UK lawmakers vote against no-deal Brexit, aim for delay
LONDON — In a tentative first step toward ending months of political deadlock, British lawmakers voted Wednesday to block the country from leaving the European Union without a divorce agreement, triggering an attempt to delay that departure, currently due to take place on March 29.
Parliament is scheduled to decide Thursday whether to put the brakes on Brexit, a vote set up after lawmakers dealt yet another defeat to Prime Minister Theresa May amid a crisis over Britain’s departure from the EU.
The lawmakers’ 321-278 vote has political but not legal force, and does not entirely rule out a chaotic no-deal departure for Britain. But it might ease jitters spreading across the EU after lawmakers resoundingly rejected May’s divorce deal on Tuesday. Exiting the EU without a deal could mean major disruptions for businesses and people in the U.K. and the 27 remaining EU countries.
In chaotic scenes that revealed how May’s authority has been eroded by Brexit battles, more than a dozen pro-EU government ministers abstained rather than vote with her against ruling out no-deal.
Brazil wonders why after school shooters kill 8, themselves
SUZANO, Brazil — A Sao Paulo suburb prepared to bury its dead Thursday while looking for reasons why two masked former students armed with a hand fun, knives, axes and crossbows killed five teenagers and two adults at a school before killing themselves as police closed in.
Authorities said the pair also fatally shot the owner of a used car business nearby before launching the attack Wednesday on the Professor Raul Brasil school in Suzano, a suburb of Brazil’s largest city.
Brazil has the largest number of annual homicides in the world, but school shootings are rare. In 2011, 12 students were killed by a gunman who roamed the halls of a school in Rio de Janeiro.
Besides the five students killed Wednesday, the dead included a teacher and a school administrator, said Joao Camilo Pires de Campos, the state’s public secretary. Nine others were wounded in the school attack, he said.
“This is the saddest day of my life,” de Campos told reporters outside the school in the Sao Paulo suburb of Suzano.
Manafort gets 7 years in prison, then faces fresh NY charges
WASHINGTON — Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced to a total of seven and a half years in prison on federal charges Wednesday, then was hit almost immediately with fresh state charges in New York that could put him outside the president’s power to pardon.
In Washington, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson brushed aside Manafort’s pleas for leniency and rebuked him for misleading the U.S. government about his lucrative foreign lobbying work and for encouraging witnesses to lie on his behalf.
“It is hard to overstate the number of lies and the amount of fraud and the extraordinary amount of money involved” in the crimes, Jackson told Manafort.
From wire sources
From w, 69, who sat stone-faced in a wheelchair he has used because of gout. She added three-and-a-half years on top of the nearly four-year sentence Manafort received last week in a separate case in Virginia, though he’ll get credit for nine months already served.
The sentencing hearing was a milestone in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election campaign. Manafort was among the first people charged in the investigation, and though the allegations did not relate to his work for candidate Donald Trump, his foreign entanglements and business relationship with an associate the U.S. says has ties to Russian intelligence have made him a pivotal figure in the probe.
Prosecutors are updating judges this week on the cooperation provided by other key defendants in the case . Mueller is expected to soon conclude his investigation in a confidential report to the Justice Department.
‘Epic’ storm brings blizzards, floods, tornado to mid-US
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A window-rattling late winter storm brought blizzards, floods and a tornado across more than 25 states Wednesday, stretching from the northern Rocky Mountains to Texas and beyond.
“This is a very epic cyclone,” said Greg Carbin, chief of forecast operations for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Prediction Center. “We’re looking at something that will go down in the history books.”
In Colorado, a state patrol officer was hit and killed by a car as he was helping another driver who slid off Interstate 76 near Denver.
Corporal Daniel Groves, 52, was outside his patrol car when he was struck. He died at a hospital.
Hundreds of drivers were stranded on Colorado highways, including 500 in the Colorado Springs area alone. Gov. Jared Polis activated the National Guard to help find and rescue snowbound drivers.
NY attorney says feds probing his pardon talks with Cohen
NEW YORK — Federal prosecutors have requested copies of communications Michael Cohen had with a New York attorney who broached the possibility of a pardon from President Donald Trump, the attorney said Wednesday.
The attorney, Robert J. Costello, released a statement disputing Cohen’s claim that Trump “dangled” a presidential pardon in front of Cohen before he began cooperating with federal prosecutors and special counsel Robert Mueller.
“We have documents to back our position up, and are preparing to provide these to the U.S. Attorney’s office, who has asked for them,” Costello said in the statement. The statement referred to Cohen’s account of the pardon discussions as “utter nonsense.”
Federal prosecutors requested emails and documents from Costello last week amid an investigation into “possible violations of federal criminal law,” The New York Times reported Wednesday, citing a copy of the request.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan declined to comment.
Carlson comments signal brawl for advertisers
NEW YORK — This week’s controversy over statements made by Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson is as much about a high-stakes battle over the network’s financial future as it is over what he said on a radio show a decade ago.
The liberal advocacy group Media Matters for America this week released two batches of recordings Carlson made as a guest on radio’s “Bubba the Love Sponge Show” between 2006 and 2011, before he worked at Fox. The release was timed to coincide with Fox’s meeting with advertisers on Wednesday, the first time it has ever made a sales pitch that for most television networks is a rite of spring.
In the tapes, Carlson made remarks minimizing statutory rape, used sexist slurs to refer to specific women and referred to Iraq as “a crappy place filled with a bunch of, you know, semiliterate primitive monkeys.”
Fox’s prime-time host has responded by attacking Media Matters and vowing that “we will never bow to the mob.” In the only specific reference to his quoted remarks, Carlson said that “it’s pointless to try to explain how the words were spoken in jest, or taken out of context, or in any case bear no resemblance to what you actually think.”
What’s behind the words is a bare-knuckles brawl over advertising revenue, the lifeblood for any network. Media Matters’ goal has been to publicize controversial or offensive things said by Fox’s prime-time hosts Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham to attract the attention of advertisers, who are usually loathe to see their products associated with controversy.