People also are talking about the battle over seeing the Mueller report and how legalizing pot isn't a red vs. blue thing.
Yale yanks admission for student whose family paid $1.2 million for it
Yale University has rescinded the admission of a student who was admitted as part of the ongoing college admissions scandal, the first instance of a school doing so since the scheme became public two weeks ago.
Yale has said two people applied to the university with fraudulent athletic endorsements from women's soccer coach Rudy Meredith. One was denied admission despite the endorsement, and the other was admitted and was attending Yale, the university said on its website.
A Yale spokesman did not provide any more information on the student.
The decision comes as Yale, USC, UCLA and other major universities deal with the fallout from the sprawling scandal. Prosecutors have arrested 50 people, including 33 wealthy parents, for carrying out a scheme to cheat on standardized tests and/or bribe college coaches, who then helped the prospective students gain admission by falsely claiming they were athletic recruits.
The mastermind of the scheme, Rick Singer, is cooperating with prosecutors and has pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the US and obstruction of justice.
Meredith is also cooperating with prosecutors and has agreed to plead guilty to honest services wire fraud and related charges, according to court documents.
Little is known about the identity of the Yale student who was admitted. The student is identified in court documents only as "Yale Applicant 1."
As part of the scheme, Singer helped create a false athletic profile for the student, court documents state. Singer sent that fake profile to Meredith, who then falsely designated the applicant as a women's soccer recruit to help her gain admission to Yale, according to a criminal indictment.
The applicant's parents paid $1.2 million to Singer for the arrangement in the spring and summer of 2018, and Singer mailed Meredith a check for $400,000 after the applicant was admitted to Yale. The parents are not named in the complaint.
In April 2018, Meredith solicited a bribe from the father of a second applicant, but the meeting was an FBI set-up, according to court documents. He began cooperating with federal investigators that same month, and resigned as coach in November 2018.
Average Major League Baseball salary falls to $4.3 million
Even with huge new contracts for Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Nolan Arenado, Major League Baseball's average salary is on track to drop on opening day for an unprecedented second straight season, according to projections by The Associated Press.
The 872 players on rosters and injured lists on Monday evening averaged $4.36 million, down from $4.41 million at the start of last season and $4.45 million on opening day in 2017, according to AP studies.
Back-to-back drops follow consecutive slow free-agent markets that saw salaries slashed for many veterans, and top pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel remain unsigned as openers approached.
This year's exact figure could rise or fall when teams set opening-day rosters Thursday. The number will be impacted by how many players go on the injured list and how many lower-priced replacements are put on active rosters. In 2018, the average dropped slightly at the start when late-signing free agents Jake Arrieta of Philadelphia and Alex Cobb of Baltimore started the season in the minor leagues.
Last season's opening-day drop was only the second since the end of the 1994-95 strike, according to AP calculations, after a 2.7 percent decrease in 2004. The union determined its final average as $4,095,686, down $1,436 from 2017, while MLB's figure was $4,007,987, up from $3,955,920 in 2017. The union includes option buyouts in its average calculation while MLB does not.
Overall spending on big league payrolls fell last season for the first time since 2010, according to calculations by the commissioner's office, an $18 million decrease to $4.23 billion attributable to drug and domestic violence suspensions and a player retiring at midseason. The only previous drops since 2002 were by $3 million in 2010 and by $32 million in 2004.
Pitchers are the five highest-paid players, led by Washington's Max Scherzer at $37.4 million and Arizona's Zack Greinke at $32.4 million. Boston is set to lead the major leagues in payroll for the second straight year, followed by the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees. For Scherzer and Greinke, deferred money is discounted to present-day value.
Stagnant-to-down salaries might not change in the next year. The 2019-20 free-agent class lost many of its most attractive players when Chris Sale, Justin Verlander, Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt agreed to new contracts during spring training. That left Gerrit Cole, Madison Bumgarner, Khris Davis, Xander Bogaerts, Didi Gregorius and Anthony Rendon to top the group for now.
The players' association is angry over the marketplace and is embarking with management on an unprecedented early start to labor negotiations that could lead to major economic changes.
"Free agency is part of what drives baseball's economic system and it needs to remain a meaningful option for players going forward," union head Tony Clark said in a statement to the AP.
When it comes to legalizing pot, it's not just red vs. blue states
To anyone who figured the path of legalizing recreational marijuana use ran along blue state-red state lines, a sudden setback for pot advocates in New Jersey may show the issue isn't so black-and-white.
Leaders in solidly-blue New Jersey are vowing it will still become the 11th state to legalize the drug. But when a state Senate vote was abruptly put off Monday because it didn't have enough support, the delay was a reminder that the politics of pot legalization aren't purely partisan. The key question instead can be whether voters or legislators are making the decision, experts say.
"It's a good illustration that even in a state that's entirely Democratically controlled, it's not obvious that it would be passed — or that it would be easy," says Daniel Mallinson, a Penn State Harrisburg professor who studies how marijuana legalization and other policies spread among states.
Since voters in the states of Colorado and Washington decided in 2012 to let adults use marijuana for fun, legalization has traveled a route that looks — from a distance — something like the red-and-blue maps that frame many a U.S. political conversation.
Residents of Democratic states on the West Coast and parts of the Northeast, for instance, have said yes, as has the District of Columbia. Lawmakers in Republican-led North Dakota and Arizona have said no.
But look closer, and the trend isn't so clear. Voters in Ruby-red Alaska OK'd recreational pot in 2014, while legalization fizzled this year in the state legislature in deeply Democratic Hawaii . Several states where it passed — like Massachusetts, Michigan and Vermont — are less blue than purple, with governors and legislative leaders of different parties.
And overall, 61 percent of American adults say marijuana should be legal, including majorities of Republicans and Democrats , according to the General Social Survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago.
The Democratic governors and legislature leaders of New York and New Jersey have been jostling to make their states next in line to legalize, but the effort hasn't gone as smoothly as they might have hoped.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo aimed to pass marijuana legalization in the budget due April 1, but the issue may well linger until later this spring. Open questions include how to handle clearing past convictions and how to ensure that minority communities that bore the brunt of criminalization get potential opportunities in the marijuana business.
Those are also among the sticking points that prompted the New Jersey Senate to postpone Monday's planned vote, which would fulfill a campaign promise from Gov. Phil Murphy. Senate President Steve Sweeney insisted it would still pass eventually but didn't say when a vote might come.
Dispute erupts over findings on Trump, Russia and obstruction of justice
During a briefing at the Justice Department about three weeks ago, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III made a revelation that those supervising his work were not expecting, a person familiar with the matter said: He would not offer a conclusion on whether he believed President Trump sought to obstruct justice.
The decision — which a Justice Department official on Monday said the special counsel’s office came to “entirely” on its own — left a gap ripe for political exploitation.
After accepting Mueller’s report, Attorney General William P. Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who were among those briefed March 5, made the call Mueller would not, determining that the evidence was insufficient to allege that Trump had obstructed justice. The decisive maneuver, outlined in a letter Barr sent to lawmakers this week, sparked allegations that the two Trump appointees had rushed to a judgment no one asked them to make, and it is likely to be a key battleground in the intensifying political fight over the conclusion of Mueller’s work.
A day after Barr revealed Mueller’s principal conclusions — namely, that the special counsel did not establish any coordination between Trump and Russia on election interference, and found a mixed bag on the question of obstruction — Democrats attacked the attorney general and issued an April 2 deadline for him to turn over a copy of the report, while Republicans said Trump should be given an apology.
Some current and former law enforcement officials, meanwhile, said privately they were puzzled as to why Mueller ended his work without a firm recommendation on obstruction. Trump, who had repeatedly derided the investigation as a “witch hunt,” said Monday, when asked if Mueller had acted honorably: “Yes, he did.”
Barr continued to scrub grand jury material from Mueller’s report so it might one day be turned over to lawmakers eager to read the special counsel’s findings. A person familiar with the matter said there were no current plans to turn over the document to the White House, which still had not seen it Monday. The person, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House and Justice Department matters.
White House officials are not automatically planning to ask for the report, according to two people familiar with the situation, though it is possible they would one day want to do so — mindful that the section on obstruction might include privileged discussions, such as Trump’s communications with former White House counsel Donald McGahn. White House advisers believe it is possible that Barr will decide he needs to share a copy with the White House to seek input on privileged discussions.
On Monday, Trump told reporters that “it wouldn’t bother me at all” if the Mueller report were released but said that decision is up to the attorney general. He also suggested that those behind the investigation should be investigated for their own conduct.
“They’ve done so many evil things,” the president said, without specifying whom he believed should be investigated. “It was a false narrative, it was a terrible thing. We can never let this happen to another president again. I can tell you that. I say it very strongly. Very few people I know could have handled it. We can never ever let this happen to another president again.”
It was not immediately clear when Barr might be able to turn over the report — or some portions of it — to lawmakers and the public. After the Justice Department closed its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, it took about two months for substantive documents from that case to be released. But lawmakers began discussing plans Monday to have Barr testify on Capitol Hill.
Breast implants linked to cancer; experts say too soon to ban them
Government medical advisers said Monday it's too soon to ban a type of breast implant that has recently been linked to a rare form of cancer, saying more information is needed to understand the problem.
The Food and Drug Administration panel didn't recommend any immediate restrictions on breast implants after a day reviewing the latest research on the risks of the devices, which have been subject to safety concerns for decades.
The FDA has been grappling with how to manage emerging science that shows the implants can trigger a rare form of lymphoma that grows in the scar tissue surrounding the breasts. The agency identified about 450 cases of the cancer worldwide, including 12 deaths. Almost all of the cases involve a type of textured implant that is designed to stop implants from slipping and to minimize scar tissue.
But the majority of the 19 panelists — including plastic surgeons and cancer experts — said it was too soon to remove the products from the market.
"Do we want to get into the situation where we pull one sweetener and the replacement is even worse?" said Karla Ballman, a biostatistician at New York's Weill Cornell School of Medicine. "I think a knee jerk reaction of just pulling something without knowing what the replacement will be might get us into more trouble."
Estimates of the frequency of the disease range from 1 in 3,000 women to 1 in 30,000. It grows slowly and can usually be successfully treated by removing the implants. The FDA said it has also received reports of the disease in smooth implants — which account for most of the U.S. market.
Another panelist said a ban on textured implants would be an "extraordinary overreaction."
But that opinion wasn't unanimous. The panel's consumer representative stressed the risk to women who get implants for reconstructive purposes after breast cancer surgery and could face a second cancer.
"I think that's so much of a risk that they need to be taken off the market," said Roberta Brummert. Her comments set off cheers from dozens of women who attended the hearing.
In the U.S., roughly 400,000 women get breast implants each year; 100,000 women get them after cancer surgery.
On Tuesday, the same FDA panel will make recommendations on studying and defining the risks of long-term chronic conditions with breast implants. Thousands of women have blamed their implants for a host of other chronic ailments, including rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue and muscle pain.
Mixed martial arts superstar Conor McGregor calls it quits
UFC superstar Conor McGregor announced his retirement on social media Monday night, abruptly ending his remarkable fighting career.
In a post on his verified Twitter account, the former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion said: "I've decided to retire from the sport formally known as 'Mixed Martial Art' today."
The post wishes his "old colleagues well going forward in competition," and says he would "join my former partners on this venture, already in retirement. Proper Pina Coladas on me fellas!"
The name of the drink in the post appears to be a reference to Proper No. Twelve Whiskey, the loquacious Irishman's burgeoning liquor venture.
UFC President Dana White said in a text message to The Associated Press that McGregor's announcement "totally makes sense."
"He has the money to retire, and his whiskey is KILLIN it," White added. "If I was him, I would retire too. He's retiring from fighting. Not from working. The Whiskey will keep him busy, and I'm sure he has other things he's working on. He has been so fun to watch!!! He has accomplished incredible things in this sport. I am so happy for him and I look forward to seeing him be as successful outside of the octagon as he was in it."
McGregor, 30, is the most famous fighter in his sport, but he hasn't won a fight since November 2016, when he beat Eddie Alvarez to become the first UFC fighter to hold championship belts in two divisions simultaneously.
His only fight in 2017 was a loss to boxer Floyd Mayweather in the richest fight in boxing history. He finally returned to the UFC cage last October, but lost a lightweight title fight to Khabib Nurmagomedov.
McGregor was widely expected to fight for the UFC later this year. A few hours before he announced his retirement, McGregor appeared on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" in New York and claimed he was negotiating for a probable fight in July.
McGregor has quit his sport before. He announced his retirement on Twitter in April 2016 during a dispute with the UFC about the promotion of his next proposed bout. He reversed his decision two days later and fought in August 2016, winning his rematch with Nate Diaz.