CYBERSTALKER CODY HENSON RESIGNS FROM NC HOUSE: A state lawmaker who pleaded guilty to cyberstalking in a case involving his estranged wife announced Wednesday he will resign. Rep. Cody Henson’s statement on Facebook follows reports from court proceedings in western North Carolina, including that the Republican will undergo domestic violence abuser treatment, Carolina Public Press reported Tuesday. Among those reports: Henson once threw a full beer can at his wife in front of their son while she was pregnant and, after one heated argument, posted photos of his guns on social media, among other incidents, N.C. Assistant Attorney General Boz Zellinger said. Henson remains under a domestic violence protective order keeping him from contacting his estranged wife, Kelsey Meece, CPP said. He is not allowed access to firearms during his probation.
LEGALITY OF SMOKABLE HEMP STILL A TOSS-UP IN FARM BILL: A key House committee voted Wednesday to differentiate smokable hemp from marijuana, just one week after a different committee voted to define them as the same drug. The abrupt shift in position was led by the same lawmaker who led the charge to criminalize smokable hemp last week: House Agriculture Chairman Rep. Jimmy Dixon. The debate over hemp has been the main issue dogging this year's Farm Act, which appeared to be in danger of failing after Dixon, R-Duplin, sought to ban smokable hemp as of December and amended a second bill to define the product as marijuana under the state's controlled substances laws. Both those changes were approved by House committee votes after Dixon insisted that allowing hemp cigarettes would amount to legalizing marijuana. Smokable hemp and marijuana look and smell the same, but hemp contains only trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana. Only a test can tell them apart.
JUDGE RULES AGAINST TRUMP'S ASYLUM CHANGES: A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Trump administration to stop denying asylum to anyone who transits through another country to reach the U.S. border, marking the latest legal defeat for a president waging an all-out battle to stem the flow of migrants entering from Mexico. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco came hours after another federal judge in Washington, D.C., let the 9-day-old policy stand. The California judge's preliminary injunction halts the policy while the lawsuit plays out in court. The new policy denies asylum to anyone who passes through another country on the way to the U.S. without seeking protection there. Most crossing the Mexican border are from Central America, but it would apply to all nationalities except countries that border the U.S. The dramatic change went into effect last week, though there were conflicting reports on whether U.S. immigration agencies were enforcing it.
MUELLER EXTRACT: FOREIGN MEDDLING IN U.S. ELECTIONS MAY BE THE "NEW NORM": Robert S. Mueller III offered no new revelations on Wednesday into Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections or President Trump’s attempts to derail his probe. But he offered a stark warning on Russian election tampering — “They’re doing it as we sit here” — and a sober assessment of where politics are after the Trump campaign welcomed foreign interference in 2016. “I hope this is not the new normal,” he told Representative Peter D. Welch, Democrat of Vermont, “but I fear it is.” Mr. Mueller, for his part, defended his work and sought to drive home to lawmakers and the public the grave implications of his report, which laid bare that Mr. Trump was elected with Russia’s help and cataloged the president’s frantic efforts to undermine the investigation into Moscow’s election interference. “It’s not a witch hunt,” Mr. Mueller told the Intelligence panel, under questioning from the chairman, Representative Adam Schiff of California.
EUROPE SWELTERS UNDER RECORD-BREAKING HEAT WAVE: The latest heat wave is one of the most intense on record, shattering all-time highs on Wednesday in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. Some of these may only stand for one day, and be beaten on Thursday, when temperatures are forecast to be even higher from France north into Britain and eastward to Germany. London and Paris are bracing for their hottest days on record, with numerous other cities likely to see their hottest temperatures since data collection began. Temperatures in the French capital in particular were expected to reach a jaw-dropping 108 Fahrenheit (42C). “No one is safe in such temperatures,” said Agnès Buzyn, France’s health minister. “This is the first time that this affects departments in the north of the country … populations that are not accustomed to such heat.” In Belgium, where the government activated a “code red” alert over the hot weather for the first time, some regional trains were likewise out of service because the equipment couldn’t stand the heat.