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Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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News Roundup

Manhattan’s trees can stay cozy; W. Va. teachers get pay hike, ending strike; Cohn departs, Conway accused of violating Hatch Act; Fyre Festival promoter faces decade in prison for fraud; more in U.S. news

New York

Manhattan’s trees can stay cozy

The New York City Parks Department says a cluster of trees in a Manhattan neighborhood can keep their crocheted sweaters. The Parks Department said it has reversed a prior decision to remove the trees’ sweaters after residents of the West Village neighborhood told the New York Post that the colorful threads on about two dozen neighborhood trees increased business and foot traffic. The department had a change of heart, spokesman Sam Biederman said, so officials will not remove the sweaters. Local business owner Holly Boardman installed the sweaters during Thanksgiving in order to beautify the neighborhood’s Christopher Street. That’s a sweet sentiment, but what about crocheting for people exposed to the elements?

Arizona

It’s a nay from this Starbucks drive-thru

A teen says she was denied service at a Starbucks drive-thru after she tried to order a Frappuccino while on a horse, of course. Phoenix’s KNXV-TV reported the Anthem store recently told Aspen Cline it wouldn’t serve her when she and Scout galloped up. The barista said the drive-thru couldn’t take her order but didn’t offer a reason, Cline said. Starbucks told the station that drive-thrus are for cars only, citing safety. However, many online videos show horse riders ordering lattes at Starbucks drive-thrus. Cline wanted the experience for her birthday and had planned to order Scout some cream, too.

West Virginia

Teachers cheer pay hike deal

Striking teachers celebrated Tuesday as lawmakers acted to end a nine-day classroom walkout, ceding them 5 percent pay hikes that are also being extended to all state workers. A huge crowd of teachers packing the Capitol wept, chanted "We love our kids!" and sang John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads. Their strike — in which teachers also helped feed students in need by packing and distributing meals with local charities while all public schools were closed — cast a spotlight on government dysfunction in one of the poorest states. The teachers also are some of the lowest-paid in the country. State schools superintendent Steve Paine said he was "pleased that our students, teachers and service personnel will return to school" today. "They’re going to be relieved to do what they love best, and that’s taking care of the kids and educating the kids of West Virginia," said Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association. The teachers had strong public backing throughout their walkout.

Washington, D.C.

Watchdog: Conway violated law

A federal watchdog says White House counselor Kellyanne Conway violated the federal law prohibiting government officials from using their positions to influence political campaigns. The Office of Special Counsel — unrelated to Robert Mueller — said Conway violated the Hatch Act twice last year when, on Fox News and CNN, she spoke out in favor of Republican Roy Moore and against his Democratic rival, eventual winner Sen. Doug Jones, in the Alabama race. The independent office sent its findings to President Donald Trump on Tuesday. Because she is a presidential appointee, it is up to Trump to decide what — if any — punishment she will receive. The White House disputed the agency’s findings.

Trump economic aide Cohn departs after trade disagreement

Top economic adviser Gary Cohn is leaving the White House after breaking with President Donald Trump on trade policy. The director of the National Economic Council, Cohn has been the leading internal opponent to Trump’s planned tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, working to orchestrate an eleventh-hour effort to get Trump to reverse course. But Trump resisted and reiterated Tuesday he will impose tariffs in the coming days. Cohn’s announcement came hours after Trump denied there was chaos in the White House.

Also making news

Paper ballots against Russia: President Donald Trump said Tuesday his administration is preparing "strong" measures to prevent Russia from meddling in midterm elections again after 2016’s election. Trump — seemingly out of the blue, as he often does — also touted an alternative to hacks of electronic voting systems: "It’s called paper," he said. Yeah, ask Florida about hanging chads.

Nashville mayor resigns, pleads guilty to theft: Mayor Megan Barry, once a rising star for Democrats, resigned Tuesday after pleading guilty to cheating Nashville out of thousands to carry on an affair with her bodyguard. Barry and Sgt. Robert Forrest separately pleaded guilty to felony theft and were sentenced to three years’ probation. Barry will reimburse $11,000, while Forrest will return $45,000.

Remember messy #FyreFraud swindling the rich?: Promoter Billy McFarland, 26, of the failed Fyre Festival in the Bahamas pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges Tuesday. He may serve up to a decade in prison for lying to investors and sending false documents. The 2017 Fyre Festival was promoted online by Kendall Jenner and other models and celebrities coaxing people into buying packages from $1,200 to over $100,000. But when attendees arrived, concerts were axed and they got luxe accommodations and gourmet food of leaky white tents and cheese sandwiches. — tbt* wires

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