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September 25, 2018

Bill Cosby was sentenced Tuesday to at least three years in prison, a decision that was welcomed by many of the women who have publicly accused him of sexual assault.

After Cosby was sentenced as result of his conviction on charges of drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand, at least one woman in the courtroom raised her fist in the air and said "Yes!" reports The Associated Press. Janice Dickinson, a former model who testified that Cosby assaulted her, threw back her head and laughed in the courtroom upon hearing the sentence, reports HuffPost. She reportedly looked at Cosby and said "See, I got the last laugh, pal."

The former comedian, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 60 women, was denied bail. Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill said that "equal justice under the law" meant that Cosby should not be treated differently based on "who he is or who he was," reports BuzzFeed News' Julia Reinstein. O'Neill spoke directly to Cosby in announcing his sentence: "You claimed her silence was consent," he said. "That is not the law."

In a press conference following the sentencing, women who have come forward with allegations said they were glad to have achieved "justice." Chelan Lasha, who also testified during Cosby's trial, said she has "waited 32 years for this day, hoping my nightmare will go away." Representatives for Cosby maintained that he was wrongfully convicted, and said he was the victim of "the most racist and sexist trial in the history of the United States."

Cosby left the courtroom in handcuffs for his three- to 10-year sentence, which will begin immediately. Summer Meza

12:06 a.m.

The Trump administration will formally start the process of lifting federal Clean Water Act protections for millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of streams across the U.S., undoing decades of protections against pesticide runoff, industrial waste, and other pollutants. The proposed rules, to be unveiled by the Environmental Protection Agency as soon as Tuesday, are a victory for agricultural and real estate interests but could degrade the drinking water used by tens of millions of Americans and endanger fisheries and the habitats of migratory birds and other species.

President Trump promised during his campaign to roll back the Obama-era Waters of the United States rules, an expansion of federal protections under the the Clean Water Act of 1972, but the new proposals target protections dating back to the George H.W. Bush administration or earlier. The Trump rules, which will be subject to 60 days of public comment, will keep protections for larger bodies of water but remove federal safeguards for wetlands not adjacent to navigable waterways plus most seasonal streams and ponds. The newly vulnerable streams provided drinking water for as many as 1 in 3 Americans, especially in the arid West, according to scientific studies used by the Obama-era EPA.

The Trump EPA calls that data incomplete and will argue that it is tackling an Obama-era federal power grab against rural farmers. Trump's promise to end the Waters of the United States policy was cheered by farmers, real estate developers, golf course owners, and mining and oil firm. Environmental groups call the new proposal a disaster. "It is hard to overstate the impact of this," Blan Holman, managing attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, tells the Los Angeles Times. "This would be taking a sledgehammer to the Clean Water Act and rolling things back to a place we haven't been since it was passed. It is a huge threat to water quality across the country, and especially in the West." Peter Weber

December 10, 2018

A California woman forced to abandon her dog in the Camp Fire came back almost a month later to find he had survived and was waiting for her the whole time.

Andrea Gaylord's two dogs, Madison and Miguel, were left behind when residents of Paradise received an evacuation order since she wasn't able to retrieve them as the fire spread; the K9 Paw Print Rescue group writes that she "hoped and prayed" they would be okay. A volunteer was able to find Miguel, and another left food and water out for Madison, CNN reports.

Gaylord was naturally anxious to return home, and when she was finally allowed to do so this week, she found Madison sitting right there on the property weeks later, even as the home had been completely destroyed, reports USA Today. "Imagine the loyalty of hanging in in the worst of circumstances and being here waiting," Gaylord said. "It was so emotional." Brendan Morrow

December 10, 2018

Accused Russian spy Maria Butina may be about to plead guilty.

Butina's attorneys on Monday filed a request for her to withdraw her previous plea of not guilty, The Washington Post reports. CNN writes that she looks to have reached a plea deal with the Justice Department, although any further details, including what she would be pleading guilty to, are currently unclear.

Five months ago, Butina was arrested and charged with one count of conspiracy and one of acting as an agent to a foreign government. She has been accused of spending years attempting to influence American policy by forging relationships with prominent conservatives, including with the National Rifle Association, while keeping in contact with Russians, per CNN. Butina's lawyers have argued that she was simply interested in improving Russia's relationship with the United States, The Associated Press reports. Her arrest was not a part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

However, The New York Times reports that any plea deal would likely require cooperation with ongoing investigations, leaving open the possibility that she could provide them with some key information. Brendan Morrow

December 10, 2018

Ready to start off your week being utterly repulsed at the sight of a new live-action Sonic the Hedgehog?

Paramount on Monday released the first poster for the upcoming Sonic movie, which will combine live-action and animation à la Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. The look of Sonic is unique to say the least, and downright disturbing to say the most. For whatever reason, the beloved video game character looks strangely human and unexpectedly buff on the poster, less like a cartoon hedgehog and more like a track and field athlete dressing as Sonic for Halloween. Considering he's a hedgehog, he's also a lot furrier than expected, as were a lot of the Pokemon in the recent trailer for the live-action Detective Pikachu movie.

The film's producers insisted in an interview with IGN that Sonic's new look was necessary so that he would fit in with the live-action world. "He's not going to feel like a Pixar character would because I don't think that's the right aesthetic to make it feel like part of our world," producer Tim Miller said. Speaking about Sonic's speed, Miller again stressed the importance of "keeping it grounded and keeping it realistic," because if there's anything that has defined Sonic, a video game franchise about a blue hedgehog that looks very little like a hedgehog and who pursues an evil mustachioed scientist by traveling at lightning speeds, it's grounded realism.

The Sonic the Hedgehog movie, which will feature Ben Schwartz as Sonic and Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik, hits theaters in November 2019. Brendan Morrow

December 10, 2018

Planned Parenthood just won a significant victory as the Supreme Court declined to hear a case from states looking to partially defund the organization.

Louisiana and Kansas had passed laws preventing their citizens from using Medicaid for Planned Parenthood's services that aren't related to abortions, such as ultrasounds, per NPR. Medicaid funding already can't be used for abortions at Planned Parenthood except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother in danger, per NBC News.

Medicaid patients had filed a lawsuit, and after Louisiana and Kansas suffered defeats in the lower courts, they appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the patients could not actually challenge its decisions related to Medicaid funding and that only the federal government could do that, per CBS News. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch argued in favor of the court taking the case in order to make that determination, NBC News reports.

But the conservative justices came one vote shy of having enough to hear the case. The decision of the lower courts, therefore, stands. Interestingly, Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not join his conservative colleagues in calling for the case to be taken up. CNN reports that he likely would "rather avoid contentious, high-profile disputes for now, at least where possible."

NPR notes that while Medicaid funding can still being used for Planned Parenthood in most states, this decision doesn't mean no states can block the funding — Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota can still do so due to a decision from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Brendan Morrow

December 10, 2018

As President Trump looks for a new chief of staff candidate after being turned down by his top choice, a former officeholder is offering some advice.

Rahm Emanuel, who was chief of staff for former President Barack Obama, wrote in The Atlantic that no matter who Trump picks to replace outgoing Chief of Staff John Kelly, he or she won't be able to function the way a typical chief of staff does as long as Trump continues to "outsource significant authority to Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and other staffers." In fact, Emanuel suggests that whoever is hired "won't really be the chief of staff" because Trump is "unwilling to give anyone the authority needed to perform that job."

And what does Emanuel see as being needed? Well, he notes that Trump appears to be selecting Kelly's successor based on who can help him win re-election in 2020, which Emanuel sees as the wrong move. After all, there will be "other battles to fight" long before then, namely investigations from House Democrats and the impending report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 election. What Trump really needs, Emanuel argues, is a "true wartime consigliere" who can help him manage "what is likely to be an incredibly damaging set of allegations." In other words, he needs a "steady hand." Whoever it is, Emanuel hopes this person will be "unusually good at protecting the rest of us from the president's penchant for self-destruction."

It's unclear who the president might end up selecting, but it doesn't sound like he's going to heed Emanuel's advice — CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports that Trump "wants his next chief of staff to be all politics, politics, politics." Brendan Morrow

December 10, 2018

Sports Illustrated on Monday announced the Golden State Warriors as its 2018 Sportsperson of the Year — the first team to win the honor since the Boston Red Sox in 2004, and the fourth overall since the magazine introduced the title in 1954.

The Kevin Durant-led Warriors swept LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers to win their third championship in four years in June. The victory helped the team beat out actual sportspeople for the Sports Illustrated award, such as the Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin, snowboarder Chloe Kim, and resurgent golfer Tiger Woods.

"It was impossible to overlook the influence that the Warriors, as a collective group, have had on their sport and the broader culture over the last half-decade," Chris Stone, SI's editor-in-chief, said in announcing the honor. "They are a generational phenomenon, the likes of which we might not see again for decades, if at all." The Phoenix Suns, currently 4-22, could not be reached for comment about the snub. Jacob Lambert

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