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June 17, 2019

Check off another box for Julián Castro.

The Democratic 2020 hopeful has already laid out his Oval Office plans concerning police reform, education, and immigration. On Monday, he provided a little blast from the past when he turned his attention to housing issues, something with which he is no doubt familiar, as former President Barack Obama's housing secretary.

He's taking his time, too. Castro announced on his website that he would unveil the entire plan over the next several days, starting with his solution to the rental affordability crisis, which involves expanding the Housing Choice Voucher Program, a renters' tax credit, and local zoning reforms.

He also outlined his plan to end homelessness, which he hopes to accomplish by 2028, including the eradication of veteran, child, and youth homelessness by the end of his hypothetical first term in Washington. While Castro admits those target dates might sound too optimistic, he argues his tenure at HUD and his experience as San Antonio's mayor provided him with the necessary experience.

Castro says he'd achieve those goals by an increase in funding for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants by $5 billion, tripling spending. He would also expand Pell Grants to cover food and housing costs for college students, guarantee a right to counsel for tenants facing eviction, and establish permanent housing initiatives to provide health care and other services for those at risk of becoming homeless. Read part one of Castro's plan here. Tim O'Donnell

July 21, 2019

A new law in Oregon championed by teen activists lets students take mental health days like they would sick days.

Previously, schools only had to excuse absences due to physical illnesses. The teenagers wanted schools to treat mental and physical health equally, and erase the stigma that can go along with mental health treatment. Activist Haily Hardcastle, 18, said she was inspired by the students in Parkland, Florida, who campaigned for gun control following the deadly school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Those teenagers "showed us that young people can totally change the political conversation," Hardcastle told The Associated Press. "Just like those movements, this bill is something completely coming from the youth." She is hopeful this will "encourage kids to admit when they're struggling" and seek help. Jason Wilson of Eugene, whose 14-year-old daughter Chloe died by suicide in 2018, told AP this is a major step, as "we need to do everything we can to open up that dialogue between parents and children when it comes to mental health." Catherine Garcia

July 21, 2019

Authorities in Costa Rica are sounding the alarm about tainted alcohol.

Since the beginning of June, at least 19 people — 14 men and five women — have died in the country after ingesting alcohol with toxic levels of methanol, Costa Rica's National Health Ministry said. The victims were between the ages of 32 and 72.

Methanol poisoning can cause dizziness, headaches, confusion, and drowsiness, and is often linked to counterfeit alcohol. The Costa Rican government has confiscated approximately 30,000 bottles of alcohol believed to have been tainted. Catherine Garcia

July 21, 2019

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló will not seek re-election in November 2020, he revealed on Sunday, and while he is stepping down as president of the New Progressive Party, he has no plans to resign as governor.

Earlier this month, 900 pages of conversations between Rosselló and several of his top aides and advisers were leaked, showing them mocking the victims of Hurricane Maria and making sexist and homophobic comments about critics and political opponents. This set off protests, and more are expected Monday in San Juan.

"To every Puerto Rican: I have heard you, and I hear you today," Rosselló said on Sunday. "I have committed errors and I have apologized. I am a good man that has a grand love for my island and for all." Last week, Rosselló said he was "not proud of what I did," but needed to "move forward" and "continue on with the work I"m doing for Puerto Rico." Catherine Garcia

July 21, 2019

The U.S. Southern Command announced Sunday that a Venezuelan fighter aircraft on Friday made an "unsafe approach" to a U.S. Navy aircraft in international airspace, "endangering the safety of the crew and jeopardizing" its mission.

The Navy aircraft, an EP-3 Aries II, was conducting a "detection and monitoring" mission over the Caribbean Sea when the incident took place. Southern Command said it reviewed video that showed Venezuela's "Russian-made fighter aggressively shadowed the EP-3 at an unsafe distance in international airspace for a prolonged period of time." Venezuela's military has since accused the Navy plane of violating "security of air operations and international treaties."

The U.S. government does not believe Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was fairly elected and instead supports opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Southern Command said Maduro's regime "continues to undermine internationally-recognized laws," with Maduro ignoring the suffering of his people and using Venezuela's "precious resources to engage in unprovoked and unjustified acts." Venezuela has claimed that so far this year, more than 76 U.S. aircraft have tried to enter the country's airspace, CNN reports. Catherine Garcia

July 21, 2019

In the first Open Championship in Northern Ireland since 1951, it was a man from the Republic of Ireland who took the crown.

Ireland's Shane Lowry won his first major on the PGA Tour on Sunday when he captured The Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club. The 32-year-old cruised to victory, finishing 15-under par with a total of 269 and winning by six strokes.

It was only the third time in the past 40 years someone has won The Open by six shots or more. Tiger Woods accomplished the feat in 2000 and Louis Oosthuizen did it in 2010, ESPN reports.

Lowry didn't have much competition breathing down his neck, but Englishman Tommy Fleetwood had a strong overall performance to finish in second place at 9-under.

While there wasn't much drama on the green, emotions were still running for Lowry afterwards, as he thanked his parents while hoisting the claret jug. Tim O'Donnell

July 21, 2019

Remember Special Counsel Robert Mueller? Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) certainly does.

It was easy to lose sight of during this past week, as stories revolving around President Trump's racist tweets and maritime conflict in the Strait of Hormuz have dominated the headlines, but Mueller is set to testify before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees on Wednesday about his two-year investigation into 2016 Russian election interference.

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Nadler, the Judiciary Committee chair, told host Chris Wallace that he doesn't believe the public has moved on from the investigation. He also provided a very brief sneak peek about what type of questions to expect from the Democrats during the hearings. Spoiler: They're going to be very specific.

As for the Republicans? Nadler thinks they'll likely just be wasting their time by asking about alleged FBI misconduct.

At the end of the day, Nadler says, it is Trump's conduct which is under scrutiny, not the FBI's, and Nadler thinks there is "very substantial evidence" pointing toward the president being guilty of "high crimes and misdemeanors." Tim O'Donnell

July 21, 2019

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) had some strong words for President Trump on Sunday.

In appearances on CNN's State of the Union and CBS' Face the Nation, Booker tore into Trump over his racist tweets directed at four democratic congresswomen. A lot of the discourse around Trump's tweets has been about whether Republican members of Congress were willing to condemn them, or the president himself, as racist. Booker, of course, is not in the GOP, but the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate took the discussion to a new level.

In his CNN interview, Booker said Trump "is worse than a racist."

He doubled down on that line in his CBS interview, telling host Margaret Brennan that Trump is "using race like a weapon" to divide the country. He also added that this issue went beyond politics for him — if it had been a Republican on the receiving ends of the insults, Booker says he would react the same way. Tim O'Donnell

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