It’s Tuesday. Monday was pretty horrible.
1) A terror attack claims at least twenty-two lives at a Manchester Ariana Grande concert.
An improvised explosive device was detonated inside Manchester Arena, marking the deadliest attack on the U.K. since the 2005 London bombings. At least twenty-two people were killed, including children, and dozens more were injured. From CNN:
Police said they believe a man carrying explosives acted as a lone attacker and died in the powerful explosion that shook part of the cavernous Manchester Arena as concertgoers streamed out after the American pop star’s last song. Another 23-year-old man has been arrested in south Manchester in connection to the bombing, police said.
President Trump weighed in, calling the attacker and those who helped plan the attack “losers.”
“I extend my deepest condolences to those so terribly injured in this terrorist attack and to the many killed and the families, so many families, of the victims. We stand in absolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom,” Trump said.
“So many young beautiful innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life. I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term. They would think that’s a great name. I will call them from now on losers because that’s what they are.”
Grande, who bystanders say was visibly distraught as she was escorted out of the arena, has reportedly suspended her tour.
2) Trump asked intelligence officials to push back against collusion probe.
First came James Comey’s memo that detailed the president allegedly asking the then-FBI director to drop the investigation into national security adviser Mike Flynn. Now, The Washington Post is reporting that Donald Trump asked two intelligence chiefs to deny collusion between his administration and the Russians had occurred. From the Post:
President Trump asked two of the nation’s top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials.
Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.
Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate, according to two current and two former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president.
Speaking of Flynn, it seems he’s a liar. From The New York Times:
Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, misled Pentagon investigators about his income from companies in Russia and contacts with officials there when he applied for a renewal of his top-secret security clearance last year, according to a letter released Monday by the top Democrat on the House oversight committee.
Mr. Flynn, who resigned 24 days into the Trump administration, told investigators in February 2016 that he had received no income from foreign companies and had only “insubstantial contact” with foreign nationals, according to the letter. In fact, Mr. Flynn had sat two months earlier beside President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia at a Moscow gala for RT, the Kremlin-financed television network, which paid Mr. Flynn more than $45,000 to attend the event and give a separate speech.
His failure to make those disclosures and his apparent attempt to mislead the Pentagon could put Mr. Flynn in further legal jeopardy. Intentionally lying to federal investigators is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Separately, he also faces legal questions over failing to properly register as a foreign agent for lobbying he did last year on behalf of Turkey while advising the Trump campaign, which is also a felony.
3) The Supreme Court rules that N.C. Republicans drew racist district lines.
From the INDY:
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5–3 this morning that the congressional districts the North Carolina legislature enacted in 2011 and had in place for the 2012 and 2014 elections constituted an unconstitutionally racist gerrymander, upholding a previous district court ruling and siding with Governor Cooper over the Republican legislature.
Justice Elena Kagan delivered the court opinion, the latest in a series of rulings Kagan has written on racial gerrymandering and its impact on minority populations. She invoked the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which forbids states from “separating its citizens into different voting districts on the basis of race” without “sufficient cause.” In affirming the lower-court ruling, Kagan held that the 2011 maps were designed to dilute the power of minority votes by packing African American voters into Districts 1 and 12.
4) Trump’s budget hammers the poor, relies on unlikely growth projections, and includes $1.6 billion to build a wall along the Mexican border.
From The New York Times:
President Trump plans to unveil on Tuesday a $4.1 trillion budget for 2018 that would cut deeply into programs for the poor, from health care and food stamps to student loans and disability payments, laying out an austere vision for reordering the nation’s priorities.
The document, grandly titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” encapsulates much of the “America First” message that powered Mr. Trump’s campaign. It calls for an increase in military spending of 10 percent, spending more than $2.6 billion for border security — including $1.6 billion to begin work on a wall on the border with Mexico — as well as huge tax reductions and an improbable promise of 3 percent economic growth.
The wildly optimistic projections balance Mr. Trump’s budget, at least on paper, even though the proposal makes no changes to Social Security’s retirement program or Medicare, the two largest drivers of the nation’s debt.
To compensate, the package contains deep cuts in entitlement programs that would hit hardest many of the economically strained voters whose backing propelled the president into office. Over the next decade, it calls for slashing more than $800 billion from Medicaid, the federal health program for the poor, while slicing $192 billion from nutritional assistance and $272 billion over all from welfare programs. And domestic programs outside of military and homeland security whose budgets are determined annually by Congress would also take a hit, their funding falling by $57 billion, or 10.6 percent.
5) Durham County’s proposed budget includes a property tax hike.
From the INDY‘s Sarah Willets:
Durham’s county manager is pitching a three-cent property tax increase to help the county fund public schools, pay off debt, and keep up with operational growth.
The increase would raise property taxes for Durham County residents from 74.04 to 77.04 cents per $100 of property valuation. The annual tax bill for a home valued at $200,000 would go up by about $60, county manager Wendell Davis said during a presentation of his proposed $626.9 million budget Monday.
Of the three-cent increase, 0.75 cents would go to Durham Public Schools, 0.25 cents to operational growth, and 2 cents for debt related to a $170 million bond package voters approved in November. The increase would generate nearly $10.7 million in revenue for the next fiscal year.
The city of Durham is also proposing a property tax increase of 1.79 cents for the 2017–18 fiscal year, bringing the city’s property tax rate to 57.86 cents per $100 of valuation.
As usual, education costs dominate the spending plan.
Education continues to be the largest share of the county’s budget. Davis is recommending $132.7 million for Durham Public Schools, an increase of about $4.76 million from the current fiscal year but $7.67 million less than the school system requested. Per-pupil spending would increase by $133. Davis is proposing that, beginning July 1, 2018, the county levy an additional one-cent in property tax to go toward universal pre-K.
That’s all for now.