Lawmaker compares LGBT people to KKK
A member of the West Virginia House of Delegates is facing bipartisan criticism for a string of anti-LGBT statements, but the Republican lawmaker doesn’t appear to be backing down.
Delegate Eric Porterfield, who represents West Virginia’s 27th district, has a history of anti-LGBT stances. But things came to a head last week during a House meeting over a proposed amendment to an anti-LGBT-discrimination bill.
During the February 6 meeting Porterfield called the bill, which would include LGBT people as a protected class under the state’s Human Rights Act, “bigoted,” “intolerant” and “discriminatory.”
“The LGBT is the most socialist group in this country,” he continued, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail. “They do not protect gays. There are many gays they persecute if they do not line up with their social ideology.”
Porterfield has previously framed pushes for LGBT protections as a violation of free speech.
Reaction to his comments was swift. On Thursday, House Democrats took turns condemning Porterfield for his comments. On Friday, the West Virginia Democratic Party issued a statement calling for Porterfield to resign.
“West Virginia has no room for someone who expresses such hate,” WVDP Chairwoman Belina Biafore wrote.
But Porterfield took the opportunity to double down on his statements. On Friday morning, he called the offices of the Gazette-Mail, which had published an article on the Democratic backlash to his statements.
In the phone call, the news outlet reported, Porterfield called his critics “brutal monsters” and called the LGBT community a “terrorist group.” He also compared them to the KKK.
“The LGBTQ is a modern-day version of the Ku Klux Klan, without wearing hoods, with their antics of hate,” he reportedly said.
Porterfield’s office has not responded to CNN’s calls and e-mails requesting comment.
A few days later, the lawmaker continued his line of commentary. During an interview with local TV station WVVA, Porterfield, wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, gave an odd answer when asked what he would do if he had a son or daughter who was gay.
“Well, I will address my daughter first. I would take her for a pedicure, I’d take her to get her nails done, and see if she could swim,” Porterfield said while smiling. “If it was my son, I would probably take him hunting, I would take him fishing, then I’d see if he could swim.”
“I just want to make sure they could swim,” he said when asked to clarify his comments.
Porterfield took office last month, succeeding retiring Republican delegate Marty Gearheart. The 44-year-old is a Baptist missionary and has been blind since losing his vision in an altercation in 2006.
During his campaign, Porterfield vociferously criticized the Youth Mental Health Protection Act, a bill that failed to pass the state legislature in 2018 despite bipartisan support. Porterfield said the bill, which would have banned conversion therapy for LGBT minors, was a violation of free speech and called its supporters “bigoted and discriminatory.”
Some boos when Brazilian dog wins America’s top dog show
Wire fox terriers are still King at Westminster.
A wire fox from Brazil who’s won big in Europe became America’s top dog Tuesday night, beating out a crowd-pleasing longhaired dachshund and popular Sussex spaniel.
There were some boos — along with modest cheers — at Madison Square Garden when judge Peter Green pointed at the 7-year-old King.
“It doesn’t get any better than that,” handler Gabriel Rangel said.
The win was hardly a surprise.
Wire fox terriers have won 15 times at the nation’s most prestigious dog show, far more than any other breed (Scottish terriers are second, with eight).
Green is a renowned figure in the dog world, especially for his work with terriers. He’s previously picked King as the champ at other shows.
Wired to win, this dog was.
“I look at King, he’s like a beautiful painting, a piece of art,” Rangel praised earlier in the day. “The way he stands and performs, he’s the whole package.”
A Havanese named Bono came in second among the more than 2,800 dogs who entered here.
Also in the final ring were Bean the Sussex spaniel, Burns the longhaired dachshund, Wilma the boxer and Baby Lars the bouviers des Flandres.
The fan favorites at the Garden were clearly Bean and Burns.
Chants of “Bean! Bean! Bean!” bounced around the packed arena as the Sussex spaniel rounded the ring. And Burns drew loud cheers as his long hair flowed while circling the green carpet.
There was a bit of dog show drama, too, at the 143rd Westminster Kennel Club.
A day after earning a coveted spot in the final ring of seven, spirited Colton the schipperke was ruled ineligible for best in show.
There was a conflict of interest — Green’s longtime partner has co-owned dogs with one of Colton’s co-owners. Colton was allowed to run around the ring, then was excused.
“This doesn’t negate all he’s done here,” handler Christa Cook said as she brushed Colton’s colt backstage at the Garden. “It’s been a great experience, his accomplishment is in the book forever.”
Drug lord likely off to ‘prison of all prisons’ in Colorado
In the world of corrections, there are inmates who pose security risks, and then there’s “El Chapo.”
Drug lord Joaquin Guzman has an unparalleled record of jailbreaks, having escaped two high-security Mexican prisons before his ultimate capture and extradition to the United States.
So with Guzman convicted Tuesday of drug trafficking and staring at an expected life sentence, where will the U.S. imprison a larger-than-life kingpin with a Houdini-like tendency to slip away?
Experts say Guzman seems the ideal candidate for the federal government’s “Supermax” prison in Florence, Colo., also known as ADX for “administrative maximum.” The facility is so secure, so remote and so austere that it has been called the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.”
“El Chapo fits the bill perfectly,” said Cameron Lindsay, a retired warden who ran three federal lockups, including the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. “I’d be absolutely shocked if he’s not sent to the ADX.”
Located outside an old mining town about two hours south of Denver, Supermax’s hardened buildings house the nation’s most violent offenders, with many of its 400 inmates held alone for 23 hours a day in 7-by-12-foot cells with fixed furnishings made of reinforced concrete.
Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and Oklahoma City bombing accomplice Terry Nichols are among those who call it home.
But Guzman, set to be sentenced in June for smuggling enormous amounts of narcotics into the U.S and having a hand in dozens of murders, would stand out even from Supermax’s infamous roster because of his almost mythical reputation for breaking out.
That includes a sensational 2015 escape from the maximum-security Altiplano prison in central Mexico, where he communicated with accomplices for weeks via cellphone, slipped into an escape hatch beneath his shower, hopped on the back of a waiting motorcycle and sped through a mile-long, hand-dug tunnel to freedom.
Bribery is widely believed to have enabled that jailbreak, as well as a 2001 escape in which Guzman was smuggled out of another top-security Mexican prison in a laundry basket.
“There had to be collusion from within,” said Mike Vigil, a former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent who worked undercover in Mexico. “There is no doubt corruption played a role in both of his spectacular escapes.”
Could that happen at Supermax? Not likely.
Prisoners at Supermax spend years in solitary confinement and often go days “with only a few words spoken to them,” an Amnesty International report found. One former prisoner, in an interview with The Boston Globe, described the lockup as a “high-tech version of hell, designed to shut down all sensory perception.”
Most inmates at Supermax are given a television, but their only actual view of the outside world is a 4-inch window. The window’s design prevents them from even determining where they are housed in the facility. Human interaction is minimal. Prisoners eat all meals in the solitude of their own cells, within feet of their toilets.
The facility itself is guarded by razor-wire fences, gun towers, heavily armed patrols and attack dogs.
“If ever there were an escape-proof prison, it’s the facility at Florence,” said Burl Cain, the former longtime warden of the maximum-security Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. “It’s the prison of all prisons.”
Ticked off Trump may sign shutdown-avoiding deal
Under mounting pressure from his own party, President Donald Trump appeared to be grudgingly leaning toward accepting an agreement that would head off a threatened second government shutdown but provide just a fraction of the money he’s been demanding for his Mexican border wall.
Trump said Tuesday he would need more time to study the plan, but he also declared he was not expecting another shutdown this weekend when funding for parts of the government would run out. He strongly signaled he planned to scrounge up additional dollars for the wall by raiding other federal coffers to deliver on the signature promise of his presidential campaign.
“I can’t say I’m happy. I can’t say I’m thrilled,” Trump said of the proposed deal. “But the wall is getting built, regardless. It doesn’t matter because we’re doing other things beyond what we’re talking about here.”
Trump sounded more conciliatory in a Tuesday night tweet, thanking “all Republicans for the work you have done in dealing with the Radical Left on Border Security.”
Accepting the deal, worked out by congressional negotiators from both parties, would be a disappointment for a president who has repeatedly insisted he needs $5.7 billion for a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, saying the project is paramount for national security. Trump turned down a similar deal in December, forcing the 35-day partial shutdown that left hundreds of thousands of federal workers without paychecks and Republicans reeling. There is little appetite in Washington for a repeat.
Lawmakers tentatively agreed Monday night to a deal that would provide nearly $1.4 billion for border barriers and keep the government funded for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30.
The agreement would allow 55 miles of new fencing — constructed using existing designs such as metal slats— but far less than the 215 miles the White House demanded in December. The fencing would be built in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.
Full details were not expected to be released until Wednesday as lawmakers worked to translate their verbal agreement into legislation. But Republican leaders urged Trump to sign on.
“I hope he signs the bill,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who joined other GOP leaders in selling it as a necessary compromise that represented a major concession from Democrats.
Others were less upbeat. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who traveled with the president to a rally in Cornyn’s home state Monday night, said, “My impression flying back with him from El Paso last night is that he thinks it’s pretty thin gruel.”
A presidential rejection of the deal could plunge Congress into a new crisis, as lawmakers have no clear Plan B. They need to pass some kind of funding bill to avoid another shutdown at midnight Friday and have worked to avoid turning to another short-term bill that would only prolong the border debate.
Speaking at a Cabinet meeting, Trump said of a possible shutdown: “I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Still, he made clear that, if he does sign on to the deal, he is strongly considering supplementing it by moving money from what he described as less important areas of government.
Police find 4 malnourished children, 2 locked in dog crate
A mother and her boyfriend were arrested after police responding to a domestic disturbance call in Texas found four malnourished children in a home — two of them locked in a dog crate, authorities said.
Police discovered the children Tuesday in clutter and filth, with two in a crate placed in a barn converted into living space, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said.
The three boys and one girl ranged in age from 1 to 5, and didn’t say much when police arrived at the home near Rhome, authorities said. They were hungry and thirsty, and covered in feces, Akin said.
CNN affiliate KTVT reported that the two oldest children, ages 5 and 4, were the ones locked in dog crates.
“Our deputies and our lieutenant fed and gave water to those children. And due to the malnourishment and other concerns, EMS was called; emergency medical was called,” Akin said.
Paige Harkings is the biological mother of the children and her boyfriend, Andrew Fabila, is the biological father of one child, according to authorities.
They were arrested on four counts of endangering a child, and Harkings faces an additional charge of one count of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, Akin said.
The domestic disturbance call was a result of a fight between the two, and Fabila had several abrasions on his face when police arrived, according to authorities.
They’re being held at the Wise County jail, and will be arraigned Wednesday. The children were taken to a hospital in Fort Worth for evaluation, and are in the custody of Child Protective Services.
At the Grammys? Michelle Obama’s mom not impressed
It appears Michelle Obama received a reality check from her mom following her appearance at the Grammys.
The former first lady took to Instagram Wednesday to share a text exchange with mom Marian Robinson. Obama had received a standing ovation opening Sunday’s awards show with Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Jada Pinkett Smith.
Robinson wrote: “I guess you were a hit at the Grammys.” Her daughter asked mom if she had watched. Mom replied she saw it and then asked if her daughter had met “any of the real stars.”
Mother and daughter then quibbled over whether Obama had told her she would be on.
Obama ended the exchange by writing “And I AM A real star…by the way…”
Her mother replied, “Yeah.”