13 News Stories You Need to Know – March 4, 2019

1. Death Toll Climbs as Tornadoes Hit Alabama and Georgia


At least 23 are dead after tornadoes ravaged southern Alabama and Georgia, with dozens still reported missing as of Monday evening. The deadly EF-4 tornado brought winds of 170 mph and left a path of destruction that was almost a mile wide and at least 24 miles long. The tornado outbreak occurred Sunday afternoon with Lee County, Alabama, among the hardest hit areas. The National Weather Service stated Alabama residents had just 8-9 minutes of warning before the deadly tornadoes hit. Authorities have confirmed that at least three of the victims were children as search and rescue efforts will continue into the week.


Sunday marked the deadliest day for tornadoes in the U.S. since the 2013 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.


2. Canada’s Cabinet Crisis


Another member of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet has resigned, this time over how the government has handled an intensifying political scandal. Treasury Board Minister Jane Philpott, who oversaw government spending, announced her resignation weeks after Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould stepped down after she testified that officials pressured her to avoid prosecuting the construction company SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. for corruption. SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. is accused of bribing the Libyan government. Recent polling indicates that the scandal has caused harm to Trudeau’s government and has placed uncertainty around his re-election bid in October.


3. Trump’s National Emergency


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that the U.S. Senate will vote against President Trump’s declared national emergency over border security. With bipartisan support and the necessary amount of votes, the Senate is expected to pass a resolution to block the President’s emergency declaration that would have permitted billions to be spent on building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. McConnell told reporters that he anticipates the president to veto the measure and, “in all likelihood the veto will be upheld by the House,” where it passed last week in a 245-182 vote. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) became the fourth Republican in the Senate to disapprove of President Trump’s use of the declaration of emergency to fund the border wall saying, “I cannot support the use of emergency powers to get more funding.”


4. Russia Withdrawals from the INF Treaty


Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree suspending the country’s involvement in the pivotal Cold War-era agreement that was established to avoid nuclear war. The move comes after the U.S. formally withdrew from the agreement in February after President Trump said Russia was in non-compliance with the treaty. The INF Treaty banned the production, testing, and use of intermediate and short-ranged land-based missiles, but the U.S. accused Russia of developing a cruise missile in violation of the treaty’s provisions. The dissolution of the agreement has some feared of another Cold War and the further collapse of U.S.-Russia relations.


5. Trouble for OxyContin


Purdue Pharma LP, the manufacturer of OxyContin, is exploring filing for bankruptcy as a possible way to shield itself from liability stemming from a growing number of opioid epidemic lawsuits. Nearly 2,000 lawsuits target the drugmaker as being a major contributing factor to the surging opioid crisis that claims tens of thousands of lives every year across the United States. Purdue Pharma is accused of purposefully misleading doctors and the public about the addiction and abuse risks associated with long-term use of its prescription opioids. If Purdue files for Chapter 11 protection, the pending lawsuits would stop and allow the company to negotiate claims with the parties involved.


6. House Democrats Open Investigations into Trump


House Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have opened an expansive investigation into President Trump, requesting documents from more than 80 Trump associates and entities as part of a probe into obstruction of justice and public corruption. Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) announced the Committee is seeking information from Trump family members, former administration officials, and campaign associates to look into Trump’s alleged abuses of power. The Committee also requested interviews with any translators who have knowledge of Trump’s communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin.


7. RIP Luke Perry


Actor Luke Perry, who starred in ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ and ‘Riverdale,’ has died at the age of 52 after suffering a massive stroke last week.


8. Lottery Winner Claims $1.5 billion Prize


The South Carolina winner of the $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot from last October has finally stepped forward to claim their prize, according to the South Carolina Education Lottery Commission. The mystery winner wants to remain anonymous and has not claimed their prize since the October 23, 2018, drawing until now. The winner has opted to take a one-time cash payment option of $878 million, the largest jackpot payout to a single winner in U.S. history.


9. No More Make-up!


Virgin Atlantic announced that it is removing its long-standing requirement that female flight attendants wear make-up on duty. An airline spokesman said that allowing female cabin crew members to work without make-up would “offer an increased level of comfort,” but still welcomed them to wear the company’s “existing palette of make-up.” The airline industry has long had stiff grooming and appearance requirements for flight attendants and other airlines like British Airways still require female crew members to wear make-up.


10. Snoop Dogg and the Los Angeles Lakers


The Los Angeles Lakers’ are having a rough year, they rank 10th in the Western Conference and were just defeated by the Phoenix Suns, currently the worst team in the NBA. Lakers’ fans across the country have expressed their frustration with the team, including Snoop Dogg, a long-time fan who took to social media to voice his outrage in a profanity-laced video. The rapper demanded many players on the team be traded or let go and offered to sell his box seats at Staples Center for $5 for the remainder of the season.


Lakers’ fans can only hope things get better from here.


11. Layoffs for WarnerMedia Amid Reorganization


WarnerMedia is undergoing major reorganization in its leadership of its newly formed business units following its purchase by parent company AT&T last year, namely within content development. As part of the reorganization, WarnerMedia is expected to announce “significant layoffs” and refocus its efforts to compete with competitors in the content space, including streaming services like Netflix. The company announced that the management shuffle will “provide the company with the agility and flexibility needed to build WarnerMedia’s brands across a variety of evolving distribution models.” The newly formed entertainment and direct-to-consumer division will be led by Robert Greenblatt and will combine HBO, TNT, TBS, and truTV. Current CNN president Jeff Zucker will expand his role to chairman of WarnerMedia News & Sports and Warner Bros. and chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment Kevin Tsujihara will oversee a new kids and young adults entertainment unit.


12. Former Colorado Governor Announce Presidential Campaign


The former Democratic Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper announced his 2020 campaign for president, becoming the 14th democrat to enter the already crowded field of contenders. In his campaign announcement, Hickenlooper said the U.S. is “facing a crisis” and criticized Trump as a “bully.” As the moderate former governor of Colorado, he is credited with driving economic growth in the state, passing gun reforms, expanding Medicaid, and working to build bipartisan consensus on major state issues.


Hickenlooper served as governor of Colorado from 2011 to 2019.


13. Tesla Model Y


Tesla is slated to unveil its newest vehicle, the Model Y, a crossover SUV on March 14th during an event in Los Angeles, according to CEO Elon Musk. The Model Y will be the fifth vehicle announced by the all-electric car company since its founding. The Model Y is expected to be about 10 percent larger and pricier than the Model 3 and have a slightly shorter range.

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