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House poised to approve plan to loosen federal banking regulations

House poised to approve plan to loosen federal banking regulations

With Republicans unable to muster the votes to repeal a major financial regulation law put in the place after the 2008 Wall Street Collapse, the House on Tuesday is expected to give final approval to a less sweeping plan already backed by the Senate, which would ease a series of financial rules and regulations on smaller banking institutions enacted under the 2010 Dodd-Frank law. “The cycle of lending and job creation has been stifled by onerous regulation,” said Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), who shepherded the bill through the Senate with bipartisan support, and then prevailed on House Republicans to simply accept the plan, instead of trying to make changes which might have doomed the bill’s chances. “I’m happy to say we’re in the final stages of making these bills law,” said Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA), as a House panel moved to set up Tuesday’s debate on the banking regulation changes. Among the many provisions in the bill: + Banks with less than $250 billion in assets would no longer be subjected to federal “stress tests” – the current threshold is $50 billion. + Eases regulatory requirements on banks with less than $10 billion in assets (mainly known as ‘community banks’) + Loosens minimum standards on certain home mortgage loans, with a goal of allowing more small banks and credit unions to make such loans. + The plan steps up protections for veterans on predatory loans. + Active duty service members would get additional protections from foreclosures. + Consumers would be eligible in some cases for unlimited credit security freezes to deal with credit fraud alerts. As in the debate earlier this year in the Senate, more liberal Democrats in the House have sternly argued against the bill, making the case that it takes away too many protections enacted in the original 2010 Dodd-Frank law. “Defeating this legislation is important to preventing Wall Street from crashing our economy again,” said Rep. Pramila Jaypal (D-WA). “We must not allow the GOP Congress to drag us back to the same lack of oversight that ignited the Great Recession,” wrote House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) to their colleagues. Pelosi & Waters write to House Democrats to “urge you to vote no on this dangerous rollback of the consumer protections of Dodd Frank,” the Senate-passed banking overhaul on House floor tomorrow. — Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) May 21, 2018 Consumer watchdog groups like Public Citizen have labeled the bill, the “Bank Lobbyist Act,” arguing it would increase chances for ‘another taxpayer bailout of reckless financial institutions.’ But while the progressive wing of the Democratic Party has objected, other Democrats heard the pleas of small community and regional banks, one reason the Senate voted 67-31 to approve the bill earlier this year. “It is no coincidence that the bill’s Democratic sponsors come not from major financial hubs, but rural areas where small banks provide a disproportionate share of loans,” said Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO). While the bill falls well short of the repeal of Dodd-Frank which had been sought by many Republicans, it is still a plus for the GOP, giving President Trump one more item to sign into law, one more bullet point to rattle off for supporters on achievements during his time in office. “This bill will provide long overdue relief from the regulatory behemoth that is Dodd-Frank,” said Rep. Blaine Leutkemeyer (R-NE), as Republicans said the changes would spur new economic growth, by helping businesses gain access to new credit.

Lava flows toward geothermal plant on Hawaii’s Big Island as workers hurry to shut it down

Lava flows toward geothermal plant on Hawaii’s Big Island as workers hurry to shut it down

An “explosive eruption” at Mount Kilauea's summit on Hawaii's Big Island early Monday prompted officials to warn residents to protect themselves from ash fallout as the volcano eruption continues into its third week. >> Read more trending news More than 40 structures have been destroyed in the eruption that started May 3. It has since inundated almost 325 acres around Kilauea with lava and lead to concerns about laze, a toxic mixture of lava and haze that forms when hot lava hits ocean waters. Update 11:15 p.m. EDT May 21: Lava is flowing toward a geothermal power plant on Hawaii’s Big Island as Mount Kilauea continues its violent eruptions. Reuters is reporting that workers are scrambling to shut down the Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) plant to prevent the “uncontrollable release of toxic gases.” The plant provides about 25 percent of the Big Island’s power, but has been closed since the volcanic eruptions started on May 3. Update 12:35 p.m. EDT May 21: Officials with the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said early Monday that a small explosion happened just before 1 a.m. local time at the Halemaumau crater at Kilauea's summit. The explosion shot ash about 7,000 feet into the air. 'Additional explosive events that could produce minor amounts of ashfall downwind are possible at any time,' USGS officials said. The Hawaiian County Civil Defense Agency warned residents to be aware of ashfall after the 'explosive eruption.' Update 12:38 p.m. May 20: Lava from the Kilauea volcano has crossed Highway 137 and entered the Pacific Ocean, the Hawaii County Civil Defense said Sunday. A second lava flow is about 437 yards from the highway, the Star Advertiser of Honolulu reported. Big Island residents may now have to contend with laze -- a mixture of lava and haze -- that forms when hot lava hits the ocean, CNN reported. After making contact with the water, the laze sends hydrochloric acid and volcanic glass particles into the air. Laze can lead to lung, eye and skin irritation, CNN reported. 'This hot, corrosive gas mixture caused two deaths immediately adjacent to the coastal entry point in 2000, when seawater washed across recent and active lava flows,' the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory wrote on its website. Officials have told people to avoid areas where lava meets the ocean, CNN reported. Powerful eruptions accompanied by thunderous booms punctuated the air Friday around Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island. The volcano spewed lava bombs the size of cows as molten rock flowed from several of the 22 fissures that have opened around the volcano.  Update 2 a.m. EDT May 19: Fast-moving lava isolated about 40 homes in a rural subdivision, forcing at least four people to be evacuated by county and National Guard helicopters, the Star-Advertiser of Honolulu reported. According to the Hawaii County Civil Defense, police, firefighters and National Guard troops were stopping people from entering the area. Update 11:30 p.m. EDT May 18: Hawaiian authorities have sent the National Guard, police and fire units into the East Rift Zone in Puna, according to the Hawaii Civil Defense Agency. “There are approximately 40 homes in the area that are isolated. Officials are gaining access by helicopter to the area to assess how many people are there and if they need assistance. All persons in that area are asked to stay where they are and wait for further instructions,” the agency said on its website. The Hawaii Volcano Observatory has confirmed another fissure opened on Friday, bringing the total number of fissures to 22.  Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes as Kilauea continues its violent eruptions. Update 8:30 a.m. EDT May 18:  More lava is spewing  from the Kilauea volcano as the 21st fissure opened Thursday, CNN reported. Meanwhile, state officials have been handing out masks to protect people who live near Kilauea, ABC News reported. About 18,000 masks have been distributed, CNN reported. The safety measure protects residents from breathing in pieces of rock, glass and crystals that fall as the volcano continues to erupt, ABC News reported. Update 10:45 p.m. EDT May 17: Lava is erupting from points along the fissure system on Kilauea volcano, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, but the agency is calling it a “low-level eruption” at this point.  Although lava is still spattering from Fissure 17, the flow has not advanced significantly over the past day, the USGS said. There are currently 18 fissures that have opened due to seismic activity on Kilauea’ over the past two weeks.  Volcanic gas emission are still elevated throughout the area and residents are urged to remain on alert.  “This eruption is still evolving and additional outbreaks of lava are possible. Ground deformation continues and seismicity remains elevated in the area,” the USGS reported late Thursday.  Rain on the Big Island Thursday helped the situation with the ashfall, but volcano experts are warning the situation on Kilauea is  still very dynamic. Original report: Several schools were closed as ash continued to fall Thursday due to elevated sulfur dioxide levels. Officials warned people in the area to take shelter and protect themselves from the falling ash. >> Here's how to help victims of Hawaii volcano, earthquakes 'The resulting ash plume will cover the surrounding area,' officials with the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said in a 5 a.m. alert. In a subsequent update, USGS officials said the ash plume was moving to the northeast. The plume could be seen in an image taken from a webcam at the USGS’ Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. 'Driving conditions may be dangerous so if you are driving pull off the road and wait until visibility improves,' the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency warned. Michelle Coombs, of the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, told Hawaii News Now that the situation remained “very, very active and very dynamic,” on Thursday. “The potential for larger explosions is still there,” she said. Officials with the USGS warned Tuesday that an eruption of Kilauea's volcano appeared 'imminent.' >> Red alert declared on Hawaii’s Big Island; major Kilauea eruption ‘imminent’ The eruption on Kilauea began May 3. It has since forced thousands of people from their homes, destroyed nearly 40 structures -- including dozens of homes -- and created more than two dozen fissures in the ground surrounding the volcano. Check back for updates to this developing story.

Maryland police officer killed in line of duty during traffic stop, reports say

Maryland police officer killed in line of duty during traffic stop, reports say

A Maryland police officer was killed Monday during a traffic stop in a neighborhood in Baltimore County, Maryland, according to news reports. >> Read more trending news The four-year female veteran of the force was responding to reports of a “suspicious vehicle” Monday afternoon when she was fatally injured,” WJZ-TV reported. It’s unclear whether she was shot or run over or both, but police are searching for those responsible, who they consider “armed and dangerous.” Authorities said they won’t know for sure how the officer died until an autopsy is performed, but she was wearing a body camera and police are reviewing the tape, according to WJZ-TV.   Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan did say in a tweet the officer was shot. “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of a Baltimore County police officer after she was shot in the the line of duty,” Hogan said on Twitter. “Our prayers got out to this brave officer’s family, Baltimore County police and fire and the Baltimore County community,” he said.  Baltimore County Councilman David Marks wrote in a Twitter post that the officer was shot in Perry Hall, near Belair and Lausmier roads. Police had warned residents to shelter in place as a manhunt got underway Monday afternoon. 

White House agrees to review of DOJ actions in 2016 campaign

A day after President Donald Trump demanded an investigation into how the FBI dealt with investigations during the 2016 campaign, the White House accepted a plan from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to expand an ongoing review of the probe into Russian interference in the elections, and how it touched on the Trump Campaign.

“Based on the meeting with the President, the Department of Justice has asked the Inspector General to expand its current investigation to include any irregularities with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s or the Department of Justice’s tactics concerning the Trump Campaign,” read a statement issued by the [More]