Missouri Governor Greitens Denies Blackmailing Mistress; Former Idaho State Rep Brandon Hixon Commits Suicide, Ex-Wife Says He Was Investigated for Molestation; House Votes to Extend Controversial Surveillance Act; James Franco Accused of Sexual Misconduct; South Florida Man Attacked by Bear; Walmart Announces They Will Increase Minimum Wage to $11; Trump Administration Supports Medicaid Work Requirements; Vermont Legislature Votes To Legalize Marijuana; Woman Discharged by Baltimore Hospital While Still Wearing Gown and Socks in Cold Weather
Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Thursday, January 11. Ready for news?
The Missouri State Governor Eric Greitens ( R ) is now in a controversy because he was accused of blackmailing a woman he had an affair before he ran for office in 2015.
Gov. Greitens has admitted to the affair, but has denied blackmailing the woman.
Last night a local news station, KMOV, reported about this after the governor had finished his State of the State address.
The news said that during the affair, the governor took photographs and video of the women so he had leverage to keep the relationship a secret — which would be “blackmail.” This was revealed by the woman’s ex-husband.
The governor’s lawyer issued a statement saying the news report was false and that it was a personal matter.
There is now intense pressure on Gov. Greitens. Some have called on him to resign.
On Tuesday morning, a former Idaho State Representative Brandon Hixon ( R ) shot and killed himself at his home. He was 36 years old.
Brandon resigned in October after it was revealed that there was a police investigation of sexual abuse. He then got in trouble, being arrested twice for driving under the influence.
The Idaho state legislature had made nice comments to honor him, sent condolences to his family, and prayed for him.
But today Brandon’s ex-wife, Danielle, said he didn’t deserve any honor — because he was under investigation for molesting two girls, one of them a relative.
Danielle said the suicide took away the family’s hopes for justice and closure.
This is the second state lawmaker who has committed suicide after an sexual abuse investigation. Kentucky representative Dan Johnson killed himself in December after news reported about him sexually assaulting a 17-year old girl.
Today the House of Representatives approved to extend a surveillance law that was set to expire — Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) — to extend it to 2023.
This will allow U.S. intelligence agencies to spy on foreigners who are outside of the U.S. if it is a part of national security. But Americans’ private information could be also looked at if they are caught up in foreign spying. This includes emails, text messages, photos, and other electronic communication. There is no warrant required.
This passed in a 256-164 vote, with almost 200 Republicans and more than 60 Democrats backing it.
The House also rejected a separate bipartisan proposal to for federal agents to first get warrants before they could search through Americans’ data.
Now this bill goes to the Senate, who has some Senators showing opposition to the law’s extension, because of privacy concerns for U.S. citizens.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul ( R ) said he wants a warrant requirement to be added and has threatened to filibuster it.
If the Senate doesn’t pass the bill, the law will expire by January 19.
There was some confusion and drama this morning with the Trump administration on their position, because for the past days and weeks, administration officials had stated they supported the law’s extension, but this early morning, President Trump tweeted criticism of the bill, saying it might have been used by the Obama administration to “badly surveil and abuse the Trump campaign.”
But two hours later, Trump said he supports it because it’s about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land — but has personally directed fixes to the “unmasking process.”
President Trump has previously accused Obama and the FBI of spying on him at Trump Tower.
So this is a sensitive topic, but the law was passed with both Republican and Democrat votes.
Several women have accused actor James Franco of sexual misconduct.
Some of the accusations said Franco exploited the women by pushing for them to appear nude for scenes and becoming mad or cutting off contact if they denied. The women were students at a film school that Franco founded in 2014.
Other accusations were pressuring a woman to have oral sex with him or bringing up a previous incident in which he wanted to take a 17-year old girl to a hotel room.
The criticism to him is strong now because he recently won a Golden Globe award for his role in “The Disaster Artist.” He wore a pin supporting “Time’s Up,” which is a new initiative to fight against sexual harassment.
Franco has defended himself during two different late night shows, saying the accusations were not accurate and that he has his own side to his story, but that he supports those who have come out to accuse others.
So this is the latest accusation. We’ll see what happens.
A man from Naples, Florida was attacked by a 4-foot tall brown or black bear, who swiped at his face, knocking him to the ground. The man, Andy Meunier, got up and ran away to his apartment home.
He had huge cuts on his face that required 41 stitches to close.
This happened Tuesday night when he let his dog outside. When it suddenly ran inside, Andy went outside to check — and was attacked.
There are bears in the Naples area with some neighbors saying they see bears going through their trash.
There has not been a bear attack in South Florida since 1970.
Andy joked that he looked like he was attacked by X-Men’s Wolverine. He said he didn’t care if he had scars, because he still has his life.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has placed traps around the area with donuts as bait to capture the bear.
Walmart announced they would raise the minimum pay for all of their employees to $11 an hour and hand out one-time bonuses up for employees, depending on the years they worked, with the maximum amount $1,000 for 20 years of service.
The previous minimum salary was $10 an hour. Many employees already earn more than $11 an hour — but all employees should see an increase in pay.
Walmart had almost $500 billion in global revenue last year and will get billions more because of the tax bill that reduces their corporate tax rate.
Several other large U.S. companies have said they would increase wages and pay bonuses because of the additional revenue from the tax bill.
Walmart is the largest private employer in the world with 2.3 million employees — 1.5 million of them in the U.S. Walmart said this change would add $300 million to their annual expenses and an extra $400 million this quarter to pay out the bonuses.
Competitor Target, with more than 300,000 employees, also raised the minimum pay to $11 an hour last year with a pledge to raise it to $15 an hour within three years.
The federal minimum wage is still $7.25 an hour, the same since 2009. Some states have established higher minimum wage requirements.
Many have criticized Walmart in the past for having many employees, who even though they work full-time, earns an annual salary at a level that is close to the federal poverty line, with many needing government assistance for living expenses.
In contrast, the Walton family, those who are children or in-laws of the Walmart founders, are one of the richest families in the world, with a combined fortune of about $170 billion.
In separate but related news, Sam’s Club, under parent company Walmart, closed 63 stores across the nation today, with some employees not knowing about it and finding out about by reading a notice taped on the windows.
The Trump administration announced they would support states that wants to start testing work requirements for people who are on Medicaid.
This doesn’t not include disabled people — only focusing on “able-bodied adults.” Elderly people and pregnant women are also exempt.
This idea was opposed by the Obama administration.
The head of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Seema Verma, say they will allow states to do tests that either require Medicaid recipients to work, or undergo job training, or do volunteer activities. If people don’t do this, they could be cut off from Medicaid.
There are many opposed to this, with potential legal challenges.
There are currently 70 million Americans who get Medicaid — 1 in 5 Americans. 60% of them are already employed either full or part-time because their employers do not offer health insurance.
Vermont’s state legislature voted in favor of a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana.
Governor Phil Scott ( R ) will likely sign the bill to allow those 21 and older to use it. The change will start July 1.
If the bill is signed, this will be the first time a state has legalized marijuana through legislation. Other states legalized it by ballot vote.
Not everybody in Vermont agrees with this — law enforcement groups are opposed to it, saying there are health risks and no way to quickly test drivers who might use it.
Vermont appears to not be affected by the Attorney General Jeff Sessions when he, last week, repealed a federal policy from the Obama administration that held back on federal enforcement action against 8 states and D.C. that currently legalizes marijuana.
In New Hampshire, their House of Representatives this week passed a similar bill to legalize marijuana, but their governor, Chris Sununu ( R ), said he is opposed to this (and might veto the bill).
A key motivating factor for states to do this is tax revenue and to replace illegal sales with legal ones.
Several people sent me videos of a man in Baltimore, Maryland filming a woman who was discharged by a hospital while still in her gown and wearing just socks, outside in the evening cold.
It is possible the woman is deaf because she didn’t use her voice to respond to the man filming he and because she made a gesture where her hand briefly covered her ear, but it’s not clear.
On her forehead she had a fresh wound, a big bump the size of a golf ball. She was weak, looked dazed, and struggled to stand up or walk.
The video went viral with various media sources picking it up. Articles said she was mumbling and coughing.
The man filming it — Imamu Baraka — started recording the scene when he saw four hospital staff, who looks like security guards, wheeling out the woman to a bus stop with her clothes and other personal items in plastic bags.
This was at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Midtown Campus, which is in downtown.
Imamu questioned the hospital staff on why they were leaving the woman outside in the cold, in 30 degrees.
One of the security guards says it was due to the circumstances of what happened.
Imamu guided the woman to a seat on the bus stop. The woman looked disoriented as she sat, with her gown barely covering the skin of her legs. Imanu called 911, then medics brought her back to the same hospital.
After this made local and national news, the hospital said they are shocked and disappointed — that they failed to fulfill their mission and will investigate this with possible consequences for staff.
The hospital said the woman was discharged from the emergency department and that there were circumstances that they couldn’t publicly discuss.
So, that’s all the information I have to share for now. If there are more updates, I’ll share.
Imamu video: https://www.facebook.com/imamu.baraka/videos/1946259892054810/
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