Day: June 2, 2017

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'WE ARE BEHIND YOU' Trump signs bills to help police officers, vets


President Trump said Friday he was “very happy” to sign into law two bills that would provide help to members of law enforcement and veterans.

Seated at a table in the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room, Trump approved a measure giving priority for federal grants to those federal and state law enforcement agencies that hire and train veterans.

“We are behind you 100 percent,” he said to the public safety officers and vets at the ceremony.

The American Law Enforcement Heroes Act and the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Improvement Act is the product of a bipartisan effort by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

The second measure – the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Improvement Act – takes steps to reduce the backlog of families awaiting approval of survivor benefits of public safety officers killed in the line of duty.

Trump said it was “unacceptable” that injured officers have suffered and that children of fallen officers have had to put off their dreams of college. 

The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., gives state and local officials determine eligibility and will allow beneficiaries to track their claims online.

The Public Safety Officers’ Benefits program was established by Congress in 1976 to financially assist survivors of officers killed in the line of duty, bit many families face long waiting periods to receive their benefits.

According to the latest data, there were 756 active claims before the PSOB Office at the end of March 2017.

Both bills passed Congress in May. 



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SLIDESHOW: Gorsuch joins Supreme Court justices in new photos


Justices of the Supreme Court

Newly appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch joins the other eight Supreme Court members for a portrait session.

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Supreme Court justices in a new family photo including Neil Gorsuch, their most recent addition, in Washington, DC

(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

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Chief Justice John Roberts

(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

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Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch joins Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer

(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

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Justice Neil Gorsuch

(AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

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Chief Justice John Roberts with Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Neil Gorsuch

(AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

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Justice Anthony Kennedy talks with Chief Justice John Roberts

(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

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The Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court

(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

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Sen. Graham: Source told me I was requested 'unmasked' – VIDEO: Sen. Graham fears Comey testimony may be 'hit job' on Trump


A third former Republican presidential candidate is publicly asking if the Obama administration may have improperly “unmasked” him in intercepts of communications with foreign officials.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Friday told “America’s Newsroom” he’d been informed by an intelligence community source that his identity was requested unmasked – a typically rare and scrutinized ask that usually requires the American be the suspect in a crime, be in danger or be essential to understanding the context of the conversation.

“I have reason to believe that a conversation that I had was picked up – with some foreign leader or some foreign person – and somebody requested that my conversation be unmasked,” Graham said. “I’ve been told that by people in the intelligence community.”

Graham’s claim comes less than a month after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., sent a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee asking if his name “or the names of other members of Congress, or individuals from our staffs or campaigns, were included in queries or searches of databases of the intelligence community, or if their identities were unmasked in any intelligence reports or products.”

Graham and Paul ran as part of a crowded Republican primary field, with neither managing to win a state and both struggling to garner support.

President Trump began the public conversation about unmasking in early March when he tweeted that he had “just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

No evidence to date has been found indicating a literal wiretap in Trump Tower.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., has known since at least January about concerns regarding the unmasking of Trump team members, Fox News has reported. On Wednesday, Nunes signed subpoenas issued to the NSA, FBI and CIA seeking information on U.S. officials who may have been involved in the unmasking scandal.



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SUPREME COURT TEST Ruling on lifting travel ban temp stay within days?


The Supreme Court could rule within days on whether to lift a temporary stay on President Trump’s revised executive order banning travel from six mostly Muslim countries.

The issue has become a major test of presidential power, especially in the area of immigration. At issue is whether the ban violates the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment, the Due Process Clause of the Fifth and 14th Amendments, and the ban on nationality discrimination in the issuance of immigrant visas contained in a 65-year-old congressional law.

The Justice Department filed the ruling request with the justices late Thursday, also asking that the federal policy be enforced while the larger issues are litigated.

A federal appeals court in Virginia last month ruled against Executive Order 13769, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” A majority of the 4th Circuit appeals court cited then-candidate Trump’s campaign statements proposing a ban “preventing Muslim immigration.”

The Trump administration said that ruling was flawed on several legal fronts, and asserted the president’s broad authority over immigration matters.

But groups opposing the ban were confident the Supreme Court would eventually side with them and lower courts to strike down the executive order.

There was no timetable on how quickly the Supreme Court would issue a final ruling in the case.

Two federal appeals courts had been considering the issue. A ruling from the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit is still pending, but the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to get involved in the issue now.

The justices have the discretion to wait indefinitely to decide the broader merits of the case, but will issue an order in the meantime on whether the ban can be temporarily enforced. The federal government asked the high court to allow the order to go into effect now, and proposed oral arguments be held in October.

The White House frames the issue as a temporary move involving national security. A coalition of groups in opposition call the order blatant religious discrimination, since the six countries involved have mostly-Muslim populations: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.      

This is the White House’s second effort to impose a travel ban. An order issued a week after President Trump took office was also quickly blocked from taking effect. Nationwide protests were held in many cities and airports.

Rather than continue defending that executive action in the courts, the administration issued its revised order March 6, which included removing Iraq from the original list of banned countries. It also lifted the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees, many fleeing a years-long civil war there.

Officials say the new executive order only applied to foreign nationals outside the U.S. without a valid visa.

The appeals court took the president to task for what he said about a travel ban– both before and after he took office.

Chief Judge Roger Gregory called it an “executive order that in text speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”

A major sticking point for the justices will be navigating how much discretion the president really has over immigration. Courts have historically been deferential in this area, and recent presidents including Carter, Reagan and Obama have used it to deny entry to certain refugees and diplomats, including from nations such as Iran, Cuba, and North Korea.

A 1952 federal law– the Immigration and Nationality Act, passed in the midst of a Cold War fear over Communist influence– gives the chief executive broad authority.

 

 

 



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Ex-Dallas chief investigator gets light sentence despite taking big bribe


While escorting a man from Las Vegas to Dallas to face a criminal charge, a chief investigator from the Dallas County prosecutor’s office “solicited, demanded, and accepted” from the man a bribe in return for agreeing to help get a charge against the man of failing to register as a sex offender dismissed.

The chief investigator, Anthony Robinson, pled guilty last year to one count of conspiracy to bribe or reward an agent of an organization receiving federal funds.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade sentenced Robinson to just three years of probation, a $10,000 fine and $31,000 in restitution after he pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge.

The 53-year old resident of Mesquite, Texas, admitted that in 2012 he took $200,000 as a business investment from Wayne Sweeney in return for getting the charge against Sweeney dismissed. That charge was later dismissed.  

Robinson could have served up to five years in prison, be fined $250,000 and ordered to pay $200,000 in restitution.

“Although what he did was incomprehensible, we’ve tried to make amends,” Robinson’s attorney, Kirk Lechtenberger, told the judge, according to the Dallas Observer.

Robinson may have received a lighter sentence because he will testify in another government criminal case that may have begun during Dallas District Attorney Craig Marcus Watkins’ tenure, the Dallas Observer reported.

“Robinson’s lenient sentence may indicate that he’s agreed to be a witness in a larger investigation into the district attorney’s office during Watkins’ tenure, which was sparked by charges against Robinson. Federal agents recently served two subpoenas to the Dallas County District Attorney’s office – one just before Watkins left the office at the end of 2014 and one just after his successor, Susan Hawk, took over the post the next year,” the Dallas Observer reported.

Robinson’s case files, which were on the U.S. District Court system database called PACER, were sealed as of Wednesday, meaning they are no longer available to the public. Neither the attorney for Robinson, nor the U.S. Attorney’s office in North Texas, returned calls to Fox News.

Federal court records initially available to the public show that on Sept. 13, 2012, Robinson took custody of Sweeney and returned him to Dallas County to face a criminal charge. During this time, Robinson told Sweeney he planned to enter the cattle business. Sweeney told Robinson he could provide the funds for the business if Robinson got his criminal charges dismissed.  Robinson drafted a proposal seven months later, which both men signed, whereby Sweeney invested $200,000 and Robinson handled daily operations, and they shared a checking account. Robinson took $5,000 from that bank account for his wife, and personal withdraws totaling $51,708, court records show.

Two months later, in May 2013, court records show Robinson used his position to persuade an assistant district attorney to dismiss the criminal charge.

Sweeney is serving a 108-month federal prison sentence for participating in a synthetic marijuana distribution organization, federal court records show. In 2014, Sweeney sought to reduce his prison sentence under the 2014 retroactive amendments to the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which reduced base offense levels for many drug offenses, but his petition was denied on April 27, 2017, by a senior U.S. District Court judge.

Malia Zimmerman is an award-winning investigative reporter focusing on crime, homeland security, illegal immigration crime, terrorism and political corruption. Follow her on twitter at @MaliaMZimmerman



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MEDIA BUZZ: Why the press hate Trump's climate deal exit – FOX BIZ OPINION: Paris climate deal was another bad move by Obama


It was a very Trumpian announcement yesterday in the Rose Garden.

The president said flatly that he will pull out of the Paris climate change agreement, but quickly added that the U.S. will “begin negotiations to reenter” the pact or work out a new deal.

I had suspected, given the way the White House gradually leaked the story, that Trump had some surprise planned , given the big buildup to the live television event. Trump even said he would work with Democratic leaders to “immediately” negotiate our way “back into Paris.”

So as he complained about how the agreement “handicaps” our economy by fostering a “massive redistribution of wealth” from America to other countries, the president sort of has only one foot out the door. He did something similar after threatening to pull out of NAFTA, although in this case he’ll actually exit first.

And by the way, although major corporate interests opposed the move, this is Trump keeping a campaign promise.

Trump’s decision was always going to be controversial, given the broad array of interests and a faction within the White House that urged him not to bail on the deal.

But there’s little question that the mainstream media, with varying degrees of subtlety or boldness, were already lined up to treat this a terrible decision.

That goes beyond the screamer in the liberal Huffington Post: “TRUMP TO PLANET: DROP DEAD.”

For no other reason that America now joins Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries not part of the climate agreement, this fits the media narrative that Trump is isolating the nation from the rest of the world.

And the media usually tilt toward arguments by environmentalists rather than those who argue about lost jobs. But the industrial heartland, which includes part of Trump’s base, most acutely feels the impact of anti-pollution rules.

As word leaked to the press that Trump was “expected” to pull out of the Paris deal, the media consensus was clear.

A Washington Post piece yesterday morning called it “a move that would honor a campaign vow but risk rupturing global alliances and disappointing both environmentalists and corporate titans.” And it “could have severe ramifications internationally. It could raise doubts about the commitment of the world’s largest economy to curbing global warming and make it more difficult to hold other nations to their environmental commitments.”

A New York Times news analysis yesterday morning was headlined, “Can Climate Pact Survive If History’s Top Polluter Leaves?” And the story took a definite stance:

“A decision to walk away from the accord would be a momentous setback, in practical and political terms, for the effort to address climate change.” That would make it “much harder to achieve the agreement’s already difficult goal of limiting global warming to a manageable level,” and means the U.S. “would give up a leadership role when it comes to finding solutions for climate change.”

Pro tip: When press accounts warn of dire consequences and faltering American leadership, it means the media aren’t wild about the idea.

The leaks and counter-leaks were also fascinating. The Times covered its bets, for instance, by saying that “three administration officials with direct knowledge of the intense White House debate said early Wednesday morning that Mr. Trump was expected to withdraw,” but “other White House insiders disputed those reports, saying that no verdict had been reached.”

The initial accounts focused mainly on the “exit” part of Trump’s decision, and played down the renegotiating part. The Post, for instance, said in its second paragraph that critics “decried the U.S. exit from the Paris accord as an irresponsible abdication of American leadership.”

We’ll have to see whether the media machine shifts into a different gear in light of the president’s more complicated explanation.

Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of “MediaBuzz” (Sundays 11 a.m.). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz. 



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Trump administration to start social media vetting for visa applicants


The Trump administration has approved a new questionnaire for U.S. visa applicants that asks for social media handles and accounts used during the last five years and travel history, including the source of funding for trips, over the last 15 years, for more “rigorous” vetting.

The State Department requested expedited consideration and “emergency review” from the Office of Management and Budget on May 5 for the new visa application protocol. Fox News can confirm that OMB has approved the new measures.

The State Department proposed new measures for U.S. visa applicants worldwide in order to “more rigorously” evaluate applicants for terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities.

“Collecting additional information from visa applicants whose circumstances suggest a need for further scrutiny will strengthen our process for vetting these applicants and confirming their identity,” a State Department official told Fox News. “We estimate these changes would affect only a fraction of one percent of the more than 13 million annual visa applicants worldwide.”

In addition to social media accounts requested from flagged applicants, the State Department will continue to request phone numbers and email addresses used during the last five years, address and employment history during the last 15 years, and names and dates of birth for all children, current and former spouses or partners, and siblings, along with all former and current passport numbers and country of issuance.

The Department of Homeland Security told Fox News that the questionnaire would help to provide the “best information possible.”

“We’re continuing to seek better information sharing and better processes with all countries to get a better sense on who these people are who would enter the country,” a DHS official told Fox News. “We’re trying to have the best information possible from countries to identify the client and understand the background of people who want to do us harm.”

The State Department said that the social media additions to the questionnaire were in accordance with President Trump’s March 6 Memorandum on enhancing the screening and vetting of applicants for visas.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, acknowledged the danger of social media platforms in a counterterrorism strategy report released by the committee last fall.  

“Social media sites and applications have been propaganda multipliers, allowing them to connect with potential followers across countries, cultures and languages,” McCaul wrote.  

Social media giants, like Facebook and Twitter, have shut down hundreds of thousands of accounts for threatening or promoting terrorist attacks and activity since mid-2015.

“National security is our top priority with adjudicating visa applications. Every prospective traveler to the United States undergoes extensive security screening,” a State Department official said. “We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes and to support legitimate travel and immigration to the United States while protecting U.S. citizens.”

Fox News’ Rich Edson and Nick Kalman contributed to this report. 

Brooke Singman is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues.



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What I cut to lose 100 lbs


A year and three months ago, Traci Kehm decided she was ready to make a change. On a friend’s advice, she decided to try a low-carb, ketogenic diet — and has lost over 100 pounds to date.

The ketogenic diet
Traci had tried other diets before, including counting calories and going on Weight Watchers. But the ketogenic diet — which eschews carbs like bread, pasta, and sugar , and emphasizes healthy proteins and fats like eggs, meat, and avocados — was finally the one that stuck.  

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A typical day
Traci used an optimal keto living chart that told her about how many grams of protein, carbs, and fat she should aim for in her diet. Based on her height, weight, and gender, Traci aims to eat under about 20 grams of carbs per day.

A typical day of eating for her might include black coffee and a couple of eggs at breakfast, tuna fish salad with mayonnaise at lunch, and vegetables like broccoli along with a cut of meat at dinner. When she snacks, she usually reaches for almonds or a cheese stick, and limits all sugar and alcohol.

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What the doctors say
Kathryn Boling, MD, a primary care provider at Mercy Personal Physicians in Lutherville, Maryland, follows a ketogenic diet herself. If you take certain precautions to ensure you don’t become dehydrated and don’t eat excessive amounts of proteins, the diet can be a great way to lose weight, Boling said. Not only will higher amounts of healthy fats — like avocado and coconut oil — keep you satiated for longer, but you won’t have to starve yourself to keep under a certain number of calories a day. Rather, you just have to watch your carb intake.

However, not all physicians are on board with the diet. Some express concern about the higher levels of saturated fat, like those in meats and cheeses, that dieters may be consuming. And, Ashlee Wright, a dietitian from Orlando Health, told Fox News, we don’t yet have many studies on the long-term safety of this type of diet.

Moreover, the ketogenic diet is not a magic bullet for weight loss, fitness trainer Dani Singer told Fox News. It’s still all about a caloric deficit — if you burn more calories than you take in on any diet, you’ll lose weight.

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Traci’s motivation
But for Traci, the diet has been effective and sustainable. When she’s faced with temptation, she told Fox News, she simply thinks about her young son, whom she parents alone after her son’s father passed away before he was born.

It makes me feel proud of myself and that I’m showing my son that you can do anything you want if you put your mind to it,” Traci said.

And, a year and three months later, Traci still has never had a cheat day.

Traci’s advice to other dieters
After losing 100 pounds, Traci has more energy and feels great. Her advice to other dieters? “Just keep going,” Traci said. “If you fail, you just get back up and get back on the horse. Nothing is going to change unless you make it change.”

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Man pulls off McDonald's heist


In what was clearly a flawed plan from the get-go, a truck driver in New York City has been fired from his job for selling $20,000 worth of McDonald’s ingredients to a local convenience store in Harlem.

Kojo Lockhart, 43, allegedly sold a shipment of frozen McDonald’s food — burger patties, chicken nuggets, bacon, breakfast sausage, etc. — to the owner of the J&D Deli at 2336 First Avenue on May 2, reports DNAInfo New York.

In addition to the frozen meat products, Lockhart reportedly unloaded apple pies, hotcakes, butter, sugar, ketchup, french fries and cheese, the NYPD confirmed.

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Lockhart diverted the food from its intended destination at New York-area McDonald’s restaurants, although it’s unclear exactly where the shipment was headed, or how he planned to explain the foods’ disappearance.

It’s also unclear how much, exactly, he made from the sale.

Lockhart’s employers at the Martin Brower distribution company, which has been working with McDonald’s for over 50 years, confirmed that Lockhart was promptly fired for his actions.

“Martin Brower is aware of the incident involving a former employee and alleged theft of customer merchandise,” said the company in a statement obtained by DNAInfo. “Once we learned of this incident, we immediately terminated the employee for cause and continue to work closely with law enforcement during its investigation.”

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According to Grubstreet, however, the NYPD says Lockhart has yet to be arrested, and remains at large.

DNAInfo also tried tracking down the owner of J&D Deli, but that person was not available for comment.



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Tim: Why faith matters


Tim Allen, who became a household name with his role on “Home Improvement” and films like “Toy Story” and “The Santa Clause,” has been a leading man in Hollywood for years. Allen is also known for his stand-up comedy acts.

And most recently, Allen’s show “Last Man Standing” was a bit hit for ABC before it was surprisingly canceled by the network.

Many fans know that Allen had a dark past, which included a two-year stint in jail for drug trafficking and various addiction issues. Allen has also long been an outspoken conservative, setting himself apart in liberal Hollywood.

Still, there’s a lot you may not know about the A-list star. Here are some surprising facts about Tim:
 



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