Snow response in DC, NYC comes down to money, manpower
WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation’s capital and its largest city both got walloped by the same near-record blizzard this weekend. But while Washington struggled to recover, New York City was mostly up and running on Monday.
In the District of Columbia, schools and government offices, monuments and memorials and museums were all shut down on Monday. The Metro had an extremely reduced schedule, providing free rides as a goodwill gesture. Digging out remained such a huge challenge that Mayor Muriel Bowser sought federal disaster aid.
In New York, the subway and schools were open, just a day and a half after the last flakes fell, and leaders praised themselves for getting this one right.
A look at the numbers helps explain the outcomes:
Expert: Escaped California inmates must have had inside help
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Three California inmates who sawed through a metal grate, crawled through plumbing tunnels and shimmied to freedom down a rope made from bed linens likely had help to pull off the daring plan and also benefited from the complacency of jail staff, security experts said Monday.
The inmates vanished early Friday in a jail break eerily similar to the escape of two inmates from an upstate New York prison last summer. Those men also cut through a portion of wall hidden under a bunk bed and used piping and tunnels inside the facility to reach the outside.
The California inmates, including one who is charged with murder, were still at large Monday. Jail officials did not realize they were missing until roughly 16 hours after they were last seen because an evening headcount was delayed by an assault on a guard.
A major question for investigators will be how the men were able to plan and execute their flight with such precision, said Kevin Tamez, a managing partner for MPM Group, a Philadelphia-based firm that consults on prison security, management and infrastructure.
It’s likely someone slipped them blueprints or told them how the bowels of the jail were laid out, he said.
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. IN BLIZZARD’S WAKE, TALE OF TWO CITIES
New York did well in the big snowstorm, while Washington struggled — again. Why? For one thing, D.C. has a relatively small snow budget.
2. WHY HILLARY CLINTON HAS REASON TO SMILE
Obama, weighing in on the presidential race, describes her as “wicked smart” — while suggesting Bernie Sanders is untested.
Grand jury indicts leader behind Planned Parenthood videos
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Houston grand jury investigating undercover footage of Planned Parenthood found no wrongdoing Monday by the abortion provider, and instead indicted anti-abortion activists involved in making the videos that targeted the handling of fetal tissue in clinics and provoked outrage among Republican leaders nationwide.
David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to purchasing human organs. Another activist, Sandra Merritt, was also indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
It’s the first time anyone in the group has been charged criminally since the release of the videos, which began surfacing last year and alleged that Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue to researchers for a profit in violation of federal law. Planned Parenthood officials have denied any wrongdoing and have said the videos were misleadingly edited.
The footage from the clinic in Houston showed people pretending to be from a company called BioMax that procures fetal tissue for research touring the facility. Planned Parenthood has previously said that the fake company sent an agreement offering to pay the “astronomical amount” of $1,600 for organs from a fetus. The clinic said it never entered into the agreement and ceased contact with BioMax because it was “disturbed” by the overtures.
In a statement announcing the indictment, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson did not provide details on the charges, including what record or records were allegedly tampered with and why Daleiden faces a charge related to buying human organs. Her office said it could not disclose more information and a court spokesman said it was unclear whether copies of the indictments, which typically provide more insight, would be made public Monday.
Cruz, Clinton call for calmer talk ahead of Iowa contest
IOWA FALLS, Iowa (AP) — Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton both called for lowering the temperature in the presidential primary race Monday, even as their campaigns and supporters kept up their attacks with a week to go until the Iowa caucuses.
Campaigning at a pizza place, Cruz passed up an opportunity to take a swipe at Donald Trump, who has been hitting Cruz as the Texas senator has climbed in the polls. Until recently, Trump and Cruz had avoided direct confrontation on the campaign trail, but Trump’s description of his opponent as a “nasty guy” seemed to invite a response.
“I will not engage in insults,” Cruz said in Manchester, Iowa. “I will not engage in personal attacks. Donald has changed how he has approached me. He is now insulting me every day. He can do that. That is his prerogative. I do not intend to respond in kind.”
But behind the scenes, Cruz’s campaign was on the air with an ad assailing Trump over his business practices, while a super PAC supporting Cruz unleashed its own ads criticizing Trump. Cruz said he would “continue to sing Donald’s praises personally” while pointing out policy differences with the real estate mogul.
Trump wasn’t holding back. He took to Twitter to call Cruz a “nervous wreck” who was “dropping like a rock” in the GOP race.
Who’s Obama for? Clinton has reason to smile
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama hasn’t endorsed a Democratic successor, but he’s now revealed some personal pros and cons in the fight between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
Clinton has reason to smile.
In an interview published Monday, Obama casts his former secretary of state as a “wicked smart,” progressive pragmatist and Sanders as a “bright, shiny object” fueled by Democrats’ long-standing frustrations. He defends Clinton as burdened by her perceived front-runner status while Sanders benefits from “the luxury of being a complete long shot.”
“Her strengths can be her weaknesses,” Obama said in the interview with Politico’s “Off Message” podcast. “Her strengths, which are the fact that she’s extraordinarily experienced – and, you know, wicked smart and knows every policy inside and out – sometimes could make her more cautious and her campaign more prose than poetry. But those are also her strengths. It means that she can govern and she can start here, day one, more experienced than any non-vice president has ever been who aspires to this office.”
The comments, coming a week before the Iowa caucuses, were Obama’s most detailed yet on the unexpectedly tight contest to replace him. After months of keeping to his promise not to interfere, Obama’s analysis showed he’s been watching closely and thinking deeply about which candidate is best positioned win — and carry on his policies.
Rubio’s Iowa crisscross approach bends caucus campaign norm
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Marco Rubio is all over the map in Iowa. Quite literally.
Having spent little time in the state’s rural Christian conservative northwest, the Republican presidential candidate dropped in to Sioux County for the first time on a solo campaign trip last week, then bounced across the state two days later to speak with some of Iowa’s more fiscally conservative voters in the east.
“I’m going to trust that he knows what he’s doing,” state Rep. John Wills, who supports Rubio, said after his campaign stop at the Christian Dordt College in GOP-rich Sioux Center. “I hope he gets the chance to get up here again. Northwest Iowa is where you win.”
Rubio began an uninterrupted nine-day run Saturday ahead of Iowa’s lead-off caucuses next Monday. His itinerary includes college towns, larger cities and rural outposts.
After months of promising that his campaign was on the verge of ramping up in early-voting states, Rubio appears to be following through in the Iowa homestretch.
Justices won’t let North Dakota enforce tough abortion law
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court refused on Monday to review lower court rulings overturning North Dakota’s ban on abortion at six weeks of pregnancy — before many women know they’re pregnant.
The justices turned away the state’s appeal of decisions striking down the 2013 fetal heartbeat law as unconstitutional. The law never took effect, and abortion-rights supporters said it was the strictest anti-abortion measure in the country.
The high court last week rejected Arkansas’ bid to enforce its own fetal heartbeat law, banning some abortions at 12 weeks. Both measures had been struck down by a unanimous panel of three judges appointed by President George W. Bush to the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“We knew it was unlikely and it came as no surprise,” North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said of the high court’s refusal to review the case.
The Supreme Court gets about 7,500 requests each year but takes on fewer than 100 cases.
AP INVESTIGATION: Feds’ failures imperil migrant children
LOS ANGELES (AP) — As tens of thousands of children fleeing violence in Central America crossed the border in search of safe harbor, overwhelmed U.S. officials weakened child protection policies, placing some young migrants in homes where they were sexually assaulted, starved or forced to work for little or no pay, an Associated Press investigation has found.
Without enough beds to house the record numbers of young arrivals, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lowered its safety standards during border surges in the last three years to swiftly move children out of government shelters and into sponsors’ homes. The procedures were increasingly relaxed as the number of young migrants rose in response to spiraling gang and drug violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, according to emails, agency memos and operations manuals obtained by AP, some under the Freedom of Information Act.
First, the government stopped fingerprinting most adults seeking to claim the children. In April 2014, the agency stopped requiring original copies of birth certificates to prove most sponsors’ identities. The next month, it decided not to complete forms that request sponsors’ personal and identifying information before sending many of the children to sponsors’ homes. Then, it eliminated FBI criminal history checks for many sponsors.
Since the rule changes, the AP has identified more than two dozen children who were placed with sponsors who subjected them to sexual abuse, labor trafficking, or severe abuse and neglect.
“This is clearly the tip of the iceberg,” said Jacqueline Bhabha, research director at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University. “We would never release domestic children to private settings with as little scrutiny.”
Teen suspended for helping friend won’t return to school
KILLEEN, Texas (AP) — A Texas teenager who was suspended from school after helping a classmate who was having an asthma attack won’t return to the school, the teen’s mother said Monday.
Mandy Cortes said she will home-school her 15-year-old rather than have him return to Gateway Middle School in Killeen.
Anthony Ruelas was suspended for a day last week when he disobeyed his teacher by picking up his classmate and leaving the classroom to carry her to the nurse’s office.
The teacher had emailed the nurse when the girl began suffering the attack and fell to the floor. A disciplinary form explained that the teacher was awaiting a response from the nurse when Anthony uttered an expletive about not waiting and picked up the girl, Cortes said.
School officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday. The Killeen school district last week issued a statement that read, in part, that the district “applauds the efforts of students who act in good faith to assist others in times of need.”
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