Pelosi pushes for special panel on Russia probe; Dakota Access pipeline leaked 84 gallons of oil in April; DeVos booed speaking at historically black university; US risks a backlash for its growing role in Syrian conflict.
Pelosi pushes for special panel on Russia probe
WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is threatening to use a parliamentary maneuver to force a vote on a bill that would create an independent panel to investigate possible contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Pelosi says in a letter Wednesday to House Democrats that they'll file a discharge petition if Speaker Paul Ryan doesn't call up the legislation "immediately upon our return next week." The House is on recess this week.
A discharge petition allows a measure to be brought straight to the floor, bypassing consideration by committee. But successes are rare through this approach because a majority of House members must sign the petition.
Pelosi says the "fireworks at the Department of Justice demand that we remove the investigation from the Trump-appointed Justice Department leadership."
Dakota Access pipeline leaked 84 gallons of oil in April
BISMARCK, N.D. — The Dakota Access pipeline leaked 84 gallons of oil in South Dakota early last month, which an American Indian tribe says bolsters its argument that the pipeline jeopardizes its water supply and deserves further environmental review.
The April 4 spill was relatively small and was quickly cleaned up, and it didn't threaten any waterways. The state's Department of Environment and Natural Resources posted a report in its website's searchable database, but it didn't take any other steps to announce it to the public, despite an ongoing lawsuit by four Sioux tribes seeking to shut down the pipeline.
Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist with the agency, said Wednesday that the state doesn't issue news releases on spills unless there is a threat to public health, a fishery or a drinking water system. He said there was no such threat with the Dakota Access leak, which happened nearly 100 miles east of the Missouri River's Lake Oahe reservoir, which is the tribes' water supply.
DeVos booed speaking at historically black university
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Many of the graduating students turned their backs on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and boos nearly drowned out her commencement speech Wednesday at Bethune-Cookman University.
DeVos carried on with her keynote address to the historically black university, praising its founder Mary McLeod Bethune as someone who "refused to accept systemic and repulsive racism," and had "the courage to change old ideas."
"Let's choose to hear one another out," DeVos said, reading her prepared text in a measured tone despite continuing waves of boos, catcalls and scattered applause.
As the crowd kept trying to shout her down, university president Edison Jackson briefly took over the microphone to lecture the students before she continued.
"If this behavior continues, your degrees will be mailed to you. Choose which way you want to go," Jackson warned.
US risks a backlash for its growing role in Syrian conflict
BEIRUT — With the Trump administration's decision to supply Syria's Kurdish fighters with heavier weapons, U.S. troops inside Syria are in the crossfire between Turkey, a powerful NATO ally, and the Kurdish fighters that Ankara deems as terrorists.
In only a few months under President Donald Trump, the U.S. has almost doubled the number of troops in northern Syria, taking a highly visible role that also risks a backlash from militants such as the Islamic State group and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, and even pro-Turkey Syrian fighters angered by the U.S. move to arm the Kurds.
Tuesday's decision to arm the Kurds is a public rebuff to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a week before he meets Trump in Washington. For months, Erdogan has been trying to convince the U.S. to cut off its support for the Kurds and partner instead with Turkey-backed fighters to liberate the Islamic State group stronghold of Raqqa.
The dispute could ignite more fighting between Turkey and the Kurds as they gear up for a major operation to retake the city, with U.S. troops smack in the middle.