Nebraska Democrat fired for saying he was ‘glad’ Scalise was shot

A member of the Nebraska Democratic Party was fired Thursday morning after an audio recording of him surfaced on YouTube saying he was “glad” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was shot at a congressional baseball game practice and wished the Louisiana Republican was dead.

In the expletive-laced recording, Phil Montag, then the volunteer co-chairman of the Nebraska Democratic Party’s technology committee, blamed Scalise for seeking to take away people’s health care coverage through the Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“This motherf***er, like, his whole job is like to get people [to] convince Republicans to f***ing kick people off f***ing health care,” Montag can be heard saying in the recording in reference to Scalise.

When he made the remarks, Montag was speaking to Chelsey Gentry-Tipton, the chairwoman of the state Democratic Party’s Black Caucus and her friend, Destin Madison, according to the Omaha World-Herald and Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb.

It’s unclear how the conversation began, but the recording on YouTube starts with Madison asking, “So what is it you want to do?”

Gentry-Tipton responds to Montag’s complaints by saying, “We know all of this.” Madison later is audible telling Montag that he has been recording him and plans to release the audio of their conversation.

“I hate this motherf***er. I’m f***ing glad he got shot. I’m glad he got shot,” Montag says on the tape.

“So then say something. So then say something,” Gentry-Tipton responds.

“I’m not going to f***ing say that in public,” Montag replies.

“You don’t have to say that in public. Then say something, say something,” Gentry-Tipton says again as Madison asks, “Well then, what are you saying it to us for? What are you telling us for?”

“I wish he was f***ing dead,” Montag then says of Scalise.

“Why are you telling us, but not telling anyone else?” Madison asks.

“I’m trying to f***ing — because I’m trying to f***ing figure out (inaudible)” Montag says.

“It’s ok, because I’ve been recording this conversation since you’ve come in, so I will publicly release it myself,” Madison says before the recording abruptly ends.

Gentry-Tipton has come under fire for remarking on Facebook earlier this month that she thought it was “so funny” to watch congressmen “crying on live tv” about the trauma they experienced in the shootings at the Republican congressional baseball practice, according to the World-Herald.

In the same chain, the World-Herald reported she wrote, “The very people that push pro NRA legislation in efforts to pad their pockets with complete disregard for human life. Yeah, having a hard time feeling bad for them.”

The comments prompted the state Democratic Party leadership to call for Gentry-Tipton’s resignation as Black Caucus chairwoman, but she refused to do so, saying in a statement on Facebook that her posts were taken out of context by party officials and that she would not resign “at this point,” the World-Herald reported.

Kleeb, the state Democratic chair, told CNN she made the decision to fire Montag when she saw the video.

“He made disgusting comments about a member of Congress, and we relieved him of his volunteer position of the party on Thursday morning as soon as we saw the video,” Kleeb said. “It’s a disturbing time in politics. I’ve worked in politics for over 10 years, and I’ve never seen such hateful rhetoric from both the right and left.”

Montag could not be reached for comment Saturday. He told the World-Herald that the recording was edited to take his words out of context, adding that he was “horrified” by the shooting of Scalise and “absolutely” did not wish he was dead.

“I did not call for the congressman’s death,” Montag said.

Montag also told the World Herald that the recording posted on the Internet on Wednesday night was a small part of a conversation that lasted 30 minutes to an hour.

Gentry-Tipton and Madison did not return immediate requests from CNN for comment on the recording or Montag’s allegation that it had been edited to take his words out of context.

Nebraska is a one-party consent state, which means it is legal for an individual to record others without their knowledge as long as the person recording is a party to the conversation.

Scalise, a member of the Republican baseball team, was hospitalized after a gunman opened fire while Republican members of Congress were practicing earlier this month in Alexandria, Virginia, ahead of the annual charity baseball game.

The congressman went through multiple surgeries after the shooting and is still hospitalized, although he was released from intensive care Thursday.

The shooter, 66-year-old James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, died from gunshot wounds he sustained in a shootout with police at the practice field, federal law enforcement officials said.

The incident marks the first time a sitting member of Congress was shot since Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords was targeted by a gunman in 2011.

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Bill Clinton warns mayors opioid addiction ‘is going to eat us all alive’

Former President Bill Clinton told officials attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting on Saturday that there was a desperate need for more rehabilitation facilities for opioid addicts and resources to treat patients with mental health issues. 

More than 250 mayors from cities with populations of 30,000 or more were attending the four-day conference at the Fountainebleau Miami Beach. Clinton was the speaker of the City Livability Luncheon.

The addiction crisis is “going to eat us all alive,” Clinton said during his speech. He added that “we have to deal with this in a comprehensive way and we are not close.”

Clinton warned the mayors about the need to address the epidemic, as Republicans face criticism over their plan to make large-scale changes to Medicaid, the government health insurance for the poor. 

Clinton said he was proud of Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval for being among the Republicans who are objecting to the cuts to Medicaid. 

“He knew that he depended upon young workers, many of whom were here as their first of their generation,” Clinton said. 

Clinton also addressed the need for immigration reform adding that mayors are able to recognize the value of diversity at the local level. 

“Diverse groups make better decisions than lone geniuses,” Clinton said. “Creative societies are about multiplication, not division.”

Clinton said mayors needed to consider allocating resources if they were going to take a position on President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate-change agreement.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who replaced Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett as conference president this weekend, also talked about global warming on Friday

“There’s near unanimity in this conference that climate change is real and that humans contribute to it,” Cornett said. “There may be a little bit of a disagreement about how actually to deal with it. 

“If the federal government refuses to act or is just paralyzed, the cities themselves, through their mayors, are going to create a new national policy by the accumulation of our individual efforts.”

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, a Democrat who is considering a run for governor, took a group for a tour on Friday to show them how the city is using pumps to combat rising tides. The pumps send up to 120,000 gallons of water per minute into Biscayne Bay. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio joined Levine in saying that U.S. cities are taking measures that the federal government should be taking. 

“But if we don’t do it, who is going to do it? Right? … It’s just that we can’t depend on our national government anymore,” De Blasio said. 

 

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Bill Clinton warns mayors opioid addiction ‘is going to eat us all alive’

Former President Bill Clinton told officials attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting on Saturday that there was a desperate need for more rehabilitation facilities for opioid addicts and resources to treat patients with mental health issues. 

More than 250 mayors from cities with populations of 30,000 or more were attending the four-day conference at the Fountainebleau Miami Beach. Clinton was the speaker of the City Livability Luncheon.

The addiction crisis is “going to eat us all alive,” Clinton said during his speech. He added that “we have to deal with this in a comprehensive way and we are not close.”

Clinton warned the mayors about the need to address the epidemic, as Republicans face criticism over their plan to make large-scale changes to Medicaid, the government health insurance for the poor.

Clinton said he was proud of Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval for being among the Republicans who are objecting to the cuts to Medicaid. 

“He knew that he depended upon young workers, many of whom were here as their first of their generation,” Clinton said. 

Clinton also asked the mayors to take a stand on immigration and global warming despite President Donald Trump’s positions on both issues. He said mayors are able to recognize the value of diversity at the local level. 

“Diverse groups make better decisions than lone geniuses,” Clinton said. “Creative societies are about multiplication, not division.”

Clinton said mayors needed to consider their resources if they were going to take a position on Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate-change agreement.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who replaced Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett as conference president this weekend, also talked about global warming on Friday

“There’s near unanimity in this conference that climate change is real and that humans contribute to it,” Cornett said. “There may be a little bit of a disagreement about how actually to deal with it. 

“If the federal government refuses to act or is just paralyzed, the cities themselves, through their mayors, are going to create a new national policy by the accumulation of our individual efforts.”

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, a Democrat who is considering a run for governor, took a group for a tour on Friday to show them how the city is using pumps to combat rising tides. The pumps send up to 120,000 gallons of water per minute into Biscayne Bay. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio joined Levine in saying that U.S. cities are taking measures that the federal government should be taking. 

“But if we don’t do it, who is going to do it? Right? … It’s just that we can’t depend on our national government anymore,” De Blasio said. 

 

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Bill Clinton to talk about global warming in Miami Beach

Former President Bill Clinton is in Miami Beach on Saturday to address the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting. 

More than 250 mayors from cities with populations of 30,000 or more were attending the four-day conference at the Fountainebleau Miami Beach. The event began on Friday and ends on Monday.  

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who replaced Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett as conference president this weekend, said global warming was at the forefront of their delegates’ discussions. 

“There’s near unanimity in this conference that climate change is real and that humans contribute to it,” Cornett said. “There may be a little bit of a disagreement about how actually to deal with it. 

“If the federal government refuses to act or is just paralyzed, the cities themselves, through their mayors, are going to create a new national policy by the accumulation of our individual efforts.”

Clinton is the speaker of the City Livability Luncheon. He is expected to focus on global warming and President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate-change agreement. 

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, a Democrat who is considering a run for governor, took a group for a tour on Friday to show them how the city is using pumps to combat rising tides. 

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The Sunshine Law legislators scorecard: How it was done

The scoring system for the Florida Society of News Editors assigns points for a list of critical government openness bills.

Legislators get three points for a floor vote, seven points for co-sponsoring a bill and 10 points for sponsoring a bill that’s on the list. Votes against openness lose points; votes for openness gain points.

Legislators got a bonus point for communicating with the Florida First Amendment Foundation about the bill.

The scores were compared to the session’s most extreme legislator – good or bad – and turned into standard letter grades for comparison. A perfectly neutral legislator would get a C.

In 2017, the most extreme good score paled in comparison with the most extreme worst vote, leaving no legislator with an A score but some with Fs.

The scoring system was criticized by high- and low-scoring legislators from both parties and both legislative chambers.

Among the criticisms: The scoring system is too simplistic, didn’t consider the right bills, offered no way to measure a legislator’s overall positive attitude about the importance of open records, and extremely low-scoring legislators altered the scale in a way that made it all but impossible to get As.

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Is Mexico the world’s second most dangerous country, as Trump says? That depends

President Donald Trump rankled Mexico again, this time calling it the second deadliest country in the world.

In a tweet Thursday afternoon, he said, “Mexico has just ranked the second deadliest country in the world, after only Syria. The drug trade is largely the cause. We will BUILD THE WALL!”

Mexico quickly countered, saying Trump’s claim is wrong.

So who’s right? Well, it depends on how you crunch the numbers.

If you go with raw numbers, Trump is right

Trump is believed to be citing a report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies; he previously retweeted a link to a CNN story on the report published in May.

The British think tank, which produces an annual armed conflict survey, said that in 2016, Mexico’s “intentional homicide total” of 23,000 deaths was “second only to Syria.”

In other words, the report uses whole numbers — the absolute number of fatalities — not rates of murders.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan claimed 17,000 and 16,000 lives respectively in 2016 with Mexico surpassing both by 23,000 deaths, the report said.

But Friday, the IISS said there was a “methodological flaw” on their report that requires revision.

“Our researchers are working to rectify this and we will share the results in due course. We anticipate this will result in Mexico’s conflict remaining among the 10 most lethal in the world, by estimated fatalities attributable to an armed conflict,” the institute said in a statement.

Based on population, Mexico is right

Mexico doesn’t deny the country’s “significant problem” with violence. But it cited a 2014 UN report that found Mexico was far from being one of the most violent countries — based on per capita rates.

In a statement, the Mexican government said, “In Latin America alone, countries such as Honduras, Venezuela, Belize, Colombia, and Brazil had homicide rates of 90.4, 53.7, 44.7, 30.8 and 25.2, respectively, per 100,000 inhabitants, while Mexico had a rate of 16.4, well below many of the countries in the region.”

In other words, Mexico is citing a UN report that adjusts for population — a widely accepted way to analyze crime.

Countries with larger populations would, logically, have a larger total number of homicides.

Either way, it’s troubling

Whatever way you slice it, violent crime is a concern in Mexico.

Just this week, the country said May was the bloodiest month in at least two decades, with homicides up sharply compared to last year.

According to Mexico’s Interior Department, there were nearly 10,000 killings nationwide during the first five months of the year — a spike of about 30 percent over the same period last year.

That’s an average of 74 homicides per day in 2017. And no country in the world wants that.

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