Pentagon: We Officially Call Them ISIS, Not ISIL

Yuri Gripas/Reuters

The Pentagon issued a memo on Friday establishing the use of the acronym “ISIS” as the U.S. government’s official lexicon to describe the terror group. The Obama administration, including President Obama himself, uniformly used ISIL, which stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. A spokesman said the department believes ISIS, ISIL and Da’esh can be used interchangeably, but ISIS is the preferred acronym because it is the most recognizable for Americans. Others around the world simply refer to the group as IS, or Islamic State.


GOP Lawmakers Push Bills to Limit Protesting in 17 States

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Republican lawmakers in numerous states are pushing legislation that would place restrictions on protesting rights. According to The Washington Post, the bills being introduced in 17 states would ramp up punishments for protesters who block highways and ban the use of masks, among other restrictions, in an effort to counter what Republicans say are manufactured, “paid,” and “professional” protesters. Lee Rowland of the American Civil Liberties Union said the GOP lawmakers pushing these bills want to increase “penalties for protest-related activity to the point that it results in self-censorship among protesters who have every intention to obey the law.” Demonstrations have been taking place nationwide since the election of Donald Trump as president, and Republican lawmakers have been facing angry constituents at town halls in their home states. President Trump has dismissed the protests as being largely organized by liberal activists. 


Senior Trump Aide Seb Gorka Has Ties to Anti-Semitic Groups

Wikimedia Commons

President Trump’s deputy assistant, Sebastian Gorka, developed close ties to far-right and anti-Semitic groups in Hungary, according to an investigation by The Forward. When Gorka, 46, was caught wearing a medal associated with a Nazi collaborationist regime, he told Breitbart News that he wears it to “remind myself of where I came from, what my parents suffered under both the Nazis and the Communists, and to help me in my work today.” The Forward’s investigation, however, appears to undermine that claim. According to the Jewish-American publication, Gorka from 2002 to 2007 worked with openly racist and anti-Semitic groups, as well as public figures who hold such views. He reportedly co-founded a political party with prominent members of Jobbik, a Hungarian far-right nationalist party with a long history of anti-Semitism. He also allegedly published articles in a racist newspaper and was seen at events with some of the country's most extreme-right leaders.

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GOP Congressman: ‘Absolutely, Trump Should Release His Tax Returns’

Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, who has been a supporter of President Trump, surprised protesters during a Thursday night town hall when he called for the president to release his tax returns. One of his constituents, Donna Waters, 56, became visibly emotional while confronting the first-term congressman: “I’m the descendant of an immigrant, he came to America in 1607 to a town called Jamestown, and my family's been here ever since.” She continued, ‘Whenever there’s a threat to this country, my family has stepped forward... There are allegations that a hostile foreign country is committing acts of undeclared war by infiltrating the highest levels of our government.” She then asked of the congressman who campaigned with Trump in Florida: “Will you call for the release of President Trump’s income tax returns?” As Gaetz hesitated, the crowd began screaming, “Yes or no! Yes or no!” The lawmaker shocked many in the room when he replied, “Absolutely, Donald Trump should release his tax returns.” He did not, however, call upon Congress to subpoena the documents. Trump broke longstanding protocol during the election, becoming the first major-party nominee since 1972 not to release his tax returns.


Tracy Morgan to Release First Stand-Up Special Since Accident

© Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

Nearly three years after he was nearly killed in a gruesome highway accident, comedian Tracy Morgan will premiere a new stand-up special on Netflix, appropriately titled Staying Alive, on May 16, 2017, according to a press release from the company. Taped at the Count Basie Theatre in New Jersey, the special is Morgan's first since he suffered a traumatic brain injury and had to learn to walk again. His previous special, Bona Fide, premiered on Comedy Central less than two months before the accident. In addition to releasing Morgan's new hour, Netflix will also be the home for upcoming specials from high-profile comics like Dave Chappelle, Louis C.K. and Jerry Seinfeld later this year. 


GOP Lawmaker: Remove Clinton Name from Arkansas Airport

Win McNamee/Pool/Reuters

A Republican state legislator in Arkansas has introduced legislation aiming to remove the Clinton name from Little Rock’s Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/Adams Field. The measure notably doesn't mention the former president and secretary of state by their names—however, State Sen. Jason Rapert, who authored the bill, has been specific about his reasoning: “You have a president who was impeached for having an affair with an intern in the Oval Office and then disbarred,” he said. Clinton was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998. Rapert's state Senate district doesn't include Little Rock, but he said that “several Arkansans across the state” expressed their “discomfort” with the affiliation. Rapert did not say why he presented the legislation now, since the airport was named for the Clintons four years ago.


CDC: Heroin Causes 25 Percent of U.S. Overdoses

John Sommers II/Reuters

One in four drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2015 were related to heroin, according to new numbers released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not only was 2015 the first year that the number of overdose deaths in the U.S. exceeded 50,000, but deaths from opiods increased from 57 percent to 73 percent in only five years. “Starting in 2011, overdoses involving heroin has really skyrocketed,” Andrew Kolodny, of Brandeis University's Opioid Policy Research Center, said, “There's a really good chance the increase involving heroin has to be involved with fentanyl.” The CDC study also found a significant increase in the number of deaths related to synthetic opiods, such as fetanyl, the drug linked to Prince's death this past year. Researchers contend that prescription drug use is being replaced by heroin use because of the cost and crackdown on illegal use of prescription opiods.


Trump Lashes Out at FBI Over CNN Report

Carlos Barria/Reuters

President Trump on Friday morning lashed out at the FBI in a Twitter rant calling on the agency to find and punish leakers in the wake of a CNN report casting his administration in a negative light. According to the cable-news outlet’s Thursday evening report, the FBI rejected a request from the White House to knock down reports alleging communications between Trump allies and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign. According to CNN, White House officials specifically sought out FBI and other agency officials to claim the reports were untrue. “The FBI is totally unable to stop the national security ‘leakers’ that have permeated our government for a long time,” Trump wrote in response. “They can’t even find the leakers within the FBI itself. Classified information is being given to media that could have a devastating effect on U.S. FIND NOW.” A Friday morning White House pool report on a background briefing by senior administration officials revealed that on February 15, assistant FBI director Andrew McCabe allegedly told chief-of-staff Reince Priebus that The New York Times story on the FBI investigating contacts between Trump’s team was “B.S.” and that when asked if FBI officials could help squash the story, McCabe said, “We’d love to help but we can’t get into the position of making statements on every story.”


Police Remove Last Standing Rock Protesters

Terray Sylvester/Reuters

National guard officials and law enforcement authorities marched onto the Oceti Sakowin camp on Thursday, where the last Dakota Access Pipeline protesters remained, and cleared the site in a military-style takeover, according to The Guardian. Most of the last protesters left voluntarily on Wednesday, setting fire to their structures as they left. At least 33 holdouts were arrested, according to the Morton County sheriff's department. The area was cleared just over 24 hours after the deadline for the emergency evacuation of the site. Since August, the camp—located on federal land—has been home to thousands of environmental and indigenous activists who object to the pipeline's construction just north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. “I honestly thought the camp would always be there,” said Linda Black Elk, a member of the Catawba Nation. “I thought that people would be able to make their lives there. We would make a treaty claim and it would be back in the hands of the Lakota people.” 


Iraq Carries Out First Airstrikes on ISIS Targets in Syria

© Khalil Ashawi / Reuters

According to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Iraq's air force on Friday carried out its first airstrikes on Islamic State targets inside Syria. The move comes just one day after Iraqi troops seized the Mosul airport from ISIS. Meanwhile in Syria, an alleged Islamic State car bomb was detonated in the village of Sousian, which had already been recaptured from militants. The explosion killed dozens of people—including many civilians—when it was detonated at a security checkpoint controlled by Turkey-backed rebels. A leading Syrian opposition fighter in the area, Mohammed al-Tawil, said a suicide attacker blew a small pickup truck outside of a security office. At least 35 civilians are dead, Reuters reports. The attack, in the village of Sousian, may have killed up to 42 people, according to the Britian-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.