People are also talking about Pence's plan for creation of 'Space Force,' judge halting mother-daughter deportation and Buffalo Wild Wings is betting on sports gambling
Porn star lawyer Avenatti takes his fighting message to Iowa
Michael Avenatti's crusade for the porn actress taking on the president has already catapulted him to cable news stardom and endeared him to many frustrated liberals. Now the self-styled "dragon slayer" is taking his message to Iowa Democrats.
And the attorney who has spent months positioning himself as one of President Donald Trump's leading critics insists this foray into Iowa — an early proving ground on the presidential campaign calendar — is not a stunt.
"I am not proposing this to get under the president's skin," Avenatti said in an interview. "I am seriously considering it, and I think a lot of it is going to hinge on what direction I think the party is taking and who is likely to get in the race."
For now, Avenatti has plenty of spotlight as the top 2020 presidential prospects stay away from Iowa. He has not made any formal moves toward a presidential run, but he toured the Iowa State Fair on Thursday and was set to appear at the Democratic Wing Ding in Clear Lake on Friday. Organizers of the fundraiser for county Democratic organizations said they were happy to welcome him to an event that has drawn heavy hitters like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in past years. If anything, they said, he was boosting interest.
"Let's put it this way: Tickets are selling, and we're getting a lot of women buying tickets," said Wing Ding chairman Randy Black, who said Avenatti reached out to say he was considering attending the event and they asked him if he would like to speak.
Novelty candidates are nothing new to politically savvy Iowans. Indeed, Trump — who did not win the Republican caucuses but did win the state in the 2016 general election — was a reality star before he took to the campaign trail. Black said Avenatti could have a similar effect, noting: "You have Trump, who opened up doors for people who never entered a political arena before. Michael Avenatti has done the same thing."
Some knelt, others raised fists. NFL reiterates it wants players to stand during anthem
The NFL said Thursday that it will not discipline players for any protests during the national anthem while it attempts to reach a resolution with the NFL Players Association over its anthem policy.
But the league reiterated that it expects players who are on the field to stand for the anthem. Players have the option to remain in the locker room during the anthem if they choose, the NFL said.
The league's statement came as protests by some players during the national anthem resumed Thursday night when the NFL began its first full slate of preseason games.
"The NFL has been engaged in constructive discussions with the NFL Players Association regarding the anthem and issues of equality and social justice that are of concern to many Americans," the league said in a written statement issued through a league spokesman. "While those discussions continue, the NFL has agreed to delay implementing or enforcing any club work rules that could result in players being disciplined for their conduct during the performance of the anthem."
But the league said it still wants players to stand for the anthem while the deliberations with the NFLPA proceed.
"Meanwhile, there has been no change in the NFL's policy regarding the national anthem," the league's statement said. "The anthem will continue to be played before every game, and all player and non-player personnel on the field at that time are expected to stand during the presentation of the flag and performance of the anthem. Personnel who do not wish to do so can choose to remain in the locker room.
"We remain committed to working with the players to identify solutions and to continue making progress on important social issues affecting our communities."
In Miami, Dolphins wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson knelt before the team's preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to reports. Dolphins defensive end Robert Quinn reportedly raised his right fist. In Philadelphia, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback De'Vante Bausby each raised a first during the anthem, according to accounts.
Jenkins wrote on Twitter earlier Thursday: "Before we enjoy this game let[']s take some time to ponder that more than 60% of the prison population are people of color. The NFL is made up of 70% African Americans. What you witness on the field does not represent the reality of everyday America. We are the anomalies. . ."
Jenkins and other Eagles players wore shirts on the field before the game citing statistics about prison populations and voting rights of former prisoners.
In Jacksonville, Jaguars running backs Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon, cornerback Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Telvin Smith were not on the field for the playing of the anthem before their game against the New Orleans Saints. They emerged from the tunnel to the field after the anthem, according to the Florida Times-Union.
In Seattle, Seahawks players Duane Brown, Quinton Jefferson and Branden Jackson reportedly were in the tunnel to the locker room for the anthem. In San Francisco, Marquise Goodwin of the 49ers raised his fist.
The renewed round of protests come while the NFL and the NFLPA attempt to negotiate a resolution of the league's national anthem policy. Multiple people close to the situation said in recent days they remain uncertain how those deliberations would turn out.
The NFLPA declined comment on Thursday's protests. No players protested during the anthem at last week's Hall of Fame Game between the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears in Canton, Ohio, which opened the preseason.
In May, NFL owners ratified a modified anthem policy which empowered the league to fine a team if a player protests during the anthem and left it up to each team whether a player would be disciplined for a protest. The policy also gave players the option to remain in the locker room during the anthem.
The union filed a grievance over the May policy and contemplated possible legal action. The league and union agreed to put both implementation of the NFL's new policy and the NFLPA's grievance on hold while trying to work out a resolution.
Judge halts mother-daughter deportation, threatens to hold Sessions in contempt
WASHINGTON - A federal judge in Washington halted a deportation in progress Thursday and threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt after learning that the Trump administration started to remove a woman and her daughter while a court hearing appealing their deportations was underway.
"This is pretty outrageous," U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said after being told about the removal. "That someone seeking justice in U.S. court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her?"
"I'm not happy about this at all," the judge continued. "This is not acceptable."
The woman, known in court papers as Carmen, is a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed this week by the American Civil Liberties Union. It challenges a recent policy change by the Justice Department that aims to expedite the removal of asylum seekers who fail to prove their cases and excludes domestic and gang violence as justifications for granting asylum in the United States.
Attorneys for the civil rights organization and the Justice Department had agreed to delay removal proceedings for Carmen and her child until 11:59 p.m. Thursday so they could argue the matter in court.
But lead ACLU attorney Jennifer Chang Newell, who was participating in the court hearing via phone from her office in California, received an email during the hearing that said the mother and daughter were being deported.
During a brief recess, she told her colleagues the pair had been taken from a family detention center in Dilley, Texas, to the airport in San Antonio for a morning flight.
After being informed of the situation, Sullivan granted the ACLU's request to delay deportations for Carmen and the other plaintiffs until the lawsuit is decided, and ordered the government to "turn the plane around."
Justice Department attorney Erez Reuveni said he had not been told the deportation was happening that morning and could not confirm the whereabouts of Carmen and her daughter.
The ACLU said later that government attorneys informed them after the hearing that the pair was on a flight to El Salvador.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement, which implements deportations, did not respond to questions about why Carmen and her daughter were removed from the country.
"In compliance with the court's order, upon arrival in El Salvador, the plaintiffs did not disembark and were promptly returned to the United States," a U.S. Department of Homeland Security official said Thursday evening.
To qualify for asylum, migrants must show that they have a fear of persecution in their native country based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a "particular social group," a category that in the past has included victims of domestic violence and other abuse.
Carmen fled El Salvador with her daughter in June, according to court records, fearing they would be killed by gang members who had demanded she pay them each month or suffer consequences. Several co-workers at the factory where Carmen worked had been murdered, and her husband is also abusive, the records state.
Pence outlines plan for creation of 'Space Force'
WASHINGTON - Vice President Mike Pence laid out an ambitious plan Thursday that would begin creating a military command dedicated to space and establish a "Space Force" as the sixth branch of the U.S. military as soon as 2020, the first since the Air Force was formed shortly after World War II.
Pence warned of the advancements that potential adversaries were making and issued what amounted to a call to arms to preserve the military's dominance in space.
"Just as we've done in ages past, the United States will meet the merging threats on this new battlefield," he said in a speech at the Pentagon. "The time has come to establish the United States Space Force."
But the monumental task of standing up a new military department, which would require approval by a Congress that shelved the idea last year, may require significant new spending and a reorganization of the largest bureaucracy in the world. And the idea has already run into fierce opposition inside and outside the Pentagon, particularly from the Air Force, which could lose some of its responsibilities.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last year said he opposed a new department of the military "at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions."
This week, Mattis said the Pentagon and the White House "are in complete alignment" on the need to view space as a warfighting domain. But he stopped short of endorsing a full-fledged Space Force. In a briefing with reporters after Pence's speech, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan suggested that Mattis' comments opposing the Space Force were made at a different time, before the Pentagon received a bolstered budget.
White House officials have been working with national security leaders to aggressively move ahead without Congress. The first step is creating a new U.S. Space Command by the end of the year, which would be led by a four-star general, the way the Pentagon's Indo-Pacific Command oversees those regions.
The new command would pull space experts from across the armed services, and there would be a separate acquisitions office, dedicated to buying satellites and developing new technology to help the military win wars in space.
The White House intends to work with lawmakers to introduce legislation by early next year, a senior administration official said, with the hopes of standing up the first new military department since the Air Force was formed in 1947.
After Pence's speech, Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., and Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., members of the House Armed Services Committee, praised the move, saying a Space Force "will result in a safer, stronger America."
"We have been warning for years of the need to protect our space assets and to develop more capable space systems," they said in a joint statement.
In his speech, Pence urged the audience to support the administration's effort to create the department.
Speaking to a room made up mostly of U.S. troops in uniform, Pence said their "commander in chief is going to continue to work tirelessly toward this goal, and we expect you all to do the same."
"The only thing we can't afford is inaction," he said.
Buffalo Wild Wings wants to place a bet on sports gambling
Wings and wagers? Buffalo Wild Wings thinks they're a natural fit.
The sports bar chain, which has about 1,200 restaurants in all 50 states, said it is exploring the possibility of offering sports wagering now that the Supreme Court has opened the door for states to legalize sports betting.
"As the largest sports bar in America, we believe Buffalo Wild Wings is uniquely positioned to leverage sports gaming to enhance the restaurant experience for our guests," a company spokesperson said Thursday. "We are actively exploring opportunities, including potential partners, as we evaluate the next steps for our brand."
Three states -- New Jersey, Delaware and Louisiana -- have legalized sports gambling since the Supreme Court decision in May. Before the ruling, Nevada was the only state where it was legal to bet on sports.
Many other states are considering legislation that will allow for sports betting in the hopes of cashing in on what could be a multibillion dollar industry.
"We're still waiting for state legislatures and regulators to hash out licensing rules, so it's unclear how they'll [Buffalo Wild Wings] have opportunity to participate," said John Decree, head of North America equity for Union Gaming, a boutique investment bank that focuses on the gaming industry.
Current there are 43 states with some type of legal casino. But even states without casinos could move to allow sports gambling.
Decree said that he thinks it's likely that Buffalo Wild Wings will partner with an established casino or other sports betting entity, rather than try to get licenses on its own as states move to allow sports wagering.
"It'll be hard for them to try to get licensed in every state that allows it. There's a lot of legal costs and time involved," he said.
Much of the coming boom in sports gaming is expected to take place online, especially on mobile apps, meaning that many customers watching games at a Buffalo Wild Wings will be able to place bets at a variety of sports books in their states.
Decree said it's likely that some states that allow online wagering will require people to put money on their account in person and using cash, rather than using a credit card.
In that case, Buffalo Wild Wings could reach an agreement with some sports books that would allow people to put money on their account in one of their restaurants.
"That alone can generate a lot of foot traffic," he said.
Happy Friday. Here's a sheep jumping on a trampoline.
Happy Friday. Here's a sheep jumping on a trampoline.