For the first time, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) no longer leads in his home state of Texas. A recent poll by WFAA-TV released just six days ahead of Super Tuesday reveals the Texas senator is now tied with Donald Trump for first, each with 32 percent. "He's fading," Southern Methodist University political science professor Cal Jillson said of Cruz.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is in a distant third in Texas with 17 percent, followed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 6 percent, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson with 5 percent. Five percent remain undecided. The poll's margin of error is ±3.9 percentage points. Becca Stanek
New Yorkers used to walking by overflowing garbage cans are doing double takes, thanks to a group of floral designers who are transforming trash receptacles into vases.
Lewis Miller and his design team are mixing beauty with grit by taking gorgeous flowers and arranging them in trash cans. "They're our flowers to New York," director of special projects Irini Greenbaum told Today. "That's really the message — to gift flowers to New Yorkers for no other reason than to make them smile." They do most of their work in the early morning hours, and have been dubbed the "flower bandits."
They've branched out from the world of garbage, and also place flowers on New York landmarks, like John Lennon's "Imagine" memorial in Central Park. "People actually took some of the flowers and turned the installation into a peace sign," Greenbaum said. "Which is something that we didn't do…it's nice to see it take on a life of its own." Catherine Garcia
All White House budgets rely on somewhat rosy economic assumptions and some guesswork, but President Trump's fiscal 2018 $4.1 trillion budget plan "is unusually brazen in its defiance of basic math, and in its accounting discrepancies amounting to trillions-with-a-t rather than mere millions or billions," says Politico's Michael Grunwald. The blueprint purports to balance the federal budget within 10 years, but to get there the White House used some pretty creative math, economists say.
The first red flag is that it assumes average 3 percent growth over the next decade, rather than the 2 percent projected by the Congressional Budget Office and other forecasters. "If growth instead remained at 2 percent with no uptick in unemployment, projected deficits would widen by $3.1 trillion over the coming decade, according to Mr. Trump's budget," The Wall Street Journal says. The White House dismisses the 2 percent number as defeatist, saying Trump's proposed tax cuts and regulation-slashing will lead to at least 3 percent growth.
That's "fair enough if you believe in tooth fairies and ludicrous supply-side economics," says former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers in The Washington Post. But it also appears that Trump is counting $2.1 trillion in revenue twice — once from growth sparked by the projected tax cuts, and once to make those tax cuts revenue-neutral — which Summers says "appears to be the most egregious accounting error in a presidential budget in the nearly 40 years I have been tracking them." Maya MacGuineas at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget agrees: "The same money cannot be used twice."
White House budget officials pushed back on the double-counting charge, saying the $2.1 trillion isn't assumed to come from the tax cuts, because the tax overhaul — when the plan is finalized — will be deficit-neutral on its own, thanks to to-be-determined loophole-closing and deduction-limiting. Trump "is counting on unspecified tax increases to convert a plan that independent analysts believe will cost about $5.5 trillion in its current form into a plan that will cost nothing at all, and would somehow end up producing $2 trillion worth of deficit reduction through growth," translates Grunwald, skeptically.
There are some other accounting oddities, too; Binyamin Appelbaum at The New York Times points to the projected $300 billion in revenue from the estate tax, which Trump has promised to eliminate. The Wall Street Journal's Nick Timiraos notes that Trump proposes $200 billion in infrastructure spending while also cutting $95 billion from the Highway Trust Fund, which maintain's the nation's roads and bridges. You can get a brief overview of Trump's budget from CNNMoney below. Peter Weber
Researchers at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park believe a change in diet could be behind a southern white rhino baby boom.
On April 30, a southern white rhino named Kiazi gave birth to her first calf, following 16 years of regular breeding. After nine years of study, scientists at the San Diego Zoo Institute of Conservation Research discovered that southern white rhinos born in zoos are often infertile, and that's likely due to compounds, called phytoestrogens, that are found in the soy and alfalfa they are fed. In 2014, the zoo changed their diets, and two years later, two female southern white rhinos, which are a near-threatened species, were pregnant.
"The birth of Kiazi's calf gives us a great deal of hope that by feeding low phytoestrogens at our institution and others, we can once again have a healthy, self-sustaining captive southern white rhinoceros population," said Dr. Christoper Tubbs, senior scientist in reproductive sciences at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. The calf was born weighing 125 pounds, and by the time she is 3 years old, she could weigh between 4,000 and 5,000 pounds. Catherine Garcia
Saffie Rose Roussos, 8, thought to be the youngest victim of the suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena that killed 22 people on Monday night, is being remembered as a "simply beautiful little girl in every aspect of the word."
— Eyewitness News (@ABC7NY) May 23, 2017
Chris Upton, head teacher at Tarleton Community Primary School, told The Washington Post in an email that Roussos was "loved by everyone and her warmth and kindness will be remembered fondly. Saffie was quiet and unassuming with a creative flair." Roussos, a resident of Leyland, was at the Ariana Grande concert with her mother, Lisa, and older sister, Ashlee, who were both injured by shrapnel. They were all separated in the chaos following the explosion, and it wasn't until Tuesday morning that Saffie's death was confirmed by police. Catherine Garcia
A controversial quip Stephen Colbert made on the May 1 Late Show was not so obscene that it warranted a fine, the Federal Communications Commission said Tuesday.
During his opening monologue, Colbert joked that "the only thing [Trump's] mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin's cock holster." Colbert's mouth was blurred and his words were bleeped out of the broadcast, but, Variety reports, the FCC was still flooded with thousands of complaints — some saying he was disrespectful of the president, others arguing it was a homophobic remark.
The FCC investigates all complaints, and when asked for an update, the commission said in a statement that "consistent with standard operating procedure, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau has reviewed the complaints and the material that was the subject of these complaints. The bureau has concluded that there was nothing actionable under the FCC's rules." Catherine Garcia
During a phone call in late April, President Trump congratulated Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on doing an "unbelievable job" in his bloody war on drugs, a leaked transcript of the conversation obtained by The Intercept and Rappler shows.
The White House described the April 29 call as a "very friendly conversation," with the leaders discussing the threat posed by North Korea and drugs in the Philippines. The transcript — produced by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and later authenticated by top officials in the agency — begins with pleasantries, then Trump launches into his praise of Duterte. "Many countries have the problem" of drugs, he said. "We have a problem, but what a great job you are doing." Duterte thanked him, adding, "This is the scourge of my nation now and I have to do something to preserve the Filipino nation." Trump said that unlike a "previous president," he understood.
Police in the Philippines have killed more than 7,000 suspected drug dealers and users and vigilante squads have added to the death toll, while Duterte himself has said he'd "be happy to slaughter" his country's drug users. "To endorse Duterte is to endorse a man who advocates mass murder and who has admitted to killing people himself," John Sifton, Asia advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, told The Intercept. "Endorsing his methods is a celebration of the death of the poor and vulnerable."
Trump and Duterte also discussed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with Duterte calling him "not stable" and "a madman." Trump said he hopes "China solves the problem" of North Korea, but if they don't, "we will do it." The call ended with Trump urging Duterte to visit him in the Oval Office "anytime you want to come," and a final word of encouragement: "Keep up [the] good work, you are doing an amazing job." You can read the entire transcript, which has several typographical errors, here. Catherine Garcia
Senate Intelligence Committee leaders are responding to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's refusal to hand over documents related to its Russia investigation by issuing subpoenas to two of his businesses.
Rather than comply with an earlier subpoena from the committee in its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, Flynn on Monday invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. "While we disagree with Gen. Flynn's lawyers' interpretation of taking the Fifth ... it's even more clear that a business does not have a right to take the Fifth," Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the panel's vice chairman, told reporters Tuesday.
Flynn, a foreign policy adviser to Trump during the campaign, was only national security adviser for a short amount of time, forced to resign just weeks after the inauguration when it came to light that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Catherine Garcia