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March 26, 2014
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College athletes: 1. NCAA: 0.

In a potentially precedent-setting ruling, the National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday sided with the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA) in ruling that Northwestern football players are school employees and can unionize. The CAPA — led by Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter — argued earlier this year that student athletes should be treated as employees because they earn money for their colleges and are contractually tied, via scholarships, to them. And NLRB Regional Director Peter Sung Ohr agreed, writing that players who receive scholarships "are subject to the employer's control and are therefore employees."

The ruling only applies to Northwestern, though it could pave the way for athletes at other colleges to follow suit and ultimately crumble the NCAA's bogus student-athlete model. However, Northwestern has already said it will appeal the decision, which is no surprise. As we and many others have written before, colleges and the NCAA make a humongous pile of cash off collegiate athletics while players get zilch; the NCAA, ostensibly a non-profit, earned an incredible $872 million in revenue in 2012. Allowing players to unionize would be a direct threat to the cartel of college sports that exploits students and gives them no say. Jon Terbush

10:06 p.m. ET
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The U.S. Navy announced Tuesday it is filing negligent homicide charges against several officers involved in two deadly ship collisions last year.

In June, the USS Fitzgerald hit a commercial ship in the waters off Japan, leaving seven sailors dead, and in August, the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in the waters off of Singapore, killing 10 sailors. Both collisions were deemed avoidable. Navy spokesperson Capt. Greg Hicks said a hearing will determine if the officers, charged with negligent homicide, dereliction of duty, and endangering a ship, will be taken to trial in a court-martial.

The Navy is filing at least three charges against four officers on the USS Fitzgerald, including the commanding officer at the time, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, and charges against the commander at the time of the USS John S. McCain, Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez, and the chief petty officer. Hicks said the announcement of charges is "not intended to and does not reflect a determination of guilt or innocence related to any offenses. All individuals alleged to have committed misconduct are entitled to a presumption of innocence." In the wake of the collisions, several top leaders, including the Commander of the 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucion, were fired. Catherine Garcia

9:12 p.m. ET
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After going a year without meeting, nine of the 12 members of the National Park System Advisory Board resigned on Monday night, exasperated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's inability to make the time to convene with the committee.

"We were frozen out," Tony Knowles, former governor of Alaska and departing chairman of the board, told The Washington Post. After Zinke was appointed last year, he suspended all outside committees, saying he needed to review their work, and while some have become operational again, those without updated charters can't meet. "We understand the complexity of transition but our requests to engage have been ignored and the matters on which we wanted to brief the new Department team are clearly not part of its agenda," Knowles wrote in a letter from the resigning members to Zinke.

This committee was established in 1935, and in recent years has advised on how to deal with global warming and bring younger people to the parks. The bipartisan board was not consulted by Zinke when he decided to increase visitor fees and overturn a ban on plastic water bottles in the parks, and now that there are just three members left, the government does not have a body to designate historic or natural landmarks, the Post reports. Zinke has already disbanded two commissions — the Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science and the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, which has been replaced with the Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council. Catherine Garcia

8:22 p.m. ET
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The Justice Department announced Tuesday that a former CIA officer suspected of working with China to identify informants in the country has been arrested and charged with unlawful retention of national defense information.

Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, left the CIA in 2007, and in 2012, the FBI began to investigate him as more and more informants in China started to die or go to prison. Lee lived in Hong Kong, but during a 2012 trip to the U.S., FBI investigators searched his luggage and found journals containing classified information; prosecutors say the handwritten notes included details about meetings with informants and the names and phone numbers of undercover agents.

Some intelligence officials believe Lee worked with the Chinese government, The New York Times reports, while other think it's possible China was able to hack the secret communications channels used by the CIA to talk to informants. Since 2010, more than a dozen CIA informants have been killed or imprisoned by the Chinese government. Catherine Garcia

7:33 p.m. ET
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One month before the 2016 presidential election, Fox News had a story ready to go about an alleged affair between adult film actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and President Trump, but never published it, four people familiar with the matter told CNN.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that in October 2016, Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, arranged a $130,000 payment to Clifford to keep quiet about the alleged sexual relationship. Fox News reporter Diana Falzone had a completed story about Clifford and Trump, which included a statement confirming the relationship from Clifford's manager, but "Fox killed it," one person familiar with the matter told CNN. Fox News wasn't the only outlet writing about this story; The Daily Beast and Slate both said they were speaking to Clifford before the election, but she backed out of an interview with The Daily Beast and stopped returning phone calls from Slate.

Noah Kotch, who became editor-in-chief and vice president of Fox News digital in 2017, said "in doing our due diligence, we were unable to verify all of the facts and publish a story." Cohen and Clifford have both denied WSJ's report, and in a statement distributed by Cohen, Clifford said her involvement with Trump "was limited to a few public appearances and nothing more," and "rumors that I have received hush money from Donald Trump are completely false." Catherine Garcia

6:20 p.m. ET
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Tuesday was apparently "Subpoena Stephen Bannon Day" in Washington, D.C. A few hours after the former White House chief strategist was subpoenaed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Bannon was reportedly subpoenaed again — this time by the House Intelligence Committee.

Bannon was being grilled by the committee when he was hit with a subpoena "on the spot," Politico reports, for not answering questions. Apparently, congressional investigators wanted to know about Bannon's brief stint in the White House but were stonewalled, which, Politico notes, angered Democrats and Republicans alike.

At the time of publication, Bannon and his attorney had not commented on either subpoena or his congressional testimony. Kelly O'Meara Morales

4:50 p.m. ET

Nevada Democrats have a new weapon under their sleeves as they prepare for a tough Senate and gubernatorial race in their state: a turtle mascot named "Mitch McTurtle."

In case you don't get the joke, Nevada Democrats hope that this smiling turtle — which holds bags of money in order to symbolize Republican economic policy or something like that — will be a sick burn against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the Republican Party in Nevada.

Improbably, The Hill reports that McTurtle was "well received" at his unveiling and that someone described as a "local activist" actually tweeted praise for the plush reptile. Of course, the Mitch McTurtle Twitter account — which only has 27 followers at the time of writing— soon retweeted it. Kelly O'Meara Morales

4:12 p.m. ET

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) tried to take off a pair of glasses. There was just one problem; he wasn't wearing any glasses.

Rather than point out, as some Twitter users did, that this reflexive motion is not uncommon for people who wear contacts, the soon-to-be retiree (or the staff who run his Twitter account at least) responded with a millennial-friendly witticism.

A spokesperson for Hatch later told The Hill that the senator left his reading glasses at home and simply succumbed to the Pavlovian instinct to take them off. It was a mistake, the spokesman said, that "many glasses and contact lens wearers can relate to." Kelly O'Meara Morales

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