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New York City could become latest to punish cashless businesses

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agrobacter/iStock(NEW YORK) — New York could become the latest city to punish businesses that refuse to accept cash. New York’s City council will vote on a bill Tuesday that would prohibit most shops and restaurants from refusing to accept payments in cash amid concerns that cashless policies could discriminate against lower-income patrons or those without bank accounts. The council’s Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing voted to approve the bill on Monday. Committee chair Rafael Espinal, a co-sponsor of the bill, said cashless polices disproportionately impact unbanked New Yorkers who are much more likely to rely on payday loans and check cashing facilities. “I’m happy that we can draw attention to some of the unintended consequences of new cashless technologies and how they impact marginalized populations,” Espinal said at a hearing on Monday. “When attitudes toward cash equate it with being dirty, antiquated, or unsophisticated, we risk stigmatizing the communities who rely on it.” About 12% of New Yorkers in 2013 did not have bank accounts, Espinal said, highlighting domestic violence survivors who don’t wish to be traced and

Canadian police say slain couple and missing teens 'could be linked'

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Royal Canadian Mounted Police(NEW YORK) — Canadian police investigating the mysterious death of a young couple and the disappearance of two teenagers say they can’t rule out the possibility that the two cases could be connected. Chynna Noelle Deese, 24, of the United States, and her boyfriend, Lucas Robertson Fowler, 23, of Australia, were found dead on July 15 along Highway 97, some 12 miles south of Liard Hot Springs, British Columbia. Fowler’s blue 1986 Chevrolet van was located at the scene, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Police have since confirmed that Deese and Fowler were on a road trip exploring Northern British Columbia and that they were “victims of gun violence.” Four days later, police discovered a red and grey Dodge pickup truck with a sleeping camper on fire south of Stikine River Bridge on Highway 37, some 30 miles from Dease Lake. The two young men who were driving that vehicle — Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegesky, 18, both Canadian — were nowhere to be found and have not been in contact with their families

Congress prepares for 'reticent' witness Robert Mueller

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Facing pointed questions about a hot-button government investigation in June 2013, then-FBI Director Robert Mueller didn’t budge. “I’m not going to speculate,” he flatly told Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, when pressed on the details of a probe into an Internal Revenue Service targeting scandal. On Wednesday, Mueller will return to Capitol Hill to face questions about his investigation into Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Lawmakers and aides, including many with experience questioning Mueller, don’t expect him to be any more forthcoming. “He is a reticent witness even under the best of circumstances,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said at the Aspen Security Forum, held in Colorado last week. “[Mueller] never gives a 10-word answer when a one word answer will do,” one senior Democratic aide said. “He does not volunteer information.” While they may downplay Mueller’s expected testimony, for months Democrats have depicted the former special counsel as the star witness of their investigations into President Donald Trump’s actions. As the Trump administration has resisted their subpoenas for documents and

Boris Johnson chosen to replace Theresa May as UK prime minister

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ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) — Boris Johnson has been chosen as the new leader of the Conservative Party, and will take over as prime minister from Theresa May when she resigns on Wednesday. Johnson was always the favorite to win the race, and in the end convincingly beat his rival Jeremy Hunt in the ballot of 160,000 Conservative Party members. As the Conservative Party remains the largest party in the House of Commons, Johnson will become prime minister without having been elected by the general public. May will take questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday, before meeting the Queen at Buckingham Palace to tender her resignation. In the end, Brexit proved to be May’s downfall. The Brexit deal she spent the best part of two years negotiating with European Union leaders was voted down three times in the Houses of Parliament, forcing her to request an extension until October. The delays proved to be deeply unpopular with Brexit-supporting members of her own party. May announced her resignation on May 24, triggering the Conservative Party election from which Johnson, one

Joe Biden fights youth incarceration in new criminal justice plan

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Former Vice President Joe Biden rolled out his criminal justice plan Tuesday, as the front-runner has come under fire for his past record from 2020 Democratic opponents. The plan focuses on preventing crime, eliminating racial disparities and providing second chances for those who have had contact with the criminal justice system. Biden joins fellow presidential hopefuls Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and others in releasing criminal justice plans. Biden, like Booker, Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., calls for the end of mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug crimes — including some put in place by bills passed while Biden served as the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary committee. The Biden plan calls for treatment for those who suffer from addiction rather than incarceration, increase federal funding for drug courts, and an elimination of the disparity in how crack users and cocaine users are charged and sentenced — also enacted while Biden served on the Judiciary Committee. Biden has expressed regret over supporting the past policy, calling it a “mistake” earlier

Kamala Harris pushes new bill to decriminalize marijuana nationwide

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris is teaming up with House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., on a comprehensive marijuana reform bill that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, expunge prior marijuana-based convictions and fight against discrimination for those who possess or use it. “Times have changed — marijuana should not be a crime,” said Harris, D-Calif. “We need to start regulating marijuana, and expunge marijuana convictions from the records of millions of Americans so they can get on with their lives.” The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act announced Tuesday morning would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thereby decriminalizing marijuana for previous and pending convictions. States could then set their own marijuana policies, similar to what’s currently in place for alcohol. The bill would also require resentencing for prior marijuana-based convictions. The policy is a 180-degree turn from Harris’ past positions on marijuana. When Harris was California’s attorney general from 2011 to 2017, tens of thousands of Californians were arrested yearly for marijuana infractions, according to a 2016 Drug Policy Alliance report. For months,

Heavy rain drenches Northeast; tropical depression to soak Carolinas

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ABC News(NEW YORK) — Severe storms moved through the Northeast late Monday and into Tuesday morning, producing damaging winds of 75 to 80 mph from Virginia to New Jersey. Heavy rain came with these storms, including up to 4 inches in Westchester County, just north of New York City, in only a few hours. Flash flooding was reported from Pennsylvania to Connecticut. There was a total of 480,000 people without power from Wisconsin to New York at 5 a.m. Tuesday. Flood alerts remain in effect for 12 states from Tennessee to Massachusetts on Tuesday. Severe storm threat shifts south Tuesday into the Carolinas and southern Virginia from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to Norfolk, Virginia. The biggest threat with these storms will be damaging winds, heavy rain and frequent lightning. Tropical depression No. 3 is lingering off Florida’s east coast on Tuesday, but most of the heavy rain is offshore. The tropical cyclone will move north, parallel the Southeast coast, throughout the day Tuesday and could bring heavy rain — up to 3 inches — to the Carolinas. The National Hurricane

Mail bomber obsessed with Trump, Fox News, new court filings show

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Handout(NEW YORK) — New defense filings in the case of admitted serial bomber Cesar Sayoc paint a grim picture of a man who “lost everything in the Great Recession,” had “cognitive limitations and severe learning disabilities” and was “abandoned by his father and sexually abused by a teacher at his Catholic school.” “In this darkness,” his defense counsel wrote, “Mr. Sayoc found light in Donald J. Trump.” In their sentencing submission Monday, Sayoc’s lawyers lay out the path from his difficult childhood through his recent years living out of his cramped van, festooned with stickers supporting Trump, and critical of the president’s perceived enemies. “As he grew older and more isolated, excessive steroid use increased his feelings of anxiety and paranoia,” his lawyers wrote. “Mr. Sayoc came to believe that prominent Democrats were actively working to hurt him, other Trump supporters, and the country as a whole,” the defense filing states. Sayoc would eventually construct and send through the mail 16 improvised explosive devices that his lawyers say in his mind were hoax devices to “try to intimidate and scare

Key questions Mueller could face when he testifies this week

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drnadig/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Lawmakers will get the chance to question one of Washington’s most elusive figures on Wednesday after House Democrats triumphed in requiring former special counsel Robert Mueller to testify in public before two congressional committees. But after landing the notoriously reserved former FBI director — whose only public comments since launching the probe lasted just nine minutes — what do lawmakers hope to accomplish? Democrats want Americans — many of whom have not read his report — to hear Mueller describe his investigation, including the evidence he gathered regarding possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump. Specifically, did Mueller punt to Congress because Justice Department policy precludes prosecuting a president in office? How he answers could prove key to making the case that impeachment is justified if Democrats choose to pursue that route. Republicans, on the other hand, hope to undermine Mueller’s probe in defense of the president. For his part, Mueller has signaled his intention to “not go beyond our report” in any remarks before Congress, fearing he could get dragged into a political slugfest. But last

Top House Democrat says Mueller testimony will be 'deadly serious'

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Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — As some Democrats ratchet up expectations for special counsel Robert Mueller’s upcoming appearance on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, one top House Democrat is setting the stage for a hearing that is less show-stopping and more sobering. Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., told ABC News that he does not expect Mueller to reveal new details in regards to his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Instead, he expects Mueller to recount the report’s conclusions of potential misconduct by President Donald Trump to a public audience — many of whom he believes will be learning of these allegations for the first time, he said. “It’s not going to be exciting but I think it’s deadly serious,” Cicilline told ABC News in an interview with “The Investigation” podcast. “The reason I say it’s sober is because these are very serious allegations, this is very serious misconduct, and for most people it will be, really, the first time they hear about the contents of the report.” [ READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT OF CICILLINE’S INTERVIEW ON “THE INVESTIGATION” ]