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Residents sue to ban Mississippi flag in city; Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal may have affected 87 million; Cynthia Nixon says Democrats need to let black women lead; more in U.S. news

This June 23, 2015 file photo, shows the state flag of Mississippi at the Governor's Mansion in Jackson, Miss. A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, April 4, 2018, says the Mississippi flag is "racially demeaning and hostile" because it contains the Confederate battle emblem. Several Mississippi cities and counties, and all eight public universities, have stopped flying the flag in recent years amid criticism that the Confederate emblem is a racist reminder of slavery and segregation. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File) MHX301
This June 23, 2015 file photo, shows the state flag of Mississippi at the Governor's Mansion in Jackson, Miss. A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, April 4, 2018, says the Mississippi flag is "racially demeaning and hostile" because it contains the Confederate battle emblem. Several Mississippi cities and counties, and all eight public universities, have stopped flying the flag in recent years amid criticism that the Confederate emblem is a racist reminder of slavery and segregation. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File) MHX301
Published Apr. 4, 2018

Mississippi

Residents want city to ban state flag

The Mississippi flag is "racially demeaning and hostile" because it contains the Confederate battle emblem, says a new federal lawsuit that seeks to ban one city from any public display of the state banner. "Ocean Springs' display of the Mississippi state flag is intended to — and does — send a message to its African-American citizens that they are second class citizens and are not welcome," says the lawsuit filed Wednesday by residents who want the flag removed from city property. They add the flag can deter black people from visiting or moving to Ocean Springs. The lawsuit does not seek a statewide change of the banner that has been used since 1894. Mississippi residents who voted in a 2001 statewide election chose to keep the Confederate emblem on the flag. But several cities and counties, and all eight public universities, have stopped flying it amid criticism that the Confederate emblem is a racist reminder of slavery and segregation. The 2015 slayings of nine black worshippers at a Charleston, S.C., church and 2017 white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Va., added to the debate. Ocean Springs didn't fly the flag for several years under a previous Democratic mayor. After a Republican mayor took office in July, the flag went back up. Aldermen later adopted a resolution requiring the flag to be flown at municipal buildings.

Smoking weed? No service at this Sonic

A Sonic in Gulfport says people smoking marijuana in its drive-thru will not be served after a patron blew smoke in an employee's face. The Sun Herald of Biloxi reported a window sign at the fast-food joint says: "If you are smoking weed in the drive thru you will not be served! Please show some common courtesy and smoke and air out before pulling up to order." Manager Yasman Freeman said the sign was posted a few weeks ago. She said it has curtailed some unwanted aromas — and a lot of pictures have been taken of the sign, too.

California

Police had spoken
to YouTube shooter

Just hours before she shot and wounded three people and killed herself at YouTube headquarters, Nasim Aghdam calmly told police who found her sleeping in her car that she was having family problems and had left her home. Over 20 minutes early Tuesday, she did not tell police she was angry with YouTube nor accused the company of suppressing her video posts. Police continued gathering information on possible motives and Aghdam on Wednesday. Her relatives expressed "utmost regret" and said they are praying for the victims of the "horrific senseless act" and their families.

Puerto Rico

Federal court grants transgender rights

A federal court in Puerto Rico has ruled that transgender people in the U.S. territory should be allowed to change the gender on their birth certificate. Lambda Legal said Wednesday that a judge this week found a previous ban on making such a change was unconstitutional. The New York-based civil rights organization had filed a lawsuit against Puerto Rico's government a year ago seeking to eliminate the ban in the first federal lawsuit of its kind. It was filed on behalf of two transgender women, one transgender man and a local human rights group. It is unclear whether the government plans to appeal the ruling.

New York

Cynthia Nixon says Democrats need to let black women lead

Gubernatorial hopeful Cynthia Nixon, a Sex and the City star, said Wednesday black women are the cornerstone and backbone of the Democratic Party, and "we need to let them lead." Appearing on the Wendy Williams Show in her first TV interview as a Democratic candidate, Nixon criticized incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo for hammering out the state budget with three men. Who did Cuomo exclude in those weeks of closed-door talks that led to the passage of the $168.3 billion budget? Senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who Nixon called "an amazing African American woman." Nixon said black women "will stop showing up for the Democratic Party if the Democratic Party doesn't start showing up for them."

Indiana

Ranting Rokita didn't always love Trump

A little-noticed 2016 interview shows the hypocrisy of a U.S. Senate candidate who carries a cardboard cutout of Donald Trump to campaign rallies, dons a "Make America Great Again" hat in a TV ad and ridicules an opponent for being a "Never Trumper." Back in 2016's presidential primary, Republican Rep. Todd Rokita explained to WXIN TV why he supported Sen. Marco Rubio: "When you see Marco contrasted with Donald Trump — I mean someone who is vulgar, if not profane. At some point, you have to be presidential." It's a stunning contrast to the rhetoric Rokita has employed since launching his primary bid in August for Senate. Since then, Rokita — whose campaign slogan is "Defeat the Elite" — has presented himself as the one true embodiment of Trump's populist appeal.

Ohio

Police investigate 'zombie' raccoons

Police are investigating "zombie-like" raccoons. WKBN-TV reported Youngstown police have received over a dozen calls in three weeks about raccoons acting strangely in the daytime. Robert Coggeshall said one stood on its hind legs, showed its teeth and fell over backward in an "almost a comatose condition." That raccoon and 14 others police responded to were euthanized. They were likely suffering from distemper, which in part leads raccoons to lose their fear of humans.

Elsewhere

Pot pits county vs. Oregon: Josephine County, which has tried to restrict commercial marijuana production, sued Oregon in federal court. The county says state laws are pre-empted by federal laws that criminalize pot.

What a nightmare: "Nightmare bacteria" with unusual resistance to antibiotics of last resort were found over 200 times nationally in 2017 in a first-of-a-kind hunt to see how much of a threat these rare cases are becoming, health officials said. That's more than they had expected and likely an undercount.

Marching orders: Trump and border-state governors work to "immediately" deploy the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border. — tbt* wires

Facebook scandal grows

87M

people might have had their data accessed — up from the 50 million disclosed in published reports, Facebook revealed Wednesday. It also unveiled a new policy to explain the data it gathers — but doesn't change what it collects and shares. Cambridge Analytica, a Trump-affiliated data mining firm, allegedly used the ill-gotten data to influence elections.