By Robert A. Vella
Here are some important news stories to catch-up on for this Sunday. I wanted to publish a lighthearted yet informative post today on sea monsters, but it’s taking me longer to write than I had anticipated. Stay tuned!
A federal judge in Alaska declared late Friday that President Trump’s order revoking a sweeping ban on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans is illegal, putting 128 million acres of federal waters off limits to energy exploration.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason is the third legal setback this week to Trump’s energy and environmental policies. The judge, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Barack Obama in 2012, also blocked on Friday a land swap the Interior Department arranged that would pave the way for constructing a road through wilderness in a major National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Lewis T. Babcock, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, ruled that Interior’s Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service illegally approved two gas drilling plans in western Colorado. The judge said officials did not adequately analyze wildlife and climate impacts in their plans — which were challenged by a coalition of environmental groups — to drill 171 wells in North Fork Valley, which provides key habitat for elk and mule deer.
In a stunning about-face, State Department officials said that President Donald Trump is cutting off all direct assistance to the so-called Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
“At the Secretary’s instruction, we are carrying out the President’s direction and ending FY [fiscal year] 2017 and FY 2018 foreign assistance programs for the Northern Triangle,” a State Department spokesperson told ABC News, referring to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “We will be engaging Congress as part of this process.”
These three countries are the primary source of migrants to the U.S., but for years the U.S. has worked with them to stabilize their political environments and economies and end violence and corruption so that migrants wouldn’t leave in the first place.
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration took an important step on Friday in its push to restrict access to abortion and contraception, announcing that it would give as much as $5.1 million in family planning funds to a nonprofit organization funded by allies of the Catholic Church.
The grant from the Department of Health and Human Services went to the Obria Group, a Southern California-based nonprofit that describes itself as being “led by God” and that aims to siphon patients — and money — away from Planned Parenthood.
The funding comes from Title X, which subsidizes birth control, cancer screenings and other medical care for four million low-income patients. While Title X funds do not pay for abortion services as a method of family planning, affiliates of Planned Parenthood, which receive a significant portion of the program’s funds, perform abortions using other funds.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The security chief for Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said on Saturday that the Saudi government had access to Bezos’ phone and gained private information from it.
Gavin De Becker, a longtime security consultant, said he had concluded his investigation into the publication in January of leaked text messages between Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, a former television anchor who the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper said Bezos was dating.
Last month, Bezos accused the newspaper’s owner of trying to blackmail him with the threat of publishing “intimate photos” he allegedly sent to Sanchez unless he said in public that the tabloid’s reporting on him was not politically motivated.
Georgia state legislators on Friday passed one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion bills, which would prohibit the termination of a pregnancy after a fetal heartbeat is detected — as early as six weeks, before many women know they’re pregnant.
Gov. Brian Kemp (R), who released a statement praising lawmakers for “their undeniable courage”in passing the legislation, is expected to sign the bill into law. The American Civil Liberties Union promised legal action if he does.
“Governor Kemp, if you sign this abortion ban into law, we will sue and see you in court to fight this blatant attack on the rights and dignity of Georgia women and families,” the organization said in a statement.
A federal judge in California on Friday ruled against the Golden State’s ban on gun magazines that are able to hold more than 10 rounds.
U.S. District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez said the rule violates the Second Amendment and infringes upon citizens’ rights to defend themselves.
Benitez, a George W. Bush appointee who serves on the bench for the Southern District of California…
In other news: