Paul Manafort, Joe Biden, General Motors and LeBron James – 10 News Stories You Need to Know

Here are the biggest stories you need to know from March 7, 2019…


1. Paul Manafort


Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced to 47 months in prison after a jury convicted him on eight counts of bank and tax fraud last year. Manafort’s convictions came as a result of his work as a political consultant to Ukraine, where he was found to have defrauded banks, the government, and failed to pay taxes. His crimes where uncovered during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Prosecutors in the case against Manafort argued that he deserved between 19 and 25 years in prison, but a federal judge handed down a sentence of nearly 4 years. He will also be required to pay restitution of at $6 million and serve three years of supervised release. Next week, Manafort will receive a second sentence from a Washington judge to separate convictions of witness tampering and conspiracy connected to his illegal lobbying of Ukraine.


2. Joe Biden


Numerous reports are saying former Vice President Joe Biden is close to announcing his candidacy for the 2020 presidential election. Biden has been meeting with advisers, offering campaign jobs, and telling those close to him that he is 95 percent committed to jumping in the race. He is anticipated to launch his campaign sometime next month and will likely become the Democratic frontrunner as nearly all polling shows him as the clear favorite (Bernie Sanders is second). If these reports are true, Biden will join 12 declared Democratic candidates and two who are still in the exploratory stage.


3. Ohio GM Plant Ends Production


It’s a sad day for nearly 1,700 autoworkers who will soon be unemployed as General Motors officially ends vehicle production at its assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, near Youngstown. GM announced in late 2018 that it would close three U.S. manufacturing facilities by early 2019. The Lordstown assembly plant that has produced the Chevy Cruze since 2011 will shutter after more than 50 years and producing more than 16 million vehicles. The eventual fate of the 6 million square foot facility is uncertain as General Motors begins contract talks with the United Auto Workers union this summer to discuss job creation. GM will produce fewer cars in the upcoming years as it focuses on trucks, SUVs, and crossovers – more profitable vehicles that consumers have demanded.


4. Report on Civilians Killed by Drones


President Trump has withdrawn from a policy established by then-President Obama that required U.S. intelligence agencies to publish a report on the number of civilians killed in drone strikes. The executive order instituted by President Obama in 2016 would have directed the CIA to release an annual report on U.S.-led drone strikes and assess the number of causalities resulting from such strikes in foreign countries. The Trump administration said terminating the reporting mandate “eliminates superfluous reporting requirements, requirements that do not improve government transparency.” The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that there have been 2,243 drone strikes so far in Trump’s presidency, compared with 1,878 strikes during Obama’s eight years in office.


5. Florida Police Officer Convicted


A jury has convicted former police officer Nouman Raja in the shooting death of Corey Jones, a black motorist who was killed along a Florida interstate. On a night in October 2015, Jones’ van broke down on the side of Interstate 95 in Palm Beach Gardens, as he was on the phone with a tow truck dispatcher. Raja, a plainclothes officer investigating auto theft, approached Jones’ van, opened the door, telling Jones to raise his hands when he opened fire on him in just a matter of seconds. The conviction marked the first time in 30 years that a police officer in Florida has been convicted in the shooting death of someone. Raja will be sentenced next month and faces a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison with the possibility of life.


6. Michael Cohen Sues the Trump Organization


Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer to Donald Trump, has filed a lawsuit against the Trump Organization for allegedly failing to pay his legal bills. The lawsuit claims that the Trump Organization ceased payment of legal fees to Cohen in the months after the FBI raided his home and office in April 2018. Cohen says Trump’s business organization owes him legal fees that now total $1.9 million, which the complaint alleges that the Organization agreed to pay in July 2017 per its contractual obligations. Cohen will begin his 3-year prison sentence in May, after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations, tax fraud, and bank fraud in August.


7. LeBron James surpasses Michael Jordan


LeBron James overtook Michael Jordan in the NBA’s all-time scoring list to claim fourth place Wednesday night. LeBron has scored a total of 32,311 points in his entire career, ranking fourth on the list of NBA players with the most career points, now just ahead of Michael Jordan who sits at fifth place. It was an emotional night for LeBron, who told reporters that Jordan had a tremendous influence on him as he “wanted to be like MJ” as a kid growing up in Akron, Ohio. The Lakers’ would go on to lose the game in a 115-99 loss against the Denver Nuggets.


8. Dow Jones Ends Down


The U.S. stock market plunged just over 200 points as the Dow Jones ended the day down 0.78%, intensifying fears of an impending recession. Thursday marked the 4th straight day in which stocks closed lower due to fears of a slowing global economy as the European Central Bank dropped GDP forecasts for Europe’s decelerating economy.


9. Disney Parks Announces New Star Wars Attractions


Disney has announced the opening dates for its new 14-acre Star Wars theme park lands, titled “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.” The new attractions will open on May 31 at Disneyland in California and August 29 at Disney World in Florida and feature an interactive experience for guests and Star Wars fanatics.


10. Infection while pregnant can increase risk of autism and depression


Children who are born to women who had the flu, pneumonia, sepsis, or any other severe infection during pregnancy show a dramatically increased risk of autism spectrum disorder and even depression. In fact, children born to mothers that had an infection during pregnancy had a 79% increased risk of autism diagnosis and 24% increased risk of developing depression. The study conducted by the University of Washington School of Medicine also showed that even a minor urinary tract infection in pregnant women can also increase the risk of both disorders and be more susceptible to suicide. Illness during pregnancy such as contracting the flu virus can negatively affect the baby’s mental health and brain development and doctors recommend that women get the influenza vaccination during pregnancy.

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