U.S. slaps sanctions on Nicaraguan leader’s wife, top security aide

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration placed stiff sanctions Tuesday on the wife of Nicaragua’s embattled leader and on his top security aide, sharply ratcheting up pressure on the Central American autocrat to back down from his political opposition and hold elections.

The financial sanctions bar all U.S. banks and other entities from any economic dealings with Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo, Ortega’s wife, who exercises much of the day-to-day power in Nicaragua.

Also hit by the sanctions was Nestor Moncada Lau, a former state security official who is widely seen as Ortega’s second most trusted security aide, after Murillo.

In an executive order, President Donald Trump accused Ortega of systematically dismantling democratic institutions, using indiscriminate violence against opponents and destabilizing the nation’s economy through corruption.

Ortega, a former guerrilla leader of the leftist Sandinista Front, sent paramilitary squads of armed, masked gunmen to quell street protests that erupted earlier this year against his increasingly autocratic government.

Murillo exercises partial control of the national police and the paramilitary forces, which a senior administration official said were credibly blamed for extrajudicial killings, torture and kidnappings. The official briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

Some 350 Nicaraguans have died in the protests, which largely subsided by July when paramilitary forces regained control of the streets and began a large-scale roundup of protesters. At least 500 people have been arrested on charges related to the popular uprising.

For his part, Moncada Lau dispersed payments to the squads working to quell the street protests and engaged in acts of corruption on Ortega’s behalf, the official said.

— McClatchy Washington Bureau

Trump firm on $5 billion border wall demand as deadline nears, Scalise says

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will accept nothing less than $5 billion of border wall funding in a must-pass spending bill due next week, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise said after a meeting with the president.

That is the amount needed to “properly secure the border,” the Louisiana Republican said outside the West Wing.

“The president has been very clear that he needs $5 billion to properly secure the border,” he said. “It’s not just some theoretical conversation.”

Scalise did not directly answer a question about whether Trump might accept the $5 billion in a $2.5 billion fiscal 2019 allotment and another of the same size the following fiscal year.

“There are negotiations and final steps that hopefully will be resolved,” Scalise said. “There’s a way to get this resolved and get the president the $5 billion.”

He did not elaborate on what that “way” might look like as a Dec. 7 deadline approaches, especially since the Senate earlier this year passed a Homeland Security funding bill that included $1.6 billion for the border barrier project.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., first floated the notion of splitting a $5 billion allotment between the current and next fiscal years earlier Tuesday.

“He said he would veto $1.6 (billion), so I take him at his word,” Shelby said.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said Democrats’ stance has not changed since the chamber passed the $1.6 billion amount earlier this year.

The impasse could trigger a partial government shutdown in the middle of the holiday season.

— CQ-Roll Call

Former Pennsylvania attorney general to be jailed by Thursday morning

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane must report to jail by Thursday morning to begin serving her sentence for convictions on perjury and other charges from abusing the power of her office in an attempt to smear a perceived political enemy.

Montgomery County Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy on Tuesday revoked Kane’s bail and ordered her to report to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility by 9 a.m. Thursday to begin serving her 10- to 23-month sentence.

Kane, 52, who was convicted and sentenced in 2016, had remained free on bail while she pursued her state appeals.

But on Monday, the state Supreme Court refused to consider Kane’s appeal of her conviction, exhausting her legal options.

Kane, the first woman and first Democrat elected as the state’s top law enforcement officer, had asked the high court to hear her case after Superior Court earlier this year affirmed her conviction for perjury and leaking grand jury information. Kane had argued, among other things, that a special prosecutor who first built the case against her had lacked legal authority.

Neither Kane nor her lawyer, Joshua Lock, responded to multiple requests for comment.

A Montgomery County jury found Kane guilty of orchestrating an illegal news leak to damage Frank Fina, a onetime top prosecutor in the state Attorney General’s Office.

Prosecutors had argued that Kane blamed Fina for a March 2014 story in the Philadelphia Inquirer that revealed that she had secretly shut down a sting investigation that had captured Democratic elected officials from Philadelphia on tape accepting envelopes stuffed with cash, money orders or gifts.

To exact revenge, Kane arranged a leak of grand jury information related to a separate investigation that she believed showed Fina had failed to aggressively pursue corruption allegations.

After her conviction, Kane resigned from office.

— The Philadelphia Inquirer

Woman passes gas in store, then pulls knife on an offended customer, cops say

MIAMI — Passing gas in public is often embarrassing. But for a Dania Beach, Fla., woman, doing so while waiting in line at a Dollar General store led to her arrest on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill.

It’s what police say she did after a man in line complained about the act that led to the charge.

According to a Broward Sheriff’s Office complaint affidavit, Shanetta Yvette Wilson, 37, was in the check-out line at a Dollar General store in Dania Beach on Sunday evening. John Walker, the customer standing next to her, got into a verbal dispute “in reference to the defendant farting loudly,” according to the affidavit.

Wilson allegedly pulled a small “lock back knife” from her purse, “opened the knife and told the victim she was going to ‘gut’ him,” the police report said.

While doing so, she pulled back her right hand with the knife as if she was going to attack the victim with the knife, the report read.

Walker was “in fear that he was going to be stabbed by the defendant” the affidavit read.

After police were called, Wilson was later found by deputies and identified by Walker.

Wilson was arrested and taken to the Paul Rein Detention Facility in Pompano Beach. Her bail was set at $2,500.

— Miami Herald