Jeb Hensarling won't seek re-election

Texas Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the powerful chairman of the House financial services committee, announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election in 2018.

Hensarling, who represents Dallas, hails from a Republican-heavy district. His departure may not open an opportunity for Democrats, but it does represent another prominent GOP member of Congress who has chosen to call it quits during the tumultuous early days of the Trump administration.

In an email sent to his supporters, Hensarling said that it was never his intention to make congressional service a career.

"Although service in Congress remains the greatest privilege of my life, I never intended to make it a lifetime commitment, and I have already stayed far longer than I had originally planned," Hensarling said.

As chairman of the financial services committee, Hensarling is a key player in the ongoing negotiations by Republicans to reform the American tax code. In his statement, he promised that despite his decision to not run for re-election, he has every intention of working to make sure tax reform passes the House.

"Much work remains at the House financial services committee in the areas of housing finance reform, regulatory relief, cybersecurity and capital formation to name just a few," he said. "Furthermore, important work remains in the Congress as a whole — especially pro-growth tax reform."

Hensarling, a conservative and former chairman of the Republican Study Committee, is also a key conduit between the GOP caucus and the White House through his close relationship with Vice President Mike Pence. He is at least the 21st Republican member of the House of Representatives to pass on a re-election bid since President Donald Trump has taken office.

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Facebook, Twitter, Google testify before Congress

Silicon Valley is settling in to get grilled by Washington.

Executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google are testifying before Congress Tuesday afternoon in the first of three hearings this week into how foreign nationals used social media to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

At the hearing, held by the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, the tech companies were pressed on their ability to prevent bad actors from taking advantage of their platforms through ads and regular posts.

"You've got 5 million advertisers, and you're going to tell me you are able to trace the origin of all of those advertisements," Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, asked Colin Stretch, Facebook's general counsel.

Stretch admitted Facebook had limitations on what it could know. "To your question about seeing behind the platform, to understand if there are shell corporations, of course the answer is no," he said. "We cannot see behind the activity."

The heated exchange highlights the difficulties the online companies face in trying to identify and crack down on foreign meddling and misinformation campaigns.

In prepared testimony for the first hearing, which is being held by the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, the tech companies revealed the sweeping scale of Russian influence operations on their platforms.

Facebook informed lawmakers that roughly 126 million Americans may have been exposed to content generated on its platform by a Russian government-linked troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency between June 2015 and August 2017.

Twitter disclosed that it has identified 2,752 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency. It found a total of 36,746 accounts that appeared to be associated with Russia, though not necessarily with the Internet Research Agency, which generated automated, election-related content.

At the hearing, Stretch said Facebook also saw some activity continue after the election with the goal of "fomenting discord about the validity" of President Trump's election.

"The bottom line is these platforms are being used by people who wish us harm and wish to undercut our way of life," Senator Lindsey Graham said in his opening remarks at the hearing Tuesday.

The tech companies condemned the Russian activity and pledged to continue investigating it and cracking down where necessary.

"This type of activity creates not only a bad user experience, but also a distrust for the platform," said Sean Edgett, acting general counsel at Twitter. "So we are committed every single day to getting better at solving this problem."

The hearings and new disclosures cast a harsh spotlight on the immense power of the tech companies at a time when there is renewed interest in greater regulation for the industry.

"I'm very proud that the three companies you are presenting here today are American companies and I think you do enormous good, but your power sometimes scares me," Sen. Kennedy said at the hearing.

This month, a bipartisan group of senators unveiled legislation called the Honest Ads Act to require new disclosures for political ads that appear online on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Both Facebook and Twitter have preemptively promised greater transparency for political ads, but that may not be enough to appease legislators. Senator Mark Warner, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, suggested he would press the issue at one of the hearings scheduled for Wednesday.

"How do they plan to work with Congress to make sure this doesn't happen again?" Warner wrote on Twitter Tuesday. "Specifically on legislation like the #HonestAds Act."

But Warner and his colleagues won't be able to raise those concerns with tech CEOs at the hearings. The three companies will be represented by their general counsels at the hearings this week, and not any of their more well-known executives.

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Concerned Miami Beach residents seek to keep repeat criminals behind bars

Concerned Miami Beach citizens are doing their part to stop the revolving door of repeat criminals who they say are set free from jail only to commit more crimes once they are back on the streets.

Dwayne Bunyan was recently arrested after a fight was captured on camera. At the time of the crime, he'd logged 180 arrests over 20 years for offenses that included drug-related crimes and robbery. 

Local 10 News reporter Glenna Milberg found him Thursday morning on Ocean Drive, where he typically heads after being released from jail.

Right across the street, she found Kevin Gibson, also known as "Pirate," who is due back in court in December for drug charges.

"Don't put the camera on me. Don't put the camera on me," he said. 

Gibson was just released last April from the latest of his five prison stays over four decades. He has done time for a variety of different crimes, ranging from drugs to robbery to kidnapping.

"You're free on bond," Milberg said.

"Who told you that?" Gibson asked.

"It's in the court records," Milberg said. 

"Why you put a camera on me?" Gibson asked.

"How many times have you been in and out of jail?" Milberg asked.

"I need money," Gibson said.

"The criminals feel comfortable, and the residents and tourists do not feel comfortable," concerned Miami Beach resident John Deutzman said. 

A group of Miami Beach residents who are wondering why they continue to see repeat offenders arrested, released and back on the beach have organized, done research and are now heading to court hearings to convince judges to keep the chronically accused in custody.

"They tell the cops, 'I don't care you're arresting me. I'm going to be out of here tomorrow,'" Deutzman said.

"The behavior is such that there is no consequence for their action, and we're trying to put the heat on so they feel the consequence," Jeff Feldman said.

Law enforcement is on record supporting the citizens' engagement, but a Miami-Dade public defender thinks the citizens are the ones breaking the law.

"We can't be throwing out the Constitution just because some people are unhappy with some of the results in court," Carlos Martinez said.  

The man whose office provides legal defense for the indigent calls it a lack of due process. He said defendants are blindsided at bond hearings by what might be irrelevant or hearsay testimony with no chance to rebut, like past arrests or charges that were dropped and no longer count.

"If you have citizens that are concerned, they should work the process legally," Martinez said. "There is nothing precluding them from going and talking to the state attorney."

At Donnie Sims's bond hearing last week, the assistant public defender tried to block citizen testimony. 

"As noted multiple times, he does not have standing to address the court," TerryAnn Howell said. 

Florida's Rules of Criminal Procedure does not directly address standing, but does give judges wide discretion in what facts to consider when setting a bond. 

"I believe the increased bond is warranted based on numerous convictions this year," Judge Mindy Glazer said.  

"It's the people versus the defendant," Deutzman said. "We are the people. We're the community. We're allowed to talk as to the risk to the community."

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle sent Milberg a statement supporting the citizens' participation in the legal process, but stopped short of condoning the group's specific actions.

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Smoke Impacts and Wind Forecast for Nov. 1, 2017 (KNF-GRCA North Zone Fire Rx 2017-2018 Prescribed Fire)

20-foot winds are forecasted to come from the southwest at 10-to-15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph in the afternoon.This means that smoke dispersion should be favorable and headed north/northeast. Smoke will be visible from various locations on the North and South rims, including Grand Canyon Village and Desert View, and Arizona Highways 64, 67 and 89A and US Highway 89. Additional smoke impacts may occur in the Marble Canyon, AZ and Page,
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8 dead after Florida man drives through bicycle path in New York City

At least 8 people are dead after New York City police say a Florida man drove onto a busy bicycle path and struck several people, then emerged from the vehicle screaming and firing something that appeared to be a gun.

6 were pronounced dead on the scene and 2 died after being transported to the hospital. 9 people were reportedly hurt in the incident near the World Trade Center site.

Sayfullo Saipov, 29, from Tampa has been identified as the suspect.

The department writes on Twitter that Saipov got out of a rented Home Depot van displaying imitation firearms and was shot by police officers. Police say the person is in custody.

CNN reports Saipov shouted "Allah Akhbar" after getting out of the van.  The FBI is now taking over the investigation.

New York City mayor Bill de Blassio says the truck attack was a "cowardly" act of terror.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it a "lone wolf" attack. He says there's no evidence to suggest it was part of a wider plot.

A man who was riding in an Uber along the West Side Highway near the World Trade Center says he saw several bleeding people on the ground after a truck struck several people.

Witnesses have described a chaotic scene of the white pickup truck hitting bicyclists and then slamming into a school bus. 

Manhattan restaurant chef Eugene Duffy was crossing a street when he heard something, turned back and saw the pickup truck on the bike path. He says he saw the bodies of two men on the ground, their bikes mangled.

He says he ran south and saw a yellow half-size school bus that appeared to have been T-boned and firefighters trying to get children out.

A witness said the truck had also collided with a small bus and one other vehicle.

The White House says President Donald Trump has been briefed on the incident.   

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the president and New York native has been briefed by White House chief of staff John Kelly and "will be continually updated as more details are known."

Sanders says, "Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected."
 

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Convicted cop killer seeks to be taken off death row

A convicted cop killer is seeking to be removed from death row decades after the 1992 murder. 

"I never really made eye contact with the man before, and I did today," the victim's son, Kyle Bauer, said. 

Bauer was 3 years old when his father was killed while on duty in North Miami in January 1992.

Detective Steven Bauer was ambushed and shot while protecting bank tellers from a robbery.

A quarter century later, his convicted killer, Leonardo Franqui, wants off death row.

"He deserves it. He took my father away from me and he's lived his whole life, just as long as I've been alive," Kyle Bauer said.  

North Miami Police Chief Larry Juriga said the department fully stands behind the Bauer family.

"That's the process and we'll be here," he said. "We're going to go through this, we're going to stand strong with the department and stand strong with the Bauer family."

Bauer's family and now adult children and the family of South Florida law enforcement packed the courtroom for Tuesday's hearing. 

In Franqui's defense, medical experts questioned whether Franqui was intellectually capable to be put to death for the murder that happened almost 26 years ago — a requirement set just last March under a Supreme Court ruling. 

"His actions and his confessions and his words were all calculated," Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association president John Rivera said. "That shows he is of sound mind and he is certainly capable of killing another human being and to put all those things together."

 

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Employee struck with hammer during robbery at Hialeah warehouse

A man was struck with a hammer Monday morning during a robbery at a warehouse in Hialeah.

Police said two men attempted to steal a safe from a company called Wood Designs. 

As seen on surveillance video, one of the two men was wearing a Dale Earnhardt black-and-red jacket with the number 3 on it and the other was wearing a black sweater.

Police said the thieves broke into the shop using a crowbar.

Video shows one of the men threatening an employee with a gun, while the other sneaks up behind him.

"They ambushed the employee that was inside," Detective Jose Torres said. "One of the individuals produced a firearm, aimed it at the victim and demanded some cash while the second individual that came behind him struck him with a rubber hammer right over the head, knocking him down, unconscious. While the individual was on the floor, they ransacked his pockets, in search for items to take."

In addition to trying to rob the employee, the crooks also tried to steal a safe from inside the office but got spooked and took off in a black pickup truck. 

Police are hoping someone recognizes the thieves and can help identify them.

Anyone with information about their identities is asked to call Hialeah police or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. 
 

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Man breaks into several vehicles in Coconut Cay community, police say

Miami Gardens police are searching for a man who they said was captured on surveillance video breaking into several vehicles on Monday.

The burglaries were reported about 3:15 a.m. in the Coconut Cay community on Northwest 12th Court and 206th Street.

Surveillance video shows the thief, who was wearing a bandanna over his face and a hooded jacket, pulling on door handles while looking for unlocked vehicles.

Police said all of the vehicles that were burglarized had been left unlocked.

Anyone with information about the burglar's identity is asked to call Miami Gardens police at 305-474-6473 or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. 

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