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Kurt Volker, the US special envoy for Ukraine, submits resignation

Evan Lewis

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Kurt Volker resignation
Image Credit: Politico

Kurt Volker, the US special representative for Ukraine, has resigned from his post, confirmed NBC News on Friday. Volker informed about his resignation to Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state on Friday but did not offer any public explanation.

Volker served in the special envoy role in an attempt to aid Ukraine to resolve its confrontation with Russia-sponsored militant separatists.

A whistle-blower complaint on Thursday alleged that Volker tried to coverup the damage done by the efforts of Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer to pressurize Ukraine on investigating Democrats. The complaint identified Volker among the officials advising Ukrainians on how to operate Giuliani’s campaign.

On Friday, the House officials announced that they had plans of interviewing Volker on Thursday in one deposition.

A source familiar with Volker’s resignation told NBC News that stepping down from the post will let Volker remain freer. He will be able to say what he feels when Congress calls him to testify about Ukraine and Trump administration.

The source further said Volker was attempting to create a firewall between his other ventures and government work to protect the former.

Neither the state department nor Volker has commented on the matter.

Congressional Democrats now are carrying out an impeachment probe of Trump. They have also asked Volker to submit a testimony concerning Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

During the phone call, Trump pressed Zelensky to investigate ex-Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. as well as other Democrats. Volker wasn’t a part of this phone call between Trump and Zelensky. However, he is still a major player in whistle-blower complaints.

The stock markets until now have hugely dispelled the impeachment probe. Even if the House of Representatives did impeach Trump, it won’t affect his post unless the Senate discovered him guilty.

Student-run news publication State Press was the first to report about Volker’s resignation.

Evan is the mind behind News Brig as he founded the website. Over the years, while working for a media house company, he has been gaining experience in the field of journalism. Once he was bored with doing a day job, he thought of starting something for his own. That is when News Brig was started on which he started to publish the latest news bulletins. Being a Movie and Tech geek, he keeps himself updated about the latest Entertainment and Tech trends, and he does write the latest tech news on the website. Apart from writing news, he is the one who manages the technical side of the website as well. Apart from his work, he is a family man, and he spends a lot of time with his wife and other family members.

General News

Arizona schools closed for the rest of the school year

Tori Holland

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Arizona schools closed for the rest of the school year

Gov. Doug Ducey has extended the closure of all Arizona schools through the end of this school year.

In a joint statement Monday with Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman, Ducey wrote that the decision was made to align with guidance from the federal government.

“These efforts are crucial, and we recognize that schools are making every effort possible to continue providing instruction during closures,” they wrote in the statement.

On Friday, Ducey signed legislation to allow students to finish the school year from home.

The plan mandates that schools offer classes in an alternative format, presumably online, so students could finish out the school year from home. It also includes provisions to ensure seniors in high school graduate.

Some districts have posted online material, and teachers are reaching out to parents and students with work.

Other measures outlined in the new law:

  • “Provide flexibility” to schools in delivering education to special education students.
  • Allow public schools to continue to pay employees if they agree to work from home or take a reassignment, if necessary.
  • Allow schools to use funding from this school year for summer school.
  • Require the state Board of Education to revise graduation requirements for the 2019-2020 school year.

Will seniors still graduate?

School administrators, including Chad Geston of Phoenix Union High School District, have made statements to reassure high school seniors: Officials will do what they can to make sure those on track to graduate before coronavirus disruptions still graduate.

The legislation state lawmakers passed includes a provision that directs the Arizona State Board of Education to revise graduation requirements. The board is meeting on Tuesday to discuss revised requirements.

What about students who rely on school meals?

Ducey’s order asks schools to keep nutrition programs going, while minimizing contact to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

School districts have responded, feeding thousands of students through drive-thru meal pickups.

Will Arizona still conduct state testing?

No.

The U.S. Department of Education announced that it would drop the federal testing mandate for public schools for this year.

Are teachers and school employees still getting paid?

Yes. The legislation allows school employees to get paid even during school closures. The bill requires educators and school employees to work remotely.

Rep. Michelle Udall, R-Mesa, who proposed the bill, said school staffers might see their jobs change, and they could even be assigned to call students and check in on school work.

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Phoenix police commander killed, 2 others wounded in shooting

Tori Holland

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Phoenix police commander killed, 2 others wounded in shooting

PHOENIX — A Phoenix police commander was killed and two other officers were injured Sunday night in a shooting on the city’s north side during a domestic violence call, police said.

Cmdr. Greg Carnicle was killed in the incident in the 23800 block of North 40th Drive, near Pinnacle Peak Road, the department announced on Twitter.

Sgt. Mercedes Fortune said at a news conference that the incident began about 7 p.m. when officers arrived for calls reporting a dispute between roommates, KNXV reported.

Fortune said that upon the officers’ arrival, the suspect was not cooperating with officers and shot them, the Arizona Republic reported.

The suspect was still inside the scene of the shooting and the situation was active as of 10 p.m. Sunday, Fortune told the Republic.

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams praised the officers.

“Tonight we lost a true hero. Greg Carnicle was a 31-year veteran of our department,” Williams said.

The other two officers who were shot are in stable condition, she said. One woman is out of surgery, and another is recovering from her wounds, Williams told the Republic.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the police department said Carnicle “held positions throughout the department including the special assignments unit, K9 and he most recently oversaw all evening and weekend patrol operations.”

Carnicle is survived by his wife and four children, Fortune said at the news conference.

Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel expressed support for the police department. “We stand with the Phoenix Police Department and all of our first responders. We are so saddened by this loss,” she said.

Before the announcement of Carnicle’s death, Col. Frank Milstead, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety wrote on Twitter that “I have no exact details on the condition of the 3 @PhoenixPolice officers who were shot tonight. My heart is with the families of the wounded and the women and men of the Department. Pray for @PhxPDChief Jeri Williams and her team. Godspeed.”

Mayor Kate Gallego said she has been informed of the shooting, She wrote on Twitter: “Our thoughts are with the loved ones of these officers and the entire Phoenix Police Department. Please keep these individuals in your thoughts.”

In a tweet, Gov, Doug Ducey asked the public to “join me in praying for these officers, their families, and the entire @PhoenixPolice community.”

The most recent death of a Phoenix police officer in the line of duty was in March 2019 when Officer Paul Thomas Rutherford was struck by a vehicle. The last officers killed by gunfire were Officer David Van Glasser in May 2016 and Detective John Thomas Hobbs in March 2014.

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USNS Comfort arrives in NYC to help city’s coronavirus fight

Tori Holland

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USNS Comfort arrives in NYC to help city’s coronavirus fight

The USNS Comfort hospital ship arrived in New York Harbor on Monday morning to aid in the coronavirus fight.

Dispatched Saturday by President Trump from Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, the craft arrived at Manhattan’s Pier 90 at 10:42 a.m., as helicopters hovered above and a few dozen onlookers braved social-distancing regulations to catch a glimpse.

The vessel has a capacity of 1,000 beds, sorely needed as the contagion continues to strain the capacities of brick-and-mortar facilities.

“#NYPD Harbor and Aviation escort the @USNavy USNS Comfort as it enters New York Harbor,” the department’s Special Operations division wrote in a tweet, along with a video of the mammoth hospital ship cutting through an overcast Monday morning.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo also heralded the arrival of reinforcements, tweeting a video shot from aboard a New York State Police boat escorting the 70,000-ton Comfort.

“The Comfort brings 1,000 much-needed hospital beds & 1,200 personnel to New York,” tweeted Cuomo, who noted that he would receive a briefing upon its arrival at Manhattan’s Pier 90.

A converted supertanker, the Comfort was also deployed to New York in the dark days after 9/11, and is equipped with 12 operating rooms and a full staff of doctors, nurses and medical specialists.

Rather than take on victims of the pandemic, it’s expected that the Comfort will treat patients with other injuries and ailments, freeing up city hospital beds for those who need them most.

Cuomo has said that the Empire State will require at least 140,000 hospital beds before the coronavirus has run its course — more than double its standing capacity of 53,000.

To make ends meet, the governor has ordered hospitals statewide to increase their capacities by a minimum of 50-percent, while the federal government has set up makeshift hospitals in the Javits Center, with eyes towards other venues.

An evangelical Christian relief organization, meanwhile, erected on Sunday the first of an eventual 14 hospital tents on Central Park’s East Meadow.

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