IT40 News for Week 1 of 2019


#3 Elizabeth Smart kidnapper living near elementary school in Salt Lake City

A registered sex offender who helped kidnap a teenage Elizabeth Smart is now living near a Utah elementary school after her release from prison in September. 

Wanda Barzee, who pleaded guilty to kidnapping Smart and helping keep her captive for nine months while Smart was raped, was released from prison five years earlier than expected and initially placed in an halfway house. Smart called the move "incomprehensible" at the time. Barzee, 73, then moved to an apartment near Parkview Elementary School that teaches pre-kindergarten students through fifth grade.

"Every possible caution and protection should be taken when it comes to protecting our children," Smart told the Associated Press. "Whether a person is deemed a current threat or if they have a history of child abuse, neglect, sexual violence, etc., prudent measures should be taken, including housing them as far away as possible from schools, families and community centers."

Barzee's husband, Brian David Mitchell, broke into Smart's bedroom and abducted her at knifepoint in 2002. Smart was 14 years old. Mitchell, who was sentenced to life in prison, repeatedly raped and abused Smart. Smart wrote of how Barzee treated her like a slave, and the couple denied her food and water for days at a time, as detailed in Smart's memoir "My Story."

Smart was spotted on a street and rescued by police in 2003. Smart, who is a child safety advocate, is now 31 and married with three young children.

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#5 Trump urges Romney to be a ‘team player’ hours after scathing op-ed

Video by Reuters

President Trump fired back at incoming Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Wednesday, urging him to be a “TEAM player” hours after the publication of a scathing op-ed in which Romney said Trump has not risen to the job.

“Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful,” Trump said in a tweet. “I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!”

Trump also questioned whether Romney, who lost the 2012 presidential election, would now seek to play a similar role as the retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), among the few GOP lawmakers who have frequently criticized Trump’s actions.

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#6 In Newly Divided Government, Who Will Control the Political Agenda?

WASHINGTON — America will get its first taste of divided government under President Trump this week when a Democratic House tries to wrest control of the political agenda from Mr. Trump, who appears determined to keep the focus on border security, immigration and his “big, beautiful” wall.

After the midterm elections ushered in the most diverse freshman class in history, House Democrats intend to put a spotlight on the issues that worked well for them during the campaign: diminishing the influence of the wealthy and connected, expanding voting rights, lowering prescription drug costs and passing a bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Mr. Trump, on the defensive and presiding over a federal government that remains partially closed, is trying to stomp on that message. On Tuesday, as the government shutdown was in its 11th day, Mr. Trump invited congressional leaders of both parties to a briefing on border security Wednesday afternoon. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said on Tuesday night that Mr. Trump would attend.

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#7 Mega Millions: 1 winning ticket sold in New York for $425M jackpot

One lucky winner will start the new year $425 million richer after matching all six numbers in Tuesday's Mega Millions.

To win the Mega Millions jackpot, players pick six numbers from two separate pools of numbers – five different numbers from 1 to 70 and one number from 1 to 25 – or select Easy Pick or Quick Pick. Mega Millions is played in 44 states, Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands. Tickets cost $2 each.The estimated jackpot for Friday's drawing is $40 million, or $23.9 million in cash.

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#8 Dow kicks off 2019 with a drop of more than 350 points

© Richard Drew/AP

U.S. stocks fell sharply on Wednesday to start off 2019 as disappointing economic data from China and Europe and lingering concerns over global trade hampered risk appetite.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped about 360 points to start off the session, led by a decline in Caterpillar. These losses come after the 30-stock index completed its worst year in a decade on Monday. The S&P 500 pulled back 1.4 percent as tech and industrials lagged. The Nasdaq Composite fell 1.6 percent as shares of Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google-parent Alphabet all declined.

The moves Wednesday come after a private sector survey showed manufacturing activity in the world's second-largest economy contracted for the first time in 19 months. China's Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for December dipped to 49.7 from 50.2 in November.

Meanwhile, the euro zone manufacturing PMI remained at its lowest level since February 2016, according to IHS Markit. The data also showed confidence about the future hit a fresh six-year low.

"Everybody is terrified that this is a sign of a global slowdown," Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS, told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." "It was only eight months ago we were talking about synchronized growth and all of that is falling apart."

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#9 Death toll in Russian apartment collapse rises to 21

MOSCOW — Search crews have pulled more bodies from a huge pile of rubble at a collapsed Russian apartment building, bringing the known death toll to 21.

The bodies found on Wednesday in the city of Magnitogorsk included a 3-year-old girl, Russian news agencies cited the emergencies ministry as saying.

An 11-month-old boy who was pulled alive from the wreckage on Tuesday, nearly 36 hours after the building collapsed, was in serious but stable condition in a children's hospital in Moscow. He was flown about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) to the capital in a plane dispatched by the Health Ministry.

Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said Wednesday that the boy suffered superficial head wounds but no apparent brain damage.

Authorities said 20 people who lived in the building remain unaccounted for, including five children.

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#10 Somalia orders top UN envoy to leave

Somalia's government has ordered the UN top envoy to the troubled country to leave, accusing him of "deliberately interfering with the country's sovereignty."

The order comes days after the official, Nicholas Haysom, raised concerns at the action of Somalia's UN-backed security services in recent violence that left several people dead.

"The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Nicholas Haysom, is no longer welcome in Somalia and cannot operate in the country," the foreign ministry said in a statement late Tuesday.

There was no immediate reaction from the UN mission in Somalia.

Somalia's security forces used force to put down three days of demonstrations in the southwestern town of Baidoa on December 13-15, with at least 15 people killed and 300 people arrested, according to the UN.

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IT40 People in the Media for 01/02/2019