Published: 4:04 am, Tue. Jan. 15th, 2019Updated: 9:04 pm
Super Bowl planners: Shutdown brings ‘uncharted territory’
ATLANTA (AP) — A day after travelers waited nearly 90 minutes in snail-speed security lines at the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta’s mayor is concerned about the waits that could result when the city hosts the 2019 Super Bowl.
The ongoing partial government shutdown is “uncharted territory” amid planning for one of the world’s biggest sporting events, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Tuesday.
“Obviously, we are in uncharted territory with the shutdown that’s gone on this long, and we are preparing as best we can from our vantage point,” Bottoms said.
The mayor and others at a Tuesday news conference said two years of planning have them well-prepared to protect the public.
“Our goal is for our officers to be visible, for the public to feel safe, be safe, and be able to position ourselves so that we can react immediately to whatever scenario we are confronted with,” Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields said. “I think that with anything you can go in with a spirit of confidence if you have prepared, and we have prepared well.”
UK’s May faces no-confidence vote after Brexit plan crushed
LONDON (AP) — British lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s divorce deal with the European Union on Tuesday, plunging the Brexit process into chaos and triggering a no-confidence vote that could topple her government.
The defeat was widely expected, but the scale of the House of Commons’ vote — 432 votes against the government and 202 in support — was devastating for May’s fragile leadership.
It followed more than two years of political upheaval in which May has staked her political reputation on getting a Brexit deal and was the biggest defeat for a government in the House of Commons in modern history.
Moments after the result was announced — with Speaker John Bercow bellowing “the noes have it” to a packed Commons chamber — May said it was only right to test whether the government still had lawmakers’ support to carry on. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn quickly obliged, saying May’s government had lost the confidence of Parliament.
Lawmakers will vote Wednesday on his motion of no-confidence. If the government loses, it will have 14 days to overturn the result or face a national election.
Trump’s attorney general nominee: ‘I will not be bullied’
WASHINGTON (AP) — Vowing “I will not be bullied,” President Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general asserted independence from the White House on Tuesday, saying he believed that Russia had tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, that the special counsel investigation shadowing Trump is not a witch hunt and that his predecessor was right to recuse himself from the probe.
The comments by William Barr at his Senate confirmation hearing pointedly departed from Trump’s own views and underscored Barr’s efforts to reassure Democrats that he will not be a loyalist to a president who has appeared to demand it from law enforcement. He also repeatedly sought to assuage concerns that he might disturb or upend special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as it reaches its final stages.
Some Democrats are concerned about that very possibility, citing a memo Barr wrote to the Justice Department before his nomination in which he criticized Mueller’s investigation for the way it was presumably looking into whether Trump had obstructed justice.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Barr the memo showed “a determined effort, I thought, to undermine Bob Mueller.” The nominee told senators he was merely trying to advise Justice Department officials against “stretching the statute beyond what was intended” to conclude the president had obstructed justice.
Though Barr said an attorney general should work in concert with an administration’s policy goals, he broke from some Trump talking points, including the mantra that the Russia probe is a witch hunt, and said he frowned on “Lock Her Up” calls for Hillary Clinton. Trump has equivocated on Russian meddling in the 2016 election and assailed and pushed out his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for recusing because of his work with the Trump campaign.
Al-Shabab extremists claim deadly attack on Nairobi hotel
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Extremists stormed a luxury hotel in Kenya’s capital on Tuesday, setting off thunderous explosions and gunning down people at cafe tables in an attack claimed by Africa’s deadliest Islamic militant group. A police officer said at least 15 people had died.
“It is terrible. What I have seen is terrible,” said Charles Njenga, who ran from a scene of blood, broken glass, burning vehicles and pillars of black smoke.
Al-Shabab — the Somalia-based group that carried out the 2013 attack at the nearby Westgate Mall in Nairobi that left 67 people dead — claimed responsibility for the carnage at the DusitD2 hotel complex, which includes bars, restaurants, offices and banks and is in a well-to-do neighborhood with many American, European and Indian expatriates.
A Kenyan police officer said 15 bodies had been taken to the morgue. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. The U.S. State Department confirmed that an American citizen was among those killed, but did not release the victim’s identity. Al-Shabab asserted that 47 people were killed but its Shahada news agency post gave no details.
Authorities sent special forces into the hotel to flush out the gunmen. Late Tuesday night, about eight hours after the siege began, Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i said all of the buildings affected had been secured and that security forces were mopping up.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand jumps into 2020 presidential race
NEW YORK (AP) — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand entered the growing field of 2020 Democratic presidential contenders Tuesday, telling television host Stephen Colbert that she’s launching an exploratory committee.
“It’s an important first step, and it’s one I am taking because I am going to run,” the New York senator said on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” She listed a series of issues she’d tackle as president, including better health care for families, stronger public schools and more accessible job training.
Gillibrand, 52, has already made plans to campaign in Iowa over the weekend, more than a year before the leadoff caucus state votes.
She joins what is expected to be a crowded primary field for the Democratic nomination that could feature more than a dozen candidates. Already, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has announced her own exploratory efforts, and decisions by a number of other senators are expected in the coming weeks.
Gillibrand, who was appointed to the Senate in 2009 to fill the seat vacated by Hillary Clinton, has been among the Senate’s most vocal members on issues like sexual harassment, military sexual assault, equal pay for women and family leave, issues that could be central to her presidential campaign.
House rebukes GOP’s Steve King over racist remarks
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Democratic measure rebuking Republican Rep. Steve King for his comments about white supremacy won easy approval Tuesday in the House.
In a twist, the nine-term Iowa congressman was among those supporting the measure of disapproval, which was adopted, 424-1.
King said he agreed with Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina, the resolution’s sponsor, that white supremacy is an evil that cannot be ignored. King’s racist comments have been widely condemned by members of both parties in recent days.
The ideology of white supremacy “never shows up in my head,” King said in a speech from the House floor. “I do not know how it could possibly come out of my mouth.”
Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois was the sole lawmaker to oppose the measure, saying the House should take the more serious step of censuring King for his “repugnant and racist behavior.”
After years of King’s remarks, why now for the GOP response?
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Why now?
Despite his seemingly endless string of racist comments and insults about immigrants, Iowa Rep. Steve King had the Republican Party’s backing through nine elections and GOP presidential contenders often lined up for his endorsement in the state’s lead-off caucuses.
Now many of those same Republicans are turning their backs on King, stripping him of his committee assignments on Capitol Hill and even calling for him to leave office. A prospective 2020 GOP challenger already has emerged in his district.
The shift comes at a moment when the party is grappling with its stance on racial issues, in part because of President Donald Trump’s own inflammatory racial rhetoric and hardline views on immigration. GOP leaders also have conceded that the party must do better with minority voters and bring more diversity to their own ranks, currently dominated by white men.
There are also signs that King’s track record is wearing on voters in his overwhelmingly Republican district, which he carried by just 3 points in November.
Last year’s Central American caravan dwindles, new one forms
TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — The migrant caravan that was seized upon by U.S. President Donald Trump in the run-up to the 2018 midterm election has quietly dwindled, with many having gone home to Central America or put down roots in Mexico.
Despite the hard-line immigration rhetoric by the Trump administration, however, many others — nearly half, according to U.S. Border Patrol arrest records — have sought to enter the U.S. illegally.
About 6,000 Central Americans reached Tijuana in November amid conflict on both sides of the border over their presence in this Mexican city across from San Diego.
As of Monday, fewer than 700 migrants remained at a former outdoor concert venue in Tijuana that the Mexican government set up as a shelter to house the immigrants.
Where have they all gone?
Drug trafficker tells of bribe to ex-president of Mexico
NEW YORK (AP) — A Colombian drug trafficker testified Tuesday that Mexican cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman boasted about paying a $100 million bribe to the former president of Mexico to call off a manhunt for the notorious kingpin.
Alex Cifuentes spoke about the alleged bribe to former President Enrique Pena Nieto while being cross-examined at Guzman’s murder and drug conspiracy trial in New York.
A spokesman for Pena Nieto, who left office last year, called the bribery claim “false and defamatory” when it first came up earlier in the trial. Pena Nieto was still president when Guzman was captured in 2016 and extradited to the U.S. in 2017.
Attempts to contact Pena Nieto and his representatives were unsuccessful Tuesday.
Cifuentes acknowledged that he first spoke with prosecutors about the bribery allegation when he began cooperating with U.S. authorities in 2016. After expressing confusion about the details, he acknowledged that he had told prosecutors that he was informed by Guzman that someone named “Comadre Maria” delivered money in Mexico City in October 2012, at a point when Pena Nieto had been elected president but before he took office.
Satisfaction: Rolling Stones to headline 50th Jazz Fest
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival has got satisfaction: The Rolling Stones are among the headliners for the 50th anniversary festival.
Organizers on Tuesday confirmed reports that the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers will play. Also headlining the 8-day event, which runs April 25-28 and May 2-5, are Katy Perry, the Dave Matthews Band, Al Green, Pitbull, Santana, Jerry Lee Lewis, Aaron Neville and gospel great Shirley Caesar.
“Fifty years is very rare and to be here, still, just as strong, just as relevant is amazing,” festival producer Quint Davis said.
“For the Rolling Stones and Katy Perry — two of the most highly produced artists — to want to come play our festival, held in a tent, during the day with the scent of BBQ and oyster po-boys wafting over the field, that’s just incredible.”
Perry is scheduled to perform April 27, the first Saturday, while the Stones will take over the festival’s largest stage Thursday, May 2.