Fire on 50th floor of Trump Tower kills man


Fire on 50th floor of Trump Tower kills man

NEW YORK

A raging fire that tore through a 50th-floor apartment at Trump Tower on Saturday killed a man inside and sent flames and thick, black smoke pouring from windows of the president’s namesake skyscraper.

New York Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the cause of the blaze is not yet known but the apartment was “virtually entirely on fire” when firefighters arrived after 5:30 p.m.

“It was a very difficult fire, as you can imagine,” Nigro told reporters outside the building in midtown Manhattan. “The apartment is quite large.”

Todd Brassner, 67, who was in the apartment, was taken to a hospital and died a short time later, the New York Police Department said

2020 census test has critics counting concerns, not people

PROVIDENCE, R.I.

The success of the 2020 census, which will be the first to include an online survey, could hinge on a single “dress rehearsal” underway right now in Rhode Island – and so far, many locals aren’t impressed.

Providence County, the state’s most populous, is the only place where the Census Bureau is running a full test, after plans to test two other sites this year were canceled because of a lack of funding from Congress. A planned question about citizenship that has states suing the federal government isn’t on the test.

Several elected officials and leaders of advocacy and community groups this week held an “emergency press conference” to raise concerns, which include a shortage of publicity around the test and its limited language outreach in an immigrant-heavy county, with large communities from countries including the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Portugal and Cape Verde.

AP: EPA’s Pruitt spent millions on security, travel

WASHINGTON

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt’s concern with his safety came at a steep cost to taxpayers as his swollen security detail blew through overtime budgets and at times diverted officers away from investigating environmental crimes.

Altogether, the agency spent millions of dollars for a 20-member full-time detail that is more than three times the size of his predecessor’s part-time security contingent.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox cited “unprecedented” threats against Pruitt and his family as justification for extraordinary security expenses such as first-class airfare to keep him separate from most passengers – a perk generally not available to federal employees.

But Pruitt apparently did not consider that upgrade vital to his safety when taxpayers weren’t footing the bill for his ticket. An EPA official with direct knowledge of Pruitt’s security spending said the EPA chief flew coach on personal trips back to his home state of Oklahoma.

Democrats even in GOP country shift toward gun restrictions

OMAHA, Nebraska

Just 18 months after declaring his opposition to banning assault weapons, Nebraska Democrat Brad Ashford has changed his mind.

The former one-term congressman, now trying to win back an Omaha-area seat he lost in 2016, used to consider it futile to push for a ban while Republicans held power on Capitol Hill. But the student activism that has followed the rampage at a school in Parkland, Fla., has changed his thinking in a way that other high-profile shootings, including two in his hometown since 2007, had not.

Ashford’s conversion mirrors the one underway in his party. Not long ago, a moderate record on guns would have been considered a plus for a Democratic candidate in the GOP-leaning suburbs and conservative outskirts of Nebraska’s largest city. Today, even with Ashford’s reversal, it’s a vulnerability that his opponent in the May 15 Democratic primary has been quick to exploit.

That contest, along with races in Virginia, rural Pennsylvania and other places where gun control has been taboo, shows how far the Democratic Party has traveled on this issue. The November elections will test whether Democrats will make room for candidates who don’t back all gun control measures.

“He should have been stronger on this,” said Kara Eastman, the 46-year-old political newcomer running against Ashford for the nomination in the 2nd Congressional District. “We need leaders who are going to stand up and fight for the kids.”

For-profit colleges struggle despite assist from DeVos

WASHINGTON

The for-profit college industry is struggling under the weight of declining enrollment, stiff competition from traditional universities and an image battered by past misdeeds, even as the Trump administration tries to offer a helping hand.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has hired several industry insiders and frozen Obama-era regulations that would have increased protections for students. She has reduced loan forgiveness relief for some former students defrauded by their schools, meaning that the for-profit industry could be on the hook for less. And she is considering reinstating an ousted oversight agency for many for-profit colleges.

“There is a serious attempt by this department to find that appropriate fair balance for both students and schools,” Steve Gunderson, president of Career Education Colleges and Universities, the industry lobbying group, said in an interview.

But Timothy Lutts, president of the Cabot Wealth Network in Salem, Mass., sees an industry in decline. An improving economy has led to lagging enrollment as adult students return to the workplace instead of seeking a degree to burnish their resumes, he said. For-profit colleges now also compete with nonprofit schools that offer online degree programs without the stigma that still haunts money-making schools.

“It was a great sector a decade ago,” Lutts said. “For for-profit schools, the tide is still going out.”

Rivers swell as rainstorm moves through California

SAN FRANCISCO

Forecasters said up to 6 inches of rain fell over two days as a spring storm swelled rivers and flooded roads in Northern California.

The National Weather Service said the heaviest rain was in the northern Sierra and in coastal counties from San Francisco north to Mendocino during a 48-hour period ending Saturday afternoon. Downtown San Francisco saw nearly 2 inches Friday.

The storm tapered off by late Saturday morning, but rain runoff continues to cause minor flooding along the Truckee River near Lake Tahoe. And parts of Yosemite National Park remain closed as the Merced River peaks several feet above flood stage through the Yosemite Valley.

Naval academy hosts viewing of flag captured in War of 1812

ANNAPOLIS, Md.

The U.S. Naval Academy Museum has held a public viewing of a large British flag that was captured during the War of 1812.

The British Royal Standard displayed Saturday is 35-by-25 feet. It is decorated with lions and a crown.

The event marked the first time since the 1880s that the flag was available to be viewed in its entirety. It has been in an exhibit case in the academy’s Mahan Hall, where only part of it was viewable.

The flag flew over present-day Toronto, Canada, and was captured by U.S. forces.

Congressional and presidential directives from more than 150 years ago require the academy to preserve and exhibit captured flags. The museum now has more than 200 battle flags and a total flag collection of more than 600.

Associated Press

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