WASHINGTON — In another move to pressure cities to cooperate with immigration enforcement, the Justice Department threatened Thursday to withhold crime-fighting help from four cities if they refuse to hand over migrants in the country illegally to federal agents.

The department sent warning letters to police chiefs in San Bernardino and Stockton in California as well as to officials in Albuquerque, N.M., and Baltimore. All had expressed interest in joining a program that puts federal law enforcement manpower in cities struggling with violent crime.

The letters are the latest effort by the Trump administration to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities, the subject of one of the president’s first executive orders in January. Despite repeated threats and announcements, the Justice Department has not cut law enforcement funding to any of the affected communities.

The latest letter arguably carries less weight, because it says the four cities risk being declared ineligible to join a program in which they don’t yet participate. It does not threaten current law enforcement funding.

—Tribune Washington Bureau


Senate confirms dozens of Trump’s nominees in show of bipartisanship after failed health care vote

WASHINGTON — What a difference a little bipartisanship makes.

The Senate wrapped up an unusually productive week after the failed Republican health care vote with several smaller-scale legislative accomplishments.

Among the flurry of action Thursday, the Senate confirmed of dozens of President Donald Trump’s nominees that had been logjammed amid the partisan standoff over the GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare.

Ambassadors, agency staff and officials in the defense apparatus all saw their nominations sail to easy confirmation. It was more confirmed in a week than the entire year so far, aides said

Among them were former Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to be U.S. permanent representative on the Council of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and Ray Washburne, of Texas, to be president of the Overseas Private Investment Corp.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., offered his party’s cooperation as a gesture of goodwill toward bipartisanship after the failed vote last week to undo the Affordable Care Act. Democrats had mounted an unusually strong wall of opposition that stalled approval of many of Trump’s picks.

—Tribune Washington Bureau


Woman who encouraged boyfriend to kill himself via text gets 15-month sentence

TAUNTON, Mass. — A young woman who sent text messages badgering her depressed boyfriend to kill himself was ordered to spend 15 months in prison, but will remain free for the time being while her conviction in a novel Massachusetts manslaughter case is appealed.

Michelle Carter was 17 when 18-year-old Conrad Roy III rigged up a generator to his pickup truck and poisoned himself with carbon monoxide in July 2014. Carter had sent numerous text messages telling Roy to “just do it” and was on the cellphone with him during the suicide, at one point ordering him back into the truck when he got cold feet and exited to gasp for air.

Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz on Thursday ordered Carter to spend at least 15 months of a 2 {-year sentence incarcerated. But minutes after the sentence was handed down, he stayed the sentence, seeming to acknowledge the uniqueness of the case.

In asking for the sentence to be stayed, Carter’s lawyer said there had never been a manslaughter case where words alone were found to be sufficient to have caused somebody’s death.

“This is fertile ground and a very important legal issue that needs to be pursued in the appellate court,” said the lawyer, Joseph Cataldo.

—Los Angeles Times


Rep. Wasserman Schultz talks about arrested aide Imran Awan

SUNRISE, Fla. — Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz defiantly stands by her decision to keep an information technology aide on her payroll for six months after he was banned from the House network and fired by other members of Congress.

“I believe that I did the right thing, and I would do it again,” Wasserman Schultz said Thursday in an exclusive interview with the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. “There are times when you can’t be afraid to stand alone and you have to stand up for what’s right.

“It would have been easier for me to just fire him,” she said.

The Weston Democrat fired Imran Awan last week after he was arrested on bank fraud charges at an airport while trying to leave the country.

As the former Democratic National Committee chairwoman, Wasserman Schultz is the most prominent Democrat who employed Awan. Her decision to keep employing Awan has been under fire from her Democratic primary challenger, Republicans and multiple conservative websites. They’ve suggested Wasserman Schultz is hiding something and the Awan matter is much more serious than she’s letting on.

His arrest, the congresswoman said, had nothing to do with the monthslong investigation of Awan as an IT worker for a variety of members of Congress. An FBI affidavit filed with the criminal complaint said Awan and his wife claimed a property used to secure a home equity line of credit was a “principal residence,” when it was, in fact, a rental property. Wasserman Schultz said there still hasn’t been any evidence presented that he’s done anything wrong involving his work for Congress.

And, she said, she believes he may have been put under scrutiny because of his religious faith. Awan is Muslim.

—Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel


Netanyahu probe involves bribery, breach of trust, police say

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israeli police acknowledged publicly for the first time that a criminal investigation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu involves suspicion of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

The disclosure was made in a court-issued gag order prohibiting news media from reporting details of negotiations with a former Netanyahu aide to testify against him. A photograph of the document was sent by police in a message to reporters’ mobile phones.

Police investigators have questioned Netanyahu several times at his residence, and have also spoken to some of the prime minister’s friends and associates, including billionaires Sheldon Adelson, chairman and majority owner of Las Vegas Sands Corp., and Arnon Milchan, the Hollywood producer of films such as “Fight Club” and “The Big Short.”

Details of the investigations have been regularly leaked to Israeli media, but the court order was the first time the possible charges were made public by the police.

—Bloomberg News


Oscar Pistorius to spend night under observation at hospital

JOHANNESBURG — South African athlete Oscar Pistorius on Thursday was taken to hospital from prison, where he is serving a six-year sentence for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, a spokesman for the Department of Correctional Services said.

The 30-year-old was taken to a hospital in the administrative capital Pretoria, where he is serving his sentence, after starting to suffer from chest pains, according to the website Pretoria East Record.

Correctional Services spokesman Logan Maistry confirmed to dpa that Pistorius had been taken to a medical facility for an examination and “is remaining in the facility tonight for observation.”

He declined to give more details.

Maistry said he was not aware of Pistorius having been hospitalized for wrist injuries in August 2016, as has been reported by some media outlets. It is not known if the alleged injuries were self-inflicted.

The double-amputee Olympic sprinter fired a gun at Steenkamp through a closed toilet door in his Pretoria home on Feb. 14, 2013.


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