As the White House on Monday backed off in a legal dispute with CNN over the press credentials of White House correspondent Jim Acosta, the White House announced new rules of behavior for reporters, which could result in the suspension of a reporter’s press pass for asking more than one question of the President or top administration officials. “We have created these rules with a degree of regret,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who directly blamed Acosta for the change, after the CNN reporter locked horns with President Trump in a post-election news conference earlier this month, refusing to give up the microphone while trying to get answers from the President about immigration policy. Here are the new rules as set out by the White House, which were contained in an email sent on Monday afternoon through the White House Pool: Sent: Monday, November 19, 2018 4:06 PM Subject: In-Town Pool Report #3- Acosta/CNN Letter From Press Secretary Sarah Sanders: This afternoon we have notified Jim Acosta and CNN that his hard pass has been restored. We have also notified him of certain rules that will govern White House press conferences going forward. They are listed here: A journalist called upon to ask a question will ask a single question and then will yield the floor to other journalists; At the discretion of the President or other White House official taking questions, a follow-up question or questions may be permitted; and where a follow up has been allowed and asked, the questioner will then yield the floor; “Yielding the floor” includes, when applicable, physically surrendering the microphone to White House staff for use by the next questioner; Failure to abide by any of rules (1)-(3) may result in suspension or revocation of the journalist’s hard pass. We have created these rules with a degree of regret. For years, members of the White House press corps have attended countless press events with the President and other officials without engaging in the behavior Mr. Acosta displayed at the November 7, 2018 press conference. We would have greatly preferred to continue hosting White House press conferences in reliance on a set of understood professional norms, and we believe the overwhelming majority of journalists covering the White House share that preference. But, given the position taken by CNN, we now feel obligated to replace previously shared practices with explicit rules. We are mindful that a more elaborate and comprehensive set of rules might need to be devised, including, for example, for journalist conduct in the open (non-press room) areas inside and outside the White House and for Air Force One. At this time however, we have decided not to frame such rules in the hope that professional journalistic norms will suffice to regulate conduct in those places. If unprofessional behavior occurs in those settings, or if a court should decide that explicit rules are required to regulate conduct there, we will be forced to reconsider this decision. The White House’s interaction with the press is, and generally should be, subject to a natural give-and-take. President Trump believes strongly in the First Amendment, and a free press and is the most accessible President in modern history. It would be a great loss for all if, instead of relying on the professionalism of White House journalists, we were compelled to devise a lengthy and detailed code of conduct for White House events.
New details are starting to emerge about Brightline’s proposed plan for rail service from Orlando to Tampa. The Orlando Business Journal looked through a 200-plus page regulatory filing by Brightline, which will become Virgin Trains USA in 2019 after partnering with Virgin Group. The filing from Nov. 16 states Brightline wants to begin passenger rail service from Orlando to Tampa in 2021. They hope the entire trip will take an hour long. Orlando International Airport is currently building the new Orlando Brightline station, but the filing does not specify where the Tampa station will go. It says it will go somewhere in the downtown area and the “Tampa expansion is contingent on our ability to obtain certain land rights, which requires that we demonstrate the financial wherewithal to complete our Florida passenger rail system.” The Orlando-Tampa expansion is expected to cost $1.7 billion. Brightline is currently about $625 million in debt and hopes to fund the effort partly through its new partnership with Virgin. According to the Business Journal, Brightline expects to carry about 6.6 million passengers a year on its rail servcie between Miami and Orlando. The Orlando-Tampa expansion would bring an additional 2.9 million passengers a year.
A disgraced former Ohio judge who was removed from the bench and served prison time for brutally beating his then-estranged wife in 2014 has again been arrested -- this time on suspicion that he stabbed the woman to death in his driveway. Shaker Heights police officials on Saturday confirmed that Lance Mason, 51, was taken into custody following the death of his ex-wife, Aisha Fraser. They declined at that time to release further information, citing the ongoing investigation. Fraser, 44, was a sixth-grade teacher at Woodbury Elementary School in Shaker Heights. “We are in deep mourning,” read a post on the Shaker Heights Teachers’ Association’s Facebook page. “Aisha exemplified the best of Shaker Heights teachers: smart, amazingly caring of her students and her colleagues, active in her profession and in our association. She is loved by many.” The association established a GoFundMe page for Fraser’s children, which raised more than $80,000 in one day. Fraser leaves behind two daughters, 11 and 8 years old. >> Read more trending news The couple’s 11-year-old daughter, Audrey, has Down syndrome, Cleveland.com reported. The couple in 2012 opened a business, Audrey’s Chocolate Shop, to honor their daughter and earn extra income to help with the girl’s medical expenses. A former babysitter for the girls told the news site that Fraser was a sweet woman. “She loved her job, she loved her kids. Her kids were her whole life,” Kelli Glass said. “They are the nicest kids you’d ever meet. They are great kids. Adorable.” A candlelight vigil was planned for Monday evening at Woodbury Elementary for the slain teacher, who Cleveland.com reported had worked for Shaker Heights Schools for 16 years. Later this month, a fundraiser in her name will be held at a yoga studio to benefit Cleveland’s Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center. Officers responded to a 911 call Saturday morning from Mason’s home, where sources told WKYC in Cleveland that Fraser’s body was found lying in the driveway. Sources told the news station that Mason attempted suicide after Fraser was killed. Sources also indicated to both WKYC and Cleveland.com that Mason struck a responding police officer with his vehicle as he attempted to flee the scene. Court records obtained by Fox 8 in Cleveland Monday indicated Mason was driving “fast enough to cause multiple airbag deployments and disabling damage to both vehicles.” Both Mason and the police officer, who was standing next to his patrol car when he was hit, were taken to a hospital for treatment. News 5 in Cleveland reported that the officer suffered serious injuries to his legs and ribs. Fox 8 reported Monday morning that Mason had been charged with felonious assault for the injured police officer. Mason, who remained hospitalized, had not been charged with Fraser’s slaying. He was being held without bond, the news station said. The Shaker Heights school district canceled all professional learning that was scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. They are also providing grief counselors for students, their families and school district staff both days at the elementary school. “Aisha was a devoted mother and a longtime committed teacher to Woodbury students,” interim Superintendent Stephen Wilkins said in a statement. “She touched so many of our children’s lives and will be deeply missed. Her loss is unexpected and the impact of this news on our entire school community is unimaginable and profound.” WKYC reported that Mason, a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge who was removed from the bench about a month after the Aug. 2, 2014, assault on Fraser, in that incident punched Fraser about 20 times and slammed her head repeatedly against the dashboard of their car. He also bit her and choked her as he drove, Cleveland.com reported. The estranged couple were driving back from a family member’s funeral. Their two daughters were in the car at the time of the violent assault. According to a 911 call Fraser made, which was obtained in 2014 by Cleveland.com, Mason kicked her out of the SUV and, after beating her some more outside of the vehicle, drove away with the children. Fraser, who feared for the safety of her daughters, begged dispatchers to find her children. “I’m afraid he’s going to hurt my daughters,” a frantic-sounding Fraser said. “Please find my kids!” Click here to listen to Aisha Fraser’s 2014 911 call, courtesy of Cleveland.com. It may be too graphic for some listeners. Mason drove home following the attack, Cleveland.com reported. Though family members feared he might try to harm himself, he surrendered to police officers. Investigators who searched his home after the 2014 arrest found smoke grenades, semi-automatic rifles, more than 2,500 rounds of ammunition, a bulletproof vest and a sword, according to the news site. Fraser, who required reconstructive surgery to repair a broken orbital bone, was subsequently awarded $150,000 in a civil lawsuit against her former husband, WKYC reported. Mason, who was also a former state representative and state senator, was indicted on charges of kidnapping, domestic violence, felonious assault, attempted felonious assault and endangering the welfare of his children, Cuyahoga County court records show. He pleaded guilty to the domestic violence and attempted felonious assault charges, and the remainder of the charges were dropped. He was sentenced in September 2015 to two years in prison. ‘Working hard to be a better dad and a better man’ Mason wrote letters from prison in April 2016 to his wife and daughters, which Fox 8 obtained from the Cuyahoga County Clerk of Courts. In the letter to Fraser, he took responsibility for assaulting her in front of their daughters and otherwise hurting her during their marriage. “My responsibility was to love and protect you,” Mason wrote. “Instead of loving, protecting and providing for you and our daughters, I have provided a terrible example and exposed you to rage and violence. Instead, I have caused great pain, insecurity and fear.” He admitted often blaming his wife for his own behavior, saying he did not realize until the August 2014 attack that he “was broken.” He said he’d admitted his wrongdoing and repeatedly talked to their children, explaining how wrong it was to hit their mother. “While incarcerated, I have continued to gain insight of my wrongs and worked to be a better man and father,” he wrote. “I know these efforts are not enough; they are inadequate.” In a letter to his daughters, he told his “precious girls” that he missed them every day. I know you are in pain, confused,” he wrote to the children. “You may be angry or feel abandoned by your dad. I love you and have not abandoned you. As I have told you many times before, I hurt mom and I’m being rightfully punished for it. I was supposed to love and protect mom and you girls. I failed you, your mom and her parents. It’s not over though, I’m working hard to be a better dad to you and a better man.” He told the girls he loved them and would see them soon. Records from the Ohio Department of Corrections show he was released two months later, in June 2016, after serving nine months of his two-year sentence. WKYC reported that, as a convicted felon, he was prohibited from serving as a judge again in Ohio. The state supreme court also prohibited him from practicing law. At the time of the homicide, Mason worked at Cleveland City Hall as the minority business development administrator, the news station said. He was hired by Mayor Frank G. Jackson in 2017. Jackson issued a statement Saturday in which he said city officials were aware of Mason’s arrest and that the former judge had been terminated, effective immediately. City officials were cooperating with Shaker Heights investigators in the homicide case. “I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Ms. Aisha Fraser, especially to her children,” Jackson said. Fox 8 reported Monday that Jackson stood by his hiring of Mason following his prison stint, saying he had no way to predict the future. He also stood by his policy of giving people second chances. “We’re gonna look at it as a policy. Our policy is second chances unless there is something that would prevent us from doing it,” Jackson told the news station. “For example, you wouldn’t hire a convicted felon and put them around children. You wouldn’t hire an embezzler and put them in the finance department.” WKYC reported in 2015 that Mason and Fraser were married in 2005. They separated in March 2014, five months before the assault for which Mason went to prison. Fraser filed for divorce a couple of days after her estranged husband’s arrest, citing extreme cruelty and gross neglect of duty, the news station said. The divorce was finalized in November 2015.