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10 things you need to know today: November 9, 2018

Harold Maass
Signs opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline
Guillaume Meyer/AFP/Getty Images
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Police identify ex-Marine as gunman who killed 12 in California

Local law enforcement authorities on Thursday identified the gunman who killed 12 people at a country music bar in a Los Angeles suburb as Ian David Long, a 28-year-old former Marine machine gunner who served in Afghanistan. Long was interviewed by mental health specialists in April after a neighbor reported hearing shouting and loud banging at the ranch house where Long lived with his mother. Deputies found him "somewhat irate, acting a little irrationally," but "the mental health experts out there cleared him that day," Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said. Neighbor Tom Hanson, who called in the report, on Thursday described Long as an introvert. Other neighbors said they often heard loud, aggressive shouting at the house. Investigators are searching his house for clues regarding a motive for the massacre. [The Associated Press]


Judge halts Keystone XL pipeline construction for more review

A federal judge in Montana on Thursday temporarily blocked construction on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, putting a hold on the Trump administration's permit for the project pending further environmental review. U.S. District Judge Brian Morris ordered the Trump administration to provide more comprehensive information on the pipeline's potential to contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, oil spills, and impact on Native American communities in its path. The 1,200-mile pipeline would transport oil south from Alberta, Canada. The decision was praised by environmentalists. It represented a major setback for the oil industry and President Trump, who reversed a decision by former President Barack Obama and approved the project in January 2017, promising it would provide jobs and boost the economy. [Time, MarketWatch]


Florida gubernatorial and Senate races head to possible recounts

Florida's closely-watched governor's and Senate races headed to possible recounts after returns from heavily Democratic Broward County tightened both contests. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson pulled closer to their GOP rivals, gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis and Gov. Rick Scott. Gillum trailed DeSantis by 39,000 votes, putting him 0.47 points behind, under the 0.50 percent legally allowing a machine recount. Nelson trailed Scott by 17,000 votes or 0.22 percent, below the 0.25 percent threshold triggering a hand recount. Scott filed lawsuits against Broward and neighboring Palm Beach counties, also heavily Democratic. He warned of possible "rampant fraud" and accused "unethical liberals" of trying to "steal this election." Gillum tweeted that "counting votes isn't partisan — it's democracy." [Orlando Sentinel, MarketWatch]


Trump administration imposes restrictions on migrants seeking asylum

The Trump administration on Thursday moved to bar migrants from applying for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, restricting them to making claims only at official ports of entry. Those who cross illegally elsewhere will not be allowed to apply. President Trump said last week he would sign an executive order spelling out the new restrictions. Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the restrictions were in the "national interest" because "our asylum system is overwhelmed." The Immigration and Nationality Act says that anyone may apply for asylum "whether or not at a designated port of arrival," CNN reported. ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said the "asylum ban" was illegal and "ignores our country's basic values. There will be lawsuits." [Bloomberg]


Wildfire enters Northern California town, fatalities feared

A fast-moving wildfire destroyed at least 1,000 buildings in the Northern California town of Paradise on Thursday. Tens of thousands of people fled as the blaze, known as the Camp Fire, roared in. "We have received reports of some fatalities. Those reports have not yet been verified," Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said. Reports on social media said the fire, driven by high winds and dry conditions, had damaged a hospital, a high school, and a K-Mart store, although authorities were not immediately able to confirm the reports. "The whole town is burning," Bob Van Camp, who escaped on his motorbike, told local TV channel Action News Now. "We had to ride through flames to get here." [Reuters, Los Angeles Times]


Kemp resigns as Georgia secretary of state with race still too close to call

Republican gubernatorial nominee Brian Kemp on Thursday stepped down from his job as Georgia secretary of state, a role that allowed him to have oversight duties over his own election. Kemp resisted repeated calls to give up those duties to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest before Tuesday's vote. In his resignation letter to Gov. Nathan Deal, also a Republican, Kemp said he was stepping down so he could focus on his transition into the governor's office. His Democratic rival, Stacey Abrams, hasn't conceded yet, however, and is pushing for a recount. News outlets are still saying the race is too close to call. Kemp holds a slight lead, but more than 284,000 mail-in ballots remain to be counted. [The Hill]


Appeals court rules Trump administration can't end DACA

A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld an order preventing the Trump administration from ending DACA. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows some undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children to be shielded from deportation for two years and receive work permits, can continue. The Trump administration announced in 2017 that it would be ending DACA, telling recipients to prepare for "departure from the United States." This decision was immediately challenged in court, with a federal judge in January issuing a nationwide injunction ordering the administration to continue the program. This injunction has now been upheld. The administration has already asked the Supreme Court to hear a case on this issue. [BuzzFeed, CNN]


Fed shows confidence in economy and signals continued slow rate hikes

The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged on Thursday at the close of a two-day meeting. The U.S. central bank indicated that the economy continues to strengthen as expected, suggesting that the Fed will continue its gradual pace of rate increases with another quarter-point hike in December. The Fed already has raised rates three times in 2018. "The labor market has continued to strengthen and ... economic activity has been rising at a strong rate," Fed policy makers said in a statement released after the meeting. The statement indicated little change from the Fed's last policy meeting in September, with inflation still near the 2 percent target and continued strong hiring. [Reuters]


House Democrats vow to question Trump administration over Sessions' ouster

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee say the Trump administration must answer questions about Attorney General Jeff Sessions' forced resignation and how Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker will handle the oversight of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Thursday that Sessions' ouster put the U.S. "on the verge" of a constitutional crisis, calling it a "big mistake" to push him out of his role. House Democrats echoed Manchin, and called on Whitaker to recuse himself from Mueller's probe. It would be "inappropriate" for Whitaker to supervise given his past comments in which he criticized the scope of the investigation, the lawmakers said. [CBS News, The Hill]


Ruth Bader Ginsburg hospitalized after fracturing ribs in fall

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fractured three ribs in a fall at her office late Wednesday, the Supreme Court said in a statement. Ginsburg, 85, went home after the fall, but experienced discomfort, so she was admitted to a hospital for observation and treatment. Progressives see Ginsburg as a check on conservatives and President Trump, who she once called a "faker," although she later expressed regret over the remark. She is one of the court's oldest members, and has faced numerous health issues in recent years. She had a stent placed in her right coronary artery in 2014, and was treated for early stages of pancreatic cancer in 2009. In 1999, six years after joining the bench, she underwent successful surgery for colon cancer. [CNN]