Big surge for military in Trump budget, big cuts elsewhere
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is proposing a huge $54 billion surge in U.S. military spending for new aircraft, ships and fighters in his first federal budget while slashing big chunks from domestic programs and foreign aid to make the government “do more with less.”
The Trump blueprint, due in more detail next month, would fulfill the Republican president’s campaign pledge to boost Pentagon spending while targeting the budgets of other federal agencies. The “topline” figures emerged Monday, one day before Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress, an opportunity to re-emphasize the economic issues that were a centerpiece of his White House run.
Domestic programs and foreign aid would as a whole absorb a 10 percent, $54 billion cut from currently projected levels — cuts that would match the military increase. The cuts would be felt far more deeply by programs and agencies targeted by Trump and his fellow Republicans, like the Environmental Protection Agency as well as foreign aid. Veterans’ programs would be exempted, as would border security, additional law enforcement functions and some other areas.
“We’re going to start spending on infrastructure big. It’s not like we have a choice — our highways, our bridges are unsafe, our tunnels,” the president told a group of governors at the White House on Monday. He added, “We’re going to do more with less and make the government lean and accountable to the people.”
However, Trump’s final version of the budget is sure to leave large deficits intact — or even add to them if he follows through on his campaign promise for a huge tax cut.
Trump looks to refocus his presidency in address to Congress
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s first address to Congress gives him a welcome opportunity to refocus his young administration on the core economic issues that helped him get elected — and, his allies hope, to move beyond the distractions and self-inflicted wounds that have roiled his White House.
Trump’s advisers say he will use his prime-time speech Tuesday to declare early progress on his campaign promises, including withdrawing the U.S. from a sweeping Pacific Rim trade pact, and to map a path ahead on thorny legislative priorities, including health care and infrastructure spending.
“We spend billions in the Middle East, but we have potholes all over the country,” Trump said Monday as he previewed the address during a meeting with the nation’s governors. “We’re going to start spending on infrastructure big.”
The White House said Trump has been gathering ideas for the address from the series of listening sessions he’s been holding with law enforcement officials, union representatives, coal miners and others. Aides said he was still tinkering with the speech Monday night.
Republicans, impatient to begin making headway on an ambitious legislative agenda, hope Trump arrives on Capitol Hill armed with specifics on replacing the “Obamacare” health law and overhauling the nation’s tax system, two issues he’s so far talked about in mostly general terms. More broadly, some Republicans are anxious for the president to set aside his feuds with the media, the intelligence community and the courts, which have overshadowed the party’s policy priorities.
10 Things to Know for Tuesday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday.
1. TRUMP GETS CHANCE TO REFOCUS GOALS IN SPEECH TO CONGRESS
Trump’s advisers say he will use his prime-time speech Tuesday to declare progress on his campaign promises, including plans for a Mexico border wall and repealing Obamacare.
2. HOW MUCH MORE TRUMP WANTS TO SPEND ON DEFENSE
The president will propose a $54 billion increase in military spending — a 10-percent spike — while cutting domestic programs and foreign aid.
House probe into Russia ties to Trump off to rocky start
WASHINGTON (AP) — A simmering dispute between leaders of the House intelligence committee spilled into the public Monday over an investigation into whether President Donald Trump has ties to Russia, even as they pledged to conduct a bipartisan probe.
The Republican committee chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, said he has heard no evidence so far that anyone in Trump’s orbit was in contact with Russians during the presidential campaign. The top Democrat on the committee, Adam Schiff, also of California, said the committee’s investigation was hardly off the ground and it was premature to make any conclusions.
The nature of ties between Trump’s associates and Russia has dogged him throughout his nascent presidency, and Monday brought renewed calls for a special prosecutor to investigate the unusual situation. Federal investigators have been looking into contacts between Trump advisers and Russia for months, along with Russia’s role in political hacking during the campaign aimed at Democrats. Trump, on Monday, said he hasn’t called Russia in 10 years.
The House and Senate intelligence committees are conducting separate investigations. But revelations last week that the White House enlisted the Republican chairmen of those committees to push back against news reports have intensified concerns over whether the congressional investigations will be tainted by political influence.
Nunes has said the White House asked him to talk with one reporter, but didn’t give him any guidance on what to say. He said he told that reporter the same thing he’s said to many other reporters in the course of discussions.
Jewish centers cope with bomb threats; graves vandalized
Jewish centers and schools across the nation coped with another wave of bomb threats Monday as officials in Philadelphia made plans to repair and restore hundreds of vandalized headstones at a Jewish cemetery.
Jewish Community Centers and day schools in at least a dozen states received threats, according to the JCC Association of North America. No bombs were found. All 21 buildings — 13 community centers and eight schools — were cleared by Monday afternoon and had resumed normal operations, the association said.
It was the fifth round of bomb threats against Jewish institutions since January, prompting outrage and exasperation among Jewish leaders as well as calls for an aggressive federal response to put a stop to it.
“The Justice Department, Homeland Security, the FBI, and the White House, alongside Congress and local officials, must speak out — and speak out forcefully — against this scourge of anti-Semitism impacting communities across the country,” said David Posner, an official with JCC Association of North America. “Members of our community must see swift and concerted action from federal officials to identify and capture the perpetrator or perpetrators who are trying to instill anxiety and fear in our communities.”
The FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division are probing the threats.
Advocacy groups: Forget Oscars snafu, focus on ‘Moonlight’
Yes, the Great Mistake of Oscars 2017 made history in all the wrong kinds of ways. But a day later, advocacy groups and others overjoyed by the Cinderella win of “Moonlight” were saying, let’s forget the snafu and move on — because “Moonlight” made history in all the right kinds of ways.
The coming-of-age story of a gay black youth in a poor Miami neighborhood was made on the tiniest of budgets — $1.5 million, said director Barry Jenkins backstage. It had a mostly black cast, and was seen as the first LGBT-themed movie to win best picture in the 89-year history of the awards show.
And so, there’s no point in wondering whether the spectacular mess-up that led to “La La Land” first being announced best picture winner — incorrectly — would overshadow the “Moonlight” win, said Sarah Kate Ellis, president & CEO of GLAAD, the LGBT advocacy group. “I don’t think you CAN overshadow the ‘Moonlight’ win,” she said in an interview, while acknowledging it was “a bit upsetting that it went down that way.”
What won out, she said, was not only a strong message of diversity and inclusivity, but “hopefully the bigger dream — that Hollywood recognizes this and continues to produce films like this, so that they are not the exception but the rule.”
“So often we’ve heard from Hollywood that writers aren’t writing about these things,” Ellis said. “So having a success at this level takes that narrative out.” The reason for the film’s success, she said, was simple: “It reflects the world we live in today. Countless people can relate to it.”
Sequestered jury from outside area to decide Bill Cosby case
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A sequestered jury from an outside county will decide the sexual assault case against Bill Cosby, a suburban Philadelphia judge ruled Monday, rejecting a defense request to move the trial because of worldwide media reports that the actor’s lawyers say brand him a “serial rapist.”
Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill will oversee a June 5 trial over charges Cosby drugged and molested a former Temple University employee in 2004.
The judge’s ruling came after lawyers for the 79-year-old TV star argued his trial should be moved to Philadelphia or the Pittsburgh area. The larger, more diverse population would make it easier to find unbiased jurors, lawyer Brian McMonagle argued, but even then, he said, there was no guarantee Cosby could get a fair hearing.
“Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the message that has been promoted, in insidious fashion, is that Bill Cosby is guilty and that Bill Cosby is a serial rapist,” McMonagle said. “I do not believe that there’s a place anywhere in this country now where he can receive a fair trial. Not here, not anywhere. I hope I’m wrong.”
Prosecutors accused the defense of trying to shop for a jury.
Oscar gaffe makes for a whodunit: is tweet the smoking gun?
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Moments before he handed out the wrong envelope in one of the worst gaffes in Academy Award history, PwC accountant Brian Cullinan tweeted a behind-the-scenes photo of winner Emma Stone holding her statuette. “Best Actress Emma Stone backstage!” the tweet read.
It’s one potential clue in the whodunit that Sunday’s ceremony became after presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty mistakenly proclaimed “La La Land” as the best-picture winner instead of “Moonlight.”
Cullinan was one of two accountants for PwC, formerly Price Waterhouse Coopers, tasked with doling out the envelopes containing winners’ names to the presenters. But the envelope that Cullinan gave to Dunaway and Beatty was a duplicate of the previously announced win for Stone, not for best picture.
The photo tweeted by Cullinan, which was first reported Monday by The Wall Street Journal, would have been taken in the minutes leading up to the top picture award — raising the question of whether the accountant was distracted from the task at hand. Although the tweet had been deleted from the social media site, a copy of it was kept by Google and available through a cache page.
A PwC representative declined comment Monday on whether Cullinan’s social-media use might have contributed to the fiasco that launched countless punchlines, memes and a probe of what went wrong.
Oscar envelopes explained: How presenters get winning names
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A look at how the Academy Awards’ winners envelopes are handled before being opened live onstage:
— The consulting firm PwC, formerly Price Waterhouse Coopers, tabulates the winners based on ballots cast by the academy’s 6,687 voting members. Unlike the nominations, which rely on a branch-specific, preferential-voting system, winners are chosen by popular vote — except for best picture, which uses the preferential method, wherein voters rank their favorite films in order and accountants determine the highest-ranked choice that appears on the most ballots.
— Two accountants are tasked with bringing the final results, inside sealed envelopes, to the Oscars ceremony. They are the people carrying briefcases on the red carpet, flanked by police protection. Each briefcase contains an identical set of envelopes for the show’s 24 categories. The accountants also memorize the winners.
— The two accountants are ostensibly the only people who know the winners before they are announced live on TV.
— During the telecast, the two briefcase-toting accountants are stationed in the Dolby Theatre wings, one stage left and one stage right.
911 call: Bar shooting suspect said he’d killed ‘Iranians’
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A bartender at the restaurant where a man was arrested last week for an apparently racially motivated bar shooting of two Indian men told a 911 dispatcher that the suspect admitted shooting two people, but described them as Iranian.
A recording from Henry County, Missouri, 911 reveals that the bartender warned police not to approach the building with sirens blaring or the man would “freak out” and “something bad’s going to happen.”
The man, Adam Purinton, 51, of Olathe, made his first appearance in court Monday via video link. He has been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder. According to witnesses, Purinton yelled “get out of my country” at two 32-year-old Indian men, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, before he opened fire at Austin’s Bar and Grill in the Kansas City suburb on Wednesday evening.
Kuchibhotla was killed and Madasani injured. The two had come to the U.S. from India to study, and they worked as engineers at GPS-maker Garmin. A third patron, Ian Grillot, 24, was wounded when he tried to intervene.
After the shooting, Purinton, who is white, drove 70 miles east to an Applebee’s restaurant in Clinton, Missouri, where he made the shocking admission to the bartender.
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