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Joe Biden announces 2020 presidential bid; Trump reacts

Joe Biden announces 2020 presidential bid; Trump reacts

Former Vice President Joe Biden announced Thursday that he is running for president. >> PREVIOUS STORY: Joe Biden to announce 2020 presidential bid Thursday, reports say The Delaware Democrat made his candidacy official in an online campaign video Thursday morning.  >> Watch the video here “The core values of this nation … our standing in the world … our very democracy ... everything that has made America – America – is at stake,” Biden tweeted at 6 a.m. Thursday. “That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for President of the United States.” >> See the tweet here Biden also unveiled his campaign website. Check it out here.  Here are the latest updates: Update 8:24 a.m. EDT April 25: President Donald Trump responded to Biden’s announcement in a tweet Thursday morning. “Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe,” Trump tweeted. “I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign. It will be nasty – you will be dealing with people who truly have some very sick & demented ideas. But if you make it, I will see you at the Starting Gate!” >> See the tweet here Update 7:07 a.m. EDT April 25: Former President Barack Obama’s spokeswoman released a statement early Thursday following Biden’s announcement. “President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made,” Obama spokeswoman Katie Hill said. “He relied on the Vice President’s knowledge, insight and judgment throughout both campaigns and the entire presidency. The two forged a special bond over the last 10 years and remain close today.” >> See the statement here Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., endorsed Biden in a statement. “We are at a crucial moment in our history,” Coons’ statement read. “We need leaders who will bring us together instead of tearing us apart, who will focus on the real issues facing American families, and who will restore the United States’ role in the world as a force for stability, freedom and human rights. Joe Biden is that leader, and I’m proud to endorse him for President of the United States.” >> Read the statement here U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., also endorsed Biden. “At this make-or-break moment for our middle class, our children and our workers, America needs Vice President Joe Biden to be its next President,” the statement read. “Joe Biden has spent a lifetime fighting battles on behalf of hardworking Americans while ensuring America’s values and interests are represented abroad. As both a U.S. Senator and our Vice President, he has delivered results for the middle class, kept our country safe and strengthened our standing in the world.” >> Read the full statement here Original story: A fundraiser for Biden, who is originally from Scranton, Pennsylvania, also is scheduled Thursday evening in Philadelphia, Politico reported Tuesday.  On Monday, Biden, 76, will make an appearance at a Pittsburgh union hall for his first campaign event, NBC News reported. >> Is Joe Biden running for president in 2020? Biden, who served in the U.S. Senate from 1973 to 2009, unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1988 and 2008. This time, he joins a packed field of 20 Democratic candidates vying to take on Republican President Donald Trump. Biden consistently has performed well in recent polls. In a national survey of Democrats released by Monmouth University this week, Biden led the field with 27% support, The Hill reported. He's also leading the Democratic pack in the RealClearPolitics polling average, with 29% support.  >> Read more trending news  But the Monmouth poll found that Biden's favorability rating dropped from 76% in March to to 72% this month, according to The Hill. The drop came as multiple women came forward to accuse him of inappropriate contact. >> Joe Biden responds after multiple women accuse him of inappropriate behavior 'I will be more mindful and respectful of people's personal space, and that's a good thing, that's a good thing,” he said earlier this month. “I’ve worked my whole life to empower women. I've worked my whole life to prevent abuse, I've written, and so the idea that I can't adjust to the fact that personal space is important – more important than it's ever been – is just not thinkable. I will. I will.”

New lanes coming for I-285, putting some neighborhoods on edge

New lanes coming for I-285, putting some neighborhoods on edge

Georgia is moving ahead with plans for toll lanes on the northern half of I-285 — and some residents fear the highway expansion will come right through their neighborhoods. The Georgia Department of Transportation plans to add up to two lanes in each direction on the northern half of the Perimeter, with construction beginning in 2022. When the arc is completed six years later, it could slash travel times for hundreds of thousands of metro Atlanta commuters. But commuters’ gains may come at the expense of property owners along the expansion route. GDOT expects to acquire or obtain easements for about 300 parcels for a key segment of the expansion, from Paces Ferry Road in Cobb County to Henderson Road in DeKalb County. The agency may buy some parcels entirely while taking just a portion of others. But it’s unclear which properties will be affected. That has residents worried about noise, lost property and declining values for homes that remain. They want details about GDOT’s plans, though it could be months before the information is solid enough to give them the answers they want. “I feel like it’s a governmental process that nobody has any control over,” said Samantha Nowak of Dunwoody, who lives just north of I-285. Such concerns are escalating as GDOT seeks to address metro Atlanta’s traffic mess by widening highways in highly developed areas. In addition to the Perimeter, GDOT will add toll lanes along Ga. 400, where it expects to buy about 40 homes, mostly in Sandy Springs. Spokeswoman Natalie Dale said GDOT tries to avoid buying property for highway projects because it makes them more expensive. But in corridors as narrow and developed as the Perimeter, it has little choice. “When you look at the top end (of I-285), you’re looking at a very unique situation,” Dale said. More than 240,000 motorists a day see plenty of the top end of the Perimeter. It’s one of the busiest and most congested stretches of highway in the Southeast. To address the problem, GDOT is rebuilding the I-285 interchange at Ga. 400. It also will rebuild the I-285 interchanges at I-20 east and west of Atlanta. And it’s building toll lanes — or “express lanes” — along the top half of I-285, from I-20 on the east to I-20 on the west. The project is so big GDOT will break it into three segments. First, it will add one express lane in each direction on the east side of the Perimeter between I-20 and Henderson Road. Construction on that $784 million segment is expected to begin in 2022. The state also will add one lane in each direction on the west side of the Perimeter, from I-20 to Paces Ferry Road. Work on that $423 million segment is set to begin in 2023. That same year, GDOT expects to begin work on the $4.6 billion “top end” segment, which will feature two lanes in each direction from Paces Ferry Road to Henderson Road. The project also will include express lanes on Ga. 400 from the Perimeter to the North Springs MARTA station. When completed, the new Perimeter lanes will serve as the hub of a 120-mile network of metro Atlanta toll lanes. More than half of that network is already finished — including lanes on I-75 and I-575 northwest of Atlanta, on I-85 northeast of the city and I-75 to the south. The lanes have been a hit with many commuters. Since their opening in September, the I-75/I-575 lanes in Cobb and Cherokee counties have cut some residents’ commute times by up to 45 minutes. Traffic in the “free” lanes also is moving faster. “The improvement has been incredible,” said Ron Sifen, a Cobb community advocate who follows transportation issues. “Every day, people have a faster trip time.” Sifen believes motorists who travel the Perimeter and Ga. 400 will see a similar benefit when those lanes open. But that’s not much consolation for some who live near the highways. In Nowak’s neighborhood, residents fear homes and amenities such as the Georgetown Recreation Club — with its pool and tennis courts — could be lost to highway expansion. But the fate of specific properties is far from certain. Dale said the design of the express lanes is in its early stages. When preliminary work is done early next year, GDOT plans to hold hearings to seek public feedback. With that input, GDOT will do more design work, with an eye toward unveiling more specific plans by 2022. The public will get a chance to comment then, too. But some properties are likely to be purchased no matter what the design looks like. Dale said GDOT has already begun reaching out to some of those property owners. The lack of specifics has some residents on edge. Last week more than 50 people attended a meeting on the Perimeter express lanes at Brookhaven City Hall — many of them from neighborhoods just south of the highway. “The overarching concern is quality of life,” Brookhaven City Councilwoman Linley Jones told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s not just the taking of property, but intrusion into their peaceful enjoyment of their homes.” Dale said GDOT is sensitive to homeowners’ concerns. She said the agency spent years studying ways to improve traffic in the I-285 corridor. She said it will take care as it finalizes its design. And she said the agency will meet with neighborhood organizations and other groups to provide information as its available — even if it’s not information property owners want to hear. “We don’t shy away from having the hard conversations,” Dale said. “We understand what it means to people.”

More ground beef recalled over possible E. coli contamination

More ground beef recalled over possible E. coli contamination

Just one day after a Georgia company recalled more than 110,000 pounds of ground beef over possible E. coli contamination, another meat-packing plant has followed suit. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, Franklin Park, Illinois-based Grant Park Packing issued a recall Wednesday for more than 53,000 pounds of bulk raw ground beef produced Oct. 30 to Nov. 1, 2018, then shipped to Minnesota for distribution and Kentucky for institutional use. >> On USDA.gov: Read the complete recall notice here The recalled meat, which may be contaminated with E. coli O103 bacteria, is labeled 'North Star Imports & Sales, LLC. 100% GROUND BEEF BULK 80% LEAN/ 20% FAT' and comes in 40-pound cardboard boxes, the FSIS said in a news release. The products are marked 'FOR INSTITUTIONAL USE ONLY' and include lot code GP.1051.18, establishment No. EST. 21781 and pack dates 10/30/2018, 10/31/2018 and 11/01/2018. >> PREVIOUS STORY: E. coli fears prompt recall of 110,000 pounds of ground beef 'FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume ground beef that has been cooked to a temperature of 160°F,' the news release added. The recall came amid reports that an E. coli O103 outbreak has sickened 156 people in 10 states, including Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. 'Further testing is ongoing to determine if the recalled ground beef products are related to the E. coli O103 outbreak,' the FSIS said. 'Based on the continuing investigation, additional product may be recalled.' >> Read more trending news  The bacteria can cause diarrhea, vomiting and, in rare cases, a severe kidney infection called hemolytic uremic syndrome, according to the FSIS. Symptoms of the condition, which occurs more frequently in children and older adults, include pallor, easy bruising and a decrease in urine. For more information about the recall, call Grant Park Packing at 312-421-4096.

Contradicting ex-aide, Trump denies he ordered firing of Mueller Directly challenging the findings of the Mueller Report and the testimony of a former top aide, President Donald Trump on Thursday flatly denied that he ordered ex-White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller in 2017, just weeks after Mueller had been appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 elections. 'As has been incorrectly reported by the Fake News Media, I never told then White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Robert Mueller,' President Trump wrote on Twitter. The President's comments on Thursday were part of another series of social media volleys against the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, as Mr. Trump again proclaimed his exoneration by the Mueller Report, while at the same time disputing some of the evidence and conclusions. On Twitter, the President said, 'the end result was No Collusion, No Obstruction.' But the details of the Mueller Report paint a starkly different picture on the question of whether the President sought to fire Special Counsel Mueller, as Mr. Trump's claims run directly counter to the testimony of McGahn and other aides and advisers. McGahn, who reportedly spoke with investigators for 30 hours about the Russia investigation, testified that the President called him on June 17, 2017 - about a month after Mueller had been named as Special Counsel - and pressed for Mueller to be ousted, an order that McGahn repeatedly ignored. 'McGahn recalled the President telling him 'Mueller has to go' and 'Call me back when you do it,'' the Mueller report described on page 300. 'McGahn is a credible witness with no motive to lie or exaggerate given the position he held in the White House,' Mueller concluded, saying there was 'substantial evidence' that President Trump 'in fact directed McGahn to call (Rod) Rosenstein to have the Special Counsel removed.' The Mueller Report also says that after news reports surfaced in 2018 that the President had ordered the firing of Mueller, McGahn was asked to publicly dispute those reports - and McGahn refused. 'McGahn told (White House aide Rob) Porter that the President had been insistent on firing the Special Counsel,' as McGahn testified that he told Porter the media reports were true. McGahn testified that President Trump had talked of  'knocking out Mueller' as early as a May 23, 2017 telephone call, just days after Mueller had been named as the Special Counsel. The report says the President discussed firing Mueller with a number of people - not just McGahn - including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, as well as White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and top aide Steve Bannon. 'You gotta do this,' McGahn quoted the President as saying, as footnotes in the Mueller Report refer not only to McGahn's own notes and phone logs, but also calls listed in the 'President's Daily Diary.' The President's tweets came as the White House is reportedly raising objections to possible testimony before Congress by McGahn - the House Judiciary Committee has already sent McGahn a subpoena for a May 21 appearance. Democrats said the basic question is simple - either McGahn or the President is telling the truth - but not both of them. 'Trump now claims that White House Counsel Don McGahn lied under oath to the Special Counsel,' said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), as Democrats immediately questioned the President's claim about McGahn. 'And if you aren't lying, then why are you preventing Don McGahn from testifying?' tweeted Rep. Ted Lieu (D-VA).