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National and international headlines
Rex Tillerson says ‘the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end’
The buzz early this morning is a scoop from the Associated Press that reported this morning that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said it is clear “to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end.”
BREAKING: Tillerson says it is clear ‘to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end’
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 11, 2017
This follows remarks made by the White House yesterday that it is keeping additional military strikes against the Assad regime on the table after last week’s cruise missile strike on Syria’s Shayrat air base.
President Donald Trump ordered that airstrike after the Syrian government allegedly launched a chemical weapon attack from that airbase against civilians in a rebel-held area of the Idlib province. Scores of civilians, including many children, died during that attack, sparking international outrage.
Russia and the U.S. are increasingly sparring over Afghanistan, adding to rapidly souring ties between the Kremlin and President Donald Trump’s administration, Bloomberg News reports.
Defense Secretary James Mattis has voiced alarm at Russia’s actions in Afghanistan, where it’s been cultivating links with the Taliban amid a campaign waged by the terrorist group against Afghan and NATO forces.
His comments come as local Afghan officials and a former Taliban commander say there is evidence Russia is supplying arms to the insurgents.
Colorado appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch took his oaths to be the Supreme Court’s 113th justice Monday, first in a private ceremony at the court and later at a Rose Garden ceremony with the man who nominated him, President Donald Trump, the Washington Post reports.
On a sunny spring day at the White House Rose Garden, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, for whom the 49-year-old Gorsuch once served as a clerk, led him through a second oath that justices take to impartially interpret the laws “and do equal right to the poor and to the rich.”
“I cannot tell you how honored I am to have here today my mentor, Justice Kennedy, to administer the judicial oath, a beautiful oath, as he did for me 11 years ago when I became a circuit judge,” Gorsuch said.
Gorsuch was confirmed by a 54-45 vote Friday, the closest margin since Justice Clarence Thomas was approved more than 25 years ago, The Post reports.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley resigned on Monday after pleading guilty to two misdemeanors related to campaign finance violations and linked to his relationship with a former adviser, ending a year-long scandal that has enveloped the state’s government, Reuters reports.
“I have decided it is time for me to step down as Alabama governor,” Bentley said at a press conference in the state capital of Montgomery, adding that his service “was a calling that God placed on my life.”
His replacement, Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, was sworn in as governor about an hour after his resignation.
Three people, including a teacher and a 8-year-old boy, died Monday in an apparent murder-suicide at an elementary school in San Bernardino, California, police said, dealing another shock to a community still reeling from a terrorist attack two years ago that claimed the lives of 14 people, The Washington Post reports.
San Bernardino police Chief Jarrod Burguan said during a news conference Monday that Karen Elaine Smith, 53, a teacher, was killed inside a classroom at North Park Elementary School by her estranged husband, Cedric Anderson, 53. Anderson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The chief said Jonathan Martinez, 8, was airlifted to a local hospital, where he died. Burguan said a 9-year-old child, whose name has not been released, remains in stable condition at a local hospital.
Federal regulators are withdrawing a proposal that would have allowed air travelers to use their cellphones at high altitude, The Washington Post.
Under the proposal, passengers would still have been required to keep their phones turned off or on airplane mode during takeoff and landing, but they could have switched on their connections at cruising altitude.
The decision Monday to reverse the proposal came from new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who called the plan “ill-conceived.”
In case you missed it, the BDN’s Troy R. Bennett tells the story of William “Billy” Brown who served as a child soldier in the U.S. Navy during the Quasi-War with France in 1798.
Maimed in battle in a now-forgotten war, Brown was then cast aside by his country. The African-American man never got medals or the pension he was due. Instead, his reward was a life of pain and poverty. When he died, he ended up a forgotten man in an unmarked grave in Portland’s Eastern Cemetery.
The former owner of a $10 million island mansion is suing a high-end, Florida-based auctioneer after his home sold for a meager $1.375 million last June, the BDN’s Nick McCrea reports.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in Waldo County Superior Court, contends that the auction, organized by Daniel DeCaro and DeCaro Luxury Auctions in Naples, Florida, was a “disaster” and “fiasco.”
Dakota, the husky facing a death sentence who was pardoned last month by Gov. Paul LePage, may have a new advocate at Tuesday’s hearing in Waterville District Court, the BDN’s Judy Harrison reports.
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s animal welfare program on Monday came to the defense of the dog, saying she is now less dangerous, and the order calling for her euthanization should be set aside.