National News at a Glance
Posted May 23, 2018 9:33 p.m. EDT
Kushner Gets Security Clearance, Ending Swirl of Questions Over Delay
Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has been granted his permanent security clearance, a person briefed on the matter said Wednesday, ending a period of uncertainty that had fueled questions about whether Kushner was in peril in the special counsel investigation. Kushner is a senior presidential aide with a prominent role in Middle East diplomacy. But his FBI background checks dragged on for a year and became one of many political distractions for the White House. Even some inside the administration suspected that Kushner’s delay reflected legal problems on the horizon.
Female Firefighters Allege Culture of Discrimination
Two high-ranking women in the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in Northern Virginia filed federal civil rights charges Wednesday alleging that the department punished them for trying to oppose what they said was a long pattern of sex discrimination and harassment. In 2016, the department drew national notoriety after the suicide of a female firefighter who had been bullied on a Fairfax County message board. That prompted promises from the department to improve its record with female firefighters. But the women in Wednesday’s case, Kathleen Stanley and Cheri Zosh, both battalion chiefs, said the department had not changed.
IRS Warns States Not to Circumvent State and Local Tax Cap
The Internal Revenue Service is preparing to crack down on states that try to circumvent a new limit on the state and local tax deduction, saying Wednesday that it will not allow local governments to find creative ways to help individuals fully deduct those taxes. The IRS warning comes in response to states, like New York, that have looked for ways to blunt the effect of a new $10,000 cap on the state and local tax deduction, known as SALT. The cap, which was included in last year’s $1.5 trillion Republican tax overhaul, hit predominantly Democratic, high-tax states hardest.
Trump Violates First Amendment by Blocking Twitter Users From Feed, Judge Says
On Wednesday, one of President Donald Trump’s Twitter habits — his practice of blocking critics on the service, preventing them from engaging with his account — was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge in Manhattan. Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, addressing a novel issue about how the Constitution applies to social media platforms and public officials, found that the president’s Twitter feed is a public forum. As a result, she ruled that when Trump or his aides blocked seven plaintiffs from viewing and replying to his posts, they violated the First Amendment.
How More Carbon Dioxide Can Make Food Less Nutritious
When scientists want to figure out how climate change might disrupt the world’s food supplies, they often explore how rising temperatures could shift growing seasons or how more frequent droughts could damage harvests. Now, a new study has found that rice exposed to elevated levels of carbon dioxide contains lower amounts of several important nutrients. The potential health consequences are large, given that there are already billions of people who do not get enough nutrients in their daily diet. The researchers focused on rice because more than 2 billion people rely on it as a primary food source.
Senate Sends Major Overhaul of Veterans Health Care to Trump
The Senate gave final passage Wednesday to a multibillion-dollar revamp of the veterans health care system, consolidating seven Veterans Affairs Department health programs into one and making it far easier for veterans to take their benefits to private doctors for care. The legislation also expands popular stipends to family caregivers of veterans who served during the Vietnam War era or after. And it establishes a nine-member commission to study the department’s current infrastructure to determine where its health system should expand and contract. The comprehensive bill won the support of Republicans and most Democrats.
Parole Board Is Divided on Trafficking Victim Serving Life Sentence for Murder
A Tennessee parole board was divided Wednesday on its recommendations for clemency for Cyntoia Brown, who is serving a life sentence for killing a man who hired her for sex while she was being trafficked as a teenager in 2004. Two of the six board members recommended commuting her sentence to time served, while two voted to recommend making her eligible for parole after serving 25 years, which would mean in 2029, Melissa McDonald, a spokeswoman for the board, said. Two voted to recommend denying clemency to Brown, 30. The range of recommendations from the state’s Board of Parole will go to Gov. Bill Haslam.
Southern Baptist Leader Removed as Seminary President for Remarks on Women
A prominent Southern Baptist leader has been removed as president of his seminary after coming under fire for controversial comments to and about women, including advice that women who are abused by their husbands should focus on praying for them, rather than on divorce, and should “be submissive in every way that you can." The board of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Fort Worth, Texas, announced its decision Tuesday to replace the leader, Paige Patterson. In recent weeks, video and audio recordings of comments Patterson is said to have made between 2000 and 2014 released on a blog and on social media, have prompted a backlash.