Deadly shooting at California bowling alley [Yay, USA!]

Police say three people killed and four injured in a shooting at a gaming complex near Los Angeles.

Police said they were searching for a suspect or suspects [Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images]
Police said they were searching for a suspect or suspects [Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images]

Three men have been killed and four wounded in a shooting in the US state of California after a late-night fight at a bowling alley.

The Torrance Police Department said officers responded to calls of “shots fired” at the Gable House Bowl in Torrance, a town about 40km south of Los Angeles, shortly before midnight on Friday

Multiple victims were found with gunshot wounds inside the gaming venue, which offers bowling, laser tag and an arcade.

Police said three men died at the scene and four male victims were injured, two of whom were transported to a hospital for unknown injuries while the other two injured sought medical treatment on their own.

“Investigators are currently conducting a follow-up investigation, and are working to identify the suspect(s) involved,” the department said in a statement.

Authorities have not released details about what led to the shooting, but witnesses said it stemmed from a fight between two large groups of people at the bowling alley.

‘Complete chaos’

Wes Hamad, a 29-year-old Torrance resident, was at the bowling alley with his 13-year-old niece and cousin when he saw a “huge fight” break out.

Hamad told the Associated Press news agency that the brawl, which lasted about five minutes, blocked the entrance of Gable House Bowl and devolved into “complete chaos”.

“I grabbed my niece and started running toward the far end of the bowling alley,” Hamad said. “As we were running, we heard 15 shots.”

As he was leaving, Hamad said he saw a woman weeping over a man who had multiple gunshot wounds to his head and neck.

Damone Thomas was in the karaoke section of the venue, a regular stop for him and his friends after work on Fridays, when people ran in saying there was a shooting.

The 30-year-old Los Angeles resident said his friend flipped over one of the tables to shield them as they heard gunshots.

Thomas told the AP he didn’t feel scared because he was “just trying to survive”. But when he was driving back home, he said he realised how traumatic the situation had been and he hasn’t been able to fall asleep.

“Closing my eyes, all I can see is the women against the wall crying, not knowing what to do,” he said.

The US has long dealt with the issue of mass shootings. In the first four days of 2019, there have been five mass shootings that resulted in five deaths, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a group that tracks such incidents.

Both Thomas and Hamad said they had never witnessed any violence at Gable House Bowl in the past, but Hamad said he had stopped going for a while because he heard someone with a gun was recently seen there.

“I definitely won’t be going back any more,” he added.

According to health authorities, nearly 40,000 people died in the US as a result of firearms in 2017 – a figure that includes suicides.

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“.. impeach the motherfucker!” – Rashida Tlaib: Congresswoman’s Trump profanity sparks furor!

US House Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) participates in a ceremonial swearing-in from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at the start of the 116th Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 3, 2019Nancy Pelosi swears-in new representative Rashida Tlaib

US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi Speaker has shrugged off a new lawmaker’s use of a profane epithet to assail President Donald Trump.

Democrat Rashida Tlaib courted controversy when she used explicit language while calling for the president’s impeachment.

Ms Pelosi on Thursday said while she would not use such language, it was no worse than things Mr Trump has said.

The controversy comes amid renewed talk of impeachment among lawmakers.

The Republican president called her comments “highly disrespectful” to the US in a news conference on Friday.

“I thought her comments were disgraceful. This is a person I don’t know, I assume she’s new,” he told reporters.

“I think she dishonoured herself and dishonoured her family using language like that in front of her son and whoever else was there.”

When asked about her call for impeachment, Mr Trump responded: “You can’t impeach somebody that’s doing a great job that’s the way I view it.”

Earlier on Friday, he tweeted that his political enemies only want to remove him from office because he is “the most successful”.

What did Ms Tlaib say? Michigan’s Ms Tlaib made the remark to supporters at a reception hours after she was sworn in on Thursday as one of the first two Muslim women members of Congress.

“People love you and you win,” she said. “And when your son looks at you and says, ‘Momma, look you won. Bullies don’t win.’ And I said, ‘Baby, they don’t.'”

She added that they would impeach Mr Trump, using a profane term to describe him.

Ms Tlaib had also co-authored an opinion piece calling for impeachment that was published in the Detroit Free Press earlier on Thursday.

On Friday, she was unapologetic about the furor over her remark.

The new congresswoman took her oath of office using a family Koran while wearing a traditional garment stitched by her Palestinian-born mother.

Palestinian dress worn in new US Congress

What did Pelosi say?

Speaking at an MSNBC town hall on Friday, Ms Pelosi said while she may have a “generational reaction” to the language, she is “not in the censorship business”.

“I don’t like that language, I wouldn’t use that language, but I wouldn’t establish any language standards for my colleagues.

“But I don’t think it’s anything worse than what the president has said.”

On impeachment, Ms Pelosi has been cautious, saying Democrats must “wait and see” what happens with special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 US election.

Mr Trump told reporters on Friday Ms Pelosi assured him in budget negotiations that House Democrats were not looking to impeach him.

What did other Democrats say?

A number of Democratic congressmen rebuked the new lawmaker.

Civil rights icon John Lewis said Ms Tlaib’s comments were “inappropriate” and “distracting”. The Georgia congressman also said talk of impeachment was “a little premature”.

Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri said: “What she said yesterday was wrong. Wrong is wrong.”

Jerry Nadler of New York told CNN: “I don’t really like that kind of language, but more to the point it is too early to talk about [impeachment] intelligently.”

But Ms Tlaib is not the only hardline Democrat to call for Mr Trump’s removal from office.

Brad Sherman of California and Al Green of Texas on Thursday reintroduced articles of impeachment against the president.

Mr Sherman responded to claims that impeachment talks were distracting from the shutdown battle by saying: “Does it compete for attention? Yes. So do the Lakers’ games,” the Associated Press reported.

As for Ms Tlaib’s controversial language, much like Ms Pelosi, California congresswoman Maxine Waters said Mr Trump was responsible for starting all the incivility.

“He’s opened up a new way of talking, a new way of addressing these issues in ways that we never heard before,” Ms Waters said, according to The Hill.

“That gives others the permission to speak passionately about it in the same manner that he has done.”

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Maine Gov. Janet Mills signs executive order to expand Medicaid!

On her first day in office, Governor Janet Mills signed an executive order calling for the Department of Health and Human Services to begin implementing the expansion of Medicaid that Maine voters passed more than a year ago.

Mills took little time to bask in her historic win as Maine’s first female governor back in November before declaring she would implement the expansion that voters had passed last November.

The expansion will make Medicaid available to roughly 70,000 more Mainers.

Mills predecessor, Gov. Paul LePage had vehemently opposed the expansion and refused to implement it even after Maine voters passed it.

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RELATED: Read or watch Gov. Janet Mills’ full inaugural address

Mills had vowed to sign the expansion on her first day and that is exactly what she did Jan. 3.

Mills had said she would take immediate action to expand treatment and prevention for the opioid drug epidemic. She says Medicaid expansion will also help get more people into drug treatment.

Democrats Take Back House with Historic Firsts

JAN 03, 2019

H1 house historic firsts

Democrats will take control over the House of Representatives as new members are sworn in today. Democrats picked up 40 seats in the November election, while in the Senate Republicans expanded their majority slightly to 53. Over 100 women will serve in the House for the first time in U.S. history, including the first two Native American women, the first two Latina women from Texas and the first two Muslim women. Palestinian American Rashida Tlaib of Michigan will be sworn in on the Qur’an that once belonged to Thomas Jefferson, and she plans to wear a thobe—a traditional Palestinian gown—to the ceremony. Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York is now the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress.

One congressional seat that will not be filled today is North Carolina’s 9th District. Republican Mark Harris was initially believed to be the winner of that race against Democrat Dan McCready, but the results were not certified, amid allegations of Republican voter fraud. With their new majority, Democrats now have the ability to subpoena the administration and are expected to launch investigations into President Trump and his administration.

Mitt Romney: Trump’s actions have caused worldwide dismay

Romney criticised a number of Trump's actions in December [File: Mike Segar/Reuters]
Romney criticised a number of Trump’s actions in December [File: Mike Segar/Reuters]

Mitt Romney, former Republican presidential candidate and incoming US senator from Utah, sharply criticised President Donald Trump and said the US leader had caused dismay around the world.

In an opinion piece published in the Washington Post late on Tuesday, Romney criticised a number of Trump’s actions in December.

“The appointment of senior persons of lesser experience, the abandonment of allies who fight beside us, and the president’s thoughtless claim that America has long been a ‘sucker’ in world affairs all defined his presidency down,” he wrote.

He added that “Trump’s words and actions have caused dismay around the world.”

Romney suggested that “on balance, (Trump’s) conduct over the past two years … is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office.”

Trump hit back in an early morning tweet on Wednesday, saying, “Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast!”

Trump questioned whether Romney will be “a Flake”, referring to outgoing Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who was a frequent critic of Trump.

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Chris Sheridan
by Chris Sheridan

“Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful,” Trump said. “I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!”

Romney-Trump relationship

Romney’s op-ed came as he and other politicians take up their seats in the new Congress. It is unclear whether Trump will face a serious challenge in 2020 in securing the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.

Last February, Trump endorsed Romney’s run for a Senate seat in Utah.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Romney excoriated Trump as a “fraud” who was “playing the American public for suckers”. Trump responded that Romney had “choked like a dog” in his unsuccessful 2012 campaign against Democratic President Barack Obama.

Despite Romney’s prior criticism, after Trump won the presidency in November 2016, he briefly considered tapping Romney as secretary of state.

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Chris Sheridan
by Chris Sheridan

In the op-ed on Tuesday, Romney said he “will speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions”.

Romney has strongly defended press freedom and challenged Trump’s repeated attacks on some news outlets as an “enemy of the people”.

“The media is essential to our Republic, to our freedom, to the cause of freedom abroad, and to our national security. It is very much our friend,” Romney wrote in an essay in November.

Five big things from Trump’s head-spinning week

Donald Trump folds his arms

This week in Washington has distilled all the chaos, upheaval, drama and conflict of the first two years of the Donald Trump presidency down to its purest form.

It’s been a bungee jump from high to low, then careening everywhere in between – and it’s not altogether clear that it won’t end with the loud and final thud of an impact on the ground.

Here’s a look at the crises – plural – that have unfolded in the past few days.

Most, if not all, are of the president’s own making. Mr Trump campaigned as a disrupter, and this week has been disruption in the extreme.

The shutdown fight

At the end of last week it appeared that Congress was on a glide path toward avoiding a partial shutdown of the federal government.

Then, on Thursday, everything went haywire. After the White House had signalled it would support the stopgap funding measure, hard-core conservative media outlets and politicians demanded the president draw a line in the sand over building his much-promised border wall.

Mr Trump abruptly changed course, announcing that “any measure that funds the government must include border security”. The fact he’s stopped calling for a wall and instead asked for border security and “metal slats” – fencing – is a concession that might have meant something if it was made weeks ago, and not under the shadow of a shutdown.

The irony is that the warning was made at a signing ceremony for bipartisan farm legislation, during which the president touted another recently passed bill reforming the criminal justice system. Green shoots of inter-party co-operation appeared this week, only to be met with the herbicide of wall acrimony.

The House of Representatives seems solidly behind including wall funding in any bill. But the Senate, with only 51 Republicans and unified Democratic opposition, is well short of the 60 votes needed to agree to such a measure. And if enough House members change their mind, there’s always the chance that the president will veto a stopgap bill without any funding for the wall.

The dynamic changes considerably on 3 January, when Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats take over the House.

At that point, the door slams shut on wall funding ever being approved in the House. The Senate may very well acquiesce to a new wall-free spending bill and the president becomes the final roadblock.

Would he back down, giving the House Democrats an early win? That may be a bitter pill to swallow.

For Mr Trump, however, the pain he appears to fear from his supporters seems to outweigh in his mind the political discomfort from a shutdown.

Short presentational grey line

The great withdrawal

If Mr Trump’s pivot on budget funding was surprising, his unexpected announcement that he’s pulling the 2,000 US troops out of Syria – and reports of plans for thousands more coming home from Afghanistan – was an electric shock through the US foreign policy establishment.

The fact that the president, who campaigned in part on drawing down US involvement obligations abroad, might contemplate such a move is not unexpected. The manner in which the announcement was made, with little apparent consultation with senior government officials or US allies abroad, is the primary source of upheaval – and the cause for concern among even those who might otherwise support the decision.

Was Trump right to say ISIL is beaten?

Then came the exclamatory punctuation mark at the end of the drawdown drama. Defence Secretary James Mattis, perhaps the most universally respected member of Mr Trump’s Cabinet, announced he was resigning because of differences of opinion he has with the president. In his announcement, he offered full-throated support for the US alliance structure and a warning that the US must serve as a counterweight to authoritarian rivals.

Then came his parting shot.

“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defence whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” he wrote.

It was one of the most direct suggestions of disapproval from any of Mr Trump’s ever-expanding list of former advisers and Cabinet secretaries.

All of this raises the question, why did the president act now? There has been some speculation that it may be tied the budget fight over the Mexican border wall. If people tell the president there’s not enough money, then he’ll reduce US commitments abroad. Others have suggested the move was a distraction in the midst of an unpleasant news cycle. Or perhaps it was a move to placate Turkey or – an evergreen explanation – Russia.

Whatever the reason, Mr Trump has roiled his supporters in the US Senate at a time when he needs them most. In the past, Republican politicians have managed to walk the line between offering tuts of disapproval for presidential actions they don’t like, while still voting lockstep for conservative policy priorities.

In the coming days, however, this straddling effort will be tested like never before.

Short presentational grey line

Mueller’s circling army

In a recent article in The Atlantic, Benjamin Wittes and Mikhaila Fogel compare Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation of possible Russian ties to the Trump presidential campaign to a siege on a walled city.

If the investigation is “a campaign of degradation over a substantial period of time”, this week brought a number of new volleys that could hasten the eventual collapse.

There was Michael Flynn’s sentencing fiasco, in which Mr Trump’s former national security adviser admitted in open court that he knowingly lied to the FBI and wasn’t tricked or trapped into it. The judge, Emmet Sullivan, then suggested he sold his country out.

Facing the prospect of an angry judge threatening jail time, Flynn’s lawyers asked for a sentencing delay – dangling the possibility of more co-operation by Flynn and guaranteeing this portion of the Mueller investigation will stretch on until at least March.

Apps on a smartphone

Meanwhile, the Senate released two investigations into Russian social media campaigns to influence the 2016 presidential election.

They indicated the scope of the attack was much wider than previously known. The efforts reached hundreds of millions of people on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other services, engaging conservatives and discouraging key voting blocs on the left, all in an attempt to help Mr Trump’s presidential bid.

The president and his supporters have dismissed evidence of Russian meddling as blame-shifting by Democrats seeking an excuse for their 2016 defeat. With these reports, that becomes a more difficult case to make.

What’s still not known is if there are any direct links between the Russians and the Trump team. Rumours swirl of new Mueller indictments on the horizon, however, perhaps of Trump confidant Roger Stone, who had contacts with WikiLeaks, the group that released hacked Democratic documents.

Then there’s the NBC News report that Mr Mueller could release his findings and conclusions in mid-February – which, although it seems like an eternity in US politics these days, is just two months away.

The clock is ticking – providing a possible explanation for Mr Trump’s dyspeptic attitude of late.

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A crumbling foundation

There was evidence as early as 2016, thanks in large part to the efforts of the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold, that Donald Trump frequently used his family’s charitable foundation – funded in large part by donations from other people – to settle business lawsuits, buy baubles at auctions and, during the presidential campaign, advance his political interests.

Any of this could qualify as “self-dealing” and put the charity’s tax status at risk.

The controversies swirling around the foundation attracted the attention of the Democrat-run attorney general’s office in New York, which launched an investigation. On Tuesday, they negotiated the dismantling of the charity.

Mr Trump and his lawyers explained that they wanted this all along, and that the entire inquiry was the result of “sleazy Democrats”. But this is another dark cloud that won’t be disappearing anytime soon.

Barbara Underwood, in a statement heralding the action, called the foundation “little more than a chequebook” for the Trumps, with activity that displayed “a shocking pattern of illegality”.

What’s more, she said, the state would continue to seek millions of dollars in back taxes and fines from the Trump Organization, and sanctions against the president and his three oldest children.

During the 2016 campaign, Mr Trump repeatedly criticised Hillary Clinton and her family’s much-larger operating foundation. Two years later, however, it’s the president’s charity that remains in the headlines.

Short presentational grey line

Dow heading down

Mr Trump has spent much of his presidency touting the seemingly endless ascent of the US stock market.

“The Stock Market just reached an All-Time High during my Administration for the 102nd Time, a presidential record, by far, for less than two years,” he tweeted in early October.

Politicians who hitch their star to the stock market, however, can be in for a bumpy ride. Since Mr Trump wrote that tweet, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen more than 4,300 points – a 16% decline.

Due to a combination of rising interest rates, the president’s trade wars, the impending government shutdown and indications of slower economic growth, the now long-in-the-tooth bull market may be coming to an end. December has seen the biggest market decline since the Great Depression and the largest drop in any month since 2009.

Larger economic indicators, such as GDP growth, unemployment and consumer confidence, are still strong. The current economic expansion is now entering its 13th year, however, and no one has yet discovered how to outwit the business cycle.

What goes up eventually comes down (at least a bit), and the timing may not be good for the president.

Obamacare: Texas court rules key health law is unconstitutional

People sign up for health insurance in Miami, Florida. 1 November 2017

A federal judge in the US state of Texas has ruled that a key part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, is unconstitutional.

Twenty states argued the whole law was invalidated by a change in tax rules last year which eliminated a penalty for not having health insurance.

President Donald Trump said the ruling was great news for America.

The law’s provisions will, however, remain in place until an appeal is heard at the US Supreme Court.

President Trump promised to dismantle Barack Obama’s landmark 2010 healthcarelaw, which was designed to make medical cover affordable for the many Americans who had been priced out of the market.

But despite his Republican Party having majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the ACA is still operating.

However, in 2017 Congress did repeal the requirement – the so-called individual mandate – that people buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty.

Mr Trump took to Twitter following the judge’s ruling in Texas.

He also urged incoming Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to “pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare”.

The ruling came a day before the deadline for Obamacare enrolment for the coming year.

What does the ruling say?

Two Republicans – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and his Wisconsin counterpart Brad Schimel led the legal challenge.

Sitting in Fort Worth, US District Judge Reed O’Connor noted that a $1.5tn tax bill passed by Congress in 2017 eliminated the tax penalties which anyone who failed to obtain health insurance had to pay.

He ruled that the individual mandate was now unconstitutional.

As the individual mandate was an “essential” element of the ACA, the whole of Obamacare was therefore unconstitutional, Judge O’Connor said.

He said his ruling was concerned with the intentions of the 2010 and 2017 Congresses.

“The former enacted the ACA. The latter sawed off the last leg it stood on.”

Protesters hold a small peaceful demonstration in support of health care on September 23, 2017 in Livingston, MontanaHealth care provision in the US has long been a divisive issue

What reaction has there been?

Ms Pelosi described the ruling as “cruel” and “absurd” and said it would be repealed.

She said it exposed “the monstrous endgame of Republicans’ all-out assault on people with pre-existing conditions and Americans’ access to affordable health care”.

Mr Schumer, meanwhile, said the ruling appeared “to be based on faulty legal reasoning and hopefully it will be overturned”.

He said that if it was upheld in the higher courts “it will be a disaster for tens of millions of American families, especially for people with pre-existing conditions”.

What comes next?

The decision is almost certain to be challenged in the US Supreme Court.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said that the law would remain in place for the time being, pending further legal developments.

‘Trump not thinking about the little people’

Meanwhile, the White House called on Congress to replace Obamacare with an affordable healthcare system which protects people with pre-existing conditions.

But other states have argued that eliminating Obamacare would harm millions of Americans, and pending any appeal the landmark health care law remains in place.

US Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said: “If this awful ruling is upheld in the higher courts, it will be a disaster for tens of millions of American families.”

[If you take much more from us we’ll have to take all of you down.]

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