Cesar Cantu was serving 15 years in prison for money laundering and drug trafficking even though, based solely on his offenses and lack of criminal history, he shouldn't have been put away for nearly that long.
The reason: As the Associated Press notes, a typo in Cantu's pre-sentencing report incorrectly overstated his "base offense level," triggering the lengthier punishment. Cantu didn't catch the error until a couple of years ago, but a judge refused his request to reduce the sentence, saying too much time had passed.
It all worked out in the end though, as President Obama on Tuesday commuted Cantu's sentence from 15 years to 11-12 years. That said, the court that originally convicted Cantu may still want to consider hiring a proofreader lest the same problem happen again. Jon Terbush
Virtual reality headsets may look impossibly dorky — but you know what doesn't? An Olympic gold medal.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association has worked for the past two years with the virtual-reality company STRIVR Labs to prepare its athletes for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Barring secret training operations by other countries, the Post says the U.S. is the first country to use VR in its Olympic training.
Because the Jeongseon Alpine Centre, where the skiing events will be held, is only two years old, VR headset training is especially helpful as most Olympic athletes have only traversed the course a handful of times, the Post explains. The U.S. team took advantage of 2016 pit stop in South Korea during the World Cup to gather its footage, sending one of its coaches barreling down the Jeongseon course over and over again, armed with a 360-degree video camera. STRIVR then made a composite of the coach's various runs and recalibrated the footage to approximate the intensity of an Olympic ski run.
The Post reports that "most of the U.S. team" has had a virtual run down the Olympic slopes. But these VR ski runs can be somewhat nauseating, which makes some athletes reluctant to train with VR. STRIVR tried to mitigate the risk of motion sickness, encouraging athletes to use the VR footage while perched on motion-simulating equipment so that their bodies align more closely with the images they were seeing. Still, "you watch it and you get pretty sick and dizzy," one athlete told the Post.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) will give birth to her second child in April, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Tuesday. Ten lawmakers from the House of Representatives have given birth while in office — including Duckworth, back in 2014 — but Duckworth will be the first sitting senator to give birth while serving, the Sun-Times notes.
The journey to Duckworth's second pregnancy was an arduous one. "I've had multiple [in vitro fertilization] cycles and a miscarriage trying to conceive again, so we're very grateful," she told the Sun-Times, adding that the miscarriage happened while she ran for her Senate seat in 2016.
The 49-year-old senator was a House representative for Illinois' 8th district when she gave birth to her daughter in 2014. "As tough as it's been to juggle motherhood and the demands of being in the House and now the Senate, it's made me more committed to doing this job," Duckworth said. Kelly O'Meara Morales
Congress might be able to learn a thing or two from the Utah State Legislature, where a conflict over replacing the official state fossil resulted in a creative, Cretaceous solution.
Republican state Sen. Curt Bramble appeared ready to declare war on the Allosaurus — the official Utah state fossil — last December, proposing it should be replaced by the Utahraptor. The issue first came to Bramble's attention thanks to a 10-year-old family friend and dinosaur enthusiast, Kenyon Roberts, who likewise argued the Utahrapor's case to The Salt Lake Tribune: "Its name has 'Utah' in it, and it's only found in Utah. The Allosaurus has been found in Europe, Africa, and other states. The first Allosaurus skull was found in Colorado."
Convinced, Bramble decided to write legislation to dethrone the Allosaurus. But "there are historical reasons for keeping the Allosaurus," argued Utah State Paleontologist James Kirkland, who actually discovered the Utahraptor himself around 1990 near Arches National Park. For example, Utah's Cleveland-Lloyd quarry provided researchers with 50 Allosaurus specimens, allowing paleontologists to make great strides towards understanding the Jurassic lizard.
In order to avoid conflict, Bramble went back to the drawing board and came up with a different bill — to introduce a state dinosaur, The Associated Press reports. And no, it's not the state's 83-year-old senator, Orrin Hatch. It's — yes — the mighty Utahraptor.
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) January 23, 2018
Utah does not have a state dinosaur at present, so the new bill avoids any potential fights in the Legislature. Other states with official dinosaurs are Wyoming (Triceratops), Iowa (Tyrannosaurus), and New Jersey (Hadrosaurus foulkii). Jeva Lange
Special Counsel Robert Mueller interviewed former FBI Director James Comey last year for the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, The New York Times reported Tuesday. The two men discussed "a series of memos [Comey] wrote about his interactions with [President] Trump that unnerved Mr. Comey," the Times wrote.
In one of his memos, Comey claimed that President Trump suggested the FBI back off of its investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Comey was abruptly fired by Trump in May while he was leading the FBI's investigation of Russian meddling, and Flynn had been a party of interest in the FBI's probe. NBC News explained last year how Comey's memos could act as proof of obstruction of justice by the president.
Less than a month into his tenure with the Trump administration, Flynn resigned after lying about a phone call he had in December 2016 with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. He has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about that phone call. Earlier Tuesday, the Justice Department confirmed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had also been interviewed by Mueller's team. Kelly O'Meara Morales
President Trump is hosting the first official White House state dinner of his presidency in April with French President Emmanuel Macron, a senior administration official confirmed to Fox News on Tuesday. While Trump has hosted a number of world leaders, and even a number of high-profile dinners, "none were official state visits with all the trappings, pomp, circumstance, and accompanying glittering state dinner," CNN writes.
Trump made history by being the first president in nearly a century to not host a state dinner in his first year in office. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said there was not one "singular reason" behind the decision. Trump, for his part, pooh-poohed state dinners on the campaign trail, The Hill reports, telling supporters that he would not throw Chinese President Xi Jinping a dinner: "I would get him a McDonald's hamburger and say we've got to get down to work," Trump suggested instead.
New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin disputes 'preposterous' quotes attributed to him in new White House tell-all
Fox News anchor Howard Kurtz's new book on the White House, Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War over the Truth, is already being compared to Michael Wolff's tell-all Fire and Fury — and now it even has the backlash to boot, CNN reports. In the book, which Politico describes as "[portraying] the news media … as excessively negative in its treatment of President Donald Trump," Kurtz alleges that New York Times political reporter Jonathan Martin bashed Trump in a phone call with an RNC staffer.
"Donald Trump is racist and a fascist, we all know it, and you are complicit," Martin reportedly said. "By supporting him you're all culpable." The staffer supposedly called Martin later, prompting "another tirade," CNN writes, citing Kurtz' book. That conversation led to an "angry phone call from then-Republican National Committee Communications Director Sean Spicer to a Times editor to complain," CNN reports.
Martin, though, says the anecdote is not true — and what's more, that it doesn't even sound believable. "Of course I didn't yell 'you're a racist and a fascist' or 'you are complicit' or 'you're all culpable' at anybody," he told CNN. "Does that sound like me? More to that point, do those sound like real life lines any human being in the news business would use?" Backing up Martin's story, Politico Playbook comments that the quote attributed to him "doesn't sound like something JMart ever would've said."
Kurtz and the book's publisher, Regency, stand by the story, saying it is supported by "sources with direct knowledge of the conversations."
Martin added to Politico: "Howie paraphrased a vague, preposterous-sounding quote to me that I told him sounded ridiculous and not the kind of thing I'd say ... I still have no idea what he or Sean Spicer are talking about.” Jeva Lange
Two students were killed and 17 students were injured Tuesday after a student opened fire at Marshall County High School in Kentucky, The Associated Press reports. Twelve of the injuries were caused by gunfire, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports, while the other five were not gunshot wounds.
In a press conference, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) told reporters that two 15-year-old students died in the shooting, one at the scene and another in a hospital. Overall, 14 students were shot, including the two deceased.
The shooter, a 15-year-old male student, has not been publicly identified. He has been taken into custody and "will be charged with both murder and attempted murder," Bevin said. Watch a portion of his press conference below. Kelly O'Meara Morales
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 23, 2018