Ceremony, political jibes mark Trump’s first day in London
LONDON — Mixing pageantry and pugilism, President Donald Trump plunged into his long-delayed state visit to Britain on Monday, welcomed with smiles and a cannon salute by the royals but launching political insults at others in a time of turmoil for both nations in the deep, if recently strained, alliance.
It was a whirlwind of pomp, circumstance and protest for Trump, who had lunch with Queen Elizabeth and tea with Prince Charles before a grand state dinner at Buckingham Palace.
The queen used her toast to emphasize the importance of international institutions created by Britain, the United States and other allies after World War II, a subtle rebuttal to Trump, a critic of NATO and the U.N.
But most of the talk and the colorful images were just what the White House wanted to showcase Trump as a statesman while, back home, the race to succeed him — and talk of impeaching him — heated up. Yet Trump, forever a counter-puncher, immediately roiled diplomatic docility by tearing into London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
The agenda for Trump’s weeklong European journey is mostly ceremonial:
Congress launches Big Tech antitrust probe
SAN FRANCISCO — The federal government may be warming up its antitrust enforcement machine and pointing it at Big Tech.
On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee announced a sweeping antitrust probe of unspecified technology companies. In a statement, it promised “a top-to-bottom review of the market power held by giant tech platforms,” which would be the first such Congress has ever undertaken.
Earlier in the day, shares of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple dropped significantly after published reports suggested that federal authorities are preparing for investigations into anticompetitive behavior by several of these technology giants.
Facebook’s stock dropped 7.5%. Shares of Google parent Alphabet fell 6.1%. Amazon declined 4.6%. Apple, which has only been mentioned tangentially in these reports, fell 1%.
Some of the underlying developments appear to represent a divvying up of turf between the Department of Justice’s antitrust cops and the Federal Trade Commission, which also holds antitrust authority. The Justice Department would reportedly hold authority over Google and Apple, which the FTC would take point on investigations of Facebook and Amazon.
APNewsBreak: Ex-governor’s phone seized in Flint water probe
LANSING, Mich.— Authorities investigating Flint’s water crisis have used search warrants to seize from storage the state-owned mobile devices of former Gov. Rick Snyder and 65 other current or former officials, The Associated Press has learned.
The warrants were sought two weeks ago by the attorney general’s office and signed by a Flint judge, according to documents the AP obtained through public records requests.
Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who is helping with the probe, confirmed they executed a series of search warrants related to the criminal investigation of Flint’s lead-contaminated water in 2014-15 and a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.
The water crisis in Flint was one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in U.S. history. Untreated water leached lead from pipes and into Flint’s homes and businesses while cost-cutting financial managers — appointed by Snyder — were running the city.
The investigation has led to charges against 15 current or former government officials, including two who served in the Cabinet of Snyder, a Republican who left office in December. But no one is behind bars, and some Flint residents believe key players who could have prevented the lead debacle are getting off easy.
Gunman’s motive unclear, officials quiet days after shooting
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Virginia Beach employee who shot and killed 12 people at a municipal building gave no hint of the massacre to come when he emailed his resignation letter earlier in the day, saying that he was leaving for “personal reasons” but that “it has been a pleasure to serve.”
The gunman’s two-sentence emailed resignation letter — released by city officials Monday, three days after the shooting — put authorities, the community and victims’ families no closer to understanding why the engineer with 15 years on the job would go on a rampage at work.
Investigators seem stymied. There are no indications the 40-year-old Craddock left notes, manifestos, social media screeds or any other obvious signs of what motivated him.
Craddock’s resignation email gave his two weeks’ notice but no clues that he was unhappy at work or held a grudge against anyone. Because the email is partially redacted, it’s unclear how long before the shooting it was sent. Officials wouldn’t say why they redacted it, and they declined to give an update on the investigation Monday.
Craddock’s email reads: “I want to officially put in my (2) weeks’ notice to vacant my position of Engineer III with the City of Virginia Beach. It has been a pleasure to serve the City, but due to personal reasons I must relieve my position.”
Long list of troubled nursing homes revealed by senators
WASHINGTON — The federal government for years has kept under wraps the names of hundreds of nursing homes around the country found by inspectors to have serious ongoing health, safety or sanitary problems.
Nearly 400 facilities nationwide had a “persistent record of poor care” as of April, but they were not included along with a shorter list of homes that get increased federal scrutiny and do have warning labels, according to a Senate report released Monday.
Budget cuts appear to be contributing to the problem by reducing money available for the focused inspections that are required for nursing homes on the shorter list, according to documents and interviews.
The secrecy undermines the federal commitment to ensure transparency for families struggling to find nursing homes for loved ones and raises questions about why the names of some homes are not disclosed while others are publicly identified, according to two senators who released the report on Monday.
“We’ve got to make sure any family member or any potential resident of a nursing home can get this information, not only ahead of time but on an ongoing basis,” said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., who along with Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., issued the report .
35 dead as Sudan troops move against democracy protesters
KHARTOUM, Sudan — Sudan’s ruling military moved to crush the protest movement opposing its grip on power as security forces overran the main sit-in site in the capital Monday, unleashing furious volleys of gunfire, burning down tents and killing at least 35 people, witnesses and protest leaders said.
With the assault, the generals signaled an end of their tolerance of the pro-democracy demonstrators, who for months have been camped outside the military’s headquarters as the two sides negotiated over who would run the country after the April ouster of longtime strongman Omar al-Bashir.
After they succeeded in forcing the military to remove al-Bashir, the protesters had stayed in the streets, demanding the generals move to the background and allow civilians to lead the transition.
The dispersal of the sit-in now risks escalating violence even further. Scattered by the bloody assault, protesters vowed to keep up their campaign, suspending talks and calling for a general strike and civil disobedience. They urged nighttime marches across the country.
“This is a critical point in our revolution. The military council has chosen escalation and confrontation,” said Mohammed Yousef al-Mustafa, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, which has spearheaded the protests.
Mutation that protects against HIV raises death rate
NEW YORK — People with a DNA mutation that reduces their chance of HIV infection may die sooner, according to a study that suggests tinkering with a gene to try to fix one problem may cause others.
The study authors cited the case of the Chinese researcher who tried to produce this mutation in twin girls before their birth, to reduce their risk for HIV. His work, which produced the first gene-edited babies, was widely condemned as unethical and risky, and the new paper illustrates one reason for concern.
“You should consider all the effects of mutations you induce,” said Rasmus Nielsen of the University of California, Berkeley, senior author of the paper , released Monday by the journal Nature Medicine.
Nielsen acknowledged that his result cannot be applied directly to the two girls in China. For one thing, his study focused on a sample of people in the United Kingdom who may have different genetic backgrounds than the Chinese girls.
In addition, the people he studied had inherited a specific mutation. The Chinese scientist tried to create the same mutation, but failed. The girls now carry different alterations in the same gene.
California governor won’t free Manson follower Van Houten
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom overruled a parole board’s decision to free Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten on Monday, marking the third time a governor has stopped the release of the youngest member of Manson’s murderous cult.
Van Houten, 69, is still a threat, Newsom said, though she has spent nearly half a century behind bars and received reports of good behavior and testimonials about her rehabilitation.
“While I commend Ms. Van Houten for her efforts at rehabilitation and acknowledge her youth at the time of the crimes, I am concerned about her role in these killings and her potential for future violence,” he wrote in his decision. “Ms. Van Houten was an eager participant in the killing of the LaBiancas and played a significant role.”
Van Houten was 19 when she and other cult members stabbed to death wealthy Los Angeles grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in August 1969. She said they carved up Leno LaBianca’s body and smeared the couple’s blood on the walls.
The slayings came the day after other Manson followers, not including Van Houten, killed pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in violence that spread fear throughout Los Angeles and riveted the nation.
Judge removes prosecutor from Navy SEAL war crimes case
SAN DIEGO — A military judge on Monday took the rare step of removing a prosecutor accused of misconduct from the war crimes case of a decorated Navy SEAL.
Capt. Aaron Rugh ordered Cmdr. Christopher Czaplak removed from the case of Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher after defense lawyers accused the prosecution of spying on their emails, according to the ruling.
The defense asked Rugh to dismiss the case or remove prosecutors because of a surreptitious effort to track defense emails without court approval in an effort to find the source of news leaks.
Rugh said it was not in his power to determine prosecutorial misconduct, but there was the possibility of a conflict of interest that required Czaplak to be removed, the ruling said.
Rugh has not yet ruled on whether to dismiss murder and attempted murder counts against Gallagher.