Author Archives: National | KPRC

Assault charge against Johnny Manziel dismissed

Prosecutors in Dallas have dismissed a 2016 misdemeanor domestic assault charge against Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel.

The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office on Thursday confirmed Manziel successfully completed requirements of a court agreement that included taking an anger management course and participating in the NFL’s substance abuse program.

PHOTOS: Manziel through the years

The 24-year-old Manziel also had to stay away from former girlfriend Colleen Crowley, who accused him of hitting and threatening her during a January 2016 night out. The case was dismissed Nov. 22.

Cleveland chose Manziel 22nd overall in the 2014 draft. The Browns cut him in March 2016 after two seasons of inconsistent play and off-the-field issues about the former Texas A&M star’s partying and drinking.

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‘Sean Hannity Show’ fans smash Keurig brewers over pulled ads

Supporters of conservative host Sean Hannity’s Fox News Channel show are responding to a decision by Keurig to stop advertising on the show by smashing Keurig coffee makers.

The company announced Saturday it had pulled advertising from “Hannity” after several Twitter users questioned the company’s support for the host, citing Hannity’s coverage of sexual misconduct allegations against Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama. Moore is accused of having sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl four decades ago when he was in his 30s.

It’s unclear when Keurig stopped advertising on “Hannity.” The Waterbury, Vermont, company didn’t respond to a request for further comment Monday.

The move prompted several people to destroy Keurig products in protest and post videos to social media. Blogger Angelo John Gage promoted what he called the “Keurig Smash Challenge” while posting a video of himself taking a hammer to his brewer.

Another user posted a video of a Keurig brewer being tossed to the ground from the second story of a building. Hannity commented “love it” while retweeting one video of a man teeing off on a coffee maker with a golf club.

Liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America has been putting public pressure on Hannity’s advertisers for months. The group’s president, Angelo Carusone, told The Associated Press it again called for companies to stop supporting Hannity’s program after the Moore allegations came to light Thursday in a Washington Post story.

Carusone said that while he feels bad for Keurig, Hannity’s encouragement of the protest against the company “demonstrates to other advertisers to run for the hills.”

Several other brands, including DNA testing company 23 and Me , women’s clothing label ELOQUII , food delivery service Hello Fresh and natural supplement maker Nature’s Bounty also said they don’t advertise on “Hannity.”

Nature’s Bounty said it hasn’t advertised on the show since the summer but declined to give a reason. Hello Fresh said it last advertised on “Hannity” in August and added that it doesn’t advertise on certain shows “for a variety of reasons.” It’s unclear if 23 and Me and ELOQUII previously advertised on “Hannity,” and the companies didn’t immediately return requests for comment. posted on Twitter on Saturday that it doesn’t run ads on “Hannity” and wouldn’t do so in the future. That tweet was later deleted, and the company posted a statement on its website Sunday stating it would “continue to place ads across a broad range of networks, including Fox News and its top shows.” declined comment on the reason for the change. and Fox News are both owned by News Corp.

Fox News didn’t immediately return a request for comment Monday.

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Another woman accuses former President George H.W. Bush of groping

Another woman has stepped forward to accuse former President George H.W. Bush of inappropriately touching her.

Roslyn Corrigan told Time magazine that she was 16 when Bush grabbed her buttocks as she posed for a photo with him in 2003 at a gathering of CIA officers north of Houston. She attended the event with her mother and father, who was an intelligence analyst.

“My initial action was absolute horror. I was really, really confused,” she told the magazine. “The first thing I did was look at my mom and, while he was still standing there, I didn’t say anything. What does a teenager say to the ex-president of the United States? Like, ‘Hey dude, you shouldn’t have touched me like that?'”

A spokesman for the 41st president, Jim McGrath, said in a statement Monday that Bush regrets any offensive actions.

“George Bush simply does not have it in his heart to knowingly cause anyone distress, and he again apologizes to anyone he offended during a photo op,” he said.

Time spoke with seven people who said they had been told by Corrigan about the encounter in the years afterward.

Corrigan is at least the fifth woman to claim Bush groped her. Time reports that a sixth woman, a retired journalist in Pennsylvania, posted to Facebook last month that Bush touched her from behind during a 2004 photo opportunity.

The stories came to light after television actress Heather Lind said last month that Bush, now 93, touched her from behind and told a dirty joke while they were posing for a 2014 photo. McGrath at the time explained that Bush has been in a wheelchair for about five years “so his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures.” Bush, who served as president from 1989 to 1993, has vascular parkinsonism, a rare syndrome that mimics Parkinson’s disease, and he uses a wheelchair for mobility.

“To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke – and on occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner,” McGrath said.

Bush was standing alongside Corrigan for the photo taken in 2003. McGrath’s statement Monday did not elaborate.

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Police dogs trained to ignore marijuana

Special K-9 Unit training dogs in San Leon

Police dogs in Rifle, Colorado, are being trained to ignore marijuana in order to sniff out other drugs.

Departments all over the state will soon be taking part in this program, and the older dogs, trained to track pot, will soon be phased out.

Rifle police officer Garrett Duncan spent the last 10 years working alongside their top drug-sniffing dog, Tulo. Duncan said Tulo is so good he even has his own publicity pictures.

Of course, as they say, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks and it seems Tulo cannot be retrained to ignore marijuana.

Now Jax and Makai will have their moment. These young and very cute puppies can sniff out drugs without getting excited over the smell of pot.

“We’re just not going to train them with marijuana so they won’t know the odor. They won’t have any reason to indicate or tell us there is marijuana around cause they won’t know,” Duncan said.

Read more:

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What we know about Texas church shooter

A picture is starting to emerge of the suspected gunman in a deadly mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Two law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation identified the shooter as Devin Patrick Kelley, 26.

Kelley was once a member of the US Air Force, spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said. He served in logistics readiness at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, starting in 2010.

Kelly was court-martialed in 2012 for two counts of Article 128 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, assault on his spouse and assault on their child, Stefanek said. Kelley received a bad conduct discharge, confinement for 12 months and a reduction in rank, she said. The Air Force did not provide a date of the discharge.

Kelley is accused of killing 26 people, including the 14-year-old daughter of the church’s pastor, and injuring more.

A man who lives next door to the church grabbed his own gun and approached Kelley as he was leaving after the shooting. The gunman dropped a rifle in front of the church and fled in his car, officials said.

Kelley was found dead in his car from a gunshot wound about eight miles from the church, a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation told CNN. It’s not clear if he shot himself or if the neighbor shot him.

Kelley purchased the Ruger AR-556 rifle in April 2016 from an Academy Sports & Outdoors store in San Antonio, a law enforcement official told CNN.

When Kelley filled out the background check paperwork at the store, he checked the box to indicate he didn’t have disqualifying criminal history, the official said. He listed an address in Colorado Springs, Colorado when he bought the rifle, the official said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the incident the largest mass shooting in the state’s history.

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Houston woman’s daughter stranded at sea with another woman for 5 months

A planned voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti aboard a small sailboat didn’t start off well for two Honolulu women. One of their cellphones washed overboard and sank into the deep blue water on their first day at sea.

From there, things got worse. Much worse. About a month into their trip, bad weather caused their engine to lose power. Their mast was damaged. And then, as they drifted across thousands of miles of open ocean, their water purifier stopped working.

But the two sailors, accompanied by their dogs, were resourceful and prepared with more than a year’s worth of food, and after more than five months of being lost in the vast Pacific Ocean, sending out daily distress calls that no one heard, they were rescued by the U.S. Navy on Wednesday about 900 miles southeast of Japan. Their intended destination: Tahiti – thousands of miles off course.

The USS Ashland rescued the women after a Taiwanese fishing vessel spotted their crippled vessel Tuesday and alerted the U.S. Coast Guard, the Navy said in a statement released Thursday.

The women, identified by the Navy as Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava, both of Honolulu, lost their engine in bad weather in late May but believed they could still reach Tahiti using their sails.

“They saved our lives,” said Appel through the Navy release. “The pride and smiles we had when we saw (U.S. Navy) on the horizon was pure relief.”

In a phone call with news media from the Ashland, Appel said they had sent a distress signal for 98 days with no response.

“It was very depressing and very hopeless, but it’s the only thing you can do, so you do what you can do,” she said, according to an audio recording of the call.

A group of sharks attacked their boat one night, and a single shark returned a day later, she said.

“Both of them, we actually thought it was lights out, and they were horrific,” Appel said. “We were just incredibly lucky that our hull was strong enough to withstand the onslaught.”

Asked if they ever thought they might not survive, she said they would not be human if they did not. She credited the two dogs, which she called their companion animals, with keeping their spirits up.

“There is a true humility to wondering if today is your last day, if tonight is your last night,” she said.

Appel’s mother told The Associated Press Thursday that she never gave up hope that her daughter would be found.

Joyce Appel, 75, who lives in Houston, said she got a call from her daughter early Thursday morning more than 5 months after they had last spoke.

She answered the phone as she always does, wondering who wanted to sell her something, when she heard her daughter’s voice on the other end of the line.

“She said, ‘Mom?’ and I said, ‘Jennifer!?’ because I hadn’t heard from her in like five months,” she said. “And she said ‘yes mom,’ and that was really exciting.”

Jennifer Appel departed on May 3, her mother said, but her phone was lost overboard the first day she was at sea, and she hadn’t heard from her daughter since.

“Various things on her boat broke, the mast broke and the engine wouldn’t start when she needed power. So she had several problems that caused her to end up drifting in the ocean,” the elder Appel said.

Joyce called the U.S. Coast Guard about a week and a half after her daughter left Honolulu, she said. “The Coast Guard, in Hawaii, did a search and rescue effort,” she said. “I waited and waited and waited to see when I would hear from her.” In that time, the elder Appel moved and got a new phone number and was worried her daughter wouldn’t know where to call. “I knew she didn’t even know the phone number here,” she said.

“I had hope all along, she is very resourceful and she’s curious and as things break she tries to repair them, she doesn’t sit and wait for the repairman to get there, so I knew the same thing would be true of the boat.”

The mother said the pair’s water purifier had stopped working and they were down to their last gallon of water when Jennifer got it fixed.

Two months into their trip, well after they were scheduled to arrive in Tahiti, the women began making distress calls, but there were no vessels close and they were too far out to sea for the signals to be detected on land.

They told the Navy that they survived because they had packed a water purifier and enough food for a year, mostly dried goods like oatmeal and pasta.

A photo provided by the Navy shows Fuiava smiling as a Navy sailor greets her dog, Zeus aboard the USS Ashland.

The women received a medical assessment, food and beds aboard the Navy ship, where they will remain until the next port of call, the Navy said.

“The U.S. Navy is postured to assist any distressed mariner of any nationality during any type of situation,” said Cmdr. Steven Wasson, the commanding officer of the USS Ashland.

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Grambling State student charged in double homicide

Louisiana authorities on Thursday arrested a Grambling State University freshman in connection with the shooting death of a fellow student and another man on the campus early Wednesday.

Jaylin M. Wayne was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Earl Andrews, 23, a Grambling State senior, and Monquiarious Caldwell, 23, both of Farmerville, Louisiana, the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Department said. The victims were found in a courtyard between two dormitories after a fight in an adjacent dormitory spilled outside, the sheriff’s department said.

Wayne surrendered to police on Thursday after learning there was a warrant for his arrest. It wasn’t immediately clear if Wayne had an attorney.

Wayne allegedly shot the two men after a disagreement led to a fight between Wayne and Andrews. Caldwell was apparently shot when he tried to help Andrews, authorities said.

Caldwell was visiting Andrews on the northern Louisiana campus, according to CNN affiliate KSLA.

“I feel confident that our investigators have put together a strong case,” Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone said Thursday in a press release.

Wayne is a freshman from St. Louis, Missouri, Grambling’s president Rick Gallot said in a statement.

“Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the Andrews and the Caldwell families during this difficult time,” Gallot said.

Stone said the shooting didn’t bear “any resemblance to any of the random acts of violence or domestic terrorism that have been experienced around our country in recent weeks.”

“There’s no place for violence on the Grambling State University campus,” university spokesman Will Sutton said told CNN affiliate KTBS after the shooting.

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‘Wedding crasher’ says she never attacked guest, apologizes to bride and groom

A woman who made headlines after crashing a wedding says she never attacked any guests and was only there to confront her cheating boyfriend.

Shelby McDowell, 20, sent a statement to News 6 about the Oct. 21 situation saying she “never intended for it to have gotten so out of control.”

McDowell claims that her boyfriend of two years, Darby Johns, was attending a wedding in Palm Coast on Saturday alone. McDowell says a friend told her that Johns and another woman were getting “too close” and says she drove to the wedding to investigate the claim.

McDowell admits to wearing a wig and sneaking into the wedding to spy on Johns, saying her intentions were only to confirm her suspicions, then leave the venue. She claims that she saw Johns and the woman kissing and says her “emotions took over.” McDowell claims she walked over to Johns and the woman and threw a drink, only intending to hit Johns, but hit both of them. McDowell claims she did not punch the other woman at this time, contrary to the police report.

Next, McDowell claims she ran to a bathroom stall and began to cry, when four women began banging on the door demanding to know why she was there. McDowell claims she opened the door and told the women, “I am here because Darby and (another woman) were together, and Darby and I are in a relationship.” She then claims she tried to leave, but was punched in the face, dragged to the ground and strangled. She claims she again tried to exit the bathroom, when she ran into the woman who was with Johns. McDowell then claims the woman “came at her” and she acted in self-defense.

Police were called to the scene and McDowell claims police instructed her that if she would not press charges, no charges would be pressed against her. She claims she was ready to leave when she was told that she had been charged with battery. She was then placed in a police car. McDowell says she was not questioned about the incident, and police only took statements from the woman, Johns, and the hotel manager, who she says did not witness the incident. “The woman and the four girls that attacked me were left off scot-free, while I spent the night in jail,” she wrote.

McDowell ended her statement by saying, “I am aware that going to a wedding uninvited is wrong. I am aware that pouring a drink on someone is also wrong.” She reiterates that she was not the first person to make physical contact during the argument saying, “After the drink incident, if the girls had not of attacked me, there would never have been such a chaotic scene.”

An apology to the bride and groom was also added. McDowell stated, “I am very apologetic towards the bride and groom, since this happened at their wedding.”

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Family: Florida deputy caught on camera breaking into dying man’s home

A Palm Beach County deputy was captured on surveillance video last month breaking into an 85-year-old man’s home in Boynton Beach after the man was taken to a hospital and died, the victim’s family said in a statement.

WPBF reported that Deputy Jason Cooke was arrested Thursday night on charges of burglary and grand theft with a firearm.

Cooke has since made his first court appearance, where he was ordered held in lieu of a $28,000 bond and to be placed on house arrest after posting bond.

The victim’s family released the surveillance video to the public Tuesday. Family members said the video was captured Sept. 12 after their father was taken to a hospital because he had fallen and hit his head during a power outage caused by Hurricane Irma.

According to a probable cause affidavit, the victim, Moe Rosoff, lived alone and weathered the storm by himself.

Authorities said Rosoff’s son asked deputies to conduct a welfare check on his father, and three deputies went to the home to find Rosoff on the floor of the master bedroom.

He was taken to Delray Medical Center, where he died later that day.

The victim’s children said Cooke broke into the home after receiving the garage door entry code over his police radio and stole money, jewelry and several prescription medications.

Rosoff’s family reported the incident to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 20 after viewing the surveillance video, but the family said Cooke wasn’t arrested until five weeks later so that the deputy could enter a 30-day drug rehabilitation program.

“We were told that Officer Cooke denied the crime at first, but after he was shown the video, he admitted the crimes,” the family said. “Found in Mr. Cooke’s patrol car was a 2016 prescription bottle containing Vyvanse, a central nervous system stimulant, 47 pills of Tramadol Hydrochloride, a strong pain killer (with 3 different markings), Proclorperazine Maleate an anti-psychotic drug and Carisoprodol (Soma) a muscle relaxant. Not all of these medications we think were taken from our father, leading us to believe that this was not Officer Cooke’s first crime.”

Besides being outraged that their father was targeted by a deputy, the family said it is concerned that Cooke was working in an official capacity under the influence of multiple medications.

“If Officer Cooke was operating in his official capacity under these medications, it is our belief that he may have posed a significant threat to the public’s safety since just a few of the noted side effects of these medications include confusion, impaired thinking, impaired reactions, abnormal behavior, tremors, drowsiness, altered state of consciousness and anger,” the family said.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office did not comment on Cooke’s employment status.

“Unfortunately, sometimes an employee makes a bad decision which leads to misconduct,” a statement from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said. “This misconduct was reported, investigated and subsequently determined to be criminal in nature, resulting in the charges.”

Rosoff’s family said Cooke is on paid administrative leave.

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US launches ‘most advanced’ stealth sub amid undersea rivalry

Touted as the world’s most technologically advanced fast attack submarine, the USS South Dakota is set to join the US Navy fleet amid a growing threat to American undersea dominance from several foreign rivals.

Operating beneath the ocean’s surface, a submarine’s strategic value is often tied directly to its ability to navigate in or near enemy waters without being detected to conduct reconnaissance or attack missions.

For years, the United States has maintained a technological edge over the submarines developed by rival nations, but recent advances made by Russia and China have sparked concerns of an emerging threat to American undersea superiority.

Christened earlier this month, the nuclear-powered USS South Dakota marks the US Navy’s latest effort to maintain that edge and provides a technological blueprint for future development.

Virginia-class submarines currently cost roughly $2.7 billion each.

The Navy’s 70-boat submarine fleet is made up of three major types of boats: ballistic-missile submarines, attack submarines, and cruise-missile submarines.

The Navy currently fields 17 Virginia-class fast attack submarines, which are built to operate in the world’s littoral and deep waters.

Virginia-class submarines can launch torpedoes at other submarines and at ships. They can also launch missiles at ground targets, gather intelligence, and deploy Navy SEAL units for special operations.

“Their inherent stealth, endurance, mobility and firepower directly enable them to support five of the six maritime strategy core capabilities — sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security and deterrence,” the Navy said.

Incorporating “acoustic superiority” that is expected to provide unparalleled stealth capability, the USS South Dakota will be used as a “demonstrator to prove out advanced technologies,” according to Navy spokesperson Lt. Seth Clarke.

Lessons learned from South Dakota will be incorporated into later Virginia-class submarines — “increasing our undersea domain advantage, ensuring our dominance through the midcentury and beyond,” Clarke said.

“Stealth capability is one of the crucial advantages of submarines … the Virginia-class brings capability and capacity that is so crucial as we head into potential peer conflict down the road.” according to Randy Forbes, a former US representative who served as chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee while in Congress.

The 360-foot USS South Dakota is scheduled to officially enter the fleet in August 2018.

The Navy plans to upgrade its Virginia-class boats while developing the next-generation, nuclear-armed Columbia-class.

One of those upgrades includes outfitting Virginia-class submarines with additional “Virginia Payload Modules” for Tomahawk or next-generation missiles to provide more strike capacity.

Most Virginia-class submarines currently feature two Virginia Payload Tubes, each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles, according to the Navy.

Expected to be operational by 2024 or 2025, that added firepower will help fill the gap as the Navy plans to retire several of its aging fast-attack and ballistic-missile submarines in coming years, according to Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain and senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

Brewing submarine rivalry

Forbes said the United States has traditionally been able to track foreign submarines but recent advancements made by the Chinese and Russians highlight the need for developments like those seen on the USS South Dakota to maintain American undersea dominance.

Russia has invested heavily in developing its own underwater stealth capabilities in recent years and their submarine technology is approaching the level of the US fleet, much like the peer-to-peer comparison seen during the Cold War, according to one congressional aide familiar with the issue.

While the Russian military is not necessarily building a large quantity of submarines, it is developing boats with advanced quieting capabilities that are “very competitive” with those in the US fleet, said Hendrix.

“Russia is modernizing its existing fleet of Oscar-class multipurpose attack nuclear submarines and producing their next generation Severodvinsk Yasen-class,” US Pacific Command chief Adm. Harry Harris told the House Armed Services Committee earlier this year.

“The Russians are making a leverage investment … with submarines you don’t have to build a lot of them,” according to Hendrix.

The United States has also recently noticed an uptick in Russian submarine activity — conducting “spurts” of heavy patrols across various regions, according to the aide and a US Navy official.

“They can’t maintain the presence we do with 24/7 operations, but this activity is meant to push the boundary and to see what the US reaction will be,” the aide said.

But while the United States continues to monitor foreign submarine activity, the increase in Russian patrols is widely viewed as presence and testing maneuvers that do not pose an immediate military threat.

It’s something the United States should be reacting to but not overreacting to, the congressional aide told CNN.

In 2016, US Navy commanders told CNN that Russian submarines had become increasing assertive in the Atlantic Ocean and that their undersea activity was reaching levels unseen for decades.

The commander of the USS Missouri submarine, Fraser Hudson, assessed at the time that the renewed Russian activity is not just “a political statement but the Russians are seeking to gain experience in case hostilities were ever to break out between it and the United States.

“Honestly, I think it’s operational experience. You maintain the experience in those (areas of responsibility) so that if anything were ever to happen, they have experience,” he said last year.

A Russian sub also turned up off the coast of Florida in 2012, and the USS Missouri was called on to track it.

In addition to flexing their military muscle in an attempt to show “they still are or want to be a dominant super power,” the Russians are also trying to test whether their submarines can travel for long periods without being detected, according to the aide.

“The Russians are probably at about 80% of the capacity they were at during the Cold War,” according to Forbes, who also noted that they are constantly pushing the envelope in terms of capability.

China, on the other hand, is opting for a quantity over quality approach when it comes to building up its own submarine fleet.

“The Chinese are not as advanced but are getting there and they are producing diesel submarines in numbers,” the congressional aide told CNN. “In the end, numbers are a capability in themselves.”

Hendrix also noted that there is no indication the submarines being developed by China are close to being as advanced as those in the US arsenal but warned their approach of producing a large number of boats does pose a threat.

“Quantity can have a quality,” Hendrix said.

In addition to adding to the size of its submarine fleet, Harris warned earlier this year that they are also advancing their undersea capability.

“China is improving the lethality and survivability of its attack submarines and building quieter, high-end diesel and nuclear-powered submarines,” he said.

Both China and Russia have also increased their presence in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, where Harris said 230 of the world’s 400 foreign submarines are operating.

Roughly 160 of those 230 submarines belong to China, North Korea, and Russia, according to Harris.

Forbes said the United States must also develop a strategy to counter Chinese and Russian activity in “gray zones” where they are incrementally expanding their presence by strategically “fighting and competing” through military posturing.

China’s claims in the South China Sea represent one glaring example as to how they’ve been able to successfully implement this type of strategy in a way that allows them to expand their military reach without engaging in direct confrontation, according to Forbes.

Forbes also explained that the United States has yet to develop a coherent strategy to counter Russian and Chinese gray zone activity — a challenge that will require both the Navy and Congress to reconsider the way it utilizes American sea power.

“Major strategy is not some secret play you pull out in the fourth quarter of a football game,” Forbes said, adding that if US military leaders don’t articulate a strategy to Congress there is no way a plan will be implemented.

Emerging challenges

By most accounts, the United States still maintains the most capable submarine fleet in the world, but while the addition of the USS South Dakota represents a leap forward in technological advancement, some argue the Navy still faces challenges.

Despite President Donald Trump’s request for additional defense spending, years of budget cuts and continuing resolutions have had a severe impact on the Navy’s maintenance and shipbuilding efforts.

The Navy plans to build 30 Virginia-class submarines and replace its 14 aging Ohio-class boats with 12 Columbia-class submarines, the first of which is expected in fiscal year 2021.

In March 2016, the Government Accountability Office reported that total program acquisition costs will be about $97 billion, including $12 billion for research and development and $85.1 billion for procurement.

There are also discussions about extending deployments and service lives for existing submarines to help make up the difference.

But even if the Navy is able to achieve its goal of producing two or three new fast-attack boats per year, the service will only have 41 attack submarines by 2029, according to the Navy’s FY17 30-year plan.

An attack submarine inventory of 41 boats falls well short of the 65 to 70 boats needed to effectively maintain undersea dominance, according to Hendrix.

Harris told the House Armed Services Committee earlier this year that he agrees with assessments indicating a need for 66 fast attack submarines.

The need to continuously upgrade submarine stealth capabilities also presents a challenge for the Navy, according to Forbes, who said there comes a time when the cost for another decibel of quietness becomes too expensive.

Increased costs and the development of new detection techniques that do not rely on the sound a submarine makes could change the way the US Navy thinks about undersea warfare, according to Forbes.

“If we can’t make up the numbers we will have to move to a different way of fighting,” Forbes said, adding that the current strategic mindset revolves around “one-on-one” submarine combat.

“In the future, submarines may have to fight more like an aircraft carrier,” he said, describing a system in which submarines are complemented by a variety of unmanned platforms.

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Police: 3 Texas men arrested after shot fired at Richard Spencer protesters

A Texas man who fired a shot at a group of protesters after Thursday’s Richard Spencer speech at the University of Florida and the two men who encouraged him to open fire have been charged with attempted homicide, Gainesville police said.

Tyler Tenbrink, 28, fired the shot, after he and two brothers in a silver Jeep shouted obscenities, threats and chants about Hitler at the protesters, who were at a bust stop on SW Archer Road, police said. Tenbrink has also been charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

According to the arrest report, William Fears, 30, and Colton Fears, 28, both of Pasadena, Texas, shouted “I’m going to f****** kill you,” “kill them” and “shoot them,” before Tenbrink fired the shot, which missed and hit a nearby building.

Police said that as the Jeep sped off, one of the protesters was able to get the license plate and reported it to investigators, who relayed it to law enforcement in the area. An off-duty deputy with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office spotted the Jeep with the matching Texas tag around 9 p.m. on I-75 about 20 miles north of Gainesville.

Units from the Alachua Police Department, the High Springs Police Department and the Florida Highway Patrol conducted a high-risk felony stop on the Jeep at the 405 Mile Marker of I-75 North and took the three men into custody, police said.

“I am amazed that immediately after being shot at, a victim had the forethought to get the vehicle’s license number” Gainesville police spokesman Officer Ben Tobias said. “That key piece of information allowed officials from every level of multiple agencies to quickly identify and arrest these persons. This was an amazing team effort by everyone involved.”

According to police, just before 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the men in the Jeep stopped to argue with the group of protesters on SW Archer Road and one of the passengers yelled “Hail Hitler” and other chants.

The protesters argued back and one of them hit the rear window of the Jeep with a baton, according to the arrest report.

The Jeep then pulled about 10 feet away, stopped again and Tenbrink got out and pulled a handgun on the protesters as the Fears brothers egged him on, police said.

At least two of the three have shown connections to extremist groups, according to Gainesville police.

The three remain in the Alachua County Jail. The Fears brothers are each being held on $1 million bond and Tenbrink is under a $3 million bond.

Tenbrink’s previous conviciton was for assault on a family or household member in 2014. He pleaded guilty/no contest.

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Texas man travels to Orlando to sexually assault 9-year-old girl, police say

A 64-year-old man from Texas was arrested Saturday after Orlando detectives foiled his plans to meet a 9-year-old girl for sex, according to the Orlando Police Department.

An Orlando police detective was working undercover online in September and posted an advertisement on an e-commerce website as the Orlando parents of a 9-year-old girl. The ad referenced meeting “experienced parents to learn new things from about raising little ones,” according to the arrest report.

Mark Andrew Nichols, of Austin, Texas, responded to the detective’s post the same day it went live. He said he was “very interested” and wanted to talk more, the detective said. During the course of a week, Nichols sent several emails and texts to the fictitious parents expressing his interest in meeting, according to the arrest report.

About eight days later, the detective responded to Nichols posing as the father of the girl. The fake father explained to Nichols that he and his wife were trying to get their 9-year-old daughter into modeling and asked him what types of “interests” he had about the girl, the detective wrote in the report.

“When you say interests, are you asking generally? Or sexually?” Nichols responded to the father.

The suspect added that he was “fascinated” with incest and it was an “extreme turn on” for him. Nichols told the detective that he wanted to have sex with the 9-year-old but wanted to make sure the girl’s parents were “comfortable’ with it first. He told the detective posing as the father that he would love to “watch” or participate, according to the report.

Nichols added, “I am extremely respectful about all of this,” and said he was planning a trip to the Orlando area soon and would like to meet the family, according to the report.

The detective, posing as the father, asked what Nichols would like to do with the girl.

According to the arrest report, Nichols responded:

“I would like to visit you all. I am interested in having sex with (child decoy’s name) and (the child decoy’s mother’s name). I am bi so I am open to some bi play with you if you are interested. If you are not, that is fine. I would maybe like to watch you have sex with (the child). Be there. Touch and re-assure her. Then have sex with her myself. Would (the child) want to watch me with mom?” He further texted, “I want to be respectful and just provide you all with a fun, safe experience.”

Further text messages between the decoy parents and the suspect were graphic.

The detective, posing as the mother, asked Nichols if he had a daughter or had ever done any of the things he described to his own children. Nichols said he “enjoyed bath time” with his own daughter, but “back then, I would just never do anything,” according to the report.

On Saturday, Nichols flew to Orlando and when he arrived to meet with the girl and her parents he was arrested. He brought Skittles and Sour Patch Kids to the meeting, according to the report.

Nichols is charged with attempted sexual battery on a child under 12, attempted lewd or lascivious conduct, solicitation of a minor via a computer, obscene communication, traveling to meet a minor and unlawful use of a two-way device.

Nichols was booked into the Orange County Jail. According to jail records, he is being held without bail.

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Mom, older brother charged after 11-year-old found smoking meth

An 11-year-old boy was rushed to the hospital after smoking meth with his 21-year-old brother and a 16-year-old friend, according to the Baker County Sheriff’s Office.

That older brother, Brandon Vankuren, was arrested on drug charges, and the boys’ mother, Angela Ritter, was charged with child neglect and possession of drugs.

The arrests came after a Baker County deputy noticed Vankuren with his brother and the teenager acting strange at 5:30 a.m. last Monday outside the Macedonia Convenience Store, north of Macclenny. While he was questioning the boys, the deputy noticed a baggie in one of their pockets with a substance that looked suspicious.

The arrest report shows Vankuren and the 16-year-old admitted to possessing methamphetamine. And all three of confessed to smoking the drug.

Paramedics rushed the 11-year-old to a hospital.

“I couldn’t believe it. Deputy knocked on my door and told me,” Ritter’s father-in-law, James Wilkerson, said. “I went down to the hospital and his heart rate was real high, and I sat with him until he was OK and I brought him home.”

Detectives say they arrested Vankuren and Ritter during the investigation on a previous drug warrant. After questioning Ritter, deputies charged her with child neglect.

Wilkerson told News4Jax it’s Vankuren’s fault that his younger brother got involved with drugs.

“She honestly, really didn’t know that they had snuck out of the house that night,” Wilkerson said. “And I knew that his brother was on drugs real bad, but instead of running him off, I was kind of respecting her by letting him stay here.”

Wilkerson said the 11-year-old is doing fine after he was released from the hospital. Wilkerson said, for now, he’ll help take care of the boy and hope the drugs stay away from his house.

Deputies said the 11-year-old will not face charges because he did not have any drugs in his possession, just in his system.

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Woman caught on camera stomping small dog inside elevator

A South Florida woman has been arrested after surveillance video inside an elevator in Aventura showed her repeatedly kicking and abusing a small dog, authorities announced on Thursday.

Police said the incident happened Sept. 20 inside an elevator at Artech Condominiums at 2950 NE 188th St.

Police said employees at the building saw the surveillance video and notified police.

Detectives identified Keevonna Wilson, 24, as the woman in the video and arrested her Sept. 26 on an animal cruelty charge.

“There’s no excuse at all to do that to a small innocent animal. None,” Aventura police Sgt. Chris Goranitis said.

According to an arrest report, Wilson was upset with her dog because she went to the bathroom in the elevator.

“You never take it out on an animal. That’s horrible,” neighbor Paula Riordan said.

The dog, Chasity, was removed by Miami-Dade Animal Services investigators and received medical treatment.

According to the dog’s medical report that was taken Sept. 27, the dog appeared to generally be in good health, but appeared to be in pain when her abdomen and lower back were touched.

The report stated that the dog had bruises on her abdominal area and the outside part of her ears.

Miami-Dade County Animal Services spokeswoman Lilian Bohorquez said in an email that the dog is being cared for at a Miami-Dade Animal Services-approved foster home.

Once Miami-Dade County Animal Services is legally granted custody of Chasity, they will place her up for adoption.

Local 10 News reporter Michael Seiden reached out to Wilson, but she stopped responding to his text messages once he identified himself.

***WARNING: Video contains footage that some may find disturbing***


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Police find man’s body stuffed in closet after victim ‘tortured’ to death

Three days after Hurricane Irma impacted South Florida, police officers conducting a welfare check entered a storm-shuttered Hollywood apartment complex, noticed blood stains and found the decomposed body of a man wrapped in a comforter in a bedroom closet.

A police report obtained Wednesday by Local 10 News details the graphic events that led to the death of Ariel Gonzalez and subsequent arrest of Travis Watson.

The body was found Sept. 13 at an apartment on Lincoln Street.

A friend of the victim called police after she said she had been unable to get in touch with him in the days after Irma, so she went to his apartment and noticed a foul smell coming from inside.

According to the report, Detective Desiree McClintock observed chairs positioned along a wall in the dining room. One of the chairs was blocking the door, and another was overturned, McClintock said.

McClintock could see blood spatter and feces in several areas throughout the bedroom, as well as drag marks on the floor leading to the closet where the body was found, the report said.

“The deceased appeared to have some body parts wrapped in plastic and swathed in a comforter, with only a small portion of the head visible,” McClintock wrote in the report. “The visible part of the head had obvious signs of injury.”

Neighbors who were interviewed by detectives said they saw two men going in and out of the apartment during the hurricane. One of them was described as wearing a long, blond wig.

Residents later identified Watson, 30, and the other man from photographs that a detective showed them. Police asked Local 10 not to release the identity of the second suspect, who remains at large.

During an interview with detectives, Watson said Gonzalez, 50, got their attention by whistling at them to follow him inside his apartment. Watson said he and Gonzalez had anal sex, which angered the unnamed suspect.

“Once Watson came back into the living room, (the other man) accused of Watson of cheating on him,” the report said.

Watson said Gonzalez then tried to seduce his partner, but he refused Gonzalez’s sexual advances, according to detectives. Still angry with Gonzalez for having sex with Watson, the man followed Gonzalez into the bedroom and punched him, Watson told detectives.

The second suspect asked Gonzalez where he kept his money, but when he didn’t answer, the man “tortured him,” Watson said.

Watson told detectives that his partner beat Gonzalez with a hanger from the closet and a broomstick from the kitchen. Watson went on to describe how the man used an extension cord to knock Gonzalez off the bed and tied the victim’s hands together with a sheet, unsuccessfully, and then a belt. Watson said the man then “poured hot grease over him.”

“He tortured him and beat him to death,” Watson said of his partner, according to the report.

Watson said he tried to stop the attack once the grease was poured on Gonzalez, but he noticed that the victim “had turned purple and his tongue was sticking out.”

Realizing that Gonzalez was dead, Watson and his partner placed the body in the bathtub to wash off the blood and evidence, and then carried Gonzalez into the living room, where they wrapped him in a sheet and industrial shrink wrap, Watson told detectives.

“Once he was folded and secured into position, he was concealed in the bedroom closet,” the report said.

Watson and the other man tried to clean the crime scene by placing items inside clear plastic bags they found in the kitchen, including the towels they used to wipe up the blood, he told detectives.

During the attack, Watson told detectives, he stole the victim’s wallet and cash. Watson said he and his partner left the apartment about 7 a.m. Sept. 12.

Five days later, Fort Lauderdale police said they found a man who matched the description of Watson sitting at a bus bench, drinking a beer from a brown paper bag.

During a search of Watson’s property, police found a wallet that held a gray card with Gonzalez’s name on it, the report said.

Watson was arrested on multiple charges, including robbery and kidnapping. Detectives are still searching for his partner.

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North Korean workers prepare seafood for U.S. stores, restaurants

The workers wake up each morning on metal bunk beds in fluorescent-lit Chinese dormitories, North Koreans outsourced by their government to process seafood that ends up in American stores and homes.

Privacy is forbidden. They cannot leave their compounds without permission. They must take the few steps to the factories in pairs or groups, with North Korean minders ensuring no one strays. They have no access to telephones or email. And they are paid a fraction of their salaries, while the rest – as much as 70 percent – is taken by North Korea’s government.

This means Americans buying salmon for dinner at Walmart or ALDI may inadvertently have subsidized the North Korean government as it builds its nuclear weapons program, an AP investigation has found. Their purchases may also have supported what the United States calls “modern day slavery” – even if the jobs are highly coveted by North Koreans.

At a time when North Korea faces sanctions on many exports, the government is sending tens of thousands of workers worldwide, bringing in revenue estimated at anywhere from $200 million to $500 million a year. That could account for a sizable portion of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs, which South Korea says have cost more than $1 billion.

While the presence of North Korean workers overseas has been documented, the AP investigation reveals for the first time that some products they make go to the United States, which is now a federal crime. AP also tracked the products made by North Korean workers to Canada, Germany and elsewhere in the European Union.

Besides seafood, AP found North Korean laborers making wood flooring and sewing garments in factories in Hunchun. Those industries also export to the U.S. from Hunchun, but AP did not track specific shipments except for seafood.

American companies are not allowed to import products made by North Korean workers anywhere in the world, under a law signed by President Donald Trump in early August. Importers or company officials could face criminal charges for using North Korean workers or materially benefiting from their work, according to the law.

Every Western company involved that responded to AP’s requests for comment said forced labor and potential support for North Korea’s weapons program were unacceptable in their supply chains. Many said they were going to investigate, and some said they had already cut off ties with suppliers.

John Connelly, president of the National Fisheries Institute, the largest seafood trade association in the U.S., said his group was urging all of its companies to immediately re-examine their supply chains “to ensure that wages go to the workers, and are not siphoned off to support a dangerous dictator.”

“While we understand that hiring North Korean workers may be legal in China,” said Connelly, “we are deeply concerned that any seafood companies could be inadvertently propping up the despotic regime.”



North Koreans overseas work in construction in the Gulf states, shipbuilding in Poland, logging in Russia. In Uruguay, authorities told AP, about 90 North Koreans crewed fishing boats last year. U.N. sanctions now bar countries from authorizing new work permits for North Korean workers but do not target those already abroad.

Roughly 3,000 North Koreans are believed to work in Hunchun, a far northeast Chinese industrial hub just a few miles from the borders of both North Korea and Russia. Signs in this mercantile city are in Chinese, Korean and Russian. Korean restaurants advertise cold noodles, a Northern favorite, and Russian truckers stop into nightclubs with black bread on the menu.

In an effort to boost the local economy, China and North Korea agreed several years ago to allow factories to contract for groups of North Korean workers, establishing an industrial zone with bargain-priced labor. Since then dozens of fish processing companies have opened in Hunchun, along with other manufacturers. Using North Korean workers is legal in China, and not considered forced labor.

It’s unknown what conditions are like in all factories in the region, but AP reporters saw North Koreans living and working in several of the Hunchun facilities under the watchful eye of their overseers. The workers are not allowed to speak to reporters. However, the AP identified them as North Korean in numerous ways: the portraits of North Korea’s late leaders they have in their rooms, their distinctive accents, interviews with multiple Hunchun businesspeople. The AP also reviewed North Korean laborer documents, including copies of a North Korean passport, a Chinese work permit and a contract with a Hunchun company.

When a reporter approached a group of North Koreans – women in tight, bright polyester clothes preparing their food at a Hunchun garment factory – one confirmed that she and some others were from Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. Then a minder arrived, ordering the workers to be silent: “Don’t talk to him!”

Their contracts are typically for two or three years, and they are not allowed to go home early. The restrictions they work under make them very valuable employees. North Korean laborers are “more stable” than Chinese workers, said Li Shasha, a sales manager at Yanbian Shenghai Industry and Trade Co., a major Hunchun seafood processor.

Chinese workers have job protections that give them the right to take time off, while North Korean workers complete their contracts with few complaints, rare sick days and almost no turnover.

“They won’t take a leave for some personal reason,” said Li, whose company shipped containers of squid and snow crab to the U.S and Canada in July and August.

They are also often considered cheaper. Li said that at the Yanbian Shenghai factory, the North Koreans’ salary is the same as for the Chinese, roughly $300 to $385 per month. But others say North Koreans are routinely paid about $300 a month compared to up to $540 for Chinese.

Either way, the North Korean government of Kim Jong Un keeps anywhere from half to 70 percent of their pay, according to scholars who have surveyed former laborers. It passes on to the workers as little as $90 per month – or roughly 46 cents per hour.

The work can be exhausting, with shifts lasting up to 12 hours and most workers getting just one day off each week. At some factories, laborers work hunched over tables as North Korean political slogans are blasted from waist-high loudspeakers.

Through dozens of interviews, observation, trade records and other public and confidential documents, AP identified three seafood processors that employ North Koreans and export to the U.S.: Joint venture Hunchun Dongyang Seafood Industry & Trade Co. Ltd. & Hunchun Pagoda Industry Co. Ltd. distributed globally by Ocean One Enterprise; Yantai Dachen Hunchun Seafood Products, and Yanbian Shenghai Industry & Trade Co. Ltd.

They’re getting their seafood from China, Russia and, in some cases like snow crab, Alaska. Although AP saw North Korean workers at Hunchun Dongyang, manager Zhu Qizhen said they don’t hire North Korean workers any more and refused to give details. The other Chinese companies didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment.

Shipping records seen by the AP show more than 100 cargo containers of seafood, more than 2,000 tons, were sent to the U.S. and Canada this year from the factories where North Koreans were working in China.

Packages of snow crab, salmon fillets, squid rings and more were imported by American distributors, including Sea-Trek Enterprises in Rhode Island, and The Fishin’ Company in Pennsylvania. Sea-Trek exports seafood to Europe, Australia, Asia, Central America and the Caribbean. The Fishin’ Company supplies retailers and food service companies, as well as supermarkets.

The Fishin’ Company said it cut its ties with Hunchun processors and got its last shipment this summer, but seafood can remain in the supply chain for more than a year. Owners of both companies said they were very concerned about the North Korean laborers, and planned to investigate.

Often the seafood arrives in generic packaging, but some was already branded in China with familiar names like Walmart or Sea Queen, a seafood brand sold exclusively at ALDI supermarkets, which has 1,600 stores across 35 states. There’s no way to say where a particular package ends up, nor what percentage of the factories’ products wind up in the U.S.

Walmart spokeswoman Marilee McInnis said company officials learned in an audit a year ago that there were potential labor problems at a Hunchun factory, and that they had banned their suppliers, including The Fishin’ Company, from getting seafood processed there. She said The Fishin’ Company had “responded constructively” but did not specify how.

Some U.S. brands and companies had indirect ties to the North Korean laborers in Hunchun, including Chicken of the Sea, owned by Thai Union. Trade records show shipments came from a sister company of the Hunchun factory in another part of China, where Thai Union spokeswoman Whitney Small says labor standards are being met and the employees are all Chinese. Small said the sister companies should not be penalized.

Shipments also went to two Canadian importers, Morgan Foods and Alliance Seafood, which did not respond to requests for comment.

Boxes at the factories had markings from several major German supermarket chains and brands – All-Fish distributors, REWE and Penny grocers and Icewind brand. REWE Group, which also owns the Penny chain, said that they used to do business with Hunchun Dongyang but the contract has expired. All the companies that responded said their suppliers were forbidden to use forced labor.



North Korean workers in China are under much more intense surveillance than those in Russia and the Middle East, experts say. That’s likely because Pyongyang fears they could follow in the footsteps of tens of thousands of their countrymen who escaped to China, or they could interact with South Koreans living in China.

“If a North Korean wants to go overseas, China is his or her least favorable option,” said Andrei Lankov, a North Korea expert at Kookmin University in South Korea. “Because in China, (factories) have essentially prison-like conditions.”

The vast majority of the workers in Hunchun are women in their 20s. Most are thought to be hired back home by labor brokers, who often demand bribes for overseas jobs. The laborers arrive in China already divided into work teams, each led by a North Korean overseer, and remain isolated even from their own employers.

“They’re not allowed to mingle with the Chinese,” said a senior manager at a Hunchun company that employs many North Koreans. He spoke on condition he not be identified, fearing repercussions on his business. “We can only communicate with their team leaders.”

In a sense, the North Korean workers in China remain in North Korea, under constant surveillance.

“They only talk about what they need to,” said a medical worker who confirmed their nationality and had cared for some, and also spoke on condition of anonymity out of concern for angering Chinese authorities. “They don’t talk about what they might be thinking.”

They live crowded into rooms often above or next door to the factories, in a world awash in North Korean rituals.

“Let’s Follow the Ideas!” of North Korea’s leaders, urges a poster at the workers’ dormitory at Hunchun Pagoda. Portraits of the country’s first two rulers, worshipped as god-like in the deeply isolated nation, gaze down from otherwise-bare walls. Laundry is often hanging up to dry and potted plants – mostly what appear to be herbs, though one room at Hunchun Pagoda has bright yellow carnations – sit on many windowsills.

It’s a world of concrete. The factory buildings and dormitories at Hunchun Pagoda are grey slabs of unpainted concrete. The yard where the women play volleyball in their free time is concrete. The street outside the front gate is concrete.

At most factories the women prepare their own food and make tubs of their own kimchi, the spicy cabbage dish beloved in both Koreas. Their televisions cannot tune in Chinese programming, and they organize their own sports and singing contests on their days off.

Nearly every compound has a workers’ garden. There are a half dozen rows of corn at Hunchun Pagoda, and kidney beans and melons at Yantai.

A booming Chinese economy means money has come even to cities like Hunchun, where six-lane roads and factories bump up against cornfields that, a year later, often make way for yet another factory. Mercedes are now regular sights on the road and 30-foot billboards at malls show bone-thin models in fur coats.

But when the North Koreans are allowed to leave their compounds, they go to the city’s working-class street markets, where vendors set their wares on plastic sheets or folding tables, or sell directly from the backs of trucks.

Chinese merchants say most North Koreans are very careful about their finances. For instance, while they splurge on expensive spices imported from South Korea, they also buy Chinese noodles that cost less than half of the South Korean brands.

On a recent morning, a group of about 70 North Korean women walked to a Hunchun street market from the nearby Hong Chao Zhi Yi garment factory. They asked about prices for watermelons and plums, browsed through cheap pantyhose and bought steamed corn-on-the-cob for 1 Chinese yuan (about 16 cents) apiece.

As the late summer chill set in one evening, a dozen or so women from Hunchun Pagoda played volleyball in the quiet road in front of the compound’s gate, scrimmaging in the pool of light thrown by the street lamp.

A train horn blew. The women shouted to one another while they played. As a car with a foreigner drove by, one laughingly called out: “Bye-bye!”



Estimates vary on how many North Koreans work overseas and how much money they bring in.

South Korea’s intelligence agency estimated in 2014 that 50,000 to 60,000 work in about 50 countries, most in China and Russia. That number may now be up to 100,000, according to Lim Eul Chul, a scholar at South Korea’s Kyungnam University who has interviewed numerous former laborers. Estimates that their labor brings in revenue of $200 million to $500 million annually to the North Korean government come from scholars, who base their findings on academic research papers, South Korean intelligence reports and sources in the Chinese business community.

That has made the workers a significant and reliable source of revenue for the North Korean regime as it struggles beneath the weight of increasing UN sanctions, which the U.S. estimates could cost Pyongyang upwards of $1.5 billion each year in lost export revenues. In the last month alone, China has said it’s cracking down on North Korean exports, businesses and joint ventures, but it has a long history of not enforcing sanctions in practice.

Despite the pay and restrictions, these are highly sought-after jobs in North Korea, a chance to move up a rickety economic ladder and see a bit of the world beyond the closed-in nation.

Their monthly earnings in China are far more than many would earn in North Korea today, where official salaries often equal $1 per month. Experts estimate most families live on about $40-$60 a month, with much of their earnings coming from trading in the growing network of unofficial markets.

And there are plenty of benefits to working overseas. The laborers can use their earnings to start businesses in these markets, and can buy the status symbols of the slowly-growing middle class – Chinese rice cookers, watches, TVs, tableware – selling them back home or using them as bribes. Simply going abroad is so rare that returning workers can find themselves highly sought-after when it comes time to marry.

Lim Il, a North Korean refugee, bribed a series of officials – with 20 bottles of liquor, 30 packs of cigarettes and restaurant gift cards – to get a job as a construction worker in Kuwait City in the late 1990s, when North Korea was still suffering through a horrific famine.

“I felt like I had won the lottery,” he said. “People fantasized about getting overseas labor jobs.”

Lim, a man in his late 40s who fled to South Korea in 1997 and now writes novels about the North, said that even though he was never paid his $120-a-month salary, he was happy to simply get beef soup and rice every day.

“Unless you were an idiot, you wouldn’t give up such an opportunity,” he said. While he never thought of himself as a slave, looking back he says that is the right description: “These North Korean workers (today) still don’t know they are slaves.”

The new law in the U.S. labels all North Korean workers both overseas and inside the country as engaging in forced labor. (While U.S. law generally forbids Americans from conducting business in North Korea, the AP employs a small number of support staff in its Pyongyang bureau, operating under a waiver granted by the U.S. government to allow the flow of news and information.)

“There are not many countries that, at a government level, export their own citizens as a commodity to be exploited,” said an official at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.

For years the State Department has blacklisted North Korea in its human trafficking reports, saying the overseas laborers and their families could face reprisals if the workers complain or try to escape, and criticizing Pyongyang for keeping much of the workers’ earnings. China, Russia and other countries hosting North Korean labor are all members of the United Nations International Labor Organization, which requires workers to receive their full salaries.

Luis CdeBaca, former U.S. ambassador-at-large for human trafficking issues, said both federal law enforcement agents and importers should be making sure workers are treated fairly. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, responsible for enforcing the law that bans imports that are products of forced labor, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

“If you think about a company like Walmart, which is spending a lot of money, time and effort to clean up its supply chain, sending auditors and inspectors to factories, working with suppliers, all of that is thrown out the window if they are importing products made with exploited North Korean labor,” said CdeBaca. “It contradicts everything they are doing.”

CdeBaca conceded the North Korean workers might like their jobs.

“The question is not, ‘Are you happy?’ ” he said. “The question is, ‘Are you free to leave?'”


Associated Press journalists Leonardo Haberkorn in Uruguay, Han Guan Ng and researcher Fu Ting in China, Kelvin K. Chan in Hong Kong, Frank Jordans in Germany and Jon Gambrell in United Arab Emirates contributed to this report. Mendoza reported from California.

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HHS Secretary Tom Price resigns amid criticism of his travel on private planes

President Donald Trump’s health secretary has resigned, after his travel on costly charter flights triggered investigations and angered his boss.

Tom Price’s partial repayment and public regrets couldn’t save his job.

The Health and Human Services secretary became the first member of the president’s Cabinet to leave office in a turbulent young administration that has seen several high-ranking White House aides ousted. Price served less than 8 months.

Trump had said he was “not happy” with Price for hiring private charters on the taxpayer’s dime for official travel, when cheaper commercial flights would have worked.

The flap over Price has overshadowed Trump’s agenda and prompted scrutiny of other Cabinet members’ travel. The House Oversight and Government Reform committee has launched a broad investigation of top political appointees.

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‘I’m just gonna shoot him if things go sideways,’ cop tells college student during traffic stop

Two University of Nevada, Reno police officers are being investigated after “inappropriate comments were made to a University graduate student by the officers” during a traffic stop early Sunday morning, according to UNR Police.

The university released the video Wednesday afternoon, saying the events and comments were captured on a body camera. The video shows officers interacting with a group, which included a graduate student.

At the 4:20 mark of the video, one of the officers says, “Holy (expletive), I’m glad you’re not fighting, you’re too big,” apparently referring to a black graduate student, who starts laughing.

“I was like, I’m just gonna shoot him if things go sideways,” an officer seems to say. The student appears to stop laughing after this comment.

The student reported the incident, according to the statement from the university.

Read more at KRNV.

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Aide found half-naked after sexual contact with student, deputies say

Deputies have arrested a school employee in Fort McCoy after allegations surfaced that the worker had sexual contact with a student, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday.

Katie Carsey, 36, who worked at McCoy Middle School, was booked into the Marion County Jail on a felony charge after deputies said she admitted to having sexual contact with a then-14-year-old boy.

A deputy was investigating a suspicious vehicle at a church on July 6 said he found Carsey partially clothed. Carsey said she was there to meet a male friend.

A couple months later, detectives said they got word that Carsey had told someone that she narrowly escaped from being caught having sex with her student before the deputy arrived, officials said.

Investigators said when they spoke with Carsey on Wednesday, she admitted to undressing and having inappropriate contact with the boy in her back seat.

The victim, who is now 15 years old, told investigators he jumped out of the vehicle when he noticed the deputy’s patrol car and then ran home.

Carsey is married and has worked in the district for about a year.

Marion Public Schools said it wasn’t notified of the alleged assault until after business hours Wednesday, but school officials believe none of the incidents took place on school property.

Carsey is being held on a $10,000 bond.

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Murder suspect arrested in 27-year-old ‘killer clown’ shooting married to victim’s husband

As Marlene Warren was finishing breakfast with her 22-year-old son and several of his friends at their Wellington home one Saturday in May 1990, a woman dressed as a clown came to the door. The clown was holding a flower arrangement and two balloons.

Warren opened the door, ready to receive the surprise gifts, but the clown had other intentions, shooting her in the face before calmly walking back to the Chrysler LeBaron and driving away.

Two days later, Warren was dead. Family members of the Wellington woman have been waiting 27 years in hopes of finding her killer. Their wait could be over.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday that Sheila Warren was arrested in Washington County, Virginia, in connection with the fatal shooting. She is charged with first-degree murder in the May 26, 1990, shooting.

Detectives said Sheila Warren — 26 at the time and then known as Sheila Keen — was initially identified as a suspect, but she was never arrested.

Sheila Warren, now 54, married the victim’s husband, Michael Warren, in 2002. Investigators said they had been living in Tennessee operating a restaurant together.

Homicide investigators reopened the unsolved case in 2014, re-interviewing witnesses and collecting new DNA evidence.

A Palm Beach County grand jury was presented the evidence in August and returned an indictment against Sheila Warren, leading to her arrest.

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