What to Know
- White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, one of President Donald Trump's most loyal aides, is resigning
- Four of the best hospitals in the country are located right here in the tri-state, according to a newly published list
- Oprah Winfrey says there is one factor that might convince her to run for president — and that’s a call from God
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Sessions Defends Himself After Trump's “Disgraceful” Barb
Harshly criticized yet again by his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions abandoned his usual stony silence and pushed back against President Trump for saying Sessions' response to Republican complaints about the FBI was "disgraceful." Sessions gave no suggestion he would step down in light of the charge made on Twitter and insisted he would "continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor." Trump's latest tirade stems from a comment Sessions made Tuesday, when he suggested the Justice Department's inspector general will evaluate whether prosecutors and FBI agents wrongly obtained a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to monitor the communications of a onetime Trump campaign associate. Sessions had asked the watchdog office to review the complaints in response to pressure from congressional Republicans, who, like Trump, have fumed about what they believe to be bias within the FBI. Trump tweeted: "Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn't the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!"
White House Communications Director and Longtime Trump Aide Resigns
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, one of President Donald Trump's most loyal aides, is resigning. The departure of one of the president's longest-serving advisers, who worked as a one-woman communications shop during his winning campaign, came as a surprise to most in the White House — and cast a pall over the West Wing at a tumultuous time. The news comes a day after Hicks was interviewed for nine hours by the House panel investigating Russia interference in the 2016 election and contact between Trump's campaign and Russia. In a statement, Trump praised Hicks for her work over the last three years, saying he "will miss having her by my side." Hicks, who occupied to the desk closest to the Oval Office in the West Wing, has been a central participant in or witness to nearly every milestone and controversy of the Trump campaign and White House. She began her White House tenure as director of strategic communications — a title that only partly captured her more expansive role as the president's gatekeeper to the press. Hicks acknowledged to a House intelligence panel that she has occasionally told "white lies" for Trump. But she said she had not lied about anything relevant to the Russia investigation.
Despite Proposed Raise W. Virginia Teacher Walkout Not Over
West Virginia's House has OK'd a 5 percent pay raise negotiated by the governor to end a walkout by the state's teachers though schools in all 55 counties plan to stay closed. House approval of Gov. Jim Justice's proposed raise came on a 98-1 vote. The Senate, which had adjourned earlier, was expected to consider it. Its leader, President Mitch Carmichael, expressed skepticism about the governor's suddenly higher projected tax increases that would pay for the pay boosts but said that chamber would review it. Hundreds of teachers gathered inside the Capitol protesting low pay and projected increases in their insurance costs and chanted "we won't back down." Others held a sign targeting legislators in the upcoming primary: "Make 'em pay in May." They occupied the House galleries to watch the vote. Teachers and service personnel in all West Virginia's 55 counties walked off the job last week, noting they were among the lowest paid in the country.
Putin Boasts of New Russian Nuclear Weapons
President Vladimir Putin says Russia has tested new nuclear weapons, including a nuclear-powered cruise missile and a nuclear-powered underwater drone, that would be immune to enemy intercept. Speaking in a state-of-the-nation speech, Putin said the nuclear-powered cruise missile tested last fall has an unlimited range and high speed and is capable of penetrating any missile defense. He said the high-speed underwater drone capable of carrying a nuclear warhead could target both aircraft carriers and coastal facilities. Putin said that Russia also tested a new heavy intercontinental ballistic missile, called Sarmat, with a range and number of warheads exceeding its predecessor.
Patients More Likely to Survive at These Tri-State Hospitals, Report Says
Four of the best hospitals in the country are located right here in the tri-state, according to a newly published list of the top-performing medical centers in the country. A list of the top 100 hospitals was released this week by the medical resource website Healthgrades, which compiled an index of the top 2 percent of hospitals based on their “overall clinical excellence across a broad spectrum of conditions and procedures.” In the top 100 hospitals were Overlook Medical Center in Summit and Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side. Two more hospitals in the tri-state made it in the top 50 in the country: Morristown Medical Center in Morristown and Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie. On average, patients treated at these top 100 hospitals had a 22.3 percent lower risk of dying from dangerous conditions like heart failure and stroke than if they were treated in hospitals not on the list, according to Healthgrades.
NY Intersections Deadliest in US for Pedestrians, New Report Shows
Intersections in New York State are among the deadliest in the country for pedestrians, according to a Governors Highway Safety Association report. New York leads the country in pedestrian deaths at intersections, preliminary data from 2014 to 2016 shows. Of the state’s 879 total pedestrian deaths during that time period, 294 of them, or 33 percent, were at intersections. New Jersey had the seventh most deaths at intersections -- 131 out of 500 total pedestrian deaths, or 26 percent. By comparison, fewer than 20 percent of national pedestrian deaths in 2016 were at intersections; they happened in lanes away from intersections (72 percent) or in locations outside of travel lanes, like shoulders and driveways (10 percent). New York is also dangerous for elderly pedestrians, the report says. Cities remain the deadliest places for pedestrians and are getting deadlier, according to the report.
Oprah Winfrey Says She Would Need a Divine Sign to Run for President
Although time and time again media mogul Oprah Winfrey has shut down speculation of a possible 2020 presidential run, she revealed to People Magazine there is one factor that might convince her — and that’s a call from God. “I went into prayer,” she said to People in their new cover story. “‘God, if you think I’m supposed to run, you gotta tell me, and it has to be so clear that not even I can miss it.’” However, she said that she hasn’t gotten that message yet. Winfrey accepted the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award at the 75th Annual Golden Globes in January where her acceptance speech sparked a strong backing from social media users urging for her to run. After she roared that “a new day is on the horizon,” #Oprah2020 was trending on Twitter for days and the intrigue multiplied when Winfrey’s longtime partner Stedman Graham told The Los Angeles Times, “It’s up to the people. She would absolutely do it.” On top of Graham’s comments, Winfrey said her best friend Gayle King has also urged her to take the possibly of running seriously.