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National

    A 91-year-old federal judge who recently stopped hearing cases due to health issues has been reported missing from his Pennsylvania home. The U.S. Marshals Service said it's looking for Edwin Kosik, who was last seen at his home outside Scranton around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. The Marshals Service said Kosik is driving a gray 2015 Acura with driver's side damage and may be 'at special risk of harm or injury.' The Marshals Service planned a news conference Thursday to discuss Kosik's disappearance. The (Scranton) Times-Tribune reported last month that Kosik would no longer hear cases because of health issues. The paper quoted his son, attorney Michael Kosik, as saying the judge had a difficult time recovering from broken ribs he suffered in two falls. Kosik became inactive but kept his chambers. He's still listed as a judge on the website of the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Kosik was appointed to the federal bench in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan. He's best known for presiding over the notorious 'kids for cash' case, in which two local judges were accused of taking money from the developer of a pair of for-profit detention centers. The judges pleaded guilty to federal charges, but Kosik rejected the deal, saying they hadn't fully accepted responsibility for the crimes. Kosik sentenced one judge to 17 1/2 years and the other judge to 28 years in prison.
  • After ethics questions were raised about the nature of her role in the White House, Ivanka Trump will officially become an employee of the federal government and will work as the “assistant to the president” for no pay. >> Read more trending news Last week, reports came out suggesting the first daughter would be getting a White House office, security clearance and government-issued phone as an informal adviser without an official job title. Concerns over the unidentified description of her role and potential conflicts of interest prompted Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Tom Carper (D-DE) to send a letter to the Office of Government Ethics. RELATED: Ivanka Trump shared the sweetest message for her youngest baby in honor of his first birthday “Ms. Trump’s increasing, albeit unspecified, White House role, her potential conflicts of interest, and her commitment to voluntarily comply with relevant ethics and conflict of interest laws have resulted in substantial confusion,” the letter read. In response, Ivanka Trump provided a statement obtained by The New York Times, in which she addresses the confusion and announced her new position. “I have heard the concerns some have with my advising the president in my personal capacity while voluntarily complying with all ethics rules, and I will instead serve as an unpaid employee in the White House office, subject to all of the same rules as other federal employees,” she said. “Throughout this process I have been working closely and in good faith with the White House counsel and my personal counsel to address the unprecedented nature of my role.” The White House also addressed the news, with a spokeswoman for President Trump saying, “We are pleased that Ivanka Trump has chosen to take this step in her unprecedented role as first daughter and in support of the president. Ivanka’s service as an unpaid employee furthers our commitment to ethics, transparency and compliance and affords her increased opportunities to lead initiatives driving real policy benefits for the American public that would not have been available to her previously.”
  • The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday denied a petition by environmental groups that sought to ban a common pesticide used on citrus fruits, apples, cherries and other crops, reversing a proposal by the Obama administration to revoke all uses of the pesticide on food. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said that by not banning chlorpyrifos the agency is providing 'regulatory certainty' to thousands of American farms that rely on the pesticide. 'By reversing the previous Administration's steps to ban one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, we are returning to using sound science in decision-making - rather than predetermined results,' Pruitt said. The pesticide, in use since 1965, has sickened dozens of farmworkers in recent years. Traces have been found in waterways, threatening fish, and experts say overuse could make targeted insects immune to the pesticide. U.S. farms use more than 6 million pounds of the chemical each year — about 25 percent of it in California. The EPA banned home use of chlorpyrifos in 2000 and placed 'no-spray' buffer zones around sensitive sites, such as schools, in 2012. But environmental and public health groups said those proposals don't go far enough and filed a federal lawsuit seeking a national ban on the pesticide. Environmental groups said Pruitt's decision ignores overwhelming evidence that shows even small amounts of chlorpyrifos can interfere with brain development of fetuses, infants and children. 'EPA's refusal to ban this dangerous pesticide is unconscionable,' said Patti Goldman, the Earthjustice managing attorney handling the case. 'EPA is defying its legal obligation to protect children from unsafe pesticides. We will be going back and asking the court to order EPA to take action now, rather than in 5 more years.' In October 2015, the Obama administration proposed revoking the pesticide's use in response to a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Pesticide Action Network North America. The EPA said then that its analysis didn't suggest risks from exposure to chlorpyrifos in food. But when those exposures are combined with estimated exposure from drinking water in certain watersheds, 'EPA cannot conclude that the risk from aggregate exposure meets the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act safety standard,' it said. The EPA said Wednesday that the previous administration's proposal relied on a study 'whose application is novel and uncertain, to reach its conclusions.
  • The Sheriff's office in Snohomish County, Washington, is asking for the public's help to identify two men who robbed an Everett woman on Wednesday morning in her own home. According to police, the men broke into the home by kicking in the doors. >> Read more trending news  Once inside, the two confronted the victim and ripped off her jewelry. Anyone with information is asked to call at 425-388-5258.
  • A massive archive containing papers, drawings and models of work by Frank Gehry is getting a home in the adopted hometown of the world-renowned architect. The Getty Research Institute announced Tuesday that it has hundreds of thousands of sketches, drawings, models, photographs, slides and paperwork involving 283 projects that Gehry designed between 1954 and 1988. They include documents about Gehry's famous Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, a bouquet of shiny, curved metal blocks that was completed in 2003. Gehry 'contributed to the essential concepts which put Los Angeles and its particular architectural vision at the center of the global architectural discourse,' said Maristella Casciato, senior curator of architectural collections at the Getty Research Institute. The Frank Gehry Papers archive covers a period ranging from Gehry's early graduate studies at the University of Southern California to his winning 1988 entry in the Disney concert hall competition. 'It's hard to look at your work and to try to dictate what people will take away from it...for me these models and drawings represent a lot of work; a lot of trial and error; and a lot of my heart and soul,' Gehry said in an email to the Los Angeles Times (http://bit.ly/2nkPdRq). 'I guess my hope is for people to find some inspiration in all these efforts.' The archive includes 1,000 sketches, more than 120,000 working drawings, more than 100,000 slides, hundreds of boxes of office records, personal papers, and correspondence, 168 working models, and 112 presentation models, according to a press release from the institute. There also are digital files for some projects. Some material was purchased and some was donated, the Getty Research Institute said. The Canadian-born Gehry moved to Los Angeles in 1947 and opened an architectural practice there in 1962. His style has been characterized by the use of chain-link fencing and metal cladding and by forms that twist the traditional rectangular structure of buildings or flow and curve in non-linear shapes. His most famous works included the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain; the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, the Vitra Design Museum in Germany and his own home in Santa Monica.
  • Seattle filed a lawsuit Wednesday over President Donald Trump's executive order that threatens to withhold federal funds from communities that refuse to cooperate with efforts to find and deport immigrants in the country illegally. Mayor Ed Murray said the order issued in January punishing 'sanctuary cities' is unconstitutional and creates uncertainty around the city's budget. Other governments have sued Trump over the sanctuary issue. San Francisco filed a lawsuit earlier this year, also saying the order was unconstitutional. California's Santa Clara County and two Massachusetts cities with large Latino populations - Chelsea and Lawrence - have also taken legal action. The Justice Department said in a statement that 'the American people want and deserve a lawful immigration system that keeps us safe and serves our national interest' and that the federal government will enforce relevant laws. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated this week that the Justice Department would deny grant money to cities that violate a federal law dealing with information-sharing among local police and federal authorities. Sessions said the cities are making their communities unsafe. Murray challenged that claim. 'Apparently the Trump administration, their war on facts has now become a war on cities,' Murray said during a news conference. 'Let me be clear about the facts. We are not breaking any laws and we are prioritizing safety.' Under the order, Seattle could face at least $10.5 million in cuts to public safety programs, he said. Trump's order violates the constitution by trying to make local law enforcement enforce federal immigration law, Murray said. The order also makes communities less safe by forcing people underground, said City Attorney Pete Holmes. When people are marginalized and made to fear police, they are less likely to come forward as witnesses to crime, Murray said. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court asks a judge to declare that Seattle is in compliance with the law and that the executive order is unconstitutional under the 10th Amendment and the Spending Clause of the U.S. Constitution. 'This administration has created an atmosphere of anxiety in cities across America and has created chaos in our politics,' Murray said. 'It is time for cities to stand up and ask the courts to put an end to the anxiety in our communities and the chaos in our system.' __ Associated Press writer Sadie Gurman contributed from Washington __ Follow Martha Bellisle at https://twitter.com/marthabellisle
  • Twelve people were killed and three others were injured Wednesday when a pickup collided head-on with a van carrying 14 senior members of a New Braunfels, Texas, church on a two-lane highway north of Uvalde, authorities said. >> Read more trending news The crash happened 75 miles west of San Antonio, said Sgt. Conrad Hein of the Texas Department of Public Safety. It was unclear if the lone occupant of the pickup was among the dead or how many of the dead were among the 14 aboard the church van, Hein said. Information was unavailable on the extent of injuries for the other three people, who were taken to a hospital. The cause of the crash hasn’t been determined, Hein said. The collision happened at a major curve in the highway, according to the Uvalde Leader-News. That newspaper also reported that a woman said she called law enforcement about reckless driving involving one of the vehicles, but authorities didn’t arrive before the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board said it is investigating. The van was carrying members of First Baptist New Braunfels who were returning from the Alto Frio Baptist Camp and Conference Center in Leakey, about 9 miles north of the crash site. They had just finished a three-day retreat that included singing and Bible study. As the church learned of the crash Wednesday afternoon, it canceled its activities that evening and said the sanctuary would be open for prayer and support. A statement on the church’s Facebook page said it hadn’t received any official details from authorities, but the church was “ministering to family members to help them deal with this tragedy.” Counselors will be at the church Thursday to offer support, according to the Facebook post. “If you’re a Christian, you can pray for those who lost their loved ones and for the church family,” the Facebook post said. In a statement, Gov. Greg Abbott said he and his wife, Cecilia, extend their “deepest condolences to the victims and the families of those involved in today’s tragic event.” He said they are “saddened by the loss of life and our hearts go out to all those affected.”
  • The attorney general for the western Mexican state of Nayarit has been arrested in Southern California on charges of drug smuggling. An indictment unsealed in New York on Tuesday charges Edgar Veytia with conspiracy to smuggle cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine to the United States from January 2013 to last month. It provides no additional details on the allegations. Veytia is scheduled to appear in federal court in San Diego on Thursday to determine if he is eligible for bail. He returns April 11 for a hearing to determine if he will be sent to New York to face charges. Attorney Guadalupe Valencia says his client was arrested at the border with Mexico and is being held at a San Diego jail. He had no comment on the charges.
  • A homeowners association representing property owners at a downtown San Francisco high-rise sued the developers on Wednesday for failing to tell residents the condominium tower was sinking at an unexpected rate. The Millennium Tower homeowners association's lawsuit is the latest suit filed in a high-profile dispute over the sinking building that opened in 2009. Lawsuits involve the developer, the city and owners of the multimillion-dollar condos. But Daniel M. Petrocelli, the lead attorney representing the homeowners association, says California law gives homeowner associations sole authority to pursue damages for structural repairs and retrofits. So he says a fix can only be accomplished through the HOA's lawsuit. 'This is the only case that secures all the money it will take to fix the building and fix it once and for all,' said Petrocelli. The high-rise that opened its doors in 2009 has been dubbed the Leaning Tower of San Francisco. It has sunk about 16 inches into landfill and is tilting several inches to the northwest. The sinking has been uneven, creating a 2-inch tilt at the base and a roughly 6-inch lean at the top. A dispute over the building's construction in the seismically active city has spurred numerous lawsuits involving the developer, the city and owners of its multimillion dollar condos. Wednesday's suit comes just a few months after a group of 20 homeowners at the 58-story condominium tower sued developer Millennium Partners and multiple city agencies, alleging that both the builder and public officials knew about, but failed to disclose to buyers, evidence that the luxury high rise was sinking at an unexpected rate. The claim was filed against developer Millennium Partners, the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection, the city attorney and the Transbay Joint Powers Authority. 'We are disappointed and puzzled that the HOA board now is shifting gears to a disruptive strategy that leaves us no choice but to defend ourselves against false claims. The factual allegations in the Complaint are false, and we look forward to refuting them,' said P.J. Johnston, a spokesman for Millennium Partners. Separately, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera claims the building's developers knew about the problems but did not disclose the information to potential home buyers as required by law. Herrera filed a lawsuit against Mission Street Developers LLC in a cross-complaint of a previous lawsuit filed by homeowners against the Transbay Joint Powers Authority. The authority is building the new Transbay Transit Center next door. Herrera said an investigation showed that the developer knew by February 2009, before any condos were sold, that six inches was the maximum amount of settlement predicted for the tower by the project's geotechnical engineer. However, by the time the sleek, mirrored high-rise was completed around February 2008, it had already sunk by almost six inches. The developers have said the allegations by the city attorney have no merit. Spokesman PJ Johnston has said developers complied with all state and local laws regarding disclosure to potential buyers. When the Millennium Tower opened, it became a haven for the well-heeled, and all 419 condos quickly sold out. Tenants have included former San Francisco 49er Joe Montana, the late venture capitalist Tom Perkins and Giants outfielder Hunter Pence. The building has a sprawling indoor lap-pool, a health club and spa, an in-house cinema, and a restaurant and wine bar run by celebrity chef Michael Mina. Penthouses have sold for more than $13 million.
  • A small shuttle bus carrying Texas church members home from a retreat collided head-on with a pickup truck, killing 12 people and injuring three others Wednesday on a two-lane highway in southwestern Texas, officials said. All of the victims who died were senior adults who attended First Baptist Church of New Braunfels, Texas. A total of 14 senior adults were on the bus and the driver was the only person in the pickup when the vehicles collided about 12:30 p.m. on U.S. 83 outside Garner State Park in northern Uvalde County, according to Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Conrad Hein and a church statement. The area is about 75 miles (120.7 km) west of San Antonio. Hein said two other bus passengers and the pickup driver were injured and hospitalized. It was not immediately clear what caused the collision about 120 miles (193.1 km) from the church, where the members were headed. The National Transportation Safety Board has sent investigators to the scene, NTSB spokesman Terry Williams said. Photos and video of the crash's aftermath showed heavy damage to the front drivers' sides of both vehicles where it appeared the two had collided. The back of the bus was up on a guardrail, with glass and debris scattered onto the grass below. Hein said the small bus was a 2004 Turtle Top, though he did not know the specific model. Turtle Top's website features shuttle buses with capacities ranging from 17 to 51 passengers, which they bill as 'a great alternative to the standard 15-passenger van.' Safety concerns have long surrounded the 15-passenger vans, also frequently used by churches and other groups, with advocates saying they can be difficult to control in an emergency. Church officials said in a statement on the First Baptist website that the members were returning from a three-day retreat at the Alto Frio Baptist Encampment in Leakey, about 9 miles (14.5 km) north of where the crash happened. The church officials were 'ministering to family members to help them deal with this tragedy,' according to the statement. Counselors also were scheduled to be available Thursday at the church. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and his wife, Cecilia, offered their condolences in the hours after the crash. 'We are saddened by the loss of life and our hearts go out to all those affected,' their statement said. 'We thank the first responders working on the scene in the wake of this unimaginable tragedy, and ask that all Texans join us in offering their thoughts and prayers.