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Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

A free market energy group is criticizing Energy Secretary Rick Perry after he announced nearly $4 billion in loan guarantees for a beleaguered nuclear construction project.

“We oppose federal loan guarantees for any energy source, period,” said Thomas Pyle, the president of the American Energy Alliance (AEA), in a Friday statement. “Nuclear power is an important part of our nation’s energy mix, but the federal government shouldn’t be in the business of providing loans for any energy source. Instead, it should stay out of energy markets and work to remove government subsidies and mandates to allow all energy sources to compete on a level playing field.”

The AEA’s statement comes after Perry visited Waynesboro, Georgia, on Friday and announced $3.7 billion in additional federal loans for the primary owners of a nuclear power project that has been beset with delays and cost overruns.

The Department of Energy is guaranteeing up to $1.67 billion in loans for Georgia Power, up to $1.6 billion for Oglethorpe Power, and up to $414.7 million for the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG Power). The three utilities are co-owners of the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant.

The loans are to help Vogtle’s construction of its two latest nuclear reactors: Units 3 and 4. The two units, which are the only nuclear reactors under construction in the entire country, were originally planned to be completed by 2017, but have been plagued with construction delays and ballooning costs. Unit 3 will not be ready to be loaded with fuel until 2020, and Unit 4 won’t go online until 2021.

Construction of the two units are expected to cost a total of $27 billion, and the announcement by Perry on Friday marks a total of $12 billion in federal loan guarantees to help keep the project afloat.

Vogtle’s struggles have been emblematic of the country’s nuclear industry.

The U.S. nuclear fleet is suffering under an unfriendly market. Competing against cheap natural gas and subsidy-backed renewables, numerous nuclear plants have been rendered unprofitable. Six nuclear plants closed in just the past six years. The horizon does not look much better for nuclear proponents, with nine other plants expected to shut down by 2025.

The Vogtle Unit 3 and 4 site, being constructed by primary contactor Westinghouse, is seen near Waynesboro

The Vogtle Unit 3, being constructed by primary contactor Westinghouse, a business unit of Toshiba, near Waynesboro, Georgia, U.S. is seen in an aerial photo taken March 2017. Georgia Power/Handout via REUTERS

However, the Trump administration, along with a growing number of climate activists, is raising concerns over the plight of the nuclear industry, realizing that the closure of these plants means the end of a major source of zero-carbon energy. Unlike solar or wind, nuclear can generate large amounts of electricity — and unlike fossil fuels, it can do so while releasing no carbon emissions. (RELATED: Why Are Record Amounts Of Cash Being Dumped Into Georgia’s Utility Commissioner Race?)

“The Vogtle project is critically important to supporting the Administration’s direction to revitalize and expand the U.S. nuclear industry,” Perry said Friday, calling the two reactors the “real” Green New Deal. “A strong nuclear industry supports a reliable and resilient grid, and strengthens our energy and national security.”

However, free market and consumer groups have continued to criticize the federal government’s assistance of Vogtle, with the AEA calling for the Trump administration to stay out of energy markets entirely.

The Department of Energy did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation in time for publication of this article.

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Neetu Chandak | Education and Politics Reporter

A man was caught on video kicking a 78-year-old woman in the face on a New York City subway as others watched on earlier in March.

The video shows others on the train filming with their phones and yelling.

“This is an extremely disturbing video,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) spokeswoman Amanda Kwan said, according to the New York Post on Friday.

WATCH (warning, graphic content):

The New York Police Department (NYPD) told The Daily Caller News Foundation over email the incident occurred March 10 around 3 a.m.

“The individual is described as a male Black, approximately 40-years-old, 6’0″, 180 lbs., with a black goatee,” NYPD told TheDCNF. “He was last seen wearing a black jacket, black knit cap, long black and white checkered scarf, metal framed glasses, and black pants.”

Nobody immediately called the police, the Post reported. (RELATED: Police: Two People Pretending To Be Officers Abduct Woman, Drop Her Off At Police Headquarters)

“It’s terrible,” an MTA worker said, according to the Post. “I can’t believe something like that could happen.”

The woman was treated for swelling, cuts to the face and bleeding, according to NYPD.

This is not the first altercation that has occurred on or near a New York City subway. An MS-13 gang member was taken into custody in February after allegedly killing a man at a subway station.

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Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly returned a $55,000 paycheck he earned for a speech in the United Arab Emirates, possibly avoiding the appearance of ties to a foreign government accused of violating basic human rights.

Kelly, a former astronaut, is angling for Republican Arizona Sen. Martha McSally’s seat in 2020. He was reportedly paid for the June 2018 speech at an event sponsored by the UAE’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, according to CNN Friday.

The crown prince is also in charge of the country’s military, which cooperated with a Saudi Arabian-led military coalition in Yemen reportedly guilty of war crimes — a claim the country denies. Kelly and his brother, fellow astronaut Scott Kelly, delivered a lecture titled “The Sky is not the Limit: Life Lessons from NASA’s Kelly Brothers,” according to CNN. (RELATED: Dan Crenshaw Breaks Silence On Trump’s McCain Feud)

“Like many other former astronauts, Mark has given speeches to a variety of groups about his experiences in space, the United States Navy, and how he and (his wife, former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords) worked together to overcome tragedy. This engagement was focused entirely on Mark sharing his experiences in space and discussing our countries’ space programs,” Kelly campaign spokesman Jacob Peters said in a statement to CNN.

Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly attend the 2018 Glamour Women Of The Year Awards: Women Rise on November 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Glamour)

Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly attend the 2018 Glamour Women Of The Year Awards: Women Rise on November 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Glamour)

NASA and the UAE have formally agreed to cooperate on space research in the past.

Kelly has said he will not take a dime of corporate PAC money. He’s teeing up a race against McSally, who was appointed to the late Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain’s Senate seat in January.

If Kelly can beat McSally, Arizona will be represented by two Democratic senators for the first time since the 1950s. She lost her 2018 Senate bid to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema by roughly 2.5 percentage points.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller will not issue any additional indictments in the Russia investigation and has not filed any charges under seal, a senior Justice Department official told news outlets Friday.

The revelation would seem to be a positive sign for President Donald Trump and several Trump associates who faced legal jeopardy in the Mueller probe. It also means no Trump associates will face charges related to the main focus of the special counsel’s investigation: whether Trump of members of his campaign conspired with Russians to influence the 2016 election. (RELATED: BREAKING: Mueller Submits Report To Justice Department)

Mueller was appointed special counsel May 17, 2017. In those 22 months, Mueller has indicted or obtained guilty pleas from six Trump associates, most recently Jan. 24 against longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone. None of the Trump associates faced charges related to contacts with Russia.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: Special counsel Robert Mueller (L) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee June 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee meets with Mueller to discuss the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Special counsel Robert Mueller (L) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee June 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Mueller provided a report of his investigation Friday to Attorney General William Barr, signaling the end of the probe. Barr notified the leaders of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees that he had received the report and would likely provide more details to Congress over the weekend.

Trump critics have long speculated that Mueller would release a slew of indictments prior to or shortly after submitting his final report. Others asserted Mueller had filed a batch of sealed indictments that would be released at some point during the probe.

None of those predictions proved accurate.

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Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

  • A coalition of 500 cities, counties and Native American tribes is suing OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and some members of the billionaire family that controls it over the country’s deadly opioid crisis.
  • “This nation is facing an unprecedented opioid addiction epidemic that was initiated and perpetuated by the Sackler defendants for their own financial gain,” attorneys representing the communities wrote in the filing.
  • A spokesperson for certain members of the Sackler family denied the allegations and called them “baseless.”

A coalition of 500 cities, counties and Native American tribes is suing OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and some members of the billionaire family that controls it over the country’s deadly opioid crisis.

The suit against Purdue Pharma and at least eight members of the Sackler family was filed earlier in March in a southern New York federal court, reported The Guardian Friday.

“This nation is facing an unprecedented opioid addiction epidemic that was initiated and perpetuated by the Sackler defendants for their own financial gain,” attorneys representing the communities wrote in the filing, according to CBS News. (RELATED: Prestigious London Art Museum Says It Won’t Be Taking Donation Linked To Purdue Pharma’s Sackler Family)

The suit is being brought by communities in 26 states and eight tribes, CBS reported. It accuses the parties of racketeering.

The suit alleges that while the Sackler family has an estimated net worth of $13 billion, the opioid crisis cost the U.S. over $504 billion as of 2015. The suit also links the opioid crisis to allegedly aggressive and even deceptive marketing of prescription opioids by Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family.

A pharmacist holds prescription painkiller OxyContin, 40mg pills, made by Purdue Pharma L.D. at a local pharmacy, in Provo, Utah, U.S., April 25, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey

A pharmacist holds prescription painkiller OxyContin, 40mg pills, made by Purdue Pharma L.D. at a local pharmacy, in Provo, Utah, U.S., April 25, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey

A spokesperson for the Dr. Mortimer and Dr. Raymond Sackler families issued the following statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation:

These baseless allegations place blame where it does not belong for a complex public health crisis, and we deny them. The company our fathers and grandfathers founded manufactures an FDA-approved medicine that has always represented a tiny portion of the opioid market — never more than four percent of nationwide opioid prescriptions and currently less than two percent — while providing life-changing relief for the millions of pain patients who need it. While we have always acted properly, we remain committed to making a meaningful contribution to solutions that save lives by preventing diversion and abuse of prescription medicines and treating those who are suffering from addiction.

Purdue Pharma issued a statement to TheDCNF that read in part:

This complaint is part of a continuing effort by contingency fee counsel to single out Purdue, blame it for the entire opioid crisis in the United States, and try the case in the court of public opinion rather than the justice system. … Instead, the plaintiffs are seeking to publicly vilify Purdue, its executives, employees and former directors while unfairly undermining the important work we have taken to address the opioid crisis. The complaint is riddled with inaccurate allegations. Absent from the complaint is any acknowledgement of the fact that most opioid overdoses now result from heroin and illicit fentanyl. In fact, rates of overdoses from illegal fentanyl have skyrocketed.

This suit is the latest in a litany of legal action against Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family in multiple states. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has gotten press for filing a suit in June 2018 alleging the parties misled doctors and patients about the risks of opioids to increase prescriptions.

“They don’t want to accept blame for this. They blame doctors, they blame prescribers and worst of all, they blame patients,” Healey told CBS News.

Some critics blame the way Purdue Pharma promoted OxyContin for the roughly 200,000 prescription opioid-related overdose deaths since 1999.

One of London’s most prestigious art institutions will not be accepting a grant worth roughly $1.3 million dollars from the Sackler Trust, an organization connected to the late Mortimer Sackler.

Other prescription opioid makers are starting to face lawsuits like the ones brought against Purdue Pharma. An Oklahoma suit against several drugmakers will paint Johnson & Johnson as an opioid “kingpin,” according to media reports in mid-March.

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Neetu Chandak | Education and Politics Reporter

Dutch officials said a suspected gunman admitted to killing three people in the Netherlands shooting on a Utrecht tram Monday.

Gokmen Tanis, 37, admitted to three terrorism-related charges, BBC reported Friday. (RELATED: Dutch Police Searching For Turkish Man After Tram Shooting Leaves 3 Dead, 5 Injured)

A 19-year-old woman and two men, 28 and 49, were killed. The suspected gunman also wounded five other people.

Authorities are still investigating whether Tanis was motivated by terrorism or personal issues along with radicalized ideas, BBC reported. Police considered Tanis, who was born in Turkey, might have had a terrorist motive after finding a letter in his getaway vehicle.

Officials evacuated all mosques in Utrecht and security was temporarily increased at mosques around the country, The New York Times reported. It is unclear whether evacuations were due to a specific threat or were done to be cautious after the deadly mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand Friday.

A child places flowers at a makeshift memorial at the site of a tram shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

A child places flowers at a makeshift memorial at the site of a tram shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

Zabit Elmaci, who used to work with Tanis, said he was “always in trouble,” according to the Times.

A judge extended Tanis’s detention for two more weeks Friday, BBC reported. Investigation is ongoing.

This is not the first terror-related incident the Netherlands has faced in recent time. Seven men were arrested for conspiring to commit a major terrorist attack in the country and an Afghan man stabbed two Americans in a railway station in September 2018.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller has submitted his report of the Russia investigation to Attorney General William Barr, numerous news outlets are reporting.

Washington Post reporter Ellen Nakashima first broke the news Friday on Twitter.

The House Judiciary Committee and a spokesman for Mueller’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Check back for updates.

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Whitney Tipton | Contributor

The Port Commission of San Francisco is set to approve a prime Embarcadero waterfront location for what will be the largest homeless shelter in the city.

The commissioners, appointed by the mayor, are scheduled to vote on the proposal April 23. It is expected to be approved. “The commission is likely to support the mayor’s proposal, but has a strong track record of engaging with the community,” said Elaine Forbes, the port’s executive director, in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle.

The facility, called a “SAFE Navigation Center,” (Shelter Access For Everyone) is planned to house at least 175 people and provide comprehensive social services for the area’s homeless, including care for pets and access to storage, according to Jeff Kositsky, executive director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.

The Embarcadero district of San Francisco looking toward the Oakland Bay Bridge is seen from the Coit Tower in this photo taken July 13, 2008. A 27.1 percent slump in June from a year earlier pushed the median price paid for a home in the San Francisco Bay area, one of the priciest U.S. housing markets, to below $500,000 for the first time in four years, a report said July 17, 2008. Photo taken July 13, 2008. REUTERS/Lisa Baertlein

The Embarcadero district of San Francisco looking toward the Oakland Bay Bridge is seen from the Coit Tower in this photo taken July 13, 2008. REUTERS/Lisa Baertlein

The shelter will be located at Seawall Lot 330, directly across from piers 30/32, and is estimated to be open for four years. The area around the proposed shelter site is densely residential, consisting mainly of high-end apartment homes in the Rincon Hill and South Beach neighborhoods, ranging from $750,000 to millions of dollars, per Zillow.

San Francisco has an average daily homeless population of 7,500, according to the 2017 San Francisco Homeless Count & Survey, and an estimated 4,300 sleep on the streets each night. Democratic Mayor London Breed announced her plan last October to add 1000 beds for the city’s homeless by the end of 2020.

She unveiled the proposed shelter site on March 4. “To help those living on our streets, we need to meet people with shelters and services where they are,” Breed said in a statement. “The waterfront has a number of challenges around homelessness.” Seawall Lot 330 is owned by the Port of San Francisco, so the Port Commission’s approval is required.

To speed up the project, Breed introduced legislation in January declaring a shelter crisis for San Francisco, along with ordinances to expedite developmental red tape. Eight days after the announcement, residents were invited to share concerns at the Port Commission’s scheduled March 12 meeting.

The public comments were overwhelming negative, with many residents displaying visible emotion during speeches, which were limited to two minutes each. Most of their issues related to increased crime, drugs, loitering and garbage. The meeting was broadcast on San Francisco Government TV.

“We’ve seen more homeless folks on the waterfront, sleeping inside of pier sheds that are vacant. More people are showing signs of needing care and shelter. We, like the rest of the city, have been experiencing more homelessness issues, and we want to find real solutions to address this humanitarian crisis.” (RELATED: Remember The Failing Homeless Shelter In The San Francisco School Gym? Board Members Try To Keep It Around By Increasing Access To More Families)

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Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

President Donald Trump announced on Twitter Friday he was reversing course on new sanctions on Chinese companies doing business with North Korea.

“It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea,” Trump wrote. “I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!”

The U.S. Treasury had announced the new sanctions Thursday, not Friday as Trump wrote, and they immediately received “swift pushback” from both the Chinese and North Korean governments, reported Fox News. (RELATED: Dan Crenshaw Breaks Silence On Trump’s McCain Feud)

“President Trump likes Chairman Kim [Jong Un] and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said when asked about Trump’s tweet.

President Donald Trump (R) and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un hold a meeting during the second US-North Korea summit at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi on February 28, 2019. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump (R) and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un hold a meeting during the second US-North Korea summit at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi on February 28, 2019. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump’s decision came a day after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin detailed the U.S. decision to impose sanctions on two China-based companies.

“The United States and our like-minded partners remain committed to achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea and believe that the full implementation of North Korea-related UN Security Council resolutions is crucial to a successful outcome,” Mnuchin said in a statement Thursday, according to Fox News. “Treasury will continue to enforce our sanctions, and we are making it explicitly clear that shipping companies employing deceptive tactics to mask illicit trade with North Korea expose themselves to great risk.”

Trump and Kim may have another summit this year after their most recent summit in late February fell apart.

Trump had used Twitter in early March to weigh in on the U.S. and South Korea’s decision to end their annual large-scale joint military exercises.

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A bill that would allow taxpayers to donate a part of their refunds to a nonprofit collecting money to build more border wall has successfully passed the Alabama Senate.

Alabama state senators voted 23-6 along party lines Thursday in favor of SB 22, the Montgomery Advertiser reported. The legislation would add We Build The Wall Inc. to a list of about 20 groups and programs on state income tax forms that residents can check off and donate with their tax refunds.

“I think it’s a way for Alabamians to say to the president and to the nation that we think strong border security is important. We want to promote that. We want Washington to build that wall,” GOP Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, the bill’s sponsor, stated according to The Associated Press.

“This bill is about sending a message to Washington that we support President Trump and his mission to secure our southern border,” Marsh said, who is mulling a 2020 U.S. Senate bid.

We Build The Wall — which began in December as a viral GoFundMe campaign by Air Force veteran and triple amputee Brian Kolfage — is a nonprofit group that is raising money for wall construction on the U.S.-Mexico border. The GoFundMe page is nearing $21,000,000 in donations.

However, the legislation may be more symbolic than anything else. Before funds from We Build The Wall can be used, Congress must vote to allow the money to be directed to the Department of Homeland Security. Given that the Democratic Party controls the House of Representatives, this is unlikely to happen in the immediate future.

The private contributions are rolling in as President Donald Trump continues to fight for more wall funding. Trump signed into law a resolution that gave him $1.375 billion to build 55 miles of barrier on the Texas border. He then declared a national emergency that has allowed him a total of $8 billion in funding, but numerous progressive groups are suing his emergency declaration in court.

People work on the U.S./ Mexican border wall on February 12, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

People work on the U.S.-Mexic0 border wall on Feb. 12, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The president, in his latest budget proposal, is asking for an additional $8.6 billion in wall funding.

Back in Alabama, local Democrats derided SB 22, which will later be voted on by the state House.

“What about the Northern border? More people are crossing over the Northern border but you don’t want to pay them any attention,” Alabama state Sen. Bobby Singleton, a Democrat who called the measure a “feel good” bill, said according to AP. (RELATED: Overwhelmed ICE Facilities Forced To Release 100,000 Illegal Aliens In Past Three Months)

Singleton’s comments are technically correct. Over 960 people have illegally crossed the U.S.-Canada border in 2018, according to government data, representing a 91 percent increase from the previous fiscal year. However, that number remains a minuscule fraction of the apprehensions taking place on the U.S.-Mexico border, where border officials expect to find nearly 100,000 foreign nationals in the month of March alone.

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