7:23 p.m.

The leader of a New Mexico militia arrested on Saturday allegedly boasted that his organization, the United Constitutional Patriots, trained to assassinate former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and George Soros, a complaint filed over the weekend states.

Larry Mitchell Hopkins, 69, was arrested on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. He is described as being the "commander" of the 20-member United Constitutional Patriots, a group that has been detaining migrant families crossing the southern border.

In the complaint, an FBI agent writes that someone called the agency's public tip line in October 2017, and said there was "alleged militia extremist activity" taking place in Hopkins' Flora Vista, New Mexico, home. This person also said Hopkins "allegedly made the statement that the United Constitutional Patriots were training to assassinate George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama," claiming that they were supporting anti-fascist activists. Hopkins' attorney denies his client said this.

FBI agents visited Hopkins' house in November 2017, and saw 10 firearms. Hopkins showed them several other weapons, and said they belonged to his common law wife, Fay Sanders Murphy, the affidavit says. After this visit, FBI agents found out Hopkins had prior felony convictions, including being found guilty in 2006 of criminal impersonation of a peace officer. Hopkins remains in custody, pending a preliminary hearing April 29 in Albuquerque. Catherine Garcia

1:57 p.m.

Back in 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came up with a plan to eradicate syphilis. But 20 years later, it's making a fierce comeback — and can, in certain cases, be described as an epidemic.


Research points to several causes that, when combined, have created a veritable breeding ground for syphilis, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease which, while it can initially fly under the radar, can lead to permanent brain damage, birth defects, and even death. It's "both treatable and curable," but our decaying public health system means that efforts at eliminating the disease are failing.

Federal funding for STD prevention has stagnated over the past 15 years, but accounting for deflation, that money is worth almost 40 percent less than in 2003. And in Midwestern states, where rural communities are bearing the brunt of the increase in syphilis cases, CDC funding has been cut, sometimes by tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, says the Post-Dispatch.

This problem is being exacerbated by people's misunderstanding of syphilis: The disease is sometimes called the "great imitator," because its symptoms are often diagnosed as something else.

With the advent of dating apps that can make sex anonymous, tracking where syphilis is coming from and how people are contracting it is becoming a fraught affair. And with the public health system "not even treading water" in some states, per syphilis transmission researcher Hilary Reno, there is little recourse for those trying to combat the disease.

Given all these influences, syphilis is having a field day. Missouri's cases have quadrupled from 2012 to 2018, and many Midwestern and Western states are seeing similar rises. Unfortunately, we're a far cry from the CDC's plan from back in 1999. Read more at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Shivani Ishwar

April 16, 2019

Since Game of Thrones premiered in 2011, hundreds of parents around the world have given their newborns names like "Daenerys," "Arya," and "Brienne" in honor of some of the most beloved characters on the show. But even the less beloved characters can serve as a source of inspiration, the BBC reports. In 2014 alone, 18 boys were given the name "Theon" in the U.K; in America, another 15 boys were given the name "Theon" that same year. An unknown number of Theons have likely been born since, too.

Theon Greyjoy is one of the most tragic characters on Game of Thrones, and that's saying something. The former ward of Lord Eddard Stark, Theon betrays his adopted family to take over the northern castle of Winterfell when the Starks are weak. In an effort to prove himself, he murders two farm boys and burns their bodies so that they're unrecognizable, claiming they're the Stark heirs Bran and Rickon. Theon is later captured by the sadistic Ramsay Bolton, who tortures him into submission over the course of three grueling seasons, including during season four in 2014. Theon eventually flees Ramsay with his adopted sister, Sansa Stark, but in season seven, when given a chance to save his sister Yara from his evil uncle during a naval battle, Theon jumps overboard, apparently out of cowardice. Only in season eight, which premiered on Sunday, has Theon's character arc finally started to show signs of a reversal.

While the parents of five-year-old Theons might claim they saw his redemption coming, it's still a bit of a puzzler why you might name your darling sweet child after a character who is best known for enduring brutal torture and betraying his entire family. When it comes to Game of Thrones baby names, it is best to just stick with "Khal" or "Khaleesi" to be safe. Jeva Lange

March 29, 2019

A former Nevada Assemblywoman and onetime candidate for the state's lieutenant governor, Lucy Flores, said on Friday that former Vice President Joe Biden kissed her without permission while backstage at her campaign rally in 2014.

Writing about the experience for The Cut, Flores says Biden approached her from behind, put his hands on her shoulders, and kissed the back of her head. She called the incident "demeaning and disrespectful," and said it made her feel "powerless."

"I'm not suggesting that Biden broke any laws," wrote Flores, saying she decided to come forward with the story despite concern it would be dismissed as minor or politically motivated.

Biden has faced criticism for what some call inappropriate contact with women over the years. Biden, who is reportedly on the brink of announcing a run for president, did not comment on Flores' recollection.

Read more at The Cut. Summer Meza

March 11, 2019

The wall may be the only thing staying consistent across President Trump's annual budget proposals.

Trump unveiled his 2020 budget plan Monday, which unsurprisingly included $8.6 billion in border wall funding despite his failure to get a quarter of that in 2019. More surprising is how much Trump sees the national debt growing through the next decade — and just how much America will have to fork over to pay it off.

In his 2018 budget proposal, Trump estimated America's national debt would expand from about $14.2 trillion in 2016 to $18.6 trillion in 2027. But now, his projections say America's debt will grow by more than $8 trillion to $24 trillion by 2027. That's nearly twice the debt growth Trump forecasted two years ago. This budget also erases the future surplus Trump once predicted.

This debt projection comes despite Trump's call to cut $845 billion from Medicare in 2020; it was all but counteracted by his call for a $750 billion defense budget increase. That all means, as The Washington Post notes, that the government's $482 billion debt interest payment will cost more than Medicaid next year.

As is obvious from this year's budget fiasco turned longest government shutdown ever, the president's spending plan doesn't usually come to fruition. But even though we're months from negotiations, Trump's proposal doesn't look too promising. Kathryn Krawczyk

February 21, 2019

Chicago police said on Thursday that actor Jussie Smollett staged a fake hate crime because he wasn't happy with his Empire salary.

After bringing Smollett into custody and charging him with filing a false police report, police said in a press conference that Smollett orchestrated a "publicity stunt" that has left a "scar on Chicago." Authorities for the first time alleged a motive in the case, saying Smollett was dissatisfied with his pay.

Smollett had claimed he was attacked by two men who beat him, tied a rope around his neck, and screamed, "This is MAGA country!" But Chicago police said Thursday he actually paid the two men, two Nigerian brothers, $3,500 to attack him, and that they have the checks to prove it. The brothers, one of whom worked on Empire, were the ones to tell police about Smollett's motive, authorities added.

Police also said Smollett was not hurt "other than scratches on his face" and that these injuries "were most likely self-inflicted." Smollett had said he received a threatening letter prior to the alleged attack, but police said Smollett was also responsible for sending this letter.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson went after Smollett for his alleged hoax, asking, "Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?" Johnson also said that Smollett "took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career" and that what he did is "shameful." Brendan Morrow

February 20, 2019

Federal prosecutors say that a U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant arrested last week on drug and gun charges wanted to "murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country."

Christopher Paul Hasson was arrested on Feb. 15, and investigators discovered 15 firearms and 1,000 rounds of ammunition in his Silver Spring, Maryland, home, court documents say. Prosecutors allege that Hasson was a "domestic terrorist" who held extremist views and described himself in a document found on his computer as a "long time White Nationalist, having been a skinhead 30 plus years ago before my time in the military."

Prosecutors say from January 2017 to January 2019, Hasson read "neo-fascist and neo-Nazi literature" online, and on Jan. 17 he searched "what if trump illegally impeached," "best place in dc to see congress people," and "civil war if trump impeached." On that same day, he compiled a list of "political leaders, media leaders, cultural leaders, and industry leaders" he wanted to target, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, Ari Melber, and Chris Hayes, and CNN's Chris Cuomo, Don Lemon, and Van Jones.

A law enforcement source told NBC News that the Coast Guard flagged Hasson because he was searching extremist websites while using his work computer. Catherine Garcia

February 19, 2019

Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano says that if a bombshell New York Times report about President Trump asking then-Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to put one of his allies in charge of the Michael Cohen investigation is correct, this was "an attempt to obstruct justice."

Trump wanted Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, to take the Cohen case, the Times reports; because of a conflict of interest, he had recused himself. While discussing the report with anchor Shepard Smith on Tuesday, Napolitano said such a phone call shows "corrupt intent. That is an effort to use the levers of power of the government for a corrupt purpose, to deflect an investigation into himself or his allies."

Smith asked if this was obstruction of justice, and Napolitano explained it was "attempted obstruction. It would only be obstruction if it succeeded. If you tried to interfere with a criminal prosecution that may knock at your own door by putting your ally in there, that is clearly an attempt to obstruct justice." He also warned that Whitaker, who testified to Congress that the White House never asked for "promises or commitments" about any investigations, could face his own legal issues. "There's two potential crimes here for Matt Whitaker," Napolitano said. "One is actual perjury, lying to the Congress. The other is misleading. Remember, you can be truthful but still misleading." Catherine Garcia

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