National News

National News at a Glance

Posted February 6, 2018 10:07 p.m. EST

Falcon Heavy, in a Roar of Thunder, Carries SpaceX’s Ambition Into Orbit

From the same pad where NASA launched rockets that carried astronauts to the moon, a big, new U.S. rocket arced into space Tuesday. But this time, NASA was not involved. The rocket, the Falcon Heavy, was built by SpaceX, the company founded and run by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk. The launch of the turbocharged version of the workhorse Falcon 9 rocket marks the first time a rocket this powerful has been sent into space by a private company rather than a government space agency. The rocket carried a playful payload: an electric car built by his other company, Tesla.

Tiny Vendor’s Big Contract Vexes FEMA

Four months after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, a picture is emerging of the contracts awarded in the earliest days of the crisis. And that picture has lawmakers raising questions about FEMA’s handling of the disaster and whether the agency was adequately prepared to respond. The latest controversy involved Tiffany Brown, an Atlanta entrepreneur with no experience in large-scale disaster relief and at least five canceled government contracts in her past, who won a $156 million contract to provide emergency meals to Puerto Rico. By the time 18.5 million meals were due, her company had delivered only 50,000.

Mixing Water and Poison

Anchored in flood-prone areas in every U.S. state are more than 2,500 sites that handle toxic chemicals, a New York Times analysis of federal floodplain and industrial data shows. About 1,400 are in areas at highest risk of flooding. The Times analysis looked at sites listed in the federal Toxic Release Inventory, which covers more than 21,600 facilities across the country that handle large amounts of toxic chemicals harmful to health or the environment. Of those sites, more than 1,400 were in locations the Federal Emergency Management Agency considers to have a high risk of flooding.

Trump Expected to Release Democratic Memo, but With Redactions

President Donald Trump is likely to redact parts of a classified Democratic memorandum rebutting allegations of political bias at the FBI despite the release last week of a Republican memo without any redactions, people close to the White House said. The decision is certain to anger Democratic lawmakers, who expressed concern on Tuesday that the president would edit the memo to remove parts that he viewed as politically embarrassing or damaging. Administration officials said that Trump had read the memorandum, which seeks to undermine Republican claims that top law enforcement officials had abused their powers.

Trump Threatens Government Shutdown Over Border Security

President Donald Trump on Tuesday called for shutting down the government if Congress does not crack down on illegal immigration, even as congressional leaders were closing in on a major budget deal to help ensure the government remains funded into 2019. Trump’s comments, though combative, had little to do with the delicate negotiations on Capitol Hill to keep the government open past Thursday, a fact that appeared to elude Trump. Congressional leaders from both parties were nearing a deal to raise statutory spending caps on military and nonmilitary spending for the current fiscal year and the next one.

El Chapo Jurors Will Be Anonymous During Trial

In a rare but not surprising move, a federal judge in Brooklyn has ruled that when Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo, goes on trial in September, the case will be heard by an anonymous and partly sequestered jury. In an order issued Monday night, the judge, Brian M. Cogan, said that Guzmán’s “history of violence” warranted keeping secret the jurors’ names, work places and addresses throughout what is likely to be a three- or four-month trial. Cogan also ruled that the jurors should be driven to and from their homes by armed federal marshals.

Stanford Won’t Mark Site of Sexual Assault With Plaque

The victim in an infamous 2015 sexual assault case at Stanford University is no longer participating in a plan to create a plaque marking the site where she was attacked after the school dismissed her suggested wording for the engraving, a law professor there said on Monday. Instead of Doe’s selections, which have not been revealed by either side in the dispute, the university suggested alternatives, which a family friend said she had rejected. A spokeswoman for Stanford said in an email that Doe’s suggested excerpts from the statement “were not consistent with a contemplative space.”