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Lawmaker anger builds after White House aide mocks ‘dying’ McCain

Furor built Friday among lawmakers in both parties and family members following reports that one of President Donald Trump’s aides, Kelly Sadler, had mockingly referred to Sen. John McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis during a White House meeting.

“There are no words,” Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., tweeted.

During a White House meeting on Thursday, Sadler reacted to McCain’s announcement that he opposes Gina Haspel’s nomination as CIA director because of her involvement in the agency’s enhanced interrogation program.

“He’s dying anyway,” Sadler said, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the meeting.

The White House hasn’t denied her comment and multiple spokespeople have not responded to questions from NBC News about Sadler’s future in the administration.

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Trump tells world’s top automakers to build more cars in US

President Donald Trump told leaders of the world’s top automakers on Friday that he wants to see more cars built in the United States as his administration weighs plans to reduce gas mileage and pollution requirements enacted during the Obama administration.

Trump said in a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House that he intended to discuss environmental controls, fuel efficiency standards and the “manufacturing of millions of more cars within the United States, for Michigan, for Ohio, for Pennsylvania” and states like South Carolina and North Carolina.

As the auto executives introduced themselves, the president joked to Sergio Marchionne, the chairman and chief executive of Fiat Chrysler, that “right now he’s my favorite man in the room” because he’s moving a plant from Mexico to Michigan.

Trump won the presidency in 2016 in part by his strength in the industrial Midwest states of Michigan and Ohio, which employ thousands of people in the auto manufacturing industry and its suppliers. The meeting came as the administration has been holding extensive negotiations with Mexico and Canada on a rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which the auto industry is watching warily.

Asked if the deal might adversely affect the industry, Trump said, “NAFTA has been a terrible deal, we’re renegotiating it now, we’ll see what happens.”

“Mexico and Canada, look, they don’t like to lose the golden goose. But I’m representing the United States. I’m not representing Mexico and I’m not representing Canada,” he said. “We’ll see if we can make it reasonable.”

The auto industry wants to relax the fuel economy standards, but not so much that they provoke a legal fight with California, which has power to impose its own stricter tailpipe pollution limits. Such a fight could bring two mileage standards in the U.S., forcing automakers to engineer and produce two versions of each of their vehicle models, driving up costs.

Ahead of the meeting, the White House said Trump would discuss with the CEOs the impact of the rulemaking on the auto industry and their efforts to negotiate a ‘National Program’ with the state of California. The meeting included Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and other officials.

In testimony before a congressional committee this month, Mitch Bainwol, CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said the trade group has urged the Trump administration to find a solution that increases mileage requirements from 2022 to 2025 and includes California in order to keep one national standard.

“The resulting regulatory nightmare would ultimately harm consumers by increasing vehicle costs and restricting consumer choice,” Bainwol said.

If California splits from the federal rule, it likely would be joined by 12 states that follow its standards. Together they make up about 40 percent of U.S. new-vehicle sales.

The EPA under Trump has proposed freezing the standards at 2020 levels for the next five years, according to a draft of the proposal obtained by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. Under the proposal, the fleet of new vehicles would have to average roughly 30 miles per gallon in real-world driving, and that wouldn’t change through at least 2025.

The EPA under Obama proposed standards that gradually would become tougher during that period, rising to 36 mpg in 2025, 10 mpg higher than the current requirement. California and automakers agreed to the rules in 2012, setting a single national fuel economy standard.

Any big change by Trump certainly would bring lawsuits from environmental groups as well as California. Leaks about the Trump EPA plan already have provoked a suit from California and 16 other states.

Automakers have been lobbying the Trump administration to revisit the requirements, saying they’ll have trouble reaching them because people are buying bigger vehicles due to low gas prices.

When the single national standard was adopted six years ago, cars, which get better mileage than trucks and SUVs, made up just under half of U.S. new vehicle sales. By the end of last year, however, trucks and SUVs were close to two-thirds of all sales.

Some environmental groups oppose any reduction in the standards, saying that the ones developed in 2012 allow for changes in consumer buying habits. Reducing the standards, they say, will increase pollution and raise gasoline prices at the pump.

Requirements now are lower for bigger vehicles such as trucks and SUVs, said Luke Tonachel, director of clean vehicles for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The standards automatically adjust to the sales mix of vehicles,” he said.

Environmental groups also say the industry marketed trucks and SUVs to the public because they make bring higher profits than cars.

Daniel Becker of the Safe Climate Campaign, an environmental advocacy group, said the new EPA proposal may go further than the industry wanted, giving it a black eye from the public and creating two mileage requirements.

Auto executives attending the meeting included Marchionne, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Ford CEO Jim Hackett and Bob Carter, executive vice president of North America for Toyota.

Source: ABC NEWS

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Tarana Burke And #MeToo Get $1M In Funding From Women’s Group

The New York Women’s Foundation said it has raised an initial $1 million for a fund to support Burke and the movement she founded 12 years ago, with a goal of raising at least $2 million a year.

Burke founded MeToo to support survivors of sexual violence, particularly girls and women of color and in marginalized communities. But the group’s visibility has skyrocketed in the last six months, since shortly after revelations emerged about the sexual misconduct of movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Soon after, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted a request for survivors of sexual assault or harassment to use #MeToo to demonstrate the extent of the problem. Within days, 1.7 million people had used the hashtag.

Burke said on Wednesday the new funding will help with the continuing work of MeToo and will help people understand the movement is expansive and is “not about one person.”

“I suspect that in a year or two, (MeToo) won’t be as newsworthy but what we’ll have is the philanthropic dollars to help us really institutionalize the work that’s happening on the ground,” she said. “And so the things that will be newsworthy will be the ways that we’re moving the needle to end sexual violence. It won’t be just about what person is losing their job or what new person is being revealed as a predator.”

The New York Women’s Foundation’s president, Ana Oliveira, said the fund’s goal was to make sure the MeToo moment “not be just a moment — that the movement be supported in a sustainable manner.”

“The MeToo movement, with Tarana’s vision and leadership, has the potential to not leave any woman behind,” Oliveira said.

She added that it’s a tall order for one person to not only lead her organization but to also spend her time constantly raising every dollar. She said the fund aimed to take some of that pressure off Burke.

Burke said the last six months have presented an opportunity but also a challenge, “trying to balance all these things, managing this level of visibility and also knowing that we have to do a lot of groundwork.”

She called the collaboration with the foundation “a new model,” and she hailed the group for “trusting in the people who do the work to know what’s best and who’s best served by the resources.”

And she mused: “You know I think a lot about what would have happened if we had been fully funded 12 years ago, where we could have been in this work if we’d had (this) kind of support.”

The foundation isn’t alone in helping to fund MeToo. Burke said former tennis star Billie Jean King, a women’s equality advocate, has donated $100,000 and is seeking nine others to join her in doing the same.

Weinstein has apologized for causing “a lot of pain” with “the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past,” but he has denied “any allegations of non-consensual sex.”

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South Carolina Man Is Arrested For Trying To Hire White Supremacists To Kill Black Neighbor

A South Carolina man was arrested for scheming to have his Black neighbor killed by local white supremacists according to The Post And Courier.

Brandon Cory Lecroy attempted to enlist the help of a local white supremacist group to lynch his Black neighbor and place a burning cross in his yard.

Law enforcement was able to stop his plan thanks to an FBI informant inside the white supremacist group. That “white supremacist” that Lecroy was talking to put him in touch with a person willing to commit the murder who actually turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.

On several occasions, Lecroy talked with the undercover agent about murdering his neighbor according to a federal complaint. In a recorded phone call Lecroy can be heard saying, “$500 and he’s a ghost.”

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Salt-N-Pepa to Perform With En Vogue at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards

The Billboard Music Awards has yet another major act to add to this year’s all-star performance lineup: Salt-N-Pepa. The legendary rap trio will team up with vocal group En Vogue for a special performance celebrating the 30th anniversary of becoming the first female rap artists to hit the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Cheryl James (Salt), Sandra Denton (Pepa) and DJ Spinderella made their chart debut in 1987, and one year later, their iconic track “Push It” became the first rap song by a female act to hit the top 40 of the Hot 100 — eventually making it all the way to No. 19.

“Thirty years later, we’re still Pushing It all over the world and we’re still loved and celebrated by fans we grew up with as well as new fans,” Salt-N-Pepa said in a statement. “Looking back at all the barriers we’ve broken as women in this very male dominated genre of music, being the first two female rappers to break the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 is right up there as one of the best moments of our amazing career. We are blessed.”

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Spotify Removes R. Kelly Music From Its Playlists As Part of New Hate Content & Hateful Conduct Policy: Exclusive

Beginning today (May 10), Spotify users will no longer be able to find R. Kelly‘s music on any of the streaming service’s editorial or algorithmic playlists. Under the terms of a new public hate content and hateful conduct policy Spotify is putting into effect, the company will no longer promote the R&B singer’s music in any way, removing his songs from flagship playlists like RapCaviar, Discover Weekly or New Music Friday, for example, as well as its other genre- or mood-based playlists.

“We are removing R. Kelly’s music from all Spotify owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations such as Discover Weekly,” Spotify told Billboard in a statement. “His music will still be available on the service, but Spotify will not actively promote it. We don’t censor content because of an artist’s or creator’s behavior, but we want our editorial decisions — what we choose to program — to reflect our values. When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful, it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator.”

Over the past several years, Kelly has been accused by multiple women of sexual violence, coercion and running a “sex cult,” including two additional women who came forward to Buzzfeed this week. Though he has never been convicted of a crime, he has come under increasing scrutiny over the past several weeks, particularly with the launch of the #MuteRKelly movement at the end of April. Kelly has vociferously defended himself, saying those accusing him are an “attempt to distort my character and to destroy my legacy.” And while RCA Records has thus far not dropped Kelly from his recording contract, Spotify has distanced itself from promoting his music.

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Hawaii could face volcanic smog, acid rain — and blast projectiles

After surviving earthquakes and molten lava, residents of Hawaii’s Big Island now have new threats to worry about: steam-driven explosions, hazardous volcanic smog and acid rain.

The US Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on Wednesday warned of possible explosive eruptions in the coming weeks. That could happen because as lava continues to sink in a lake inside a Kilauea crater, an influx of groundwater could interact with the lava to create steam explosions.

Those forces would emit “ballistic projectiles” — as small as pebbles or weighing up to several tons. The agencies also said ash clouds would rise to greater elevations, dispensing ash over wider areas.

“At this time, we cannot say with certainty that explosive activity will occur, how large the explosions could be, or how long such explosive activity could continue,” an advisory said.

 Gov. David Ige asked President Donald Trump to issue a disaster declaration for Hawaii as a result of the ongoing earthquakes and volcano eruption, according to a press release.

The declaration allows federal funds to begin to flow to state and local efforts in Hawaii. The estimated cost to protect residents over the next 30 days is expected to exceed $2.9 million, according to the governor’s office.

A brief explosion Wednesday on a Kilauea crater was the result of falling rocks and not the interaction of lava with the water table, the USGS said.

The Kilauea eruption last week created new volcanic vents on the ground miles east of the summit, releasing slow-moving lava and toxic gas into island communities.

Officials have warned of dangerous levels of sulfur dioxide gas.

If winds weaken, that gas and other volcanic pollutants can settle easily with moisture and dust to create a haze called volcanic smog, or “vog,” with tiny sulfuric acid droplets that can pose respiratory problems, according to the US Geological Survey.

Trade winds could weaken Thursday and Friday, meaning the vog that’s largely been accumulating over the ocean south of the Big Island could pool over a larger portion of it, creating possible health hazards, the National Weather Service says.

And with high chances of rain on those days, sulfuric acid droplets would fall, creating another menace known as acid rain, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy says.

Respiratory problems

At higher concentrations, vog can cause headaches and irritation to the lungs and eyes, the University of Hawaii at Hilo says.

“Because of their small size, aerosol particles such as those in vog penetrate deep into the human lung and are readily retained,” the USGS says.

High levels of acidic particles in vog “can induce asthma attacks, especially in adolescents, and can also impede the ability of the upper respiratory tract to remove other potentially harmful particles,” it says.

 Watch as Hawaii lava flow consumes car 01:26

For people with asthma and other respiratory problems, “the effects are much more serious, causing a tightening of the airways in the lungs and making it very difficult to breathe,” the university says.

But it adds: “There’s been no clear evidence that vog causes lingering damage to normally healthy individuals.”

If trade winds become lighter as predicted later this week, vog could pool northward over parts of the island by Friday, the weather service says.

But winds are forecast to return — and the vog could be pushed off much of the island — by Friday night, it says.

Similar to battery acid

If it rains where vog has collected, acid rain would result.

“Wherever you have a vog plume, you’re going to have acid rain, if it’s raining,” University of Hawaii meteorologist Steven Businger told CNN affiliate Hawaii News Now.

Army National Guard First Lt. Aaron Hew Len measures sulfur dioxide gas Tuesday in Leilani Estates.

What are the effects of acid rain? The droplets of sulfuric acid in vog have the corrosive properties of diluted battery acid, the USGS says.

“When atmospheric moisture is abundant, these droplets combine with it and fall as acid rain, damaging plants and accelerating the rusting of metal objects such as cars, industrial and farm equipment, and building components,” it says.

The amount of acid rain depends on the concentration of sulfur dioxide in the air, CNN’s Guy says.

Determining how acid rain affects human health is complicated, and Guy says the effects on the skin are unclear.

Lava spills through Hawaii neighborhood

One direct, immediate threat is not the rain, but rather breathing in the particles in the vog — the very pollutants that caused the acid rain, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Walking in acid rain, or even swimming in a lake affected by acid rain, is no more dangerous to humans than walking in normal rain or swimming in non-acidic lakes,” the EPA says.

But acid rain can contaminate household water supplies by leaching metals from building and plumbing materials, the USGS says.

That includes rooftop rainwater-catchment systems that Hawaii residents use for drinking water.

“In 1988, the drinking water of nearly 40% of homes using such systems in the Kona Districts of the island was found to be contaminated with lead leached by acid rain,” the USGS says. “Tests confirmed that the blood of some residents of these homes had elevated lead levels.”

Businger told Hawaii News Now that acid rain is not an immediate health hazard, adding that it’s “the least of their (residents) worries.”

More vents open

Other dangers persist, not only in the form of lava but also earthquakes and newly formed cracks.

Two additional volcanic vents — the 13th and 14th — erupted Tuesday in the Leilani Estates area, where roughly 1,700 residents were asked to evacuate last week. At least 36 structures — including at least 26 homes — have been destroyed.

On Wednesday, a 15th vent formed — this one in the Lanipuna subdivision, the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency says.

Residents were being still allowed to check on their properties from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day but must be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice, the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency says.

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A black Yale graduate student took a nap in her dorm’s common room. So a white student called police

A white person voices suspicions about an innocuous person of color. Police are summoned. And the encounter is posted on social media, sparking outrage about racial profiling.

 In what is becoming an all-too familiar episode, a black Yale University graduate student was interrogated by campus police officers early Tuesday morning after a white student found her sleeping in a common room of their dorm and called police.

 The black student, Lolade Siyonbola, posted two videos of the encounter to Facebook, where they have been widely viewed and drawn thousands of comments.

 “I deserve to be here. I pay tuition like everybody else,” an annoyed Siyonbola told responding officers in one video after they asked for her ID. “I’m not going to justify my existence here.”

 The incident is one of several in recent weeks in which police have been called on people of color for seemingly harmless acts. In one of the most recent, three black women were detained while leaving their California Airbnb after a neighbor called police, thinking they were burglars. Last month two black men were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia after a manager called 911 on them because they didn’t order anything.

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Groups Sue Ben Carson Over Delay Of Anti-Segregation Rule

WASHINGTON (AP) — A group of advocacy organizations has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Secretary Ben Carson over his decision to delay an Obama-era rule intended to ensure that communities address racial segregation.

The advocacy groups say Carson unlawfully suspended the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Act when he delayed until after 2020 the requirement that cities and counties receiving federal funds analyze housing data and submit plans to address segregation.

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