Marcia Fudge

Still Weighing A Run

U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge said she and colleague Nancy Pelosi had “a very open and frank discussion” on Friday. Fudge (D-Ohio) is considered a potential challenger to Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has been holding private sessions with about two dozen lawmakers in recent days in the hope of securing the votes to return as House speaker in 2019. Democrats, whose midterm victories help them regain control of the House, are expected to take an internal caucus vote on the nominee for speaker when they return after Thanksgiving, and Fudge plans to decide by then if she is running.

— Image from The Associated Press

White nationalist calls synagogue shooting ‘dry run’

A white nationalist who had an online friendship with the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect has been arrested for having a small arsenal in his possession. His relatives alerted the authorities.

Jeffrey R. Clark Jr., 30, of Washington, D.C., has been charged with “one federal count of unlawful possession of firearms by a person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance, and one count in the District of Columbia of possessing high-capacity magazines,” according to CBS News.

Police said in court documents that Clark used the social networking site Gab to share his views with others, including Robert Bowers, the suburban Pittsburgh man charged with federal hate crimes in the synagogue attack.

— The Root

Florida man enters plea in political pipe bombs case

NEW YORK — The Florida man accused of sending pipe bombs to prominent critics of President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that carry a potential penalty of life in prison.

Cesar Sayoc entered the plea during his appearance in federal court in New York City. U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff set a July 15 trial date as the federal public defenders’ office said it needed more time to prepare.

Sayoc — who faces five federal counts, including use of a weapon of mass destruction — is accused of sending 16 improvised explosive devices through the U.S. mail to victims across the country. None of the devices exploded.

— The Associated Press

Farmer had given up on White House Christmas tree

NEWLAND, N.C. — The farmer who raised the Christmas tree destined for the White House this year says the Fraser fir “got the last laugh” after he “basically abandoned it.”

Larry Smith told The Charlotte Observer on Tuesday that the 19-foot-tall tree didn’t seem to be doing as well as others so he hadn’t trimmed it in a couple years. But two White House officials “just loved the natural look to it.”

Smith’s Mountain Top Fraser Fir farm was selected to provide this year’s official tree after he won the National Christmas Tree Association’s contest in Wisconsin. Smith’s win bolsters North Carolina’s tally as the state with the most White House Christmas trees: 12.

The tree will be cut Wednesday and driven up to Washington, where Smith will present it Monday.

— The Associated Press

Group seeks more diverse in St. Louis County police

CLAYTON, Mo. — A police association that focuses on adding diversity and fighting discrimination is trying to gain a foothold within the St. Louis County Police Department, but its leaders claim the police chief is blocking its path.

The Fraternal Order of Police is the collective bargaining unit for 860 rank-and-file officers in the county that surrounds St. Louis city.

In April, several Black officers citing concerns about lack of diversity and racial tension asked the mostly Black city-based Ethical Society of Police to expand into the county as an alternative association. Since then, 54 black county officers have joined, along with 10 white officers.

— The Associated Press

Remark shines new light on ‘Hidden Figure’ luminary

For many, the words of a senior scientist who said physics “was invented and built by men,” stung. The words earlier this month of Professor Alessandro Strumia, who was suspended from working with the European nuclear research center, Cern, served as a reminder of the great accomplishments of Katherine Johnson, who recently turned 100.

The recipient of the 2015 National Medal of Freedom who was also recognized by People Magazine in 2016 as one of the 25 Women Changing the World, Johnson enjoyed a brilliant 33-year career at NASA.

After leaving her teaching job in 1953, Johnson began working for NASA, “hand” calculating the trajectories for several space missions, including for the famed space flight of Alan Shephard, the first American in space, and the trajectory for the famed 1968 Apollo 11 flight to the Moon. That portion of her life story was featured on the big screen in “Hidden Figures.”

— NNPA Wire

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters sets oversight priorities

In the letter, which obtained by the Los Angeles Times, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) outlines her priorities for the House Financial Services Committee, which include “protecting consumers from abusive financial practices, expanding affordable housing opportunities, combating homelessness and strengthening the housing finance system.”

But Waters wrote, “I am committed to strong oversight and following the Trump money trail, starting with Deutsche Bank.”

Deutsche Bank was one of the few banks that lent money to Trump after bankruptcies by some of his companies. In 2017, the bank paid about $630 million in fines to U.S. and British regulators for failing to prevent trades that allowed the transfer of about $10 billion out of Russia in violation of anti-money laundering laws.

— The Root

Handbag designer chosen as envoy to South Africa

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has nominated a South Florida-based luxury fashion and handbag designer to be the new U.S. ambassador to South Africa.

The White House announced the nomination of native South African Lana Marks late Wednesday. She was born and raised in South Africa, and is now the CEO of the Lana Marks Collections design firm that caters to celebrities. She speaks Xhosa and Afrikaans and lives in Palm Beach, Florida.

There has been no U.S. ambassador to South Africa since Trump’s election. The extended vacancy had led to criticism that the Trump administration was less committed to the U.S.-South Africa relationship than previous ones.

— The Associated Press

Advisory panel picked for Alcorn president search

LORMAN, Miss. — Trustees are appointing 26 members of a campus search advisory committee to help them look for a new president for Alcorn State University.

The College Board made the announcement Thursday. Leading the committee will be Alfred Galtney, director of Alcorn’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, and alumna Jacqueline Beasley, senior vice president of administration of Minact Inc.

The board also hired Parker Executive Search to help find a new leader for the historically Black institution with 3,800 students in replacing Al Rankins Jr., who left to become Mississippi’s higher education commissioner on July 1.

— The Associated Press

Detroit-area police chief’s son found dead after fire

DETROIT — The body of the 55-year-old son of a suburban Detroit police chief was found in a burned-out Detroit house.

Warren police Commissioner Bill Dwyer confirmed the discovery of Michael Dwyer’s body to radio station WWJ .

The fire occurred on Oct. 26 in a vacant house, but the body wasn’t discovered until Wednesday. Southfield police were following up on a missing person’s report.

— The Associated Press

Tests show faults in electronic driving systems

DETROIT — Testing by AAA shows that electronic driver assist systems on the road today may not keep vehicles in their lanes or spot stationary objects in time to avoid a crash.

The tests brought a warning from the auto club that drivers shouldn’t think that the systems make their vehicles self-driving, and that they should always be ready to take control. The results released Thursday come after several highly publicized crashes involving Tesla vehicles that were operating on the company’s system named “Autopilot.”

The AAA findings are the second tests showing that the systems can’t handle every situation in real-world driving, including some that are relatively common. In August, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released tests that showed similar problems to the AAA study.

— The Associated Press

Pan-African studies hit milestone at Cal State

More than 200 faculty, staff, students and supporters gathered in the Golden Eagle Ballroom on Oct. 29 for the Department of Pan-African Studies 5th Annual Black Community Honors Dinner.

The ceremonious evening looked back on the department’s history and recognized the contributions of individuals who have committed their lives to the liberation and empowerment of the Black community.

The event marked the launch of a yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary.

— Los Angeles Sentinel

Stadium worker who spat on pizza gets probation

DETROIT — A food service worker at the Detroit Tigers’ stadium who was fired after video surfaced showing him spitting on a pizza has been sentenced to 18 months of probation.

Jaylon Kerley, 21, also was ordered Thursday to take an anger management class and to not work around food while he serves his probation. He earlier pleaded guilty to one felony count and one misdemeanor count of food law violations.

Officials determined that video posted on Instagram was recorded Sept. 21 during the Tigers’ game against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. The pizza was apparently intended for a customer. Tests later showed that Kerley didn’t have communicable diseases.

— The Associated Press

Terminix lists its top 25 bed bug-infested cities

MEMPHIS, Tenn.--Ahead of one of the busiest travel days of the year, Terminix, a leading provider of termite and pest control services, released its 2018 ranking of the top 25 most bed bug-infested U.S. cities.

Cleveland crawled its way to the top of the list for a second consecutive year, followed by Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Ohio had the most cities on the list, taking four of the top 10 spots. Texas, Tennessee and Pennsylvania each had two cities make the list.

Terminix based its rankings on the number of services rendered in each city from Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2018.

— The Associated Press

State inspectors check out 43 Detroit funeral homes

DETROIT — State regulators, who oversee more than 700 funeral homes, have found no serious mortuary science or pre-paid funeral violations following inspections of 43 funeral homes in Detroit.

Michigan’s Licensing and Regulatory Affairs office said Wednesday that the completed inspections followed the discoveries last month in Detroit of the remains of 63 fetuses at the Perry Funeral Home and the mummified remains of 10 fetuses and a full-term infant at the closed Cantrell Funeral Home. Both funeral homes are being investigated by police.

The state says 10 of the 43 inspections were completed within the past 15 months, while 33 were done over the last two weeks. Inspectors did find lesser violations that included non-renewal of medical waste permits and improper posting of licenses.

— The Associated Press

Ex-IRS worker sentenced for identity theft in Georgia

ATLANTA — A former employee for the Internal Revenue Service in Atlanta has been sentenced to two years in prison and must pay nearly $6,000 in restitution after she pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft.

The U.S. Justice Department said in a news release that Stephanie Parker worked as a contact representative between September 2012 and March 2013.

Prosecutors said on at least five occasions, Parker obtained taxpayers’ Social Security numbers and addresses and used the information to file fraudulent tax returns. She also directed the fraudulent tax refunds to bank accounts controlled by her friends.

— The Associated Press

Atlanta enacts ban on pet stores selling cats, dogs

ATLANTA — Pet stores in Atlanta are now banned from selling cats and dogs.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms signed an ordinance into law Tuesday that aims to discourage the operation of puppy and kitten mills, which are often accused of keeping animals in inhumane conditions. Pet stores in the city can still house and put up for adoption cats and dogs that are older than eight weeks and are owned by a rescue or care facility.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said Atlanta is the ninth Georgia city to pass such an ordinance.

— The Associated Press

Toy store FAO Schwarz makes Big Apple comeback

NEW YORK — Three years after it closed its beloved toy store on Fifth Avenue, FAO Schwarz has made a return to New York City with its Friday opening at Rockefeller Center, about 10 blocks from its former home near Central Park.

For more than 150 years, FAO Schwarz was known in New York City for its classy and sometimes extravagantly expensive toys. The fantasyland store it opened on Fifth Avenue in 1986 was a tourist attraction, replete with its own theme song, doormen who looked like palace guards and a musical clock tower.

Financial problems at the parent company and rising rents closed that store in 2015, but FAO is now pulling back from the worst financial precipice since it was founded in 1862.

— The Associated Press

Network of immigrant legal defense funds expands

DENVER — A network of U.S. cities and counties paying for lawyers to represent immigrants facing deportation in the wake of the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown is planning to expand.

During a network conference Thursday in Denver, New York-based Vera Institute of Justice announced it was seeking proposals from cities and counties to join its Safety and Fairness for Everyone Network.

The network currently includes 12 cities and counties in eight states — California, Colorado, Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Georgia and Maryland — that are using taxpayer dollars to pay for legal representation, although some also raise private money.

— The Associated Press

Police escort student who put feet on desk from class

The University of Texas at San Antonio says it is investigating possible discrimination after video surfaced of a Black student being escorted from class by armed police.

Officers were called after senior lecturer Anita Moss confronted the student about having her feet up in class. The student’s classmate, Apurva Rawal, captured the incident.

“A girl had her feet up and the professor called the police after calling our class uncivil,” Rawal tweeted. “Mind you she wasn’t talking or interrupting lecture.”

— The Associated Press

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