Author: Bill Chappell

Sharing Of Nude Photos Of Female Marines Prompts Pentagon Investigation – NPR

A Pentagon investigation is under way into the posting of hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of nude photos of female Marines. Here, members of the service march in the Veterans Day Parade in New York City last November. Spencer Platt/Getty Images Hundreds of Marines are reportedly under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, after a trove of photographs were shared online that show female service members and veterans in the nude. The images were spread via a closed Facebook group with thousands of members. When the photos were shared via Marines United — a Facebook group that’s intended only for male Marines and Marine veterans — they drew bawdy and obscene comments, according to two nonprofit news sites: the War Horse and the Center for Investigative Reporting. According to War Horse founder Thomas James Brennan, many of the photos on the Marines United page included personal information about the female service members, from their name, rank and duty station to the names of their social media accounts. The Facebook page also included links to a Google Drive with even more images — and an invitation to any members to contribute photos. The images were obtained in a variety of ways, Brennan reports, from sharing by former partners to stalking and, potentially, the hacking of service members’ personal accounts. Almost immediately after the War Horse contacted the Marine Corps about...

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Court Moves ‘Bridgegate’ Case Forward, Setting A Date For Christie

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his wife, Mary Pat Christie, visited the White House this week, ahead of a court date related to lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. Evan Vucci/AP Nearly four months after a former aide testified that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie knew about a looming traffic nightmare that sparked a political scandal, a municipal judge says a criminal complaint against Christie can move forward. In finding there is probable cause for a complaint of official misconduct to proceed against Christie, Bergen County Municipal Court Judge Roy McGeady is extending a probe into the governor’s involvement in a case that has generated federal charges against several former aides to Christie. Christie is scheduled to appear in court over the case on March 10. The case stems from lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that were made in September of 2013 — closures that were seen as targeting the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., for not supporting Christie’s re-election campaign. “The criminal complaint was brought against Christie by William Brennan, a Bergen County activist who is now running for governor,” WNYC reports. The member station adds, “The complaint accuses the governor of failing to stop subordinates from purposely creating traffic jams to punish a Democratic mayor who didn’t endorse him.”  In November, Christie’s deputy chief of staff and the former Port Authority deputy executive...

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Trump’s National Security Adviser Reportedly Discussed Sanctions With Russia

Questions have loomed over National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s contact with a Russian diplomat in late December — and the explanation provided by the White House has changed over time. Win McNamee/Getty Images National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. in December included a discussion of U.S. sanctions imposed by President Obama, according to new reports that contradict what the White House has said about the matter. The sanctions included the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats; when they were announced in in late December, they drew a notably muted response — and no retaliation — from Moscow. Citing current and former U.S. officials, The Washington Post reports, “Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election.” The question of the contacts’ legality largely rests in the Logan Act, which bans unauthorized U.S. citizens from communicating with a foreign government “with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government… in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States.” The Logan Act was passed in 1799 —...

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EPA Halves Staff Attending Alaska Environmental Conference – NPR

Days before this week’s Alaska Forum on the Environment, the EPA said it’s sending half of the people who had planned to attend. The nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s pick to head the EPA, is still pending confirmation. Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images The Environmental Protection Agency’s presence at an environmental conference in Alaska this week was cut in half, after the Trump administration’s transition officials ordered the change. The agency had helped to plan the conference. The abrupt change has reportedly created awkward scenes at the Alaska Forum on the Environment — particularly at events meant to highlight the EPA’s role in Alaska, a state known for both its pristine ecosystems and its oil production. From the Alaska Dispatch News: “At a panel discussion Tuesday morning slated to include six EPA staff members discussing Alaska EPA grants, only two EPA officials were at the front of the room taking questions — many of which focused on how the agency might be changing.” From Anchorage, Rachel Waldholz of Alaska Public Media reports for our Newscast unit: “The Alaska Forum on the Environment draws more than a thousand people each year to discuss topics ranging from water and sewer systems to climate change. Thirty-four employees from the EPA were scheduled to attend. “But forum director Kurt Eilo got a call just days before the conference opened, saying the...

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Read Coretta Scott King's Letter That Got Sen. Elizabeth Warren Silenced

Enlarge this image A nine-page letter written by Coretta Scott King is attracting new attention for its critical comments about Sen. Jeff Sessions. King, who died in 2006, is seen here at the Lincoln Memorial in 2003. Mark Wilson/Getty Images hide caption toggle caption Mark Wilson/Getty Images One day after Senate Republicans invoked a conduct rule to end Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s speech against the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general, a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King urging the Senate to reject Sessions’ nomination as a federal judge is gaining new prominence. Warren was reading aloud from the letter by King, the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, when she was interrupted by the presiding chair of the Senate, who warned her of breaking Rule 19, which forbids members from imputing to a colleague “any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.” The warning mentioned Warren’s earlier quote of Sen. Edward Kennedy, who had called Sessions, then a U.S. attorney, a disgrace. But it was King’s letter that — more than 10 minutes after Warren finished reading it aloud Tuesday night — prompted Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call her out of order. That resulted in Warren being silenced on the Senate floor. In his objection, McConnell cited King’s accusation that Sessions had used “the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of...

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Former Top Security Officials Criticize Trump's 'Ill-Conceived' Ban In Court Filing

Enlarge this image Demonstrators in Los Angeles march to support a federal judge’s ruling that grants a nationwide temporary restraining order against President Trump’s order to ban travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries. David McNew/Getty Images hide caption toggle caption David McNew/Getty Images President Trump’s ban on some Muslim travelers and immigrants “was ill-conceived, poorly implemented and ill-explained” — and harms, rather than advances, U.S. interests, say 10 former officials who led parts of America’s diplomatic and security apparatus over the past 20 years. “In our professional opinion, this Order cannot be justified on national security or foreign policy grounds,” the group wrote to the court weighing the legality of Trump’s executive order that targets seven majority-Muslim nations. The group, which includes former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former CIA Director Michael Hayden, is siding with two states (Washington and Minnesota) that on Friday won a temporary restraining order that suspended Trump’s ban. Over the weekend, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit refused his administration’s request to restore the ban. The document that Albright and the other experts signed is entered as Exhibit A in the states’ case against Trump’s ban, which the states say “unleashed chaos” when it was enacted by executive order in late January. While Albright and the other experts cite their work in government that extends back decades, four...

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Hawaii’s House Republican Leader Says She Was Ousted Over Women’ March

Republican and Democratic leaders in the Hawaii House discuss how to proceed with a vote to remove Rep. Beth Fukumoto (center right) as minority leader Wednesday. Once a rising star in her party, Fukumoto says she’s asking constituents if she should switch parties. Cathy Bussewitz/AP State Rep. Beth Fukumoto is exploring a possible switch from the Republican to Democratic Party in Hawaii, after her stance against President Trump prompted her colleagues to vote her out as their minority leader, a post she had held since her election in 2012. Fukumoto said her fellow Republicans ousted her “because she participated in the women’s march protesting the Trump presidency,” reports Wayne Yoshioka of member station Hawaii Public Radio. Here’s how Fukumoto described the situation in an address to her peers: “They told me they would keep me in this position if I would commit to not disagreeing with our president for the remainder of his term. Mr. Speaker, I’m being removed because I refused to make that commitment, because I believe it’s our job as Americans and as leaders in this body to criticize power when power is wrong.” When she appeared at the recent Women’s March event in Hawaii, Fukumoto spoke about how she had been booed and insulted at her party’s convention last summer for refusing to endorse Donald Trump’s candidacy because she “thought his remarks were racist and...

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Tenn. Governor Seeks Free Community College For All Adults – NPR

Gov. Bill Haslam and his wife, Crissy, leave the House chamber after Haslam gave his annual State of the State address in Nashville Monday. Haslam is looking to expand a community college program to include adults. Mark Humphrey/AP Recent high school graduates in Tennessee are already allowed to attend community college at no cost. Now Gov. Bill Haslam is looking to expand the year-old program to provide free community college educations to adults, as well. Haslam, a Republican who’s been in office since 2011, made his pitch at Monday night’s State of the State address. Afterwards, he tweeted, “Let’s be the Tennessee we can be.” The pitch was well-received by members of both parties, as the governor pushes toward his goal of helping Tennessee have 55 percent of its 6.6 million citizens hold a post-secondary degree or certificate by the year 2025. The state currently needs 871,000 post-secondary degrees or certificates to reach that goal, Haslam’s office says. And it would help if free access to community college is given to adults — including the 900,000 Tennesseans who have taken some college classes but didn’t get a degree. “Since the fall of 2015, Tennessee has provided free community college for new high school graduates,” Nashville Public Radio reports. “Money for the program, known as Tennessee Promise, has come from a variety of sources, including federal Pell grants and the state...

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