Dick’s Sporting Goods bans sales of assault weapons, any guns to young...

Dick’s Sporting Goods bans sales of assault weapons, any guns to young buyers

By Karen DeWitt   
Dicks Sporting Goods has more than 675 stores. Mike Mozart/Wikimedia Commons)

WASHINGTON — Dick’s Sporting Goods is set to ban sales of assault weapons in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting.

The nation’s largest sporting goods retailer announced the move in an open letter and an appearance today by CEO Ed Stack on “Good Morning America.”

Stack told GMA’s George Stephanopoulos: “As we looked at what happened down in Parkland, we were so disturbed and saddened by what happened, we felt we really needed to do something.”

The Pittsburgh-based retailer also will end sales of high-capacity magazines and sales of guns to people under 21 years old.

Stack said the Parkland school shooting suspect had purchased a shotgun at a Dick’s store in November. Though 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz is not suspected of using that particular gun in the shooting, Stack said the realization that Cruz had bought a gun at Dick’s served as a catalyst for action.

Trump expected to meet with lawmakers over gun legislation

President Trump plans to meet with lawmakers at the White House today to discuss gun legislation in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting.

Republican leaders in Congress rejected calls Tuesday for tighter gun restrictions despite an in-person pitch from Florida high school students leading a newly energized gun control movement.

GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin says Republicans would focus on law enforcement failures, not tighter gun control, citing inaction by a deputy stationed outside the school and tips called into federal and local law enforcement officials about the alleged shooter. Ryan says he supports Trump’s call to arm teachers but not at the federal level, while others dismissed another Trump proposal: raising the legal age for purchasing semiautomatic guns, from 18 to 21.

Shooting survivor’s father admits email changes in CNN spat

The father of a Florida shooting survivor tells The Associated Press that he omitted words in an email he sent media outlets accusing CNN of using scripted remarks at a town hall on guns and school safety.

Glenn Haab tells the wire service that he omitted some words from the email but said he didn’t do it on purpose.

Nonetheless, dozens of conservative websites called the network’s Feb. 21 town hall forum scripted after Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School junior Colton Haab skipped the event and said the network had told him what question to ask. The websites call it proof the forum was slanted against gun rights. President Donald Trump tweeted about it on Friday, saying “Just like so much of CNN, Fake News!”

CNN countered with a release of email exchanges between producer Carrie Stevenson, Colton Haab and his father Glenn and accused Glenn Haab of deliberately altering email sent to Fox News and the Huffington Post.

Almost 7 in 10 support stricter gun laws, poll finds

Nearly 7 in 10 Americans support a tightening of U.S. gun laws in the wake of a mass shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll released today.

The poll finds that support for stricter gun laws now sits at 68 percent among registered voters, compared to just 25 percent who say they oppose tightening restrictions.

The poll also reveals wide support for raising the age required to purchase an assault-style weapon to 21.  82 % percent of voters said the age to purchase such a weapon should be raised to 21, and 81 % support all firearm purchases requiring this minimum age.

Support for gun control is also growing among Republicans, pollsters find, with 53 % of GOP respondents saying they support tougher gun laws, compared to 37 % who said the same after an Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016.

Oklahoma school district installs bulletproof shelters in elementary schools 

A school district in Oklahoma has installed bulletproof shelters in several elementary school classrooms in the wake of the Florida school shooting.

Healdton School District installed the shelters, reportedly the first of its kind in the country, in seven elementary school classrooms and two middle school classrooms, according to Oklahoma’s KOCO News5.

Superintendent Terry Shaw says it was “relaxing” to know that students have a safe place to go in their schools. The chambers, made by company Shelter-In-Place, hold up to 35 students and two teachers.

Bulletproof backpack sales boom

Sales of bulletproof backpacks boomed this month as security-conscious parents reacted to the Parkland, Fla. attack where a teen attacker armed with a military-style rifle killed 17, USA Today reports.

Those students returned to school today amid tight security.

Quietly, a small but growing number of U.S. educational leaders have responded to the wave of similar recent tragedies by fortifying their schools with blast-resistant doors and locks, high-tech glass, and other equipment that may safeguard students and teachers from an active shooter.

School Guard Glass started selling its intruder-resistant product after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. killed 26 and wounded two.

Pennsylvania-based church to host ceremony featuring AR-15

A Pennsylvania-based religious group is scheduled to host a blessing ceremony today or couples that will feature their AR-15 rifles, The Associated Press reports.

World Peace and Unification Sanctuary in Newfoundland believes the AR-15 symbolizes the “rod of iron” in the biblical book of Revelation, and it is encouraging couples to bring the weapons to a commitment ceremony this morning. The AR-15 is the gun used in the Florida high school massacre.

The service is expected to draw hundreds of couples, prompting an elementary school down the street to cancel classes for the day. Students are being bused to other schools in the district.

The church is a breakaway faction of the Unification Church, which often is described as a cult. The Unification Church says it doesn’t condone the Pennsylvania event

Billy Graham, wary of politics in life, gets Capitol salute

He felt stung by the politics that helped define his life — and resolved to keep a distance, but in death, Rev. Billy Graham is getting a rare tribute from the nation’s top political leaders under the Capitol Rotunda, reports The Associated Press.

President Trump, GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky are today expected to remember “America’s pastor,” who died a week earlier at age 99.

Graham is lying in honor beneath the iconic dome Wednesday and Thursday, before a funeral Friday near his home in Charlotte, N.C.

Graham is only the fourth private person to lie in honor since 1998. The others are two U.S. Capitol Police officers who died in the line of duty in 1998 and civil rights hero Rosa Parks in 2005.

Trump will be only living president at Graham’s funeral

Only one living U.S. president will be attending the Rev. Billy Graham’s funeral this week.

The Associated Press reports President Trump will be in attendance Friday at the Charlotte service, but his predecessors will not.

A spokesperson confirmed with the Citizen Times that former President Barack Obama is unable to attend the funeral, while two former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton traveled to Charlotte this week ahead of the service to pay their respects while Graham’s body lay in repose.

A spokesman for former President George H.W. Bush told the Citizen Times that he and his wife, Barbara, are unable to travel to Charlotte, and a representative for former President Jimmy Carter says that “he regrets he cannot attend.”

Despite vehicle safety improvements, deadly trend persists for pedestrians

U.S. pedestrian deaths totaled nearly 6,000 in 2017 for the second straight year amid mounting signs that walkers and drivers are dangerously distracted, a new study finds.

The new Governors Highway Safety Association report today estimates that 5,984 pedestrians were killed in the U.S. in 2017, with about 75 percent of those fatalities occurring at night.

Experts attribute the deadly trend to several factors, including smartphones and marijuana use.

Richard Retting, director of safety for Sam Schwartz Consulting, says who authored today’s report for GHSA, that while the report doesn’t make a direct link between phones and marijuana use: “It’s a source of concern.”

Man pleads guilty to threatening to burn Muslim home

Florida man has pleaded guilty to threatening to burn down a Muslim family’s new home.

A U.S. Department of Justice news release says 59-year-old David Howard pleaded guilty in Tampa federal court Tuesday to threatening, intimidating and interfering with housing rights. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

Court documents say a Muslim man and his wife were conducting the final walk-through of a Tampa home they had placed under contract in November 2016 when Howard approached the couple, the seller and their real estate agents. Howard reportedly told the couple they weren’t welcome and threatened to burn down the house.

The Muslim couple left and cancelled the closing of the home purchase that was scheduled to take place the next day.

Apple is opening medical clinics for its employees

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but now Apple is looking to hire doctors — to serve its employees, according to CNN.

Apple is quietly planning “AC Wellness” clinics it describes as “an independent medical practice dedicated to delivering compassionate, effective healthcare to the Apple employee population.”

The company has posted jobs, including primary care physician, acute care physician, medical assistant, nurse practitioner and nurse coordinator, among others. It also is seeking “health partners” to “help patients improve their health and wellness through sustainable behavior change.”

Apple says AC Wellness is coming to its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters in the spring.

Mennonite investigator jailed after refusing to testify in death penalty case

A defense investigator in a Colorado death penalty case is behind bars after refusing to testify for prosecutors, saying that helping their effort to execute a defendant would violate her religious beliefs.

A judge ordered the jailing of Greta Lindecrantz, a Mennonite who opposes capital punishment, after she repeatedly refused to answer questions about her work on the defense team of Robert Ray, one of three men on Colorado’s death row.

Lindecrantz has been ordered to return to court today, says her attorney Mari Newman said.

Ray’s defense team is challenging his death sentence partly by arguing that he did not have an effective legal team.

Prosecutors apparently subpoenaed Lindecrantz, who worked for Ray’s original lawyers, to testify to back up their case that he did have good representation. They previously questioned Ray’s original lawyers as part of the appeal proceedings.

More than 150 arrested in latest California immigration raids

More than 150 people were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Northern California, The Hill Reports.

ICE arrested immigrants who violated U.S. immigration laws this week during “targeted immigration enforcement operations” in the San Francisco area, the agency says in a statement.

On Saturday, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf issued a warning that ICE agents were planning to arrest people after she received confidential tips and checked with attorneys to make sure she wasn’t breaking federal law by going public with the information, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

ICE said the mayor used the warning to score political points and also cause some criminals to evade the raids.

Exiting Trump officials get tepid response on job market

Current and former high-ranking Trump administration officials are testing the waters of Washington’s job market as the administration begins its second year and finding the water, right now, tepid, reports The Hill.

Lobbyists, headhunters and others involved in hiring processes tell The Hill that phones have been ringing from Trump administration officials eyeing the exits, wondering how much they could earn in the private sector.

Service in the executive branch has long been a punch card to the private sector, with officials from both Democratic and Republican administrations securing lucrative jobs at associations, nonprofits, think tanks, and law and lobby firms after leaving office.

But for officials leaving the Trump administration, their government service can be a handicap.

Some of the trepidation has to do with President Trump, who has been untraditional in how he staffed his administration, largely relying on aides from outside the political establishment.

Feinstein’s trouble underlines Democratic Party’s shift to left

The failure of Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California to win her party’s endorsement at California’s state convention is triggering new questions about whether the Democratic Party has become the Progressive Party amid grass-roots enthusiasm driven by opposition to President Trump, The Hill reports.

Feinstein won a paltry 37 % in the weekend vote, and was trounced by California Senate leader Kevin de León, who ran to the left of the veteran politician.

Some Democrats are arguing that California is a special case, and that Feinstein’s struggles reflect an increasing progressive shift in the Golden State that isn’t necessarily reflective of the larger party.

UMBC’s Freeman Hrabowski receives national lifetime achievement award

Freeman A. Hrabowski III, the nationally known president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, will next week receive a prestigious lifetime achievement award from The American Council on Education, reports The Baltimore Sun.

Council President Ted Mitchell says Hrabowski is one of the nation’s most accomplished campus leaders, “one who has made an indelible mark on his institution and the entire higher education community.”

Hrabowski has propelled UMBC from a small, regional college 25 years ago to an institution known for its excellence in math and science, as well as for the high numbers of students of color who go on to earn doctorates and medical degrees.

Other higher education leaders who have received the award include California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman and former Brown University President Ruth J. Simmons.

Why Amazon is sending you pictures of your front porch

Amazon has been quietly expanding a program over the past few months in which some of its delivery providers take a picture of where they put your package, USA Today reports.

The photo is included in the notice of delivery — either in an email or accessible in their Amazon account — received by shoppers so they know when it arrived and where to look for it.

The new service helps with a common customer pain point when getting deliveries at home — finding where a package was left while they’re at work, especially if it was tucked behind a bush or flower pot to make it less visible to would-be thieves.

It also has the advantage of forcing drivers to prove that they’ve indeed brought the package to a customer’s address.

Amazon spokesperson Kristen Kish says: Amazon Logistics Photo On Delivery is “one of many delivery innovations we’re working on to improve convenience for customers.

Dems surge in generic ballot as economy fades from spotlight

Democrats have reopened a double-digit lead in the generic congressional ballot, as a cascade of White House controversies has pushed the economy off the front page, The Hill reports.

Republicans began to close the generic ballot gap on Democrats in January, raising hopes that the GOP could hang on to the House in November.

But now Republicans have seen their gains almost completely wiped out, underscoring their concerns that the party could be in for a bruising midterm election battle this year.

A new CNN survey put the Democratic advantage in the congressional generic ballot at an eye-popping 16 points. The margin in the RealClearPolitics average has returned to nearly 10 points, after Republicans crept to within 7 points earlier this month.

Super PAC launches $250k ad buy to boost Dem in heated Pa. race

A top Democratic super PAC is launching a $250,000 television ad buy to boost Democratic candidate Conor Lamb ahead of next month’s Pennsylvania special election, reports The Hill.

Republicans have far outspent Democrats on the airwaves in the district as they look to support GOP state Rep. Rick Saccone’s bid for the March 13 election.

The new ad campaign — which includes about a quarter-million dollar of spending on digital and television — is meant to help close the spending gap between the two candidates amid tightening polls.

The ad buy by Patriot Majority PAC seizes on recent reports that Saccone used an expense account while serving in the legislature, which Democrats have framed as excessive.

Trump praises ruling of judge he attacked for Mexican heritage

President Trump touted a “big legal win” after the judge he once attacked for his Mexican heritage ruled in favor of the administration in a lawsuit attempting to block Trump’s proposed border wall, reports The Hill.

Judge Gonzalo Curiel

U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whose parents immigrated from Mexico, ruled Tuesday against a legal challenge to the wall over environment waivers granted by the Department of Homeland Security.

The ruling means the administration will be able to continue waiving the regulations to build barriers on the border.

Trump targeted Curiel during the 2016 presidential race, claiming the judge might by biased against him in a lawsuit over Trump University because of Curiel’s Mexican heritage.

Trump touts administration’s achievements in tweet

President Trump touted his administration’s achievements today, pointing to a report from the Heritage Foundation that shows he is implementing the conservative group’s goals agenda at a faster rate than former President Ronald Reagan, The Hill reports.

In the tweet, Trump quotes the Heritage Foundation’s Thomas Binion, who told the Washington Examiner that he was “blown away” by the pace.

Trump has so far implemented 64 percent of the group’s 334 policy recommendations, Heritage said, compared to Reagan, who had implemented just 49 percent at this point in his presidency.

Among the key initiatives the group has supported includes the repeal of net neutrality rules passed under the Obama administration, the reduction of Obama-era national monuments, and leaving the Paris Climate Accord.

Trump says Calif. wall sections won’t be built until entire project is approved

President Trump tweets that the section of his proposed border wall approved by a federal judge will not be built until the remainder of the planned wall is approved.

Trump says on Twitter that “sections of the Wall that California wants built NOW,” apparently referring to the section of the wall that was approved Tuesday against the wishes of the state of California “will not be built until the whole Wall is approved.”

Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whom Trump once famously attacked for his Mexican-American heritage, ruled Tuesday that the Department of Homeland Security could waive environmental restrictions in building a section of the wall in California.

Trump’s statement that the state of California “wants” the wall built is diametrically opposed to statements from California’s leaders, including Attorney General Xavier Becerra who vowed to keep fighting the Trump administration in court over immigration and border security issues.

20 states seek Affordable Care Act mandate repeal

Twenty states have asked a federal court in Texas to hold the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate unconstitutional because the tax that penalized anyone who did not carry health insurance has been repealed, USA Today reports.

The filing, made in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth, also asks that the court find the entire health care law unconstitutional, but if not, to amend the law by repealing the mandate.

The filing is largely based on the argument that the repeal of the law’s tax penalties, included in the tax cut bill passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in December, effectively does away with a key reason the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law in a 2012 case.

The states include Wisconsin, Texas and Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.

Trump startles with 2020 reelection move

President Trump startled Washington with the announcement that Brad Parscale, the digital media director of his 2016 campaign, would be his 2020 campaign manager, The Hill reports.

The fact that a sitting president would run for reelection is no surprise to anyone. But the timing of the announcement Tuesday raised eyebrows, as did the fact that Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report teased the announcement before it was made official.

There was widespread skepticism, for a start, that Parscale would end up leading the campaign through the election, especially given the tumult that characterizes almost everything in the president’s orbit.

Parscale has long been allied with Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, and there is a belief in some parts of the president’s orbit that in the wake of Kushner’s failure to get top security, Trump’s tweet was a signal that Kushner will ultimately lead his reelection effort.

Porsche’s U.S. dealers will offer fast charging stations for its Mission E sedan

If you have a spare $100,000, you now have another choice among all-electric cars.

Porsche plans to equip its 189 U.S. dealerships with 800-volt fast-charging stations of its forthcoming the Mission E electric sedan, a competitor to Tesla’s Model S sedan, USA Today reports.

The German automaker already has six such EV stations at its Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta, home of its North American headquarters, and plans to add more at its sister center in Los Angeles. Both facilities allow Porsche owners to take delivery of new vehicles as well as experience them on a track.

The Mission E will have a 400-mile range compared to the Tesla’s sedans 315 miles, and will hit a top speed of 155 mph, about the same as the Model S.

Grieving Bollywood fans pay their respects to Sridev

Lining up for hours and visibly grief-stricken, thousands of mourning fans paid their respects today to Sridevi, the iconic Bollywood actress who drowned accidentally in a Dubai hotel bathtub over the weekend, The Associated Press reports.

Sridevi was 54. (BollywoodHungama.com/Wikimedia Commons)

Sridevi, 54, redefined the importance of the female lead in India’s largely male-dominated film industry — the world’s largest movie producer,  which released more than 1,000 films a year, twice the number of Hollywood.

Sridevi pushed beyond the few songs and dances female actors had been given to become an industry force, and in her most recent role in the 2017 film, “Mom,” she played a woman out to seek vengeance for the rape of her teenage stepdaughter.

By dawn this morning, people had begun lining up along a security fence outside the private club in Mumbai, India, near Sridevi’s home where the body had been laid out. Later Sridevi was cremated with full state honours. Her filmmaker husband, Boney Kapoor, performed the last rites at the ceremony with their two daughters at his side.

Gillibrand: Legal abortion in US won’t end ‘if we have anything to do with it’

Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York is pushing back on Vice President Mike Pence’s comments predicting legal abortion in the U.S. would end “in our time.”

Gillibrand, one of several Senate Democrats thought to be considering presidential runs in 2020, says in a tweet: “Not if we have anything to do with it. Get to the polls this November, women. We’re owning our future.”

Pence, long a champion of anti-abortion policies, spoke at a luncheon Tuesday in Nashville, Tenn., hosted by Susan B. Anthony List & Life Institution, an anti-abortion organization.

Pence predicted legal abortion would end in the U.S. “in our time.”

HUD spends $165K on ‘lounge furniture’ for office

The Department of Housing and Urban Development will reportedly spend $165,000 on “lounge furniture” for its D.C. office, according to The Guardian .

This comes on the heels of President Trump proposing a $6.8 billion budget cut for the department, cuts that which would leave fewer resources for programs that help the poor and homeless.

Last September, the Department signed contracts for the furniture with an Indiana-based furniture retailer, according to The Guardian.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson spent $31,000 late in 2017 on a dining set for his office, according to the newspaper.

These revelations come after Helen Foster, a senior career official at the agency, alleges in a complaint to a watchdog for federal employees that she had been demoted after she refused to “find money” for the redecoration of Carson’s office.

More storms forecast for central U.S.

A new storm is expected to bring additional weather misery this week to areas struggling to recover from a relentless series of weekend storms and tornadoes, with the greatest concern in Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

Severe storms, including the chance for tornadoes, are forecast today from Dallas to Nashville, according to AccuWeather.

Roughly 70 rivers were in flood stage earlier this week in the central U.S., the National Weather Service says.

Three times a winner: Michigan man wins lottery three times in one day

A Michigan man won the lottery three times in one day, his biggest prize: $325,184.

Mark Maltz, 42, a tow company employee from Waterford, stopped at a BP gas station in Commerce Township on Friday to fill up a tow truck. He purchased a scratch-off ticket and won $10, according to the Michigan Lottery.

He then decided to buy a Fast Cash ticket that won him $15.

Testing his luck, he purchased a $5 Fast Cash Black Jack ticket and a $10 Jackpot Slots Fast Cash ticket.

The Jackpot Slots Fast Cash ticket matched three like symbols on one of the 15 spins, netting him the progressive jackpot.

Popular Alaska peak weighs new rules for climbers’ poop

Climbers on North America’s tallest mountain may have to start packing out more of their poop after a researcher determined a glacier in which much of it has been dumped over the past decade probably is not decomposing the human waste, The Associated Press reports.

Michael Loso, a glacier geologist, calculates that 36,000 climbers between 1951 and 2012 deposited 152,000 to 215,000 pounds of feces onto Kahiltna Glacier, part of the most popular route to Denali’s summit and it never reaches the bottom of the glacier but reappears downstream as a pollutant.

The National Park Service has required that climbers keep waste off the Alaska mountain’s surface, allowing them to capture poop in biodegradable bags held by portable toilets and pitch it into deep crevasses on the glacier.

Park Service officials say it is proposing regulations that would allow mountaineers to drop waste in only one crevasse at high elevation. They would have to carry out the rest.

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