<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - First Read]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcwashington.com/blogs/first-read-dmv http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com en-us Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:29:59 -0400 Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:29:59 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Over 1K D.C. Officers Vote 'No Confidence' in Lanier]]> Mon, 31 Aug 2015 20:34:33 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/062515+D.C.+Police+Chief+Cathy+Lanier.jpg

More than 1,000 police officers in D.C. say they have "no confidence" in Police Chief Cathy Lanier.

The D.C. Police Union released the result of the weekend vote Monday morning.

Of the 1,150 officers responding to the online survey, 97.5 percent said they have "no confidence" in Lanier's ability to manage the Metropolitan Police Department and keep the public safe. The union represents more than 3,600 officers. 

"We‘ve been told that the status quo is working and we‘ve been forced into a corner of lackluster, feckless, inefficient enforcement," the union said in a press release issued Monday morning. 

The union says the "no-confidence" vote is a symbolic gesture. 

"I am not interested in responding to or commenting on the anonymous online survey conducted by the Fraternal Order of Police, but I will defend the work of the members of this agency," Lanier said in a statement Monday.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser released a statement Monday, expressing her confidence in Lanier.

"After 25 years of policing DC streets, deploying officers and strategies, and building a force of highly qualified officers and leaders, in the good times and the tough times, too, I have every confidence in Chief Lanier,” Bowser said. 

Both dismissed the survey, noting fewer than a third of the of the officers participated.

The union vote follows a recent spike in crime, particularly homicides. The D.C. homicide rate is up 43 percent in 2015 thus far, compared with the same period in 2014. To date, 105 people have been killed. D.C. police made 61 murder arrests so far this year while closing 44 of this year's 105 murder cases, police said.

The vote also follows the latest "All Hands On Deck" initiative, which aimed to limit a recent spike in crime by flooding the streets of D.C. with officers. Extra officers were deployed in cruisers, on bikes and on foot in all seven police districts from 3 p.m. Friday until 6 a.m. Sunday.

Despite 16 violent assaults and two homicides, D.C. officials called the initiative a success.

"According to our morning report today, MPD took 34 illegal guns off the streets of Washington, D.C., this weekend alone and reduced violent crime by 39 percent compared to the same weekend last year," Lanier said.

Property crime was down 52 percent and overall crime was down 49 percent compared to the same weekend last year, police said.

Lanier said the initiative may have influenced the vote with so many officers called in.

"I realize that officers don’t like their schedules disrupted and I try to minimize it, but when we have violent crime we have to make the sacrifices that we all swore we would make when we took this job," Lanier said in a statement released Sunday.

All Metropolitan Police Department officers were pulled from vacation, desk duty and other details Friday through Sunday for an "All Hands on Deck" response to crime.

Mayor Bowser's strategy to prevent crime also includes putting more services like job training and daycare in neighborhoods hit hardest.

"Starting next week, the city will be reopening part of Malcolm X Elementary School in Ward 8 to bring government services to the community," said Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Kevin Donahue, who promised more of these pop-up resource centers in neighborhoods most affected by the increase in violence.

Lanier started the All Hands on Deck initiative in 2007 in response to a summertime spike in crime, the department's website says. MPD has declared more than 30 All Hands on Deck periods of about 48 hours each since then, with an average decline in violent crime of about 10 percent during each period, Lanier said.

Lanier and the union have become increasingly at odds over a solution for the recent spike in crime. Rank-and-file officers are questioning the dismantling of vice units and taking issue with fixed posts that prevent officers from leaving designated areas.

"Over the past eight years we've had some very high-profile incidents where the chief's integrity has been called into question," union head Delroy Burton told WAMU. "The most frustrating thing right now for our members, though, is that we have an uptick in crime and they're being deployed in such a way that makes it extremely difficult for them to provide good police service."

<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: Everything Just Feels So Shaky]]> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 07:42:18 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/dc-flag-shutterstock_206336772.jpg

There are some big things:

The worldwide stock market. Public safety here and many other areas. Transit systems here, in New York and elsewhere. Politics? Take your pick. Hillary’s campaign or Trump’s GOP surprise rise? Sports. The woeful ’Skins or the start-and-stop Nats? 

And, there are some little things:

Summer is over. Noisy leaf blowers are revving up. And vodka sales are falling (but prices aren’t).

The list is not exhaustive, but you get the point. It seems like there is a surfeit of bad news.

We were feeling wrung out from all this until we went to the National Zoo on Monday for NBC4 to check out the new panda cubs that were born over the weekend.

Excited visitors to the Zoo were bummed that they couldn’t see the new pandas except on a video stream. But just being close to the panda yards was almost good enough for some.

Zoo director Dennis Kelly told News4 it’s a sensitive time for the pandas, weighing only a few ounces and needing 24/7 attention and care.

“They’re struggling for food, they’re struggling for warmth,” Kelly told us near where 2-year-old Bao Bao was distracting the panda-hungry crowds. “And [mother Mei Xiang] is used to only raising one so we’re swapping them out. They’re doing OK, but it is a critical time.”

We were joined by Lynn Mento, who is just finishing her first month as executive director of the Friends of the National Zoo.

“You’re kind of like the pandas — you’re brand-new!” we told her. “Not a twin, but brand-new, yes,” she laughed.

We told her that if we were one of the elephants in the adjacent exhibit, we’d be jealous of all the panda attention. She acknowledged the imbalance, but said all the animals are important; it’s just that the pandas have become the face of the Zoo.

“There’s something so special about the pandas,” she said. “In fact, we are the only free zoo in the nation that has pandas.”

■ So when should you visit? If the new panda cubs survive the first few weeks, it still may be a while before you can see them other than on the panda cam. Go to the Zoo, but lower expectations.

“Actually, coming outside is three or four months away,” Kelly told us. “These cubs are so tiny right now. Their eyes aren’t open. They have no fur. They’ll grow quickly. But just like Bao Bao, they won’t be out for three or four months.”

■ And their names? It’s a tradition that cubs are not given names for several weeks, in part because they are so fragile at birth. But soon enough, if all goes well, the Zoo will announce a way for the public to help name the two cubs.

“We will come up with a fun, good way to name these cubs,” Kelly told us. “And you’ll hear about that in the next few weeks.”

We’ve written almost a whole column without writing “pandemonium.” But that’s what it’ll be when the line starts forming to see the new pandas. You might get a head start by joining FONZ. It has 35,000 households supporting private efforts at the Zoo, and it’s always looking for more.

■ Schools are open. Monday was another good day for the District besides the pandas.
Only minor glitches were being reported as nearly 50,000 public school students reported to class for the new year. It’s the highest enrollment in the past four years. The city also opened four new schools.

On Friday, D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson had appeared on the WAMU Politics Hour. As usual, she was excited about the new school year. But she also was mindful of the spike in violence that has unnerved so many in the city. She said school administrators and security personnel were briefed on community violence and were encouraged to be vigilant to keep the violence out of schools.

But more importantly, she said the school system was going to focus on positive things happening at the schools. There are new academic programs and new after-school activities. The system continues to improve school facilities. There still is uncertainty on what new private firm will provide school lunches and snacks, but the current operator has said it would not leave the system in the lurch.

Whatever its troubles, there is no doubt that the D.C. school system is not the place it was when Michelle Rhee took over in 2007. A lot has changed, and more change — a lot more — is needed. But Henderson and others say the city is on the right track. It’ll be up to the parents and guardians of our children to affirm that as the year unfolds.

■ What about D.C? A group called “The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation” is advocating that the section of 16th Street in front of the reopened Cuban Embassy be renamed in honor of slain human rights activist Oswaldo Paya.

We mean no disrespect to Paya, or the advocates. But many of the 650,000 people who live in the District of Columbia would like to suspend ceremonial renaming of streets until the citizens of this nation’s capital are given the basic rights of all other U.S. citizens. No more, no less. No more, no less.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.

<![CDATA[Corn Maze Honors Gov. Hogan in Maryland]]> Fri, 21 Aug 2015 12:03:57 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/hogan-maze-chopper.jpg

A Maryland farm has constructed a massive corn maze outlining a portrait of Gov. Larry Hogan to benefit the American Cancer Society, WTOP reported.

Hogan revealed his cancer diagnosis June 22, and recently announced on Facebook that 95 percent of his stage III non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is gone.

The owners of Lawyer's Farm in Frederick County, Maryland, lost their father to cancer, according to their website, and dedicated this year's maze to Hogan.

The maze design includes other Maryland themes such as the shape of the state itself, Black-Eyed Susans, the Maryland flag, an Oriole and the hashtag #HoganStrong, which emerged on Twitter after the governor announced his diagnosis.  

The maze, with more than seven miles of trails, opens Sept. 19, WTOP reported.

The farm will hold a donation day Nov. 1, when all proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society. Last year, the farm generated nearly $12,000 for the American Brain Tumor Association.

Photo Credit: Chopper 4]]>
<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: One Bright Note in August]]> Wed, 19 Aug 2015 05:32:16 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/AP_600637768699.jpg

Say what you will about the month of August, there was a good reason to be out in the heat on Monday.

Legendary singer and social activist Stevie Wonder pulled off a “pop-up” concert that was publicized only a few hours before it began on East Capitol Street near RFK Stadium.

Social media lit up, and thousands high-tailed it to the site.

Wonder played a half-dozen-song set and took a few questions from the crowd. He urged everyone to vote and avowed that every person with a gun is responsible for what that gun does.

“It is true that guns do kill people,” he said. “But without people using them, it wouldn’t happen. Everyone is accountable for whatever bullet they shoot from any gun, wherever they do it.”

But the social call to action was only part of the concert that had people — including Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson — up and dancing. The pop-up event also was promoting Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life” concert tour that stops at the Verizon Center Oct. 3.

Erik Moses, who runs the city’s Events DC operation, said the city was given only 48 hours’ notice of the concert and that Wonder’s staff asked that it not be publicized until just before the event. Moses said there would have been 10,000 people had the word gotten out earlier.

Moses says he and Mayor Muriel Bowser are intent on erasing the city’s image as a difficult, bureaucratic place to hold such events.

“If you’re a brand, a musician or a promoter,” Moses told NBC4, “we’re going to help you do it.”

■ Crime fears. One thing not helping the city’s image is the recent spike in homicides. Mayor Bowser last week sent out a letter to District citizens reassuring them that she is concerned about it. Gunfire has claimed the lives of innocent bystanders whose only wrongdoing was that they were in the wrong place.

On Monday, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier held her second news conference in a week to assert that police are aggressively reacting to the homicides.

Apart from the legitimate concern of the mayor and the chief, they also are anxious to be “seen” doing something. It’s all very nervously similar to the news conferences of the 1990s when homicides topped 400 a year. The city is nowhere near that kind of violence, and the mayor personally and politically wants to make sure it never is.

■ Reports R Us. You can be sure of one thing in this world: Governments like to issue reports.
We now can add Mayor Bowser to that list.

Arriving in snail-mail boxes last week was a 14-page, glossy “6 Month Progress Report” of the still-new Bowser administration.

How much did this laudatory missive cost? How many were published? The mayor’s office says about 80,000 reports were printed at a cost of about $40,000. “Transparency and accountability will be the hallmarks of this Administration,” the report declares, “because the government belongs to our residents.”

The report, not surprisingly, is long on praise.

And truth be told, even many critics of Bowser, or those who were just lukewarm on her, grudgingly acknowledge that she has seized the reins of government pretty well despite some bumps here and there.

A lot of the report naturally is table-setting for things to come. Some of the report acknowledges progress that had begun before her term started (like the overall fiscal health of the city and its government).

■ The Gray reports. When Mayor Vincent Gray was leaving office, his administration published a laudatory “final report” on his term in office. Although essentially jettisoned by the current administration, it lives on within the Mayor Vincent C. Gray (public figure) Facebook page.

Mayor Gray also had set up a bureaucratic system of publicly “grading” the various agencies. And his administration issued other reports on “sustainability” and related “One City” goals and achievements.

■ A final word. So many words have been and will be written about Julian Bond. But it won’t be enough. Now, in the twilight of life for so many who made the Civil Rights Movement something worth capitalizing, Bond deserves our attention. He was not an infallible man, but he was an American who made making America better a life goal.

Just this past winter, he was sitting quietly with his wife, Pamela Horowitz, in the covered courtyard of the National Portrait Gallery/Smithsonian American Art Museum. The Notebook decided not to interrupt them and made our way to the nearby gift shop.

“What, you don’t speak now?” It was Bond, standing at the gift shop door. As an Atlanta native and reporter for The Atlanta Constitution, we had shared a casual acquaintance with Bond over several decades, one that sporadically continued in Washington. But he always unfailingly was polite and on point whenever we happened to meet. When the Notebook joined them at the courtyard table, Bond launched into a description of his plan to travel the civil rights road of the Old South and said we should come. But we opted instead for Cuba.

The Notebook loved and never will regret the trip to Cuba, a country possibly emerging into its own new era. Yet now, we will regret not taking that Julian Bond trip.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Md. Gov. Hogan: 95 Percent of Cancer is Gone]]> Tue, 18 Aug 2015 21:28:07 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/11807520_1010483682329730_2317985246232861221_o.jpg

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan tweeted Tuesday 95 percent of his cancer is gone after chemotherapy.

Hogan told The Washington Post his progress since his diagnosis in June surprised his medical team.

The governor has been keeping busy and continues to appear publicly.

He is being treated at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore for B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Photo Credit: Larry Hogan
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<![CDATA[D.C. Remembers Julian Bond]]> Mon, 17 Aug 2015 09:56:07 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000011549645_1200x675_506356291890.jpg Civil Rights icon Julian Bond died in Florida Saturday night. He has lifelong ties to D.C.]]> <![CDATA[Prince George's Co. Commits $20M More to Purple Line]]> Thu, 13 Aug 2015 23:41:37 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/081315+Purple+Line.jpg

Prince George's County officials have agreed to contribute an additional $20 million toward Purple Line construction costs, a source familiar with the long-running negotiations said Thursday.

Prince George's County will dedicate $120 million in bond financing to the project, plus a $10 million land credit. The county had previously pledged $100 million.

The 16-mile light rail project connecting Prince George's and Montgomery counties is expected to cost more than $2.4 billion.

County Budget and Finance Director Tom Himler previously told News4 the county would issue bonds to cover Purple Line costs, even if it means going into future debt.

"We're getting close to our debt capacity and that's one of the things, moving forward, we're going to have to address," he said.

<![CDATA[Immigrants Protest Maryland Policy Shift for Ex-Offenders]]> Thu, 13 Aug 2015 22:23:06 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000011525672_1200x675_504343108001.jpg An immigration battle is heating up in Maryland after Gov. Larry Hogan announced he will change state policies regarding undocumented people convicted of crimes. Protesters in Annapolis said Hogan's plan will tear families apart. News4's Chris Gordon reports.]]> <![CDATA[The Week Ahead: Will Trump Top latest Poll?]]> Fri, 21 Aug 2015 18:58:03 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20141205+The+Week+Ahead.jpg

The Week Ahead with Andy Gross: New NBC/Marist poll is released, GOP candidates criss-cross country trying to get traction against Trump, Congress takes aim at Iran deal -- and an important programming note.

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<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: Smile, You're on Pox Cam!]]> Wed, 12 Aug 2015 06:06:38 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/dcpolicecamera.jpg

Imagine this scenario.

An abusive spouse is attacking his or her partner.

Two or three minor children are cowering in the corner, fearful of something going on they don't understand. The children are crying, the spouse fears for his or her life.

A concerned neighbor calls police. They arrive, knock down the door and, after a brief struggle, arrest the abusive spouse. In the background, the children are screaming and the abused spouse is trying to console them.

The police officers are wearing body cameras. The abusive spouse, the victimized spouse and the distraught children are all caught on police video.

Question: Should the police video of this domestic violence be subject to public disclosure under the city's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?

Another possibility: A woman is raped in her home, or on a nearby jogging path. Police arrive and seek to find out what happened. Police cameras are rolling. Should a citizen or reporter have access to the video under FOIA? What if the victim is a well-known personality?

A third scenario: Police are tracking a stalker who attempts to break into the home of his obsession. In a violent takedown, the stalker is arrested on his victim's front porch. Is that police video subject to a FOIA request?

Abuse, sexual assault, stalking. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser believes such crimes, taking place on private property, should not be subject to FOIA requests from reporters or any uninvolved citizen. 

The Washington Post was first to report this week that Mayor Muriel Bowser has altered her stance from her original position that all video from body-worn police cameras should be exempt from public prying eyes. Under her revised plan, public behavior would be subject to the disclosure law.

Last spring, when Bowser proposed her 2016 budget, she and Police Chief Cathy Lanier insisted such video shouldn't be routinely available and that it would be a major cost to maintain and edit voluminous video files from thousands of police officers.

The mayor's modified position — explained in a memo — was good news to Ward 5 D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie, chair of the Judiciary Committee. But he's not sure the mayor's compromise goes far enough. McDuffie told NBC4 that police body cameras help, but "are not a panacea" to the wide public mistrust of police misconduct around the nation. He said such video can even protect officers from false charges.

McDuffie said on Monday that police cameras "are not a silver bullet to solving this [public trust] problem. But they are one step to getting us closer to making sure there's some transparency in law enforcement."

He added that the types of horrific scenes outlined above can routinely be caught on any citizen's phone and posted to the Internet within minutes. "Anyone with a camera phone can record something."

McDuffie got the council to block the implementation of police cameras in the city until he and the mayor work out the FOIA protocols. Under legislation passed by the council, the mayor can't begin the police camera program until the mayor and council agree on the FOIA rules that would become effective Oct. 1.

"We are a lot closer than we were two months ago," McDuffie told us. "We find ourselves still working out the details."

If the final agreement is anywhere close to what the mayor and McDuffie are discussing, the District could wind up with one of the most transparent video policies in the nation. In a statement to NBC4 Monday, Bowser said her team "has been working tirelessly to develop a set of policies that strike the right balance between privacy and transparency."

And McDuffie said requiring police body cams is not a one-way street to protect citizens. "One of the most important aspects of having a robust, body-worn camera is that the officers themselves are protected from false complaints."

McDuffie and the council are expected to hold a public hearing on any final agreement before it goes into effect.

■ A "harvest" update. Our column last week on hunting drew a variety of responses.

We received an email from "Mike" chastising us for misunderstanding hunting. "Like all hunters and conservationists (I'm also a member of the Izaak Walton League), we understand the importance of hunting to maintaining balance for wildlife," he wrote. He noted that if game hunting for food is a sport, so is a trip to the grocery store where the customer simply is separated from the meat preparation.

■ And the homeless? The National Park Service had some good and not-so-good news recently. It has decided that Franklin Square in downtown Washington needs a makeover. The park at 13th and K streets NW dates back to 1832. It's not really a square, but a large rectangle. And its formal name is "Franklin Park" and not "Franklin Square." But we digress.

The Park Service is working on plans with the District government and the Downtown Business Improvement District. They all say the spruce-up and tweaks to the historic park will be done in a way that "meets the diverse needs of neighborhood residents, workers and visitors without altering the historic character of the site."

The plan includes adding a cafe to help draw workers, passersby and tourists to the sprawling park, its fountain and its canopy of huge shade trees.

But nowhere in the news release is there mention of the hundreds of homeless people who populate the park by day and await charity food services that pull up curbside. What will happen to them? Where will they go? At this moment, it's not clear.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.

<![CDATA[Bowser Softens Stance on Releasing Body Cam Video]]> Mon, 10 Aug 2015 20:34:35 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Dallas+Police+Body+Cams.jpg

In a memo disclosed Monday, D.C.’s mayor softened her stance against releasing police body camera video

Earlier this year, Mayor Muriel Bowser and Police Chief Cathy Lanier proposed almost all city police officers on patrol wear the cameras, but Bowser balked at making any of it public through Freedom of Information Act requests. The D.C. Council insisted there could be no blanket denial and said new rules must be in place before Oct. 1 before the cameras can be used.

Bowser’s new proposal would exempt only police video that involves domestic violence, sexual assaults, stalking or other similar cases in order to protect those victims.

"My team has been working tirelessly to develop a set of policies that strike the right balance between privacy and transparency," she said in a statement to News4.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Kenyan McDuffie welcomed Bowser's compromise but suggested it still may not go far enough, saying cellphone cameras are everywhere.

“Anyone with a camera can record something that happens on a sidewalk where people interact with the police,” he said.

McDuffie stressed that police and police unions believe body cam video can protect the officers, too.

“One of the most important aspects of having a robust body-worn camera is that the officers are protected from false complaints,” he said.

How much it will cost to store police video and to make it available to the public without cost or minimal fees remains unsolved.

<![CDATA[D.C. Children Sing John Oliver's Statehood Song at U.S. Capitol]]> Mon, 10 Aug 2015 10:17:34 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/DC+STATEHOOD+song.jpg

Dozens of D.C. children gathered outside the U.S. Capitol Sunday morning to sing a new D.C. statehood song just a week after it aired on satirist John Oliver’s HBO show “Last Week Tonight.”

Oliver spent more than 17 minutes of his Aug. 2 show railing against Washington’s lack of representation in Congress. In the segment he discussed how Congress attempted to remove gun restriction autonomy from the District, prevented the District from creating marijuana regulations and blocked a needle exchange bill during the HIV/AIDS epidemic that eventually dropped needle-related HIV transmissions in the District by 87 percent.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said Monday she plans to show Oliver's segment at a briefing on D.C. statehood when Congress reconvenes in September. Norton said Oliver's video gives statehood advocates the ammunition they need to better inform the public and move forward.

“Each and every line makes fun of the Congress for adding things to bills that tell us what we can’t do, for making us come here (to Congress) in the first place with our budget,” Norton said Sunday morning. “It was hilarious and it was the first round of what I think you’re going to see with people trying to do something with this 17-minute of magic, free advertising for statehood for the District of Columbia so we can get our full rights.”

The event was organized by some of the same parents who took on the ban on sledding on the west side of Capitol Hill in March.

“It’s by no means the last thing we’re going to do,” said Maria Helena Carey, one of the organizers. “It’s just the beginning.”

See Oliver's full, and NSFW, segment here.

Photo Credit: Ketih Ivey]]>
<![CDATA[Winners & Losers of 1st GOP Debate]]> Fri, 07 Aug 2015 14:30:14 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000011453158_1200x675_500331075540.jpg Mark Murray shares his thoughts on who succeeded and who took a hit in the first major GOP debate Thursday night.]]> <![CDATA[The Week Ahead: Ohio’s Kasich Makes it a Sweet 16]]> Fri, 21 Aug 2015 19:01:20 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20141205+The+Week+Ahead.jpg

The Week Ahead with Andy Gross: Ohio Governor John Kasich enters the race, Obama is the first sitting president to visit Ethiopia, Jeb Bush campaigns in New Hampshire -- and happy birthday, Alex Trebek!

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<![CDATA[Trump Lashes Out at Fox News, Megyn Kelly]]> Fri, 07 Aug 2015 12:22:56 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_7695882324921.jpg

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump lashed out at FOX News and Megyn Kelly for what he said were targeted, unfair and "nasty" questions to him during the GOP primary debate on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters after the debate, Trump said, "The questions to me were not nice. I didn't think they were appropriate." Overnight, he took to social media to voice his complaints, even sharing a supporter's remark calling Kelly a "bimbo."

And in an interview on "Morning Joe," he said of the networks questions, "I'm very surprised at Fox News that they would do that because, you know, I would say it's pretty unprofessional."

Kelly asked Trump about him having called women "fat pigs," ''dogs," ''slobs," and "disgusting animals."

Trump responded that he was only referring to talk show host Rosie O'Donnell but didn't deny having used the insults.

"I don't frankly have time for total political correctness," Trump said.

Photo Credit: ap]]>
<![CDATA[The Week Ahead: Walker Makes it Official]]> Fri, 21 Aug 2015 19:05:24 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20141205+The+Week+Ahead.jpg

The Week Ahead with Andy Gross: Wisconsin’s Walker joins the 2016 race, Obama celebrates Medicare and Medicaid, North Carolina voter ID trial starts -- and there’s a new cookie in town!

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<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: Lionizing Cecil's Death]]> Wed, 05 Aug 2015 08:38:03 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-482300764.jpg

Cecil the lion is dead. His death is being uniquely lionized.

The Minneapolis dentist who shot him in a questionable, baited hunt in Zimbabwe went into hiding. Outraged citizens from around the world hounded him. He released a statement saying he now "deeply regrets" the killing.

It turns out Cecil was something of a national pet and symbol in Zimbabwe. We think the killing of Cecil likely won't fade in the news media nearly as fast as some of the massacres of people occurring here and around the world.

What's going to happen to the dentist? Did he knowingly participate in an illegal act? Will he face charges in Zimbabwe? Will the big world of hunt-for-sport suffer only short-term setbacks?

The only clear thing is that the media will be riveted for some time.

"The outrage is understandable," wrote Washington Post editorial writer Jo-Ann Armao last week, "That's not to suggest in any way that any harm should come to [to the dentist]; only that it's fitting that this big-time hunter might now know a little of what it is like to be on the other end of things."

Armao (full disclosure, a friend and former news colleague) noted that those of us "who are not hunters will never be able to understand the attraction of killing something as beautiful as this animal -- and paying $50,000 to do so. One can hope, though, that this travesty will cause those who do hunt to do some soul searching about their sport. And the rest of us need to ask ourselves the hard question of whether we would have cared about this lion if he didn't have a name."

■ What's in a name? Your Notebook is not a hunter. We are wary of wading into the endless controversy over the efficacy and morality of sport hunting.

The Cecil controversy prompted us to take a look at hunting regulations in Maryland and Virginia. Our online search overwhelmed us with rules, laws, regulations, licenses, fees, timetables, weapon restrictions, age limits and whether or when you have to wear safety orange. Similarly, there are reams of information and guidelines for fishing, which is just another form of hunting.

None of the hunted prey -- birds, bears, deer, ducks, to name only a few -- has an individual name like Cecil. They all are "wild." Anti-hunting activists campaign against "killing Bambi," but not to much effect.

But words do matter. You have to know that animals in Maryland, Virginia and other states aren't "hunted." Officially, they are "harvested."

In Virginia, you can read all about the "Virginia Wildlife Harvest Information Program." Find it at dgif.virginia.gov. For Maryland, hunting or harvesting guidelines are found at dnr2.maryland.gov.

"Harvested" certainly sounds less bloody. It evokes for most the fall season of reaping hay or corn on a farm. But it also means stalking other animals, lying in wait for them to come into target focus with either your rifle or archery bow.

Neither state allows hunters to "bait" fields to attract animals, another issue in the Zimbabwe incident. Of course, fishing is the ultimate baited sport.

On the Virginia site, there is an appeal for hunters to follow the many rules to ensure safety and fair play -- but is it "fair play" when one side is armed and the other isn't? "Don't allow the actions of a few outlaws to tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen and sportswomen!" the site implores.

Both states have contact information online to report any hunting violations. In Maryland, you can call 1-800-635-6124 to anonymously report poachers and possibly receive a cash reward. In Virginia, the number is 1-800-237-5712.

In Maryland, the website notes the upcoming black bear season and declares, "to take a wild black bear is a true achievement."

The site reports that black bears were not legal to hunt until 2004, ending a 51-year ban.

In 2004, the state granted 200 permits out of 2,272 requested, and 20 bears were reported killed. A decade later in 2014, there were 450 permits issued out of 3,631 applications. In the four-day season allowed, 69 bears were reported killed.

The Notebook says "reported," because it's not clear what fines or penalties occur if you don't report a killing.

Yes, we said killing, not harvesting. We'll leave the euphemisms to others.

■ No debate about it. This is a big week nationally for the GOP. Leading presidential contenders will gather Thursday for the first debate of the season. It could be a doozy if other candidates try to rile Donald Trump into one of his tantrums. If he doesn't take the bait, it might be a dud.

■ D.C. GOP choice? The small but energetic GOP in the District had a recent candidate poll. The winner was Ben Carson, who captured 45 percent of the vote to 17 percent for Jeb Bush and 11 percent for Marco Rubio. All the other candidates trailed significantly. Trump had only 3.5 percent. Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum were shut out; no one voted for them.

It was a small sample. Only 200 D.C. Republican voters participated out of 28,500 registered. D.C. GOP executive director Patrick Mara said a small but diverse group took part in the poll. "We are very pleased with the participation," Mara said.

■ Don't miss this. Comedian John Oliver made the best statehood argument ever in his HBO show. It's available on YouTube here. (Caution: some "bad" words).

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[U.S. Olympic Committee Asks DC to Reconsider 2024 Games]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 21:30:34 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/olympics+rings.jpg

D.C. could still be in the running to host the Olympics. 

U.S. Olympic Committee officials have formally asked Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles to reconsider their bids to host the 2024 Summer Games, officials say. 

The committee said there is enough time for the cities to re-enter the race because all three cities previously prepared bids and none will have to start from scratch. The U.S. bid -- which requires only a name at this point -- is due to the International Olympic Committee on Sept. 15.

D.C. was part of the short list for U.S. city bids until the committee chose Boston. But Boston’s bid lacked political support and faced fierce opposition. The USOC couldn’t get a majority from the city, so it severed ties with Boston July 27.

The Boston problem follows other recent flops, including an embarrassing fourth-place finish for New York's and Chicago's bids for the 2012 and 2016 Games. The Committee didn’t submit a bid for the 2020 games in order to focus instead on a solid bid for 2024.

Some local leaders hope to see Boston’s loss as our city’s gain, even with the staunch opposition from D.C. residents concerned about how the games could hurt the District. 

Committee chairman Larry Probst said further information will likely be released later in August. The USOC said it has contacted bid officials in each of the cities.

Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office wasn’t able to immediately answer whether the committee has reached out to her. 

<![CDATA[ Fairfax Co. Aims to Reform Treatment of Mentally Ill Defendants]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 23:28:30 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/080315+Fairfax+officials.jpg Fairfax County officials are working to avoid sending mentally ill people through what they call a revolving door of arrest and incarceration. "Where we identify a deficiency, where we identify something that's not right, we don't try to sweep it under the rug," County Board Chair Sharon Bulova said. News4's Jackie Bensen reports.]]>