1. ‘Unbelievable Job’

Report: Trump Praised Duterte in Phone Call

Remo Casilli

According to a transcript obtained by The Washington Post, President Donald Trump offered praise for Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in a phone call last month. He reportedly said Duterte was doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.” Since Duterte has taken office, he has overseen an extrajudicial campaign that has involved killing thousands of suspected drug dealers in the country. “Many countries have the problem, we have the problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that,” Trump said, according to the transcript. A senior administration official told the Post that Trump was not condoning “individual tactics” but rather making an effort to express “solidarity over a common scourge.”


U.K. Raises Threat Level to ‘Critical’

Darren Staples

Following a devastating attack in Manchester on Monday night, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May announced on Tuesday that the country has raised its threat level to “critical,” the highest level. It is the first time in a decade that it has been raised to this level. It suggests that intelligence services believe an attack is “imminent.” Police identified 22-year-old Salman Abedi as the suspected suicide bomber who killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert on Monday night. The attack was the deadliest on British soil since the 2005 London bombings.


Report: Jared Kushner Described as Litigious Slumlord by Former Tenants

Alessandro Bianchi

Although White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is known for his family company’s high-end apartment complexes in New York, a report by The New York Times on Tuesday uncovered several lesser known properties throughout Baltimore—where former tenants described Kushner as a neglectful slumlord preying on the lower middle class with frivolous lawsuits. Former tenants of several properties owned by JK2 Westminster LLC—a subsidiary of Kushner Companies—said they were hit with lawsuits for minor violations or baseless accusations years after moving out. One woman interviewed in the report, Kamiia Warren, a single mother of three, said she moved out of her apartment in 2010 after receiving written permission to break her lease. But she said she was slapped with a lawsuit three years later claiming she’d never given notice, a move that resulted in her wages being garnished and her bank account cleaned out—all for a mere $3,014.08. “It was just pure greed,” Warren was quoted as saying. “They know how to work this stuff. They know what to do, and here I am, I don’t know anything about the law.”

JK2 Westminster was listed as the plaintiff in 548 similar cases in Maryland’s District Court system, with many of the cases filed over broken leases or minor disputes in which the tenant doesn’t seem to be at fault, according to the report. In addition to frivolous lawsuits, current and former tenants at numerous units owned by JK Westminster said the company's property-management arm, Westminster Management, was neglectful in its upkeep of the properties. Tenants complaints’ about black mold, leakage, mice infestations, and even maggots were often ignored for weeks or months before the company did anything, according to the report. In some cases, tenants forced to move out by unsanitary living conditions were later sued for breaking their leases, the report said. Though Kushner stepped down from Kushner Companies in January, he remains a stakeholder, and he played a central role in the company’s activities when the Baltimore properties were purchased in 2012.

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Report: Trump to Retain Private Attorney for Russia Probe

Keith Bedford

According to an NBC News report, President Donald Trump is expected to retain Marc Kasowitz as a private attorney to deal with matters related to the Russia investigation. Kasowitz has represented Trump in the past and at one point was defending Russia’s biggest bank. The anticipated move arrives less than a week after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed a special counsel, former FBI director Robert Mueller, to oversee the Russia investigation. Former senator Joe Lieberman, who is under consideration for the position of FBI director, joined Kasowitz’s law firm in 2013.


Senate Intelligence Committee Subpoenas Flynn’s Businesses

Kevin Lamarque

The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee said on Tuesday that they plan to issue two subpoenas to business entities controlled by former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn invoked the Fifth Amendment on Monday, writing in a letter to the committee that he was declining to hand over documents that were previously subpoenaed as part of a larger probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The new subpoenas which are issued to two Virginia-based entities controlled by Flynn are an attempt to get him to cooperate. “A business does not have a right to take the Fifth if it’s a corporation,” said Sen. Mark Warner, vice chairman of the committee.


Uber to Repay Millions to Drivers After Calculation Error

Brendan McDermid

Uber plans to repay millions of dollars to its New York drivers after inadvertently shortchanging them due to a calculation error, the ride-hailing service said Tuesday. For years, the company had been taking its commission from the full amount of the fare rather than the amount with taxes deducted, meaning drivers were losing a larger percentage of their earnings. “We are committed to paying every driver every penny they are owed—plus interest—as quickly as possible,” Rachel Holt, Uber’s regional general manager for the U.S. and Canada, said Tuesday. The company said “tens of thousands” of drivers have been affected by the mistake since late 2014. Uber’s promise to repay drivers has done little to stem criticism over the mishap, however, with critics saying the glitch calls attention to bigger issues. The company has long been accused of deducting sales tax and the state’s 2.5 percent black-car surcharge from drivers’ earnings, a practice that has been called wage theft by critics. The New York Taxi Drivers Alliance on Tuesday said the company “hasn’t just wrongly calculated its commission, it has been unlawfully taking the cost of sales tax and an injured-worker surcharge right out of driver pay.” The company is already facing at least one lawsuit over allegedly making drivers take on the tax burden, though the company has maintained that it calculates tax deductions correctly.


U.S. Sues Fiat-Chrysler for Cheating Emissions Tests

Gary Cameron

The Department of Justice sued Fiat-Chrysler on Tuesday for violating the Clean Air Act by using software on diesel vehicles that cheated emissions tests. These "defeat devices" were installed in more than 100,000 Ram trucks and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles from 2014 to 2016. "This results in cars that meet emission standards in the laboratory and during standard EPA testing," the agency said in a statement, "but during certain normal on-road driving emit oxides of nitrogen that are much higher than the EPA-compliant level." The company said it denied the government's claim it engaged in a "deliberate scheme" to mislead regulators. Defeat devices were used by Volkswagen to make diesel engines appear compliant with U.S. emissions rules when they were not. VW agreed to pay a $17 billion civil settlement to the U.S. last year and another $2.8 billion in a criminal fine.


Landslide Buries Stretch of California’s Iconic Highway 1

Michael Fiala

California’s iconic Pacific Coast Highway faces “unprecedented” damage after a huge landslide buried part of the road in Big Sur in 1 million tons of rock and dirt. Authorities said Tuesday the landslide in Mud Creek was so severe it changed the coastline below scenic Highway 1, burying a chunk of the highway under 40 feet of rock and dirt. “’Unprecedented’ would be a good word to use,” Jim Shivers, a spokesman for District 5 of the California Department of Transportation, told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday. Another spokesperson for the department warned that the landslide might not be over yet. “We haven’t been able to go up there and assess. It’s still moving,” Susana Cruz was cited as saying by the Associated Press. It was the largest mudslide she’s aware of in the state’s history, she said. The landslide adds to damage from several smaller mudslides after one of California’s wettest winters, with an estimated $1 billion in damage to 400 sites on the highway. Repair work was already under way on certain spots of the highway when the latest landslide hit over the weekend. The damage is expected to put a dent in local tourism, with businesses in the tourist hotspot reportedly bracing for a drop in visitors.


Clinton Slams Trump Budget’s ‘Unimaginable’ Cruelty

Shannon Stapleton

Hillary Clinton has described President Trump’s budget proposal as an “onslaught” on vulnerable groups of the population, saying it shows an “unimaginable level of cruelty.” Hours after Trump’s proposal was made public on Tuesday, the former presidential candidate urged supporters to speak out against the planned budget, which would slash Medicaid funding and force millions of low-income people off of food stamps. “This administration and Republicans in Congress are mounting an onslaught against the needs of children and people with disabilities, women, and seniors,” Clinton said. Speaking after being honored by the Children’s Health Fund in New York, she said the budget “shows an unimaginable level of cruelty and lack of imagination and disdain for the struggles of millions of Americans, including millions of children.” “It’s time to send a resounding message that we will not stand for this attack on the most vulnerable among us,” she said. Her comments come after she launched her own political organization aimed at fighting back against Trump’s policies earlier this month.


Duterte Declares Martial Law in South Philippines

Romeo Ranoco

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in his country’s south on Wednesday before cutting a visit to Moscow short to rush home and deal with a terrorist siege. Militants linked to the self-proclaimed Islamic State reportedly took over a hospital, jail, and other buildings overnight, engaging in a fierce battle with government troops. Authorities said they feared hostages had been taken in the ordeal. Duterte declared martial law in the Mindanao region, where the fighting was under way with extremists in Marawi City. Duterte said martial law could be extended for a year. “I said I would be harsh and I warned everybody not to force my hand into it. I have to do it to preserve the republic,” he said on board a plane back to Manila on Wednesday. The siege coincided with Duterte’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he asked for assistance in acquiring “modern weapons” to fight the terrorists. Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who accompanied Duterte to Moscow, described a scene of chaos back home at a news conference Wednesday. Two soldiers and a police officer were killed in gun battles with the militants, and at least 12 others were wounded, he said. “The whole of Marawi City is blacked out, there is no light, and there are Maute snipers all around,” he said.