Crime and punishment
March 13, 2014
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After an 84-year-old man wound up with a head wound for misunderstanding cops who tried to stop him from jaywalking on the Upper West Side, New York City's police department is taking a decidedly more lighthearted approach to the issue. This morning, police officers in Brooklyn's 68th precinct, which includes the neighborhoods of Dyker Heights, Bay Ridge, and Fort Hamilton, handed out faux jaywalking tickets to raise awareness about the city's laws.

The fliers were handed out to pedestrians as they crossed the street — both legally and illegally — and look like an official NYPD summons, but are pre-written and addressed to John Doe. According to the summons, Doe "failed to exercise due care while crossing a roadway, creating a safety hazard." On the back of the papers, police included a list of pedestrian safety tips.

The publicity stunt probably won't stop people from jaywalking, particularly during the morning rush, but it certainly beats a $5 million lawsuit. Meghan DeMaria

natural disasters
7:58 p.m. ET

A tornado that hit the town of Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, Monday morning killed at least 13 people, while across the border 12 people are reported missing after severe flooding in Texas.

The tornado in Ciudad Acuna, a town of 125,000 people across from Del Rio, Teas, struck as children were headed to their school buses, CBS News reports. A baby in its carrier was ripped from its mother's arms and 400 homes were destroyed, authorities said, and 300 people are hospitalized for injuries. "There's nothing standing, not walls, not roofs," Edgar Gonzalez, a spokesman for the city government, said.

In Texas, 2,000 people had to evacuate from their homes during heavy rains, which hit towns along the Blanco River in the central part of the state especially hard. One man, Jonathan McComb, was hospitalized after his home came off its foundation and struck a bridge as the water carried it down the river. His wife and two children are among the dozen people missing after the flooding. Catherine Garcia

settlements
7:02 p.m. ET
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The city of Cleveland will announce as early as Tuesday that it reached a settlement with the Justice Department over what it called a pattern of unconstitutional policing and excessive use of force, sources told The New York Times on Monday.

The details were not shared, but in previous cases, the Justice Department told cities they needed to allow independent monitors to oversee the changes made inside their police departments, revise their use-of-force policies, and improve their training, the Times reports. In December, the Justice Department released a report on the Cleveland Division of Police, with investigators saying officers unnecessarily used deadly force, used excessive force against mentally ill people, inappropriately used stun guns and chemical sprays, and in one case officers kicked a black man in the head while he was handcuffed and on the ground, but did not mention using force in their report.

Over the weekend, hundreds protested in Cleveland after a judge on Saturday found a white police officer, Michael Brelo, not guilty of manslaughter after a 2012 incident where he climbed on the hood of a vehicle and fired several times at an unarmed black couple, Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell, sitting in their car. Catherine Garcia

This just in
3:01 p.m. ET
Olivier Douliery/Getty Images

Iraq and Iran are rejecting Defense Secretary Ash Carter's claim on Sunday that "Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight" against ISIS, which allowed the terrorist group to overtake Ramadi.

"Carter was likely given incorrect information because the situation on ground is different," Saad al-Hadithi, a spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, told The Associated Press. "We should not judge the whole army based on one incident."

Iran's Gen. Qassim Soleimani, meanwhile, told Iran's Javan that America didn't help stop ISIS from advancing on Ramadi.

Carter made the comments on ISIS during a CNN interview. "They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force," Carter said in the interview, which aired Sunday. "That says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves." Meghan DeMaria

Rest in peace
2:04 p.m. ET

President Obama and Defense Secretary Ash Carter honored America's late soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday. In his speech, Obama noted that it is the first Memorial Day in more than 10 years that the U.S. "is not engaged in a major ground war."

"We do know what your sacrifice means to us, to this nation, and to a world that still depends so much on American men and women in uniform for its security," Carter said of fallen soldiers at the event. He also noted that almost 200,000 American service members are overseas.

Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, adding that "our men and women in uniform still stand watch, still serve, still sacrifice, around the world." —Meghan DeMaria

This just in
1:43 p.m. ET
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An unnamed source with "direct knowledge" of the deal told The New York Times on Monday that Charter Communications is close to finalizing an agreement to buy Time Warner Cable for about $55.1 billion in cash and stock.

If the deal is approved, Charter would pay about $195 a share, which is about 14 percent higher than Time Warner Cable's closing stock price on Friday. And as the Times notes, it's also 47 percent higher than Charter's bid to buy Time Warner Cable last year.

If Charter acquires Time Warner Cable, its main investor, billionaire John Malone, would "break into the top tier of the American broadband industry," the Times reports.

Sources "familiar with the matter" told Bloomberg the deal could be announced as early as Tuesday. Meghan DeMaria

Your tax dollars at work
12:42 p.m. ET
Facebook.com/Turner Construction

A building project of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is already $1 billion over budget — but it's about to get another $100 million in tax dollars to keep it going.

The VA hospital in question, the Denver Replacement Medical Center, has been labeled the "biggest construction failure" in the agency's history with a current price tag of $1.73 billion (and rapidly counting). The original cost estimate was less than $400 million.

Also catastrophically mismanaged is the hospital's construction timeline: The hospital was supposed to be completed more than a year ago, but now, it is not expected to be completed in 2015. The $100 million bailout will fund only three extra weeks of work.

This debacle is the latest in a long line of scandals surrounding the VA for the past several years. The department has been caught providing slow and inadequate service to veterans, using faulty medical equipment, engaging in corrupt and irresponsible activities with minimal consequences, and fudging the numbers on veteran suicides. Bonnie Kristian

Really?
12:19 p.m. ET
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Deep in an article focused on Republican candidate Jeb Bush's new house in Kennebunkport, the Boston Globe reports that former President George W. Bush once offered to officiate a same-sex wedding ceremony for family friends:

Some mornings, [Jeb] Bush drops into H.B. Provisions, a cozy general store owned by Bonnie Clement and her wife, Helen Thorgalsen (George H.W. Bush made international headlines when he attended their wedding in 2013; George W. Bush offered to perform the ceremony but had a scheduling conflict). [Boston Globe]

As others have noted, this tidbit is intriguing given W's complicated history with gay marriage: In 2004, he supported a constitutional ban on gay marriage, basing his arguments in religious and legal traditions — but he also backed civil unions, which was then a controversial position in the GOP. And when Bush Sr. attended Clement and Thorgalsen's wedding, W's camp refused to comment. In recent years, however, George W. Bush has moderated his rhetoric about gay marriage, repeatedly quoting a passage from the Sermon on the Mount, which prohibits judging others. Bonnie Kristian

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