Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) announced Friday that he will retire from Congress at the end of his term, putting yet another Democratic congressional seat in Minnesota into play in the 2018 midterm elections, Politico notes.
Nolan's retirement forces Democrats to defend a seat in a district President Trump won in 2016 with 54 percent of the vote to Hillary Clinton's 39 percent. Nolan, meanwhile, squeaked out a victory that year by only a little more than 2,000 votes.
The loss of Nolan comes after former Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) was forced to resign late last year in relation to accusations of sexual assault. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) tapped Tina Smith to take Franken's place in the Senate, but Smith will be forced to defend her seat too in a special election in November. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), meanwhile, will also be on the ballot, while Rep. Tim Walz's (D-Minn.) decision to run for governor puts at risk a Democratic seat in Minnesota's competitive first congressional district.
Clinton won Minnesota overall by just 1.5 percentage points in 2016 — hardly a confidence boost for Democrats. Still, Nolan struck an optimistic note in the statement announcing his resignation, saying that his district had "a number of highly qualified people" and predicting that "with hard work and broad base of support, one of them … will serve with distinction in the next Congress." Nolan served two non-consecutive terms in the House of Representatives, the first from 1975-1981 and the second beginning in 2013.
Read his full statement below. Kelly O'Meara Morales
To the great people of Minnesota's 8th District: I am announcing today that I will not seek re-election.
The gratitude and affection I have for all of you here in Northern Minnesota is beyond my ability to express in words.
You can read my full statement below. pic.twitter.com/C2ef1u3P8l
— US Rep. Rick Nolan (@USRepRickNolan) February 9, 2018
Democrat Linda Belcher won a special election in Kentucky's Bullitt County on Tuesday, defeating Republican Rebecca Johnson with 68.45 percent of the vote.
Belcher is replacing state Rep. Dan Johnson, a Republican and Rebecca Johnson's late husband, in House District 49. Dan Johnson died by suicide last year after a report came out accusing him of molesting a 17-year-old girl at the church where he was pastor. Belcher said she ran a "very positive campaign," which was all about "trying to reach out and touch the people of Bullitt County, and we did. I have to thank them for listening to our message."
Belcher's husband, Larry Belcher, held the seat at the time of his death in October 2008; she replaced him on the ballot, and served in the legislature from 2008 to 2012 and 2014 to 2016, when Johnson won the election. In 2016, the district overwhelmingly went for President Trump, who won with a 72-23 margin. Catherine Garcia
Right before Vice President Mike Pence was set to secretly meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister during the Winter Olympics in South Korea, the North Koreans canceled on him, his office told The Washington Post Tuesday.
Pence and a team were going to meet with Kim Yo Jong and Kim Yong Nam, North Korea's nominal head of state, on Feb. 10, but they pulled out of the meeting less than two hours before it was going to start. Pence had been vocal about sanctions and his belief North Korea was using the Winter Games for propaganda purposes, and North Korea made it clear they did not like his remarks, his office said. "This administration will stand in the way of Kim's desire to whitewash their murderous regime with nice photo ops at the Olympics," Pence's chief of staff, Nick Ayers, told the Post.
It took about two weeks to set up the meeting, which was scheduled to take place at South Korea's Blue House. Not long after the cancellation, the state-run Korean Central News Agency blasted Pence, saying he "must know that his frantic acts of abusing the sacred Olympics for confrontational ruckus are as foolish and stupid an act as sweeping the sea with a broom." Catherine Garcia
Inspired by the survivors of last week's deadly school shooting in Florida, who are channeling their anger into action and organizing the March for Our Lives protest against gun violence, Oprah Winfrey announced Tuesday she is donating $500,000 to the rally.
Winfrey is matching a donation made earlier by George and Amal Clooney. On Twitter, Winfrey called the students "inspiring young people" who remind her of "the Freedom Riders of the '60s, who also said we've had ENOUGH and our voices will be heard." In a statement to People, Clooney said he'll be at the March 24 rally in Washington, D.C., with his family, and he made his donation in the name of his 8-month-old twins, Ella and Alexander. The "groundbreaking event" needs to happen, he added, because "our children's lives depend on it."
Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw also matched the donation made by George and Amal Clooney, Deadline reports. In a statement, Spielberg said the students "are already demonstrating their leadership with a confidence and maturity that belies their ages," and he applauds their "efforts to take a stand for the benefit of this and future generations." Catherine Garcia
The Department of the Army has recognized three of the teenagers killed last week in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, giving each one a Medal of Heroism, the highest honor for JROTC students.
Peter Wang, Alaina Petty, and Martin Duque were all cadets in the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, and their families have either been given or will soon receive keepsake medals. During the attack last week, Wang helped his classmates to safety, and was wearing his uniform when he was shot. It was his dream to attend the United States Military Academy, also known as West Point, and the USMA announced Tuesday it granted Wang posthumous admission. In a statement, West Point called Wang "a brave young man" whose actions "exemplified the tenets of duty, honor, and country." Wang was buried on Tuesday, wearing his uniform. Catherine Garcia
Florida lawmakers denied a motion to bring an assault weapons ban to a vote Tuesday, less than a week after 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, by a teenager armed with a semiautomatic rifle. The effort failed to pass Florida's House by a 71-36 margin, The Associated Press reports.
The proposed assault weapons ban had previously been stalled in committee, but Democratic state Rep. Kionne McGhee pushed the state legislature to consider allowing the bill to be considered anyway. Florida's Spectrum News 13 said McGhee's motion was thwarted by "almost every Republican voting no."
Florida's state Senate, however, was able to make progress Tuesday on some legislation to address the safety of students. The Associated Press reported that the state's Senate Education Committee was able to attach an amendment "to put law enforcement officers in every school in the state" to an education reform bill that is now in consideration. Kelly O'Meara Morales
On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders held her first press briefing in over a week. There was a lot to address: In the last week, 17 people were killed at a high school in Parkland, Florida, by a teenager armed with a semiautomatic rifle; Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced the indictment of 13 Russians for meddling in the 2016 election; and President Trump tweeted nearly 50 times.
In one notable tweet, the president claimed the FBI missed a tip about the Parkland shooter because the bureau was too focused on investigating Russian interference. The FBI admitted Friday that information about the confessed shooter it received in January failed to reach its Miami field office.
"The president doesn't really think that the FBI failed to stop the Parkland shooter because it was too involved with the Russia investigation, does he?" ABC News' Jonathan Karl asked Sanders. "I think he was speaking, not necessarily that [the Russia investigation] is the cause," Sanders said. "I think we all have to be aware that the cause of this is that of a deranged individual." She added: "That is the responsibility of the shooter, certainly not the responsibility of anybody else."
Karl immediately countered, "Did [the president] mistweet when he said that? Because he's pretty direct, he says, 'This is not acceptable, they're spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion.'" Sanders said Trump was simply "making the point that we would like our FBI agencies to not be focused on something that is clearly a hoax." Watch the exchange below. Kelly O'Meara Morales
.@PressSec to @JonKarl on Pres. Trump's tweet saying FBI mishandled tip on Parkland shooter because they were too busy with Russia probe: "The cause of this is that of a deranged individual that made a decision to take the lives of 17 other people." https://t.co/c8WxE0BwjS pic.twitter.com/XzmletiWit
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 20, 2018
What's the best way to lose weight? Scientists still don't have an answer, but they have managed to rule out one trendy option.
A recent popular theory among dieters is that certain types of diets may be more effective than others, based on individual dieters' genes. But a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday says this is, essentially, bunk.
Researchers at Stanford University conducted a study on overweight adults to find out whether certain weight loss methods would be more successful with certain genetic makeups. In total, 600 participants were randomly assigned to either a low-fat or a low-carbohydrate diet. Additionally, all participants had their DNA analyzed to determine whether they had a gene that could predict better weight loss under one of the diets.
The participants then followed their randomly assigned diets for a year. But after comparing the diet regimens to the DNA analysis, the researchers found no evidence that the predicted gene markers made any difference in what form of dieting works best for different people, Live Science reported. While there was overall success in losing weight — an average of 11.5 pounds for participants on the low-fat diet, and 13 pounds for those on the low-carb one — there were no significant differences between those who had the expected "right genes" for each diet and those who didn't.
The researchers plan to continue to analyze their data in order to try to determine other possible indicators for what types of diets might work best for different people. Read more about the study's findings at Live Science. Shivani Ishwar