New tariffs on imported steel and aluminum were signed amid claims that the tariffs will hurt the manufacturing industry and U.S. competitiveness. The tariffs, which have sparked tensions with U.S. allies, will temporarily exclude Mexico and Canada. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said the administration will initially exclude Mexico and Canada as long as the two countries sign a new version of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. Officials from Canada and Mexico have said they will not be bullied into accepting a NAFTA deal that could disadvantage their countries.
The administration has stood by the controversial tariffs amid claims from other countries vowing to respond with levies of their own. The United States issued the tariffs under a little-used provision of trade law, which allows the president to take broad action to defend American national security. The Commerce Department previously determined that imports of metals posed a threat to national security. The US is the largest steel importer in the world, buying about 35 million tons in 2017.
The order could hit South Korea, China, Japan, Germany, Turkey and Brazil the hardest. The tariff orders were tailored to give the administration the authority to raise or lower levies on a country-by-country basis and add or take countries off the list as deemed appropriate. The White House has said any nation with a security relationship with the United States was welcome to discuss “alternative ways to address the threatened impairment of the national security caused by imports from that country.” Those talks could result in the tariff being lifted, the order said.
Trade experts say the new tariffs buck years of America’s embrace of free and open trade and believe the approach would ultimately compromise the United States’ ability to temper China’s unfair trading practices. “The tariff action coupled with the mishandled renegotiations of existing trade deals have alienated the very countries we need as allies to help confront the challenges posed by China,” said Daniel M. Price, a White House adviser.
Trade experts are worried about the consequences of the new tariffs. If the World Trade Organization rules against the United States, the administration will have to decide whether to reverse its decision or go up against the organization. If the United States ignores or withdraws from the group, it could precipitate a breakdown in global trading rules and a new era of global protectionism.
In 2002, President George W. Bush imposed steel tariffs of up to 30 percent. But facing an adverse ruling by the World Trade Organization and retaliation by trading partners, the tariffs were lifted 15 months before the end of the planned three-year duration. Studies found that more jobs were lost than saved and Congressional leaders vowed not to repeat the experiment.
Many fear that if customers refuse the price hikes as a result of the tariffs, major job losses in the US will follow. Many large steel customers ranging from automakers General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Campbell Soup Co. and brewer Molson Coors Brewing Co. are expected to lose, as tariffs will allow domestic steel producers to raise prices.
The U.S. steel industry employed about 147,000 people in 2015, according to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic analysis. Manufacturers that need steel employ about 6.5 million people each year and the construction industry employs about 6.3 million people.
An investigation into internal New York City Police Department files show that hundreds of officers have been allowed to keep their jobs and pensions despite having committed an array of offenses. According to hundreds of pages of internal police files, offenses committed from 2011 to 2015 by over 300 NYPD officers include excessive force against civilians, driving under the influence of alcohol, selling drugs, sexually harassing fellow officers, assault, threatening and stealing.
At least fifty officers lied on official reports, under oath, or during an internal affairs investigation. Thirty-eight were found guilty by a police tribunal of excessive force, getting into a fight, or firing their gun unnecessarily. Fifty-seven were guilty of driving under the influence. Seventy-one were guilty of ticket-fixing. One officer threatened to kill someone while some were guilty of lesser offenses, like mouthing off to a supervisor.
In every instance, the police commissioner, who has final authority in disciplinary decisions, assigned these officers to “dismissal probation” which is a penalty with few consequences. The officer continues to do their job at their usual salary but they may get less overtime and won’t be promoted during that period, which usually lasts a year. They continue to patrol the streets, arrest people and testify in criminal prosecutions. When the year is over, their probation period ends.
The probation files covered in the investigation do not include all officers who received dismissal probation during the 2011 to 2015 period. According to the NYPD, of the more than 50,000 people who work for the department, at least 777 officers and an untold number of other employees received the dismissal probation penalty during the five years in question. During that same period, 463 additional officers were forced to leave or resigned while a disciplinary charge was pending. Sources have said that dismissal probation is also used to punish some officers for reporting misconduct or just for getting on their supervisors’ bad sides. Still, many officers continue to patrol the streets making over $100,000 a year while the city has paid millions of dollars in civil settlements for offenses committed between 2011 and 2015, such as excessive force or unlawful arrest. These settlements are reached without the department or officer admitting any wrongdoing.
New York is one of three states, along with Delaware and California that has a law specifically shielding police misconduct records from the public. As police departments around the country face growing pressure to be more transparent about police misconduct, NYPD has doubled down on its stringent legal interpretation of those laws. Civil Rights Law Section 50-a is the law that hides New York police officers’ misconduct from public view and it’s one of the strictest in the nation.
The Department Advocate’s Office determines which officers to charge and prosecute at the NYPD’s internal disciplinary trials. Kevin Richardson, the deputy commissioner said the law prevented him from commenting on specific officers’ cases but that dismissal probation serves a valuable purpose. “The department is not interested in terminating officers that don’t need to be terminated. We’re interested in keeping employees and making our employees obey the rules and do the right thing, but where there are failings that we realize this person should be separated from the department, this police commissioner and the prior police commissioner have shown a willingness to do that.”
President Xi Jinping of China is set to rule the country indefinitely after Chinese lawmakers passed changes to the country’s constitution abolishing presidential term limits. The National People’s Congress voted 2,958 in favor of the amendment, two opposed and three abstained. Xi assumed leadership of China’s Communist Party in 2012 and has consolidated power to levels not seen since the era of Mao Zedong. The change in presidency now aligns with other posts Xi holds, as head of the Communist Party and head of the military, neither of which have term limits.
After becoming president in 2013, Mr Xi fought corruption, punishing more than a million party members. Critics say he has used the anti-corruption purge to sideline political rivals. At the same time, China has clamped down on many emerging freedoms, increasing its state surveillance and censorship programs which critics attain was a move to silence opposition.
The constitutional change officially allows him to remain in office after the end of his second term in 2023. Many believe that now that the constitution has been altered- that Xi Jinping intends to rule for the rest of his life unchallenged. There has been no national debate as to whether a leader should be allowed to stay on for as long as they choose.
The two-consecutive-term limit to China’s presidency was put in place by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1982 in order to avoid the kind of chaos and tumult that can sometimes happen when you have a single authoritarian leader, as China had with Mao Zedong. Among many campaigns launched by Zedong were “The Great Leap Forward” in 1957 that aimed to rapidly transform China’s economy from an agrarian economy to an industrial one. This campaign led to the deadliest famine in history and the deaths of more than 45 million Chinese people between 1958 and 1962. Zedong also initiated the Cultural Revolution in 1966, a program to remove “counter-revolutionary” elements of Chinese society that lasted 10 years and was marked by violent class struggle and widespread destruction of cultural artifacts. It has officially been regarded as a “severe setback” for the Peoples Republic of China.
The National People’s Congress is also likely to confirm China’s new government line-up for the next five years, kicking off Xi Jinping’s second term as president, ratify a law to set up a new powerful anti-corruption agency and ratify the inclusion of the president’s political philosophy in the constitution. His philosophy is officially called “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era”. Schoolchildren, college students and staff at state factories will have to study the political ideology, which the Communist Party is trying to portray as a new chapter for modern China.
Student protests for changes in gun control laws occurred around the country in the days following the Florida school shooting. Many of the protests were ignited by the impassioned pleas of young Parkland survivors in the hours and days after the shooting. Facebook and Twitter have amplified attendance; Snapchat and Instagram have documented the marches, signs and chants.
Under the rallying cry #NeverAgain, students and staff who survived the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been on a quest for new gun control measures. After attending funerals of the victims, they set aside their grief and boarded three buses to demand better gun control measures and school safety from state lawmakers more than 400 miles away. While they traveled on the buses, Florida lawmakers voted down a motion to even consider a ban during a session that opened with a prayer for the 17 people killed in the shooting. The vote was 36-71.
Disappointed but undeterred, many have given countless interviews pleading with lawmakers on both sides to meet in the middle so that the school shootings stop. Relatives of the Stoneman Douglas victims kept up the pressure in Florida’s capital with emotional testimony during a legislative hearing to discuss passing a bill that would, among other things, raise the age limit to buy long guns from 18 to 21. The bill also would create a program that allows teachers who receive law-enforcement training and are deputized by the local sheriff’s office to carry concealed weapons in the classroom, if also approved by the school district. The school’s superintendent has spoken out firmly against that measure. The House Appropriations Committee’s 23-6 vote in favor of the bill followed more than four hours of emotional discussion with the parents of some of the 17 killed, and nearly two weeks of activism by students on social media and in televised debates.
During a listening session held by President Trump a week after the shooting, Andrew Pollack, a parent whose daughter Meadow was killed in the shooting, brought up a valid point as he was also overwhelmed with emotion and anger as he stood next to his sons to address the president. “We need to come together as a country and work on what’s important, and that’s protecting our children in the schools. That’s the only thing that matters right now,” he said. “We protect airports, we protect concerts, stadiums, embassies, the Department of Education that I walked in today, that has a security guard in the elevator. How do you think that makes me feel?” “I’m very angry that this happened because it keeps happening. 9/11 happened once and they fixed everything. How many schools, how many children have to get shot? It stops here with this administration and me. I’m not going to sleep until it’s fixed. And Mr. President, we’re going to fix it.” “It’s enough! Let’s get together, work with the president and fix the schools. That’s it. No other discussions. Security, whatever we have to do.”
From South Florida to Bellingham, Wash., local walkouts were proliferating. A national event has been planned for March 14, the one-month anniversary of the Parkland shooting, when students and teachers plan to leave class for 17 minutes, one minute for each victim. On March 24, students will protest in Washington at an event organized by March for Our Lives, the group formed by Parkland survivors, which has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from celebrities. Another mass walkout is scheduled for April 20, when students will commemorate the 19th year since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.
Haiti has suspended the British charity Oxfam as it investigates reports that it tried to cover up sex crimes by senior aid workers in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. An internal Oxfam review concluded in 2011 that senior aid workers hired prostitutes at Oxfam properties in Haiti and then tried to cover it up. Prostitution is illegal in Haiti, but Oxfam refused to report the activity of its aid workers to Haitian police. Oxfam’s internal report also includes claims that three Oxfam staff members physically threatened a witness during the internal investigation.
The report confirms that Roland van Hauwermeiren, the country director in the Caribbean nation for Oxfam’s Great Britain arm, admitted to hiring prostitutes to his official residence. A news report revealed there had been at least one “Caligula orgy” with women dressed in Oxfam T-shirts. No public disclosures were made of the alleged abuse at the time, though the 2011 report shows that the director and six others were dismissed or resigned for misconduct, including three who did so because of “use of prostitutes.” All of the names in the document were redacted besides van Hauwermeiren. Oxfam said in a statement that the full un-redacted reports will be given to the Haitian government. The Charity Commission has said it was not told the full story when Oxfam first looked into the allegations in 2011.
The scandal around van Hauwermeiren, who also faced allegations about work in Chad in 2006 where he presided over an office with employees accused of hiring prostitutes. The history of alleged abuse, and the fact that he was allowed to go on to work for another charity in Bangladesh, prompted Oxfam to call for an independent review of itself by women’s rights groups.
An internal investigation by the charity into sexual exploitation, the downloading of pornography, bullying and intimidation is claimed to have found children may have been exploited by employees. The report also clarifies that the charity was aware of concerns about the conduct of two of men at the center of the Haiti allegations when they previously worked in Chad.
Oxfam has been hit with dozens more misconduct allegations involving a slew of countries, in the days since The Times of London revealed Oxfam tried to cover up the sex crimes by senior aid workers in Haiti. The charity now faces worries about funding from the British government and its ability to fundraise while multiple prominent ambassadors for the group have resigned.
The former commander of the Milwaukee County Jail along with two jail staffers were charged in connection with the April 2016 dehydration death of Terrill Thomas. Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Maj. Nancy Evans, 48, is charged with felony misconduct in office and obstructing an officer. Jail Lt. Kashka Meadors, 40, and correctional officer James Ramsey-Guy, 38, are each charged with neglecting an inmate, a felony offense.
Thomas, a 38-year-old prisoner with bipolar disorder, died of extreme dehydration after he spent a week without access to water in a solitary confinement jail cell. The medical examiner declared his death a homicide. He lost 34 pounds during his eight days in jail and was abandoned by the guards to die, according to the complaint. The complaint details that Meadors gave the order to shut off the water, Ramsey-Guy physically cut all water to Thomas’ cell and Evans lied about the subsequent investigation.
The practice of cutting off water to an inmate is against the jail’s written regulations but according to Ramsey-Guy, it was common practice. Within weeks of Thomas’ death, water was cut off to two other inmates’ cells. The complaint states that the incidents demonstrate an institutional practice of punitively shutting off water to unruly inmates.
Evan’s is accused of misleading investigators during the initial inquest into the death, repeatedly lying to her supervisors, withholding information from her superiors, repeatedly lying to investigators and failing to preserve key evidence. The complaint alleges that within 48 hours of the death, Evans directed her subordinate, Capt. George Gold to watch video footage of Thomas’ cell area. Gold told Evans that the video showed a corrections officer turning the water off and never turned back on. Prosecutors say Evans took no steps in preserving the video evidence and it was overwritten and permanently lost.
During the inquest, Meadors testified that she ordered Ramsey-Guy to cut off the water only to Thomas’ toilet after he flooded a previous cell. She said she meant for the shutoff order to stay in effect until Thomas settled down. Ramsey-Guy testified that he only shut off the cold water and left the hot water on but investigators found the entire water system off immediately after the death.
Thomas was arrested after he ran into the Potawatomi casino yelling at patrons to “get out.” He fired two rounds and stuffed poker chips into his pockets. When confronted by police, he dropped the Glock 9mm handgun into a trash can and was arrested. His family believes he was having a psychotic episode.
Missouri’s Governor Eric Greitens was arrested after a grand jury indicted him on charges of felony invasion of privacy stemming from an extramarital affair in 2015. The indictment accuses Greitens of blindfolding and tying up a woman with whom he was having a consensual affair, and then taking her picture without her consent—and threatening to release the naked photograph if she ever spoke publicly about the affair. Greitens was arraigned and later released on his own recognizance. He has acknowledged the affair but denies any criminal behavior including allegations of abusing or threatening the woman. Greitens remained defiant amid calls for resignation and impeachment less than 24 hours after a St. Louis grand jury indicted him for felony invasion of privacy.
Greitens is a former U.S. Navy SEAL who was elected in 2016 after he ran on a pro-gun, anti-Obama platform. After news of the affair broke in early January 2017, Greitens and his wife, Sheena, released a joint statement after a number of inquiries from the news media about the relationship. The couple revealed that there “was a time when he was unfaithful in our marriage.” “This was a deeply personal mistake,” the Greitens, who have two young children, said in the statement. “Eric took responsibility and we dealt with this together honestly and privately.”
The accusations were relayed by the woman’s ex-husband, but she has not commented. The identified but still unnamed woman is a St. Louis area hairstylist. She told her ex-husband that she’d had an affair in 2015 with Eric Greitens — then philanthropist, now governor — and that he had tied her to home exercise equipment, taken a photo of her naked and threatened to publicly release it if she ever told anyone about him. She said Greitens later apologized and said he’d deleted the photo. She also told her ex-husband that Greitens had slapped her against her will, after she told Greitens she had had sex with her husband. The conversation was part of a therapeutic exercise but was recorded without her knowledge. The man filed for divorce in 2015, a few months after the affair.)
Behind the scenes, many state political figures and journalists had been aware of rumors about Greitens’ affair since September 2016. Journalists had held back from publication because the woman had not recorded the conversation herself or released it to the media, and she repeatedly declined to be interviewed on the record.
When Greitens was running for governor against Chris Koster, Roy Temple, an advisor to the Koster campaign, heard a rumor about the affair and contacted a mutual friend to him and the ex-husband. Temple said he met with the ex-husband to see whether he’d be interested in publicly telling his story, but the man, a prominent St. Louis entertainer, declined to proceed because he didn’t want his two children learning about the affair. The man only came forward in 2017 after a national reporter at another outlet called his 15-year-old about the allegations.
On February 11, 2018, a Russian commercial plane crashed near Moscow, killing all 71 people on board. Among the victims of the crash were 65 passengers including 3 children and 6 crew members. The cause of the crash is unknown. The Saratov Airlines flight 703, crashed shortly after take-off from Moscow’s Domodedovo airport. The plane was headed to the city of Orsk on the Kazakhstan border and officials have said most of the passengers were from the eastern part of the Orenburg region which is on the southern end of the Ural Mountains.
Officials say the aircraft’s speed and altitude started to fluctuate soon after take-off. A preliminary analysis of the on-board flight recorder indicated the plane had problems two-and-a-half minutes after it took off, at an altitude of around 4,265ft. Moments before the crash, Flight 703 had gained an altitude of 5,900 feet. The 7 year old passenger jet then went into a steep decent until it disappeared from the radar at an altitude of around 3,000 feet.
The Russian Interstate Aviation Committee is investigating the crash. They said that faulty instruments could have given the pilots wrong speed data. The instruments began displaying different speed readings, probably because of iced speed sensors while their heating systems were shut off, the committee said. When the crew detected the issue, they switched off the plane’s autopilot. They eventually took the plane into a dive at 30-35 degrees.
Witnesses say the plane, an Antonov An-148 aircraft, was in flames as it fell from the sky. The crash was caught by a surveillance camera in a nearby house. The footage showed that the aircraft slammed into the ground and immediately burst into flames. The plane crashed near the village of Argunovo, about 50 miles south-east of Moscow. Wreckage and body parts are strewn over a large area of about 74 acres. More than 1,400 body parts and hundreds of plane fragments have been recovered from the crash site.
Rescue workers reached the site 2.5 hours after the crash. More than 700 people are involved in the search operation, struggling through deep snow. The emergencies ministry is collecting DNA samples from victims’ relatives as part of the identification process of the 65 passengers and 6 crew members. The wreckage of Flight 703 was scattered over a half mile wide area.
News outlets have reported that the pilot had declined to have the aircraft de-iced before the departure even though the weather at the time of departure included snow showers and −5°C temperature at Domodedovo Airport. The procedure is optional and the crew’s decision is based mainly on the weather conditions.
In just under seven minutes, 17 people were killed and 15 others wounded in Parkland, Florida in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. The massacre at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County started as students anxiously waited for the end of the school day. The shooter, 19 year old Nicholas Cruz, was a former student at the school who had been kicked out of school several times for bringing weapons to school and finally expelled last year for fighting.
Cruz entered the school armed with an AR15 rifle and pulled the fire alarm at 2:21pm, confusing many students and faculty because they had already had a fire drill earlier that morning. Police said the 19-year-old also had multiple magazines, smoke grenades and a gas mask. As students began to leave the building because of the fire alarm, Cruz begins shooting into rooms 1215, 1216 and 1214. Hearing the gunshots, students and teachers run back into the classrooms. Some of them had enough time to lock the doors and hide in closets while others were not as lucky.
Many students and faculty were still in the hallways, confused as to where the shooter was while many brave staff ushered stragglers into classrooms or away from the shooter. Cruz returned to rooms 1216, 1215 and 1213, firing into them again. He then took the west stairwell to the second floor and shot a person in room 1234. Three minutes into the shooting, Cruz headed to the third floor of Building 12 and tried to bust out a window on the third floor to shoot at students as they fled the building. The windows in that part of the building are shatterproof so he was unsuccessful. A little after 2:27pm, Cruz discarded his rifle and ammunition and fled the school blending in with students fleeing the building. He was apprehended at 3:41pm after an officer spotted him walking down a street.
In those terrifying minutes, many lives were lost, families shattered and an entire school was traumatized. The victims killed in the horrific shooting have been identified as Scott Beigel 35; Peter Wang, 15; Carmen Schentrup, 16; Alex Schachter, 14; Helena Ramsay, 17; Meadow Pollack, 18; Alaina Petty, 14; Joaquin Oliver, 17; Gina Montalto, 14; Cara Loughran, 14; Luke Hoyer, 15; Christopher Hixon, 49; Jaime Guttenberg, 14; Aaron Feis, 37; Nicholas Dworet, 17; Martin Duque Anguiano, 14 and Alyssa Alhadeff, 14.
There were many heroes during those terrifying minutes that saved countless lives by helping get others out of the line of fire. Peter Wang, a student and active member of the ROTC program, was last seen alive holding the door open for students who were fleeing the shooter. Colton Haab, another ROTC member, ushered over 60 people into a room. He grabbed Kevlar sheets he and others used for the marksmanship program to shield the students from gunfire. Fifteen year old Anthony Borges helped 20 of his classmates scramble into a classroom as the shooter headed their way and was shot five times as he was locking the door. Borges, is currently in stable condition after hours of surgery with more surgeries to come and a long road to recovery.
Scott Beigel was a geography teacher who unlocked his classroom door to usher a group of students to safety only to be shot and killed while trying to relock the door. Aaron Feis, a popular football coach and school security guard was killed while shielding several students from the shooter’s gunfire.
An unidentified janitor redirected a mass of students who were unknowingly running toward the shooter to another hallway and into the culinary room. Ashley Kurth, a 34-year-old culinary teacher, spotted the mass of terrified children running as she went to lock her door. She ushered the students and two faculty members (including the janitor) into her classroom and locked the door, saving 65 people. Teacher Melissa Falkowski locked her door and hid 19 students in the classroom closet. Countless other faculty and students, remembering their training from drills for active shooter situations, bravely helped save lives yet they are devastated to have lost so many lives.
The Department of Defense has revealed a new strategy for American nuclear policy focused on building up smaller nuclear weapons that are easier to use. The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is an effort to “look reality in the eye,” said Defense Secretary James Mattis, and “see the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.” The new strategy involves spending at least $1.2 trillion to upgrade the United States’ nuclear arsenal, including developing a new nuclear-armed, sea-launched cruise missile. The policy update calls for the introduction of “low-yield nukes” on submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and the resumption of the nuclear-submarine-launched cruise missile (SLC-M) whose production stopped during the George W. Bush era and which Obama removed from the nuclear arsenal.
The “low yield” bombs the NPR focuses on can do damage similar to that of the U.S. nuclear strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The two bombings killed 140,000 people in the initial blast, most of whom were civilians. Thousands more died from the effects of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries in the two to four months following the bombings. The bombings remain the only use of nuclear weapons in the history of warfare because of the devastating effects.
Russia, the only country whose nuclear arsenal rivals the United States’ stockpile, already has a large arsenal of weapons this size. U.S. and Russian strategies of nuclear development have differed, with the US favoring larger, longer-lasting weapons and Russia focusing on constantly updating a collection of smaller, more mobile bombs.
The new low-yield nukes are intended to answer any potential overseas attack by Russia. The Pentagon worries that Putin’s army could take control of a U.S. ally and detonate a small nuclear weapon to prevent U.S. troops from responding. Low-yield nukes would provide a proportionate method of response, forestalling a larger nuclear conflict or one with weaker weapons.
Anti-nuclear advocates have accused the Pentagon of lowering the bar for nuclear warfare. The new policy “calls for more usable nuclear weapons with low yields, and for their first use in response to cyber and conventional strikes on civilian infrastructure such as financial, transportation, energy and communications networks,” said Bruce Blair, co-founder of the anti-nuclear-weapons group Global Zero. “It makes nuclear war more likely, not less.” The new nuclear policy has alarmed arms control experts around the globe and been openly criticized by Iran, Russia and China.