A mixture of drought and high winds has caused tumbleweeds to wreak havoc in parts of Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas this year. The pesky brush is blocking roadways, sticking to buildings, and even trapping people inside of their homes. That's what happened in January to 80-year-old Wilford Ransom and his wife, Mary. "I looked out the window to see why it got so dark all of a sudden, and they were over 12-feet high, blocking my front and back doors," the Clovis, N.M., resident tells Reuters. "We couldn’t get out."
What's with the sudden invasion? Due to dry conditions, many ranchers are either selling off or moving their cattle to more fertile areas. Not only are the cows no longer there to graze on the young plants — technically, Russian thistle, a 19th century import — but the tumbleweeds now have larger swathes of land to grow on. "They are opportunistic invaders that need just a little water to sprout," says Ben Berlinger of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service. Catherine Garcia
In West Virginia's 3rd congressional district, which President Trump won by 49.3 points in the general election, Democratic candidate Richard Ojeda holds a sliver of a lead over Republican Carol Miller, the latest Monmouth University poll, released Wednesday, found. Forty-three percent of voters said they were with Ojeda, while Miller held onto 41 percent.
Curiously, Trump is still popular in the district: He has a 66 percent approval rating, with 49 percent of voters strongly approving of him. "Unlike other hotly contested House races in the country where dislike of the president is giving Democrats a boost, this West Virginia district seems to be competitive because the Democratic candidate has his own populist persona," observed the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, Patrick Murray. Despite running as a Democrat, Ojeda has said he voted for Trump in 2016.
David Wasserman of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report responded to the poll by tweeting that he will be moving West Virginia's 3rd congressional district from "likely Republican" to "lean Republican." The poll reached 428 voters in West Virginia's 3rd congressional district between June 14 and 19, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent for the full sample. Read the full results here, Jeva Lange
Watch Trump repeatedly insist he can't stop family separations before announcing that he plans to stop family separations
President Trump has continually emphasized that he was powerless to end his administration's policy of separating immigrant families at the border, blaming Democrats for laws that required the practice even though the separations began after Trump began his "zero tolerance" immigration policy last month and no law exists that mandates parents be separated from their children.
Now, Trump is reportedly poised to sign an executive order that would halt the separations. Many of his critics, Democrats and Republicans alike, have been pointing out that Trump could have reversed his own policy any time, or that he could have told Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to stop the practice. An executive order would cast doubt on all his previous statements when he claimed that only Congress could pass legislation to fix the problem, The Washington Post reports.
Watch some of the instances when Trump and Nielsen claimed their hands were tied below, via The Washington Post. Summer Meza
The San Francisco Police Department has identified a suspect in the murder of at least five gay men in the late 1970s, CNN reports. The killer, who was known as "the Doodler" because he would sketch strangers in bars, could have killed as many as 14 different people. "I'm looking at five murders," said Inspector Dan Cunningham. "But I'd be a fool to say he didn't do more."
While police repeatedly questioned one man in connection to the murders in the 1970s, they never caught the Doodler — who would leave bars with the men he sketched, then stab his victims to death. A drawing of the Doodler was released in 1975 based on three men who were assaulted by a person that detectives at the time believed was their killer. "We have a suspect in the assault that spawned the sketch," explained Cunningham.
After the recent arrest of the suspected Golden State Killer, investigators are hoping they might be able to get usable DNA samples from blood samples taken at two Doodler crime scenes as well. The Doodler today would be in his early 60s, if he is still alive; the police have updated their sketch of him to look as he would now. Jeva Lange
Some migrant children separated from their parents at the border are barely children at all. They're babies.
Infants as young as 3 months old have ended up in Michigan after their parents are detained far away, the Detroit Free Press reports. They arrive on planes in the middle of the night, often with no idea where they're headed, and are placed in foster homes, says a foster care supervisor.
That's a far cry from the account of a Homeland Security official, who told BuzzFeed News on Friday that "we do not separate babies from adults." Yet the next day, an 8-month-old and an 11-year-old arrived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, after weeks away from their parents, per the Free Press. They're among 50 immigrant children — average age: 8 years old — who have landed in Michigan instead of "tender age" detention facilities near the border.
Michigan foster parents are used to taking in unaccompanied migrant children. But the migrants are usually old enough to cross the border alone and know how to find their families already here, New York Times immigration reporter Miriam Jordan said on The Daily podcast Wednesday.
Children arriving in Michigan today are only getting younger, the foster care supervisor told the Free Press. They now come to the U.S. with family, but are torn away when their parents are detained, and they may go a month without even reaching their parents on the phone. Read more at the Detroit Free Press. Kathryn Krawczyk
Michael B. Jordan fans, rejoice: The first trailer for Creed II is here.
The clip, which dropped Wednesday, takes everything to the next level: The stakes are higher, the foe more menacing. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone shine as they reprise their roles of Adonis Creed and Rocky Balboa, respectively, in the sequel to 2015's Creed.
The trailer begins as Jordan's Creed finds himself struggling to keep his father's legacy alive as he continues to build his own, and ultimately builds to a pivotal reveal: Viktor Drago — the son of Ivan Drago, whose infamous punch killed Creed's father Apollo in Rocky V — steps up to challenge Creed.
Creed earned more than $170 million worldwide and earned Stallone a 2016 Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Stallone wrote the screenplay for Creed II himself, and Steven Caple Jr. has signed on to direct. The film will reunite Jordan with Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, who is an executive producer on the film.
Creed II is set to hit theaters Nov. 21. Watch the full trailer below. Amari Pollard
— Michael B. Jordan (@michaelb4jordan) June 20, 2018
President Trump will reportedly sign an executive order to end his own administration's "zero tolerance" policy of separating migrant parents from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border, The New York Times reports. Ahead of the expected order, Trump canceled Thursday's congressional picnic, saying it "doesn't feel right" because "we're doing something so important."
Trump and other administration officials have long resisted reversing the heavily-criticized policy of separating families, initially announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in May. Trump has attempted to pass the blame off on Democrats, and when asked why he didn't take executive action by ABC News' Kenneth Moton last week, Trump replied: "We can't do it through an executive order."
Also on Wednesday, The Associated Press reported that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who has been at the center of the controversy, reportedly drafted an order that would put an end to the policy she has defended. "We will not apologize for enforcing the laws passed by Congress," she had tweeted earlier this week, although there are no such laws ordering children to be separated. "We are a nation of laws. We are asking Congress to change the laws."
The New York Times notes that Trump's executive order, which would end "the separation of families at the border by indefinitely detaining parents and children together," would have to also get around the 1997 Flores settlement, which prohibits the government from holding minors in immigration detention for more than 20 days, regardless of if they are with a parent or not.
Even President Trump has claimed that he "hates" his administration's policy that separates immigrant children from their families at the border, but senior adviser Stephen Miller is apparently a fan.
Miller, a top White House policy adviser, is reportedly quite happy with how things are going, leading one fellow staffer to equate his behavior to that of Nazi war criminals, Vanity Fair reported Wednesday.
"Stephen actually enjoys seeing those pictures at the border," an outside White House adviser said. "He's a twisted guy, the way he was raised and picked on. There's always been a way he's gone about this. He's Waffen-SS."
Waffen-SS, the Nazi Party's armed forces, were considered particularly brutal even among other factions of Hitler's regime. Miller has been a "driving force" behind the Trump administration's zero tolerance immigration policy, and he's glad to finally have the ear of the president to create the political change for which he's yearned for many years, reports The New York Times. As public outcry continues to increase as images and audio recordings of youth immigrant detention facilities circulate the web, Miller is celebrating a job well done. Read more at Vanity Fair. Summer Meza