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February 12, 2019

A record number of Americans are three months behind on their car payments, leaving economists surprised — and concerned.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York released a new report on Tuesday that shows seven million Americans are at least 90 days late on their car payments. Most of those seven million people are 30 or younger with low credit scores. Defaults are highest among "subprime" borrowers, who have credit scores of 620 or lower and usually have interest rates between 14.5 and 20 percent on their loans.

"The substantial and growing number of distressed borrowers suggests that not all Americans have benefited from the strong labor market and warrants continued monitoring and analysis of this sector," economists said in a blog post accompanying the report. Michael Taiano, senior director at Fitch Ratings, told The Washington Post that car loans are typically prioritized when it comes to making payments. "If you don't have a car, you can't get back and forth to work in a lot of areas of the country," he said. "A car is usually a higher-priority payment than a home mortgage or rent." Catherine Garcia

February 4, 2019

Liam Neeson just derailed the press tour for his new movie Cold Pursuit with a jaw-dropping story.

In an interview with The Independent to promote his latest revenge thriller, the actor revealed that that years ago, someone close to him was allegedly raped, and when she told him the rapist was a black man, he went out with a weapon hoping to have a run-in with a random black person so he could let out his rage.

“I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I'd be approached by somebody," he said. "I'm ashamed to say that, and I did it for maybe a week — hoping some 'black bastard' would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him."

Neeson admitted in the interview that the behavior he described was "awful" but that he "learned a lesson" from the experience, which he volunteered apparently in an attempt to discuss the themes of the film, in which his character seeks revenge for the death of his son. But he seemed to realize he made a huge mistake here, telling the reporter of the story, "I'm saying it to a journalist. God forbid.” Meanwhile, his co-star Tom Bateman, who was sitting next to him the entire time, spoke for all of us by saying, "Holy sh-t." Brendan Morrow

February 4, 2019

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has approximately one public supporter.

After news sites published a page from Northam's medical school yearbook from 1984 featuring a photo of one man in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan robes, pretty much every high-profile member of his own party told him to step down. That changed Monday morning though, as former Sen. Joe Lieberman (D) told CNN he doesn't think Northam should resign "today."

Lieberman decried the "rush to judgment that is unfair to" Northam. The governor has claimed that he wasn't in the photo, so Lieberman said Northam should be asked whether he knew "the picture was on his page." Northam should also be "judged in the context of his whole life" and be shown "mercy" until he's "proven guilty," Lieberman added.

Northam has resisted calls for his resignation since the photos were published Friday. He acknowledged that the photo is "clearly racist" and said Friday that he was in it, but now claims he wasn't in the photo after all. Kathryn Krawczyk

February 1, 2019

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is back in hot water.

On Friday, photos surfaced of Northam's page in a 1984 yearbook from Eastern Virginia Medical School. Among photos of Northam in a suit and tie and next to a Corvette, there is a photo of two unidentified men, one in blackface and one in full Ku Klux Klan robes, reports The Washington Post.

The photo was first posted on Big League Politics, a conservative website founded by an ex-Breitbart writer. CBS News affiliate WTKR found the same page in a copy of the yearbook at a local library, and the Post also confirmed it was real. Northam graduated from the school in 1984. He was previously Virginia's lieutenant governor before being elected to the top spot in 2017.

Northam also came under fire by conservatives earlier this week after indicating support for late-term abortion. Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said Northam was "defending born-alive abortions," but Northam's office defended the statement as clearly limited to cases of "nonviable pregnancy or in the event of severe fetal abnormalities."

Northam's office has not yet issued a statement on the photo, but a Northam ally, state Senate Minority Leader Richard Saslaw (D), gave this statement. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 24, 2019

Two career White House security specialists rejected Jared Kushner's application for a top-secret security clearance, but a supervisor dismissed their recommendation and approved it, two people with knowledge of the matter told NBC News.

Their decision came after Kushner's FBI background check raised red flags, and there were concerns about his foreign entanglements. The supervisor, Carl Kline, became director of the personnel security office in the Executive Office of the President in May 2017, and Kushner wasn't the only person to get a pass: Kline overruled at least 30 other rejections of incoming Trump officials, NBC News reports. Prior to Kline's arrival, it was rare for rejections to be overruled.

Kushner didn't just want a top secret clearance — he tried to get access to sensitive compartmented information, or SCI, which is a higher designation. SCI material includes transcripts of intercepted foreign communications and reporting from CIA sources, and it's the CIA that decides whether to give SCI clearance to top White House officials. After they conducted their background check on Kushner, NBC News reports, one CIA agent called the White House security division and asked how Kushner managed to get a top secret clearance. Ultimately, Kushner was not granted clearance for SCI, NBC News reports. For more on security clearances and what goes into background checks, visit NBC News. Catherine Garcia

January 24, 2019

Michael Ertel has resigned as Florida's secretary of state, and it's easy to see why.

The newly appointed official dressed up in blackface at a "private Halloween party" in 2005, wearing a shirt that says "Katrina victim," photos obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat show. The newspaper showed the photos to the Florida governor's office on Thursday, and Ertel tendered his resignation shortly after.

The Democrat obtained these photos last week, and texted them to Ertel, who confirmed he was the man in costume. The photos would've been taken just after Ertel became the Seminole County supervisor of elections, and just months after Hurricane Katrina caused more than 1,000 deaths. "There's nothing I can say," Ertel told the Democrat regarding the photos.

Newly elected Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis (R) appointed Ertel as secretary of state less than a month ago. DeSantis called his resignation "unfortunate" because Ertel has "done a lot of good work," but accepted the resignation because he didn't "want to get mired in side controversies," per the Democrat.

The Democrat described the photos as "the sole blemish on a seemingly spotless public career," seeing as Ertel had increased voter registration and election accessibility in the areas he'd previously overseen. He also says he told election supervisors to accept voter registration applications from ex-felons, as a newly enacted Florida constitutional amendment required. Read more at the Tallahassee Democrat. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 13, 2019

Last year, the National Security Council asked the Pentagon to come up with military options to strike Iran, current and former U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal.

The request came in September after three mortars were fired at the diplomatic quarter in Baghdad where the U.S. Embassy is located; the shells were reportedly launched by a group with ties to Iran. There was minimal damage and no one was hurt, but the incident set National Security Adviser John Bolton off and several meetings were held to discuss a response. This worried officials at the Pentagon and State Department, who felt this was an intense reaction. "People were shocked," a former official told the Journal. "It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran."

Officials said the Pentagon went along with the request, but it's unclear if the proposals were ever sent to the White House or if President Trump even knew Bolton, who shared with other administration officials his desire to see regime change in Iran, asked for strike options. Catherine Garcia

December 21, 2018

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has major reservations about Defense Secretary James Mattis stepping down.

On Thursday night, McConnell released a statement saying he believes it's "essential that the United States maintain and strengthen the post-World War II alliances that have been carefully built by leaders in both parties. We must also maintain a clear-eyed understanding of our friends and foes, and recognize that nations like Russia are among the latter."

McConnell is "sorry to learn that Secretary Mattis, who shares those clear principles, will soon depart the administration," he continued. "But I am particularly distressed that he is resigning due to sharp differences with the president on these and other key aspects of America's global leadership." In his resignation letter, Mattis made it clear that he does not share President Trump's views on Russia and China and how to treat allies, telling him he has "the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours" and that's why he is going to "step down from my position." Catherine Garcia

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