CHICAGO — Authorities are investigating reports that people drove around the South Side early Saturday afternoon offering “free samples” of tainted heroin that sent 8 people to the hospital with overdoses.

No deaths have been reported, according to Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

A woman is being held in police custody as a person of interest, but police are still searching for a man who was last seen distributing the drugs in a 2001 Chevy Impala near 79th and East End.

“It’s not common to see that many overdoses so quickly, so that’s what brought that to our attention,” Johnson said during a news conference Monday.

He also said the department’s Organized Crime and Control Bureau conducted several narcotics, traffic and anti-violence operations over the weekend in the 2nd, 4th, 6th and 12th police districts.

Johnson said 32 people were arrested on felony gun and drug offenses, and 12 were charged with illegally possessing a firearm.

Officers issued 30 traffic citations and 20 violation notices against party buses during routine checks.

At least 78 guns were recovered citywide, including three from a Friday shooting at the United Center. Two people were arrested during that incident but no one was injured.

—Chicago Tribune


White House, Schumer clash over confirmation votes

WASHINGTON — The White House and Senate Democratic leaders clashed on Monday about what Trump administration officials are calling “unprecedented” blocking tactics of nominees from Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer — a charge the Senate Democratic leader scoffed at.

Marc Short, White House legislative affairs director, accused Senate Democrats of “conducting the slowest confirmation process in American history” and Schumer of running “an unprecedented campaign of obstruction.”

His comments came minutes after the White House, in a statement first email-blasted then handed out to reporters in the briefing room, charged Senate Democrats with “needless obstruction,” saying they are “refusing to confirm qualified nominations.”

Democrats are attempting to “obstruct the will of the American people and the President’s agenda,” according to the statement.

Just as White House principal deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was wrapping the briefing, Schumer’s press office fired off its own statement that pinned the blame for the slow pace of getting senior officials confirmed back on the Trump administration. The minority leader’s statement listed nearly 30 Trump nominations that arrived on Capitol Hill without the proper paperwork.

Then Schumer himself addressed the matter on the Senate floor Monday afternoon.

“No administration in recent memory has been slower in sending nominations to the Senate,” he said, noting the lack of ethics documents and other pieces of information.

By the White House’s own count, Trump has sent 197 nominations for positions at federal departments and agencies to the Senate, which has confirmed 48. By the time of former President Barack Obama’s first August recess in 2009, the Senate had confirmed 69 percent of his 454 nominations for federal posts, according to the statement.

—CQ-Roll Call


Suicidal man doused in gasoline catches fire after police use Taser on him

ARLINGTON, Texas — A suicidal man who had doused himself in gasoline became engulfed in flames at an Arlington home Monday after an officer used a stun gun on him, police said.

The officer who used the Taser on the man believed that the man was holding a lighter in his hand and was about to use it, police spokeswoman Sgt. VaNessa Harrison said at a news conference.

Harrison acknowledged the risk of using an electrical stun gun near gasoline, but said the man was “very frantic and erratic and became a danger to everyone in the room.”

“We realize that a Taser can have some other implications, but we also know he had something in his hand,” Harrison said. “It’s unclear at this moment whether he became engulfed in flames from the gasoline and ignitable object he had in his hand or from the Taser.”

The man was taken to a hospital. His condition was unknown.

Three police officers were also taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation. Their injuries were not life-threatening, Harrison said.

Police were called to the home about noon, where two women reported that a mentally ill man was attempting suicide.

The man had doused himself in gasoline and was threatening to harm himself, Harrison said. Officers arrived, got the women out of the home and began talking to the man.

While officers tried to calm the man, Harrison said, he poured more gasoline on himself and was believed to be holding a lighter in one hand.

An officer used a Taser on the man “to subdue him,” Harrison said, but the man became engulfed in flames. Officers wrapped the man in a blanket to put out the fire and got the man outside the home.

—Fort Worth Star-Telegram


Israel’s Labor Party chooses newcomer Gabbay as leader in effort to unseat Netanyahu

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel’s Labor Party on Monday elected political newcomer Avi Gabbay as its leader in hopes the former telecommunications executive will help unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Gabbay won 52 percent of the vote in a runoff election against Amir Peretz, a Labor Party veteran and a former party chairman, who received 47 percent. Gabbay will replace outgoing Labor chairman, Isaac Herzog, who placed third in the first round of primary voting on July 4.

In his victory speech, Gabbay promised “leadership that will act with courage and integrity toward peace with our neighbors” and to work toward replacing Netanyahu’s Likud Party as the country’s ruling party.

“This is the beginning of a path. That path leads to the changing of the government in Israel,” he said. “The Labor Party voted for change.”

Though Labor currently leads the opposition bloc in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, the party is struggling with an electorate that has shifted to the right in recent years, and a seeming lack of a charismatic political leader to reinvigorate the party base and attract new supporters.

While Labor’s forebears established the country after its founding and reached peace treaties with Israel’s neighbors, it’s been nearly two decades since the party won a general election. Herzog finished second in the 2015 elections, but his popularity collapsed after it was revealed that he secretly negotiated to join Netanyahu’s coalition.

Polls in recent months suggested that the party would lose about half the parliamentary seats it won in 2015.

Gabbay, 50, a relative unknown who headed Israel’s largest phone company, entered politics three years ago with a center-right party and briefly served as an environment minister under Netanyahu before resigning and joining the Labor Party last year.

The new Labor chairman has never been elected to the Israeli parliament and doesn’t carry the political baggage of more veteran lawmakers, some observers said. Because he is not a lawmaker, Gabbay won’t be able to serve as the opposition chairman in the parliament and will need to find an ally in the party to fill the position.

—Los Angeles Times

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