Happening Today: ‘Bridgegate,’ Brexit, Clinton, Birth Control, ‘Buddy Dance,’ Ken Burns, Phelps


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Ex-Christie Aides to Be Sentenced in Bridge Case

Two former aides to Gov. Chris Christie are scheduled to be sentenced for their roles in the 2013 George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal. Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni were convicted on counts including wire fraud, conspiracy and misusing the bridge for improper purposes. The government’s star witness, David Wildstein, testified that he and the co-defendants plotted to cause gridlock to retaliate against the Democratic mayor of nearby Fort Lee for not endorsing the Republican Christie’s re-election. Baroni and Kelly face 37 to 46 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, although both have filed briefs arguing that they should receive some combination of probation, home confinement and community service. Prosecutors urged a judge not to show leniency.

UK Set to File for EU Divorce, Triggering 2 Years to Brexit

Britain is set to formally file for divorce from the European Union, walking out on a 44-year relationship, enacting the decision made by U.K. voters in a referendum nine months ago and launching both Britain and the bloc into uncharted territory. Prime Minister Theresa May is due to tell House of Commons at lunchtime that she has invoked Article 50 of the EU’s key treaty, the trigger for a two-year countdown to Britain’s exit. Just before May’s statement, Britain’s EU envoy, Tim Barrow, will hand-deliver a letter from May to EU Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels. Photos were released of May signing the letter in the Cabinet room at 10 Downing St., under a portrait of Britain’s first prime minister, Robert Walpole. The letter, which is several pages long, was whisked to Brussels aboard a Eurostar train, British media reported. Barrow arrived at European Council headquarters carrying a briefcase, before his appointment with Tusk.

How Trump’s Moves on Coal Will Affect the Industry

President Trump’s move to roll back Obama-era regulations aimed at curbing climate change comes as the coal industry is reeling from job losses, bankruptcies, pollution restrictions and growing competition from natural gas, wind and solar. Trump ordered a review of the Clean Power Plan, which seeks to reduce emissions from coal power plants, and the lifting of a moratorium on the sale of coal mining leases on federal lands. Experts say coal’s biggest problem isn’t a shortage of the fuel to dig or even climate change regulations but cheap and abundant natural gas. Gas prices dropped as advances in drilling such as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, greatly increased the amount of gas on the market.

Clinton Jabs Trump in First Major Post-Election Speech

A spirited Hillary Clinton took on the Trump administration in some of her sharpest political comments since she lost the presidential election. She criticized the federal government’s leaders on everything from health care to a shortage of women in top positions in an appearance before thousands of women in San Francisco attending the Professional Businesswomen of California Conference. Clinton joked there was no place she’d rather be, “other than the White House.” Without mentioning President Trump by name, Clinton faulted her former presidential rival for having what she said was the lowest number of women in an administration for a generation.

States Push to Protect Birth Control Despite Failed GOP Bill

Even with the Republican failure to repeal Barack Obama’s health care law, Democratic lawmakers in some states are pressing ahead with efforts to protect birth control access, Planned Parenthood funding and abortion coverage in case they are jeopardized in the future. Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives withdrew a bill that would have repealed Obama’s Affordable Care Act. It would have halted federal funding for Planned Parenthood and curtailed the ability of many low-income women to obtain affordable birth control. Despite that setback, several Republicans said Congress might revisit health care in the future, and anti-abortion leaders have stressed they will not abandon their campaign to defund Planned Parenthood. The group is the No. 1 abortion provider in the U.S. but also offers extensive birth control and health-screening services.

‘Buddy Dance’ Offers a Time to Shine, Advocates Say

Dance is a fantastic form of creativity and expression, but some kids and teens can be left out of dance classes because of developmental or behavioral disorders. That’s changing at Premier Dance Center in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The studio’s program gives kids with developmental or behavioral disorders a chance to find themselves on the dance floor. One dancer was diagnosed with autism at two years old. Her mom says watching her light up in dance class brings her so much joy. “Buddy Dance,” a 30 minute inclusive dance class that meets once a week, provides people with special needs a place to let loose.

Ken Burns Making Film on Muhammad Ali, He Announces

The late Muhammad Ali is getting the Ken Burns treatment. The PBS documentarian  announced he and two partners will make a two-part, four-hour film about the former heavyweight champ, who died last June. Burns, his daughter Sarah and David McMahon collaborated for a PBS documentary on Jackie Robinson that debuted last year. The tentative plan is to air the Ali film in 2021. Filmmakers want to examine what influenced Ali’s choices and how he stuck with them despite public condemnation, Sarah Burns said.

Phelps Participating in Shark Week, Discovery Says

Olympic champ Michael Phelps is participating in Discovery network’s Shark Week this summer, although he won’t be asked to outswim one. It’s not immediately clear what Phelps will be doing, although Discovery President Rich Ross said he’s intrigued about seeing the fastest human swimmer interact with nature’s fastest. Perhaps Phelps can be encouraged to go underwater in a shark cage, he said. The week of shark-themed programming in mid-summer is annually Discovery’s biggest event. Now that it is approaching its 29th year, programmers are on the lookout for a new wrinkle.

Article first published on NBC 4 New York