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“RED FLAG” GUN LAWS DRAW SCRUTINY 2 YEARS AFTER PARKLAND SHOOTING

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A 23-year-old man who posted on Facebook, “I don't know why I don't go on a killing spree." A West Palm Beach couple who shot up their home while high on cocaine. A 31-year-old Gulf Coast man who pointed a semi-automatic rifle at a motorcyclist.

All four Florida residents had their guns taken away by judges under a “red flag” law the state passed three weeks after a mentally disturbed gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland two years ago today.

The law, supported by legislators of both parties, has been applied more than 3,500 times since, with the pace accelerating during the last half of 2019. Even so, an Associated Press analysis of the law showed its use is inconsistent, with some counties and cities using it rarely and others not at all.

Advocates of Florida's red flag measure say before it existed, it was often difficult to remove firearms from those making threats or suffering severe mental breakdowns. Investigators did not act on reports that the Parkland shooter was threatening to carry out a school massacre. But even if they had, it is likely he would have been allowed to keep his guns because he had no felony convictions or involuntary, long-term mental commitments, they say.

HOUSE DEMOCRATS STEP UP OVERSIGHT OF JUSTICE DEPARTMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats frustrated over the Senate’s acquittal of President Donald Trump are pushing their oversight efforts toward the Justice Department and what they call Attorney General William Barr’s efforts to politicize federal law enforcement.

Democrats have demanded more information about Barr's intervention in the case of Roger Stone, a longtime confidant of President Donald Trump who was convicted in November. Barr this week overruled prosecutors who had recommended that Stone be sentenced to 7 to 9 years in prison.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized Barr yesterday, calling him one of Trump’s “henchmen.”

“The attorney general has stooped to such levels,” Pelosi said. “What a sad disappointment. The American people deserve better.”

LIMBAUGH SAYS BUTTIGIEG’S ELECTABILITY QUESTIONABLE BECAUSE HE’S GAY

WASHINGTON (AP) — Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh drew bipartisan criticism yesterday for saying the country won't elect Pete Buttigieg president because he's been “kissing his husband" on stage after debates.

Limbaugh's comments came eight days after President Donald Trump awarded him the nation's top civilian honor during the State of the Union address. Trump said Limbaugh inspires millions of people daily and thanked him for “decades of tireless devotion to our country."

Limbaugh, a staunch Trump ally who recently announced he has advanced lung cancer, made the remarks on his syndicated radio show. Buttigieg has finished in the top two in Democrats' first two presidential contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“They're saying, ‘OK, how's this going to look?'" Limbaugh said Wednesday, imagining Democrats' thinking. “Thirty-seven-year-old gay guy kissing his husband on stage, next to Mr. Man, Donald Trump.'"

Buttigieg didn't directly address Limbaugh's remarks. But at a town hall in Las Vegas last night, he said, “I’m proud of my marriage I’m proud of my husband.”

WATCHDOG GROUP LOOKS AT ALLEGED MEDICARE SCAM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A government watchdog plans to launch a nationwide probe into how telemarketers may be getting hold of seniors’ personal Medicare information, a red flag for potential fraud and waste.

An official with the Health and Human Services inspector general's office told The Associated Press the audit will be announced next week. It would follow a narrower probe which found that an electronic system designed for pharmacies to verify Medicare coverage was being used for searches that appeared to have nothing to do with filling prescriptions. The official spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement.

The watchdog agency's decision comes amid a wave of relentlessly efficient telemarketing scams targeting Medicare recipients and involving everything from back braces to DNA cheek swabs.

For years, seniors have been admonished not to give out their Medicare information to people they don't know. But a report on the initial probe, provided to the AP, details how sensitive details can still get to telemarketers when a Medicare beneficiary thinks he or she is dealing with a trustworthy entity such as a pharmacy or doctor's office.

BROTHERS OF SLAIN CHICAGO H.S. HOOPS STAR FORGIVE SHOOTER

CHICAGO (AP) — The brothers of Chicago high school basketball star Ben Wilson, who was viewed as the top player in the nation before his murder in 1984, say they have forgiven the shooter.

Anthony Wilson said he was asked if he was crazy for meeting William Moore, the man convicted of gunning down Ben Wilson. Anthony Wilson, along with his brother Jeffrey, agreed to meet with Moore after his mother, Mary Wilson, asked the family on her deathbed in 2000 to forgive Moore.

"The right thing to do is meet with this man, get the closure that I needed to heal myself and it was one of the best moments in my life," Anthony Wilson said yesterday.

The three men first met in 2017, but they appeared publicly together for the first time before about 350 Chicago Public School students to preview clips from an upcoming documentary, “Behind the Gun," that chronicles the brothers’ road to forgiving Moore. Moore was 16 years old when the 17-year-old Wilson bumped into him as he was walking with his girlfriend. An argument followed, and Moore shot Wilson. Moore served 19 years and 9 months in prison before his release in 2004.

ASTROS PLAYERS ISSUE TEPID APOLOGY FOR SIGN-STEALING SCANDAL

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Alex Bregman spoke for about 30 seconds and said he was sorry — but did not say why. He said he had learned — but did not say what.

On a patch of grass between the Houston Astros' spring training building and fields, under a sun obscured by clouds, the star third baseman stepped to a microphone at a news conference yesterday, to become the first player to apologize.

Bregman offered few details, saying “I am really sorry about the choices that were made by my team, by the organization and by me. I have learned from this and I hope to regain the trust of baseball fans,"

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred disciplined the Astros after he found the team broke rules by using electronics to steal signs during 2017 and 2018. The investigation found the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to view and decode opposing catchers' signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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