Day: March 15, 2017


Grassley holds up Deputy AG nomination until he hears from Comey on Russia

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday that he will not permit President Trump’s nomination for deputy attorney general until members of the committee are briefed by FBI Director James Comey on Moscow’s involvement in last year’s election.

Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, halted the nomination of Rod Rosenstein, a longtime U.S. attorney for Maryland. Rosenstein, the pick for the No. 2 position at the Justice Department, said earlier this month that he was not aware of any requirement that he recuse himself from a federal investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election. But he said he was open to appointing a special counsel to look into the matter if he ultimately determined it appropriate.

“Here’s what I’ve done: the Justice Department would like to get their deputy out of committee just as soon as they can,” Grassley told reporters at the Capitol, according to Politico. “I’m not going to schedule a hearing on the deputy attorney general until we get a briefing from Comey.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself last week from any investigations touching the Trump campaign following revelations of his undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador. That move means the Russia inquiry would be under Rosenstein’s watch.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said at Tuesday’s hearing that Rosenstein has “impressive credentials” and she does not question his “integrity.” But she said, “We need steel spines and there is a real danger the Justice Department could become politicized.”

Fox News’ Chad Pregram and The Associated Press contributed to this report


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'Outmanned & outgunned:' Tribal police officers face dangerous challenges

The shooting death of 27-year-old Navajo Nation Police Officer Houston James Largo, who was responding to a routine domestic violence call in the remote community of Prewitt, N.M. on Sunday, highlights the unique challenges his agency faces in fighting crime.

Tribal officers often patrol vast, desolate areas – sometimes 1,000 miles at a time – that are often more underdeveloped and dangerous than other parts of the country. And they do so without many of the resources and funding other law enforcement agencies receive.

So the officers often find themselves outmanned, outgunned and unprepared.

“One of the most trying times I have in serving as president of the Navajo Nation is when I get word that one of our police officers has had their life taken needlessly,” Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said in a press release. “It brings to mind the situations our officers face every day in responding to calls, getting in their unit and putting their lives on the line. It must be difficult for family members to know their loved ones might not return.”

Begaye has called for continued support of police officers who are protecting the Navajo Nation.

It sometimes takes tribal officers more than an hour to respond to calls and many times they do so alone without any backup.

“Our nation mourns for you as does the country,” Begaye said. “Our officer’s lives are precious. They are the ones who stand guard over our nation and protect us.”

Navajo Nation Council Delegate Edmund Yazzie said a major problem the Nation faces is domestic violence, which has plagued the Navajo Nation for years.

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“Unfortunately, many of our officers face this devastating issue every day when they are on duty and sadly it resulted in the loss of one of our bravest today,” Yazzie said in a statement on Sunday.

Prewitt, N.M., a tiny community not counted by the U.S. Census, rests along Interstate 40, which is 81 miles west of Albuquerque, the state’s capital and its largest city.

It is remote areas like this, defined by majestic red mesas, patches of sagebrush in rust-colored dirt, enclaves of mobile homes in various states of wear and disrepair, and dark, winding roads – many not even paved – that comprise the typical patrol areas for officers like Largo of the Navajo Nation .

The four-and-a-half-year veteran was one of 200 patrol officers, 70 short of what is mandated by the tribe. They patrol 27,425 square miles in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah that house the nation’s largest Indian reservation, which has a population of 180,000.

Navajo Nation Police Chief Phillip Francisco told Fox News that it is not unusual for one officer to be responsible for patrolling 1,000 miles.

“The Crownpoint District, where officer Largo served, is our largest at over 4,000 square miles and we typically have five officers on per shift,” Francisco said. “It can take officers more than an hour to respond to a call, mostly by themselves.”

Francisco said this daunting challenge places his officers in one of the most unique categories of any law enforcement agency in the nation despite assistance from New Mexico State Police and the sheriff departments of the counties where the reservations reside.

Prewitt is nestled in McKinley County in northwest New Mexico. The FBI investigates violent crimes in the region since Indian land is on federal property. But the tribal police officers are basically on their own for other crimes. A Safe Trails Task Force initiative was formed in 1994 to combat a growing crime wave in Indian Country.

“Most departments in the country have more than 20 officers per 10,000 residents. We have 11,” Francisco said. “This is a staggering amount of area and people to cover.”

Contrary to the 1970s hit, Ball of Confusion by the Temptations, which had a line that said…”the only safe place to live is on an Indian reservation,” the reality is that per capita reservations are among the most dangerous.

Federal statistics in 2013 shocked the nation. The numbers showed the violent crime rate on Indian reservations was 20 times the national average. The homicide rate passed that of Seattle and Boston.

By 2015, the homicide rate had dropped to 17, the number of rapes decreased to 64 and there were 1,358 cases of aggravated assault.

Domestic violence rates have long been off the charts – many times fueled by alcohol abuse.

These toxic factors mixed together sometimes have dangerous consequences for police officers putting their life on the line. Other than Largo, Navajo Nation Police Officer Alex Yazzie, 42, also was killed in the line of duty in 2015.

“Our officers put themselves in highly volatile situations every day in addressing domestic violence situations,” Begaye said in his statement. “Although they are highly trained, they can still be severely wounded, which unfortunately is what happened today.”

McKinley County Sheriff Ron Silversmith had worked with Largo both when he served with the Gallup Police Department and the sheriff’s department. He said he knows first-hand the dangers police officers face when they patrol the remote Navajo Reservation.

“It is probably one of the most dangerous jobs a police officer can have,” Silversmith said. “There are a lot of times where there is no radio contact and you’re on your own. You have to be strong willed to work out there.”

Silversmith said officers are regularly out in the middle of nowhere on their own. It gets so dark in some areas you cannot see your hand in front of your face.

“They are short staffed and outnumbered and out gunned,” he said. 

Begaye said the tribe recently upgraded equipment and protective devices for its police department. But they still fall far behind other departments. Francisco said he needs to send recruits to Arizona Department of Public Safety’s academy because their building was condemned.

The other challenge he faces is recruiting new officers. The officers are paid $5 per hour less than surrounding state and municipal law enforcement agencies. And, with the vast amount of land that needs to be patrolled, recruits are far and few between.

In the meantime, the police department is burying another police officer.

Officials said a suspect is in custody in the Largo case but has not released the person’s name. The suspect will face federal charges, police said.

Joseph J. Kolb is a regular contributor to Fox News Latino.

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Wrecking ball fails to wreck California bridge

Demolition work started Monday on a crumbling bridge along the California coast that has stranded residents in the popular Big Sur area and closed part of iconic Highway 1, but it was quickly suspended, officials said.

A giant crane dropped a 6,000-pound wrecking ball on the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge for about three hours, but it only gently tapped the unstable span, California Department of Transportation spokesman Jim Shivers said.


“The wrecking ball today just didn’t impact the pavement with the power that we had anticipated,” he said.

Engineers were trying to figure out how the wrecking ball can have the needed force to demolish the overpass. Work will resume later this week, Shivers said.

Heavy rain in January and February damaged the bridge beyond repair, stranding more than 400 residents on one side. Helicopters are bringing in food, and people can use a footpath a few times a day to cross the divide.

Caltrans said the bridge will take at least nine months to rebuild, keeping tourists from the community known for its luxury spas, posh hotels and scenic retreats. The area is also without law enforcement and public services.

Officials hope to make a portion of the Highway 1 passable for locals only later this month.

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Up to 13 million Dutch people are getting ready to vote tomorrow in the general election seen as a face-off between Mr Wilders and the current Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Mr Wilders, the populist leader of the anti-Islamist Party for Freedom (PVV), will debate other Dutch party leaders on television tonight, just hours before the knife-edge election. 

It comes after Mr Wilders exchanged insults with Mr Rutte, from the Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), during a heated debate in the Netherlands last night – the first time they have come face-to-face. 

The Economist Intelligence Unit said: “Pollsters indicate that a majority of voters are still in doubt between several parties, suggesting that these debates could have a significant influence on the final result.” 

Geert Wilders takes on Mark RutteAFP Getty Peilingwijzer

Geert Wilders takes on Mark Rutte in Netherlands election

Meanwhile, Mr Rutte is taking a tough line on Turkey after banning Turkish ministers from speaking in Rotterdam as part of a row over Ankara’s political campaigning among emigres. 

He has said “inflammatory remarks” by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who compared the Dutch to the Nazis, would not help de-escalate a diplomatic row between the two countries.

Mr Erdogan wants to gain support from Dutch Turks as part of his bid to win sweeping new powers in a referendum in Turkey on April 16.

With only a day to go before the election in the Netherlands, here is a look at the latest news, polls and updates. 


Dutch Prime Minister out campaigning on Tuesday March 14

Tuesday March 14

9.10pm GMT update – The latest polls have left Mr Wilders’ anti-Islam party in fifth place in one survey and third in another.

The final poll from I&O Research put Wilders’ party on 16 seats in the 150-member lower house of parliament – down four seats from their poll yesterday.

And the last Ipsos survey gave the Freedom Party 20 seats, a drop of three from last week.

Both polls showed Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberals gaining three seats, to 27 and 29 respectively.

8.50pm GMT update – That’s that for this evening’s debate. With 13 leaders throwing insults around it was fairly hectic.

Only tomorrow will tell whether each of their messages got through as voters go to the polls in one of the most fraught Dutch elections in years.

8.40pm GMT update – Mr Wilders has said Mr Asscher “let in those Turks who were rioting last weekend, you let in those reioting refugees in asylum shelters, YOU did that”.

Mr Asscher, attacked Mr Wilders, saying: “The only thing, you, Mr Wilders, is tweeting all day long and only point at the minorities in our society.

Mr Wilders hit out at Mr Asscher, saying: “Let’s make a deal.

“If you want to tackle crime you should deport those foreigners who rape, commit crime and laugh at our police.”

8.30pm GMT update – And Geert Wilders is on. He’s debating with Lodewijk Asscher, of the PvdA Labour Party.

Populist candidate Mr Wilders, said: “What’s funny is that your party is using slogans by the Muslim party DENK.

“The Netherlands is not for everyone, the Netherlands is for the Dutch.

“And your party makes our own Dutch people feel not at home.”

Mr Asscher has accused him of only wanting a Netherlands without the Turkish, without the Muslims, without the refugees.

He added: “I am here for everyone.”

8.15pm GMT update – There is a general anti-EU feeling building up, with Emile Roemer, leader of the Socialist Party, said: “I’m an opponent of the EU. I want a more sovereign country.

“I don’t want a bureaucrat in Brussels leading our country.”

8.10pm GMT update – Jesse Klaver, leader of left wing party, GroenLinks and Sybrand Buma of the centre CDA party are debating.

30-year-old Mr Klaver has accused Mr Buma of being “the problem here”.

He said: “We live in a world where Trump is in power and Brexit has just happened, we don’t need populism.”

8pm GMT update – Jan Roos, journalist and leader of For the Netherlands Party (VNL), a splinter group of populist Geert Wilders’ PVV party, has gone in guns blazing.

He said: “Prime Minister Rutte made a deal with the Devil (Erdogan). We should have never made that deal.”

7.45pm GMT update – Tonight’s final debate has kicked off. A total of 13 party leaders are taking part, with the smaller parties going first and the larger parties second. 

It is expected to last two hours. We will be giving you updates throughout.

Geert WildersNC

Geert Wilders went in guns blazing with his anti-Islam stance

5pm GMT update – One new poll, from I&O Research, shows Mr Wilders falling all the way back to fifth place with just 16 seats. 

But another poll put Mr Wilders in third place with 20 seats, just behind the VVD at 29 seats and the Christian Democrats at 23 seats.  

2pm GMT update – The leader of the Christian Democrats has crept up behind the two main contenders – Mr Wilders and Mr Rutte – in the latest poll of polls.

Sybrand Buma’s Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) is just a point behind Mr Wilders’ PVV and four behind the Mr Rutte’s VVD with just a day to go. 

Mr Buma said that all the pre-election talk had been that the campaign would centre on a rivalry between Mr Wilders and Mr Rutte.  

“What’s left of that dual?” he asked Reuters. “We are getting stronger every day and the chance that we are the biggest on election day is very real, and no one is expecting it.”


A new poll puts Mr Wilders in third place with 20 seats, just behind the VVD and Christian De

Dutch Poll Indicator

This is the latest prediction from the Dutch Poll Indicator

1.30am GMT update: Mr Wilders has been mocked on German television by a comedian who referred to World War Two during a rant about his policies.

Heute Show host Oliver Welke said: “Wilders is very proud of the fact that his so-called election manifesto fits onto one page. 

“This is it. Not even printed on both sides, only on the front. What does it say? ‘We want the Netherlands back.’ 

“Weird, I was sure we gave it back to you in 1945, but hey, I will double check that later.”

1pm GMT update: BMO currency strategist Stephen Gallo said the stronger dollar is weighing on European currencies because the “political outlook for Europe is so uncertain”.

He said: “The worry is that PVV will do better in Holland on Wednesday than what’s already priced in (and) you’ve got these tensions in the UK because of the Article 50 trigger.” 

11am GMT update: The Dutch Polling Indicator, which combines Dutch polls, shows that the Prime Minister’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) remains in the lead. 

Its new poll average put the VVD at 17 per cent, three percentage points ahead of the PVV at 14 per cent with just two days to go before the election. 

Economist Intelligence Unit analyst Pepijn Bergsen said that it was the first Dutch Polling Indicator poll of polls since the Netherlands’ spat with Turkey. 

Mr Bergsen said that the latest poll showed a “small bump for VVD and PVV at the expense of their centrist chasers”. 

10.40am GMT update: There are fears that euro could fall this week if Mr Wilders win the election in the Netherlands. 

3.30am GMT update: Turkey has banned the Dutch ambassador from returning to Ankara and suspended diplomatic talks as the war of words between the nations escalates.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister, Numan Kurtulmus, said: “The Dutch government’s conduct is unacceptable by any standards.

“This tension, this crisis, this chaos — whatever you call it — it is not us who caused it.

“Turkey will not suffer from this. Turkey protects its rights and dignity, but I would like to stress that it is the Netherlands and many other European countries that will bear the brunt.”

Geert Wilders is taking on Mark Rutte in a TV debate on Monday

Monday, March 13

7.45pm GMT update: Minutes after the debate finishes, Turkey files a case at the European Court of Human Rights over the Dutch Government banning the Turkish foreign minister from the Netherlands.

7.30pm GMT update: Things are getting heated during the debate. The PM, said: “I will not govern with you, no, never, no.”

Mr Wilders just replied with: “People don’t believe you.”

7pm GMT update: The debate has turned to immigration and Dutch identity, with Mr Rutte accusing Mr Wilders of using “voodoo numbers” on immigration and saying closing borders is a “fake solution”.

Mr Wilders has hit back in his well-known anti-immigration style, saying there is “no place for Islam” in the Netherlands.

Mr Rutte said: “We don’t look at people’s religion, we look at people’s behaviour.”

6.45pm GMT update: Mr Rutte has told the audience the Dutch have the “best health care in Europe”, which Mr Wilders is turning into a migrant issues, saying 130,000 asylum seekers receive free health care.

He said: “You, Mr Rutte, are not Prime Minister of the Netherlands, but Prime Minister of foreigners.”

6.15pm GMT update: Mr Wilders is not holding back – he has now accused Mr Rutte of lying to the Dutch voters for the past five years.

6pm GMT update: The pair have been flinging insults at each other from the offset.

Mr Wilders has accused the PM of scaremongering over Brexit, saying the UK is “doing better than the rest”.

5.30pm GMT update: The televised debate between Mr Wilders and Mr Rutte has begun at Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

4.50pm GMT update: The Dutch Polling Indicator, which combines Dutch polls, shows that the Prime Minister’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) is in the lead. 

Its latest poll average put the VVD at 16 per cent, three percentage points ahead of the PVV at 13 per cent with just two days to go before the election. 

4.30pm GMT update: Mr Wilders made a “mistake” with his lavish praise for Donald Trump which has severely dented his chances of winning, a top pollster has told

And Tim de Beer, a senior analyst at Kantar TNS polling company, said: “Wilders made a mistake backing Trump. People didn’t like that.”

4pm GMT update: Mr Rutte has admitted Geert Wilders has a “real” chance of winning the upcoming election.

The Prime Minister said a victory for Wilders’ party, the PVV, would “send a signal to the rest of the world” and urged voters to stop “the wrong populism”. 

Mr Rutte said: “There is a real risk that on March 16 we can wake up in this country and Geert Wilders is leading the biggest party and that will send a signal to the rest of the world.” 

2pm GMT update: The latest poll found that the VVD has taken the lead in the polls and is expected to win 24 seats, two more than the PVV.

1pm GMT update: Mr Wilders has called the Netherlands’ ethnic Turks to be stripped of their dual citizenship or go back to Turkey unless they reject Mr Erdogan’s remarks. 

He said: “Are they loyal to Holland? Then they should reject the remarks of President Erdogan and they are as equal as anybody else.

“But if today proves in the coming days that they support the crazy and harsh remarks of Mr Erdogan then I invite them all to leave Holland, to go to Turkey and never come back because then their loyalty is not to Holland, but to the Turkish Republic.”

Noon GMT update: A snap poll by Maurice de Hond, released on Sunday evening, showed 86 percent of Dutch voters approved of Mr Rutte’s handling of the Turkish issue.

“In times when the nation is hit by something like this, there’s the inclination for people to get behind the government,” said Hans Gosling, political commentator at Dutch newspaper Trouw.

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Tensions flare between Turkey and the Netherlands

Events in the usually peaceful European country of the Netherlands are getting a lot of attention these days.


Riots in Rotterdam recently were sparked by the Dutch government’s blocking of Turkish officials entering Holland to rally expat voters for an upcoming Turkish referendum. Officials here say they did it in the name of security.

Turkish President Erdogan blasted the action. He branded the Dutch “Nazi remnants.” He slapped them with diplomatic sanctions and threatened more.


Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, campaigning in The Hague before Wednesday’s parliamentary vote, defended his actions to Fox News.   

“This depends on Turkey,” he said. “We didn’t seek this fight.”

Some say his bold actions are a response to the tougher talk from the far-right anti-Muslim populist politician Geert Wilders.   Positions ranging from closing mosques to blocking Muslim immigrants to the Netherlands leaving the European Union have touched a chord with the Dutch public. Some polls had showed his Freedom party taking a lead in the upcoming vote, making officials here nervous.

“I am absolutely convinced for the Netherlands and for the people,” Rutte told Fox News, “Geert Wilders doesn’t solve the problems.”

His standing has slipped recently. And with other parties refusing to go into coalition with him, he probably won’t govern. But he is being felt.  

“He has an impact without being in government,” Dutch political reporter Laurens Bowen said. “Because he influences other parties on immigration, on border control, and on refugees.”

The populist message of the man some call the “Dutch Donald Trump” can also be heard in the campaigns of upcoming elections across Europe. Some say it has already been heard…across the pond.

Greg Palkot currently serves as a London-based senior foreign affairs correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 1998 as a correspondent. Follow him on Twitter@GregPalkot.

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Pirates test Trump: Tanker hijacked off Somalia patrolled by US' 5th Fleet – VIDEO: At least 8 crew members onboard ship

Pirates have hijacked an oil tanker off the coast of Somalia, Somali officials and piracy experts said Tuesday, in the first hijacking of a large commercial vessel there since 2012.

The area where the hijacking occured is overseen by the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, which is based in Bahrain.

It was not immediately clear what the pirates’ intentions are, but it may become one of the Trump administration’s first international tests.

The Aris 13 on Monday reported being approached by two skiffs, John Steed with the organization Oceans Beyond Piracy said. The ship had been carrying fuel from Djibouti to Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, Steed said.

An official in the semiautonomous state of Puntland said over two dozen men boarded the ship off Somalia’s northern coast. Another Puntland official said the ship was being moved toward the coast. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

A Britain-based spokeswoman for the European Union Naval Force operation off Somalia, Flt. Lt. Louise Tagg, confirmed that an incident involving an oil tanker had occurred and an investigation was underway.

An official said no ransom demand had been made.

“The vessel’s captain reported to the company they were approached by two skiffs and that one of them they could see armed personnel on board,” the official said. “The ship changed course quite soon after that report and is now anchored.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity as no one was authorized to speak publicly about the incident.

It was not immediately clear who owned the ship or there it was flagged. Steed said it was UAE-owned and Sri Lankan-flagged, but the Middle East-based official said it was Greek-owned and Comoros-flagged with plans to re-flag it to Sri Lanka.

Piracy off Somalia’s coast was once a serious threat to the global shipping industry. It has lessened in recent years after an international effort to patrol near the country, whose weak central government has been trying to assert itself after a quarter-century of conflict.

But frustrations have been rising among local fishermen, including former pirates, at what they say are foreign fishermen illegally fishing in local waters.

Salad Nur, an elder in Alula, a coastal town in Puntland, told the AP by telephone that young fishermen including former pirates have hijacked the ship.

“They have been sailing through the ocean in search for a foreign ship to hijack since yesterday morning and found this ship and boarded it,” he said. “Foreign fishermen destroyed their livelihoods and deprived them of proper fishing.”

Somali pirates usually hijack ships and crew for ransom. They don’t normally kill hostages unless they come under attack, including during rescue attempts.

This would be the first commercial pirate attack off Somalia since 2012, Steed said.

A United Nations report seen by the AP in November said it had been almost three years since Somali pirates successfully hijacked a large commercial vessel, but they retain the capacity and intent to resume the attacks and lately have shifted to targeting smaller foreign fishing boats.

The EU force website currently lists no vessels or hostages held by pirates.

Concerns about piracy off Africa’s coast have largely shifted to the Gulf of Guinea.

The Associated Press contributed to this report 

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Texas woman uses social media to give homeless man new lease on life

Victor Hubbard spent three years on the corner of El Camino and Nasa Roads in Clear Lake, Texas – waiting for his mother to return to collect him. But with some help from a local chef and some online generosity, the homeless and mentally-ill man now has a job, medical help and a roof over his head.


In late December, owner of Clear Lake’s Art of the Meal Ginger Sprouse created the Facebook page “This is Victor” and a GoFundMe page of the same name to share the story of Hubbard, documenting about how she wanted to learn his story and do something positive for someone who had become a close friend.

“Hundreds of people drive past him every week and wonder what in the world his story might be. He is a sweet, gentle man that happens to be mentally ill,” Sprouse wrote. “If you have ever heard the expression ‘falling through the cracks’ he is the definition.”


She went on to encourage the community to “come together” to find Hubbard the help he needs.

“That is priority one, once we get him stable in that regard it is my desire to see him in a peaceful home with friends to support him,” Sprouse continued. “Even a job.”

And in just over two months, Sprouse’s ongoing GoFundMe page managed to exceed its $15,000 goal – raising almost $18,500 – with 428 donors. Those funds this month gave Hubbard food, clothes, prescriptions and access to medical and mental facilities, and Sprouse has since personally hired him to ensure he won’t return to the streets.

But perhaps the greatest development came three days ago, when he was reunited with his mother.

“I got to talk to her,” Hubbard told KHOU. “And I really feel like I accomplished something.”

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Rep. Barton tells man to 'shut up' at heated town hall

Things got heated at a town hall meeting in Texas between constituents and Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Barton after the congressman told a man in the audience to “shut up.”

According to the Dallas News, the back-and-forth began with a man posing a question to Barton about pledging to support the Violence Against Women Act.

“Given your voting record opposing legislation protecting women from violence, will you make a commitment to us today, make a promise, that you will reach out to Congresswoman Jackie Speier and work with her to see this bill successfully through Congress,” the man asked.

Barton, who represents Arlington and some surrounding areas, drew some jeers when he referred to the matter as an issue for states, not the federal government, to address.

“It’s violence against women, that’s a national issue. That is an issue that impacts everyone everywhere,” an unidentified second man yelled back.

The tensions then escalated further when Barton said, “You, sir, shut up.”

The comment drew many angry messages toward Barton on his Facebook page. But one liberal audience member said he didn’t think the answer should be used as a “gotcha moment” against Barton.

Kirk Lee wrote: 

The “shut up” came when a gentleman asked a question, crowd didn’t like the answer, and he was trying to shout over a chorus of boos. I believe Rep. Barton was embarrassed by it and it was not representative of his attitude as a whole. I know if I had been in his shoes I would have said much worse. FYI, I did not vote for him, don’t intend to vote for him but this should not be a “gotcha” moment to used against him as representative of how his town hall went.

Watch the town hall video above.

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US State Dept. warns college students against spring break travel to Mexico

The U.S. State Department is warning college students across the country not to spend spring break in certain parts of Mexico, where rampant crime has made travel dangerous for Americans.

The warning comes as students are finishing up midterm exams and heading out in search of warmer climes, salty margaritas and wild parties. But Mexico, once among the most popular spring break destinations, is plagued with endemic levels of violence, according to the government.

“U.S. citizens have been the victims of violent crimes, including homicide, kidnapping, carjacking and robbery in various Mexican States,” the State department travel warning stated.

More on this…

The warning, which replaces one issued last April, specifically cautions travelers of the dangers in 14 of Mexico’s 31 states, including the popular spring break destinations of Baja California Sur, Guerrero and Nayarit.

“The state of Guerrero was the most violent state in Mexico in 2015 for the third year in a row, and self-defense groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero,” the warning says of the state that is home to the popular beachside city of Acapulco. “Armed members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and, although not considered hostile to foreigners or tourists, are suspicious of outsiders and should be considered volatile and unpredictable.”

Acapulco has taken over from the northern border city of Ciudad Juárez to become one of the centers of Mexico’s bloody drug war. The city suffers from being a strategically located drug trafficking hub on Guerrero’s Pacific coastal highway, while mass tourism simultaneously provides gangs with a profitable local market for drugs.

It is also unfortunate to be the largest city in Guerrero state, Mexico’s prime location for opium production and one of the most violent regions in the country, notorious for the disappearance of 43 students in 2014 and a seemingly incessant wave of violence and social unrest.

In 2009, the city still attracted as many as 30,000 American spring breakers, but only two years later that number had dropped to barely 500.

Despite the travel warnings in places like Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico’s tourism industry is booming. 

Mexico ranked No. 9 among the world’s top 10 most visited countries in 2016 with 11.44 million international tourists visiting the country, and increase 9.9 percent from last year

Millions of Americans visit Mexico each year – including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day, the State Department says. The Mexican government has dedicated substantial resources to protecting major tourist destinations, the State Department says, and generally these areas do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime that are seen along the border or major drug trafficking routes.

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White House distances itself from King comments

The White House on Tuesday distanced itself from Republican Rep. Steve King’s inflammatory comments about immigrants, as Democrats pressed House GOP leaders to punish the Iowa lawmaker by stripping him of a chairmanship.

King said this weekend that America can’t restore “our civilization with somebody else’s babies” and warned of a liberal effort to destroy Western civilization through immigration. Questioned about the comments, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said President Donald Trump “believes that this is not a point of view that he shares.”

“He believes he’s the president for all Americans, and so I’ll leave it at that,” Spicer told reporters at his daily briefing.

King was a strong supporter of Trump in the 2016 campaign and backed the candidate’s tough stand on immigration.

In a statement Tuesday, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Speaker Paul Ryan and other GOP leaders should immediately take the chairmanship of a House Judiciary subcommittee from King.

“Where are Speaker Ryan and the GOP leadership?” asked Pelosi, D-Calif. “Does their silence mean Congressman Steve King’s vile racism is acceptable? House Republicans think they can keep quiet, but their contempt for the great diversity of our nation is being heard loud and clear.”

Several Republicans and Democrats criticized King for his comments, with Ryan saying he disagreed with the remarks.

“We’re a melting pot. My family’s here because the potatoes stopped growing in Ireland,” he told Fox News Monday night. “The American idea is this beautiful idea which is there for everyone, which is that the condition of your birth doesn’t determine your outcome in life.”

Ryan said he hadn’t spoken with King. “I’d like to think he misspoke and it wasn’t really meant the way it sounds and hopefully he’s clarified that,” said the Wisconsin Republican.

King stood by his comments in a Monday CNN interview in which he also said, “If you go down the road a few generations or maybe centuries with the intermarriage, I’d like to see an America that (is) so homogenous that we look a lot the same from that perspective.”

King’s initial comments on Twitter were part of a tribute to Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician who opposes immigration and has spoken against Islam. It came as the Dutch prepared for an election for prime minister.

King is known for making racially charged commentary. Last year, at the Republican National Convention, King questioned contributions to civilization by nonwhites. In 2013, he described children in the country illegally as having “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

Later Monday, in an interview with Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson on 1040 WHO, King said blacks and Hispanics will be battling each other before whites become the minority in the United States.

King was responding to Univision’s Jorge Ramos’ comments about changes in the U.S. demographic in the next decades.

“When you start accentuating the differences, then you start ending up with people that are at each other’s throats. And he’s adding up Hispanics and blacks into what he predicts will be in greater number than whites in America. I will predict that Hispanics and the blacks will be fighting each other before that happens,” King said.

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