Educators, students see red
A sea of teachers clad in red shirts and holding "Money for Schools" signs reached the Arizona Capitol to press lawmakers for action Thursday, a key event in an unprecedented walkout that closed most of the state’s public schools. Tens of thousands of teachers and their supporters marched through downtown Phoenix to a rally to demand increased school funding on top of pay hikes offered by the Republican governor. Widespread walkouts also were under way in Colorado, where teachers protested at their own Capitol and some schools were shut down. Educators in both states want more classroom resources and have received offers either for increased school funding or pay, but they say the money isn’t guaranteed and the efforts aren’t enough. The walkouts are the climax of an educator uprising that spread from West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky. About half of all Colorado students will see their schools shuttered over two days as teachers take up the Arizona movement’s #RedforEd mantle. Teachers also are ensuring students in need receive free lunches during the strike.
Funerals set for 2 of 4 slain in Waffle House
Funeral arrangements and a vigil have been set for three of the four people killed in the Nashville Waffle House shooting rampage as donations poured in Thursday. A gunman identified as Travis Reinking attacked Sunday with an AR-15, police said. A vigil was Thursday for local musician Akilah Dasilva, 23. A visitation will be Friday for Belmont University senior DeEbony Groves, 21, with a funeral Saturday. A private viewing and memorial is Friday and Saturday for restaurant worker Taurean Sanderlin, 29. Also killed was Nashville resident Joe Perez, 20. Four white crosses have been erected outside the Waffle House, which reopened at orange ribbon-wearing workers’ request Wednesday. They are donating a month of the store’s profits to those affected. Police and lawmakers have praised injured customer James Shaw Jr. for wrestling away the shooter’s AR-15 rifle and saving lives. President Donald Trump hasn’t commented. Reinking had been arrested near the White House last year on a mission to speak to Trump. Shaw has raised more than $160,000 for the victims through a GoFundMe page while others have set one up for Shaw and ones for the victims. Police have said they still don’t know of a motive.
Ford ditches U.S. cars
Say goodbye to the Ford Taurus. The decadesold family-friendly sedan is being phased out in North America alongside the Fiesta subcompact, Fusion midsize sedan, Taurus large sedan and the C-Max van, Ford said. Eliminating most of the cars except for two models — the Ford Mustang and an upcoming Focus crossover — will allow the company to focus on its "winning portfolio" in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, Ford said. The changes will also allow the Detroit automaker to devote more resources to popular SUVs and trucks. Ford plans to bring 16 battery-electric vehicles to market by 2022. For more than a century, Ford has been associated with cars and eventually the world’s first moving assembly line. It is now driving in a new direction.
Gov’t to hike rent for poorest: The Trump administration has proposed legislation that could triple rents on the poorest tenants in federally subsidized housing as part of a push to redefine housing assistance as a temporary benefit. The legislation was spurred by Trump’s conservative budget director Mick Mulvaney and drafted by aides to Housing Secretary Ben Carson. The plan would also increase rents for elderly and disabled people after six years, agency officials said. But the new rules would hit the poorest residents hardest and affect about 712,000 families over the next several years.
EPA chief blames others for ethics woes: Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, yet another Trump official with his job on the line over ethical concerns, took heat from lawmakers Thursday over his reckless spending and lobbyist ties and tried to divert responsibility to underlings. Pruitt said "twisted" allegations against him were meant to undermine his anti-regulatory agenda, and he denied knowing details of some of the extraordinary spending on his behalf. Support has eroded for Pruitt among fellow Republicans after revelations about unusual security spending, first-class flights, a sweetheart condo lease and more. Democrats excoriated him. — tbt* wires