Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the mandate to form a new government, saying he has a "slightly better" chance of forging a governing coalition than centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid. Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving prime minister, appeared in court Monday to hear charges in his own corruption trial, and Rivlin did not sound thrilled to give him first shot to stay in power.
"None of the candidates have a realistic chance of creating a government that can foster trust in the Israeli Knesset, but I must do what is required of me," Rivlin said, adding that there is unfortunately no law against prime ministers serving while also standing trial for various crimes. "It is not an easy decision, on an ethical or moral level," he said.
Israeli law compelled Rivlin to give the mandate to the leader most likely to succeed, and 52 members of the 120-seat Knesset, or parliament, recommended Netanyahu in consultations Monday, versus 45 for Lapid, seven for Naftali Bennett of the right-wing Yemina party, and 16 who stated no preference.
"Netanyahu's path for forming a coalition is very, very narrow," and it requires him "to convince the radical right wing 'Religious Zionism' party, which consists of Jewish supremacists and Islamophobes, to sit together in the same coalition with the Islamic party — which is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood movement," Barak Ravid reports at Axios. If he can't form a government in 28 days, Lapid will get a shot. And he fails, Israel heads to the polls again for a fifth election in two years.
Netanyahu gave a televised address Monday night accusing the judicial system of staging a "legal coup" to oust a "strong, right wing prime minister," leading Israeli columnist Ben Caspit to write in the daily Maariv that "Benjamin Netanyahu has finally lost it" with his "'j'accuse' speech." Peter Weber
When Oregon legalized recreational marijuana in 2015, much of conservative Eastern Oregon did not join the green rush. Ontario, a town of about 11,000 people on the Idaho border, voted against allowing pot sales in 2016 — and then the smaller town of Huntington, 30 miles northwest of Ontario and 30 minutes farther from Boise, allowed dispensaries to open and was flooded with cash from Idaho weed tourists, Politico reports. "Huntington was soon receiving $100,000 in tax revenue from a single marijuana shop — half the 400-person city's annual budget." Ontario approved pot sales in 2018.
Now, Ontario — best known as the home of Ore-Ida and the birthplace of the tater tot — is a weekend destination for residents of Boise and Idaho's Treasure Valley, who congregate mostly in a shopping center with a Home Depot, Walmart, fast food restaurants, and four cannabis dispensaries, Politico's Natalie Fertig reports. City Manager Adam Brown tells Politico that Idahoans make about 1,600 "unique trips" to Ontario every day, for tax-free shopping at the big-box stores but mostly for the weed, which is totally prohibited in Idaho.
Ontario had $92 million in cannabis sales in 2020, according to Portland Business Journal, or $2,857 for every resident of Ontario's Malheur County. Multnomah County, which encompasses most of Portland, sold only $378 in weed for every resident in 2020, Politico reports. The $1.5 million in tax revenue Ontario raked in from marijuana last year was about 4 percent of the city's annual budget, and the town is expecting close to $3 million in weed taxes this year.
"Ontario is just one of dozens of border communities around the country that have been transformed into marijuana boom towns thanks to the country's patchwork quilt of cannabis laws," Politico says. "Eighteen states now embrace full legalization, and all of them but California and Alaska share a border with at least one state where cannabis is illegal." In the last five months alone, New York, Virginia, New Mexico, New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota have legalized marijuana, motivated in part by the weed windfalls in neighboring states, Fertig notes. "Those new laws have created more than 20 regions potentially rich with border-crossing cannabis business." Read more at Politico. Peter Weber
NASA will attempt to fly a remote-control helicopter on Mars early Monday, aiming for humanity's first powered, controlled flight on another planet. The solar-powered lightweight helicopter, Ingenuity, hitched a ride to Mars on the belly of the Perseverance rover, which will help Ingenuity communicate with mission control and also record the test flight from about 330 feet away. NASA will try to get Ingenuity to rise to about 10 feet above the Martian surface, hover for about 20 seconds, then land back at its airfield in Jerezo Crater.
Ingenuity is the product of six years of work at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. This will be the second attempt to get it in the air, after a "watchdog" timer glitch forced NASA to call off an April 11 test flight. NASA successfully tested the rotors on Friday, and it has a plan and a backup plan for Monday's flight, wrote MiMi Aung, Ingenuity project manager at JPL. If Plan A doesn't work, Perseverance will send Ingenuity an update for its flight control software, putting off the test flight for several more days.
"Our team considers Monday's attempted first flight like a rocket launch: We're doing everything we can to make it a success, but we also know that we may have to scrub and try again," Aung wrote in an April 17 post. "In engineering, there is always uncertainty, but this is what makes working on advanced technology so exciting and rewarding. We have to continually innovate and develop solutions to new challenges. And we get to try things others have only dreamed of."
The test flight will commence at about 3:30 a.m. EDT, but the data and images won't reach Earth for another few hours. NASA's JPL will broadcast the flight starting at 6:15 a.m. EDT, and you can watch the livestream below. Peter Weber
Bankruptcy, especially as portrayed by bankruptcy lawyers, promises "a fresh start from your debts," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. Between 800,000 and 1.5 million Americans file for bankruptcy each year, "and many worry that once the current pandemic assistance stops, more and more people will need the type of help" bankruptcy offers. The process gives people a chance to dig out from under a mountain of debt, but it does hit your credit score, and it carries a "completely misguided" social stigma, he said.
"Bankruptcy is not solely caused by bad decisions, it's often caused by bad luck — unavoidable challenges like job loss, divorce, surprise medical bills, or perhaps even, you know, a once-in-a-century global pandemic," Oliver said. But absurdly, "a lot of people can't afford to go bankrupt," quite literally.
"Our modern bankruptcy code was enacted in 1978 — interestingly, around the same time that the credit card industry began to enjoy a period of steady deregulation," Oliver said. That "worked out very well for them, because they marketed themselves aggressively, and during this time, consumer debt began to sharply rise. And what the industry clearly wanted was people stuck in a lucrative cycle of minimum payments, late fees, and interest hikes. What they didn't want spoiling that was people cutting the cycle short through bankruptcy."
The credit card industry lobbied Congress aggressively, and a 2005 law made it harder and more expensive to file for personal bankruptcy, Oliver said. He explained the two kinds of personal bankruptcy, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, and noted that many lawyers steer clients to the more expensive option, Chapter 13 — especially if their clients are black. "Even bankruptcy discriminates against Black people," Oliver sighed. He illuminated why people might have to file for bankruptcy twice — not, as Suze Orman suggests, "recklessness" or "moral failing" — and blamed "much of what is wrong with our current bankruptcy system" on the 2005 overhaul.
If you paid attention to the 2020 Democratic primaries, you already know President Biden was a big backer of the 2005 law and clashed with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) over it — and if you weren't paying attention. Oliver offered a recap. Warren now has an overhaul bill that Biden broadly supports, but it is unlikely to pass if 10 Republicans need to sign on to thwart a filibuster, he said. Oliver closed with a NSFW animated summation of his argument that also pillories mandatory credit counseling. Watch below. Peter Weber
Former President Donald Trump's acting defense secretary had ordered NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone to accept Ellis' appointment as general counsel, and Nakasone agreed days before Trump left office, The Washington Post reported. The day Trump left the White House and Ellis was scheduled to start his new job, Nakasone placed him on administrative leave, citing a Pentagon inspector general investigation and inquiry into how Ellis handled classified information. The inspector general's investigation is still open, Nakasone told a House committee last Thursday.
"I have been on administrative leave for nearly three months without any explanation or updates, and there is no sign that NSA will attempt to resolve the issue," Ellis said in his resignation letter to Nakasone on Friday, the Post reports. "I therefore resign my position, effective immediately."
Ellis was general counsel to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) before he joined the Trump White House in early 2017 as a National Security Council lawyer. His appointment to the NSA "raised concerns among Democrats and national security experts that it was an attempt by the Trump administration to install a loyalist in a sensitive and senior position — one with visibility into the activities of other U.S. spy agencies," the Post reports. The NSA general counsel job doesn't require Senate confirmation. Peter Weber
The White House has removed Betsy Weatherhead, an experienced atmospheric scientist, from her role leading the U.S. National Climate Assessment and reassigned her to the U.S. Geological Survey, The Washington Post reports. Weatherhead was put in charge of the U.S. government's definitive report on the effects of climate change last November by Kelvin Droegemeier, director of President Trump's White House Office of Science Technology Policy (OSTP). Officials at President Biden's OSTP made the decision to return her to USGS, the Post reports.
Weatherhead's appointment surprised many science policy experts, but pleasantly so, because she accepts the scientific consensus that climate change is happening and poses a serious threat to the planet and the economy, the Post reports. Despite her long experience in the field and mainstream views, the Post says, Weatherhead had clashed with other federal officials in the 13 agencies involved in the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which coordinates the report.
Weatherhead wanted to bring in more authors from the private sector, include more viewpoints, and increase the number of chapters on options to mitigate and adapt to climate change, the Post says, and she has also "historically placed great emphasis on communicating scientific uncertainty." One of Weatherhead's previous bosses in the private sector, Juniper Intelligence CEO Rich Sorkin, called her "one of the world's experts on uncertainty," speculating that may have been what resonated with the Trump administration.
The Biden administration has yet to pick a replacement for Weatherhead or a new director of the Global Change Research Program. Trump removed the previous director, career appointee Michael Kuperberg, in November and replaced him with David Legates, who rejects the consensus on climate change. Droegemeier, who is not a climate change skeptic, reassigned Legate and another Trump political appointee, Ryan Maue, in January after they contributed to unapproved papers casting doubt on climate change, and both men resigned from the government a few days before Biden took office. Peter Weber
Federal and local law enforcement were searching Sunday night for a former sheriff's deputy suspected of killing three people late Sunday morning in Austin, Texas. The suspect, Stephen Broderick, 41, was a property crimes detective for the Travis County sheriff's office until last June, when he resigned after being arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing a child. After spending 16 days in jail last June, Broderick posted bail; Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza said his office filed a motion Sunday to revoke Broderick's $50,000 bond.
The victims, described only as two Hispanic women and one Black man, were all known to Broderick, who is Black, interim Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon said. "At this point, we do not think this individual is out there targeting random people to shoot. That does not mean he is not dangerous." The FBI and U.S. Marshals Service are aiding in the manhunt.
The shooting in Austin was the second multiple gun homicide on Sunday. Wisconsin's Kenosha County Sheriff's Department said Sunday afternoon that law enforcement has apprehended and charged with first-degree homicide a "person of interest" in a shooting at a Kenosha tavern early Sunday morning. At least three people died the three people were hospitalized with gunshot wounds after the shooting.
There have been about 150 mass shootings — defined as four or more people shot — in 2021, and in the 34 days since a gunman murdered eight people at Atlanta-area spas in March, an average of nearly two mass shootings have happened every day, The Washington Post reports, citing the Gun Violence Archive. CNN made a map, posted before the Austin shooting, which in any case falls one death short of that definition of a mass shooting.
He's only been painting for five months, and already, Jake Garcia's art is becoming a collector's item.
The Boston resident is a nursing student at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Services, but he recently discovered a love for painting. "I just thought it would be really nice if you're walking down the street and you see this scene you really like and you look down and there was an oil painting of it," Garcia said. "That would be really cool right?"
He ran with the idea, and has left several of his original paintings in spots around Boston. "I'll see something I like, I'll set up, I'll do a painting of it, and I'll do my best to leave it somewhere in the vicinity," Garcia told CBS Boston. He lets his Twitter followers know where they can look for his latest piece, and hopes that he also inspires people to pick up their own paintbrushes.
"We've all been inside and a beautiful thing to do is to just go outside and just enjoy the sounds and the sights and the smells and just paint what you see," he told CBS Boston. "I think that's really nice and I think more people need to do it." Catherine Garcia