President Donald Trump hit the road Friday to deliver a pep talk to American workers in South Carolina, resurrecting the jobs-building promises that powered his election victory and pledging anew to unleash the power of the American spirit. But back in Washington, this week s divisive tone continued:
The White House distanced itself from a Department of Homeland Security draft proposal to use the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants. Administration officials said the proposal, which called for mobilizing up to 100,000 troops in 11 states, was rejected, and would not be part of plans to carry out Trump s aggressive immigration policy.
Concluding weeks of bitter debates, Scott Pruitt was confirmed to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, giving Trump an eager partner to fulfill his pledge to increase the use of fossil fuels much to the chagrin of the nation s environmental groups and alternative-energy boosters.
Trump s national security team remained incomplete, but retired Gen. Keith Kellogg, whose family has deep roots in Long Beach, traveled to South Carolina with the White House team aboard Air Force One. Trump tweeted Kellogg, serving as the acting national security adviser, is very much in play for the permanent role, along with three others.
Trump also tweeted: The FAKENEWS media is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People! Trump s social-media outburst came a day after he forcefully defended his administration and jousted with the press during a marathon White House news conference. But the president, clearly enjoying his return to the kind of cheering crowds that fueled his months-long campaign, took a more upbeat tack in South Carolina.
We love our workers and we are going to protect our workers, Trump declared at a Boeing plant where the company showed off its new 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft. We are going to fight for jobs. We are going to fight for our families, he said in a reprise of the America First message from his campaign.
The new president toured a 787-10 still under construction and, before leaving, sat in the pilot s seat of a completed airplane painted in contrasting shades of blue that formed the backdrop for his remarks. Some 5,000 employees and others inside a hangar greeted him with chants of USA, USA. The president, who owns an airplane but now travels exclusively on government aircraft, praised the Boeing jetliner as an amazing piece of art.
As your president I m going to do everything I can to unleash the power of the American spirit and to put our great people back to work, he said. This is our mantra: Buy American and hire American.
Trump, returning to the confident theme of his march to the White House, said: America is going to start winning again, winning like never before. Trump is expected to stick to the theme today when he holds a big rally in central Florida.
The president s vow to toughen enforcement of immigration laws returned to the spotlight Friday, a day after the president promised to sign an executive order next week that would include a new travel ban that would stand up to the kind of legal challenges that blocked his first try. Municipalities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis and Skokie, Illinois, urged a federal judge on Friday to continue blocking aspects of Trump s travel ban. New York City s chief lawyer, Zachary Carter, filed papers in federal court on behalf of nearly three dozen cities. The arguments were submitted days before a judge will decide whether to extend an order that was issued the day after Trump signed the Jan. 27 executive order. Trump s plans included a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen and a 120-day suspension of the U.S. refugee program.
Carter and senior counsel Susan Greenberg said in the filing that the ban against people from seven predominantly Muslim countries damages the economies and cultures of the cities and harms efforts to keep cities safe, including against terrorists. The White House has said Trump s order is necessary to protect against terrorism and the New York case should be dismissed because the two people on whose behalf it was brought have been allowed into the U.S. Meanwhile, a Homeland Security official said a draft proposal to use the National Guard to round up undocumented people released by the Associated Press was never seriously considered and was not presented to DHS Secretary John Kelly.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said there was no effort at all to utilize the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants. The pushback from administration officials did little to quell outrage over the draft plan. Three Republican governors spoke out against the proposal and numerous Democratic lawmakers denounced it as an overly aggressive approach to immigration enforcement.
Which way, EPA?
Hours after his 52-46 victory in the Senate, former Oklahoma Attorney General Pruitt was sworn as EPA chief by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. In six years, Pruitt filed 14 lawsuits against the department he now helms, challenging such rules as limits on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants and efforts to clean up polluted wastewater under the Clean Water Act.
Pruitt s supporters cheered his confirmation, hailing the 48-year-old Republican lawyer as the ideal pick to roll back environmental regulations they say are a drag on the nation s economy.
EPA has made life hard for families all across America, said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The agency has issued punishing regulations that caused many hardworking Americans to lose their jobs. Mr. Pruitt will bring much needed change.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was the lone Republican vote against Pruitt. Two Democrats from states with economies heavily dependent on fossil fuels crossed party lines to support Trump s pick, Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.
ORLANDO A security officer claims he was never paid for any overtime work from his former employers. Anthony T. Fields filed a complaint on Feb. 3 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division against Fidelity Security Agency LLC, Fidelity Security Services LLC and Michael L. Williams Jr. alleging violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. According to the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that he worked for more than 40 hours a week without being paid any overtime compensation during his employment from November 2013 to September 2014. The plaintiff holds Fidelity Security Agency LLC, Fidelity Security Services LLC and Williams Jr. responsible because the defendants also allegedly failed to keep an accurate time record.
The plaintiff requests a trial by jury and seeks unpaid overtime wages, liquidated damages, interest, all legal fees and any other relief as the court deems just. He is represented by Scott C. Adams and N. Ryan Labar of Labar & Adams PA in Orlando.
U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division Case number 6:17-cv-00184-CEM-KRS
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Brent Beckner stopped playing in professional video game competitions years ago, but that hasn t kept him out of the industry altogether.
He s now the founder and CEO of The Roanoke Reign, a national video game organization that he runs remotely from his Vinton home.
The rest of Reign s managers and 16 professional players are scattered across the country. There s FluxWolf, a Super Smash Bros. player from Minnesota, and Murdastick, a Counter-Strike player in Maryland. Reign recruits the players, organizes teams and sets a tournament schedule. The organization also brings on sponsors and pays for portions of player travel expenses and tournament fees. If one of Reign s teams wins, the organization takes a cut of the prize and the players get the rest. The business, which was founded as Virtue Gaming in 2015 but recently changed its name, is part of the booming yet often underestimated world of professional gaming known as eSports.
Top players range from teenagers to those in their early 20s. They can earn well over $1 million in prizes each year, not including sponsorship deals or what they get paid to live stream practice sessions for fans. The sport quietly grew a niche following for years and only recently has started to receive mainstream attention. Competitions now routinely sell out arenas all over the world. In 2014, more people watched the League of Legends championship on television and online than watched the World Series or NBA Finals that year. In 2016, ESPN joined the craze and announced a major push to expand coverage of video game competitions.
There s a stigma about it that you can t make a living off gaming, that it s just a guy sitting in his basement at his mother s house, Beckner said. That s just not the case.
Beckner, 24, demurred on questions about exactly how much his players earn, but he did say no one with Reign is anywhere near the elite class of gamers who bring home seven-figure salaries. Even for Beckner, the business is a side gig he works as a security guard for a private company during the day. Beckner first discovered his passion for video games in 1999, when he would play with his older brother and hand the controller off whenever he reached levels too difficult for a 7-year-old.
Being 10 years apart, it was always kind of difficult to find something we had in common, Beckner said of his brother. But gaming was one of the few things. He bought his own Xbox in 2004, playing Halo with his girlfriend under the screen name RoaPD. (Beckner said he s always wanted to be a Roanoke police officer.)
It started as casual games after school, but soon he was playing for 14 hours at a time. Most of the tournaments back then were online, so Beckner said they were easy to fit in around his schedule.
I wasn t making enough to solely survive off tournament income; granted, back then I was in high school, Beckner said. I was definitely making more than an average $7.25-an-hour job.
Beckner switched to Call of Duty, a war-themed game, while attending Virginia Western Community College a few years later. That s when he took things to the next level, signing sponsorship deals and traveling for tournaments. By 2011, Beckner said he was playing video games for about 12 hours a day, seven days a week. That s when he decided it all had become too much.
There were times when you were just burned out, but that s with any job, Beckner said. For the most part, you still have that passion behind every match. I, personally, just sucked at time control. That s really what it boiled down to. Beckner took a few years off before rejoining the industry on the management side of things.
Reign is still a young organization, but it s slowly building a name for itself. Over the past two years, Reign s teams have placed within the top 10 at more than 20 competitions. Next, Beckner said he hopes to recruit more content creators, or gamers who record themselves playing for fans to watch. Beckner says he s also found a better balance for his own life in his new management role. He has a 15-month-old son and is expecting another early next month. Most of his video game gear has been moved to storage. When he does play, Beckner said it s usually so his son can sit on his lap and pretend to control the game.
My Xbox is still at the house, but it s used for Netflix only anymore, Beckner said. It went from Call of Duty to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Which, you know, I m not complaining.