Three New York teens were arrested for loitering while they were waiting for their bus. A Rochester, N.Y., police officer told the boys, who were waiting to be taken to a basketball game, that they were acting disorderly and obstructing the sidewalk. The boys' basketball coach is outraged. "They did what they were supposed to do and yet they got arrested," he said. Samantha Rollins
CNN's Anderson Cooper swats down the 'sick' Parkland conspiracy theories, aided by student David Hogg
There were four more funerals Tuesday for students slain last week in Parkland, Florida. But "as these kids buried their friends, some sick conspiracy theories have been cropping up," Anderson Cooper said on CNN Tuesday night. One claims the student survivors demanding new gun laws are "crisis actors" and another insists student David Hogg is a gun-grabbing "pawn" of the FBI.
"While we'd normally be reluctant to even give these conspiracy theories any oxygen at all," Donald Trump Jr. rewteeted the FBI one, making it "newsworthy," Cooper said. "We'd love to talk to Don Jr. about why he did that, why he is, by extension, attacking these kids who just buried their friends, but it turns out he's in India promoting his father's real estate empire." Instead, he had on Hogg and his father, former FBI employee Kevin Hogg. David Hogg called the conspiracy theories "unbelievable," said Don Jr.'s retweet was "disgusting to me," and judged it "hilarious" that anybody would think his dog-cuddling dad is pulling his strings.
In Cooper's panel discussion, Jack Kingston insisted he "would never say" that the kids are crisis actors, but he did repeat his more respectable conspiracy theory about George Soros controlling the Parkland students. "It would shock me if they did a nationwide rally and the pro–gun control left took their hands of it," he said.
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) February 21, 2018
"When you say something like that, it's so bad, and I'm going to tell you why it's bad," Van Jones told Kingston. But Parkland student Sarah Chadwick had already beaten him to the punch. Peter Weber
Hey Jack! Just wanted to let you know that, yes! Us 17yrs really are planning a nationwide rally! It’s crazy what determination, and a strong work ethic can lead to! But I mean you have neither of those things so I wouldn’t expect you to understand. https://t.co/SM6BThmIqv
— Sarah Chadwick// #NEVERAGAIN (@sarahchad_) February 20, 2018
It appears Dallas officials aren't the only ones rethinking the National Rifle Association's May meeting in Texas. Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) was listed as a featured speaker at the NRA's leadership forum, Steve Bousquet wrote at The Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday, and his "office confirmed the invitation, but said no decision has been made on whether he will attend." By Wednesday morning, as a Florida Daily Kos diarist noted, Scott was no longer on the NRA's list of speakers.
— Nicole C. Morris (@rockstaresquire) February 20, 2018
The NRA calls its annual conference "a must stop for candidates seeking the highest levels of elective office," Bousquet notes, and Scott, a featured speaker at its 2017 conference, is one of the group's favorites. After Scott pushed through a number of laws loosening gun restrictions, the NRA gave him "its highest compliment, an A-plus rating, as the NRA flooded Florida homes with millions of mailers to help Scott clinch re-election four years ago." After last week's school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Bousquet says, "suddenly, the NRA's A-plus rating looks like an albatross, a potential drag on Scott's expected run for the U.S. Senate." Peter Weber
Jared Kushner really doesn't want to give up his high-level security clearance, White House officials say
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, stung by the Rob Porter scandal, moved Friday to revoke high-level access to classified information for White House employees whose background checks have been pending since before June 2017. Chief among the numerous White House officials with interim security clearances is Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, and Kusher "is resisting giving up his access to highly classified information," The New York Times reports.
Kushner is the elephant in the room when it comes to security clearance, The Washington Post reports, with White House Counsel Don McGahn's office feeling "they cannot take action on other people whose background checks have dragged on because they did not take similar steps with Kushner." Kushner is reportedly being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but his several amendments to his background application means he is actually safe from Kelly's directive, for now. Still, Kelly's push to tighten the loose White House security situation has put him at loggerheads with Kushner, the Times reports:
Mr. Kushner, frustrated about the security clearance issue and concerned that Mr. Kelly has targeted him personally with the directive, has told colleagues at the White House that he is reluctant to give up his high-level access, the officials said. In the talks, the officials say, Mr. Kushner has insisted that he maintain his current level of access, including the ability to review the [president's] daily intelligence briefing when he sees fit. But Mr. Kelly, who has been privately dismissive of Mr. Kushner since taking the post of chief of staff but has rarely taken him on directly, has made no guarantees. [The New York Times]
You can read more about Kushner-Kelly tensions at The New York Times, and watch reporter Julie Hirschfeld Davis discuss her report on CNN. Peter Weber
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) February 21, 2018
Activists say at least 250 people, including 50 children, have been killed over the last few days in Eastern Ghouta, Syria, and another were 1,200 injured.
Panos Moumtzis, the United Nations' Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, told the BBC the situation there is "beyond imagination," with countless people experiencing "extreme suffering." The government of President Bashar al-Assad has been dropping bomb after bomb in Eastern Ghouta, the last major opposition stronghold near Damascus, for several days; the military says it is trying to free the area from terrorists.
The bombing went into overdrive on Sunday and Monday. Resident Firas Abdullah told the BBC that "the missiles and the mortars are dropping on us like rain. There is nowhere to hide from this nightmare and it isn't over." A U.N. spokesperson said at least six hospitals in the region were hit by bombs on Monday and Tuesday, and there are shortages of food, since only one humanitarian convoy has been let into Eastern Ghouta by the government since November. Activists say this is the worst violence in Syria since a chemical attack in 2013. Catherine Garcia
How's this for some customer service? After a United Airlines gate agent discovered a passenger's missing wedding/engagement ring, she gave the ring to a pilot, who personally dropped it off at the passenger's home in San Francisco.
Brit Morin tweeted that her ring disappeared somewhere between New York City and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, last week. After a gate agent discovered it, the agent put the ring away in a safe, then gave it to the pilot for a very special delivery. The captain dropped the ring off on Monday along with a note, which read: "I take pride in getting passengers from Point A to Point B safely and on time. Today, I'm happy to be part of a team focused on making just one individual happy (you!)." Morin tweeted that she now has "a newfound faith in humanity and airlines. Thanks United." Catherine Garcia
Stephen Colbert sees hope in the post-Parkland gun fight because of the Parkland students, #MeToo revolution
Stephen Colbert believes the children are our future, and not in some ironic way. After last week's mass shooting at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, he said on Tuesday's Late Show, he was "sickened and heartbroken, not only by the attack and the loss of innocent life, but by what I feared would be the complete lack of action by our leaders." He singled out Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who quickly took to the Senate floor to argue that gun laws won't work. "Okay, as long as we're being clear and honest, senator, your position as a lawmaker is: 'The laws are useless — everyone into the Thunderdome!'?" he asked. "Then why do we need you? It seems a house plant would do a better job, and it would probably need a little less water."
"But there is one group that does give me hope that we can do something to protect the children, and sadly, it's the children," Colbert said. The students from Parkland "saw their leaders doing nothing and said, 'Hold my root beer.'" He played some clips. Student David Hogg is right, "the adults aren't cutting it anymore," he said. "I think we need to change the voting age — until we do something about guns, you can't vote if you're over 18."
Parkland students, who have organized a nationwide march and class walkout, bussed down to Tallahassee to beg lawmakers to reinstate an assault weapons ban, only to watch those lawmakers vote no. "Well, I hope these kids don't give up," Colbert said. "Because this is their lives, and their future. Someone else may be in power, but this country belongs to them. And there is reason for hope. Look at the #MeToo movement — a lot of men in power did not see that coming, but it proved that change can happen overnight." Watch below. Peter Weber
Lindsey Vonn took home a bronze medal Wednesday in Pyeongchang, coming in behind Italy's Sofia Goggia and Norway's Ragnhild Mowinckel in the downhill race.
Vonn finished in 1:39.69, 0.47 seconds behind Goggia. "I skied a great race today," Vonn told NBC. "Sofia just skied better than I did." Vonn said she had "no regrets" about the event, but it was "tough to contemplate this being my last Olympic downhill race. I struggled to keep the emotions together. But I'm proud of my performance."
Vonn has competed in four Winter Olympics and won three medals. She won the gold in the downhill race at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, but a knee injury prevented her from participating in the 2014 Games in Sochi. She has one more individual event coming up: the combined on Thursday. Vonn told NBC she's "99.9 percent sure" she won't compete in the 2022 Games in Beijing, "but who knows? Maybe something will come out and they'll fix my knee up and I'll be like Robo-knee and I'll ski for like 10 more years. That'd be ideal." Catherine Garcia