Top 5 Live –WURD Monday March 16
1. Kremlin continues to deny rumors about Putin’s disappearance
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on a report from the independent news outlet Dozhd on Sunday that said Russian President Vladimir Putin had not been in Moscow for the last several days.
Putin, who has not been seen in public or on live television broadcasts for more than a week, postponed a meeting with Kazakh and Belarussian leaders last week.
Sources told Dozhd that the president was at his residence on Lake Valdai in Novgorod province. Peskov declined to comment when contacted by Dozhd.
A Kazakh government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters that Putin may have canceled the summit with the Belarussian and Kazakh leaders because of illness. Speaking to Reuters on Thursday, however, Peskov gave assurances that the 62-year-old president was in good health.
2. McConnell links vote on Attorney General nominee to trafficking bill
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that he will not schedule a vote to confirm Loretta Lynch as the nation’s next attorney general until the Senate breaks its impasse on a human trafficking bill.
McConnell said he was not issuing a “threat,” but by linking the two issues he is pressuring Democrats drop their objections to a provision in the trafficking bill that would prohibit money in a victim’s compensation fund from being used to fund abortions.
Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, called on McConnell to “keep his word” and schedule a vote on Lynch’s confirmation this week.
3. Teachers’ union endorses Kenney for mayor
In a mayoral race centered mostly on education, Jim Kenney has won the coveted endorsement of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
Kenney “has a record of accomplishments; his experience on Council helped him,” said PFT President Jerry Jordan. “He’s supported issues that make the city a better place. And without fanfare, Jim has been involved in doing things for schools.”
The union’s 12,000 members, not PFT leadership, decided who would get the endorsement, and “overwhelmingly” chose Kenney, Jordan said.
4. New documents: McCaffery had role in referral fees
Law firm records obtained by The Inquirer document several instances where former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery involved himself in referral cases for which his wife was paid.
In one case, the father of a slain police officer says his family has no recollection of ever speaking with McCaffery’s wife, even though a law firm paid her $96,000 for a referral.
Some law professors said McCaffery’s involvement in referrals violates the Code of Judicial Conduct’s ban on judges practicing law. Judges who violate the code can be removed from the bench and lose their pensions.
5. Suspect Arrested in Shooting of 2 Officers in Ferguson
Twenty-year-old Jeffrey Williams was charged with first-degree assault in Thursday’s shooting of two police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, according to St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch.
Williams acknowledged firing the shots, McCulloch said, adding that Williams, who is from north St. Louis County, was inside a car “at least for some of the shots.”
The suspect was found through information provided by community members. The alleged weapon was a .40 caliber handgun that authorities have recovered, the prosecutor said.
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Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com and morning host on 900 am WURD radio. Click here to learn more about Solomon