Brazil’s Ex-president Says He’ll Turn Himself In To Authorities


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After missing a deadline to surrender, outlets report Brazil’s former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said he’ll turn himself in to authorities.

Da Silva is set to begin his 12-year prison sentence for corruption. He claims the conviction is meant to prevent him from running for president again in the fall.

Da Silva was convicted of accepting a bribe in the form of a beachfront apartment. But his defense says Da Silva’s ownership of the apartment wasn’t proven. There are a number of other corruption cases that he has yet to be tried for.

Da Silva still has a lot of supporters, and many of them have gathered at the country’s metalworkers union building, where he was staying.

The former president could appeal his case to the Superior Court or the Supreme Court of Brazil, but they could take months or years to rule on his case.

Additional reporting by Newsy affiliate CNN.

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ICE Arrests 97 Undocumented Workers At Tennessee Meat Processing Plant


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Immigration agents raided a meat processing plant in northeast Tennessee, arresting 97 undocumented immigrants working there.

Immigrant rights activists say it was the largest single-workplace raid in a decade. Of those arrested, 54 are reportedly being detained in an undisclosed location.

Authorities suspected the slaughterhouse, Southeastern Provision in Bean Station, Tennessee, was employing undocumented workers after a tip from a bank. The plant’s owners had reportedly withdrawn $25 million in cash since 2008.

Local media reports a confidential informant told authorities he wasn’t required to complete any paperwork before being hired at the plant and was told he didn’t need a legal identity to work there.

The plant’s employees reportedly worked with chemicals like bleach without proper protective gear and were not paid overtime wages.

According to IRS forms, the plant only claims to have 44 employees. Authorities estimate the company would have owed $2.5 million more in payroll taxes between 2013 and 2016 if it reported wages accurately.

The news comes as the Trump administration is ramping up its immigration enforcement efforts. President Donald Trump recently ordered the National Guard to help secure the U.S.’ border with Mexico.

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Backpage.com Seized For Allegedly Enabling Sex Trafficking


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Federal agents shut down the classifieds website backpage.com in an effort to purge the internet of sites that enable illegal sex work and sex trafficking.

Law enforcement also charged one of the site’s founders as part of a 93-count sealed indictment.

Backpage, similar to Craigslist, allows users to post ads in a variety of categories. But it’s notorious for its “adult” sections, which authorities say is a thinly veiled cover for sex work and trafficking.

Adult ads were some of the only posts that cost money; the website generated $135 million in 2014. After Craigslist stopped hosting erotic services ads in 2010, Backpage’s ad volume grew by 50 percent.

Backpage had already shut down its adult section as of January 2017, but internal emails allegedly show the site’s operators were more interested in masking illegal activity than in reporting it to authorities.

In addition to consensual sex work, the site has been accused of being a haven for child sex traffickers.

2017 Senate report cites the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which said Backpage was involved in 73 percent of suspected child trafficking reports the group received from the general public.

Congress recently passed a law meant to fight online sex trafficking that allows authorities to hold sites like Backpage legally accountable for users’ illegal activity.

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The EPA May Have Spent Millions On Scott Pruitt’s Security Detail


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The Environmental Protection Agency reportedly spent millions on Scott Pruitt’s security.

A report from The Associated Press says Pruitt had a full-time security detail and that his employees blew through their overtime so quickly that many hit annual salary caps of about $160,000. Some EPA agents were reportedly taken out of the field in order to provide security.

The new report adds to a growing list of ethics scandals faced by Pruitt during his tenure as head of the EPA.

SEE MORE: NYT: EPA Staffers Demoted, Reassigned After Challenging Scott Pruitt

In August, the EPA’s inspector general began investigating a number of expensive, taxpayer-funded trips Pruitt took. That investigation expanded earlier this year, and in March it was revealed Pruitt and his daughter rented a D.C. apartment from the family of an energy lobbyist.

And speaking of Pruitt’s security, the EPA director has also installed a soundproof phone booth in his office that cost close to $43,000, had biometric locks put in his office that cost over $5,000 and had his office swept for concealed listening devices for $3,000.

Pressure has been mounting for President Donald Trump to do something about Pruitt. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly told Trump last week to let Pruitt go. And 64 House Democrats are calling for Trump to fire the EPA chief.

But the president has said he still has confidence in Pruitt — though White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters “the president is not” OK with the most recent reported ethics violations.

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Trump Calls On Cabinet Members To End ‘Catch And Release’


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President Donald Trump ordered several of his Cabinet secretaries to explore ways to detain more immigrants and end the so-called catch and release standards. 

The U.S. only has room to detain around 40,000 immigrants at once, and some immigrants like children can only be detained for a short period of time. 

Trump’s memo to the Justice, Homeland Security, Defense, State and Health and Human Services Department heads asked them to report back on existing locations that can be used as detention facilities, as well as facilities currently under construction or that could be modified for that purpose. 

Starting under President George W. Bush, “catch and release” allows authorities to free immigrants after arrest if they’re not deemed a flight risk. Due to the immense backlog of court cases, it can sometimes take years before their court date comes up. 

Trump’s memo also called for a report on what can be done to pressure countries to take back their citizens after they are deported from the U.S. 

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Puerto Rico To Close Over 200 Schools


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Puerto Rico is closing 283 schools this summer following a sharp decline in enrollment. 

The island’s schools have lost nearly 40,000 students after it was rocked by devastating Hurricane Maria in September. 

Puerto Rico’s Department of Education said there won’t be any layoffs; teachers and other staff will be reassigned to other schools.

The president of the Puerto Rico Teachers Association said the closings are “a massacre” to the island’s education. People opposing the closures are worried about transportation logistics and the education of students with special needs.

But the territory’s education secretary said the students there deserve the best education possible under the current fiscal reality. The school closures are part of a plan aimed at saving the department $150 million. 

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

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Michigan Governor Ends Supply Of Bottled Water To City Of Flint


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Michigan officials say the tap water in Flint, Michigan, is safe, leading the governor’s office to stop distributing free bottled water. 

State testing has shown Flint’s water supply has passed federal standards for nearly two years. Officials say there is less than a week’s worth of bottled water left to distribute, but the supply might dwindle faster as residents react to the news. 

Local officials aren’t happy with the decision; they say the trust between Flint residents and the state has yet to be repaired, and that there is still concern about existing lead pipes in the city. 

Flint’s water supply was switched from Lake Huron to the Flint River in 2014. But a lack of proper water treatment caused dangerous levels of lead to get into the water. 

The supply was switched back in 2015, but the damage was done. Residents, including children, had toxic amounts of lead in their blood. At least 12 people died of Legionnaires’ disease.

Six government officials have been charged since the crisis.

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Mark Zuckerberg Announces New Facebook Ad Regulations


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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled several new regulations for advertisers and political content.

The social media site will now require advertisers to verify their identity and location. They’ll also have to show who pays for the ads. Users, on the other hand, will be able to see all the advertisements a page is running and get access to a searchable archive for political ads.

The move seems geared at preventing election interference. Facebook revealed last year that roughly 126 million Americans may have seen thousands of Russian-funded ads designed to stoke fears and political divisions during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. 

The company will hire thousands more employees to roll out the changes ahead of important elections around the world, including the 2018 U.S. midterms. 

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Rep. Blake Farenthold Resigns From Congress


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U.S. Congressman Blake Farenthold abruptly resigned Friday. 

This announcement marks a sudden end to Farenthold’s time in Congress. His tenure was marked by a turbulent last several months after he was accused of inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment. 

Farenthold previously announced he wouldn’t seek re-election. In December, Politico reported he used $84,000 in public money to settle with one of his accusers. Days later, the lawmaker from Texas told KRIS-TV he would repay taxpayers. The House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into the allegations against Farenthold.

It’s still unclear why Farenthold chose not to serve his remaining time in the House. But in a statement released Friday, he said, “I know in my heart it’s time for me to move along and look for new ways to serve.”

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