By Steve Gorman LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The city of Santa Monica filed a lawsuit on Thursday to wrest control of its municipal airport from the federal government, marking the latest chapter in a decades-long dispute over the future of the historic general aviation hub. Filed against the Federal Aviation Administration in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the suit comes weeks after the fiery crash-landing of a small business jet killed four people and reignited a debate over safety at the 86-year-old facility. Critics of the airport, where various Hollywood celebrities and show business executives keep their private planes, seized on the September 29 wreck as a wake-up call to hazards they say the facility poses to densely populated surrounding communities. The crash occurred about 150 feet from homes nearest the airport in the seaside town west of Los Angeles. The site's unusually close proximity to homes stems from a real estate boom that coincided with the airport's development during and after World War Two, when the property was leased to the U.S. government and Douglas Aircraft Co. expanded its airplane manufacturing there. The property was turned back to the city after the war, but the FAA has insisted that the city must keep the site open as an airport in perpetuity, under the terms of the 1948 transfer agreement. Santa Monica officials said they are challenging the FAA claims as unconstitutional and seeking a court declaration that the city holds clear title to the airport property, which some local groups have long sought to convert into a public park. FAA officials declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying they do not discuss pending litigation as a matter of policy. Homeowners and municipal officials have battled for decades to curb flight activity at Santa Monica Municipal Airport or to close it altogether, facing stiff opposition from the FAA, aircraft owners, pilots and businesses connected with the site. The contingent of well-heeled, celebrity aircraft owners said to have kept planes there include Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise and John Travolta. In addition to neighborhood objections to noise and air pollution, city officials have complained the airport's single 5,000-foot (1,524-meter) runway is too short to safely accommodate some of the larger, faster jets allowed to take off and land there. The Santa Monica City Council adopted a resolution in 1981 seeking to close the airport when legally possible, triggering an FAA lawsuit. The parties later settled in a deal the Santa Monica officials say obligates the city to keep the airport open only through 2015. The FAA has taken the position that the city is required to keep operating the airport until at least 2023 under assurances it gave in exchange for federal airport improvement grants. The FAA also asserts that the city must keep the airport open indefinitely because it acquired the property cost-free from the government after World War Two under terms of the federal Surplus Property Act. (By Steve Gorman; Editing by Paul Simao)
- Yahoo News
The Justice Department’s inspector general announced Monday that he had started an investigation into whether current or former officials in the department had engaged in an “improper attempt” to overturn the 2020 presidential election to keep Donald Trump in power.
- The Week
In an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Monday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said his caucus won't allow Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to dictate the agenda in the Democratic-led 50-50 Senate or demand an end to the legislative filibuster as a precondition for a power-sharing pact. "We've told McConnell no on the organizing resolution, and that's that. So there's no negotiations on that," Schumer said, suggesting he had a secret plan. "There are ways to deal with him."Maddow included an update when she broadcast the interview Monday night. "While we were airing that right now, and you were watching it, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell just put out a statement that he is folding on this" and willl "agree to go forward with what Sen. Schumer told him he must," she said. "Sen. Mitch McConnell has caved and Sen. Schumer has won that fight. That was quick. Let's see what else we can do."> No sooner has the portion of Rachel Maddow's interview with Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer aired than Mitch McConnell has put out a statement that he is folding, ending the stand-off. pic.twitter.com/9qR1jpKXkf> > -- Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021McConnell said he would allow the Senate to move forward because two Democrats had reiterated their opposition to ending the filibuster, effectively taking that option off the table. Maddow asked Schumer about that, too, and he didn't answer directly."The caucus is united with the belief that I have: We must get big, strong, bold things done," Schumer said. The Democratic caucus is also "totally united" that "we will not let Mitch McConnell dictate to us what we will do and not do," and "we have tools that we can use," notably the budget reconciliation process," he added. "We will come together as a caucus and figure it out."> "We will not let Mitch McConnell dictate to us what we will do and not do." Here's Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer earlier in his interview with Rachel Maddow, talking about the filibuster specifically, and getting things done. pic.twitter.com/xOAKWfe2Fu> > -- Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021Schumer also suggested he is not interested in playing cat-and-mouse with McConnell's Republicans again. Watch below. > "We will not repeat that mistake." Senate Majority Leader Schumer cites Obama era lessons in prioritizing legislation over bad faith Republican 'bipartisanship.' pic.twitter.com/gpc1kBP45w> > -- Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021More stories from theweek.com Democrats are getting Chuck Grassleyed Biden did not, in fact, remove Trump's 'Diet Coke button' from the Resolute Desk, White House clarifies Josh Hawley knows exactly what he's doing
- Associated Press
A federal judge on Sunday blocked the release of a Tennessee man who authorities say carried flexible plastic handcuffs during the riot at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell for the District of Columbia set aside an order by a judge in Tennessee concerning the release of Eric Munchel of Nashville. After testimony at a detention hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Frensley for the Middle District of Tennessee determined Friday that Munchel wasn’t a flight risk and didn’t pose harm to the public.
- The Week
Biden did not, in fact, remove Trump's 'Diet Coke button' from the Resolute Desk, White House clarifies
The new Biden administration has yet not disclosed the secrets of Area 51 or explained what the Air Force really knows about UFOs, but it did clarify, at least, the mystery of the vanished "Diet Coke button" former President Donald Trump would use to summon refreshments in the Oval Office. The usher button, as it is formally known, is not gone, even if it is no longer used to summon Diet Cokes, a White House official tells Politico.The White House official "unfortunately wouldn't say what Biden will use the button for," Politico's Daniel Lippman writes, suggesting Biden might summon Orange Gatorade and not the obvious answer, ice cream — or, let's get real, coffee. What's more, there are evidently two usher buttons in the Oval Office, one at the Resolute Desk and the other next to the chair by the fireplace, a former White House official told Politico, adding that Trump didn't actually use the Diet Coke button all that much because "he would usually just verbally ask the valets, who were around all day, for what he needed."In any case, it is not the placement of the button that matters, of course, but how you use it. And Biden will presumably know better than to order ice cream treats during a top-secret national security briefing.More stories from theweek.com Democrats are getting Chuck Grassleyed Josh Hawley knows exactly what he's doing MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell permanently banned from Twitter
- The Guardian
Trump ally, who claims lawsuit against him is ‘act of intimidation to censor the exercise of free speech’, threatened New York Post Giuliani in Washington in November. On Monday, Dominion sued Giuliani in federal court in Washington, over his claims about supposed electoral fraud. Photograph: Jacquelyn Martin/AP On Monday, Rudy Giuliani called a $1.3bn lawsuit brought against him by Dominion Voting Systems “another act of intimidation by the hate-filled left wing to wipe out and censor the exercise of free speech”. But Giuliani has himself previously threatened to censor the exercise of free speech with legal action. The former New York mayor turned Trump attorney was invoking current rightwing complaints against so-called “cancel culture”, in which freedom of speech is supposedly curtailed. But in June 2001, the New York Post ran a story about an extra-marital affair. Giuliani told reporters: “I will consider suing them for libel – defamation. What the New York Post did is scurrilous, I believe it’s malicious and I’m prepared to prove that in court if I have to.” First amendment protection of freedom of the press makes it difficult for US public officials to mount libel lawsuits, even if reports are proved to be wrong. Giuliani did not take the Post to court. On Monday, Dominion sued Giuliani in federal court in Washington, over his claims about supposed electoral fraud, made as part of Donald Trump’s baseless attempts to overturn defeat by Joe Biden, efforts which culminated in the deadly attack on the US Capitol on 6 January. “Dominion brings this action to set the record straight,” the complaint said, “to vindicate the company’s rights under civil law, to recover compensatory and punitive damages, and to stand up for itself, its employees, and the electoral process.” Dominion’s lawyer, Thomas Clare, told the New York Times the company could sue others, including Trump. “We’re not ruling anybody out,” he said. “Obviously, this lawsuit against the president’s lawyer moves one step closer to the former president and understanding what his role was and wasn’t.” Some experts said Dominion might itself count as a public figure, and thus have a hard time winning its case. Giuliani said he might counter-sue Dominion. “The amount being asked for is, quite obviously, intended to frighten people of faint heart. It is another act of intimidation by the hate-filled left wing to wipe out and censor the exercise of free speech, as well as the ability of lawyers to defend their clients vigorously. As such, we will investigate a countersuit against them for violating these constitutional rights,” he said. It remains to be seen if Giuliani will follow through. Nearly 20 years ago, he did not. Giuliani threatened to sue the Post over its story about how, as the New York Daily News described it, the mayor and his “girlfriend Judith Nathan [were] using the posh St Regis Hotel as a ‘secret love nest’”. Negotiations between Giuliani and the Post followed but nearly six weeks later, on 18 July, the Daily News reported that Giuliani had not made good on his threat. “When I’m ready to decide, you’ll be the first to know,” he said. “But I don’t get rushed into anything.”
- Associated Press
Indonesian authorities have detained the Iranian and Chinese crewmembers of two tankers that were seized for illegally transferring oil in Indonesian waters, an official said Tuesday. “MT Freya did the oil spilling,” Pramandita said.
Flournoy said the task of deterring China while seeking avenues of cooperation was hindered by divisions in the U.S.
- The Independent
Biden news: Experts find major ‘gaps’ in Trump pardons as White House scrambles to rollout vaccine plan
Latest developments from Washington DC and beyond
- Los Angeles Times Opinion
Gov. Newsom needs to do a better job communicating California's statewide COVID restrictions with the public, and with other state officials.
AstraZeneca is not doing enough to try to resolve a dispute over delayed COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to the European Union, the bloc's top health official said on Monday, as news emerged the drugmaker is also facing supply problems elsewhere. In a sign of the EU's frustration - after Pfizer also announced a temporary slowdown in vaccine supplies earlier in January - EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides proposed forcing drugmakers to register in advance their COVID-19 vaccine exports, so the bloc can keep track of what they are doing. AstraZeneca, which developed its shot with Oxford University, told the EU on Friday it could not meet agreed supply targets up to the end of March.
- Associated Press
The European Union's foreign ministers on Monday condemned the arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the detention of thousands during protests backing the most well-known critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin but stopped short of weighing new sanctions against Russia. “The Council considered it completely unacceptable, condemned the mass detentions, and the police brutality over the weekend,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said after chairing the meeting in Brussels. “We call on Russia for the release of Mr. Navalny and those detained.”
- FOX News Videos
Biden administration has system in place where reporters will not ask president tough questions: Media critic
Steve Krakauer, editor at Fourth Watch, says 'it shouldn't be contingent' on one reporter to ask Biden tough questions.
- The Independent
Giuliani slams ‘hate-filled left-wing’ as he responds to $1.3bn defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems
Donald Trump’s personal lawyer claims legal action is intended to ‘frighten people of faint heart’
Venezuela's Juan Guaido is a "privileged interlocutor" but no longer considered interim president, European Union states said in a statement on Monday, sticking by their decision to downgrade his status. The EU's 27 states had said on Jan. 6 they could no longer legally recognise Guaido as after he lost his position as head of parliament following legislative elections in Venezuela in December, despite the EU not recognising that vote. Following the disputed re-election of President Nicolas Maduro in 2018, Guaido, as head of parliament, became interim president.
- Associated Press
The Biden administration on Monday suspended some of the terrorism sanctions that former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo imposed on Yemen’s Houthi rebels in his waning days in office. The Treasury Department said it would exempt certain transactions involving the Houthis from sanctions resulting from Pompeo's designation of the group as a “foreign terrorist organization” on Jan. 10. The exemption will expire Feb. 26, according to a statement from Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control announcing a general license for transactions that involve entities owned by the Iran-backed Houthis.
- Associated Press
A priest who livestreamed exorcisms aimed at rooting out what he, former President Donald Trump and some Trump supporters have falsely claimed was widespread voting fraud in the presidential election has left a Roman Catholic diocese in Wisconsin. The Diocese of Madison said it and the Rev. John Zuhlsdorf reached a mutual decision on his departure. Zuhlsdorf will relocate from the diocese ”to pursue other opportunities,” the diocese said in a statement earlier this month.
- NBC News
He said he spotted a carseat on the curb while delivering package, but at first did not realize there was a baby in it.
Nepal's caretaker Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli was thrown out of the country's ruling Communist party on Monday, his opponents said, in protest at his abrupt decision in December to dissolve parliament and call for an early general election. On Monday, dozens of protesters who marched near Oli's residence to oppose the parliament's dissolution clashed with police who used water cannons and caned some with rattan sticks to break up the anti-Oli rally. The ruling Nepal Communist Party has split over Oli's call for a new parliament to be elected more than a year ahead of schedule on the basis that his colleagues were not cooperating with the government on policy interventions.
- The Independent
Biden officials struggle to understand why doses have not been administered, says report, as president promises to ramp-up vaccination rate
- Associated Press
Indianapolis police arrested a 17-year-old boy Monday in the killings of five people, including a pregnant woman, who were shot to death inside a home in what the city's mayor called a “devastating act of violence.” The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement that the name of the suspect in Sunday's killings was “not being released at this time since the suspect is a juvenile." As officers were investigating, police received information about 4:40 a.m. that led them to a nearby home, where they found multiple adults dead inside from apparent gunshot wounds, Sgt. Shane Foley said Sunday.