Both houses of the United Kingdom Parliament passed the final bill that allows Prime Minister Theresa May to trigger the Brexit process. May plans on invoking Article 50 of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty by the end of March, thereby beginning negotiations for the UK to leave the EU over the next two years. The House of Lords debated several amendments to House of Commons-passed bill on Monday, one of which would have protected the status of EU nationals within the UK. Those amendments failed, however, and the bill passed unamended. Liberal Democrats accused Labour members of giving up the fight, some even shouting “disgraceful.” The bill must now receive “Royal Assent,” a formality from Queen Elizabeth II. May can trigger negotiations as early as Tuesday.
Today's News: March 13, 2017
The U.K. Parliament passes final Brexit bill, a massive snowstorm will hit the Northeast, and more from the United States and around the world.
—Both houses of the United Kingdom Parliament passed the final bill that allows Prime Minister Theresa May to trigger the Brexit process. More here
—The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for much of the Northeast in advance of a massive storm that is expected to dump more than a foot and a half of snow in some areas. More here
—Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she will ask Scotland’s parliament next week to seek the U.K. government’s approval for a new referendum on independence. More here
—We’re tracking the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
UK Parliament Passes Final Brexit Bill
24 Million Fewer People Would Be Covered by 2026 Under GOP Health-Care Plan, CBO Reports
A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released Monday projects that as many as 24 million people could lose their health insurance by 2026 under the American Health Care Act, the Republican-sponsored legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. The CBO also projects the bill would lower federal deficits by $337 billion over 10 years. As my colleague Russell Berman notes, the report could make the Republicans’s efforts to pass the bill more difficult:
With the new projection, congressional Republicans in are sure to face more accusations that the bill breaks President Trump’s promise of “insurance for everybody” and the party’s explicit vow that its replacement would “decrease premiums.” House Speaker Paul Ryan and other GOP leaders had already backed away from Trump’s pledge, promoting universal “access” to care instead of insurance for all. In recent days, they said they could not hope to replicate Obamacare’s coverage expansion—estimated at more than 20 million people—because their bill does not require everybody to buy insurance.
You can read more about the CBO projection here.
Prosecutor Says New Michael Brown Footage Deceptively Edited
A St. Louis prosecutor said Monday a new documentary on the death of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old killed in 2014 by a white officer in Ferguson, Missouri, deceptively edited a clip, which has renewed protests in the city. The film, Stranger Fruit, debuts surveillance footage that director Jason Pollock said proves Brown did not, as previously reported, steal from the Ferguson Market & Liquor convenience store. The incident led to a series of events that ended in Brown’s shooting death. The footage appears to show Brown enter the store at 1 a.m. on the day of his death and slide an object across the counter. The clerk picks it up, sniffs it, and slides Brown a pack of cigarillos. Brown seems to return the package and leave. Pollock’s narrative is that Brown bartered marijuana for the cigarillos, then gave them back for safekeeping. This rationale becomes important because when Brown returns 11 hours later, surveillance footage shows him arguing with a different clerk about the same brand of cigarillos, push the clerk, and leave the store. It was right after this that Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Brown. Pollock said Ferguson police tried to hide the footage to impugn Brown’s character, making him out to be a criminal. The St. Louis prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, called Pollock’s narrative “just stupid,” accused Pollock of editing the the footage to make it fit his theory, and promised to release the entirety of the surveillance film.
Two More Penn State Officials Plead Guilty in Sandusky Case
Former Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, the former senior vice president at the school, pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor child-endangerment charges in connection with the child-molestation case involving Jerry Sandusky. Neither men has been sentenced, though each faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The charges relate to claims by the prosecution that Penn State administrators—including Curley, Shultz, and Graham Spanier, the former Penn State president— who were made aware of allegations that Sandusky, the assistant football coach, had sexually abused a boy in the team’s shower failed to report those allegations to law enforcement. As Penn Live reports, Curley and Shultz’s guilty pleas could open the possibility that both men will be called to testify against Spanier, the last remaining defendant in the case. Jury selection for that case is slated to start next week.
Former Catalan President Banned From Office for Staging Independence Referendum
Catalonia’s High Court banned former regional President Artur Mas from public office for two years Monday after he was convicted for staging an illegal independence referendum in defiance of a ban by Spain’s Constitutional Court. Joanana Ortega, Mas’s former vice president, and Irene Rigau, his former education minister, were also convicted and banned from public office for 21 and 18 months, respectively. Mas, who was also fined 36,500 euros ($38,976), said he would appeal the “disappointing” ruling, and added “it is unconceivable that in a democracy you can be barred from public positions only because you have listened to the people.” In 2014, Mas organized a symbolic, non-binding referendum to demand Catalonia’s independence from Spain—a move that Madrid deemed illegal. Catalonia boasts its own language and cultural identity, and separatists in the region have long sought approval from the Spanish government for an independence vote. According to a December poll, public opinion within the region is split, with 46.8 percent of Catalans opposing independence and 45.3 percent in favor. Catalan President Carles Puigdemont promised in December to stage a “legal and binding” independence referendum in September 2017, though Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said this too would not be permitted.
Scotland's Leader Nicola Sturgeon Seeks Another Referendum on Independence
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she will ask Scotland’s parliament next week to seek the U.K. government’s approval for a new referendum on independence. The vote, which Sturgeon wants to hold sometime between the fall of 2018 and the spring of 2019, was prompted by the U.K.’s decision last summer in a nationwide referendum to leave the European Union. Although the margin of victory was significant—52 percent to 48 percent—about 62 percent of Scots voted to remain in the EU. Sturgeon said the U.K. government had failed to move “even an inch” toward compromise in negotiations with the EU on what a future relationship would look like. A referendum on independence, Sturgeon said, would allow Scotland to protect its own interests. A spokesman for Theresa May, the British prime minister, said a referendum would be “divisive and cause huge economic uncertainty at the worst possible time.” May wants to trigger Brexit by the end of this month. The entire process is expected to take two years, during which time negotiators will determine what a future EU-U.K. relationship would look like. A Scottish referendum, if the U.K. government gives permission for one, would fall within that period of negotiations. The previous Scottish referendum on independence, in 2014, resulted in 55 percent of voters opting to stay in the U.K. and 45 percent voting to leave.
A Massive Storm Is Heading for the Northeast
The National Weather Service issued a blizzard watch for much of the Northeast on Monday in anticipation of a massive storm that could drop a foot and a half of snow in some parts. Heaviest hit areas are expected to be in New York, New Jersey, parts of Massachusetts, and southern Connecticut, although the storm will blow through the entire region with varying severity. Wind gusts could also reach up to 60 miles per hour in some places. The storm is expected to begin Monday night and grow stronger through Tuesday. New York and Boston could get up to 18 inches of snow. Further south, in Washington D.C., the nation’s capital is expecting up to 10 inches. The storm is a strong contrast to what has been a warm spring across the region, and certainly in D.C., where the National Cherry Blossom Festival, an annual event that heralds spring, is set to begin this week.
'Carlos the Jackal' Stands Trial in France on a 1974 Grenade Attack
One of the world’s most notorious terrorists, “Carlos the Jackal,” a Venezuelan whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, will stand trial in a French court Monday for accusations that 40 years ago he threw a hand grenade into a Parisian shopping center. Ramirez Sanchez is currently serving a life sentence in France for a string of murders and attacks he committed or planned in the 1970s and ‘80s. He currently stands trial for allegedly throwing a grenade into a busy restaurant at a shopping center in Paris’ Latin Quarter in 1974, killing two people and injuring 34 others. The case took so long to reach trial because it had been dismissed earlier due to lack of evidence. Ramirez Sanchez has denied involvement in the attack. If convicted, he could get another life sentence. Ramirez Sanchez has called himself a "professional revolutionary" in the “Leninist tradition,” and many of his most famous attacks were committed on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He got his nickname from a Frederick Forsyth novel, The Day of the Jackal, and he planned bomb attacks on a trains, political assassinations, and was on the run in Sudan until 1994.