Trump administration suing California — The Trump administration on Tuesday sued to block California laws that extend protections to people living in the U.S. illegally, the most aggressive move yet in its push to force so-called sanctuary cities and states to cooperate with immigration authorities. California officials remained characteristically defiant, vowing to defend their landmark legislation. The Justice Department argued a trio of state laws that, among other things, bar police from asking people about their citizenship status or participating in federal immigration enforcement activities are unconstitutional and have kept federal agents from doing their jobs. The lawsuit named as defendants the state of California, Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “I say, bring it on,” said California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat who wrote the sanctuary state bill. It is the latest salvo in an escalating feud between the Trump administration and California, which has resisted the president on issues like taxes and marijuana policy and defiantly refuses to help federal agents detain and deport undocumented immigrants. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said it will increase its presence in California, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to cut off funding to jurisdictions that won’t cooperate. The lawsuit was filed as the Justice Department is also reviewing Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s decision to warn of an immigration sweep in advance, which ICE said allowed hundreds of immigrants to elude detention. Schaaf said Tuesday the city would “continue to inform all residents about their constitutional rights.”
Sri Lanka declares state of emergency — Sri Lanka’s government imposed a nationwide state of emergency on Tuesday after mob attacks against the minority Muslim population in a central district, violence that has highlighted the country’s fragility as it tries to recover from decades of civil war. The unrest in the district of Kandy began on Sunday as angry mobs made up of the majority Sinhalese ethnic group attacked dozens of Muslim businesses and houses and at least one mosque. At least one person was killed. Hundreds of security personnel, including special operations forces, were deployed to Kandy on Monday and a curfew was declared there.
Belgian man convicted of ‘sexism in public space,’ — For the first time, a Belgian criminal court has convicted a man of “sexism in the public space,” for verbally abusing a female police officer who tried to question him after he was seen jaywalking. The man, whose name was not disclosed, was convicted of sexism, slander and threatening a police officer, and fined 3,000 euros ($3,725). “Shut your mouth, I don’t talk to women,” the man told the female police officer during the arrest, according to a spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office. The verdict was the first conviction under a Belgian law criminalizing sexism in a public place.
Britain vows revenge if Russia poisoned ex-spy — Calling Russia “a malign force around the world,” Britain’s foreign secretary vowed on Tuesday to retaliate if investigators find that Moscow is behind the apparent poisoning of a former Russian intelligence officer and his daughter in southern England. Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, were in critical condition after being found on a bench in Salisbury, about 85 miles southwest of London. The police said they had suffered “exposure to an unknown substance.” Citing the unusual circumstances, the Metropolitan Police Service put Britain’s counterterrorism police in charge of the case on Tuesday.
Puerto Ricans still stranded, 6 months later — From the lobby of a hotel on the outskirts of Boston, Jesenia Flores fills out an online job application, hoping to find work that will get her small family back to normal for the first time since Hurricane Maria flooded their home in Puerto Rico. The hotel along the interstate has been a refuge for her and other Puerto Rican families, but it’s frustrating “to be cooped up here without knowing what will happen to us,” the 19-year-old mother said as her 15-month-old son squirmed and cried in her lap. Danaliz Pujol is staying in a hotel, too, near Orlando, Florida. She and her husband are trying to find an affordable apartment to replace the one in Puerto Rico that was damaged in the storm and then rented to someone else after they fled to the mainland. She looks every day, “but there’s nothing,” she said. And then there is Carmen Acosta, who longs to go home from the hotel where she has been living in Puerto Rico with 40 families displaced by the storm. She received $4,000 from the federal government to repair her nearby house, but the work has been slow because it includes removing black mold that quickly spread in the tropical heat. Nearly six months after the storm, almost 10,000 Puerto Ricans scattered across 37 states and the U.S. territory still receive temporary housing assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That help has been renewed repeatedly, but it’s now scheduled to end for everyone March 20. Without financial support, they will have nowhere to go, many storm victims say.
Russian military plane crashes in Syria, killing 39 — A Russian military transport plane carrying 33 passengers and six crew members crashed on landing at an air base in Syria on Tuesday, killing all on board, the Russian Defense Ministry said. Initial reports ruled out a terrorist attack against the aircraft, an Antonov An-26 transport plane, with technical failure being the likely cause, the Interfax news agency reported. All those on board were Russian military personnel, the ministry said. The plane hit the ground more than 1,600 feet short of the runway at the Russian-operated Hemeimeem Air Base, the statement said.
Nor’easter threatens new outages— Utility workers took advantage of milder temperatures and sunshine Tuesday in their scramble to restore power to thousands of customers around the Northeast, as another snowy, blowy nor’easter threatened a new round of outages. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning that stretched from eastern Pennsylvania to most of New England, from late Tuesday night into Thursday morning. Heavy, wet snow and gusting winds could take down trees and snap power lines already weakened from last week’s storm, adding to stress for customers who’ve gone days without power. The outages turned to outrage for a New Jersey man whose home had been without electricity since Friday, who threatened to kidnap a utility company employee and blow up a substation. Robert Winter, 63, was charged with making terroristic threats, according to police in Vernon. More than a foot of snow is forecast for some interior areas, the weather service said. Pennsylvania’s Poconos Mountains and parts of western Massachusetts could see up to 18 inches.