Category Archives: World News

Florida Governor Embroiled In Scandal at Start Of Second Term

Florida Governor Embroiled In Scandal at Start Of Second Term, – Republican Governor Rick Scott, off to a rocky start in his second term in office, faced an extraordinary meeting on Thursday with Florida’s Cabinet in which he admitted botching the ouster of the state’s top police administrator.

Since his narrow victory over former Governor Charlie Crist in November, Scott has run into a series of controversies.

In the past month, Scott was rebuked by the state Republican Party, which rejected his choice to lead the party and instead elected state Representative Blaise Ingoglia in an unheard-of snub for a newly re-elected governor.

Last week, former state prisons director Michael Crews, who had been ousted by Scott, accused the governor of neglecting staff shortages and crumbling facilities in the Department of Corrections.

Scott, a wealthy former hospital executive with no prior political experience, previously experienced fairly placid relations with the three independently elected Cabinet officers, all fellow Republicans.

But his decision to oust Gerald Bailey, the head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), has dogged him since his Jan. 6 inauguration.

Bailey said he had been led to believe that the three Cabinet members, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, concurred in his ouster, but all three said afterward they were told that Bailey had wanted to retire.

The FDLE is overseen by the governor and Cabinet together, not by Scott alone. In the furor over Bailey’s firing, Scott and the Cabinet agreed on Thursday to better manage executive performance review.

“While I wanted to bring in new leadership at FDLE as we transitioned to a second term in office, it is clear, in hindsight, that I could have handled it better,” Scott said at the start of the Cabinet’s annual opening-day visit to the Florida State Fair in Tampa.

After his firing, Bailey said he had spurned attempts by the Scott campaign last year to misuse FDLE employees in the governor’s re-election. Scott’s office declined comment on that allegation.

Matt Bai: My Problem With The Clinton Death Star

Matt Bai: My Problem With The Clinton Death Star, A year before the Iowa caucuses, Washington’s entrenched Democrats are already girding for a general election. You could raid the Four Seasons at the height of breakfast and not turn up a single Democratic lobbyist, consultant or lawmaker who isn’t already behind Hillary Clinton – and who doesn’t assume she’s the nominee.

Writing in Politico last week, the ever-prescient Mike Allen reported that Clinton has already charged John Podesta, recently a senior Obama adviser and the closest thing the party has to a reigning wise man, with assembling her rumbling tank of a campaign. The current hope is that Clinton may not even have to risk debating in the primaries, unless someone really is crazy enough to run against her. (Um have you guys actually heard Bernie Sanders?)

I have to say, there’s something about this latest iteration of Clinton Industries that I find a little dispiriting, though probably not for the reasons you might think.

It’s not that I think Hillary Clinton couldn’t be a good president, or even the right fit for the moment. Going back to her days in the Senate, Clinton has always been pragmatic and dexterous with the machinery of government. That might be a welcome contrast with Barack Obama, who after six years in the job still seems to regard himself as a critic of the system, rather than as the guy who owns it.

And although you might be tempted to say I’m just a typical journalist who’s dying to cover a more exciting Democratic primary campaign than the one taking shape right now, that really isn’t it, either. I’ve seen all the freezing, late-night rallies and desperate attack ads I need to see for one lifetime. If Hillary can spare us more of that a year from now, I say go for it.

Some people around Clinton assume that any skepticism about her candidacy has to do with latent sexism, but I’m pretty sure that’s not my issue, either. Last week, my 6-year-old daughter informed me that she couldn’t be president because she’s a girl. So believe me, if Hillary Clinton takes the oath of office on the third Friday of 2017, we’ll be watching together.

Nor am I necessarily devastated, as some people are, by the idea of yet another Clinton campaign (which would be the fourth in seven presidential elections), or even another Bush-Clinton matchup, should it come to that. Dynastic politics can’t be good for the democracy, but that’s up to the voters, and if they want to treat the presidency like it’s a “Rocky” sequel, so be it.

Top Rand Paul Aide Working For Israeli PM Reelection Effort

Top Rand Paul Aide Working For Israeli PM Reelection Effort, Rand Paul’s top digital strategist is working for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election campaign.

Vincent Harris, the 26-year-old Austin-based digital strategist, has made two trips to Israel to help the Israeli leader in a stiff fight to win his fourth term as prime minister and has been working for his campaign for more than six weeks, he told the Jerusalem Post.

Harris denied to the Post that he had been sent by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., or Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for whom he has previously worked, to help Netanyahu.

“I have not spoken to Sen. Cruz or to Mitch McConnell about my job here,” Harris told the Post. “My Israeli work is completely separate from my work in the U.S., so what is being reported is not true. I love Israel, and I am excited to be here to help the Likud and the prime minister use digital media in an effective and forward-looking manner.”

Harris did not respond to Yahoo News’ request for comment.

Harris, who according to colleagues is skilled at understanding the role of social media in campaigns and in translating technical ideas into plain language, worked for McConnell’s re-election campaign in 2014.

In 2012, Harris had worked for Cruz, and many thought he would work for the Texan’s likely presidential campaign. But Paul, a Republican senator from Kentucky who is also likely to run for president in 2016, hired Harris last November to be his chief digital strategist.

Paul is viewed with some skepticism by members of the American right who hold strong pro-Israel views. Paul, in 2011, proposed a budget that would eliminate all foreign aid, including to Israel. After it came under criticism, Paul’s more recent budget proposals have included aid to Israel.

Investigation Begins In Fatal Commuter Train SUV Crash

Investigation Begins In Fatal Commuter Train SUV Crash, Investigators headed Wednesday to the site of a fiery commuter train crash that killed six people, seeking clues to why the SUV that triggered the wreck was stopped on the tracks.

As a National Transportation Safety Board team headed from Washington to the crash site, local officials worked to identify those killed in the deadliest accident on one of the nation’s busiest commuter rail lines – one that has come under harsh scrutiny over safety after a series of accidents in recent years. Fifteen people remained hospitalized as officials said they were, for now, mystified by the ghastly crash on the Metro-North Railroad.

“It’s really inexplicable, based on the facts we have now,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on WCBS-AM radio. “Everybody wants to know exactly what happened, so that if something can be corrected, we correct it.”

Five train passengers – authorities initially said six – and the SUV’s driver were killed in Tuesday evening’s crash, in Valhalla, about 20 miles north of New York City. Authorities said the impact was so forceful the electrified third rail came up and pierced the train.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said the front part of the train was “completely charred and burned.”

“I am amazed anyone got off that train alive. … It must have been pure panic, with the flames, the third rail and the smoke,” he said.

Authorities said the SUV’s driver had gotten out of her vehicle momentarily after the crossing’s safety gates came down around her. She then got back in and was trying to drive forward when she was hit, they said.

Commuter Train Smashes Into SUV On Tracks, Killing 7 People

Commuter Train Smashes Into SUV On Tracks, Killing 7 People, A packed commuter train slammed into a sport utility vehicle on the tracks at a crossing on Tuesday night, killing seven people, injuring several others and sending hundreds of passengers scrambling to get to safety as the front of the train and the SUV burst into flames. The impact was so forceful the electrified third rail buckled and pierced the train, authorities said.

“You have seven people who started out today to go about their business and aren’t going to be making it home tonight,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at the crash site in Valhalla, 20 miles north of New York City.

The northbound Metro-North Railroad train left Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan around 5:45 p.m. and struck the Jeep Cherokee about 45 minutes later. Cuomo said the SUV’s driver and six people aboard the train were killed, making this crash the railroad’s deadliest.

The railroad crossing gates had come down on top of the SUV, which was stopped on the tracks, Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Aaron Donovan said. The driver got out to look at the rear of the vehicle, then she got back in and drove forward and was struck, he said.

The train shoved the SUV about 10 train car lengths. Smoke poured out of the scorched front rail car, its windows blackened.

“This is a truly ugly and brutal site,” Cuomo said.

15 Dead As Plane Crashes Into Taiwan River

15 Dead As Plane Crashes Into Taiwan River, A Taiwanese flight with 58 people turned on its side in midair, clipped an elevated roadway and careened into a river Wednesday shortly after takeoff from the island’s capital of Taipei, killing at least 15 people, local media and officials said.

The death toll in the TransAsia Airways flight was expected to rise as rescue crews cleared the mostly sunken fuselage in the Keelung River a couple dozen meters (yards) from the shore. Teams of rescuers in rubber rafts clustered around the wreckage.

The ATR 72 prop-jet aircraft was flying on its side, with one wing scraping past Taiwan’s National Freeway No. 1 just seconds before it plunged into the river, local television images showed. It was the airline’s second French-Italian-built ATR 72 to crash in the past year.

Wednesday’s flight had taken off from Taipei’s downtown Sungshan Airport en route to the outlying Taiwan-controlled Kinmen islands.

Civil aviation officials said the flight took off at 10:53 a.m. and lost contact with controllers two minutes later. Thirty-one passengers were from China, Taiwan’s tourism bureau said. Kinmen’s airport is a common link between Taipei and China’s Fujian province.

Taiwan’s civil aviation authority said 15 people were killed out of 28 pulled from the fuselage and that 30 people were still missing.
Wu Jun-hong, a Taipei Fire Department official who was coordinating the rescue, said the missing people were still in the fuselage or had been pulled downriver, he said.

“At the moment, things don’t look too optimistic,” Wu told reporters at the scene. “Those in the front of the plane are likely to have lost their lives.”

Rescuers were pulling luggage from an open plane door to clear the fuselage, and Wu said they planned to build a pontoon bridge to facilitate those efforts.

The plane’s wing also hit a taxi, the driver of which was injured, on the freeway just before it crashed into the river, Taiwanese broadcaster TVBS reported.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said it had sent 165 people and eight boats to the riverside rescue scene, joining fire department rescue crews.

Branson To Meet Virgin Space Team

Branson To Meet Virgin Space Team, Sir Richard Branson is set to meet with the team developing his Virgin Galactic project after his passenger spaceship crashed killing the pilot.

The Virgin Group founder has arrived in the desert and has described the journey to the crash site as “one of the most difficult trips I have ever had to make”.

He vowed to continue his space tourism venture despite the SpaceShipTwo craft crashing during a test flight over California’s Mojave Desert.

In a post on his website, Sir Richard said: “Space is hard – but worth it. We will persevere and move forward together.”

“We’ve always known that the road to space is extremely difficult – and that every new transportation system has to deal with bad days early in their history,” he added.

One pilot died in the crash and another was seriously injured when he ejected from the rocket plane and parachuted to the ground.

The fatality is the project’s fourth, with three killed in an explosion in 2007 while working for Scaled Composites, the company working with Virgin Galactic to build the rocket plane SpaceShipTwo.

Virgin Galactic, part of British billionaire Sir Richard’s Virgin Group, had been aiming to begin tourist flights to the edge of space next year.

SpaceShipTwo has been under development at the Mojave Air and Spaceport.

The tragedy occurred after SpaceShipTwo fired up its rocket following a high-altitude drop from Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo mothership.

Stuart Witt, chief executive of the space port, said the cause of the crash remains unclear.

Virgin Galactic said it will work with authorities to determine the cause of the accident. The Federal Aviation Administration is also investigating.

It is the second disaster involving a US spacecraft this week.

On Tuesday, another private company’s unmanned rocket exploded six seconds after launch on a resupply mission to the International Space Station.

Virgin Galactic’s 60ft (18 metre) long SpaceShipTwo was testing a redesigned rocket motor as it made its first powered flight since January.

The rocket plane, which was attached to the underside of WhiteKnightTwo, took off at 9.19am local time (4.19pm GMT) on Friday in California.

It is not the first accident involving SpaceShipTwo.

During testing for the development of its rocket motor in July 2007, an explosion at the Mojave spaceport killed three workers and critically injured three others.

Virgin Galactic aims to become the world’s first commercial “spaceline”, sending customers willing to pay up to $250,000 (£156,000) for a short journey into zero gravity and a glimpse of the planet from the edge of space.

Floods Force Dramatic Rescues In Phoenix Area

Floods Force Dramatic Rescues In Phoenix Area, Arizona authorities have rescued two residents and three dogs from a flooded house north of Phoenix after more than four inches of rain pummeled some areas of the state.

Dramatic television footage showed the residents in New River, about 30 miles north of Phoenix, waving a white towel out of a window as floodwaters raged around the house. A helicopter hovered above and lowered a rescuer down onto the roof.

Phoenix Fire Capt. Benjamin Santillan (san-tee-YAHN’) says two women and three dogs were pulled to safety with no injuries.

A separate rescue played out as water submerged a minivan and authorities pulled a woman from the vehicle.