March 6, 2014

The annual Conservative Political Action Conference got underway Thursday, which means you can expect to hear a slew of vocal denouncements of the run-amok federal government over the next few days. To wit, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) got the party going by declaring, "We need to abolish the IRS."

In its place, Cruz advocated a flat tax system so everyone could file their taxes "on a postcard." It's an idea he and others have floated before; Steve Forbes literally wrote the book on it almost a decade ago. Yet the idea has never really gained traction with the American public, and even some on the right think it's a well-intentioned, though deeply flawed, plan. Jon Terbush

April 12, 2021

A student in a bathroom at Austin-East Magnet High School in Knoxville, Tennessee, opened fire on officers Monday afternoon when police responded to a report of a possible shooter on campus, authorities said.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch said during a Monday night news conference that officers ordered the student to leave the bathroom, but he refused and reportedly opened fire. Police returned fire, killing the student.

An officer was shot in the upper leg and was rushed into surgery, authorities said; he is expected to recover. There were no other injuries reported. "It's a sad day for Knoxville, and it's tough for Austin-East," Rausch said. It is not clear why the student brought a gun to school or fired it at officers.

There has been an increase in gun violence affecting Austin-East students, with three being shot and killed less than three weeks apart earlier this year, The Associated Press reports. State Rep. Sam McKenzie (D) represents the district where Austin-East is located and also attended the school, and released a statement saying he is "at a loss to describe my sadness as yet another horrific act of gun violence has happened in my community." He called on neighbors to "make sure we take every step and make every effort to prevent these tragedies from continuing to occur." Catherine Garcia

April 12, 2021

For the second night in a row, hundreds of people are protesting the officer-involved shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was shot and killed Sunday afternoon during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

Brooklyn Center is a suburb of Minneapolis, and about 10 miles away from the courthouse where the Derek Chauvin trial is being conducted. On Monday morning, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said it appears the officer who shot Wright intended to fire a Taser, but accidentally grabbed her gun. Demonstrators have been stationed outside of the Brooklyn Center Police Department headquarters all day, and a fence and concrete barriers have been put up; there are also members of the Minnesota State Patrol and Minnesota National Guard on site.

As night fell, protesters began chanting and banging drums, ignoring a 7 p.m. curfew put in effect by Gov. Tim Walz (D). NBC News reports there have been projectiles and tear gas fired into the air, and there are people looting a Dollar Store across the street from the police department.

Earlier in the evening, at least 300 people attended a vigil for Wright, the Star Tribune reports, and his mother, Katie Wright, addressed the crowd. "I just need everyone to know that he was my life," she said. "He was my son. And I can never get that back. Because of a mistake? Because of an accident?" Catherine Garcia

April 12, 2021

Use-of-force expert Seth Stoughton testified on Monday that no "reasonable" officer would have done what former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin did during the arrest of George Floyd last May.

Chauvin, a 45-year-old white man and 19-year police veteran, is facing murder and manslaughter charges in the death of Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed Black man who died while being arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill. Video recorded by a witness shows Floyd facedown, with Chauvin's knee on his neck for more than nine minutes.

Stoughton, a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law, said that "no reasonable officer would have believed that that was an appropriate, acceptable, or reasonable use of force." There were several times during the arrest where Chauvin should have been aware that Floyd was in distress, Stoughton said, and it was unreasonable for the officers at the scene to think Floyd could escape or cause them harm once he was handcuffed and on the ground.

Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiology expert from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, testified that Floyd died due to low oxygen levels, saying it was "truly the prone restraint and positional restraints that led to his asphyxiation." The defense has theorized that Floyd's death could have been the result of his high blood pressure and narrowing arteries, plus methamphetamine and fentanyl found in his system.

The prosecution also called to the stand Floyd's younger brother, Philonise Floyd, who provided "spark of life" testimony, sharing stories about their bond as a way to show the jury Floyd was a person, not just a victim. He talked about how they played football together, and called his brother "a leader in our household." George Floyd was also charismatic, Philonise said, and people would attend their church because he went there. "He just was like a person everybody loved around the community," Philonise added. "He just knew how to make people feel better." Catherine Garcia

April 12, 2021

President Biden plans on nominating Christine Wormuth, a top Defense Department policy official during the Obama administration, as Army secretary, the White House announced Monday.

If confirmed by the Senate, Wormuth will be the first woman to lead the Army. She started working at the Pentagon in 1996, and in 2014, became policy chief, shaping the military's campaign against the Islamic State, Politico reports. Wormuth has also served on the National Security Council, directing defense policy and strategy, and was director at Rand, the international security and defense policy center.

The White House also announced three other nominations on Monday: Susanna Blume as head of the Pentagon's Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office; former Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-Calif.) as undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness; and Christy Abizaid as director of the National Counterterrorism Center at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Catherine Garcia

April 12, 2021

A male teenager was killed on Monday afternoon during a shooting at the Austin-East Magnet High School in Knoxville, Tennessee, the Knoxville Police Department told the Knoxville News Sentinel in an email.

A police officer was also wounded, and is now undergoing surgery after being shot in the hip, a person with knowledge of the matter told Knox News. That source also said one person has been detained in connection with the shooting. Officials have not publicly announced how many people were shot or their conditions.

Austin-East Magnet High School is now secure, Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas tweeted, and classes have been canceled for the next two days. In the last few months, four Knoxville teens have been shot and killed, including two Austin-East students. Catherine Garcia

April 12, 2021

While nothing is definitive, "all indications are pointing to the fact" that Israel was behind a cyberattack that knocked out power at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment facility over the weekend, retired U.S. Navy Adm. William McRaven said Monday, and he finds the allegations "a little disturbing" given that the U.S. and other countries are currently trying to renegotiate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

"Frankly, I'm not exactly sure what it accomplishes," McRaven told CNN's Jake Tapper. "It's a little bit of a shot across the bow, but Natanz will only be down for maybe a week or so."

McRaven didn't sound too worried about significant retribution from Iran, noting that Tehran doesn't often follow through on its threats, but he expressed concerns about whether this could hamper efforts to strike an agreement on the nuclear pact. However, the blame shouldn't be placed squarely on Israel, McRaven suggested. Tapper asked him if he thought it was plausible that Israel carried out the alleged "act of sabotage without informing the U.S. government, either before or after." That, indeed, "is the problem," McRaven responded. "It implies that [the U.S. was] either complicit or we were ignorant, and neither one of those is a good look for us," he said. Tim O'Donnell

April 12, 2021

Disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein, who is already serving more than 20 years in prison in New York, has been indicted on sexual assault charges in California.

Weinstein was indicted on 11 counts of sexual assault in Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Times reported. The grand jury indictment reportedly upheld charges that Weinstein was previously facing in connection with the alleged assault of five women from 2004 through 2013.

This indictment was a "procedural move, meant to skip a preliminary hearing and hopefully preempt potential speedy-trial issues in Weinstein's case," the Times reported.

Weinstein on Monday appeared via video at a hearing focused on whether he should be extradited to California, with his lawyer Norman Effman asking for him to be arraigned virtually, Reuters reports. Effman cited numerous medical issues Weinstein needs treatment for, saying he is "almost technically blind at this point." Effman also said that Weinstein has had four teeth removed and suffers from sleep apnea, cardiac issues, and back issues, Variety reports, but according to The Associated Press, he said prosecutors have denied his requests to delay the extradition.

Weinstein attorney Mark Werksman also alleged that prosecutors "flubbed the paperwork" that they filed seeking his extradition, the Times reports. But The Hollywood Reporter writes that Weinstein's legal team ultimately "appeared resigned to their client eventually returning to California" to face the new charges, and Effman said during the hearing, "We're not trying to avoid what will happen in California."

The judge scheduled another hearing on the matter for April 30, according to Reuters. Weinstein is also currently appealing his rape conviction in New York. Brendan Morrow

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