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Trump wants to turn up the heat while ignoring climate science; DeVos, Trump call to gut college aid; Seattle ICE lawyer charged with stealing immigrant IDs for fraud; more in U.S. news

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Trump wants to turn up the heat while ignoring climate science

The Trump administration, in its 2019 spending plan, seeks to reduce or eliminate federal funding for studying and tracking climate change across agencies while boosting the burning of planet-warming fossil fuels. Though President Donald Trump’s budget is highly unlikely to be adopted by Congress, it shows just how little weight his administration is giving to the increasingly dire warnings from climate scientists about longer droughts, stronger storms and rising seas. Trump has called climate change a hoax and appointed oil, gas and coal advocates to lead key federal agencies overseeing environmental enforcement, energy production and public lands. In the White House’s budget summary, the term "climate change" is mentioned once — in the name of a program to cut. A week after EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt suggested global warming might be beneficial, his agency issued a strategic plan for the next five years that does not include the word "climate." Experts predict that by the end of this century, global warming will add as many 9,000 deaths a year in the U.S. because of heat, costing $140 billion yearly.

Trump, DeVos: Gut aid for college students

The Trump administration is seeking to slash nearly $4 billion in annual funding for student aid programs, but the two-year budget deal signed into law last week complicates that proposal. President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released a fiscal 2019 budget Monday that rehashes many of the proposals floated last year. Among them are plans to ax loan forgiveness for public servants, alter the terms of income-driven student loan repayment and stop paying the interest on low-income students’ loans while they are in school. Those three changes alone could increase the cost of higher education for borrowers by more than $200 billion over the next decade. The Trump administration also wants to slash nearly $790 million from the federal work-study programs that help students work their way through college.

Trump wants to slash food stamps, replace them with delivered, non-perishable food box

The Trump administration wants to slash food aid to low-income families and make up the difference with a box of non-perishable food — a change that Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney described in a briefing as a "Blue Apron-type program." His remarks Monday drew raised eyebrows from many, who accuse Mulvaney of drawing an unfair comparison between the food stamp program, which delivers an average of $1.37 per meal to America’s poorest, and the fresh food meal kit Blue Apron that runs $10 per serving. On Monday, the Trump administration proposed cutting food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, by $17 billion in 2019 and more than $213 billion over the next decade. Anti-hunger advocates and analysts are skeptical of the "food box," which would impact 16.4 million households. They say it’s unclear how USDA would deliver the boxes, which could be costly especially in rural areas. Equally unclear is whether USDA would allot the same foods to, say, an elderly diabetic and a family with kid or account for food allergies.

Contradicting White House, FBI says it told Trump officials repeatedly of top aide’s abuse

The FBI said Tuesday it gave the Trump administration information on multiple occasions last year about a top aide accused of domestic abuse by his two ex-wives, and the investigation wrapped up in January. That account by FBI Director Christopher Wray challenged the White House assertion that Rob Porter’s background "investigation was ongoing" and the claim that officials first learned the extent of accusations against him just before he abruptly resigned. The scandal has called into question the judgment of senior members of the staff like John Kelly and put new stress on the administration’s strained credibility with the public.

3 intel officials see signs of Russian meddling

Three of the nation’s top intelligence officials confirmed Tuesday that they have seen evidence of Russian meddling in the upcoming midterm elections — part of what they say is Moscow’s escalating cyber assault on American and European democracies. CIA Director Mike Pompeo told the Senate intelligence panel they’ve seen Russian "activity and intentions" to impact the elections. National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and the National Security Agency’s Adm. Mike Rogers agreed. They didn’t describe the activity past saying it was related to information warfare.

Utah

Leaping elk crashes into chopper

An elk leaped into a research helicopter, inset, that was trying to capture it and brought down the helicopter in a collision that also killed the elk, authorities said Tuesday. The elk jumped into the chopper’s tail rotor as the aircraft slowly flew 10 feet above ground in a mountainous part of eastern Utah, with its crew trying to drop a net on the elk, officials said. The two people on board weren’t seriously hurt. The state-contracted, Texas-based crew was trying to capture and sedate the elk and give it a tracking collar to research its movements. Helicopters are a frequently used and essential tool for monitoring remote wildlife, said Mark Hadley with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Tuesday’s accident was the first of its kind, he said, adding that state officials will review the incident.

Washington, D.C.

ICE lawyer charged with stealing immigrant IDs for fraud

The chief counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Seattle has been charged with stealing immigrants’ identities. Raphael A. Sanchez, who resigned from the agency Monday, faces one count of aggravated identity theft and another of wire fraud in a charging document filed Monday in U.S. District Court. Prosecutors with the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section allege that Sanchez stole the identities of seven people "in various stages of immigration proceedings" to defraud credit card companies. Neither Sanchez nor his lawyer immediately returned emails seeking comment Tuesday. The court’s calendar showed Sanchez is due to enter a plea Thursday.

New Hampshire

Numb and number prove
chilling point to pet owners

Two people in Stratham say they lasted 5½ hours outside in the cold overnight to make a point to pet owners who leave their animals outside on cold winter nights. The pair moved inside after their feet went numb. Ian Matheson said he had the idea to camp in a dog house outside the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Stratham to show the cold’s effect. WMUR-TV reported he was joined by Pelham Animal Control Officer Allison Caprigno for the Monday night campaign. Temperatures plunged into the teens. NHSPCA spokesman Sheila Ryan said the group has heard "horrible stories" about animals freezing to death. An emergency medical technician was on hand to make sure Matheson and Caprigno didn’t suffer hypothermia.

Colorado

Shooter of Planned Parenthood still incompetent, judge says

A judge says a man who acknowledges killing three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs remains mentally incompetent. Tuesday’s hearing was the first review of Robert Dear’s mental health since the Colorado Court of Appeals in January upheld a lower court’s ruling that he can be medicated against his will. It’s not clear if that treatment has begun. He is charged with 179 counts, including murder and attempted murder, stemming from the Nov. 27, 2015, shooting that also injured nine at the clinic. The Colorado Springs Gazette reported Dear will remain at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo, where he’s been in treatment since May 2016. The next routine hearing to review his status is May 21. — tbt* wires

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Trump wants to turn up the heat while ignoring climate science; DeVos, Trump call to gut college aid; Seattle ICE lawyer charged with stealing immigrant IDs for fraud; more in U.S. news