate action. The bills from both the House and Senate are only about money - as they don't include any changes to immigration laws demanded by President Trump and GOP lawmakers in the Congress. 'But what the hell, let’s throw $4.5 billion at the problem with lots of perverse incentives to make the crisis worse, make no changes to laws, and wash our hands of it,' tweeted Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), who has criticized the lack of action by Democrats in the House. 'That’ll do it!' In a series of tweets, Roy said the extra money - while well intentioned - won't do anything to help in the long run. 'This is not the system we should have. This will not secure our nation,' Roy said. But the extra immigration law reforms desired by Roy - and demanded by the President - have not moved ahead in either the House or Senate. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, had wanted to press ahead on a bill to deal with immigration law changes, but delayed that on Wednesday, saying he was trying to work out a bipartisan agreement with the White House. It's left both parties pointing the finger of blame at each other, with no guarantee of action even on money for humanitarian needs. With Congress as yet unable to act, the Governor of Texas on Friday authorized the dispatch of 1,000 National Guard soldiers to go help at the border. 'The crisis at our southern border is unlike anything we’ve witnessed before and has put an enormous strain on the existing resources we have in place,' Gov. Greg Abbott said.
  • Even as Republicans sternly criticize Democrats for failing to reach a deal with the White House on overall government funding for next year, GOP efforts to make cuts in funding bills brought to the House floor by Democrats in recent days haven't come close to being approved, leaving Republicans clearly divided on their call to cut spending. 'Disappointed that so many of my colleagues voted against reining in our out-of-control federal spending,' tweeted a frustrated Rep. Jodi Hice (R-GA), who offered an amendment to cut spending on one funding bill by 23.6 percent, to save about $7 billion. 'The bottom line is that our constituents back home, are required month after month, week after week to make tough choices,' Hice argued on the House floor, 'and we need to do the same.' But Hice's $7 billion savings amendment was easily defeated by the House on a vote of 128-304, with 71 fellow Republicans voting against it. The Hice vote was not an anomaly, as other Republican lawmakers didn't fare much better with their efforts to trim back spending on the House floor.  Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) offered a plan to reduce spending on Commerce, Justice, and Science programs by 14 percent. That mustered 135 votes, with 296 against. His next try was a proposed 14 percent cut in agriculture programs. That received only 113 votes, with 318 against. Banks has offered a 14 percent cut to two different spending 'minibus' packages on the House floor over the past two weeks, but has not yet been able to gather the support of even one-third of the House on any of those budget cutting efforts. 'You can show that you support fiscal sanity,' Banks argued in vain before one vote. His proposed plan for a 14 percent cut in environment and interior programs - like the National Park Service - lost on a vote of 132-299, with 65 Republicans voting against his amendment. 'The amendment would indiscriminately cut funding across the board,” said Rep. David Joyce (R-OH), who singled out the need to fund the maintenance backlog at national parks, and said proposals like the ones from his GOP colleagues would lead to 'drastic cuts' in needed programs. The atmospherics which ran against GOP budget cutters was evidently so acute that Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) - who won the right to offer two different amendments to cut billions from the spending package - didn't even offer his amendments for a vote on the House floor.
  • While leaders of both parties in the U.S. House have made clear they are open to giving members of Congress their first pay raise in ten years, the Senate's top Republican said Thursday that his side of the Capitol will not go along with such a plan, throwing a rather large hurdle in the way of the effort to raise the current lawmaker salary of $174,000 for the first time since 2009. 'We’re not doing a COLA adjustment in the Senate,' Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, referring to the 'Cost-of-living-adjustment' which lawmakers are supposed to receive each year under current law, but have been blocked routinely for the last ten years. But even as McConnell made clear his opposition, the top Republican in the House wasn't giving up on the change in lawmaker pay. 'My position on this is the same,' said House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). 'I do not believe Congress should be a place only for millionaires.' At a news conference, McCarthy acknowledged to reporters that McConnell's opposition 'does complicate the path' for a Congressional pay raise, as House leaders may bring the issue to the floor as early as next week. 'This is good news,' Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) said of the public opposition to a pay raise by the Senate Majority Leader.  'No reason Congress should get a pay raise. Now it’s time to pass my bill that would end automatic pay raises entirely,' Scott tweeted. House leaders had planned earlier this month to bring forward a funding bill for the Congress - with no language to block the yearly pay raise - but the bill was yanked from a package of spending bills after concerns were raised by rank-and-file lawmakers. The plan for now is to try that maneuver next week, which could still create a situation where all House members have to go on the record about pay increase. Lawmakers earn $174,000 a year; under the plan for a COLA increase, their pay would go up by around $4,500 under this plan. If they had received yearly increases as provided for under current law for the past ten years, their salaries would be over $200,000.
  • As a federal judge on Wednesday sentenced a former aide to Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) to four years in prison for posting personal information on the internet about a group of GOP Senators during the height of the confirmation debate over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, federal prosecutors unveiled new charges against a second former employee of Hassan's office, for aiding and abetting that crime. The new charges came in the broader case against Jackson Cosko, who pleaded guilty to stealing private, personal information about a series of Republicans from a Senate computer system, and then posting that on Wikipedia, in an effort to pressure them to oppose Justice Kavanaugh's nomination. As Cosko on Wednesday was given a four year prison term followed by 36 months of supervised release, the feds unveiled a new set of charges against former Hassan aide Samantha DeForest Davis, as she was charged with aiding and abetting Cosko's crimes, as well as trying to help Cosko conceal his crime. Prosecutors said on October 3, 2018, Davis attempted to conceal evidence which might link Cosko to the computer crimes, by 'wiping down computers...and restarting said computers' in Hassan's office, 'with the intent to impair the integrity and availability' of evidence which might show Cosko's involvement. The news of the charges against Davis came as Judge Thomas F. Hogan sentenced Cosko to 48 months in prison on Wednesday; that was slightly less than the 57 months recommended by prosecutors, who said the 27 year-old former staffer deserved stern punishment. 'The United States submits that the defendant deliberately and maliciously committed serious crimes directed at United States Senators and the Senate; that the defendant’s crimes imposed significant harm on individual Senators, their families, staff, and the Senate; and that his crimes call out for a significant sentence,' the government's sentencing memo read. During the highly charged battle over Justice Kavanaugh's nomination in 2018, Cosko publicly posted personal information on Wikipedia about Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Prosecutors told a federal judge that Cosko's 'burglary and computer hacking campaign...represented the largest known theft of electronic data from the Senate.' 'The defendant’s doxxing offenses imposed similarly significant harms, not only by causing substantial fear and distress among the family members of the targeted Senators, but also by requiring the U.S. Capitol Police, as well as local police agencies, to conduct directed uniformed patrols of the residences of affected Senators,' the judge was told. The crimes happened several months after Cosko was terminated in May 2018 by the office of Sen. Hassan, where he had served as a computer systems administrator. At least four times in 2018, Cosko returned to Hassan's Senate office on Capitol Hill, and not only accessed data from the Senate computer system, but also 'surreptitiously installed 'keylogger' devices' on at least six computers in Senator Hassan's Office.' Cosko was then able to obtain login credentials for other staffers in the office, allowing him to get at other information in the Senate system, and from Sen. Hassan's office. 'The defendant also obtained contact information for numerous sitting U.S. Senators, which included their home addresses and private phone numbers,' prosecutors said, as Cosko built up to his attacks during the Kavanaugh confirmation fight. As for Davis, it was immediately clear when she would appear in court to face the new charges filed on Wednesday. The new federal court docket only contained the criminal information complaint against her, and the notice of her attorney, but not any date for a court appearance.
  • As a Senate spending panel approved $4.6 billion on Wednesday to help with humanitarian needs along the southern border with Mexico, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said he would delay action set for this week on a package of legislative changes to U.S. immigration laws, to allow more time for Senators to forge some sort of bipartisan compromise in Congress. 'So we're going to take a couple of weeks to see if we can find a compromise to see if we can shut down this flow,' Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said of the recent surge of migrants to the border. Graham told his colleagues that bipartisan talks had already been underway with the White House, which have included Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate. 'I am willing to deal with DACA,' Graham said, addressing an issue which Democrats say would have to be part of any deal.  'I am not willing to continue the practice that our laws are generating, which is to tell everyone in Central America, the door is open,' Graham added. Both sides know that any compromise may include items which are anathema to many of their own supporters; one example would be a legal status for those covered under DACA and so-called 'Dreamers,' as Democrats want them to have a chance at a 10-to-12 year pathway to citizenship. For many Republicans, that type of plan spells only one word: Amnesty. Just over a month ago, Graham floated a bill which included asylum system changes, and urged President Trump to get on board with an immigration compromise. 'To get what you want, you've got to give something,' Graham said in mid-May. Graham has tried repeatedly in public to make the case to fellow Republicans and the White House that an immigration deal is in their best interest - otherwise nothing will get done in terms of legislative changes, and the number of people flowing to the border will continue to grow. At a hearing last week, the acting DHS Secretary said Graham's 'Gang of 8' immigration bill from 2013 - which drew furious opposition in conservative circles and on talk radio, and was never voted on by the GOP House - would have certainly helped prevent the current situation at the border. 'We would have a very different situation at the border,' said Acting DHS chief Kevin McAleenan, as he noted the plan would have bolstered the number of agents for the Border Patrol, ICE, and included other immigration enforcement improvements, such as up to 700 miles of new pedestrian fencing along the border, and high tech sensors. But the 'Gang of 8' bill foundered among House Republicans in 2013 because of the provisions dealing with the DREAM Act, and a pathway to citizenship for some of those already in the U.S. illegally. And it was quickly obvious in the halls of Congress that the same type of concerns could doom any new effort to strike a deal in 2019. The 2013 'Gang of 8” bill would have granted immigrants a provisional legal status in the U.S. for six years, and renewable for another six years, with a $500 fee. After ten years, immigrants could then apply for a green card, and permanent resident status, as they would not be allowed to jump straight to citizenship. Before any of those immigrants could even start getting a new legal status, the bill required that border security and fencing plans be in place first. But that wasn't enough for Republicans - one reason many labeled the South Carolina Republican, Lindsey 'Grahamnesty' for his efforts. The Gang of 8 bill would also have ended the Diversity Visa Lottery Program - a frequent target of President Trump.
  • Even with no agreement as yet between the White House and Congress on budget levels for 2020, the House on Wednesday approved a package of four funding bills worth nearly $1 trillion for next year, and started work on five other spending measures for the operations of the federal government, with no clear idea of what President Donald Trump would accept for next year's budget. The first spending 'minibus' included $713 billion for the military, and nearly $270 billion in funding covering a range of health, education, labor, energy, and water programs, along with foreign aid, and money for the State Department. The 226-203 vote was mainly along party lines, as all Republicans were joined by seven Democrats in opposing the bill, even though it included funding for the military, a top GOP priority. Republicans though objected to provisions in the bill which would prevent the President from shifting money from the Pentagon to construction of a wall along the southern border with Mexico. The House then moved on to a second funding package - this one combines five different spending bills for an array of government agencies, from the Department of Justice to NASA, agricultural programs, the EPA, National Park Service, military construction, the VA, transportation, housing, and more. 290 different amendments were made in order to the second 'minibus' plan, as House Democrats try to get as many of 12 funding bills passed this summer, in an effort to prevent a government shutdown when the new fiscal year begins on October 1. But there's one problem with that effort - no agreement has been reached with the White House on exactly how much should be spent in 2020 - meaning all of this work could be for naught. 'This bill is going nowhere,' said Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR), the top Republican on the House Budget Committee. 'It is a waste of time,' Womack said on the House floor, as Republicans protested the lack of a budget agreement for next year. The action on next year's spending bills came as Capitol Hill talks involving top lawmakers and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin produced no agreement on how to deal with current budget 'caps' which limit how much can be spent in 2020. If there is no deal, automatic spending cuts known as the 'sequester' would kick in, slashing billions from the military and non-defense spending programs, a politically unpalatable choice for both parties. For example, total military spending in 2019 is $716 billion; President Trump wants $750 billion in 2020. But under the spending limits from a 2011 bipartisan budget deal, the cap on defense spending in 2020 would be $576 billion, down from the current spending levels of $647 billion, a reduction of $71 billion. The sequester would cut domestic spending less, because it has had a smaller rate of increase over the last two years when compared to the defense budget; non-defense spending would have to be reduced to $542 billion, a cut of $55 billion. 'While we did not reach an agreement, today’s conversation advanced our bipartisan discussions,' said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer in a statement, as they urged the President to stay on the sidelines. 'If the House and Senate could work their will without interference from the President, we could come to a good agreement much more quickly,' the top Democrats added.
  • After weeks of negotiations over a White House request for extra money to deal with a surge of illegal immigrants along the southern border with Mexico, Senators on a key spending panel voted 30-1 on Wednesday to approve a $4.59 billion spending package to insure that various federal agencies have enough money to address what President Donald Trump has said is a crisis at the border. 'This situation as most of us realize is past the breaking point,' said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL). 'I believe we must act.' 'The fact is that we do have a humanitarian crisis on the border that does need to be addressed,' said Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), who recounted crowded holding facilities for illegal immigrants. 'We've seen big numbers in the past, but we're going to exceed that this year,' said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). 'This bill is absolutely necessary,' said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). 'There are families and children who need our support.' The only 'no' vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee came from Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR). The bill only deals with money to help address the humanitarian needs along the border - it does not address any changes in U.S. immigration laws desired by President Trump. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee had been scheduled to start work on a bill which would make some of those immigration reforms, but that work will be delayed into July in search of a bipartisan agreement. “This is not a crisis - this is a disaster,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is leading President Trump's charge to change immigration laws. 'Our immigration laws are a disgrace and the Democrats can get together with the Republicans and solve the problem quickly,' the President told his campaign kickoff rally on Tuesday night in Orlando, Florida. It's expected the full Senate could vote on the package next week. It is not clear if the House would follow suit before lawmakers leave town at the end of June for a break during the week of July Fourth. The text of the Senate bill can be found here. A section-by-summary of the legislation from committee Republicans is here.

The Latest News Headlines

  • The Jacksonville Transportation Authority has fired the bus driver involved in a weekend incident that resulted in a woman’s death in the Mayport Village area. We first told you this weekend, when a woman became entangled in the bus and was hit by it. She died as a result of those injuries. Our partner Action News Jax has identified that woman as Jeanie Rozar. JSO continues to investigate the incident. The crash report does not give any reason for the entanglement and crash, but it notes that there is no suspicion the driver was impaired. JTA says, as a result of their internal administrative investigation, they have terminated the bus operator for violating JTA Operator Work Rules. JTA says they continue to cooperate with the ongoing investigation by JSO and the State Attorney’s Office.
  • The mother of an East Cleveland serial killer convicted in 2016 of murdering three women has herself been slain, and authorities have charged her 18-year-old grandson in the case.  Jalen Latrell Plummer, of Cleveland, is also accused of stabbing his 12-year-old brother, his 10-year-old sister and a 10-year-old female cousin as they slept early Saturday morning, according to Cleveland.com. All three children survived, though two required surgery for their injuries.  The Associated Press reported Plummer pleaded not guilty Monday morning to multiple charges, including aggravated murder in the death of 62-year-old Diane Madison. Plummer, who is charged with felonious assault in the stabbing of the children, was ordered held in lieu of $2 million bond.  >> Read more trending news Madison was the mother of Michael Madison, who was sentenced to death in 2016 in the strangulation deaths of three women, Angela Deskins, Shetisha Sheeley and Shirellda Terry. The bodies of Deskins, 38, Sheeley, 28 and Terry, 18, were found in garbage bags between October 2012 and July 2013 near the apartment building where Michael Madison lived.  Michael Madison was arrested in July 2013 after barricading himself inside his mother’s home, where Saturday’s fatal stabbing took place. The AP reported at the time that Madison’s crimes were discovered after a foul odor led to the discovery of one woman’s body inside a garage leased to the killer.  The other two victims were found after investigators began searching nearby vacant buildings. All three bodies were found wrapped in plastic garbage bags.  Authorities said following Michael Madison’s arrest that he professed an admiration for Anthony Sowell, a Cleveland serial killer convicted in 2011 and sentenced to death in the murders of 11 women. The bodies of many of Sowell’s victims were found in and around his home.  According to News 5 in Cleveland, Michael Madison was found guilty on 14 counts, including aggravated murder, rape, kidnapping and abuse of a corpse.  He is being housed in Chillicothe Correctional Institution, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.  Diane Madison was found dead after two of her injured grandchildren ran to a neighbor’s house around 12:15 a.m. Saturday following the attack, authorities said. While the girls ran for help, the 12-year-old boy hid inside the house, News 5 reported.  The children were taken to University Hospital’s Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital for treatment. They remained hospitalized Monday, Cleveland.com reported.  Officers who responded to the Madison home found a bloody Plummer hiding in a shower, the news site said. He was jailed after being treated for injuries to his hands.  Footage from his brief court appearance Monday morning shows Plummer’s hands wrapped in bandages. Court records indicate Plummer lived with his grandmother in the home where the stabbings took place.  Michael Madison’s defense attorneys argued during his trial that his mother abused him throughout his childhood, including beating him, scalding him with hot water and forcing food down his throat until he would vomit.  According to Cleveland.com, the defense said Diane Madison’s boyfriend beat her son so badly that he lost hearing in one of his ears.  No motive for the stabbings has been made public. Plummer is being held in the Cuyahoga County Jail. 
  • It was intended to be an event where LGBT teens could not only learn more about what Jacksonville Public Library has to offer, but could build a community and meet people in a comfortable setting. “A fun night for teens who may not feel comfortable in other situations or other places, they may not feel comfortable at another prom. We thought we would give them a nice little prom, where they could have a good time,” says Jacksonville Public Library Assistant Director of Community Relations and Marketing Chris Boivin. That purpose got derailed, according to Boivin, leading them to cancel the event. JPL planned to host a free event this Friday night at the Willowbranch Library called The Storybook Pride Prom. Teens between 14- and 18-years-old were encouraged to dress up as their favorite storybook character and come out to the prom event, which would feature music, dancing, a selfie station, and more. “The Jacksonville Public Library aims to provide a safe place for LGBTQ teens to be themselves, connect with peers, and learn about available resources from local community partners, like JASMYN. It's going to be a magical night, so spread the word and make sure to invite any teens you know of who deserve a fairy tale evening!” says a JPL posting on Facebook about the event. Boivin says everything was on track, until a few days ago. On Friday, they learned that some material that was not generated from JPL, but spoke about the event, had been shared with a national activist, who in turn shared it on Facebook. The fallout from that led to “strong opinions” being voiced on all sides, according to Boivin. “Strong rumors of protests being held, and that the same time, strong rumors of I guess you can call them anti-protests being held. It really started to shape up as something where the entire environment around the library would be something that we thought we just weren’t gunna be able to control the risk,” he says. Boivin says an event participant even received a death threat, so while they worked with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office on trying to develop a plan that could safely manage the event, he says they ultimately determined the risk was too great. “While the planning team did a remarkable job putting together a program that would have provided a great experience for our teen customers, the co-opting of the event by others who wish to use it for their own purposes has created a situation in which the library is not confident that it will be 100% prepared to provide a safe, secure environment for customers, staff, volunteers, contractors, protestors and active supporters, and most of all for the teens themselves,” says a JPL posting on Facebook. Despite having to cancel the event, Boivin hopes the teens themselves don’t get discouraged. “We are sorry this happened. We definitely still want them to know that the library is, has been, and always will be a place that is open to all,” he says. Boivin says JPL hosts other LGBT-oriented events, and none of those are changing. He says JPL is about creating an environment where people can learn and grow and educate themselves on the world around them, and they will continue to adhere to that mission.
  • It's a $233 million investment--- Mayo Clinic has announced plans to build a new integrated oncology facility that includes proton beam therapy on its campus in Jacksonville. Mayo Clinic says the new 140,000 square-foot facility will incorporate innovative technology to deliver radiotherapy to cancer patients.  'This facility will give us the ability to offer our patients the full spectrum of cancer treatment options, including chemotherapy, immunotherapy, CAR-T cell therapy, surgery, proton beam therapy, gamma knife radiosurgery, and traditional radiotherapy. It will also give patients access to proton beam therapy clinical trials offered through our National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center,' says Kent Thielen, M.D., the CEO of Mayo Clinic in Florida.  Mayo Clinic says its proton beam therapy program uses pencil beam scanning, which delivers precise radiotherapy. Mayo Clinic says this reduces toxicity and negative side effects in patients and is ideal for people with tumors close to, or in, vital organs.  Mayo Clinic hopes to have this new facility completed in late 2023.
  • President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday imposing what he called 'hard-hitting' sanctions against Iran's supreme leader, his office and those associated with him, as tension continues to rise between the two nations. >> Read more trending news  “We do not seek conflict with Iran or any other country,' Trump told reporters gathered at the White House. 'I can only tell you, we cannot ever let Iran have a nuclear weapon.' The sanctions will deny Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and those closely affiliated with him and his office from accessing financial resources and support under U.S. jurisdiction, Trump said. 'These measures represent a strong and proportionate response to Iran's increasingly provocative actions,' the president said. 'We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran until the regime abandons its dangerous activities and aspirations, including the pursuit of nuclear weapons, increased enrichment of uranium, development of ballistic missiles, engagement and support for terrorism, fueling of foreign conflicts and belligerent acts directed against the United States and its allies.' The sanctions were announced days after Iran's Revolutionary Guard shot down a U.S. surveillance drone flying over the Strait of Hormuz. Iranian officials said the drone had been hovering over the country’s airspace, though U.S. officials said the drone was over international waters when it was shot down. Last week, Trump ordered a military strike in retaliation for the incident. He said on Twitter that he pulled back from the plan minutes before planes were set to launch after he learned that 150 civilians were expected to die in the attack. Tensions have been escalating since Trump last year withdrew the U.S. from a global nuclear deal with Iran and re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran. Iran has decried the U.S. sanctions, which essentially bar Iran from selling its oil internationally, as 'economic terrorism.' The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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