Author Archives: National | KPRC

Texas can enforce more of ‘sanctuary cities’ law

Texas for now can require law enforcement to honor federal immigration requests to detain people in local jails for possible deportation under a new “sanctuary cities” law supported by the Trump administration, a federal appeals court ruled on Monday.

The decision prompted one notable critic of the immigration crackdown, Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, to announce that her Austin jails would now honor all detainers from U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. The elected Democrat had become a polarizing figure after announcing on the day of President Donald Trump’s inauguration that the county’s jails would no longer comply with all such requests.

But the unanimous ruling of a three-judge panel in New Orleans wasn’t seen as so clear-cut by others. Some lawyers said they believed the decision did not demand total compliance with federal agents, while other local officials struggled to interpret the ramifications.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton hailed it as a clear victory allowing the state to “enforce the core” of the law known at Senate Bill 4.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling negates some of U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia’s Aug. 31 halt to much of the law one day before it was to go into effect. The decision lets Texas enforce the detainer provision, pending fuller oral arguments in November.

“We are pleased today’s 5th Circuit ruling will allow Texas to strengthen public safety by implementing the key components of Senate Bill 4,” Paxton said in a statement.

Major cities such as Houston, Dallas and Austin had sued the state, saying the measure was unconstitutional and warning that it would have a chilling effect in immigrant communities.

Nina Perales, an attorney for the Mexican American Defense and Legal Education Fund who is also representing the cities of San Antonio and El Paso, said the ruling appeared to leave wiggle room for interpretation.

“I don’t read this decision as making all detainers mandatory,” she said.

Hernandez said her policies had been updated to comply with the latest ruling and that she looked forward to “further clarification” from the courts. Her spokeswoman, Kristen Dark, said the changes mean that Travis County jails will now honor all detainer requests.

Jose Garza, an attorney for the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, acknowledged that the state now potentially had room to pursue penalties against chiefs or sheriffs who don’t comply.

The Republican push to pass the law roiled the Texas Legislature throughout the spring. One GOP legislator notified federal immigration agents about protesters who held signs saying they were illegal, and told a Democratic colleague who pushed him during an argument, that he would shoot in self-defense.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has praised the Texas law and the Department of Justice filed arguments in support of it, as did several attorneys general from other states.

The law’s opponents argue it violates the Fourth Amendment by requiring police to detain people suspected of illegal immigration without probable cause. They also say it illegally puts local police in the federal role of immigration enforcement officers, and is unconstitutionally vague as to exactly when a local law enforcement officer would be in violation of the law.

Supporters of the state law say immigration officials have already determined probable cause when they seek to have local officials detain someone. They also argue that federal and local officials have a long history of cooperation on immigration matters and that the law is clear in its prohibition against local policies restricting immigration enforcement.

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Florida trooper accused of showing porn to child

A Florida Highway Patrol trooper was arrested Saturday in Lake County on sex-related charges involving a child.

The victim told police that in November 2016, Trooper Chad Corriveau showed her pornography on his cellphone, the affidavit said.

The next month, the victim told police that Corriveau complained about his lack of sexual relations and that she was then sexually assaulted by him, police said.

According to the report, Corriveau told the victim not to tell anyone.

The victim also told deputies that “she was afraid for her safety” and that the defendant was short-tempered, deputies said.

Corriveau has been placed on paid administrative leave after his arrest, the FHP said.

Additionally, officials with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said Deputy Seth Luppino has also been placed on paid administrative leave because he knew of the abuse and did not report it for almost two weeks, as required by the state.

Florida Highway Patrol sent News 6 a statement about Corriveau’s arrest.

“The Florida Highway Patrol takes these matters very seriously and has placed the trooper on administrative leave pending the criminal investigation by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Additionally, a thorough administrative investigation is being conducted simultaneously regarding the allegations and the actions of the trooper, and appropriate disciplinary action will be immediately taken based on the outcome of the investigation,” agency officials said.

Corriveau was arrested on several sex-related charges, including showing obscene material to a minor.

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13-year-old accused in kidnapping and rape plot

Authorities in Frederick, Maryland have charged two young men with kidnapping and raping a classmate. Police said a third suspect remains at large.

Police said the victim was grabbed by three young men while she was walking home on September 2.

“All three males took her into a car at knife point and took her to another apartment in the area, at which point, two of the males allegedly raped her,” Frederick police Detective Sgt. Andrew Alcorn said.

Police said the victim identified two of the suspects as classmates, Edgar Natanal Chicas-Hernandez, 17, and Victor Antonio Gonzalez-Gutierres, 19. Police said the victim wasn’t able to identify the third suspect, who had his face covered.

Police learned through the investigation that a 13-year-old female acquaintance of the victim might have orchestrated the incident.

“We believe that the younger acquaintance did know that this was going to occur,” Alcorn said.

According to charging documents, the acquaintance contacted the victim’s boyfriend on social media a few days before the attack, saying she had someone who was going to rape and extort money from the victim. The girl asked if he wanted to be part of her plan because “it will be fun.”

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Hensarling to flood victims: ‘God’s telling you to move’

The U.S. government can’t keep paying to repair homes that flood over and over, says a leading House Republican.

“The federal government is encouraging and subsidizing people to live in harm’s way,” said Rep. Jeb Hensarling in an appearance on CNBC Thursday. “At some point God is telling you to move.”

Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was referring to the National Flood Insurance Program. The federal insurance covers flood damage for homes, which most most homeowner policies do not cover. Buyers purchasing a property at risk of flooding are generally required by mortgage lenders to have a government flood policy.

He cited a modest home outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that has flooded more than 40 times that has cost the program nearly $500,000. Another home in Houston worth $100,000 has filed $1 million in claims due to multiple floods, he said.

Statistics back up Hensarling’s concern that homes that have been damaged by multiple floods are draining the program. Less than 1% of nearly 5 million flood insurance policyholders collect 25-30% of the claims because they file repeatedly, according to analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

“We would be better off, they would be better off if frankly we bought out a lot of these properties and returned them to moisture absorbing soil and had it be part of a flood control plan,” he said. “Maybe we pay for the home once, maybe we even pay for it twice, but at some point the taxpayer has got to quit paying and you’ve got to move.”

The flood insurance program was nearly $25 billion in debt even before hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria hit. Estimates are that those storms will cause tens of billions dollars in additional claims.

“We have a bankrupt program that is essentially funded by a bankrupt nation,” he said, citing the fact that the total national debt has now hit $20 trillion. But getting reform for the program through Congress is tough, he admitted.

“A lot of these communities are concerned about the loss of their tax base,” he said. “Other people look upon this as essentially a form of entitlement spending, having federal taxpayers subsidize their premiums. So this is tough political sledding.”

He said he still hopes reform can pass.

Hensarling’s office did not immediately return a request for a comment.

God has also ignored our requests for comment.

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Newlyweds say DJ robbed wedding cash

A Pennsylvania couple said they were robbed at their wedding by the DJ.

The newlyweds told station WTAE they noticed they came home with only 15 cards from a wedding in which more than 100 people attended.

Edward McCarty is charged with receiving stolen property and theft.

Police said McCarty admitted to stealing their cards from the Slovenian Hall in Yukon because he was experiencing financial problems. Police said he claims the cards had a total of $600 inside.

Bride Ashley Karasek believes the total was greater and said she is calling all of her guests to get an accurate amount. She estimates that amount to be $4,800.

McCarty is scheduled to be back in court on Nov. 8.

He has told reporters that the judge who will hear the case is “an unqualified jackass” and that he expected to be “railroaded by a kangaroo court” and “sent off for life”.

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Florida woman makes ‘sexy’ plea to get power back after Hurricane Irma

When a Florida woman went several days without power after Hurricane Irma, she got creative in her quest to get electricity restored.

Kynse Agles used pink spray paint to make a large sign in front of her Fort Myers home.

The sign read, “Hot, single female seeks sexy lineman to electrify her life.”

READ the original story from our sister station WKMG.

Agles told CNN affiliate WFTX-TV she made the sign because she thought it would give her neighbors a good laugh. She had a serious need for electricity, however, as she underwent a kidney transplant in Tampa just days before Irma hit Florida.

Agles said she had a place to stay while her power was out, but the sign appeared to work. Her electricity is back and she’s back at home.

The linemen who restored power to her home even posed for a picture with the sign.

“She’s a sexy mama” he told a reporter, “I’d hit it like a freight train if I wasn’t gay…”

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Hospital workers in hot water over Snapchat video, picture calling newborns ‘mini Satans’

A group of hospital employees in Florida are facing potential criminal charges after posting videos of newborn babies online.

Staff members from Naval Hospital Jacksonville could be seen in a Snapchat video making a newborn baby dance while rap music blared in the background.

“That baby could have been seriously injured all because she wanted to be popular on social media,” Regina Wortmann, a parent who saw the video said.

A picture was also posted on social media showing the staff member making an obscene hand gesture with a caption that said: “How I currently feel about these mini Satans.”

“I would be pretty angry if that was my child. Lord knows what I would do,” one woman said after seeing the video.

The hospital apologized on Facebook, calling the posts “outrageous.”

The statement read in part:

“We have identified the staff members involved. They have been removed from patient care and they will be handled by the legal system and military justice.”

 

Law and safety expert Dale Carson said the workers “should be punished in some way.”

Carson said he believes this is a case of child abuse.

“It is clearly a HIPPA violation. The U.S. Navy and their medical system at NASJax can probably be sued over that,” Carson said.

The hospital also said in a statement that the workers in the video were not nurses but junior enlisted corpsmen.

They also said the parents of the babies were notified.

“We have notified the parents of these little hellions exactly what happened” the statement read, “And they are aware which demon spawn were specifically targeted.”

 

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Dad in clown mask shot at while chasing daughter through neighborhood

Vernon Barrett Jr. was trying to discipline his daughter when he put on a clown mask and chased her through a Boardman, Ohio neighborhood, police said.

As Barrett chased his 6-year-old daughter, police said she jumped into a stranger’s car and then ran down the street and into a stranger’s apartment.

The girl screamed to the family in the apartment that a clown was chasing her.

When the family looked out the window and saw a man wearing the clown mask, police said Dion Santiago fired a gunshot into his yard, missing the masked man.

The child was not injured.

It is unclear what the child did to warrant being disciplined.

Barrett is charged with child endangerment and inducing panic, a police report said.

Santiago is charged with using weapons while intoxicated.

Barrett says he intends to wear the mask when his case goes to court.

 

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Pizza Hut manager threatened workers evacuating for Irma

A Pizza Hut manager in Florida threatened to punish employees who missed shifts by evacuating too early for Hurricane Irma.

In a memo, the manager said workers at the Jacksonville restaurant have a “responsibility and commitment” to the community, and that employees who needed to evacuate would get only a 24-hour “grace period” before the storm.

Pizza Hut manager threatens employee during Irma evacuations

“You cannot evacuate Friday for a Tuesday storm event!” the notice read. “Failure to show for these shifts, regardless of reason, will be considered a no call / no show and documentation will be issued.”

It also said that employees would be required to return to the city within 72 hours of an evacuation.

Pizza Hut said its “local franchise operator has addressed this situation with the manager involved.”

“We absolutely do not have a policy that dictates when team members can leave or return from a disaster, and the manager who posted this letter did not follow company guidelines,” the company said in a statement.

The company added that all stores in Irma’s path had been shuttered and wouldn’t reopen “until local authorities deem the area safe.”

Pizza Hut declined to say whether the manager involved has been disciplined.

Jacksonville authorities issued the first evacuation orders for parts of the city on Friday. On Monday, the sheriff’s office tweeted to people in evacuation zones: “Get out NOW.” Up to 4 feet of water covered some streets.

FEMA is advising people in the storm’s path to “only return home when local officials say it’s ok.”

The Pizza Hut notice spurred resentment on social media.

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Floridians jam highways to flee wrath of Hurricane Irma

Floridians began a mass exodus on Thursday as Hurricane Irma, the powerful Category 5 storm, plowed through the Caribbean toward the Sunshine State.

Thousands of cars headed north, causing interstate backups and slowdowns. Drivers waited for hours at gas stations, some of which ran out of fuel. Travelers stood in line for hours at airports.

Based on Irma’s projected path, which includes Florida’s heavily populated eastern coast, the enormous storm could create one of the largest mass evacuations in US history, CNN senior meteorologist Dave Hennen said. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties combined have about 6 million people.

People should get out now, Gov. Rick Scott warned at a Thursday news conference. If they wait until Saturday or Sunday, when high winds and rain are expected to lash south Florida, it will be too late.

“We cannot save you when the storm starts,” Scott said. “So if you are in an evacuation zone and you need help, you need to tell us now.”

“You do not want to leave on Saturday, driving through Florida with tropical storm force winds,” CNN meteorologist Tom Sater said. He said the latest Floridians should evacuate is Friday morning.

‘Three lanes of red bumper lights’

Roseanne Lesack, her husband and three children were among the evacuees.

They left Boca Raton on Wednesday and headed to Atlanta to stay with friends, she said. After encountering slow traffic, the family spent the night at a motel in Orlando and continued north Thursday morning, Lesack said.

“What should have been another six or seven-hour travel experience is coming up on 12 hours,” she said Thursday night while about 35 miles south of Atlanta. “It has been slow. Right now we’re going about 20 mph. … It’s just three lanes of red bumper lights.”

Last year, the family stayed with friends in Florida and rode out Hurricane Matthew, she said. Lesack is glad they decided not to chance it this year.

“Now there are a lot of people who are really nervous about staying but don’t feel like they can get out,” Lesack said.

Mandatory evacuations

In Florida, mandatory evacuations orders included parts of Miami-Dade County, Broward County east of US 1, Palm Beach County, low-lying parts of Brevard County, and Monroe County, home to the Florida Keys. More than 30,000 people evacuated Monroe County alone, Scott said.

Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi stressed to residents in the Keys they need to heed the evacuation order and leave.

All hospitals would be closed and ambulances gone as of Friday morning, including air ambulances, he said.

“You might as well leave now, while you have a chance, because when you dial 911 — you will not get an answer,” he said.

The Florida Department of Transportation released traffic counts showing extremely heavy traffic on Thursday, such as 4,000 vehicles on I-75 northbound in Lake City, compared to a norm of 1,000. About 1,800 vehicles traveled on I-75 in Collier County, compared to a norm of 600. Other roads showed smaller increases.

Though nobody knows exactly where Irma will make landfall, the governors of Georgia and South Carolina decided not to take any chances. They ordered mandatory evacuations of low-lying coastal areas around Savannah and Charleston.

Other eastern Florida population centers could also see similar evacuations soon, depending on the path of the hurricane, which is expected to near Miami on Sunday.

“Look at the size of this storm,” Scott said Thursday. “It is wider than our entire state and could cause major and life-threatening impacts from coast to coast. Regardless of what coast you live on, be prepared to evacuate. Floridians on the west coast cannot be complacent.”

Finding more fuel

Fuel availability is a major problem. CNN’s Miguel Marquez said about half the gas stations were open in Miami.

At a Marathon gas station in Miami, a line of cars wrapped around the corner. Two police officers on duty kept drivers in line and police tape kept them from entering the station the wrong way. Drivers had to wait at least an hour for fuel.

In a news release, Scott said he’s taking steps to have more fuel delivered. Contractors have come up with 1.5 million gallons to deliver so far, he said. State police will escort fuel trucks heading to gas stations on evacuation routes.

About 300,000 barrels of fuel were being unloaded from a ship in Tampa to resupply gas stations. A fuel ship from Mississippi was heading to the Port of Tampa and will be given a military escort, he said.

Scott also said he is suspending toll collections for the duration of the storm.

Limited evacuation routes

One issue with a mass evacuation is that Florida relies on two primary highways that go north and south: I-95 along the east coast and I-75 further west. Those highways, as well as the Florida Turnpike, US-27 and other smaller roads that run north, will be “tremendously” clogged if the storm hits, Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida said.

“If this monster comes right up the peninsula of Florida, you’re gonna have a mass out-migration from the south to the north, and it’s gonna clog the roads something tremendously,” Nelson said. “Therefore, if you are going to evacuate, once the evacuation order is given, don’t wait around.”

An evacuation could lead to mileslong gridlock, as happened with attempted mass evacuations during Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and Hurricane Rita in 2005.

When Hurricane Harvey began threatening southeast Texas about two weeks ago, Houston officials decided not to issue voluntary or mandatory evacuations, partly because of memories of those problems.

Nowhere to hide

Hurricane Irma’s cone of potential landfall currently includes the entire state of Florida, meaning that residents may not be able to flee to the state’s Gulf Coast to avoid its wrath. Going north is the best choice.

Florida is relatively narrow. Fort Lauderdale on the east coast and Naples on the west coast are separated by just over 100 miles. Even in the central part of the state, only 130 miles separate Clearwater on the west coast from Melbourne on the east coast.

For comparison, tropical storm-force winds from Irma cover over 65,000 square miles — about the size of the entire state.

Hurricane Floyd’s traffic jam

Major evacuations have created significant problems in the past when millions of residents took the roads at the same time.

Florida saw this in 1999 during Hurricane Floyd. The storm was headed toward Jacksonville, in the northeast corner of the state, and officials there ordered evacuations. The storm ultimately turned farther north and made landfall in North Carolina.

In all, about 3 million people across Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina attempted to evacuate, making it the largest evacuation effort in US history, according to a FEMA press release from 2000.

Many of those evacuees became stuck in gridlock in what FEMA charitably described as a “frustrating effort.”

Houston’s non-evacuation

Mindful of past problems with mass evacuations, Houston officials last month told residents to hunker down in their homes until Hurricane Harvey passed. As the city flooded and residents became trapped in their waterlogged homes, Houston mayor Sylvester Turner defended his decision not to evacuate.

The alternative, he said, could have been worse.

“You literally cannot put 6.5 million people on the road,” Turner said last week. “If you think the situation right now is bad, you give an order to evacuate, you are creating a nightmare.”

Houston experienced that firsthand during Hurricane Rita in 2005, when officials issued mass evacuation orders.

During that evacuation, a bus carrying elderly evacuees caught fire and exploded, killing at least 24 people and jamming a major evacuation route. Others died during the evacuation due to heat exhaustion, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Airlines adding flights

For Floridians who don’t want to risk chaos on the highways, a flight out is another option.

Delta Air Lines said it has added flights out of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Key West to Atlanta, its largest hub. The airline also is allowing passengers affected by Irma to rebook flights without paying a fee.

American Airlines and United Airlines also said they are waiving change fees for passengers whose travel plans are impacted by Irma.

However, American Airlines said it will wind down operations Friday afternoon at its Miami hub as well as other south Florida cities. Operations will be canceled throughout the weekend, the airline said.

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Amazon wants to open $5 billion second HQ in North America

Amazon has announced plans to open a second headquarters in North America that will employ as many as 50,000 workers.

The company announced Thursday that it is searching for a city to host the new “HQ2” facility, which will cost at least $5 billion to construct and operate.

“We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. “Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. We’re excited to find a second home.”

Amazon said it would prefer to open the headquarters in a suburban or urban area with more than 1 million people. It’s looking for a community that “thinks big” and a location that will attract technical talent.

The company said that while it would hire teams and executives for the new location, employees who currently work in Seattle would be offered the chance to relocate.

Cities and regional economic development organizations have been invited to submit proposals, and they will likely scramble to offer incentives and tax breaks for Amazon to consider their area.

Amazon estimates that its investments in Seattle from 2010 to 2016 added $38 billion to the city’s economy. These investments include retail space in its buildings and public spaces such as parks. Its headquarters in Seattle boasts 33 buildings and 24 restaurants or cafes. It covers 8.1 million square feet.

The announcement of Amazon’s second headquarters is a part of a larger effort from Amazon to grow its footprint at home and abroad.

In January, the company announced plans to create over 100,000 new full-time jobs in the U.S. It’s been steadily announcing new fulfillment centers.

Amazon also recently closed its $13.7 billion deal to buy Whole Foods as it expands into the groceries market and brick-and-mortar stores. Meanwhile, it will start selling its branded smart home devices at Amazon bookstores and retailers like Kohl’s soon.

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Woman urinates herself, yells racial slurs during DUI arrest, police say

A Daytona Beach woman is accused of crashing her car while driving on the wrong side of the road then urinating herself and yelling racial slurs as officers tried to arrest her, according to police.

Kimberly Joyce, 33, crashed her Nissan in the area of Dr. Mary Mcleod Bethune Boulevard and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard around 4:30 p.m. Thursday, police said.

Details of the crash weren’t immediately available, but at least one other vehicle was involved and witnesses said they saw Joyce driving on the wrong side of the road, according to the arrest report.

“The mother of one of the drivers is, yeah, is hurt. There’s a baby in the backseat and he’s not in the car seat. He might be a little more hurt,” a 911 caller said.

News 6 learned the boy suffered a minor head injury and is staying with grandparents. The people in the other car were not seriously hurt.

As a Daytona Beach police officer was conducting an investigation, Joyce became combative and uncooperative, the report said. An officer said she smelled of alcohol.

Police said Joyce yelled racial slurs at bystanders, which caused a crowd of about 30 to 40 angry people to gather nearby.

Joyce’s stepfather Nathan Viana defended her alleged actions to News 6 and said it’s out of her character.

“She’s not a racist person by any means,” Viana said.

The crowd dissipated after Joyce was arrested on a breach of peace charge and removed from the area, the report said.

Police said Joyce urinated herself as they were waiting for a female officer to arrive on scene to search her.

Joyce was taken to the Daytona Beach Police Department so a DUI investigation could be conducted. She refused to do a field sobriety test or submit to a breathalyzer test, according to the report.

She yelled at the officer, saying she only had a few drinks and that she had a drinking problem, the affidavit said.

Joyce was charged with DUI, two counts of DUI with property damage, child neglect without great bodily harm and disorderly conduct.

During her first appearance Friday a judge set her bail at $9,000 and ordered her not to have contact with her son unless it’s under the Department of Children and Families supervision.

“The family is always going to be there for her and hopefully, she can see herself through, getting the proper help that she needs,” Viana said.

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Police shoot, kill tiger running loose in neighborhood

A tiger that was running loose on a Georgia highway has been shot and killed, police said.

Henry County Police Department Capt. Joey Smith said drivers reported seeing a tiger early Wednesday on the northbound lanes of Interstate 75 in Stockbridge — about 20 miles southeast of Atlanta. Crews blocked off four lanes as they looked for the big cat.

Police responded to a nearby neighborhood shortly after 6 a.m. when residents reported seeing the tiger there.

Smith said the Department of Natural Resources and Animal Control were en route when the tiger began chasing a dog. He said police then shot and killed the tiger. The dog survived.

Smith said he estimates the tiger was full-grown.

It’s unknown where the tiger came from.

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House overwhelmingly passes $7.9 billion Harvey aid bill

The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed $7.9 billion in Hurricane Harvey disaster relief as warring Republicans and Democrats united behind help for victims of that storm as an ever more powerful new hurricane bore down on Florida.

The 419-3 vote sent the aid package — likely the first of several — to the Senate in hopes of sending the bill to President Donald Trump before dwindling federal disaster reserves run out at the end of this week.

“Help is on the way,” said Texas GOP Rep. John Culberson, whose Houston district was slammed by the storm. “The scale of the tragedy is unimaginable. But in the midst of all this, and all the suffering, it really reflects the American character, how people from all over the country stepped up to help Houstonians recover from this.”

The first installment in Harvey aid is to handle the immediate emergency needs and replenish Federal Emergency Management Agency reserves in advance of Hurricane Irma, which is barreling through the Caribbean toward Florida.

“This is a chance to be your brother’s keeper,” said Houston Democratic Rep. Al Green. “This is chance for the unity that we express when we’re before the cameras to manifest itself in the votes that we cast here in Congress.”

Far more money will be needed once more complete estimates are in this fall, and Harvey could end up exceeding the $110 billion government cost of Hurricane Katrina.

“My friends and neighbors’ homes were completely flattened by Hurricane Harvey’s winds. Businesses were destroyed,” said Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas. “FEMA will be out of money in just two or three days if we don’t pass this.”

Politics quickly intruded as Democratic leaders insisted they would back the measure in the Senate only if it were linked to a short-term increase in the nation’s borrowing limit, not the longer-term hike that Republicans and the Trump administration want.

And some Democrats from the New York delegation reminded Texas Republicans that they opposed a larger aid bill for those harmed by Superstorm Sandy in the Northeast five years ago.

“What you did to us during Superstorm Sandy should not stand, should not be done to any other people, anyplace in the country,” said Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. “We’re one country, we’re Americans. We need to help those who need help.”

In the Senate, GOP leaders want to link a long-term increase in the debt limit — until 2019 — to the Harvey aid, but that plan faces opposition from conservatives and thus will need Democratic votes.

“I think it’s a terrible idea,” said House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who conceded that conservatives were getting outmaneuvered.

“I think at this point there are bigger issues that we have to focus on,” Meadows said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York want to retain Democratic influence and trying to ensure the Republican-controlled Congress addresses health care and immigration as the hectic fall agenda kicks off.

“Given Republican difficulty in finding the votes for their plan, we believe this proposal offers a bipartisan path forward to ensure prompt delivery of Harvey aid as well as avoiding a default, while both sides work together to address government funding, DREAMERS, and health care,” Pelosi and Schumer wrote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said again Wednesday that increased Harvey costs show the importance of acting swiftly to increase the government’s debt cap to make sure there’s enough borrowed cash to pay out the surge in disaster aid.

Analysts at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank, say Harvey aid wouldn’t cause a cash crunch for weeks.

President Trump commented on the story, saying on Twitter “More fake news! There is plenty of blame to go around, on both sides!”

 

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Trump pardons former Sheriff Joe Arpaio

President Donald Trump has pardoned controversial sheriff Joe Arpaio of his conviction for criminal contempt, the White House said Friday night.

CNN reported Wednesday that the White House had prepared the papers for Trump’s final decision.

Arpaio, who was a sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona, was found guilty of criminal contempt last month for disregarding a court order in a racial profiling case. His sentencing was scheduled for October 5.

“Not only did (Arpaio) abdicate responsibility, he announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual no matter who said otherwise,” wrote US District Judge Susan Bolton in the July 31 order.

Trump indicated he would pardon Arpaio at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, on Tuesday: “I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy.”

“I’ll make a prediction,” Trump said, adding, “I think he’s going to be just fine.”

However, civil rights groups have pushed back against the possibility of Arpaio’s pardon.

After Trump’s comments at the Phoenix rally, the ACLU tweeted: “President Trump should not pardon Joe Arpaio. #PhoenixRally #noarpaiopardon,” accompanied with a graphic that reads, “No, President Trump. Arpaio was not ‘just doing his job.’ He was violating the Constitution and discriminating against Latinos.”

Arpaio, who has called himself “America’s toughest sheriff,” was an early Trump supporter, but his stance on illegal immigration was what had earned him national recognition.

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Puppy attacked by pet store owner’s dog

When Rena Wilensky walked into the Magic Pet store in her Baldwin Park neighborhood on the early afternoon of August 9, she says she never expected to see her 8-week-old golden labradoodle, Buddah, attacked by the pet store owner’s mixed breed, Jax.

The owner’s dog “came out slowly from the back and up to us,” a visibly shaken Wilensky told News 6,” I mean within a flash.”

Wilensky said she looked over at the store’s owner before it happened and “asked if it would be alright,” and said he nodded yes.

But when the puppy jumped up at the big white dog’s face, Jax bit the puppy, cracking his skull and causing the brain to swell. The pup had to be put down.

Under existing Orange County law, the owner’s dog didn’t have to be on a leash because it was on pet store property.

Florida does not have a statute setting guidelines for pet leash protocol.

A spokesperson for Orange County Animal Control told News 6 there will be a citation for “Failure to control an animal, resulting in severe injury to a human being or another animal.”

The penalty carries a fine of $265 for the first offense.

Late Monday afternoon, the Pet shop owner met with Wilensky and agreed to keep his dog out of his shops.
In a statement to News 6, Samir Obeid and Janaein Rabah told News 6:

“We are heartbroken over this incident. “As small business owners whose life, passion, and business is caring for animals, we are deeply saddened and troubled by the incident involving Ms. Wilensky’s puppy and our larger mixed breed dog. Contrary to reports to the otherwise, our dog is neither a pit-bull or a bull terrier.” Although we wish more than anything to be able to bring Buddha back, we remain committed to doing everything we can to rectify this situation.’We have revised our policy regarding how pets are kept at the store and have covered all costs associated with Buddha’s veterinary care.’

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Mother left kids in hot car while she drank at bar, police say

A Kissimmee woman is accused of leaving her two children in a car without air conditioning while she drank at a bar on International Drive, according to the Orlando Police Department.

A woman called 911 at 10:14 p.m. Sunday and said she was concerned for the two small children, who had been in a silver Ford Focus for about an hour while their mother Larissa Rivera, 28, drank at Butikin Orlando.

“She is drunk, the mother is drunk,” the woman told the 911 operator.

When an officer arrived minutes later, she found the Ford Focus in the parking lot with two children in the back seat, according to the affidavit.

“I opened the driver side rear passenger door and was greeted with a little girl (approximately 5 years of age) crying hysterically. She quickly calmed down once fresh air came upon her,” the officer wrote in her report.

A boy, approximately 3 years old, was also in the vehicle, the affidavit said. Both children were sweating and hot to the touch, according to police. The air conditioning was not on and the children didn’t have any food or water.

Rivera told News 6 over the phone that the children were very comfortable in the car at 10 o’clock at night. She said she took them to Butikin to have dinner, put them in her car when they became tired, and left the A/C on. She turned off the A/C when they complained they were cold, Rivera said.

Rivera said she left the children alone for only half an hour and the whole time she and friends at the bar were able to see the children in the car from inside the bar through the windows of the bar.

Rivera claimed she and friends checked on the children every few minutes.

While police were on the scene, Rivera came outside and said the children, both dressed in long-sleeved pajamas, were hers. She said bar patrons had been checking on the children while she drank, the report said.

The officer said that Rivera smelled of alcohol, her eyes were glassy and she was repeating herself.

Rivera admitted to News 6 she had been drinking, but said she asked the children’s godmother to come pick them up. Rivera also admitted a friend urged her to take the children home, but countered that the children were fine.

She was charged with two counts of leaving a child unattended in a motor vehicle.

 

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US imposes sanctions on Russian, Chinese firms over North Korea

The Trump administration on Tuesday imposed sanctions on 16 mainly Chinese and Russian companies and people for assisting North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and helping the North make money to support those programs.

The penalties are intended to complement new U.N. Security Council sanctions and further isolate North Korea for its nuclear and missile tests amid heightened tensions that have led to threats from both sides, the Treasury Department said in a statement. The 16 affected entities either do business with previously sanctioned companies and people, work with the North Korean energy sector, help it place workers abroad or facilitate its evasion of international financial curbs.

The measures block any assets they may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bar Americans from transactions with them.

“It is unacceptable for individuals and companies in China, Russia, and elsewhere to enable North Korea to generate income used to develop weapons of mass destruction and destabilize the region,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. “We are taking actions consistent with U.N. sanctions to show that there are consequences for defying sanctions and providing support to North Korea, and to deter this activity in the future.”

Among those sanctioned are six Chinese companies, including three coal companies; two Singapore-based companies that sell oil to North Korea and three Russians that work with them; a Russian company that deals in North Korean metals and its Russian director; a construction company based in Namibia; a second Namibia-based company, and its North Korean director, that supplies North Korean workers to build statues overseas to generate income for the North.

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Your phone’s Bluetooth can locate illegal skimmer devices

As more and more skimmers are discovered at ATMs and gas stations, police say a simple way to beat crooks from taking your money is in the palm of your hand.

Skimmers are devices criminals attach to debit or credit card readers that allow others to steal your personal information.

Millions have been stolen from unsuspecting customers who use ATM’s or card readers at gas stations.

However, officials say the Bluetooth on your phone can uncover the nefarious devices looking to steal from your wallet.

Simply go to the settings on your smartphone and click on Bluetooth. If a skimmer is present, a long string of numbers and/or letters will appear, attempting to connect you to the device.

Now that the illegal device has been located, make sure you do not connect your phone.

The Federal Trade Commission has additional tips to help consumers avoid skimmers:

Make sure the gas pump panel is closed and doesn’t show signs of tampering. Many stations now put security seals over the cabinet panel. This is part of a voluntary program by the industry to thwart gas pump tampering. If the pump panel is opened, the label will read “void,” which means the machine has been tampered with.

Take a good look at the card reader itself. Does it look different than other readers at the station? For example, the card reader on the left has a skimmer attached; the reader on the right doesn’t.

If you use a debit card at the pump, run it as a credit card instead of entering a PIN. That way, the PIN is safe and the money isn’t deducted immediately from your account. If that’s not an option, cover your hand when entering your PIN. Scammers sometimes use tiny pinhole cameras, situated above the keypad area, to record PIN entries.

Monitor your credit card and bank accounts regularly to spot unauthorized charges.

If you’re really concerned about skimmers, you can pay inside rather than at the pump. Another option is to use a gas pump near the front of the store. Thieves may target gas pumps that are harder for the attendant to see.

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South Florida woman accused of DUI with 3-year-old unbuckled in back seat

A South Florida woman is accused of drunken driving with a 3-year-old child unbuckled in the back seat.

Brandy Lerma, 31, of Boynton Beach, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of driving under the influence and child neglect.

According to a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office report, Lerma was stopped while driving south on Haverhill Road near Belvedere Road about 4:15 p.m.

Another driver called 911 and followed her until deputies could initiate a traffic stop.

When deputies arrived, they found Lerma sitting in the driver’s seat with a toddler standing in the back seat, the report said.

The arresting deputy wrote in his report that he could smell a strong odor of alcohol on Lerma’s breath. He said her hair “was a mess,” her “right bra strap was hanging out from under her sleeve,” her speech was slurred and her clothes were “disheveled and dirty.”

“The driver was unable to walk or stand without assistance,” the report said. “The driver fell to the ground twice during the roadside tasks.”

Lerma told deputies that she had two Fireball shots and had taken Percocet and Xanax.

The report listed Lerma’s attitude as vulgar, defiant, combative and uncooperative.

Lerma was released from jail the next day on a $3,000 bond.

President Trump weighed in on the story, commenting on Twitter that “there is plenty of blame to go around, on both sides.”

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