President Trump Posthumously Pardons Boxer Jack Johnson


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President Donald Trump posthumously pardoned former heavyweight champion Jack Johnson. 

Johnson, the first black boxer to win the world heavyweight championship, was convicted in 1913 under the Mann Act for crossing state lines with a white woman for an “immoral purpose.”

That woman, Lucille Cameron, refused to cooperate with the investigation, and she ultimately became Johnson’s second wife

Lawmakers have been trying to pardon Johnson for years. Rumor of a pardon from Trump started spreading in April after actor Sylvester Stallone reportedly called Trump to lobby for Jackson’s pardon.

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NTSB Releases Preliminary Report On Fatal Uber Crash In Arizona


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The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report on a fatal crash involving a pedestrian and one of Uber’s self-driving cars in Arizona.

And it doesn’t paint the company’s autonomous vehicle technology in the best light.

According to the report, the sensors on Uber’s car spotted the female pedestrian about six seconds before impact. But the vehicle’s software got mixed up.

The report says, “The self-driving system software classified the pedestrian as an unknown object, as a vehicle, and then as a bicycle with varying expectations of future travel path.”

At 1.3 seconds before impact, the system reportedly realized an emergency braking maneuver was needed to avoid a collision. But Uber said emergency braking maneuvers aren’t enabled while the car is under computer control. That’s supposed to help lessen the chances of “erratic vehicle behavior.”

The NTSB’s report was released the day after Uber announced it’s shutting down its self-driving car program in Arizona. 

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House Overwhelmingly Passes $717 Billion Defense Policy Bill


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The House passed a $717 billion defense policy bill by a pretty large margin Thursday. The vote was 351-66.

The National Defense Authorization Act authorizes repairs and replacements for military infrastructure and equipment, like aircraft, submarines and helicopters. It also authorizes a 2.6 percent pay raise for U.S. troops and “extends special pay and bonuses for service members in high-demand fields.”

Politico reports opponents are worried the bill “pushes us even further and faster down the path to war.” That might, in part, be because the bill has a provision that authorizes the secretary of energy to “modify or develop a low-yield nuclear warhead for submarine-launched ballistic missiles.”

Some Democrats reportedly drafted amendments to limit funding for potential warheads and impose other limits on nuclear spending. But they were defeated. 

This bill isn’t done yet, though. The Senate is working on its own defense authorization bill, and the two chambers will have to agree on the final version. 

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

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What’s Next For US Diplomacy In North Korea?


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President Trump called off the summit with North Korea in Singapore in dramatic fashion.

Trump said: “Hopefully positive things will be taking place with respect to the future of North Korea. But if they don’t, we are more ready than we’ve ever been before.”

This doesn’t mean diplomacy with the North is over, necessarily. But it’s going to take a lot to get things back on track again.

For starters, both sides are going to have to tone down their rhetoric. Trump cites the “open hostility” of North Korea as his reason for pulling out: The country recently threatened a “nuclear-to-nuclear showdown” if the U.S. didn’t go through with talks.

For its part, North Korea wants U.S. officials to stop mentioning the Libya model of complete, instant denuclearization. Given that Libya’s leader was ousted and killed years later, the North sees any reference to Libya as a threat of regime change.

SEE MORE: Bill Richardson: The Strategies And Pitfalls Of Talking To North Korea

Beyond the immediate tensions, the U.S. and North Korea will have to do more talking to get on the same page about denuclearization. 

The U.S. has insisted that North Korea must completely and irreversibly denuclearize in order to get any economic relief. North Korea has made it clear it wants a more gradual, phased-in approach to denuclearization.

It will probably take a lot more meetings between lower-level officials to overcome those differences before Trump and Kim Jong-un can get back to being ready to sit down together.

Until then, we’ll always have those commemorative White House coins.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

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Wyoming Approves First Grizzly Bear Hunt In Over 40 Years


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Wyoming announced Wednesday that it would allow its first grizzly bear hunt in 44 years this fall.

A number of outlets are reporting the state will allow 22 grizzlies to be killed in the areas east and south of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. A representative at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department told Newsy the official number would be released sometime Thursday.

The decision comes after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service de-listed Yellowstone grizzly bears from the endangered species list last year.

The last grizzly hunt in the lower 48 was in 1991, when Montana held one. The last hunt in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem was in 1974.

There were once more than 50,000 grizzly bears in the lower U.S., but thanks to hunting and trapping, that number plummeted. Today, the Greater Yellowstone population has rebounded from a low of under 150 individuals to around 700. 

There’s disagreement about whether the bears are ready to be hunted, though. One biologist told Explore Big Sky in December the bears in the Yellowstone area had basically reached carrying capacity, meaning the ecosystem can’t support much more of the animal.

But a group of biologists and the Sierra Club wrote a letter to Wyoming’s governor saying bears are still threatened by changing environmental conditions. 

And tribal nations from across the country and in Canada wrote letters opposing the hunt, saying it violated conservation treaties.

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Syrian Refugee Group Shifts Focus To Stay Open In Trump Era


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Suzanne Akhras is the founder and executive director of the Syrian Community Network, a non-profit group that helps Syrian refugees assimilate into the U.S. The organization has offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Phoenix and San Diego. There, Syrian refugees can learn English, get financial help, drop off their kids for after-school programs, and most importantly, feel like part of a community.

“Nobody asks to be a refugee, nobody wants to leave their home country. Nobody wants to leave their belongings in the middle of the night. People don’t go on boats, risking to be drowned unless the water is safer than land. We need to associate — put empathy — and associate the word refugee with empathy, with support, with help,” Akhras said. 

“Chicago can be a lonely place. It’s a great city, but it can be a lonely place when you don’t know anyone,” she added.

Akhras was born in Syria to a Syrian father and a Canadian mother. They all moved to Chicago in 1982 after an uprising against the Syrian government led to violent clashes and massacres of civilians. When Akhras arrived in the U.S., she was only 10 and spoke no English. 

SEE MORE: Refugee Or Not? Countries Are Going High-tech To Figure It Out

Fast forward to 2013: When the U.S. first announced it would accept Syrian refugees, Akhras knew only too well how community-building would be key to their success. 

“I did some volunteer work with other refugee groups. I saw a lot of gaps with welcoming communities, especially when the Iraqi refugees came in because the war was so unpopular. I felt really sad for the people who were coming in and had no friends. And so when I heard in 2013 that Syrian refugees will be resettled, I went on this mission to educate myself,” she said.

After doing her homework on the refugee resettlement process and putting together a leadership team, she launched her organization in 2015. 

“It was just as a mean to give back to the community, as a mean to welcome people who have lost everything. This is a war,” Akhras explained.

A few months later, in the aftermath of the 2015 Paris attacks, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner temporarily banned Syrian refugees from entering the state. But that didn’t go over well in Chicago, where, in reaction, the mayor organized a Thanksgiving dinner for Syrian refugees and served them food himself. 

“The families were saying that, ‘oh, you know, our government kills us and they cheat us and they bribe us and whatever. And here people in the city government at least are serving us food.’ I feel like I fell in love with Chicago all over again,” Akhras said.

With hundreds of thousands of casualties and nearly 13 million people displaced, Syria’s seven-year civil war is “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era,” according to the United Nations. And that emergency is only getting worse.  

SEE MORE: The Syrian Government Has Regained Control Of Its Capital City

“It’s really hard to see the toll that it has taken on humanity, and that the international community has just kind of let it go on and on, and no one’s intervening. And then seeing people drowning in the sea, you know, because they’re so desperate. I think it’s just too much,” Akhras said.  

More than 5 million displaced Syrians live in neighboring countries, such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, and about 1 million have resettled in Europe. That compares with 54,000 in Canada and 33,000 in the U.S.

Akhras explained: “There’s people that say, ‘well, keep the refugees in Jordan, they fit culturally.’ And that’s true, if you have money. Jordan is a small country that has small resources. They don’t give work permits. You have to work in the shadows, it means you are being taken advantage of, there’s child labor. For our national security also, this is scary because now you have all these young people who are uneducated and if somebody comes in brainwashes them into a cult of some religious fanatic group, this could be a danger to all of us.”

At the peak of the resettlement program in 2016, the U.S. accepted more than 15,000 Syrian refugees. That number dropped to 3,000 in 2017 and so far in 2018, only 11 Syrian refugees have entered the country. That’s in line with President Donald Trump’s efforts to scale back refugee programs in the name of national security. 

Syria is also one of seven countries included in the U.S.’ controversial travel ban. As a result, many agencies that help refugees have closed branches or cut staff sizes. But Akhras is determined to stay in business. Her organization’s headquarters in Chicago helps around 180 refugee families. They have now been living in the U.S. for a couple years.

Akhras said: “As a small organization, we have the advantage of being agile and it means we can easily adapt to the changing needs of the families. So as they adjust a little bit longer, as they stay here longer, they may want to go into GED programs, certificate programs. So these are things that we have to continuously change. We don’t want to stay at this level where we’re only doing food stamps and quick assistance. We want to be able to uplift, give a hand up to people, and to make them advance in their jobs and in their careers so that they can feel self-fulfilled.”

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NTSB Says All New School Buses Should Have Seat Belts


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The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending all new school buses have lap and shoulder seat belts.

It’s the first time the board has made the recommendation, and it comes after the NTSB’s investigation into two deadly school bus crashes in 2016.

A crash in Baltimore and another in Chattanooga, Tennessee, collectively killed 12 people and injured 37. The NTSB report found that in both cases, the drivers should not have been allowed behind the wheel of a school bus.

Forty-two states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico don’t require any seat belts on school buses. Four others require lap belts but not shoulder belts.

The NTSB also recommends the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration require all new school buses to be equipped with collision avoidance systems and automatic emergency braking technology.

The NTSB’s recommendations are just that — recommendations. The board doesn’t have any regulatory power, but its findings are usually followed by other transportation regulators.

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President Trump Praises The NFL For Its New National Anthem Policy


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President Donald Trump is praising the NFL’s new national anthem policy.

During an interview with “Fox and Friends,” Trump said, “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem. Or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the new policy Wednesday. 

It requires all players and league personnel on the field to stand during the national anthem or face a fine. 

Personnel who don’t wish to comply have the option to stay in the locker room until after the anthem is over.

Trump has repeatedly expressed his disapproval for players who kneel during the national anthem as a form of protest and called on the NFL to crack down on the practice.

But he refused to take credit for the league’s new rule, saying, “I think the people pushed it forward.”

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

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