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Is Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy getting ready to resign?

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, (R-Iowa), told an Iowa newspaper that he expects a Supreme Court justice will resign this year, opening up a seat that President Donald Trump will be able to nominate someone to fill. 

Grassley refused to name the justice he believes will resign but told the Muscatine Journal that he had heard rumors that a resignation is coming by summer. 

"I would expect a resignation this summer," Grassley said during a Q&A session with the newspaper.

While Grassley did not name the justice he believes will submit his or her resignation, others said Justice Anthony Kennedy has been quietly telling friends and colleagues that he intends to resign his seat this summer. 

Kennedy, 80, has talked with former law clerks and others about retirement, according to a story by CNN. The New York Times has reported that the Trump administration is already looking at its next nominee should Kennedy decide to leave the Court.

Bloomberg News reported last week that “Kennedy has given no public indication of his plans, but he has drawn attention with a handful of semiprivate scheduling decisions. Perhaps most significantly, his next law clerk reunion will take place during the last weekend of June, offering the possibility that he will spring a piece of news on the gathering. The timing is noteworthy because previous Kennedy reunions took place every five years, and this one comes four years after the 2013 event.”

Greg Stohr, Bloomberg News Supreme Court reporter and co-host of Bloomberg Radio’s "Bloomberg Law," offered both sides of the argument over Kennedy’s retirement in a podcast Monday. Stohr mentioned the timing of the clerk reunion as one of the signs Kennedy may be planning to retire. On the other side, Stohr said the power Kennedy wields on the court would be hard for anyone to walk away.

Kennedy has been considered the “swing” vote among the nine justices for many years. With four strong conservatives – Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and the late Antonin Scalia – and four equally strident liberals – Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg – it often fell to the moderate Kennedy to cast a deciding vote on a case. 

For his part, Kennedy has kept mum on his future plans.

The next person to be nominated to serve on the court will face a different road to the bench. The vote on the “nuclear option” prior to the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch earlier this month, has changed the process for confirming justices. 

It now takes a simple majority of 51 votes – instead of a “supermajority” of 60 votes – to confirm a nominee for a seat on the Supreme Court. There are 52 Republicans in the Senate, so while Democrats can still drag out the confirmation process, if the Republicans vote together they can push through Trump’s nominee. 

Suspect arrested in 2015 bomb threats against Atlanta flights

More than two years after bomb threats sent via Twitter led the military to scramble fighter jets to escort planes to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, a suspect has been arrested in the United Kingdom.

>> Read more trending news

The FBI in Atlanta released a statement Thursday saying an individual was arrested April 13 for making the threats in January 2015.

As a result of the threats, a Delta flight from Portland, Oregon, to Atlanta and a Southwest flight from Milwaukee to Atlanta were searched by a bomb squad at Hartsfield-Jackson on Jan. 24, 2015.

The threats “resulted in the deployment of significant resources including the use of military jets to escort the planes to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and searches by a police bomb squad and the FBI that found nothing threatening,” according to the statement from FBI Atlanta spokesman Stephen Emmett.

The person on the Twitter account called himself “King Zortic” when he posted the messages to Delta saying: “I have a bomb on one of your planes, but I forgot which one when I left the airport. Can you help me find it?” and referring to a flight from Portland to Atlanta.

Another tweet read: “It was smuggled through one of the back entrances because the airport didn’t have much security around one of the entrances so the bomb is at the back of the plane. Everyone will known when it’s detonated.”

A later tweet sent to Southwest read: “A bomb was placed on SWA2492. It will be detonated at a random time of my choosing.”

At the time, a Twitter spokesman told the AJC that the company may disclose a user’s account information to law enforcement in response to a valid emergency request.

7 things to know now: O'Reilly is out; Williams is pregnant; Hernandez suicide

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now:

Dow wants study scrapped: Dow Chemical wants the White House to dismiss a study that suggests pesticides the company use are harmful to 1,800 endangered or threatened species. The Associated Press is reporting that Dow sent letters to the White House claiming the study is flawed. Dow’s CEO, Andrew Liveris, is an adviser to President Donald Trump, and leads a White House manufacturing work group.

O’Reilly is out: Fox News announced Wednesday that it is cutting ties with Bill O’Reilly after more women have come forward to accuse the network’s biggest star of sexual harassment. A statement from the company read in part, “After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel.” The New York Times reported on April 1 that $13 million had been paid to settle five cases of alleged sexual misconduct involving O’Reilly. More than half of O’Reilly’s advertisers pulled out of “The O’Reilly Factor” soon after the story appeared in the Times.

Williams is pregnant: Serena Williams is expecting her first child this fall, according to the tennis star’s spokeswoman. Williams posted a picture of herself on Snapchat Wednesday, wearing a one-piece bathing suit with a caption that read "20 weeks." She is engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Hernandez suicide: Family and friends of Aaron Hernandez said they saw no indication that the former NFL star and convicted murderer was intending to kill himself. Hernandez was found dead in his cell early Wednesday, hanging from a bed sheet that was tied to his cell window. Hernandez took his own life five days after he was acquitted of a 2012 double murder. He was serving a prison term of life without the possibility of parole for another murder.

Pilot program for vets: The Department of Defense has announced a pilot program that allows some veterans to use their health care benefits at CVS drug stores. The program, being tested in Phoenix, Arizona, allows vets to use CVS "MinuteClinics" for the treatment of mild injuries or minor illnesses.

And one more

Today is April 20, or 4/20, a day on which marijuana advocates around the world gather to celebrate, in a variety of ways, the cannabis plant. There are events planned in cities across the country and around the world Thursday.

In case you missed it

What does '420' mean? Here are 10 things you may not know about the term

You may not realize it, but Thursday is a holiday, of sorts.On April 20 – or 4/20 – marijuana advocates around the world gather to celebrate, in a variety of ways, the cannabis plant. Last year, thousands gathered in cities across the United States to consume marijuana in places where it is legal to do so, as well as places where it isn’t.

If you are not familiar with the term “420” as it is used in the marijuana culture, here’s a look at its origins and its meaning.

1. The term “420” was first associated with marijuana use in 1971.

2. It was the time of day when a group of California high school students who called themselves the “Waldos” decided to meet to hunt for a rumored abandoned stash of cannabis. The students would meet at 4:20 p.m. near a statue of Louis Pasteur on the grounds of San Rafael High School to go to search for the crop. If one of the Waldos called for a “4:20 Louis” it meant that everyone was to meet at the statue to search for the marijuana.

3. Eventually, “4:20 Louis” became just “4:20,” and the number was recognized not as a call to hunt for the abandoned cannabis, but as a code word for smoking pot.

4. The members of the band the Grateful Dead moved to the San Rafael area from San Francisco in 1970. They had connections to some of the parents of the Waldos, and eventually picked up the phrase and began using it.

5. The term spread past San Rafael with the help of the Grateful Dead and after a story about the Waldos appeared in “High Times.” Another story in the magazine suggested that 4:20 was an “accepted” hour to use cannabis.

6. April 20 is observed around the country and around the world as a time to gather together to smoke pot. In places where it is illegal to sell it, it is often given away on that day.

7. Some believe that the number 420 refers to the anniversary of the deaths of Bob Marley or Jimi Hendrix. It does not. Neither died on April 20.

8. It is not a police code for someone smoking marijuana, either.

9. Snapchat is expected to allow users to display a 420 graphic on Thursday.

10. Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream and Sour Patch Kids candy were the top two requested “munchies” delivered by goPuff last April 20. The on-demand delivery company saw an 80 percent increase in orders for food such as chips, cookies, candy and beef jerky on April 20, 2016, according to company officials. 

7 things to know now: Hernandez kills self; Walmart discounts; Georgia race heads to runoff; asteroid

1. Hernandez kills self: Aaron Hernandez, the former NFL star who was serving life in prison for murder, committed suicide in his cell Wednesday morning, according to the Massachusetts Department of Corrections. The former New England Patriots star was discovered hanging in his cell at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, at 3:05 a.m., according to officials. “Mr. Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population unit,” a statement said. “Mr. Hernandez hanged himself utilizing a bed sheet that he attached to his cell window. Mr. Hernandez also attempted to block his door from the inside by jamming the door with various items.”

2. Wanted to kill whites: A man in Fresno, California, who said he wanted to kill as many white people as he could, shot and killed three men at random, all within a city block, on Tuesday. Kori Ali Muhammad told police that he hates white people and wanted to kill as many as he could before he was caught. Police said Muhammad is also believed to have shot a security guard at a motel last week.

3. Election heads to runoff: A Georgia special election will be decided in a runoff in June after none of the 18 candidates on the ballot got more than 50 percent of the vote. Democrat Jon Ossoff, who garnered national attention and support for his run for the seat vacated by Tom Price, narrowly missed the 50 percent mark and winning the race outright. Price resigned from the House when he became President Donald Trump’s health and human services secretary. Ossoff will face Republican Karen Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state, in the June 20 runoff.

4. Near-miss today: An asteroid believed to be almost a half-mile long will pass by Earth on Wednesday in what astronomers call a “near-miss.” The asteroid, nicknamed “The Rock” by Slooh.com in honor of actor Dwayne Johnson, will pass by Earth at a distance of 1.1 million miles.

5. Walmart discounts:

Starting Wednesday, Walmart will begin discounting thousands of items that customers order online and pick up at local stores. According to the company, some 10,000 items will initially be discounted, with that number growing to 1 million items by early summer.

And one more

Swimmer Michael Phelps said he has not completely ruled out a return to the sport, despite indicating at the Summer Olympics last year that his career in the pool is over. "The true test will be, if I do end up going over to the worlds this summer, do I have that itch again?" Phelps, the winningest Olympic athlete ever, told The Associated Press about attending the world championships in Budapest this summer.

In case you missed it

Immigration issues: What is an H-1B visa?

President Donald Trump will be in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, introducing his “Buy American, Hire American” campaign.

The president will be signing an executive order directing the various agencies to work to prevent fraud when it comes to immigration and to make sure visas are awarded to the "most-skilled or highest-paid applicants" who come from a foreign country to work in a specific job in the U.S.

Here’s a look at the H-1B visas, who gets them and how they work.

What is a visa?

Here's how the State Department says:

“A citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter the United States generally must first obtain a U.S. visa, which is placed in the traveler’s passport, a travel document issued by the traveler’s country of citizenship.

"Certain international travelers may be eligible to travel to the United States without a visa if they meet the requirements for visa-free travel. The Visa section of this website is all about U.S. visas for foreign citizens to travel to the United States.

… U.S. citizens don’t need a U.S. visa for travel, but when planning travel abroad may need a visa issued by the embassy of the country they wish to visit.”

What is an H-1B visa?

The H1B visa is an employment-based, non-immigrant visa. The visa allows foreigners to work in the United States on a temporary basis for up to six years.

How do you get one? 

To get an H1B visa, the person who is to employ a foreign citizen must first offer that person a job and then must apply for the H1B visa with the U.S. Department of Immigration. Once the petition is approved, the visa serves as a permit to work in the United States for a specified period of time.

Who can get one?

The H1B visa is for those in specialty occupations; those who possess a body of specialized knowledge for a particular job, and those who hold at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent.

Some of the occupations include under H1B are:

-Accounting-Architecture-Arts-Biotechnology-Business specialties-Chemistry-Education-Engineering-Law-Mathematics-Medicine and health-Physical sciences,-Social sciences-Theology

What if they leave the job or the job is discontinued?

If the job is lost or discontinued, a foreign worker under an H1B visa must apply for a change of status to another non-immigrant status, or find another employer. If they can do neither, they must leave the United States. As of Jan. 17, the department of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services modified the rules to allow a grace period of up to 60 days to have the status changed or to leave the country.

How many people get an H-1B visa each year?

H-1B visas admit 65,000 workers each year. Another 20,000 graduate student workers are also allowed in the country on the H-1B.

How are they awarded?

They are awarded by a random lottery.

How will the process change after today?

Trump’s executive order will instruct federal agencies to tighten oversight of H1-B visas to help prevent abuse of the system.

 

Elizabeth Warren says she isn’t running for president in 2020

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Tuesday she has no intention of running for president in 2020.

Warren,who was asked about plans to make a run for president during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show, said she was “running in 2018 for senator from Massachusetts."

“Today” host Matt Lauer reminded Warren about the support generated for her when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Kentucky), admonished her on the floor of the Senate during a debate on Sen. Jeff Sessions’ nomination as attorney general. 

“Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted," McConnell said during the February Senate session.

The phrase, “She persisted,” quickly became bumper sticker fodder. 

Warren’s book “This Fight is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class,” is set for release Tuesday. The director of the conservative group America Rising says the group views her book launch “as the soft launch of her presidential campaign."

 

7 things to know now: Tax Day is here; manhunt for Facebook shooter; Arkansas executions

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now:

Pence on Korea: Vice President Mike Pence vowed to stand behind Japan as tensions remain high after North Korea’s testing of a ballistic missile over the weekend. Pence, who visited Korea’s Demilitarized Zone on Monday, said: "We appreciate the challenging times in which the people of Japan live with increasing provocations from across the Sea of Japan. We are with you 100 percent."

May calls for election: British Prime Minister Theresa May is calling for a general election to be held on June 8. In a surprise move, May said divisions in Parliament could “risk our ability to make a success of Brexit,” the country’s exit from the European Union. May said Parliament will be asked on Wednesday to approve the general election. The British pound fell against the dollar on the news.

Georgia election: An election being held Tuesday in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District is being seen by some as a referendum on Republican rule in Congress and President Donald Trump’s first few months in office. Some think that if a Democrat, including front-runner Jon Ossoff, can take the seat, it could signal enough dissatisfaction with Trump’s administration to put midterm elections up for grabs.

Facebook killing: A manhunt continues for Steve Stephens, who police say killed a 74-year-old retiree in Cleveland, then posted the murder on Facebook. Authorities have offered a $50,000 reward for information that leads to Stephens’ arrest. In a video posted after the killing, he blamed his girlfriend and said he “just snapped.”

Arkansas executions: The U.S. Supreme Court blocked the state of Arkansas from carrying out a double execution on Monday night. The ruling came as one of the two to be executed was heading to the death chamber. Arkansas officials vowed to keep an ambitious schedule of executing eight men in 11 days, marking the first time since 2005 that Arkansas has put someone to death. The issue with the executions revolves around the use of a sedative that had been used in flawed executions in other states.

And one more It’s Tax Day, the day that your income tax return is due to the government. Americans got a few extra days to prepare returns this year because of Emancipation Day, a holiday celebrated in Washington, D.C. You have until midnight to file your return or an extension. If doing your taxes has got you down, check out these deals and freebies that some businesses are offering.

In case you missed it

WATCH: Elephant escapes angry crocodile with help from its friends

Elephants were on high alert when one of their buddies found himself in a deadly predicament at Liwonde National Park in Malawi.

A crotchety old croc lurking in the local water cooler scared the living daylights out of the group of African elephants when it popped up and chomped on the trunk of one of their friends.

>> Read more trending news

The poor elephant let out a blood-curdling cry, and all of his fellow elephants joined in, sounding the alarm.

Although the croc was determined to hang on, a leading elephant was up to the tusk – errrr, task – in fending off the predator.

>> Watch the clip here

Alexander Makanga had his camera rolling while this insane nature moment was taking place and later uploaded it to YouTube.

He had been riding along in a boat in a nearby river.

When asked on YouTube whether he filmed the video, Makanka replied, “Yes, I filmed it myself using a humble Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. I did not realize the severity of the situation until I had finished recording. Absolutely insane. This happened just few meters from the boat.”

(H/t Daily Mail)

Did the U.S. use a cyberattack to take down the North Korean missile?

Several media outlets are reporting that a U.S. cyberattack sabotaged North Korea’s missile launch on Sunday.

According to the former British foreign secretary, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the missile test likely failed because the U.S. interfered with the workings of the missile's system.

"It could have failed because the system is not competent enough to make it work, but there is a very strong belief that the U.S. -- through cyber methods -- has been successful on several occasions in interrupting these sorts of tests and making them fail," Rifkind told the BBC on Sunday. 

The missile test came a day after the national celebration of the birth of Kim Il-Sung, the founder of North Korea and the grandfather of the country’s current leader, Kim Jung-Un. The parade in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, featured various weapons, including 56 missiles.

New York Times story in March reported on a U.S.operation designed to disrupt North Korea's nuclear missile program. The operation was begun three years ago under President Barack Obama's administration.

According to the report, Kim was "widely reported to have ordered an investigation into whether the United States was sabotaging North Korea’s launches, and over the past week he has executed senior security officials."Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland declined to comment on "Fox News Sunday" about reports that the U.S. might have used a cyberattack to down the medium-range missile.

“You know we can’t talk about secret intelligence and things that might have been done, covert operations,” McFarland said. “I really have no comment.”

Still, McFarland said cyber warfare is no longer the stuff of science fiction, but is happening now. 

“I do think we are entering a whole new era, not just with North Korea but with everybody,” McFarland said. “With any country, major country, we are entering a cyber platform, a cyber battlefield. That is where a lot of the wars of the future are going to be fought.”

It is not yet known if the missile was carrying a nuclear device or a conventional warhead. North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests in the past.

Here’s what we know about the test:

When did it happen?

The test was on Sunday, 24 hours after a celebration of the birthday of the founder of North Korea.

What type of missile was it?

That is not yet known. An unnamed White House source told The Associated Press that it was a medium-range ballistic missile.

Where did the test take place?

The missile was launched from Sinpo, North Korea. Sinpo is on the country’s east coast and is 182 miles from Seoul, South Korea.

Did the U.S. know this was coming?North Korean leader Kim Jung-Un had hinted that a test might take place. According to McFarland, the U.S. had good intelligence information that a missile would be tested over the weekend.

What’s next?

That’s not clear, but it depends on North Korea’s next move. North Korea has indicated that it will continue to test missiles and will work to develop a warhead that can fit on an intercontinental missile and hit other countries that are far away, such as the United States.Other nations, including China, are said to be considering their own responses to the test.

H.R. McMaster, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, said Sunday that short of military action, a range of responses are on the table.

"It's time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully," McMasters said on ABC's "This Week.” "We are working together with our allies and partners and with the Chinese leadership to develop a range of options."

McMaster said that there is “international consensus” that North Korea needs to be pressured into ending the missile testing.

What has been done so far?

A defensive missile system was sent to South Korea, and Japanese officials said they are preparing for the possibility that they would have to evacuate 60,000 Japanese citizens from South Korea should war break out.

The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group is sitting off the Korean Peninsula, and China said on Friday that North Korea had to be stopped from reaching an "irreversible and unmanageable stage" as far as nuclear weapons are concerned.

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