ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
53°
Mostly Cloudy
H 66° L 48°
  • cloudy-day
    53°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Cloudy. H 66° L 48°
  • cloudy-day
    50°
    Morning
    Mostly Cloudy. H 66° L 48°
  • cloudy-day
    62°
    Afternoon
    Mostly Cloudy. H 67° L 59°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

    Russia's sweeping political disinformation campaign on U.S. social media was more far-reaching than originally thought, with troll farms working to discourage black voters and 'blur the lines between reality and fiction' to help elect Donald Trump in 2016, according to reports released Monday by the Senate intelligence committee. And the campaign didn't end with Trump's ascent to the White House. Troll farms are still working to stoke racial and political passions in America at a time of high political discord. The two studies are the most comprehensive picture yet of the Russian interference campaigns on American social media. They add to the portrait investigators have been building since 2017 on Russia's influence — though Trump has equivocated on whether the interference actually happened. Facebook, Google and Twitter declined to comment on the specifics of the reports. The reports were compiled by the cybersecurity firm New Knowledge and by the Computational Propaganda Research Project, a study by researchers at the University of Oxford and Graphika, a social media analysis firm. The Oxford report details how Russians broke down their messages to different groups, including discouraging black voters from going to the polls and stoking anger on the right. 'These campaigns pushed a message that the best way to advance the cause of the African-American community was to boycott the election and focus on other issues instead,' the researchers wrote. At the same time, 'Messaging to conservative and right-wing voters sought to do three things: repeat patriotic and anti-immigrant slogans; elicit outrage with posts about liberal appeasement of 'others' at the expense of US citizens, and encourage them to vote for Trump.' The report from New Knowledge says there are still some live accounts tied to the original Internet Research Agency, which was named in an indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller in February for an expansive social media campaign intended to influence the 2016 presidential election. Some of the accounts have a presence on smaller platforms as the major companies have tried to clean up after the Russian activity was discovered. 'With at least some of the Russian government's goals achieved in the face of little diplomatic or other pushback, it appears likely that the United States will continue to face Russian interference for the foreseeable future,' the researchers wrote. The New Knowledge report says that none of the social media companies turned over complete data sets to Congress and some of them 'may have misrepresented or evaded' in testimony about the interference by either intentionally or unintentionally downplaying the scope of the problem. The Senate panel has been investigating Russian interference on social media and beyond for almost two years. Intelligence committee Chairman Richard Burr said in a statement that the data shows how aggressively Russia tried to divide Americans by race, religion and ideology and erode trust in institutions. 'Most troublingly, it shows that these activities have not stopped,' said Burr, a North Carolina Republican. One major takeaway from both studies is the breadth of Russian interference that appeared on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook and was not frequently mentioned when its parent company testified on Capitol Hill. The study says that as attention was focused on Facebook and Twitter in 2017, the Russians shifted much of their activity to Instagram. The New Knowledge study says that there were 187 million engagements with users on Instagram, while there were 77 million on Facebook. 'Instagram was a significant front in the IRA's influence operation, something that Facebook executives appear to have avoided mentioning in congressional testimony,' the researchers wrote. They added that 'our assessment is that Instagram is likely to be a key battleground on an ongoing basis.' The Russian activity went far beyond the three tech companies that provided information, reaching many smaller sites as well. The New Knowledge report details sophisticated attempts to infiltrate internet games, browser extensions and music apps. The Russians even used social media to encourage users of the game Pokemon Go — which was at peak popularity in the months before the 2016 presidential election — to use politically divisive usernames, for example. The report discusses even more unconventional ways that the Russian accounts attempted to connect with Americans and recruit assets, such as merchandise with certain messages, specific follower requests, job offers and even help lines that could encourage people to unknowingly disclose sensitive information to Russia that could later be used against them. The Russians' attempts to influence Americans on social media first became widely public in the fall of 2017. Several months later, Mueller's indictment laid out a vast, organized Russian effort to sway political opinion. While the social media companies had already detailed some of the efforts, the indictment tied actual people to the operation and named 13 Russians responsible. Also notable is the study's finding that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was favorably treated in posts aimed at both left-leaning and right-leaning users. The New Knowledge report says there were a number of posts expressing support for Assange and Wikileaks, including several in October 2016 just before WikiLeaks released hacked emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign. The Oxford study notes that peaks in Internet Research Agency advertising and organic activity — or posts, shares and comments by users — often corresponded with important dates on the U.S. calendar, crises and international events. The researchers from Oxford said that organic postings were much more far reaching than advertisements, despite Facebook's sole focus on ads when the company first announced it had been compromised in 2017. Other findings in the studies: — During the week of the presidential election, posts directed to right-leaning users aimed to generate anger and suspicion and hinted at voter fraud, while posts targeted to African-Americans largely ignored mentions of the election until the last minute. — Establishment figures of both parties, especially Clinton, were universally panned. Even a tag targeted to feminists criticized Clinton and promoted her primary opponent, independent Bernie Sanders; — Several posts promoted the Russian agenda in Syria and Syrian President Bashar Assad. — IRA's posts focused on the United States started on Twitter as far back as 2013, and eventually evolved into the multi-platform strategy. — Russian activity on Twitter was less organized around themes like race or partisanship but more driven by local and current events and made use of occasional pop culture references. — Facebook posts linked to the IRA 'reveal a nuanced and deep knowledge of American culture, media, and influencers in each community the IRA targeted.' Certain memes appeared on pages targeted to younger people but not older people. 'The IRA was fluent in American trolling culture,' the researchers say. ___ Associated Press writer Matt O'Brien contributed to this report from Providence, Rhode Island.
  • Days away from being sentenced in the Russia probe, former national security adviser Michael Flynn is not exactly hiding his face in shame. People close to him tell The Associated Press that as the possibility of prison looms, Flynn is relaxed and hopeful, eager to get through Tuesday's sentencing and move forward. He'll be the first official in President Donald Trump's administration to be sentenced in the case. Flynn has been having fun with his old high school gang, going out on the town to see an Elton John concert and watch the New England Patriots and Boston Celtics play, friends tell the AP. Random people approach him in public with hugs, handshakes and requests for photos. His supporters plan to rally outside the courthouse the day of his sentencing, and a lucrative consulting gig could await him. The retired three-star general pleaded guilty last year to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with the then-Russian ambassador to the United States during Trump's White House transition. In a filing this week , his lawyers highlighted Flynn's long and distinguished military service and extensive cooperation with prosecutors in asking that he be sentenced to probation and community service , rather than prison. The special counsel investigating whether Trump's 2016 Republican presidential campaign coordinated with Russia has said Flynn was so helpful that he was entitled to avoid time behind bars , even though sentencing guidelines recommend up to six months in prison . Despite the extensive cooperation, Flynn has not drawn any of the vitriol that Trump has hurled at those who have turned on him — most notably his former fixer Michael Cohen. The president on Thursday called Flynn a 'great person.' Flynn has given 19 interviews to prosecutors, five of those before he pleaded guilty, according to his filing. His lawyers said he turned over thousands of documents, and the special counsel's office has said that he has also aided a criminal investigation they haven't yet revealed. While Flynn's lawyers acknowledged he had made a 'serious error in judgment' and 'shown true contrition,' he has an extended group of supporters who believe he's an American hero being unjustly prosecuted because of his association with Trump. Tuesday's filing added fuel to that idea. His lawyers detailed his FBI interview, including that agents did not warn him in advance that it was a crime to lie to the FBI, and suggested Flynn was discouraged from bringing a lawyer into the meeting. Prosecutors with the special counsel's office pushed back on Friday against the idea that anything was improper. They wrote in a filing that Flynn, a longtime intelligence officer, had been lying to administration officials and media about his contacts with the Russian ambassador for weeks before the FBI called, then voluntarily met with them. They said he should have known not to lie. Members of Flynn's family and friends tweeted this week that he had been entrapped, set up or ambushed by the FBI. His son, Michael Flynn Jr., complained of a double standard with Democrat Hillary Clinton because she had lawyers in her FBI interview. Trump on Thursday tweeted that the special counsel gave Flynn 'a great deal because they were embarrassed by the way he was treated.' 'They want to scare everybody into making up stories that are not true by catching them in the smallest of misstatements. Sad!' Trump wrote. In the time since he left the White House just weeks after Trump's inauguration, Flynn has moved back to Middletown, Rhode Island , where he and his wife, Lori, grew up and where they have a deep social network. Thomas A. Heaney Jr., a retired Army colonel who has been friends with Flynn since they were 9 years old, said they have been out more than a dozen times in Rhode Island and elsewhere when Flynn has been recognized by people on the street. 'Every single circumstance I've been witness to, people are in support of him, and they voice that opinion to him when they see him. And they are upset about the way he's been treated. That's the general theme each and every time,' Heaney told the AP. Flynn has remained mostly out of the public eye since his guilty plea, with occasional public appearances in front of friendly audiences. The closest he's gotten to commenting on his case was in a campaign appearance for an ultimately unsuccessful Republican congressional candidate in California earlier this year, telling the crowd he wasn't there 'to complain about who has done me wrong or how unfair I've been treated or how unfair the entire process has been.' Several supporters who came together in a private group chat on Twitter plan to rally outside the federal courthouse when he is sentenced, according to one of the organizers, Pasquale Scopelliti. Flynn wrote a foreword to Scopelliti's self-published book, 'America First: The MAGA Manifesto,' earlier this year. He said Flynn was not involved in the rally. Scopelliti said they hope to counteract Flynn detractors who they expect will be shouting 'Lock him up!' — a reference to Flynn's anti-Clinton 'Lock her up!' chant during the 2016 Republican National Convention. 'He is our hero, absolutely,' Scopelliti said. The 'hero' label puzzles U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat and former federal prosecutor, who said Flynn committed a serious crime of lying to the FBI about a national security matter while in the White House and serving as national security adviser. He said Flynn may be benefiting from Trump's labeling of the special counsel investigation as a 'witch hunt' and 'hoax.' 'I think that's part of a political campaign designed to discredit the special counsel, but some people do believe it,' Whitehouse said. As for what's next for Flynn, those close to him said he has a number of options, including consulting or writing a book. Over the summer, a firm headed by lobbyists who recently represented the government of Qatar announced Flynn was coming to work there. Flynn's attorneys quickly said he hadn't joined Stonington Global. As of Thursday, its website still listed Flynn as joining it as director of global strategy. The company didn't respond to requests for comment. 'His Rolodex has got to be amazing,' longtime friend Rocky Kempenaar said. 'I just know he's not done. I don't know what he's got up his sleeve. He loves our country, he just wants to give and give and give.' Among Flynn's fans is former Trump national security aide Sebastian Gorka, who worked with Flynn in the White House. He floated another idea on Twitter and Fox News this week: that Trump should bring on Flynn as his new chief of staff.
  • President Donald Trump has picked budget director Mick Mulvaney to be his acting chief of staff, ending a chaotic search in which several top contenders took themselves out of the running for the job. 'Mick has done an outstanding job while in the Administration,' Trump tweeted Friday. 'I look forward to working with him in this new capacity as we continue to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!' Trump added that his current chief of staff, John Kelly, will be staying until the end of the year. 'He is a GREAT PATRIOT and I want to personally thank him for his service!' Trump wrote. Trump's first pick for the job, Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff Nick Ayers, took himself out of the running last weekend and decided to leave the White House instead. The decision caught the president and many senior staffers by surprise, and Trump soon found that others he considered front-runners were not interested in the job. It was not immediately clear why the president decided to make Mulvaney's appointment temporary. One senior White House official said there was no time limit on the appointment and Mulvaney would fill the role of chief of staff indefinitely, regardless of the 'acting' title. Key to his selection: Mulvaney and the president get along and the president likes him personally. Additionally, Trump prized the former congressman's knowledge of Capitol Hill and political instincts as the White House prepares for a Democratic-controlled House and the president's upcoming re-election campaign. The decision came suddenly. Trump had grown frustrated with the length of the search and the growing perception that no one of stature wanted the job, according to one person familiar with his thinking. Mulvaney received the news before the president tweeted his announcement. They spoke face to face Friday afternoon at a meeting that was supposed to be about the budget and spoke by phone later in the evening, according to a second White House official. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the personnel matter on the record. 'This is a tremendous honor,' Mulvaney tweeted. 'I look forward to working with the President and the entire team. It's going to be a great 2019!' Mulvaney, who will be Trump's third chief of staff, will now take on his third job in the administration. He is head of the Office of Management and Budget, and for a time simultaneously led the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The White House originally said Russell Vought, Mulvaney's deputy, would be taking over at OMB. But press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday night that Mulvaney will not resign that job even though he 'will spend all of his time devoted to his role as the acting Chief Of Staff for the President.' Sanders said Vought 'will handle day to day operations and run OMB.' Mulvaney had signaled in recent weeks that he wasn't interested in being chief of staff, with a person close to him telling reporters that he'd made clear that he would me more interested in taking over as secretary of the Treasury or Commerce. But the White House officials disputed reports that captured that sentiment, and said the president didn't need to change Mulvaney's mind. A former tea party congressman, Mulvaney was among a faction on the hard right that pushed GOP leaders into a 2013 government shutdown confrontation by insisting on lacing a must-pass spending bill with provisions designed to cripple President Barack Obama's signature health care law. Trump's pick generated little immediate reaction on Capitol Hill, where most of Mulvaney's allies are part of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. But his knowledge of Congress and how government works is likely to be an asset in the coming months. The appointment of the affable, fast-talking South Carolinian came just hours after another candidate for the post, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, took himself out of contention. Christie cited family reasons in a statement saying he was asking Trump to remove him from consideration. He had met with Trump on Thursday to discuss the job, according to a person familiar with the meeting who was not authorized to discuss it publicly. Ayers, who had cited family concerns as a reason he didn't accept the post, tweeted Friday: 'The right father of triplets got the job...Congratulations @MickMulvaneyOMB!' Both men are, coincidentally, fathers of triplets. Trump's first chief of staff, Reince Priebus, served for six months before leaving in July 2017. Trump tweeted his choice of Kelly to replace him before he formally offered the retired four-star Marine general the job. For some months, Kelly had success streamlining the decision-making process in the West Wing and curtailing access to the undisciplined president. But Trump grew weary of the restrictions and Kelly's influence waned as the two men frequently clashed. As the search dragged on after Ayers bowed out, with no backup at the ready, the void had been filled with Trump's specialty: drama. British journalist Piers Morgan suggested he would be a good fit in an op-ed for The Daily Mail, while former major league slugger Jose Canseco tweeted his interest to Trump. Speculation swirled around an array of Trump associates, prompting some to distance themselves from the job. When former House Speaker Newt Gingrich visited the White House this week, he insisted it was merely to see the Christmas decorations. The wild process was hardly a novelty for the Trump administration, which has struggled with high staff turnover and attracting top talent, but it underscored the tumult of Trump's Washington. In past administrations, chief of staff was a sought-after job, typically awarded after a careful process. Now, many view the job as a risky proposition, given Trump's propensity for disorder and his resistance to being managed. Author Chris Whipple, an expert on chiefs of staff, had called the search process 'sad to watch.' 'In his first two years, Trump devalued the position by failing to empower anyone to perform the job, and now he's turned the search for a replacement into a reality show,' said Whipple, author of 'The Gatekeepers,' a book on the subject. 'The only thing more broken and dysfunctional than the White House itself seems to be the search for the new White House chief of staff.' Trump on Friday disputed that notion. 'For the record, there were MANY people who wanted to be the White House Chief of Staff. Mick M will do a GREAT job!' he tweeted. ___ Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.
  • Melania Trump spread her anti-bullying message on an annual Christmas season visit to a Washington children's hospital on Thursday, reading a story about a Christmas ornament named Oliver who is bullied by other ornaments in a family's collection. 'Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year,' the first lady said after she finished reading 'Oliver the Ornament' at Children's National Health System. The author, Todd Zimmerman, sat a few feet away. Mrs. Trump launched an initiative earlier this year to teach kindness to children, naming it Be Best. Zimmerman thanked the first lady 'from the bottom of my heart' for inviting him to be part of the visit, an annual tradition that dates to first lady Bess Truman, who served in the role from the mid-1940s to 1953. 'It is such an honor and I'm humbled by your kindness,' Zimmerman added. 'I also want to thank you for everything you do to promote kindness through your Be Best foundation and all of your daily activities. It's that same type of kindness that we're trying to promote with 'Oliver the Ornament' and it's that same message that I hope all of you receive this Christmas season and throughout the entire year.' Mrs. Trump is using the initiative to encourage children and young people to be kind online. The first lady recently told ABC News during an interview in which she promoted Be Best that she could be 'the most bullied person' in the world, judging by 'what people are saying about me.' Critics have pointed out that her husband, President Donald Trump, routinely mocks people on Twitter. Before taking a seat in front of a towering Christmas tree in the hospital's atrium, Mrs. Trump toured part of the neonatal intensive care unit and met with three families and children who had been treated there after they were born prematurely at 24 weeks. The two boys and one girl, ages 16 months to 6 years old, each weighed about 1 pound (0.45 kilograms) at birth. Mrs. Trump sat with the families while the children played and listened as Nikki Watkinson told the story of her son Grayson's early delivery in her husband's truck during a snowstorm. 'You will have an incredible story to tell him,' the first lady replied. ___ Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap
  • President Donald Trump's eldest son says his father is a 'regifter' who 'may or may not' have once given him the same gift he presented to his dad the year before. Donald Trump Jr. says in an interview with the entertainment program 'Extra' that because he is his father's namesake, he 'got regifted all the things that were monogrammed for him at times.' And he says that one Christmas he called his dad out on the regifting, explaining that he was the one who'd had the item monogrammed. Trump Jr. also says he'll be spending the holidays with his family and girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle at his dad's Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. He also jokes that 'it would be a wonderful thing' if he could tweet his father's holiday dinner commentary
  • Porn star Stormy Daniels must pay President Donald Trump nearly $293,000 for his attorneys' fees and another $1,000 in sanctions after her defamation suit against him was dismissed, a federal judge in Los Angeles ordered Tuesday. Trump's attorney, Charles Harder, had requested nearly $390,000 in fees and equal amount in sanctions as a deterrent against a 'repeat filer of frivolous defamation cases.' Judge S. James Otero cut the requested legal fees by 25 percent and awarded just $1,000 in sanctions. Otero previously noted that fees by Harder's firm — as high as $840 an hour — were reasonable but the 580 hours spent on the case appeared excessive. Daniels alleges she had an affair with Trump in 2006 and was paid $130,000 as part of a nondisclosure agreement days before the 2016 presidential election. She sued him for defamation after he dismissed her claims of being threatened to keep quiet about the tryst as a 'total con job.' The judge threw out the case in October. Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, tweeted Tuesday's order 'will never hold up on appeal.' In a statement he predicted Daniels 'will never have to pay a dime' because she will receive far more — $1 million — from Trump for attorneys' fees and other costs related to a separate lawsuit Daniels brought in Los Angeles over the non-disclosure agreement. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is challenging the agreement she signed with Trump's then-lawyer Michael Cohen to prevent her from discussing the alleged affair. The agreement was signed days before the 2016 election as part of a $130,000 hush-money settlement. Daniels also has alleged that her former lawyer, Keith Davidson, colluded with Cohen to have her publicly deny the affair with Trump. Cohen has pleaded guilty to several felonies and admitted funneling money to Daniels to keep her quiet about the affair. Trump has denied the affair, but essentially acknowledged the payment to Daniels. Despite the deal to stay quiet, Daniels spoke out publicly and alleged that five years after the affair she was threatened to keep quiet by a man she did not recognize in a Las Vegas parking lot. She also released a composite sketch of the mystery man. She sued Trump for defamation after he responded to her allegation by tweeting: 'A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!' Otero ruled in October that Trump's statement was 'rhetorical hyperbole' against a political adversary and was protected speech under the First Amendment. Trump's lead attorney previously said the fees and unspecified monetary sanctions were earned because of the extraordinary nature of the defamation case and because of Avenatti's gamesmanship. 'This action is virtually unprecedented in American legal history,' Harder wrote in court papers. Daniels 'not only brought a meritless claim for defamation against the sitting president of the United States, but she also has engaged, along with her attorney, in massive national publicity.' The Cohen and Davidson lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court is on hold until May. ___ Follow Weber at https://twitter.com/WeberCM ___ Associated Press reporter Brian Melley in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
  • The Latest on the White House chief of staff (all times local): 10 p.m. As President Donald Trump ponders picking a new chief of staff, more names are emerging as possible contenders for the job. A person familiar with Trumps' thinking tells The Associated Press that among the four people being considered by Trump are the White House budget chief, Mick Mulvaney, and a Republican congressman from North Carolina, Mark Meadows. Other names in the mix include Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Two names being floated by people close to the White House are Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Trump's former deputy campaign manager, David Bossie. Once thought to be the president's top choice, vice presidential chief of staff Nick Ayers tweeted Sunday that he's no longer in the running for the position. ___ 9:25 p.m. As President Donald Trump ponders picking a new chief of staff, more names are emerging as possible contenders for the job. People familiar with the discussion at the White House tell The Associated Press that among the people being considered are the White House budget chief, Mick Mulvaney, and a Republican congressman from North Carolina, Mark Meadows. Other names in the mix include Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Trump's former deputy campaign manager, David Bossie. Once thought to be the president's top choice, vice presidential chief of staff Nick Ayers tweeted Sunday that he's no longer in the running for the position. Trump says in a tweet that he'll be making a decision 'soon.' ___ 8:05 p.m. Now that President Donald Trump's top choice to be chief of staff has passed on taking the job, he is considering four others for the post. A person familiar with Trump's thinking tells The Associated Press that the president is considering the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, and a Republican congressman from North Carolina, Mark Meadows, who is chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Thought to be the president's top choice, vice presidential chief of staff Nick Ayers tweeted Sunday that he's no longer in the running for the position. A White House official tells the AP that Trump and Ayers could not reach agreement on Ayers' length of service. Trump wants his next chief of staff to hold the job through the 2020 election. ___ 5 p.m. President Donald Trump is considering four people as he determines who will be his next chief of staff. A person familiar with Trump's thinking tells The Associated Press that the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, is among those under consideration to replace John Kelly. The person thought to be the president's top choice for the job, vice presidential chief of staff Nick Ayers, tweeted Sunday that he's no longer in the running for the position. Instead, he will begin overseeing a pro-Trump political action committee next year. A White House official tells the AP that Trump and Ayers could not reach agreement on Ayers' length of service. Trump wants his next chief of staff to hold the job through the 2020 election. ___ 4:20 p.m. President Donald Trump's top pick to replace John Kelly as chief of staff, Nick Ayers, is no longer expected to fill that role. That's according to a White House official who is not authorized to discuss the personnel issue by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. Ayers is Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff. The official says that Trump and Ayers could not agree on Ayers' length of service. The father of young children, Ayers had agreed to serve in an interim capacity though the spring, but Trump wanted a two-year commitment. The official says that Ayers will instead assist the president from outside the administration. Trump announced Saturday that Kelly would be departing the White House around the end of the year.
  • President Donald Trump's pick to be America's ambassador at the United Nations is likely to face questions about her thin diplomatic resume during an upcoming Senate confirmation hearing that will shine fresh attention on the president's 'America first' approach to foreign policy. If confirmed by the Senate, Heather Nauert, a 48-year-old former Fox News Channel reporter, will replace Nikki Haley. Nauert had little foreign policy experience before taking the podium as spokeswoman for the State Department. Nauert's confirmation could hinge on her performance at the hearing. Still, she stands a good chance of approval because after the new Congress begins in January, Republicans will have a 53-47 vote majority over Democrats in the Senate. In announcing his decision on Friday, Trump said Nauert was 'very talented, very smart, very quick.' He said he thought she would be 'respected by all.' Others, including former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, criticized the choice. Nauert's job as spokeswoman at State is 'to read talking points and explain policy,' McFaul tweeted. The job of U.N. ambassador is very different, he said, and usually requires foreign policy or diplomatic expertise or both. Trump backer Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., issued a statement praising Nauert, but his Republican colleagues who sit on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee were silent. 'I've known Heather for many years. She is a fine and capable person,' Graham said, adding that she had the confidence of Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. If she gets the job, Nauert would take the post with less clout than Haley, a former South Carolina governor who announced in October that she would step down at the end of this year. Trump is downgrading the ambassador's position to a sub-Cabinet-level post. That means Nauert could be overshadowed by Pompeo or Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, who had the U.N. job in 2005 and 2006. She also would be going up against foreign counterparts like the U.N. representatives from Russia and China, who each have decades of experience in diplomacy. Nauert thanked Trump and said she was humbled at being chosen. 'If confirmed, I look forward to continuing the outstanding job Ambassador Haley has done representing your administration and the American people.' Trump's announcement comes just a day after the U.S. lost a high-profile vote in the U.N. General Assembly for a resolution condemning the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Haley had lobbied hard to get the resolution passed, but couldn't garner the two-thirds majority needed. Haley herself arrived at the United Nations with little foreign policy experience beyond promoting international investments in South Carolina. However, she quickly learned key issues and how the U.N. operates. Because of her work at the State Department, Nauert would have the advantage of already knowing the Trump administration's position on all major global issues. But without being a member of the Cabinet, she wouldn't have the same independence that Haley has enjoyed. Pompeo tweeted that Nauert has traveled with him since he took the helm of the State Department. 'I have great confidence in her. Heather plays a key role in advancing U.S. foreign policy & I look forward to her speedy confirmation.' She also would arrive at a time when Trump and members of his foreign policy team have all displayed sometimes open contempt for the United Nations and its affiliated agencies. In its first two years, the Trump administration has pulled out of the U.N. scientific, educational and cultural organization UNESCO, the U.N. Human Rights Council and threatened to leave the International Postal Union. It has cut off contributions for the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees and U.N. population fund. It has also sought to reduce funding for U.N. peacekeeping operations. Pompeo, Nauert's current boss, recently delivered a speech attacking multinational institutions and agreements that many believe have served as pillars of stability in the post-World War II era. In that speech in Brussels, Pompeo questioned the value and credibility of organizations like the U.N., the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, saying they are in need of dire change if they are to continue to have U.S. support or membership. 'Haley lost a degree of autonomy when John Bolton became the national security adviser, because he had strong views about the U.N,' said Stephen Pomper of the Crisis Group, an organization that works to prevent wars. 'Bringing Nauert aboard in a sub-Cabinet role will diminish the position yet further,' said Pomper, who worked at the National Security Council under former President Barack Obama. 'For better or worse, the administration's U.N. policy is pretty established at this point, and there's no reason to expect that Nauert will deviate from the 'America First' course that Haley, Bolton, and Pompeo have set.' Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, the top Democrat on a Senate subcommittee that oversees America's relationship with the U.N., slammed Trump's nomination of Nauert. He said she lacks experience and that her loyalty to Trump and experience as an anchor on his favorite cable news network are insufficient qualifications. Nauert, a native of Rockford, Illinois, also worked at State as the acting undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs. As a New York-based anchor and correspondent at the Fox News Channel, Nauert oversaw breaking news, anchored programs, covered global and domestic crises and interviewed senior elected and military officials. Nauert, who also was a network correspondent for ABC News, is a graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and Mount Vernon College in Washington.
  • The Latest on events honoring former President George H.W. Bush (all times local): 5:25 p.m. Texas A&M says the private, graveside service for George H.W. Bush's family members has ended and the former president has been buried. Thursday evening's ceremony concludes days of funeral activities honoring the 41st president. After lying in state at the U.S. Capitol and a funeral at Washington's National Cathedral, Bush had a funeral at the Houston church where his family worshipped. His remains then rode on a special funeral train to College Station, where he was buried at his presidential library at Texas A&M University. Prior to the closed service, about 2,100 cadets in dress uniforms lined the road to the graveside and saluted as the motorcade passed. Family spokesman Jim McGrath says President George W. Bush has left the library and other relatives have, too. ___ 4:40 p.m. President Donald Trump says the memorial service in Washington this week for former President George H.W. Bush was a 'beautiful tribute' to an extraordinary life. Trump on Thursday noted Bush's passing at the start of a Hanukkah reception at the White House. He and first lady Melania Trump attended Bush's state funeral service on Wednesday sitting next to the other living former presidents. Trump called Bush a 'wonderful man' and a 'beloved American patriot.' He made the remarks as a special funeral train carrying Bush's casket approached its final stop near Bush's presidential library in Texas. Bush will be buried on the library grounds. ___ 4:30 p.m. The Navy has honored former President George H.W. Bush with a 21-plane flyover in a missing man formation before he's laid to rest alongside his wife and daughter. The 41st president will be buried Thursday at a private service on the grounds of his presidential library in College Station, Texas. Bush will also be honored with a 21-cannon salute and the sounding of 'Taps.' The flyover was performed as an honor guard, close friends and relatives accompanied Bush's casket to his family's burial plot. The flag draped over the casket will be presented to Bush's daughter, Doro Bush Koch. ___ 4:15 p.m. Former President George H.W. Bush's casket has arrived for burial in his family's plot on the grounds of his presidential library in Texas. Bush will be buried during a private service Thursday, ending nearly a week of services honoring the life of the 41st president. He will be laid to rest alongside his wife, Barbara Bush, and their daughter Robin, who died at age 3 of leukemia in 1953. Bush died last week at age 94. Nearly 1,200 people attended a funeral service for him earlier Thursday in Houston before his body was transported by a special funeral train to College Station, where the presidential library is located on the grounds of Texas A&M University. Large crowds lined the roughly 70-mile (115-kilometer) train route to pay tribute to Bush. ___ 4:05 p.m. More than 1,000 student cadets have lined the route of the motorcade carrying former President George H.W. Bush to his final resting place. An honor guard Thursday carried Bush's casket down the steps of a special funeral train that arrived in College Station after a roughly 70-mile (115-kilometer) trip from suburban Houston. Former President George W. Bush and other family members stood on the Texas A&M University campus as a band played the school's 'Aggie War Hymn' fight song. The casket was loaded into a hearse bound for his nearby presidential library, where Bush will be buried following a private graveside ceremony. ___ 3:45 p.m. A special funeral train carrying the casket of former President George H.W. Bush has rolled to a final stop near his burial site in Texas. The blue-and-gray locomotive painted to resemble Air Force One arrived Thursday in College Station after a roughly 70-mile (115-kilometer) trip from suburban Houston. Thousands of people lined the train route to pay their respects to the 41st president. The 12-car train also carried Bush's close friends and family, including former President George W. Bush. They will now head to the grounds of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M University for a private burial service. Bush will be laid to rest alongside his wife, Barbara Bush, and their daughter Robin, who died at age 3 of leukemia in 1953. It was the eighth funeral train in U.S. history and the first since Dwight D. Eisenhower's death nearly a half-century ago. ___ 2:30 p.m. People who turned out to pay tribute to former President George H.W. Bush as a special funeral train carries his body to the city where he'll be buried are leaving coins on the tracks to be flattened into keepsakes. Fifty-five-year-old Doug Allen of Cypress left eight coins on the tracks before the train passed through the small town of Pinehurst. The train left his three quarters, three dimes and two pennies flattened and slightly discolored. He says he only thought of the idea a few moments before the train passed and his wife and her friend found the coins in their bags. He says, 'It's something we'll always keep.' Officials have been warning the excited crowds to stay off the tracks as the train approaches. At one point, a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter flew overhead and told people to get off the tracks. Bush will be buried later Thursday during a private service on the grounds of his presidential library in College Station. ___ 2:05 p.m. A 54-year-old Texan who served in the U.S. Air Force during 'Operation Desert Storm' is among the many people who turned out to watch the special funeral train carry former President George H.W. Bush to his final resting place. Kevin Gulley, who lives in Cypress, traveled to nearby Pinehurst on Thursday to see the train carrying the casket of his former commander-in-chief. It is taking Bush's body for burial in the family plot at his presidential library in College Station. Gulley wore a blue jacket with 'U.S. Air Force' embroidered in gold lettering on the back and had a button reading 'Looking Great for '88' on his lapel. He said he wanted to pay his respects to Bush. Gulley stood waiting next to his son's former football coach, 56-year-old Bill Powers. The two ran into each other here waiting for the train. Powers says, 'It's what he wanted because he wanted everybody to be together.' ___ 1:45 p.m. Crowds have lined the route of the special funeral train that is taking former President George H.W. Bush to the city where he'll be laid to rest. People waved American flags and cheered as the number '4141' train passed by on its roughly 70-mile (115-kilometer) journey from the Houston suburb of Spring to College Station. The casket of the 41st president is visible through large windows on the side of the train car. Among those paying tribute to Bush was 38-year-old Andy Gordon, of Magnolia, who took his two young daughters to see the train as it passed through nearby Pinehurst. He says, 'Hopefully, my children will remember the significance and the meaning of today.' Bush will be buried later Thursday during a private service in the family's plot on the grounds of his presidential library. ___ 12:50 p.m. A special funeral train carrying the casket of former President George H.W. Bush has begun its journey to College Station, where he will be buried during a private service in the family plot on the grounds of his presidential library. The number '4141' train that left the Houston suburb of Spring during a light rain Thursday afternoon was painted to resemble Air Force One. It will take 41st president's casket, family and close friends about 70 miles (115 kilometers) through five small towns on a journey that's expected to take about two-and-a-half hours. About 1,200 people attended a funeral service for the 41st president earlier Thursday at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, which is where the family worships. Bush will be laid to rest alongside his wife, Barbara Bush, and their daughter Robin, who died of leukemia at age 3 in 1953. ___ 12:40 p.m. The hearse carrying the body of former President George H.W. Bush has arrived at a Union Pacific facility north of Houston, where his casket will be placed on a special train that will take him to the city where he'll be laid to rest. People lined the route from St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston to the train facility in Spring to pay tribute to the 41st president, who died last week at age 94. Bush was remembered during a funeral service Thursday morning as a deeply religious family man. The train will take his casket, family and closest friends about 70 miles (115 kilometers) to College Station, where Bush will be buried later Thursday during a private service at his presidential library. Bush will be laid to rest alongside his wife, Barbara Bush, and their daughter Robin, who died of leukemia at age 3 in 1953. ___ 12:25 p.m. A procession carrying the body of former President H.W. Bush is slowly making its way through Houston following a funeral at his family's church. As the motorcade made its way through Houston early Thursday afternoon, police officers on horseback saluted, construction workers paused and truckers honked as the hearse drove by. The motorcade is headed to a Union Pacific facility north of Houston, where a special funeral train will take Bush's casket, family and close friends to College Station for a private burial service at his presidential library. The journey through five small Texas towns was expected to take about two-and-a-half hours. ___ 12:15 p.m. A Secret Service detail is accompanying the hearse that's carrying former President George H.W. Bush to his burial site. Jim McGrath, a spokesman for the Bush family, says a Secret Service car is following the hearse as it travels from Houston to the city of Spring, where the casket will be placed on a special funeral train that's headed to Bush's presidential library at Texas A&M University in College Station. McGrath says Bush's Secret Service detail will remain with him until 6 a.m. Friday. The train is expected to arrive in College Station by mid-afternoon, and a private burial ceremony will follow. ___ 11:45 a.m. The family of George H.W. Bush is headed to a Union Pacific facility to join a special train that will carry the former president's casket to his final resting place. Bush's relatives, including son George W. Bush and his family, left St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston following a funeral that was attended by about 1,200 mourners. The family is headed to a facility in Spring, Texas, where a special funeral train will depart with a final destination of College Station. It will be the eighth presidential funeral train in U.S. history and the first since Dwight D. Eisenhower's body traveled from the National Cathedral in Washington through seven states to his Kansas hometown of Abilene 49 years ago. Abraham Lincoln's funeral train was the first, in 1865. ___ 11:35 a.m. Country music star Reba McEntire has sung 'The Lord's Prayer' at the Houston funeral service of former President George H.W. Bush. The Grammy winner on Thursday followed the Oak Ridge Boys, who were one of the president's favorite musical acts and who sang 'Amazing Grace' during the service at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston. The church where the Bush family worships was filled with celebrities for the final public farewell to the 41st president. Bush will be buried during a private service later Thursday at his family plot on the Bush presidential library grounds at Texas A&M University in College Station. ___ 11:10 a.m. George H.W. Bush is being remembered at his longtime church as a man of faith who taught Sunday School, served coffee and watched his children perform in a Christmas pageant. The Rev. Russell Levenson, Jr. told mourners Thursday that Bush had a 'resolute faith' and once asked what heaven would be like. He told those gathered at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church that he imagined Bush was greeted in heaven by his wife, Barbara Bush, 'with her hands on her hips, saying 'What took you so long?'' Levenson said it was OK to cry because George H.W. Bush was never afraid to shed tears himself. Bush's longtime pastor ended the homily with the same prayer used at the president's 1989 inauguration. ___ 10:45 a.m. The only member of the Bush dynasty still in public office says he and former President George H.W. Bush's 16 other grandchildren grew up in awe of the man they knew as 'gampy.' George P. Bush told mourners Thursday that the former president would challenge his grandkids to games like 'the first to sleep award.' The line drew laughs at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, where the Bush family worshipped. The 42-year-old George P. Bush holds the office of Texas land commissioner. He joined former Secretary of State James Baker in eulogizing the 41st president, who died last week at age 94. George P. Bush is the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. He was easily re-elected in November to a second four-year term in Texas. ___ 10:40 a.m. Former Secretary of State James Baker remembered his longtime friend George H.W. Bush as having 'had the courage of a warrior but the greater courage of a peacemaker' during an emotional eulogy at Bush's funeral in Houston. Baker began the eulogy Thursday with an apology. Using the nickname 'Jefe,' which is Spanish for 'boss,' Baker said he was going to brag about Bush, even though the former president hated boasting. He called Bush the 'best one-term president' in the nation's history. He also praised Bush's grace after the fall of the Berlin Wall, saying that Bush understood that humility toward a fallen adversary 'is the very best path.' Bush will be buried during a private ceremony later Thursday at his presidential library in College Station. ___ 10:25 a.m. An honor guard has escorted the flag-draped casket of George H.W. Bush to the altar of the church where his funeral is being held in Texas. After the casket reached the altar , attendees stood and sang 'The Star-Spangled Banner' during the Thursday morning funeral for Bush in Houston. The funeral at St. Martin's Episcopal Church is also expected to include music from country music's Reba McEntire and the Oak Ridge Boys. Following the service, Bush's casket will be escorted by train to his presidential library in College Station for burial. ___ 10:15 a.m. The Houston funeral for George H.W. Bush has opened with an anthem sung at his inauguration. The St. Martin's Parish Choir performed 'This is My Country' at Thursday's funeral, which is the last public remembrance for the 41st president before his burial later Thursday during a private service at his presidential library in College Station. The funeral at St. Martin's Episcopal Church also included the hymn 'O Beautiful for Spacious Skies.' Bush's longtime friend and secretary of state, James Baker, is set to give a eulogy, along with Bush's grandson, George P. Bush. ___ 10 a.m. Funeral services have begun at a Houston church for George H.W. Bush, the last public remembrance for the former president who will be laid to rest Thursday. About 1,200 mourners were expected at St. Martin's Episcopal Church for the service, which will include eulogies from Bush's secretary of state, James Baker, and his grandson, George P. Bush. The funeral follows three days of events in Washington honoring the 41st president. After the Houston funeral, a special train painted to resemble Air Force One will carry Bush's casket, family and close friends about 70 miles (115 kilometers) to College Station, where he will be buried in a private service alongside his late wife, Barbara Bush, and their daughter Robin, who died of leukemia in 1953 at age 3.
  • Thousands waved and cheered along the route as funeral train No. 4141 — for the 41st president — carried George H.W. Bush's remains to their final resting place on Thursday, his last journey as a week of national remembrance took on a decidedly personal feel in an emotional home state farewell. Some people laid coins along the tracks that wound through small town Texas so a 420,000-pound locomotive pulling the nation's first funeral train in nearly half a century could crunch them into souvenirs. Others snapped pictures or crowded for views so close that police helicopters overhead had to warn them back. Elementary students hoisted a banner simply reading 'THANK YOU.' The scenes reminiscent of a bygone era followed the more somber tone of a funeral service at a Houston church, where Bush's former secretary of state and confidant for decades, James Baker, addressed him as 'jefe,' Spanish for 'boss.' At times choking back tears, Baker praised Bush as 'a beautiful human being' who had 'the courage of a warrior. But when the time came for prudence, he maintained the greater courage of a peacemaker.' Baker also offered Bush as a contrast to today's divisive, sometimes vitriolic politics, saying that his 'wish for a kinder, gentler nation was not a cynical political slogan. It came honest and unguarded from his soul.' 'The world became a better place because George Bush occupied the White House for four years,' said Baker. As the post-funeral motorcade carrying Bush's remains later sped down a closed highway from the church to the train station, construction workers on all levels of an unfinished building paused to watch. A man sitting on a Ferris wheel near the aquarium waved. Bush's body was later loaded onto a special train fitted with clear sides so people could catch a glimpse of the casket as it rumbled by. The train traveled about 70 miles — the first presidential funeral train journey since Dwight D. Eisenhower's remains went from Washington to his native Kansas 49 years ago — to the family plot on the grounds of Bush's presidential library at Texas A&M University. Bush's final resting place is alongside his wife, Barbara, and Robin Bush, the daughter they lost to leukemia at age 3. In the town of Pinehurst, 55-year-old Doug Allen left eight coins on the tracks before the train passed — three quarters, three dimes and two pennies. The train left the coins flattened and slightly discolored. 'It's something we'll always keep,' Allen said.  Andy Gordon, 38, took his 6-year-old daughter, Addison, out of school so she and her 3-year-old sister, Ashtyn, could see the train pass. 'Hopefully, my children will remember the significance and the meaning of today,' Gordon said. Addison was carrying two small American flags in her hand. The train arrived in College Station in the late afternoon with a military band playing 'Hail to the Chief' and then Texas A&M's 'Aggie War Hymn.' About 2,100 cadets in their tan dress uniforms with jackets and ties and knee-high boots waited for hours on a cold, gray day to line the road —known as Barbara Bush Drive— to the Bush library's front doors. The U.S. Navy conducted a 21 strike fighter flyover, a salute to the World War II Navy pilot, followed by a 21-gun cannon salute on the ground.  At the earlier service at Houston's St. Martin's Episcopal Church, where Bush and his family regularly worshipped, the choir sang 'This is My Country,' which was also sung at Bush's presidential inauguration in 1989. Those gathered heard a prayer stressing the importance of service and selflessness that the president himself offered for the country at the start of his term. There were rousing renditions of the 'Battle Hymn of the Republic' and 'Onward Christian Soldiers,' and also performances from some of Bush's country favorites. The Oak Ridge Boys recalled playing for him for decades — sometimes at the White House — and joked that Bush 'fancied himself to be a good bass singer. He was not.' They then sang 'Amazing Grace,' and Reba McEntire offered a musical version of 'The Lord's Prayer.' Thursday's flavor was distinctly Texan, unlike three days of Washington celebrations that had more of a national feel. In place of most federal dignitaries were top Houston athletes including the NFL Texans' defensive end J.J. Watt — showing Bush's love for sports — and Chuck Norris, who played TV's 'Walker, Texas Ranger.' Grandson George P. Bush, the only member of the political dynasty still holding elected office, as Texas land commissioner, used his eulogy to praise the man the younger generations called 'gampy.' 'He left a simple, yet profound legacy to his children, to his grandchildren and to his country: service,' George P. Bush said. The church's pastor, the Rev. Russell Levenson Jr., recalled the Bushes often attending services and offering to give up their seats to others on days when the church was particularly crowded. 'He was ready for heaven, and heaven was ready for him,' Levenson said of Bush who was in declining health in recent years. The minister suggested that when the former president died, he met his wife of 73 years in heaven and Barbara Bush playfully demanded, 'What took you so long?' Indeed, the funeral occurred at the same church where services were held in April for Barbara Bush. Those are remembered for an emotional scene when the former president gazed from his wheelchair up at her casket, then shook hands with well-wishers. Wednesday night, more than 11,000 people paid their respects as Bush lay in repose at the church all night. Earlier Wednesday, at Washington National Cathedral in the nation's capital, there was high praise for the last of the presidents to have fought in World War II — and a hefty dose of humor about a man whose speaking delivery was once described as a cross between Mister Rogers and John Wayne. Three other former presidents and Donald Trump watched as George W. Bush eulogized his father as 'the brightest of a thousand points of light.' President Trump, who once mocked the late president's 'points of light' call to volunteerism, had nothing but favorable words Thursday. 'He was a wonderful man. We will always remember this great statesman and beloved American patriot,' Trump said. 'He really was very special.' The cathedral service in Washington was a tribute to the patriarch of one of the nation's most powerful political families — they occupied the White House for a dozen years — and to a faded political era that prized military service and public responsibility. Like Baker's address Thursday, it included indirect comparisons to Trump but was not consumed by them, as speakers focused on Bush's public life and character — with plenty of cracks about his goofy side, too. 'He was a man of such great humility,' said Alan Simpson, former Republican senator from Wyoming. Those who travel 'the high road of humility in Washington, D.C.,' he added pointedly, 'are not bothered by heavy traffic.' Trump sat Wednesday with his wife, the trio of ex-presidents and their wives, several of them sharp critics of his presidency and one of them, Hillary Clinton, his 2016 Democratic foe. Apart from courteous nods and some handshakes, there was little interaction between Trump and the others. George W. Bush broke down briefly at the end of his eulogy while invoking the daughter his parents lost and his mother. He took comfort in knowing 'Dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom's hand again.' ___ Associated Press writer David J. Phillip contributed to this report.

The Latest News Headlines

  • The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is asking for your help tracking down an armed robbery suspect who they consider armed and dangerous. The suspect is 20-year-old Jebre Cook, who’s described as 5’9” and 174 lbs. Police say you should not approach him, because he is considered armed and dangerous.  JSO has not said what armed robbery incident they believe Cook is responsible for. If you know anything about Cook’s location, you’re asked to contact JSO at 911 or 904-630-0500, or JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. You can also submit an anonymous tip and be eligible for a possible $3,000 reward by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.
  • The Trump administration moved Tuesday to ban bump stocks -- devices that can make semi-automatic firearms fire at a rate similar to automatic weapons -- under a federal law that also bans machine guns, Justice Department officials said in a news release. >> Read more trending news Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said authorities amended a regulation on Tuesday to include bump stocks in the definition of “machinegun” under federal law. The regulation will go into effect 90 days after it’s formally published in the Federal Register, a move expected to come Friday, according to The Associated Press. >> Read the final rule White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a news briefing Tuesday that people who have bump stocks will be required to turn the devices over to officials at field offices for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or destroy them by March 21. >> What is a bump stock, how does it work and is it legal? Hours after Whitaker announced the move, opponents of the decision said they planned to fight the change. >> From Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree: Trump ban on ‘bump stocks’ to face immediate legal challenge The ban was expected after the Justice Department earlier this year proposed a rule to classify bump stocks and similar devices as prohibited under federal law. >> Trump administration expected to announce gun bump stock ban Trump issued a memorandum in the wake of February’s deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, ordering the attorney general to “propose for notice and comment a rule banning all devices that turn legal weapons into machineguns,” according to Justice Department officials. Authorities reviewed more than 186,000 public comments as part of the review process. The Justice Department opened a review of the devices in the wake of the 2017 shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas that left nearly 60 people dead. Authorities said a gunman had bump stocks equipped to several weapons on Oct. 1, 2017, when he fired on festivalgoers.
  • A 20-year-old Jacksonville man has been arrested after allegedly kidnapping a woman at gunpoint, raping her, and stealing her car. The arrest report for Billy Gaines says he first approached the victim late Sunday at a gas station on Lem Turner Road, where he put a gun to her back and told her to get in the car. JSO says they drove off, but at one point he stopped the car and raped her in the back seat, while he was still holding the gun. The victim reported that they then went to the home of a friend of Gaines, and she then told Gaines something that led him to drive her to another location, according to the arrest report. At that location, police say the victim went inside, called police, and did not come back out. Gaines allegedly fled in the victim’s vehicle. Early Sunday, a patrol Sergeant searching for the suspect saw a vehicle matching the description, while on Golfair Blvd near I-95. JSO says Gaines sped up and took evasive actions. Several marked vehicles continued to pursue him, and he was ultimately stopped in a vacant lot. Gaines allegedly fled on foot from that point, but was caught soon after. He has been arrested for armed sexual battery, kidnapping, carjacking with a firearm, fleeing law enforcement, and resisting an officer without violence.
  • Hours after the Trump Administration signaled that it would administratively move to ban ‘bump stocks,’ which allow semi-automatic weapons to be fired at a much more rapid rate, lawmakers in both parties said it was time for the Congress to enact those regulations into law, as opponents of the decision vowed to immediately challenge the President’s plan in court. “We will be filing our lawsuit very, very soon,” the Gun Owners of America said in a written statement. “After all, in the coming days, an estimated half a million bump stock owners will have the difficult decision of either destroying or surrendering their valuable property – or else risk felony prosecution,” the group added. At the White House, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that is the plan, making clear that bump stocks will be illegal as of March 21, 2019. On banning bump stocks, Sanders says people have until March 2019 to turn them in or have them destroyed. Says they fall under same guidelines as machine guns. — Dana Brown Ritter (@danabrownritter) December 18, 2018 “A 90 period now begins which persons in possession of bump stock type devices must turn those devices to an ATF field office, or destroy them by March 21,” Sanders said at the White House briefing. Justice Department officials told reporters on Tuesday that bump stocks will be administratively banned by using language from a federal law which prohibits machine guns. There was no immediate comment from the National Rifle Association on whether that group would join in legal action against bump stocks as well. In Congress, lawmakers in both parties said while the President’s step is overdue, the House and Senate should also vote to codify the bump stock ban. “This is good news, but it is just one small step toward stopping mass shootings,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH). “We must do far more to prevent gun violence.” “There’s no justification for bump stocks that transform semi-automatic weapons into machine guns,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). A regulation – not a law – is finally being issued to ban bump stocks. This is welcome news. But the country shouldn’t have had to wait a year+ after Vegas to get the most basic regulation. It’s testament to how hard we’ll need to fight to get the comprehensive gun safety we need https://t.co/LgjgBcAhxv — Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) December 18, 2018 “The President seems to be more interested in making headlines than making progress,” said Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV). “We know that his proposal will likely be tied up in the courts.” 58 people were killed in Titus’ district in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017, when a gunman opened fire on an outdoor concert, using ‘bump stocks’ to allow him to shoot more ammunition more quickly, in what was the deadliest mass shooting in the United States. “Finally and should be codified,” said Rep. Carlos Cubelo (R-FL), one of the few Republicans who has called for action on bump stocks in Congress.
  • A Texas 19-year-old has been charged with killing a young mother in a violent crash Sunday night as she drove with her toddler son and her mother.  Erick Raphael Hernandez, of Pearland, was charged Monday with intoxication manslaughter in the death of 23-year-old Taylor Phillips, court records show. As of Tuesday morning, he had been released from the Harris County Jail on $30,000 bond.  >> Read more trending news ABC 13 in Houston reported that Phillips was driving an SUV with her mother and 1-year-old son inside when Hernandez crossed three lanes of traffic on a South Houston street and slammed into Phillips’ vehicle with his truck.   The entire crash was caught on a security camera outside a nearby auto repair shop, the news station said. The grainy footage, seen below, appears to show Hernandez’s truck smash into the front driver’s side of Phillips’ SUV. The impact flings debris across the roadway.  Phillips died at the scene.  Her son and 48-year-old mother were hospitalized with serious, but not life-threatening, injuries. The victims’ family told ABC 13 both have since been released to recover at home.  Phillips’ social media profile is filled with photos of her son, who celebrated his first birthday in August.   “Sometimes when I need a miracle, I look into my son’s eyes and realize I’ve already created one,” Phillips wrote on Facebook alongside a photo of her son in October. In another post, she wrote that she had waited for the love of her son her entire life and would “cherish it forever.” Phillips also often mentioned a sister, Tyré Rai Sai Phillips, on her Facebook page. According to the Houston Police Department, Tyré Phillips was an innocent bystander at a party on April 14, 2013, when multiple fights broke out, during which shots were fired.  Tyré Phillips, who was killed as she sought safety, died a week after her 19th birthday. It was not immediately clear if an arrest has ever been made in her slaying.  Court records obtained by ABC 13 indicated that Hernandez was drinking at a bar with a cousin before Sunday’s deadly crash. The legal drinking age in Texas is 21.  Hernandez, whose appears intoxicated in his mugshot, had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and was off-balance after the crash, the news station said. When questioned at the scene, Hernandez admitted he drank a few beers.  “Based on his field sobriety tests, it was a lot more than a few,” Sean Teare, a member of the Harris County District Attorney’s Vehicular Crimes Unit, told The Houston Chronicle. Teare told the Chronicle that investigators had learned where Hernandez had been drinking prior to the crash. ABC 13 identified the bar as Frontera Events Venue, which is located about a mile from the crash site.  “Obviously, at 19 he shouldn’t be drinking anywhere,” Teare told the newspaper.  ABC 13 reported that the court records indicate Hernandez had been drinking since 6 p.m. Sunday but could not remember when he’d had his last drink. A fake ID and bar receipt were found in his car after the crash.  “We believe that he spent well over $100 at the bar drinking alcohol that day,” Teare told the news station.  The district attorney’s office is now investigating the bar to determine if workers there overserved Hernandez. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission records indicate Frontera, which obtained its license in October 2017, has had six complaints filed against it this year involving alcohol being in the hands of underage individuals. One of those complaints, in which a violation was not found, involved employing someone under the age of 18 to sell or handle alcohol. The remaining five complaints dealt with selling or serving alcohol to minors and serving alcohol to someone already intoxicated. Three of the five complaints were substantiated, the records show. One of the three substantiated claims also included the sale of drugs by the licensee.  Teare told ABC 13 that Frontera’s owner and employees could face charges related to the fatal crash.  “If an establishment, if a server sees somebody who is intoxicated, they’ve got to stop serving,” Teare said. “They’ve got to take steps to ensure that person doesn’t leave their establishment and kill people.” The district attorney’s office is also considering action to shut the bar’s doors for good.  “I just know that a 19-year-old individual came out of that establishment highly intoxicated and moments later took a 23-year-old's life,” Teare told ABC 13. “That shouldn’t happen. Someone in addition to that 19-year-old is going to have to answer for that.”

The Latest News Videos