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May 7, 2014

Every town has its quirks, and Oakland, California residents enjoy the "rain-forest-like cacophony" of black-crowned night herons that roost in the downtown area's ficus trees.

At least, residents enjoyed the ruckus until Saturday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The local U.S. Postal Service office, fed up with the birds' defecating onto mail trucks parked below the ficus trees, hired a local tree-trimming service to shear back the city-owned trees. Crews arrived and began sawing off branches on several trees, sending nests — and the baby chicks inside — through a wood chipper. Onlookers called police, who arrived and told the tree trimming crews to halt their work.

Now, U.S. and California wildlife officials are investigating; killing nesting migratory birds is a misdemeanor with a fine of $2,000 per bird to boot. A spokesman for the Postal Service called the incident "very unfortunate."

"I can certainly understand why people are upset," Augustine Ruiz told the Chronicle. "The post office would never do anything to hurt wildlife. In fact, we issue stamps to protect birds."

If Oakland's post office has a black-crowned night heron stamp ready to be released, though, it should probably hold off for now. Sarah Eberspacher

1:45 p.m. ET

Starbucks has faced fierce backlash after video was released of two black men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, being arrested in a Philadelphia store while waiting for their friend for a business meeting. In the wake of the incident, Starbucks has fired the manager, who called the police on the men, and announced that it will close some 8,000 U.S. locations next month to "conduct racial-bias education geared toward preventing discrimination in our stores."

On Thursday, Nelson and Robinson appeared on Good Morning America, where they gave their version of events. In the process, it was revealed that only two minutes elapsed between the pair arriving at the Philadelphia Starbucks and the manager calling 911.

"We're at the table, we sit down, we're just talking amongst each other," Robinson recalled. "[The manager] then comes from around the register ... walks up to us, asks if she can help us with anything, can we start with some drinks or water." After the men said no and that they were waiting for a meeting, police showed up to handcuff the men for "defiant trespassing", although they were not ultimately charged. Watch the full interview below. Jeva Lange

12:03 p.m. ET
Harry How/Getty Images

The NHL's newest expansion team did not project to spend this year being golden, and certainly not every night. But that's exactly what the Vegas Golden Knights — a collection of hockey players assembled via an expansion draft but 10 months ago — have done this season.

The Golden Knights won the top seed in the NHL's Pacific Division during the regular season, and on Tuesday they completed a sweep of their division rivals, the Los Angeles Kings, in the first round of the playoffs. To date, the Golden Knights franchise has not lost a playoff game.

It's a far cry from what was expected when the season began — and for faithful fans, it could prove lucrative. ESPN noted Thursday that the Golden Knights began the season with 500-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup, but they are now "co-favorites" with the Nashville Predators to emerge on top, with 4-1 odds.

Not only that, but the Las Vegas-based gaming company Station Casinos is offering its most loyal customers the opportunity to place a "free bet" on the Golden Knights to win the Cup, ESPN's Darren Rovell reports. The free bets will be doled out at random, with values from $5 to $250, but all will wager that the Golden Knights will emerge as champions this June and be tied to the 4-1 odds.

Enrollees of Station Casinos' loyalty program, known as Boarding Pass members, can visit any participating Station Casinos location on April 23 and swipe their loyalty card to redeem their vouchers. More fairweather gamblers can visit that day to try to amass enough loyalty points to earn a Boarding Pass, and then immediately redeem their free bet.

The Golden Knights will face the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference semifinals. Safe to say, they are excited. Kimberly Alters

11:10 a.m. ET
Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Lyft

For Earth Day, Lyft has announced that it will be putting millions towards offsetting the emissions from its cars in order to make customers' trips entirely carbon neutral, CNN reports. But the plan will last a lot longer than just Earth Day 2018: The company promises to make its trips carbon neutral for the foreseeable future as a means of fighting climate change.

In the words of co-founder John Zimmer: "With great scale comes great responsibility."

Lyft will use the make, model, and miles driven by the cars of its employees to determine exactly how much CO2 it needs to offset. The company plans to donate money to projects related to forestry, renewable energy, and landfill emissions.

"As we continue to grow the business, we continue to think about finding ways to have the most positive impact possible on the cities and people that are part of our community," Zimmer said. Jeva Lange

10:13 a.m. ET

Time released its annual list of the 100 most influential people of the year Thursday, and to no surprise, the Parkland activists are featured under the subcategory "pioneers." What might be a bit more surprising is that the blurb praising the work of David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Cameron Kasky, Jaclyn Corin, and Alex Wind was written by the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama.

"The Parkland, Florida, students don't have the kind of lobbyists or big budgets for attack ads that their opponents do," Obama writes. "Most of them can't even vote yet. But they have the power so often inherent in youth: to see the world anew; to reject the old constraints, outdated conventions, and cowardice too often dressed up as wisdom." Obama goes on:

[B]y bearing witness to carnage, by asking tough questions and demanding real answers, the Parkland students are shaking us out of our complacency. The NRA's favored candidates are starting to fear they might lose. Law-abiding gun owners are starting to speak out. As these young leaders make common cause with African-Americans and Latinos — the disproportionate victims of gun violence — and reach voting age, the possibilities of meaningful change will steadily grow. [Time]

Read the full blurb at the Time 100 list here. Jeva Lange

10:01 a.m. ET

On Jan. 20, 2017, at 12:01 p.m. ET, Donald Trump was sworn into office as America's 45th president. At 5:11 p.m., he filed for re-election.

The president has been open about his intentions to run for a second term in 2020, holding campaign-style rallies and building a re-election team. But Trump's Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill are unsure whether they're willing to back the norm-breaking president for another round, CNN's Manu Raju reported Thursday.

"A wide array of House and Senate Republicans tell me they aren't ready to endorse President Trump's bid for a second term," Raju said on Thursday's New Day, "reflecting the deep uncertainty on the Hill there is over his political standing and the tenuous relationship he has with his party." Raju said he spoke with "more than two dozen lawmakers who represent a cross-section of the GOP," adding that most of the people he spoke with demurred on the subject, saying either that it's too early to decide whether they'd support Trump or claiming that Trump might decide not to even run in 2020 — despite his repeated proclamations that he will.

"I've never heard of the party in power not lining up behind their president," CNN host Chris Cuomo said. Watch Raju's report below, which features on-camera answers from Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), as well as Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.). Kimberly Alters

9:53 a.m. ET

CNN's Chris Cuomo is not pleased about Fox News' Sean Hannity failing to disclose to viewers that he was a client of President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, but the New Day host went out of his way Thursday to point out that Hannity is not the only TV journalist to have waded into the ethical quagmire.

"How's this different than Morning Joe?" Cuomo asked his colleagues as they discussed the Hannity scandal. "Remember in the days of the glow, when [Joe Scarborough] and Mika [Brzezinski] spoke to Trump all the time, they had him on, discussed what questions to talk about in the break? They were the Trump whisperers." Morning Joe was "applauded for his relevancy" while people now bash Hannity for a similar relationship, Cuomo went on.

Cuomo admitted that Morning Joe, which is on MSNBC, is a direct competitor of New Day, but he explained that was part of why he paid attention to how their hosts interacted with Trump. "I was watching the headlines very closely, because I believed it worked against us here," he said. "Because we didn't have that kind of access — because we weren't mwah mwah mwah mwah with Donald Trump all the time," he added, making kissing sounds.

Media analyst Brian Stelter pushed back, asking: "Isn't the difference that [Trump] is now president and Hannity is providing a shelter from the storm?" Watch the whole conversation below. Jeva Lange

9:00 a.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has dropped libel lawsuits against BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS over last year's publication of a dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, Politico reports. Among its other allegations, the dossier claims Cohen "secretly [met] with several Russian Presidential Administration (PA) Legal Department officials" in Prague in August 2016 and that he is "heavily engaged in a cover up and damage limitation operation in the attempt to prevent the full details of Trump's relationship with Russia being exposed."

Cohen has repeatedly denied going to Prague, tweeting in January 2017 after the publication of the dossier that he had never visited the Czech city "in my life." McClatchy wrote a week ago that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has "evidence that … Cohen secretly made a late-summer trip to Prague during the 2016 presidential campaign," adding that if their reporting is true, "it would … be one of the most significant developments thus far in [Mueller's] investigation of whether the Trump campaign and the Kremlin worked together to help Trump win the White House." Cohen replied by tweeting again "no matter how many times or ways they write it, I have never been to Prague."

Cohen is also wrapped up in a suit brought by adult film star Stormy Daniels, and pursuing the libel case "could have [made it] difficult for Cohen to convince that judge to put Daniels' case on hold while Cohen continued to press civil suits in other federal courts," Politico writes.

In a statement, Cohen's attorney David Schwartz said: "We believe the defendants defamed my client, and vindicating Mr. Cohen's rights was — and still remains — important. But given the events that have unfolded, and the time, attention, and resources needed to prosecute these matters, we have dismissed the matters, despite their merits." Jeva Lange

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