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Local Politics

    Eight establishments in Brookhaven could lose their liquor licenses because the city believes they fraudulently categorized themselves as restaurants instead of entertainment venues.  The city’s new Alcohol Code says any business with a DJ, dance floor or stage is an entertainment venue that must pay $100,000 to obtain liquor licenses needed to sell beer, wine and spirits.  By comparison, liquor licenses for restaurants is less than $6,000. All eight businesses received letters on April 18 after routine code enforcement visits earlier in the month. The letters said these establishments’ liquor licenses will be suspended for nine days starting on May 18. They must resubmit paperwork and pay the correct fees plus a $500 fine to get back in good standing. Earlier this year, four restaurants lost their appeal to remain designated as restaurants after Brookhaven attempted to force them to reclassify as entertainment venues and pay the $100,000 liquor license fee. Those companies have appealed further to the courts. The eight establishments who received letters on April 18 are: Acapulco Tropical Confetis Lounge Don Pollo Mexican Bar & Grill El Ocho Billiards La Casa Restaurant Bar & Lounge Nina’s Sports Bar & Grill Pegasus Restaurant & Lounge Arif Lounge
  • For the first time, federal prosecutors are seeking records of former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed in the sprawling federal investigation of City Hall corruption. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday received a copy of an April 6 subpoena from a federal grand jury seeking, among other things, Reed’s city-issued credit card statements and other information related to reimbursements made to Reed by taxpayers. The subpoena, which the city produced in response to a request made by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution under the Georgia Open Records Act, also seeks information associated with Partners For Prosperity, a non-profit organization that is a fundraising arm of Invest Atlanta, and its chief executive Eloisa Klementich. The subpoena follows AJC reporting in recent weeks that showed Reed had charged nearly $300,000 on his Atlanta credit card during his last three years in office, and reimbursed taxpayers $12,000 before his credit card statements were turned over to the AJC. The AJC also reported that Reed had the city transfer $40,000 of his unclaimed salary to Partners For Prosperity in December, which the organization then sent back to the city to cover costs related to a $90,000 trip to South Africa made in April. Read more about the subpoenas and reaction on MyAJC.com
  • Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has announced new policies that drastically reform how the city responds to requests made under the Georgia Open Records Act. The announcement came in a letter to the City Council dated Monday, and was made only days after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News filed a complaint with Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, alleging “a culture of political interference” with open records requests at Atlanta City Hall. The complaint, filed on Wednesday, outlines 10 examples of alleged violations of the Georgia Open Records Act dating back to July 2016. The media outlets seek mediation through Carr’s office to create enforcement measures to ensure compliance. Bottoms’ new open records policy appears to incorporate some of the suggestions in the AJC and Channel 2 Action News complaint, including establishing an official records custodian and mandatory open records training for all city employees. It also requires that all employees be subject to disciplinary action for failing to comply with the policy, which Bottoms says will be implemented immediately.
  • A 74-year-old Lawrenceville man and his dog were killed in a house fire Sunday, according to Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services. A neighbor called 911 Sunday morning to report what sounded like an explosion followed by flames and smoke pouring from the house on the 80 block of Bleeker Street. Eventually, firefighters located the body of Felix Henry Hayes and one of his two dogs. The other dog was found alive. Hayes was the only person home at the time, as his wife was away visiting an adult daughter. He was found lying on the floor near the back door, fire Capt. Tommy Rutledge confirmed Monday. The Gwinnett medical examiner said Tuesday that Hayes died of smoke inhalation. The fire appears to have started in the corner of a garage that had been converted into a living room, Rutledge said. The smoke alarms apparently did not work. Rutledge said medical oxygen tanks and a space heater were found in the debris. In other news:
  • A 19-year-old woman accused of faking an emergency to carry out a violent invasion of a Cobb family’s home has been arrested, according to Channel 2 Action News.  Cobb police told Channel 2’s Chris Jose that Amanda Tanks was one of three people caught on camera breaking into the Vinings Estates house on March 26.  A woman, whom authorities believe to be Tanks, can be seen in the video asking for money for an abortion. The resident of the home and her two children were home at the time and eventually opened the door, at which point two masked men with guns forced their way in. The woman and her children managed to escape to a neighbor’s house and call 911.  The two men believed to be accomplices are still at large.  
  • Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Tuesday unveiled her plan to create an online portal through which citizens can track city spending. Called Atlanta’s Open Checkbook, Bottoms said the system has largely been built out and should be operational within two months. She said it will allow residents to review spending on vendors, by departments, or by individual city officials who charge expenses to taxpayers. “The public information belongs to the public,” Bottoms said. Chief Operating Officer Richard Cox said the system will work on mobile devices and a variety of search engine browsers. “You’ll be able to dig into any area of Atlanta government that you deem appropriate,” said Cox, who is on loan for a year from Cox Enterprises, which is covering his salary and benefits. Cox Enterprises owns The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Key figure in bribery scandal gets jail time The announcement was made during a press conference one day after Bottoms asked for the resignation letters of 26 high-level city officials, from police chief Erika Sheilds and airport general manager Roosevelt Council Jr. to city attorney Jeremy Berry and watershed commissioner Kishia Powell. The press conference was held in the atrium at City Hall, with hundreds of employees watching from the walkways around all five floors. Bottoms declined to say which, if any, resignations have been accepted. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported that communications director Anne Torres no longer works for the city. “The past several months have been a very challenging time for the city of Atlanta,” Bottoms said. “The theme for the week is speak softly and carry a big stick.”
  • Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Monday told her cabinet members that she wants their resignations by the end of the day. A city official said that Bottoms has also told her cabinet — a group that includes 35 top city officials — that she will decide by the end of the week whose resignations she will accept and whose she will decline. That official, who is not being identified because he doesn’t have the authority to speak publicly about the meeting, was asked to resign. COMPLETE COVERAGE: Atlanta City Hall shakeup Who was on the list of those asked for resignations? New portal will allow citizens to track Atlanta spending  Bribery charges expose depth of corruption facing Atlanta’s new mayor Bottoms won a narrow victory in the Dec. 5 runoff against Mary Norwood, partly because former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed endorsed her. After Bottoms took office in January, she informed all of Reeds’ former staff members that they could remain on the job for roughly 90 days while she got to know them better. That period is now over. It’s unclear if Bottoms has already made decisions about who she will retain. But there were hints. On Monday, the city-issued cell phone of Communications Director Anne Torres appeared to be no longer in service. A message said the number had been “changed, disconnected, or no longer working.” More from Atlanta City Hall:
  • The state that produced the oldest man ever to run for president now has the youngest person ever to run for governor. >> Read more trending news Bernie Sanders turned 75 two months before the 2016 presidential election. Ethan Sonneborn is 13 and an eighth-grader who is running for governor. Now. There is no minimum age to run for governor in Vermont, so Sonenborn is officially the youngest candidate for that office in state history, CNN reported. Sonneborn is running as a Democrat and will face two other candidates in the party’s primary election in August. The winner will face incumbent Gov. Phil Scott, 59, a Republican. The teen’s platform will focus on stricter gun control legislation an issue he has stressed since announcing his candidacy in 2017, CNN reported. 'I'll admit when I first heard about a 13-year-old running, I thought, 'Is this some kid from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, spoiled?' But that's not the case,' Vermont Democratic Party Executive Director Conor Casey told CNN. 'Ethan really did embrace the gun issue early on. He's representing younger people and he's been a good voice for them.' Sonneborn admitted that hunting is an important part of life in New England. 'It's a culture that I respect,' he said. 'But if it's making the decision between letting my friends have a good time at a firing range and them possibly being involved in a school shooting, I'm choosing legislation to protect them from that school shooting.' Sonneborn said he has met Scott, who told him his gubernatorial bid is 'very cool,' CNN reported.
  • A series of leaked emails dating back to June appear to suggest that software from an outside vendor might have been the source of infection for a ransomware cyber attack last week that has hobbled much of the City of Atlanta’s computer network. But a security expert who reviewed the correspondence on behalf of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News said on Thursday that the records actually reveal that the city didn’t do enough to address multiple warnings that its network lacked sufficient security. “There’s definitely some negligence,” said Tony UcedaVelez, CEO of Versprite, an Atlanta based security services firm assisting corporations with cyber security. “It could be that this [the emails] is an incomplete story. But for the most part, it tells me they didn’t do enough triaging of the security threat that was found a long, long, long time ago.” The FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service are assisting Atlanta in an ongoing investigation into a cyber attack via ransomware — which is malware that locks the victim’s computer by encryption until a ransom is paid. The city has yet to say if it will pay the $51,000 that hackers have demanded in this case in the form of bitcoins, a virtual currency that conceals the recipient’s identity. MORE: Atlanta court dates to be rescheduled in wake of computer hack On Tuesday, city employees were told they could turn on their computers after having them shut down for the previous five days to prevent the ransomware from spreading. Some computers operated as if they hadn’t been infected. Others contained locked files. The city has released little information in the aftermath of the attack. In response to questions about the emails on Thursday, a city spokesperson repeated the same statement she issued a day earlier. “Cyber security is an issue that affects many governments and leading organizations across the world,” said Anne Torres. “As challenges around cyber security continue to evolve, we must invest in our infrastructure and remain vigilant in ensuring our security measures continue to match the threats facing us.” The emails detail discussions between employees in the Department of Atlanta Information Management, city council staff and city clerk’s office over an eight-month period about an encoder from Accela, an Atlanta firm. The encoder helps stream video of city council meetings across multiple devices. The city received its first alert that the computer housing the encoder was infected with ransomware called “Wcry” on June 15. “Please allow AIM (Atlanta Information Management) to come up and run a scan on the PC, or they will have to disable the port so as the viruses will spread to the network,” wrote an information technology manager for the City Council the next day. On July 17, in response to an apparent second alert about “Wcry” ransomware on the computer, the city’s director of enterprise application contacted information technology about disabling the port of the computer with the encoder. “It appears to have been hacked,” wrote another city employee. Two months later, an employee in the Atlanta City Clerk’s office wrote an email to Accela’s support department about another attack with the subject: “Urgent Cyber Security Incident.” “The encoder is creating a security attack on our network,” the employee wrote. “I’m also placing a call to your support to look at this issue.” But UcedaVelez said the most probable scenario is that the city’s network infected the encoder. “They are putting the problem on the vendor,” UcedaVelez said. “And they are associating the malware found on the system. It’s highly unlikely … that Accela was the conduit to get this ransomware on the city’s system. It’s more likely the ransomeware got there because of poor network security, which is again square on the shoulders of the city of Atlanta.” READ | City employees allowed to use computers after Atlanta hack READ | Atlanta city computer network remains hobbled by cyberattack On Feb. 10, roughly one month before last week’s ransomware attack, an outside cyber security specialist warned that a computer port operating an Accela device posed a “high risk.” A security firm had observed outbound communications between the computer and a “blacklisted” IP address, such addresses are known to collect data about ransomware victims in advance of an attack. “These connections could represent Command and Control traffic, attempts to propagate or a malware call back as a result of an infection,” wrote Jerrid Byrd, of the San Diego-based Security On-Demand. That was an indication, UcedaVelez said, that the cyber criminals were poised to attack and already in the city’s computer network, acquiring knowledge about its inner-workings. “The best way to monetize an attack, if you’re a cyber criminal, is to stay as long as you can on a network,” UcedaVelez said. “That way you can milk it for all it’s worth. And you can find the right time to gather enough recon, not be disruptive, sit in the corner there and collect information so that you can basically orchestrate” the attack.
  • A day after warning customers about a potential data breach that may have compromised their personal information, a metro Atlanta city is stressing that the purported cyberattack is only “speculation.” Officials from the city of Loganville, who reported their own incident Monday amid the continued fallout from a massive online attack on the city of Atlanta, said Tuesday that they alerted the public only out of an abundance of caution. “At this time it is still speculation that our servers were breached and any personal information was accessed,” Loganville spokesman Robbie Schwarz said. “Until we have confirmed details from the cyber security team that was hired, who will act on our behalf to notify the proper authorities – which includes the Department of Homeland Security and possibly the FBI - we have no additional information to provide regarding this matter.” MORE ON DATA BREACH: Atlanta cyber attack: Hartsfield-Jackson wi-fi still down North Fulton cities: Cyberattacks are ‘constant threat’ DeKalb not impacted by cyberattack against Atlanta, officials say Cobb tells employees not to open City of Atlanta emails after hacking Loganville, which is in Gwinnett and Walton counties, made it initial announcement about the possible attack on its official Facebook page. “Officials recently discovered that on or about March 15, 2018, a city server may have been breached by an outside person or entity,” the Facebook post said. “The data accessed may have included personal information such as Social Security numbers and/or banking information. It does not appear that this information was the target of the breach, only that it was accessible to the person or entity who caused the breach.” Few other specifics about the possible breach or its potential effects were released. The post did not mention ransomware, which a believed hacker has used to hold the city of Atlanta’s online systems hostage since late last week.  Schwarz said Monday that the city’s “ability to provide services to our customers has not been impacted.” “We do not know the extent of the breach so it is impossible to know how many people are affected,” Schwartz said in an email Monday night. Loganville said it also has retained a computer forensics company to assess the breach. It is also conducting “a thorough review of the potentially affected records, as well as its cyber security protocols.” The city encouraged those who could be affected to monitor their banking accounts and credit reports. MYAJC.COM: REAL JOURNALISM. REAL LOCAL IMPACT. The AJC's Tyler Estep keeps you updated on the latest happenings in Gwinnett County government and politics. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories: Gwinnett creating new trail, public plaza to commemorate bicentennial  Gwinnett sheriff joins Trump roundtable, touts cooperation with ICE  Is Gwinnett really ripe for a Democratic reckoning this time? Never miss a minute of what's happening in Gwinnett politics. Subscribe to myAJC.com.

News

  • Jurors in the Tex McIver murder trial told Channel 2 Action News it took a lot of compromise to reach a verdict. The 12-person panel deliberated for four days before finally reaching a verdict Monday afternoon. They found the Atlanta attorney guilty of murdering his wife, Diane, as they rode in their SUV in September 2016. They also found him guilty of trying to influence a witness, Dani Jo Carter, who was driving the SUV at the time of the shooting. Earlier Monday it appeared that a verdict might never come when jurors told the judge they were deadlocked and couldn’t come to a unanimous decision on four of the five counts. The judge sent them back, telling them they needed to keep deliberating and continue to try for a verdict. RELATED STORIES: 5 things to know about Diane McIver Juror breakdown for the Tex McIver murder trial Tex McIver found guilty of murdering his wife A breakdown of the verdict in the Tex McIver trial After the trial ended, Channel 2 Action News spoke with some of the jurors outside the courthouse.  'It definitely took a lot of compromise on both sides of where we were with our deliberations,' juror Aubrey Gray said. 'There was definitely a point where we did not think we were going to get to guilt or innocence.” He said after the judge read them the Allen charge Monday afternoon, telling them they needed to keep deliberating and try to reach a verdict, they re-examined their positions and were able to come to a unanimous decision. “(We were able to) specifically look at the evidence, take away any emotion that we had, and that’s how we came up with our guilty verdict on four of the five counts,” Gray said. Gray said he was back and forth for much of deliberations. “I was in both camps for a while, flip-flopping sides, trying to come to a rational decision,” he said. Gray said there were several “gun experts” on the jury, who helped them talk through many of the questions. [SPECIAL SECTION: Tex McIver Trial] “That was one of our contingents the entire time, why was his hand, particularly his finger, on the trigger. And one of the key things for us, we had to look back at his statements to police when he said the gun just went off, and we finally decided that a gun just doesn’t go off,” Gray said. “It was not an accident. His hand was on the trigger. Guns just don’t go off.” Another juror, Lakeisha Boyd, said the deciding factor for her was also the finger on the trigger, and holding the gun inside the car. “We went back down to the vehicle. We were able to take the firearm to the vehicle and were able to test it out ourselves,” she said. Boyd said, at the end of the day, they did their job. “Justice was served,” she said.
  • The Latest on the White House visit of French President Emmanuel Macron (all times local): 1:20 p.m. President Donald Trump says U.S. troops will come home from Syria, but he wants to leave a 'strong and lasting footprint' in the region. Trump's comment signaled a softening in tone. Trump was insisting just a few weeks ago that he wanted to pull out U.S. troops and leave the job of rebuilding Syria to others in the region. Asked about his timeline for bringing the troops home, Trump reiterated his desire to exit Syria. But he also said that he and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed that neither of them wants to give Iran more of an opening in the region. Trump said 'we'll see what happens but we're going to be coming home relatively soon.' He commented during a White House news conference Tuesday with Macron, who is on a state visit to the U.S. ___ 1:15 p.m. French President Emmanuel Macron says he's confident about the future of his country's trading relationship with the U.S. He says it's good when allies work together. Macron says in a joint news conference with President Donald Trump that trade is balanced between the two countries and he's suggesting all nations follow the rules of the World Trade Organization. The French president has been critical of Trump's protectionist moves on trade in recent weeks and has called upon the U.S. to exempt European nations from tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. ___ 1 p.m. President Donald Trump is thanking French President Emmanuel Macron for his partnership on the recent missile strikes against chemical weapons in Syria and the fight against terrorism. Trump says at a joint White House news conference that he will soon be meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. He says the U.S. won't 'repeat the mistakes of past administrations' and will pressure the North Korean regime. Macron is pointing to the need for the Iran nuclear deal. He says he wants to work on a new deal in the weeks and months ahead. Macron says any new agreement would need to block any nuclear activity in Iran through 2025, cease any uranium activity and put an end to the country's ballistic missiles program. ___ 12:16 p.m. A pair of designers is responsible for Melania Trump's white skirt suit and matching hat. The first lady's office says Michael Kors designed the two-piece suit that Mrs. Trump wore for Tuesday's White House arrival ceremony for President Emmanuel Macron of France and his wife, Brigitte. Mrs. Trump also wore the suit on an outing to the National Gallery of Art in Washington with Mrs. Macron. The first lady topped her outfit with a broad-brimmed white hat designed by Herve Pierre. Pierre designed the first lady's inaugural ball gown. The white hat quickly became the talk of the town, as well as on Twitter. Mrs. Trump typically doesn't wear hats. Still to come is Tuesday night's piece de resistance: the first lady's state dinner gown. ___ 10:40 a.m. President Donald Trump is warning that if Iran restarts its nuclear program it 'will have bigger problems than they have ever had before.' Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron will be discussing the Iran nuclear deal Tuesday during their meetings at the White House. Macron wants Trump to maintain the deal. Trump is undecided but has called it 'a terrible deal.' Though Trump has warmly welcomed Macron to Washington, the two have disagreements to sort through, including Trump's decision to leave the multinational Paris climate change agreement. While with Macron, Trump refused to answer a reporter's question as to whether he is considering a pardon for his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, whose office was raided by the FBI. Trump called it 'a stupid question.' Cohen has not been charged. ___ 9:54 a.m. French President Emmanuel Macron is highlighting the close ties between his nation and the United States during his visit to the White House. Macron, standing alongside President Donald Trump Tuesday, said 'America represents endless possibilities for my country.' He also told Trump that 'France shares with your country an ideal of freedom and peace.' Macron touted how the French fought alongside George Washington during the American Revolution, which laid the blueprint for cooperation between the nations. The French president, who enjoys a closer relationship with Trump than many of his European peers, said that France works alongside the U.S. on challenges like terrorism, North Korea and Iran. He is expected to lobby Trump to maintain the Iran nuclear deal and reconsider the decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. ___ 9:30 a.m. President Donald Trump is sending prayers to the Bush family and wishing former President George H.W. Bush a 'speedy recovery.' Trump is recognizing the former president as he greets French President Emmanuel Macron on the South Lawn of the White House. Bush has been hospitalized in Houston with an infection, just days after attending the funeral of his wife, Barbara Bush. Trump is also sending the nation's sympathies to the Canadian people following the 'horrendous tragedy' in Toronto. A driver plowed a rented van along a crowded sidewalk in Toronto, killing 10 people and injuring 15 others. Trump says the nation's hearts are with the grieving families in Canada. ___ 9:25 a.m. President Donald Trump says the 'wonderful friendship' he has developed with French President Emmanuel Macron is a testament to two nations' enduring alliance. Trump is thanking Macron for his 'steadfast partnership' in responding to the recent chemical attack in Syria. The president is speaking at an arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. Trump and Macron are meeting Tuesday on a number of issues, including the future of the Iran nuclear deal and the crisis in Syria. The two leaders are holding a joint news conference later in the morning and then Macron will be honored with Trump's first state dinner. ___ 9 a.m. President Donald Trump is welcoming French President Emmanuel Macron to the White House in a formal arrival ceremony. The president and first lady are greeting Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, on rolled-out red carpet on the South Lawn. The arrival is heavy on pomp, with nearly 500 U.S. service-members from all five military branches participating in the ceremonial welcome, which includes a 'Review of the Troops.' Vice President Mike Pence and several members of Trump's Cabinet, lawmakers, and military families are in attendance. The audience includes students from the Maya Angelou French Immersion School in Temple Hills, Maryland. The two leaders are spending the morning in meetings and then will hold a joint news conference. On Tuesday night, Macron will be feted at Trump's first state dinner. ___ 12:50 a.m. A sit-down between President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron followed by a joint news conference highlight the business portion of the French leader's second day in Washington. The pageantry of Macron's official state visit, the first of the Trump presidency, comes Tuesday night with a lavish state dinner at the White House. About 150 guests are expected to dine on rack of lamb and nectarine tart and enjoy an after-dinner performance by the Washington National Opera. Monday night was more relaxed, featuring a helicopter tour of Washington landmarks and a trip to the Potomac River home of George Washington for dinner. Pomp and ceremony aside, Trump and Macron disagree on some fundamental issues. A prime dividing point is the multinational Iran nuclear deal, which Trump wants to abandon.
  • To the Trump administration, the recovered missile fragments were incontrovertible proof that Iran was illicitly arming Yemen's Houthi rebels. Yet Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif brushed it off Tuesday as little more than cheese puffs. During a visit to New York, the Iranian diplomat accused U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley of displaying fabricated evidence that missiles lobbed by the Houthis at civilian areas in Saudi Arabia originated in Iran. Though Tehran supports the Shiite rebel group, it firmly denies giving them missiles. But Haley has invited journalists and U.N. Security Council diplomats to inspect missile parts recovered after strikes on Saudi Arabia, bearing what U.S. military officials said were Iranian markings and characteristics. Zarif, in an Associated Press interview, said that one such logo was from the Standard Institute of Iran, which he said regulates consumer goods — not weapons. 'It's a sign of quality,' Zarif said. 'When people want to buy it, they look at whether it's been tested by the Standard Institute of Iran that your cheese puffs are good, your cheese puffs will not give you a stomach ache.' He laughed and added, 'I mean, nobody will put the logo of the Standard Institute of Iran on a piece of missile.' Zarif also pointed to a truck-size section of a missile that the U.S. said was recovered in Saudi Arabia and was transferred to a military base near Washington, where it was on display behind Haley for a photo-op. Zarif noted that the missile had been supposedly shot down in mid-air. 'I'm not saying Ambassador Haley is fabricating, but somebody is fabricating the evidence she is showing,' Zarif said. Some of the fragments Haley presented, if authentic, would seem to implicate Iran's military industry more directly, including some with the logo of Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group, an Iranian defense entity under U.S. sanctions. Haley said others had clear 'Iranian missile fingerprints,' such as short-range ballistic missiles that lacked large stabilizers — a feature she said only Iran's Qiam missiles have. 'Just imagine if this missile had been launched at Dulles Airport or JFK, or the airports in Paris, London or Berlin,' Haley told reporters late last year. 'That's what we're talking about here.' Tehran's denials aside, there's broad agreement among the United Nations, Western countries and the Persian Gulf's Arab leaders that Iran has armed the Houthis with ballistic missiles, even though U.N. Security Council resolutions prohibit it. With U.S. support, a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen's civil war has been bombing the Houthis, who control the capital Sanaa and much of northern Yemen. Yet Iran's opponents have struggled to provide foolproof evidence to back up their claims, creating an opening for Iran to deny. After Haley's presentations at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, some national security experts raised questions, even drawing parallels to Secretary of State Colin Powell's 2003 speech to the U.N. making the case for the Iraq War. The fragments Haley presented were turned over to the U.S. by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — two of Iran's fiercest critics — and U.S. military officials had trouble tracing the fragments' chain of custody. Nor could they say when the weapons were transferred to the Houthis or in some cases precisely when they were launched.
  • A woman with multiple sclerosis says Delta Air Lines employees tied her to her wheelchair because she can’t sit up on her own and they didn’t have the chair she needed. >> Watch the news report here Maria Saliagas travels to Europe with her husband every year. When she was diagnosed with MS five years ago, she didn’t want to break her tradition of traveling with her husband. >> Southwest Airlines cancels dozens of flights amid inspections after deadly engine failure She said Delta normally accommodates her by making sure staff members have a proper wheelchair that has straps to help her sit up straight. When she flew out of Atlanta on April 1 and arrived in Amsterdam, Delta didn’t have a chair with straps, so employees tied her to a regular wheelchair with someone else’s blanket, said her son, Nathan Saliagas. >> Memorial service held for woman killed during Southwest Airlines flight “They took a dirty blanket and tied her forcefully with it, and she has bruise marks on part of her arm because it was so tight and she started crying. That’s when that picture was taken,” Saliagas said. A Delta representative sent WSB-TV a statement about the incident, saying:  “We regret the perception our service has left on these customers. We have reached out to them, not only to resolve their concerns, but also ensure that their return flight exceeds expectations.” >> Read more trending news  The family returns to Atlanta on April 30. When the family complained to Delta, they said the airline offered them 20,000 free SkyMiles, but they said that's not enough.  They want to see a policy change regarding how Delta handles passengers with disabilities.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday wades into one of the more controversial policy matters of the Trump Administration, as the Justices will hear arguments on the merits of the revised effort by President Donald Trump to block certain foreign nationals from traveling to the United States, what critics often deride as his “Muslim ban.” Before the Court is the third version of the Trump travel order, which began just a week into his Presidency, as an effort to stop travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries. After the first two versions were blocked by the courts – this third one would limit visits to the United States by people from Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iran, and Somalia, and slow down the number of refugees accepted into the U.S. “As President, I must act to protect the security and interests of the United States and its people,” Mr. Trump said as he issued the third version of the travel order in September of 2017. Lower courts have ruled against the Trump plan. The travel order is being challenged by the state of Hawaii, which has tried to use the President’s past statements and tweets about the threat of Islamic terrorism against the travel order, which the Supreme Court allowed to take effect while the case was being litigated. “The arguments against the travel ban come from every corner of our country,” says Neal Katyal, who will carry Hawaii’s case before the Justices. “It comes down to who we are as a nation,” Katyal wrote. THREAD 1. The backgrounds and perspectives of those articulating arguments against the travel ban in #TrumpvHawaii are remarkable in their breadth and diversity. Their chorus is deafening: the ban is unconstitutional, unprecedented, unnecessary and un-American. — Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) April 24, 2018 Interest in the case has been strong, as the line for public seats began forming on Monday outside the U.S. Supreme Court. The arguments on the Trump travel order come as lower courts are still duking it out over efforts by the President to terminate the DACA program from the Obama Administration – that question is expected to reach the Justices in coming months. On Tuesday evening, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. became the third to block the President’s effort to end DACA, the program which allows younger illegal immigrant “Dreamers” to temporarily stay in the U.S. and avoid deportation proceedings. “DACA’s rescission was arbitrary and capricious because the Department failed adequately to explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful,” wrote Judge John Bates, though he gave the feds 90 days to better explain the decision. Judge Bates (DDC) finds DACA rescission unlawful (but note the different remedy than in prior cases; Judge Bates vacates the rescission, but stays it for 90 days to allow admin to offer a justification that might support the policy): https://t.co/ZfPkiBciYr — Leah Litman (@LeahLitman) April 24, 2018 As with the Trump travel order, the President’s effort on DACA could be on the docket next term for the Justices.
  • It took a big money push from the Republican Party, tweets by the president and the support of the state's current and former governors, but the GOP held onto an Arizona U.S. House seat they would have never considered endangered in any other year. Tuesday's narrow victory by Republican Debbie Lesko over a Democratic political newcomer sends a big message to Republicans nationwide: Even the reddest of districts in a red state can be in play this year. Early returns show Lesko winning by about 5 percentage points in Arizona's 8th Congressional District where Donald Trump won by 21 percentage points. The former state senator defeated Hiral Tipirneni, a former emergency room physician who had hoped to replicate surprising Democratic wins in Pennsylvania, Alabama and other states in a year where opposition to President Trump's policies have boosted the party's chances in Republican strongholds. Republican political consultant Chuck Coughlin called Tuesday's special election margin 'not good' for national Republicans looking at their chances in November. 'They should clean house in this election,' said Coughlin, longtime adviser to former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. 'There's a drag on the midterms for Republican candidates that's being created by the national narrative. And it would be very hard to buck that trend if you're in swing districts, much less close districts, if you can't change that narrative between now and November.' Lesko replaces former Rep. Trent Franks, a Republican who resigned in December amid sexual misconduct allegations. A former aide told The Associated Press that he pressed her to carry his child as a surrogate and offered her $5 million. The district sprawls across western Phoenix suburbs, covering some of the most conservative areas of the red state, including the retirement community of Sun City. At a victory party in her Glendale neighborhood, Lesko greeted supporters and looked back in wonder. 'I've really come a long way and this is really quite overwhelming, it's very surreal,' she said. 'Twenty-five years ago I left an abusive husband and I sure as heck never would have dreamt in a million years that I would be running for Congress to be a congresswoman.' Brewer, who backed Lesko and was at her victory party, also warned that Republicans need to make changes if they want to hold the district and other seats in November elections. 'I think all Republicans need to wake up and listen to what the public wants,' she said. 'Before November, we're going to have to work very hard. We're going to have to listen to our constituents.' Tipirneni worked the district hard, making inroads rarely seen in an area that hadn't elected a Democrat since the early 1980s. She was seen as a fresh Democratic face with relatively moderate views that could get support in the district. Making a push for older voters, she had said Lesko would vote to go after entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicaid to pay for tax cuts that mainly benefit the wealthy. She's pushed a plan to allow some people to buy into Medicare. Tipirneni said she plans to run in November's general election and told supporters not to give up the cause. She said that despite the big Republican advantage in the district, the results show people were ready for a change. 'We have a very short amount of time, and clearly Ms. Lesko she had the registration numbers a little bit in her favor and she also had the name recognition,' Tipirneni said. 'But given more time I know we can get more folks on our side.' The Associated Press called the race for Lesko after state officials released tallies of more than 155,000 mail-in ballots, which represent about 75 percent of the votes expected. National Republican groups spent big to back Lesko, pouring in more than $500,000 in the suburban Phoenix district for television and mail ads and phone calls to voters. On Election Day, Trump and current Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey urged Republicans to go to the polls and vote for Lesko. National Democratic groups, meanwhile, didn't commit money to the race, a sign they didn't believe the seat was in play. Several Republican voters who spoke with AP said they backed Lesko primarily because she supported Trump's border security plans. David Hunt, a 64-year-old retired construction and warehouse worker from Glendale, said he cast his vote Tuesday for Lesko because he believed that immigrants in the country illegally are creating unfair competition for jobs for recent high school students in Arizona. 'She's the best candidate to deal with the porous border,' Hunt said. His views were echoed by Larry Bettis, a retiree from Glendale. 'Immigration - the fence,' Bettis said. 'That's all I really care about.' Democrats said they wanted to send a message to Trump and supported Democratic health care plans. 'I don't like the president and felt it was time to take a stand,' said Nikole Allen, a 45-year-old medical assistant from New York now living in Glendale. 'It's time for us to vote the Republicans out.