February 11, 2019

A new poll has found that a stunning number of Americans believe wearing blackface as part of a Halloween costume is okay.

A poll from the Pew Research Center found that 34 percent of respondents felt blackface for a Halloween costume is either sometimes or always acceptable. This included 19 percent who said it's sometimes okay and 15 percent who said it's always okay. For comparison, 16 percent said doing so is rarely acceptable, while 37 percent said it's never acceptable.

Opinions on this issue vary depending on party affiliation and race, as the poll found that while 51 percent of Democrats said blackface as part of a Halloween costume is never acceptable, only 21 percent of Republicans said the same thing, with 50 percent of those on the right saying it's sometimes or always okay. Young Americans were also far less likely to think blackface is okay under any circumstances, with 41 percent of adults under 29 saying it's never acceptable, compared to 29 percent of people between the ages of 50 and 64 saying the same. And while 39 percent of white respondents said it's sometimes or always okay, only 18 percent of black respondents agreed.

This survey was released Monday, but was largely conducted before Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) came under fire for saying he wore blackface in medical school while dressing as Michael Jackson for a dance contest. His admission came after a photo from his yearbook page was published showing a person wearing blackface standing next to a person in a Ku Klux Klan robe.

Pew Research Center conducted the poll from Jan. 22 to Feb. 5 by surveying 5,599 adult respondents online. The margin of error is 1.7 percentage points. Brendan Morrow

7:05 p.m.

The Navy has suspended flight training for Saudi military students at three bases in Florida, following last week's shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola by a member of the Saudi Royal Air Force.

About 300 Saudi students will be affected, the Navy said Tuesday. While flight training is suspended, classroom instruction will continue. Three people were killed and eight injured in Friday's attack, and the gunman, Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, 21, was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy. His motive remains unknown, and the FBI is operating on the assumption the shooting was an act of terrorism.

The FBI on Tuesday said Alshamrani obtained a state hunting license on July 11 and then legally purchased a Glock 45 9 mm handgun on July 20. Under federal law, people who come to the United States on nonimmigrant visas are banned from having a weapon or ammunition, The New York Times reports, but there are exceptions — including for those who have a valid hunting license. This "loophole" should be closed, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said on Sunday, adding, "I'm a big supporter of the Second Amendment, but the Second Amendment applies so that we the American people can keep and bear arms. But it does not apply to Saudi Arabians." Catherine Garcia

5:23 p.m.

Lucky number seven?

Businessman Andrew Yang will return to the Democratic presidential debate stage next week in Los Angeles after he picked up 4 percent in the latest national qualifying poll from Quinnipiac University on Tuesday, just two days before the cut-off.

He'll join six other candidates who have already qualified, including former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, billionaire Tom Steyer, and Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). It's the field's final chance to duke it out in a debate before the primary gets rolling with early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire in February.

Yang was able to secure a spot despite stricter polling standards that have left most of his competitors out in the cold. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) — who said she won't attend the debate even if she qualifies — for example, have apparently crossed the fundraising threshold, but don't have the polling numbers. Tim O'Donnell

4:50 p.m.

The FBI issued a warning about a hunting license loophole months before it was used to obtain a gun by Mohammed Alshamrani, who killed three people at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Pensacola, Florida, last week, Yahoo News reports.

Per Yahoo, the agency sent around a report in May that warned business about the possibility of "extremists and other criminal actors" exploiting a federal exception allowing "non-immigrant visa holders" to legally purchase firearms via a hunting license or permit. The alert noted that terrorist organizations like the Islamic State "have encouraged" people to find workarounds in U.S. gun-purchasing laws "to conduct mass casualty shooting attacks in their home countries."

The FBI confirmed Tuesday that Alshamrani obtained his weapon through the hunting license exemption, but the retailer he reportedly bought it from declined to say whether the store received the FBI's warning. While the 21-year-old member of the Royal Saudi Air Force, who was an aviation student at the base, does not appear to have any direct links to international organizations like ISIS, the shooting is being investigated as a terrorism incident.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is now reportedly "at a minimum" advocating for "improved vetting" of foreign nationals seeking to purchase firearms, though he remains a "strong proponent of the Second Amendment for United States citizens," a spokeswoman, Helen Aguirre Ferré said. Read more at Yahoo News. Tim O'Donnell

4:46 p.m.

Yes, the USMCA is facing further delays. No, Democrats aren't the chief cause.

After House Democrats announced Tuesday they'd crafted a on a U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement they and the White House could both agree on, House Republicans started pushing for an immediate vote on the trade deal. But it was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who's stopping their wishes, saying Tuesday the Senate wouldn't see the trade deal until at least next year.

Republicans followed Democrats' Tuesday USMCA press conference with one of their own, with the top Republican on the Ways and Means committee Rep. Kevin Brady (Texas) calling out "much delay by Democrats" before the trade deal got here. Then the calls for scratching out further stalling began pouring in. Brady tweeted that Congress "must pass USMCA without delay," as did Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).

But it seems McConnell wasn't listening. Even though Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said the Senate will only have 30 days to vote on the USMCA once the House passes it, McConnell said the body wouldn't consider the USMCA before its holiday recess. That leaves it for next year and, considering the Senate has already wiped out its January calendar as it buckles down for an impeachment trial, pushes the USMCA to a rule-breaking February arrival date. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:45 p.m.

Warming air and water temperatures, eroding sea ice, and wildlife showing signs of stress — the Arctic Report Card for 2019 portrays a rapidly changing climate and ecosystem.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations' report, released Tuesday, outlines how arctic ecosystems and communities are at risk. Meanwhile, world leaders are at the COP25 climate summit in Madrid working on ways to approach the crisis.

Scientists noted that feared climate change acceleration may already be underway. The soil underneath Arctic permafrost contains about twice as much carbon as is currently in the atmosphere, per the report. As temperatures rise, this carbon is released into the atmosphere in the form of greenhouse gasses, creating a loop of climate change acceleration.

"We've turned this corner for Arctic carbon," Ted Schurr, a researcher at Northern Arizona University who was involved with the report card, told The Washington Post, and the amount of carbon emitted in the Arctic will continue to grow. This will make achieving carbon-cutting goals of the Paris Climate Agreement even more difficult.

Indigenous Elders in the Bering Sea region are among the first groups of people to experience hardships of climate change, as the Arctic region is warming twice as fast as the global average. The report states that climate change is threatening their "homes, schools, airports, and utilities."

"We fear for our young people," they said in the report. "We worry that they will grow without the same foods and places that we have known throughout our lives."

The Arctic report card was the 14th annual from the NOAA, and was developed by 81 scientists from 12 countries. Taylor Watson

4:25 p.m.

Facebook has fired an employee who allegedly accepted thousands of dollars in bribes to reactivate banned ad accounts, BuzzFeed News reports.

The social media company has confirmed to BuzzFeed the employee is "no longer working with Facebook," as "this behavior is absolutely prohibited under our policies."

According to the report, a Facebook employee was paid to reactivate accounts connected to the marketing firm Ads Inc., which BuzzFeed writes "was running a sophisticated Facebook scam that involved placing more than $50 million in ads that typically made false claims about celebrities," with this being "part of a scheme that tricked consumers into signing up for an expensive monthly subscription for a product that was initially marketed as a free trial," as previously revealed in a BuzzFeed investigation.

The former Facebook employee reportedly made a deal with the former CEO of Ads Inc. whereby they would be paid $5,000 as an initial fee, as well as a possible monthly retainer of $3,000, in exchange for reactivating accounts Facebook had banned because they violated its policies. A former employee for Ads. Inc. said in the report more than one Facebook employee would do so, telling BuzzFeed, "to be honest there were a few people that would flip ads back on."

Facebook says it is "continuing to investigate the allegations and will take any further necessary action." Read the full report at BuzzFeed News. Brendan Morrow

3:39 p.m.

President Trump's Republican allies in his battle against impeachment don't seem too bothered about what the history books might say about them one day.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who has appeared on both the House Judiciary and House Intelligence Committee panels during the impeachment inquiry, frankly couldn't seem to care less about his personal legacy. "I don't care how I'm remembered," Jordan told HuffPost, adding that he hasn't given anything like that a "second's thought."

Instead Jordan said he's more concerned about House Democrats trying to remove Trump with "zero facts on their side" because they can't accept the 2016 election results, as well as what he apparently considers elitist attitudes of Democratic witnesses like Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan, who testified before the House Judiciary Committee last week. "The arrogance that lady had for hillbillies like Jim Jordan from Ohio, or Mark Meadows from the mountains of North Carolina, or anyone across the heartland who voted for this president, the disdain that she had for us, you know, regular folk," he said.

Meadows and Collins were more measured than Jordan, with the former telling HuffPost that "historical commentary will be about the process more than the individuals," and the latter noting that "history writes itself."

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who is helping lead the Democrats' impeachment charge, wasn't buying the nonchalance, though. "History will not be kind to those that refuse to do their duty in the face of this unethical president," he said. Read more at HuffPost. Tim O'Donnell

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