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World War II veteran, 97, receives medals for service

It's an honor more than 70 years in the making. A World War II war hero was recognized Friday at the Santa Fe Vet Center for his service in combat. 

It's an honor 97-year-old Staff Sergeant Dennis Ferk does not take lightly.

The former army infantryman earned four new prestigious awards Friday that will now adorn his uniform next to his purple heart.

All of these medals are a testament to his achievement during ground combat from April 1942 to May 1944 in New Guinea in the Pacific Theater of World War II and driving the Japanese out of Guadalcanal. 

The New Mexico Department of Veterans Services realized he could claim the medals when he went to the agency two years ago to update his VA benefits. 

A few years ago, Ferk fought a different battle in the states. 

The people hired to help take care of him and his daughter physically abused him and opened credit cards in his name and maxing them out to $340,000. 

Dian Zeemin and Joe Rusko would not face any jail time but were ordered to pay $120,000 in restitution. 

Now Ferk looks back at his time in the 164th Americal Division, proud to be part of the greatest generation. 

Major General Nava says there are more New Mexico veterans out there who haven't ever collected or know that they've earned medals from their service.

He says people can reach out to the New Mexico Department of Veteran Services to find out if they qualify for this honor. 

Published on 21 July 2018 | 3:39 am


Questions looming over UNM sports cuts

The fallout and questions surrounding the earth-shattering decision to cut four University of New Mexico teams continue to grow. 

Through this whole process, there has been a lot of numbers thrown out.  So which numbers are correct?

"This was a very difficult, difficult decision for myself the President to make a recommendation that knows that we're affecting the lives, not just of student-athletes but coaches," said Eddie Nunez, Athletic Director of UNM. 

Thursday was not an easy day for UNM Athletics and the four teams cut from the school. Both Men's and Women's Ski teams, Beach Volleyball, and Men's Soccer have been cut. 

"For those who believe that cutting sports is an easy out, nothing could be further from the truth," said President of UNM Garnett Stokes.

UNM announced they need to save $1.9 million in reductions, but the cuts aren't sitting well with the teams and the community.

"There's got to be another way to solve this problem," said former Ski coach George Brooks.  

The teams are questioning the amount of money actually being saved. 

"Give or take, your saving about 18 thousand dollars a year, by taking out Beach Volleyball out of the $1.9 million needed to break even with our athletic program," said Lauren Twitty with UNM Volleyball. 

The university administration said they will save $62,000 in Beach Volleyball.

The four sports program all together being cut will save about $1.1 million, but what about the other $800,000 to get to the $1.9 million winning number?

"We wanted to get to $1.9 million, that... well, you see what happened today, you could imagine what would happen to get to $1.9 million," said Stokes. 

So, they are going to make reductions in other areas, to not cut any more teams. 

"We discovered in the course of doing all of this work, that we have many opportunities for shared services," said the President.  

Some of those additional savings they anticipate will come from increased ticket sales and revenue from facilities, sponsorships and restructuring the Lobo Club.

"It remains to be seen just what we'll need to do to fill that gap but we have multiple opportunities to do that. And I'm not worried about our ability to do it," said Stokes. 

Stokes said that long list of shared services they are banking on to make up for the extra savings adds up to about $600,000. That still doesn't get them to the number they need.

UNM told KRQE News 13 these cuts are just to make sure the sports department doesn't get deeper in debt. 

Currently, the athletic department owes $4.7 million.
 

Published on 21 July 2018 | 1:59 am


UNM ski coach hired as University of Utah director of skiing

University of New Mexico head ski coach Fredrik Landstedt has already been offered a job, and he's accepted it. 

He will be headed to the University of Utah as the director of skiing after 21 years at UNM.

Under Lanstedt, the ski team was the first team to win an NCAA Championship in UNM's history. 

They also made it to the top four at the NCAA Championships nine times. 

Published on 21 July 2018 | 1:59 am


El Vado Motel on Central reopened

A Route 66 landmark is back open for business after a major makeover.

After years of sitting vacant, the El Vado Motel on Central across from the aquarium reopened its doors Friday.

Some of the renovations include poolside hotel rooms mimicking old carports, local eateries and new shops.

The city bought the El Vado Motel along with the Casa Grande Apartments for more than $2 million back in 2010, then gave them to the developer for free a few years ago to finally get them rehabbed. 

Published on 21 July 2018 | 1:58 am


Fishbein, UNM soccer players look to future with hope

The University of New Mexico men's soccer coach Jeremy Fishbein says he's not giving up hope that the decision made by the UNM Board of Regents to cut his team could be reversed.

However, he is worried that if too much time passes, he may not have a team to play one final season this upcoming school year.

"Within two hours, I was contacted by coaches, 'Hey we have a spot for your guys,'" Fishbein said. "It's a dog-eat-dog world man, college athletics."

Just over 24 hours after the stunning decision by the regents, Fishbein says the sharks are circling. Yet, he's not done with this fight and hopes his guys won't call it quits just yet, either.

"My number one goal is that by Monday afternoon, somebody works some magic and says 'We're not cutting sports' or 'We're tabling this' and we can keep our team intact," he said.

Coach acknowledges the reality, though, that if something doesn't happen soon, it's his responsibility to guide his players toward the best next option -- academically, athletically and financially. 

"You can't just draw it out. In the sense of, this is a big decision they have to make. They're breaking a lease, they're packing their bags, they're getting a flight," he said.

For now, he's challenging the regents because he loves this program and this team. Thursday's outpouring of support proved that he's not the only one who bleeds New Mexico cherry red. The community does, too.

"Let's get it right. Let's say 'Hey, we made a mistake.' That's ok," he said. "You still got a window to take to get it right. And it's not too late."

Meanwhile, his players are holding their heads high as they continue to coach summer soccer camps.

For the full interview between Sports Director Van Tate and Fishbein, click here. 

Published on 21 July 2018 | 1:58 am


Local furniture maker invited to showcase made in America products

A local furniture maker has been invited to showcase his work in Washington D.C. 

Owner of Ernest Thompson Furniture, Mike Godwin, received a special invite from the White House recently to attend the "Made in America" showcase.

The event celebrates each state's effort and commitment to American-made goods.

Each year the event hosts one business from each of the 50 states.

Godwin says he will be taking the company's signature hand-carved doors and plenty of photos to show off the rest of Ernest Thompson's unique work. 

Published on 21 July 2018 | 1:58 am


Actor Clint Eastwood spotted in Mesilla

Clint Eastwood made a surprise visit to a local restaurant this week.

The actor and director is filming his upcoming movie, "The Mule," in New Mexico.

According to the Las Cruces Sun-News, Eastwood paid a visit to the Double Eagle restaurant in Mesilla on Wednesday.

Staff says he was very kind and humble.

Published on 21 July 2018 | 1:58 am


One giant sale: Neil Armstrong's collection goes to auction

Admirers of Neil Armstrong and space exploration have a chance to own artifacts and mementos that belonged to the modest man who became a global hero by becoming the first human to walk on the moon.

The personal collection of Armstrong, who died in his native Ohio in 2012, will be offered for sale in a series of auctions handled by Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, beginning Nov. 1-2 and continuing in May and November 2019.

The collection includes a variety of artifacts from Armstrong's 1969 lunar landing and private mementos that include pieces of a wing and propeller from the 1903 Wright Brothers Flyer that the astronaut took with him to the moon.

Other items that went to the moon with Armstrong include a U.S. flag, the largest size typically flown during Apollo missions; a United Nations flag; various state flags; and some Robbins Medallions. The sterling silver medallions were paid for by the crews of Apollo missions and were available for purchase only by NASA astronauts. Armstrong's collection also includes a rare gold medallion.

Among the more personal items to be auctioned are a Purdue University centennial flag from Armstrong's alma mater that traveled on Apollo 11 and his Boy Scout cap.

Armstrong's son, Mark Armstrong, said his father never talked to him about what he wanted done with the large amount of items he kept.

"I don't think he spent much time thinking about it," Armstrong said. "He did save all the items, so he obviously felt they were worth saving."

Armstrong, who lives in suburban Cincinnati, said his father did keep all of his "flown" items together.

Faced with the responsibility of conserving, preserving and insuring irreplaceable items and honoring their father's legacy, Armstrong and his brother, Rick, found that some things needed restoration, and that some required research to be properly identified.

"We felt like the number of people that could help us identify them and give us the historical context was diminishing and that the problem of understanding that context would only get worse over time," he said.

The Armstrongs turned to Sarasota, Florida-based Collectibles Authentication Guaranty for help with preserving and authenticating the artifacts and memorabilia and chose Heritage Auctions for the sales.

Greg Rohan, president of Heritage Auctions, said it handles numerous categories of collectibles that appeal to various collectors, but items connected with space seem to have a universal appeal.

"Space is one of the very, very few categories that every single person seems to be interested in," Rohan said. "You show somebody something from the space program, and they are fascinated by it."

Bids can be taken online, by phone or in person.

Published on 21 July 2018 | 1:47 am


Bayer to stop sales of birth control device tied to injuries

The maker of a permanent contraceptive implant subject to thousands of injury reports and repeated safety restrictions by regulators said Friday that it will stop selling the device in the U.S., the only country where it remains available.

Bayer said the safety of its Essure implant has not changed, but it will stop selling the device at the end of the year due to weak sales.

The German company had billed the device as the only non-surgery sterilization method for women. As complaints mounted and demand slipped, it stopped Essure sales in Canada, Europe, South America, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has placed multiple restrictions on the device following patient reports of pain, bleeding, allergic reactions and cases where the implant punctured the uterus or shifted out of place.

In May, the FDA said doctors must show women a checklist of the device's risks before implanting it.

More than 16,000 U.S. women are suing Bayer over Essure.

One of them, Amanda Rusmisell, of Charlotte, North Carolina, said she's "immensely thrilled" by Bayer's action. Rusmisell said she got the device in 2008 and developed severe pain and bleeding. She took part in patient-organized rallies accusing Bayer for not disclosing potential risks and said, choking back tears, "Our very grassroots effort has worked."

Bayer received FDA approval to sell Essure in 2002 and promoted it as a quick and easy permanent solution to unplanned pregnancies. Essure consists of two thin-as-spaghetti nickel-titanium coils inserted into the fallopian tubes, where they spur the growth of scar tissue that blocks sperm from fertilizing a woman's eggs.

Because of the reported complaints, the FDA added its most serious warning to the device in 2016 and ordered the company to conduct a 2,000-patient study.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Friday the agency would work with Bayer to continue the study, but noted "Bayer will not be able to meet its expected enrollment numbers" for new patients. The study was designed to follow patients for three years to better assess complications.

More than 750,000 women worldwide have received Essure. Demand has declined in recent years and plunged 70 percent after the 2016 boxed warning, the FDA said.

Gottlieb said the FDA will continue to monitor adverse events reported to its database after Essure is removed from the market.

"I also want to reassure women who've been using Essure successfully to prevent pregnancy that they can continue to do so," he said. Those who think it's causing problems, such as persistent pain, should consult with their doctors, Gottlieb added.

Essure's original label warned that the device's nickel can result in allergic reactions. Its current labeling lists hives, rash, swelling and itching as possible reactions.

But many women have attributed other problems to the implant, including mood disorders, weight gain, hair loss and headaches. Those problems are listed in the current FDA labeling for the device, with the qualifier: "It is unknown if these symptoms are related to Essure or other causes."

Informational material Bayer supplied to doctors and patients lists potential problems and says the devices are meant to be permanent. It also says removal may require complicated surgery, including a hysterectomy, that might not be covered by insurance.

Gottlieb noted that device removal "has its own risks."

Diana Zuckerman, president of the nonprofit National Center for Health Research, said Essure is among medical devices approved without "clear evidence of safety or effectiveness."

"As a result, when thousands of women reported serious complications from Essure, there was no unbiased long-term research to refute or confirm those reports," Zuckerman said. "If patients had been listened to when the first clinical trials were conducted on Essure, better research would have been conducted to determine exactly how safe and effective Essure is."

Dr. Kristyn Brandi, a Los Angeles family planning specialist, called Bayer's move disappointing. She says most of her Essure patients have been satisfied.

"I would hope Bayer would use this opportunity to think about future research and product development," Brandi said. "Being able to offer women contraception that's permanent without surgery is a really great option."

Bayer spokeswoman Courtney Mallon said the company had no plans to re-design the device.

Kate Nicholson, of Dallas, got an Essure implant last year after she and her husband decided not to have children. She said she sympathizes with women who have had problems but said ending Essure sales is the wrong move.

"Pulling it from the market is yet another way to limit our choices about our own bodies," Nicholson said. "I personally always had horrible experiences with different versions of 'the pill,' but it's still on the market and many women swear by it."

___

Tanner reported from Michigan. Follow Matthew Perrone at @AP_FDAwriter and Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner.

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The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Published on 21 July 2018 | 1:40 am


Investigation reveals more details in fatal bus crash

New video is giving us a look at what happened in a deadly bus crash that killed three people on Sunday.

Friday, the Sandoval County Sheriff's Office revealed there was a fifth vehicle involved that narrowly missed getting hit by a semi.

Early Sunday morning, the Sandoval County Sheriff's Department says a four-door Honda was going south on I-25, just north of Bernalillo.

That's when they say the Honda crashed into a pickup truck. Deputies are still investigating the reason for that crash.

The pickup truck then crossed into the median and over the cable barriers.

The passenger bus, also headed south, then tried to avoid hitting the Honda but failed and crossed over the northbound lanes and ended up on its side.

"At that point, the driver of the Honda was ejected. Initially we had thought the driver did not survive the collision, but we later found out the driver did survive," says Lt. Keith Elder.

The Sheriff's Office then says this is when the vehicle we just learned about today, an SUV, crashed into the bus.

"Three occupants of the vehicle were going to get out and check on everybody. The driver told them to stay in the vehicle and he backed away from the crash scene. Shortly after that, the semi-truck had a collision with the bus," says Lt. Elder.

The semi hit the bus and then crossed into the other side of the interstate.

In the lapel video, the Sergeant on scene tried to do the best he could to tend to everyone involved in the massive crash.

It wasn't until a passenger on board the bus finally gave him an idea of what happened.

The three people who died from the incident were all passengers on the bus.

The driver who was ejected from his car survived and is still in the hospital at this time. He is also expected to make a full recovery.

The sheriff's department says the bus company didn't keep track of who got off the bus during the previous stops before the crash, making it difficult to identify everyone.

It could be another eight weeks until the accident investigation is complete.

Published on 20 July 2018 | 11:55 pm


Former employee at state auditors office suspected of license forging, ID theft

Was he a fox in the hen house? An I.D. theft suspect was caught working inside of a state office in charge of protecting public money and it's where the evidence was found that raised even more questions.

"He was one of our auditors in the special investigations division," said state auditor Wayne Johnson.

A former senior auditor at the Santa Fe office, Terry Becenti found himself in hot water late last month. 

"There was an employment action that resulted in him leaving the agency," Johnson said.

According to the arrest warrant, poor performance, tardiness and not following policy resulted in him getting the boot.

"During the course of that, when we were going through his files to double check where his work was, we found some evidence that we believe to be of criminal nature," Johnson explained.

That evidence police say was four social security cards from different people found on a USB drive Becenti left behind.

"It was enough to make us concerned that there was some type of identity theft going on," Johnson said.

That's not all they found. 

"We found an owners manual for a vehicle, we found a registration for a vehicle," he said. "We found some drivers licenses that had been scanned and apparently worked on and doctored with."

Police say the six altered licenses were from Arizona and New Mexico. The state auditors office immediately called state police who took over the investigation. 

KRQE News 13 questioned if obtaining social security cards and drivers licenses were protocol in this line of work. 

"For the state auditors office, absolutely not. We don't ask for personal identification like drivers licenses," Johnson said. "Those records are personal in nature and private in nature and we wouldn't have them in our office."

The state auditors office says none of what was found corresponded with any cases Becenti worked on.

"We feel confident that these activities were relegated to outside of the office," he said. "We were certainly not aware of it prior to his termination."

An arrest warrant was issued for Terry Becenti on Wednesday. When he is picked up he will be held without bond until he faces a judge. 

Police searched his apartment as well. The landlord told authorities that Terry Becenti had walked out on his lease.


 

Published on 20 July 2018 | 11:48 pm


Carlsbad man arrested, suspected of harassing several women

Women say it’s creepy and scary. Police are now investigating a series of harassment calls, they say could all possibly be linked to one Carlsbad man.

"He made it seem like he knew me - try to get my attention type deal. I don't know who he is,” said Ashley Galvan.

Galvan had just dropped her son off at soccer practice Wednesday evening, when she says Jamar Jaquez approached stopped her with his car in the parking lot.

She claims he then got out of his car.

Suspicious of him, she only cracked the window. "Asked me if I would like to have fun, and like to get to know him.

As I realized what he was talking about, he had one hand down there, and the other one reaching for my door handle.” All the while, her newborn son was in the car.

She says he then followed her to her mom's house not far away before leaving her alone.

"My mind's running, ‘Ok, is he going to pull me out of my vehicle, is he going to take my car?’,” said Galvan. 

She may not be the only one.

"It actually started on Wednesday,” said Capt. Jennifer Moyers with the Carlsbad Police Dept. “A few female subjects had reported being followed, propositioned.”

According to a report, Carlsbad police received more than a half dozen calls within 48 hours alleging Jaquez was harassing them, one on Thursday resulted in his arrest.

"We received a call from a lady who was down at the beach area and this male subject was taking photographs of her,” said Moyers.

The report states the victim claimed Jaquez had pulled up behind her house the day before and took pictures of her while she was in her backyard.

He was taken into custody for being a public nuisance after police located a car matching the description the victim gave.

Police have also received calls that a man was exposing himself along the beach to some women.

Investigators are looking into these claims and if this is connected to the other incidents. Galvan fears this guy is getting more aggressive.

"The more and more he does this, somebody's going to - he's going to get the wrong girl to where he may hurt her,” said Galvan.

Carlsbad police believe there may be more victims, if you recognize the vehicle and have had a similar situation happen to you, contact Carlsbad police.

Published on 20 July 2018 | 11:04 pm


South Valley splash pad now open

A much-anticipated splash pad in the South Valley is now open to the public.

The new facility is at the South Valley Pool on Isleta near Rio Bravo. 

It's the biggest splash pad in the state, featuring water slides, interactive sprays and water cannons.

About 500 people showed up Friday for the grand opening. Admission into the splash pad will be $2 per visitor in the future. 

Published on 20 July 2018 | 10:50 pm


Navy rescue dog who saved 12 lives in Mexico earthquake gets statue

The Mexican Navy rescue dog who saved victims from a deadly earthquake now has her own statue.

Frida, an 8-year-old yellow lab, caught the world's attention last year because of her hard work rescuing people trapped by the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico City.

The Governor of Puebla City honored Frida and her trainer Friday with the dedication of the statue.

Frida's trainer says she saved 12 lives and recovered nearly 40 bodies during her career.

 

Published on 20 July 2018 | 10:48 pm


Cloudcroft man bitten by bear

A New Mexico man is learning the hard way why you should never feed wild animals.

New Mexico Game and Fish says a 70-year-old man in Cloudcroft was attacked by a bear on his own property Friday morning. 

His wife was able to take him to the hospital where he is recovering from punctures to the arm and scratches to the leg.

Officers say he had been leaving bowls of cat food, dog food and cracked corn out for bears in the area.

Game and Fish is now reminding people that the creatures should never be treated like pets. 

Published on 20 July 2018 | 10:43 pm


New Mexico to explore reuse of oil and gas wastewater

New Mexico is teaming up with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to explore ways the wastewater that results from oil and gas operations can be reused or recycled.

The state and the federal agency announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding Thursday.

Ken McQueen, who oversees New Mexico's Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, says the state is one of the largest oil producers in the U.S. and that production is accompanied by even more wastewater.

He says clarifying the state and federal regulatory frameworks associated with its recycling and reuse is important, especially as New Mexico follows up year in which it produced a record 470,000 barrels of oil a day.

As part of the agreement, a workgroup will outline existing state and federal regulations and identify treatment and reuse opportunities.

Published on 20 July 2018 | 10:42 pm


Hobbs Police search for serial burglar

Hobbs Police say there's a serial burglar at work and they are asking for help identifying him.

Police say the man is targeting businesses around town without alarm systems and taking his time once he's inside. 

Even though he is wearing a mask, police hope that someone might recognize him in the surveillance pictures.

There is a reward, people are asked to call Crime Stoppers if they know anything. 

Published on 20 July 2018 | 10:39 pm


Fed: Suspect's friend sold murder weapon to federal informant

The feds may have caught a break in a murder case after they say the suspect's friend sold the murder weapon to a federal informant.

According to a federal search warrant, Jeremy Fry, a convicted sex offender, told the informant the gun he was selling had been used in the murder of Emmanuel Chavez in Deming last month. 

He even identified the shooter as Hector Corral and said Corral had given him the gun to get rid of.

The feds also searched Fry's Deming home where they say they found more gun parts and ammo.

There is now an arrest warrant out for Corral, who has a long history of DWI and drug-related arrests. 

 

Published on 20 July 2018 | 10:39 pm


Military investigates after Cannon airman dies from gunshot

The military says it will take over the investigation into the death of the Cannon Airman.

Marcus Jimenez, 23-year-old was shot in the head earlier this month while with another airman.

The other airman said Jimenz was playing with a gun when he was shot.

The DA's Office did say she anticipated that charges would be filed when her office was handling the case.

However, Cannon has not released any other information now that they've taken it over. 

Published on 20 July 2018 | 10:38 pm


Millennials skip out on travel destinations based on how "Instagrammable" they are

There are more than 1 billion users on Instagram and its influence is helping coin a new word Insta-vacation.

Many people are getting their next vacation idea by looking at other people's posts.

Many say they only want to visit places with the best photo-ops. 

A recent study found that 40 percent of millennials consider "Instagrammable"  is a top priority when making their travel plans. 

Published on 20 July 2018 | 10:23 pm


Mayor Keller outlines ways he believes the city can attract more people

Mayor Tim Keller hosted a meeting with business owners and community members to share ideas for boosting Albuquerque's economy. 

As part of "One Albuquerque," campaign, the mayor outlined ways he believes will help the city become a more appealing destination for people to live and visit.

One priority, the "Increment of One," principle, which entails supporting initiatives that help each local business hire just one more employee.

Mayor Keller also stressed the importance of shopping local, starting with his own office.

 Friday's event wrapped up with a panel discussion with citizens and business leaders. 

Published on 20 July 2018 | 10:22 pm


Portales man who lead deputies on wild chase in front-end loader behind bars

The man who lead deputies on a wild chase in a front-end loader has turned himself in.

Deputies say they shot James McFarlin after he ignored their commands to stop.

They were originally called out when neighbors saw McFarlin flipping over his wife's Jeep in his front yard.

McFarlin was supposed to be released to New Mexico State Police after he recovered in a Lubbock Hospital.

However, the department says the hospital discharged him.

Now he is locked up at the Roosevelt County Detention Center. 

Published on 20 July 2018 | 10:19 pm


Police investigate after one dead in Portales

Police are investigating the shooting death of a young man in Portales.

They found 20-year-old Dylan Nutter dead at his home in the 1400 block of South Avenue B. 

According to the Eastern New Mexico News, police have arrested two people connected to Nutter on charges unrelated to his death.

However, they did not say what those charges are. They also did not say if they are suspects in his death. 

Published on 20 July 2018 | 10:15 pm


Local organization is helping pets find forever homes

We all know there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of pets across the city that are in need of a forever home.

That's why places like "NMDOG" are dedicating their time and services to make sure these animals find a place to call their own.

For more information on how you can help, click here.

Published on 20 July 2018 | 10:06 pm


Gulf Coast lawmakers push bill on red snapper quotas

After years of feuding with the federal government over red snapper fishing quotas, Gulf Coast lawmakers are pushing a bill to seize decision-making powers from the federal government and give them to state regulators.

Lawmakers say states know the resources best and better understand the impact of their decisions. But environmentalists worry the reforms will bypass science-based conservation methods and subject quota decisions to the whims of local politics, ultimately threatening fish stocks that fuel local economies and provide food to millions of Americans.

When the federal government cut the red snapper season in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico to just three days in 2017, many were upset.

"This a huge economic thing as well as a question of freedom of the American people to fish in their own waters," said Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL)

Byrne says he and other critics are frustrated with federal regulators, who the critics say rely on faulty science and don't fully understand the local impact of their decisions.

Recreational fishing is a $63 billion dollar a year industry in the United States, nearly a half million jobs. Byrne says that's why it's critically important to change the way conservation decisions are made. 

"We're taking control away from the federal government and giving it to state authorities who are closer to it and who we think make the better decisions," Byrne said.

Byrne supports the modern fish act, which would amend a decades-old conservation law passed to stop plummeting fish stocks.

But Meredith Moore with the Ocean Conservancy says Byrne's bill could be disastrous.

"[It] undermines the core components of our fisheries management law that have brought us success." said Moore.

Moore says it would let states bypass the conservation models that have allowed species like red snapper to recover after years of overfishing.

She also worries key decisions will be subject to the whims of local politics. 

"We are responsible managers of our own fishery," Byrne said.

For proof, Byrne points to Alabama and Louisiana, two states that under an experimental program this year shut down their own red snapper seasons after state officials determined the sustainable quota was met. 

Published on 20 July 2018 | 9:36 pm


Baby delivered in Chick-Fil-A bathroom gets free food for life

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (KXAN) — A baby girl is doing well after being born in a very unlikely place: the bathroom of a Chick-Fil-A in San Antonio, Texas. 

"My wife did something spectacularly amazing under some pretty chaotic circumstances. She needs to be celebrated," said the baby's father, Robert Griffin.

Robert posted the story on Facebook, saying he and his wife Maggie were meeting a friend at Chick-Fil-A Tuesday so they could drop off their daughters before they headed to the hospital. By that time, Maggie had started going into labor, and really had to use the restroom. 

Although the restaurant was closed, staff let her inside.

"I loaded the kids into our friends car, kissed them goodnight, and went in to find Maggie," Robert wrote. "The manager said 'she’s in the restroom and she’s screaming'. So there we were.....my wife and I in a tiny stall in the bathroom."

Robert told his wife "sweetie, we are gonna have to do this right here, right now," and told the manager to call 911 and get him some towels. As their little girl began to arrive, he saw the umbilical cord was wrapped twice around her neck. He carefully unwrapped it.

"With two more strong pushes, and using my shirt for a towel, out came Gracelyn Mae Violet Griffin," Robert wrote. He had been speaking to first responders on the phone during the birth, and paramedics arrived to check out mom and baby. 

He says while the situation wasn't ideal, it all worked out. Robert even says her birth certificate says "Born in Chick-Fil-A" on it. According to KSAT, the company has promised her free Chick-Fil-A for life and the franchise owners are already helping plan her first birthday.

"I thinks it’s pretty ironic that a proud conservative, Christian family would have a baby in a Chick-Fil-A, and wrapped in a Trump 2020 T-shirt! BOOM," Robert added at the end of his post.

He said they hoped to come home from the hospital Friday.

 

{"author_name":"Robert","author_url":"https://www.facebook.com/robert.griffin.5492216","provider_url":"https://www.facebook.com","provider_name":"Facebook","success":true,"height":null,"html":"lt;div id=\"fb-root\"gt;lt;/divgt;\nlt;scriptgt;(function(d, s, id) {\n var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];\n if (d.getElementById(id)) return;\n js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;\n js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v3.0';\n fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);\n}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));lt;/scriptgt;lt;div class=\"fb-post\" data-href=\"https://www.facebook.com/robert.griffin.5492216/posts/1963598270338517\" data-width=\"552\"gt;lt;blockquote cite=\"https://www.facebook.com/robert.griffin.5492216/posts/1963598270338517\" class=\"fb-xfbml-parse-ignore\"gt;lt;pgt;last night I delivered our baby girl IN THE BATHROOM AT A CHICK-FIL-A! Here’s what happened:\nMaggie and I loaded up the...lt;/pgt;Posted by lt;a href=\"https://www.facebook.com/robert.griffin.5492216\"gt;Robert Griffinlt;/agt; on lt;a href=\"https://www.facebook.com/robert.griffin.5492216/posts/1963598270338517\"gt;Wednesday, July 18, 2018lt;/agt;lt;/blockquotegt;lt;/divgt;","type":"rich","version":"1.0","url":"https://www.facebook.com/robert.griffin.5492216/posts/1963598270338517","width":552}

 

Published on 20 July 2018 | 8:47 pm


Local band will perform at Route 66 Summerfest

The Route 66 Summerfest kicks off tomorrow and it will have a ton of entertainment for people who attend.

That includes a band, who will not only be performing at the event but will also support two local charities.

Sonyk Vortex is a local band who will be one of the many performances at the event.

The free event starts tomorrow, from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. July 21 in Nob Hill.

 

Published on 20 July 2018 | 8:28 pm


Southeast Albuquerque SWAT situation leads to suspect's arrest

A suspect is now in custody after an early Friday morning SWAT call in southeast Albuquerque. 

Several streets were reopened after authorities located a suspect accused of shooting another man.

Friday morning officers were dispatched to a shooting. Upon arriving, officers located Donald Waits who had gunshot wounds on both of his hands.

Waits told officers he and his friend Benjamin Marquez were on drugs when Benjamin allegedly became paranoid and enraged. Police say Marquez then pulled out a gun and pointed it at Waits' head.

Waits allegedly ducked and raised his hands as Marquez shot, which resulted in the wounds on his hands.

Authorities say Waits then fled the residence and contacted police, giving them the address of the house he had just fled.

Officials were able to locate the address of 341 Dallas St SE #4 where the suspect identified himself as Benjamin Marquez.

Investigators say Marquez admitted to shooting someone but refused to leave the residence.

APD has confirmed Marquez had an outstanding felony warrant.

Upon the SWAT team's arrival, authorities were able to take Marquez into custody.

 

Published on 20 July 2018 | 7:30 pm


San Diego Comic-Con draws in huge crowds

Tens of thousands of people are in San Diego for Comic-Con 2018.

More than 130,000 people are expected to attend.

Highlights include guest speakers, new movie trailers, art shows and costumes of course.

Comic-Con is expected to generate more than $143,000,000.

Published on 20 July 2018 | 6:53 pm


Isotopes alternate brand is a big success with the community

There's no question the Isotopes are a big draw for the city, but what about their alternate brand?

The Mariachis de Nuevo Mexico have proven to be a big success with the community and have become so popular, merchandise and games are a big draw for the audience.

They have a game Friday night, July 20 at Isotopes Park.

The game begins at 6:35 p.m.

Published on 20 July 2018 | 6:52 pm


City offers before and after school programming for children

Studies show that children get into the most trouble in the hours after school is over, which is a big concern for parents.

With school starting in just a few weeks, the kids will need something to keep them engaged.

That's why the city of Albuquerque is offering several before and after school programs to help keep students involved in something, as well as keep them out of trouble.

For more information, click here.

Published on 20 July 2018 | 6:50 pm


Local organization is encouraging students to get involved building and creating

Advancements in technology is a growing trend seen all across the world, especially when it comes to robots.

That's why the organization, Be Greater than Average, is trying to encourage students to get engaged in building and creating.

A local Rubik's cube competition is bringing people together in this art and will be held July 27, at the Albuquerque International Balloon Museum.

Admission is $30, and it's from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Published on 20 July 2018 | 6:49 pm


Offer gives McDonald's app users free fries

McDonald's is celebrating the end of the week with free fries for a whole year.

The fast-food chain is giving away free medium fries when customers download and register on their mobile app in addition to making a minimum $1 purchase.

The promotion lasts through December 30.

The promotion is only valid for one per person.

Published on 20 July 2018 | 6:29 pm


Power restored to over 3,000 in Rio Rancho after outage

A power outage reported in Rio Rancho and that affected 3,384 residents, has since been resolved.

The boundaries of the affected areas were King Ranch, 19th Avenue SE, Veranda Road and 60th Street.

It was determined the cause of the outage involved a problem with equipment that connects overhead lines to the underground.

To view a map of the affected area, click here.

#RioRancho outage update: Power has been restored to all customers. The cause was an issue with a cutout, which is a piece of equipment that connects the overhead lines to the underground.

— PNM (@PNMtalk) July 20, 2018

Outage in #RioRancho affecting 3,384 customers. Boundaries are N=KING RANCH @ SHELL MICROWAVE, S=19TH AVE SE, E=VERANDA RD, W=60TH ST. Crews are being dispatched to the area and will restore power as quickly as safety allows. Estimated restore time is... https://t.co/DU0yxhSyaH

— PNM (@PNMtalk) July 20, 2018

Published on 20 July 2018 | 5:03 pm


NY Times: Trump was recorded talking of paying Playboy model

 The New York Times says President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer secretly recorded him discussing payments to an ex-Playboy model who said she had had an affair with him.

The newspaper says the FBI seized the recording during an April raid on attorney Michael Cohen's office.

The Times cited lawyers and others familiar with the recording and reported Friday that Cohen made it two months before Trump's 2016 election.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani tells the newspaper Trump did discuss the payments to Karen McDougal with Cohen on the less than two-minute recording but a payment was never made.

Giuliani says Trump told Cohen if he did make a payment to do it by check so it could be documented.

Cohen hasn't responded to text and email messages seeking comment. His lawyer Lanny Davis declined to comment to the Times.

Published on 20 July 2018 | 4:47 pm


BioPark's new snow leopard cub begins exploring his habitat

Lucky visitors to the Albuquerque BioPark may just get the opportunity to view the snow leopard cub as he explores his new surroundings.

The cub was born on May 19 to Azeo and Sarani and since his first health check-up on June 28, has been given a clean bill of health.

The cub and his mother will now be able to explore the area between their den and exhibit as the pair become more comfortable in their surroundings.

However, the cub may not always be visible.

The manager of ABQ BioPark says visiting the exhibit early and later in the day would offer optimal viewing opportunities.

 

 

 

 

 

Published on 20 July 2018 | 4:37 pm


Immigrant parents have trouble reaching separated children

An immigrant father from Guatemala dotes over his despondent teenage daughter during a weekly 10-minute phone call, while other parents wait weeks for the phone to ring.

A mother in Louisiana has phone video chats with her detained 5-year-old son in Texas, while a Honduran asylum-seeker had actual face time with his little girl, visiting her in person. He made sure to bring along a McDonald's hamburger to share.

Immigrant parents who were separated from their children under President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policy for illegal border crossings are struggling to communicate by any means possible in the age of instant, international social media with sons and daughters kept in government-contracted facilities around the country. For most parents, phone calls have been the only connection to their children as the separations dragged on for weeks.

Honduran immigrant Carla Garcia waits each day in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on calls for unscheduled telephone and video conversations with her son at a holding facility in Texas — calls she cannot return. She and 5-year-old Jonathan were separated after crossing the border together in late May. Garcia was released from detention a month later with an ankle monitor and moved in with relatives.

"I was happy to be able to see him, and then it was even more difficult to see him from far away," she said. "He just looked at me, worried."

Several parents say it has been difficult or impossible to maintain their composure as children break down in tears, complain of loneliness, ask for clues about when they might be released or think they were abandoned.

"She was crying, inconsolably," said Guatemalan immigrant Josue Aguilar about his 16-year-old daughter, who he believes is at a holding facility somewhere in Texas. "She said, 'I don't want to be here anymore.' I could only tell her to try and have a little patience."

Aguilar said he and his daughter have just enough time to console one another before the calls end. They are only allotted 10 minutes.

"They give her one call a week. Ten minutes. It's just not enough time," said Aguilar, who moved in with relatives in Atlanta after his release from detention to await asylum proceedings.

In other cases, parents and children are finding creative ways to cope. A 15-year-old boy tells his 5-year-old brother that their separated mom was working and that's the reason they're apart, says the lawyer for the mother.

Adrian Velasquez persuaded a social worker to text him three pictures of his 8-year-old son. The images show Jason doing math homework inside a government facility in Texas and standing alongside smiling children of his age.

Velasquez said his son initially threatened to break free and escape his location after they separated by authorities at the Texas border. A month later, he believes the boy has adapted and will eventually be freed without signs of emotional trauma.

"He is a really active kid," Velasquez said. "It's not going to affect him."

The Justice Department last week filed a plan to reunify more than 2,500 children age 5 and older by a court-imposed deadline of July 26. It was unclear how many of those families remain separated as the number of releases accelerated this week in Texas.

In rare instances, immigrant parents have been allowed to visit face-to-face with their children under supervision, as authorities take weeks to complete background checks and custody paperwork.

Asylum seeker and mother Digna Perez of El Salvador said the arrangement was stifling and upsetting.

"They didn't feel free to talk to me that way — not as if I were alone with them" said Perez of her 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. She was separated from them in late May as they crossed from Mexico into El Paso, Texas. "They're always going to have this memory when they're older. They're not going to forget this easily, the separation."

Mario Romero of Honduras recalled an hour-long visit with his 10-year-old daughter, Fabiola, at the office of a child-detention contractor in El Paso, Texas — a few blocks from the border with Mexico.

He brought along a burger to share and told his daughter that he owed her another present — for a birthday she spent in detention.

"I could see her, I could hug her," Romero said. "Thank God I was given the opportunity to kiss her."

Perez and Romero were reunited with their children on Monday.

Released from an immigrant detention center on June 24, Manuel Marcelino Tzah played detective to connect with his 11-year-old daughter. He called home to Guatemala and found his daughter had left a working phone number with her mother.

"I started to cry when I heard her voice" after two months, he said. "She also cried. I told her, 'Don't worry, we will be together soon.'"

They were reunited at an airport in New York City on Tuesday.

Parents who remain in detention confront even greater difficulties in communicating with separated immigrant children.

Attorney Jose Xavier Orochena said jailed immigrant parents he has represented were at the mercy of social workers who coordinate outgoing calls from children at the Cayuga Center in New York.

"One has to wait for Cayuga to call the mother," he said. "From the detention center, no one can call the social worker."

___

Lee reported from Santa Fe, New Mexico

Published on 20 July 2018 | 4:22 pm


Death toll from Missouri duck boat accident climbs to 17

 Divers found four more bodies Friday in a Missouri lake where a duck boat packed with tourists capsized and sank in high winds, bringing the death toll to 17 in the tourist town of Branson, authorities said.

Investigators blamed stormy weather for the accident Thursday evening on Table Rock Lake. Winds at the time were blowing as hard as 65 mph (105 kph), according to the National Weather Service.

Fourteen people survived, including seven who were injured when the boat went down, state police said.

Named for their ability to travel on land and in water, duck boats have been involved in other deadly incidents in the past. Five college students were killed in 2015 in Seattle when a duck boat collided with a bus. Thirteen people died in 1999 when a boat sank near Hot Springs, Arkansas.

"Duck boats are death traps," said Andrew Duffy, an attorney whose law firm Philadelphia law firm handled litigation related to two fatal duck boat accidents there. "They're not fit for water or land because they are half car and half boat."

Safety advocates have sought improvements and complained that too many agencies regulate the boats with varying safety requirements.

The boats were originally designed for the military, specifically to transport troops and supplies in World War II. They were later modified for use as sightseeing vehicles.

Passengers on a nearby boat described the chaos as the winds picked up and the water turned rough.

"Debris was flying everywhere," Allison Lester said in an interview Friday with ABC's "Good Morning America."

A severe thunderstorm warning had been issued for Branson at 6:32 p.m. Thursday, about 40 minutes before the boat tipped over.

Lester's boyfriend, Trent Behr, said they saw a woman in the water and helped to pull her into the boat. He said he was about to start CPR when an EMT arrived and took over.

The driver of the Ride the Ducks boat died, but the captain survived, Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said.

Divers located the vessel, which came to rest on its wheels on the lakebed, and authorities planned to recover it later Friday.

The boat sank in 40 feet (12 meters) of water and then rolled on its wheels into a deeper area with 80 feet (25 meters) of water. Investigators had no information about whether passengers were wearing life jackets or whether they were stowed onboard, the sheriff said.

The names of the dead were not immediately released.

A spokeswoman for Cox Medical Center Branson said four adults and three children arrived at the hospital shortly after the accident. Two adults were in critical condition, and the others were treated for minor injuries, Brandei Clifton said.

An off-duty deputy working security for the boat company helped rescue people after the boat turned over, the sheriff said. Dive teams from several law enforcement agencies assisted in the effort.

Suzanne Smagala with Ripley Entertainment, which owns Ride the Ducks in Branson, said the company was assisting authorities. She said this was the ride's only accident in more than 40 years of operation.

Thirteen bodies had been recovered by early Friday morning.

In the hours after the accident, the lake was calm. But another round of thunderstorms passed within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of the area Friday morning, and more storms were forecast for later in the day, some severe, weather service meteorologist Jason Schaumann warned.

Weather can change rapidly in this part of the country, moving from sunshine and calm to dangerous storms within minutes, Schaumann said.

"Tornado warnings get a lot of publicity, and severe thunderstorm warnings should be taken very seriously too, particularly if you are in a vulnerable area like a lake or campground," he said.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were expected to arrive on the scene later Friday morning.

President Donald Trump tweeted his condolences, extending his sympathies to the families and friends of those involved.

Branson, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Kansas City, is a country-themed tourist mecca built on a reputation for patriotic and religious-themed shows in numerous theaters.

Table Rock Lake, east of Branson, was created in the late 1950s when the Corps of Army Engineers built a dam across the White River to provide hydroelectric power to the Ozarks.

___

Associated Press writers Jim Salter in St. Louis; Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City, Missouri; and John Hanna in Topeka, Kansas, contributed to this report.

___

Published on 20 July 2018 | 4:19 pm


Starbucks to open first U.S. signing store

Starbucks is opening the first store where people can use sign language to order their drinks.

All designed with the deaf community in mind, this will be the first Starbucks if its kinds.

The new venture was created in conjunction with the Department of ASL and Deaf Studies at Gallaudet University. This is the world's only liberal arts institution of higher learning for the deaf.

The cafe plans to hire 20 to 25 employees who are proficient in American Sign Language.

The new store is set to open this fall in Washington D.C.

More information about the new store can be found here.

Watch a video of the announcement here.

Published on 20 July 2018 | 4:09 pm


Shark attack confirmed in 1 of 2 bites off Fire Island

Officials have confirmed one of two children bitten in the leg off New York's Fire Island was bitten by a shark.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation says a tooth fragment removed from a 13-year-old boy's leg is consistent with a shark's tooth, but it could not determine what species of shark due to the tooth's condition.

Officials could not confirm Thursday if the fish that bit a 12-year-old girl a few minutes before the boy at Sailors Haven beach was also a shark.

Both children were bitten Wednesday, prompting officials to temporarily close the beaches.

The children are expected to fully recover.

The state Parks Department is extending lifeguard coverage until 8 p.m. Friday, and drones will be deployed to monitor the waters.

Published on 20 July 2018 | 2:47 pm


NYC releases documents connected to Central Park 5 case

New York City has started releasing about 100,000 pages of documents connected to the notorious case of the five men whose convictions for raping and beating a Central Park jogger were overturned after they served more than a decade behind bars.

The New York Post reports that about 12,000 pages went up Thursday on a site set up by the city.

Lawyers for the city and the five men have been in talks for three years over which police, prosecution and court documents should be released.

The five black and Hispanic men were teenagers when they were convicted in the brutal 1989 rape of a 28-year-old investment banker.

Their convictions were vacated in 2002 because of evidence linking serial rapist Matias Reyes to the crime.

Published on 20 July 2018 | 2:17 pm


NFL, NFLPA freeze anthem rules amid backlash to Miami policy

The NFL's two-month-old national anthem policy is on hold.

Hours after The Associated Press reported that Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the anthem could be suspended for up to four games under a team policy issued this week, the league and the players union issued a joint statement late Thursday night saying the two sides are talking things out.

"The NFL and NFLPA, through recent discussions, have been working on a resolution to the anthem issue. In order to allow this constructive dialogue to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA's grievance and on the NFL's anthem policy. No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing," the statement read. "The NFL and NFLPA reflect the great values of America, which are repeatedly demonstrated by the many players doing extraordinary work in communities across our country to promote equality, fairness and justice. Our shared focus will remain on finding a solution to the anthem issue through mutual, good faith commitments, outside of litigation."

The issue has dominated headlines over the past two seasons, caused division and alienated some fans.

The NFL rule that was passed in May forbid players from sitting or taking a knee if they are on the field or sidelines during "The Star-Spangled Banner," but allowed them to stay in the locker room if they wish. The policy said teams would be fined if players didn't stand during the anthem while on the field. The league left it up to teams on how to punish players.

None of the team policies had been made public until the AP obtained a copy of Miami's nine-page discipline document. It included a one-sentence section on "Proper Anthem Conduct" and was provided to the AP by a person familiar with the policy who insisted on anonymity because the document is not public. It classifies anthem protests under a large list of "conduct detrimental to the club," all of which could lead to a paid or unpaid suspension, a fine or both.

The Dolphins said in a statement: "The NFL required each team to submit their rules regarding the anthem before their players reported to training camp. We will address this issue once the season starts. All options are still open."

Miami can choose not to issue any suspension nor fine any player guilty of "conduct detrimental to the club." Other violations under that label include drug use or possession, gambling, breaking curfew and riding motorcycles as a driver or passenger from the start of camp until the last game of the season.

Jets acting owner Christopher Johnson said shortly after the league announced its policy that he will not punish his players for any peaceful protests — and would pay any potential fines incurred by the team as a result of his players' actions.

The new league rules were challenged this month in a grievance by the players union. The NFLPA said the NFL policy, which the league imposed without consultation with the players union, is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on player rights. Now, the two sides are hoping to reach a solution without litigation.

Dolphins veteran receiver Kenny Stills took a knee with a hand on his heart during the anthem throughout last season. Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips put his arm around Stills before one game. Two other players who knelt — safety Michael Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas — are no longer with the team.

Defensive end Robert Quinn, who raised his fist during the anthem while with the Rams, is now with the Dolphins.

"Players who are on the field during the Anthem performance must stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem," says the 16th and final bullet point on Miami's list of conduct considered detrimental, below disparaging teammates, coaches or officials including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The NFL started requiring players to be on the field for the anthem in 2009 — the year it signed a marketing deal with the military.

In 2016, then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began protesting police brutality, social injustice and racial inequality by kneeling during the national anthem, and the demonstration spread to other players and teams.

Critics led by President Donald Trump called the players unpatriotic and even said NFL owners should fire any player who refused to stand during the anthem. Some players countered that their actions were being misconstrued and that they are seeking social change rather than protesting the anthem itself.

Trump's criticism led more than 200 players to protest during one weekend, and some kept it up throughout the season.

The league and a coalition of players have been working in tandem to support player initiatives for a variety of social issues. The NFL is committing $90 million over the next seven years to social justice causes in a three-segment plan that involves league players.

Kaepernick didn't play at all last season and still hasn't been picked up by another team. He threw 16 touchdown passes and four interceptions in his final season in 2016. Safety Eric Reid, one of Kaepernick's former teammates and another protest leader, is also out of work.

Both have filed collusion grievances against the NFL.

___

AP Sports Writer Steven Wine in Miami, AP Sports Writer Dennis Waszak in New York and AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner in New York contributed to this report.

___

Published on 20 July 2018 | 2:09 pm


Upcoming 'Better Call Saul' scenes to flashback to 'Breaking Bad' days

Here's another reason to watch the new season of "Better Call Saul".

The "Breaking Bad" prequel has been known to flash back and forth through time,

Now the show executives say some upcoming scenes will venture into the "Breaking Bad" era.

However, they aren't revealing what exactly we can expect to see.

The season four premiere airs August 6.

 

Published on 20 July 2018 | 1:44 pm


US, allies set to evacuate Syrian aid workers from southwest

U.S. officials say the United States is finalizing plans to evacuate several hundred Syrian civil defense workers and their families from southwest Syria as Russian-backed government forces close in on the area.

Two officials familiar with the plans said Thursday that the U.S., Britain and Canada are spearheading the evacuation that would transport members of the White Helmets group to transit camps in neighboring countries. From there, they will be sent to third countries, including Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and possibly Canada, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.

The officials, and a member of the White Helmets who is due to be evacuated from Quneitra province, said the operation appears to be imminent as the Syrian army continues to gain ground in its latest offensive. The White Helmets, who have enjoyed backing from the U.S. and other Western nations for years, are likely to be targeted by Syrian forces as they retake control of the southwest, according to the officials.

The officials said planning for the evacuation has been underway for some time but accelerated after last week's NATO summit in Brussels.

"These are hard hours and minutes," the White Helmets volunteer in Quneitra said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear for his life. "This is the worst day of my life. I hope they rescue us before it is too late."

The evacuation is expected to take place from Quneitra, which straddles the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and where the civil defense team is trapped. It is the last sliver of land still outside government control in the region.

Since the government offensive began in June, the area along the frontier with the Golan Heights has been the safest in the southwestern region, attracting hundreds of displaced people because is along the disengagement line with Israel demarcated in 1974 after a war. The Syrian government is unlikely to fire there or carry out airstrikes.

Negotiations are also ongoing to evacuate armed rebels and their families who don't want to accept the return of the rule of Bashar Assad's government to Quneitra, which the rebels have controlled for years. The fighters will be evacuated to the northern part of Syria, where the opposition still holds sway.

Except for that sliver of land, the southern tip of the southwestern region lies along the border with Jordan and the Golan Heights and is occupied by an Islamic State-affiliated group. The area is expected to be the target of the next government advances and the civil defense teams don't operate there.

The White Helmets are not without controversy. They only operate in opposition-held areas, where government services are almost non-existent and aerial bombings are recurrent. Syrian government supporters accuse them of being politically affiliated with the rebel groups. Russia and the Syrian government have repeatedly accused them of staging chemical attacks in opposition areas, a charge that has never been proven.

They have continued to receive U.S. support even as President Donald Trump presses ahead with his plans to withdraw all American forces from Syria as soon as Islamic State forces are routed.

In June, the State Department freed up a small portion — $6.6 million out of some $200 million — in frozen funding for Syria stabilization programs to keep the White Helmets operating through the end of this year.

In other parts of Syria, where government control has been restored, civil defense volunteers have almost always evacuated to other opposition-controlled areas. It is not clear why this time they will be evacuated out of the country.

__

El Deeb reported from Beirut.

Published on 20 July 2018 | 1:27 pm


July 20 Morning Rush: Four UNM sports cut after Regents unanimously approve recommendation

1. Sixty-three UNM student-athletes are waking up this morning likely weighing their options knowing their future at UNM is coming to an end. This comes after a stunning decision from the university's Board of Regents to cut four sports from the athletic department. Men's soccer, men's and women's skiing and women's beach volleyball. The regents saying this is the only way to shore up a multi-million-dollar debt the athletics department found itself in after coach payouts and low revenues. The students will keep their scholarships until the decision goes into effect July 2019 but its likely many will start looking to transfer.

Full story:UNM Regents unanimously approve recommendation to cut four sports

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2. Investigators are staying tight-lipped on details surrounding the fourth suspect in the brutal rape and murder of 10-year-old Victoria Martens. Officials have sealed the documents connected to suspect Fabian Gonzales. Recently, KRQE News 13 learned male DNA discovered on Victoria's body, does not belong to Gonzales. A recent court motion is now sealing certain documents to keep any information referring to the "mystery" fourth suspect confidential.

Full story: Motion seals documents involving Victoria Martens murder suspect

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3. Afternoon highs will continue to climb above seasonal averages in most areas on Friday, leaving most of us in the 80s, 90s and low 100s.

Full story: Kristen's Friday Morning Forecast

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4. The next time you go to a high school sporting event you may see a crackdown on rowdy fan behavior. The New Mexico Athletics Association is stepping in to punish people who get out of line at games. New rules now allow the NMAA to step in to punish teams and fans instead of leaving it up to schools. A school, student, or parent could be placed on probation or suspension for 180 school days.

Full story: NM Activities Association cracks down on poor sportsmanship

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5. Ninja warriors from around the world are getting ready for their preliminary round of competition here in Albuquerque continues today. All of them hoping to become the next Ultimate Ninja World Champion will test their skills at La Cueva High School. For many of these ninjas, this isn't their first time competing at this level. You've likely seen some of the competitors on the hit TV show American Ninja Warrior. The CEO for Ultimate Ninja Athlete told us that amateurs and kids also qualified to compete. The top 10 ninjas will compete in the finals on Saturday.

Full story: Ninjas from around the world competing in Albuquerque for championship title

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Top Morning Stories 




 

Published on 20 July 2018 | 1:24 pm


More sickened by parasite in McDonald's salads

Officials say more people have become sickened by a parasite in an outbreak linked to McDonald's salads.

The illnesses, reported across the U.S. are linked to two separate Cyclospora outbreaks.

According to federal health officials, the number of cases reported illness rose from 61 to 163 in ten different states.

The FDA is working with McDonald's to identify the salad ingredients making people sick and to trace them through the supply chain.

So far, there have been no reported deaths.

Published on 20 July 2018 | 1:09 pm


At least 13 die when duck boat capsizes in Missouri lake

At least 13 people, including children, died after a boat carrying tourists capsized and sank on a lake during a thunderstorm in a country music mecca in southwest Missouri, authorities said Friday.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Jason Pace said four people remain missing Friday after the Ride the Ducks boat sank on Table Rock Lake in Branson Thursday evening. He said 14 people survived, and that seven of them were injured.

Patrol divers found two more bodies early Friday, raising the death toll from 11 to 13, Pace said.

A spokeswoman for the Cox Medical Center Branson said four adults and three children arrived at the hospital shortly after the incident. Two adults are in critical condition and the others were treated for minor injuries, Brandei Clifton said.

Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said Thursday that stormy weather likely made the boat capsize. Another duck boat on the lake made it safely back to shore.

Steve Lindenberg, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Springfield, Missouri, said the agency issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the Branson area Thursday evening. Lindenberg said winds reached speeds of more than 60 mph (100 kph).

"It's a warning telling people to take shelter," he said.

Rader said an off-duty sheriff's deputy working security for the boat company helped rescue people after the boat capsized. Dive teams from several law enforcement agencies assisted in the effort.

The National Transportation Safety Board said investigators will arrive on the scene Friday morning.

Suzanne Smagala with Ripley Entertainment, which owns Ride the Ducks in Branson, said the company was assisting authorities with the rescue effort. Smagala added this was the Branson tour's only accident in more than 40 years of operation.

Branson is about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Kansas City and is a popular vacation spot for families and other tourists looking for entertainment ranging from theme parks to live music. An EF2 tornado that bounced through downtown Branson in 2012 destroyed dozens of buildings and injured about three dozen people, but killed no one.

Duck boats, which can travel on land and in water, have been involved in other deadly incidents in the past. Five college students were killed in 2015 in Seattle when a duck boat collided with a bus, and 13 people died in 1999 when a duck boat sank near Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Safety advocates have sought improvements since the Arkansas deaths. Critics argued that part of the problem is that too many agencies regulate the boats with varying safety requirements.

Duck boats were originally used by the U.S. military in World War II to transport troops and supplies, and later were modified for use as sightseeing vehicles.

Published on 20 July 2018 | 12:59 pm


Trump ready to hit all Chinese imports with tariffs

President Donald Trump has indicated that he's willing to hit every product imported from China with tariffs, sending U.S. markets sliding before the opening bell Friday.

In a taped interview with the business channel CNBC, Trump said "I'm willing to go to 500," referring roughly to the $505.5 billion in goods imported last year from China.

The administration to date has slapped tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods in a trade dispute over what it calls the nation's predatory practices.

Dow futures which had already been pointing modestly lower slid sharply after the comments were aired by CNBC early Friday, indicating triple-digit losses when the market opens.

The yuan dipped to a 12-month low of 6.8 to the dollar, off by 7.6 percent since mid-February.

China has retaliated with duties of its own, hitting U.S. imports of soybeans and pork. The administration July 10 announced a second possible round targeting $200 billion worth of goods. Beijing vowed "firm and forceful measures" in response.

Beijing is targeting sectors, like agriculture, that could harm Trump politically at home, though he said in the CNBC interview that he is seeking to do only what is fair.

"I'm not doing this for politics, I'm doing this to do the right thing for our country," Trump said. "We have been ripped off by China for a long time."

There is already pushback in the U.S. from businesses that will take a hit in an escalating trade war.

Trump has ordered Commerce to investigate whether auto imports pose a threat to U.S. national security that would justify tariffs or other trade restrictions. Earlier this year, he used national security as a justification for taxing imported steel and aluminum.

Auto tariffs would escalate global trade tension dramatically: The U.S. last year imported $192 billion in vehicles and $143 billion in auto parts — figures that dwarf last year's $29 billion in steel and $23 billion in aluminum imports.

In the same interview, taped Thursday at the White House, Trump broke with a long-standing tradition at the White House and voiced displeasure about recent actions at the U.S. Federal Reserve. Both political and economic officials believe that the central bank needs to operate free of political pressure from the White House or elsewhere to properly manage interest rate policy.

Last month, the Fed raised its benchmark rate for a second time this year and projected two more increases in 2018. Its rate hikes are meant to prevent the economy from overheating and igniting high inflation. But rate increases also make borrowing costlier for households and companies and can weaken the pace of growth. In particular, the Fed's most recent rate hikes could dilute some of the benefit of the tax cuts Trump signed into law last year.

Published on 20 July 2018 | 12:48 pm


Iowa tornadoes hit unexpectedly, causing damage and injuries

A flurry of unexpected tornadoes swept through central Iowa, injuring at least 17 people, flattening buildings in three cities and forcing the evacuation of a hospital.

Residents — and even weather forecasters — were taken by surprise Thursday as the tornadoes hit Marshalltown, Pella and Bondurant. Ten people were injured in Marshalltown and seven at a factory near Pella, but no deaths were reported.

Alex Krull, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Des Moines, said forecasting models produced Thursday morning showed only a slight chance of strong thunderstorms later in the day.

"This morning, it didn't look like tornadic supercells were possible," Krull said. "If anything, we were expecting we could get some large hail, if strong storms developed."

Gov. Kim Reynolds and other officials intend to tour Bondurant, Marshalltown and Pella on Friday to check the damage and meet with local authorities.

Marshalltown, a city of 27,000 people about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of Des Moines, appeared to have been hit the hardest. Brick walls collapsed in the streets, roofs were blown off buildings and the cupola of the historic courthousetumbled 175 feet (53 meters) to the ground.

The only hospital in Marshalltown was damaged, spokeswoman Amy Varcoe said. All 40 of the patients at UnityPoint Health were being transferred to the health system's larger hospital in Waterloo as well as one in Grundy Center, she said.

The emergency room in the smaller Marshalltown hospital remained open to treat patients injured in the storm, Varcoe said. Ten people hurt in the storm had been treated, she said. She did not know how serious those patients' injuries were.

Marshalltown resident Stephanie Moz said she, her husband and 2-month-old baby were in the downtown clothing store she owns when tornado sirens went off. The family sought shelter in the building's basement and heard "cracking and booms and explosions" as the tornado passed.

The storm broke out a window, ruining clothing and hats on display there, and destroyed her husband's vehicle. But she said she's relieved.

"We went through a tornado and survived," Moz said. "I'm happy."

Alliant Energy says nearly 6,400 Marshalltown customers remained without power Friday morning.

Additional funnels were reported as the storm moved east of Des Moines past Altoona, Prairie City and Colfax.

National Weather Service meteorologist Rod Donavon said two primary storms spawned the series of tornadoes. One developed in the Marshalltown area, causing damage there, while the other started east of Des Moines and traveled through Bondurant and into Pella.

The exact number of tornadoes and their strength will be determined later.

Iowa state Rep. Mark Smith, who lives in Marshalltown, told Des Moines station KCCI-TV that the area likely will be declared a disaster area. Smith said much of downtown was damaged. He said his house and neighborhood were spared, but surrounding homes were hit.

"There are houses with windows out, houses without roofs," he said. "It's just an absolute mess."

Another tornado hit agricultural machinery maker Vermeer Manufacturing in the town of Pella, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southeast of Des Moines. People were still working at the plant at the time. The storm scattered huge sheets of metal through a parking lot and left one building with a huge hole in it.

Seven people injured at the plant were taken to Pella Regional Health Center, hospital spokeswoman Billie Rhamy said. They all were released after being treated for their minor injuries, Rhamy said.

Gov. Reynolds told WHO-TV in Des Moines that two of Vermeer's buildings in Pella were demolished in the storm. She said Vermeer was hosting 500 customers for an appreciation day when the weather hit. She credited the company's security team with moving them all to safety.

Reynolds added that in Marshalltown, the state is providing a communications trailer and workers to help maintain emergency communications there. She said Marshalltown's building housing its local communications system was damaged.

___

Associated Press writers Margery Beck and Nelson Lampe in Omaha, Nebraska, contributed to this report.

Published on 20 July 2018 | 12:38 pm


Trump-Putin II: Planning fall event in aftermath of Helsinki

Unbowed by swirling criticism of his summit encounter with Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump swiftly invited the Russian leader to the White House this fall for a second get-together. Putin's ambassador to the U.S. said Moscow is open to discussing such a meeting, even as confusion abounds over exactly what they discussed the first time.

Cleanup has continued from Monday's two-hour private meeting in Helsinki, Finland, with Trump belatedly saying Putin's "incredible offer" of shared U.S.-Russia investigations was no good after all.

A White House meeting would be a dramatic extension of legitimacy to the Russian leader, who has long been isolated by the West for activities in Ukraine, Syria and beyond and is believed to have interfered in the 2016 presidential election that sent Trump to the presidency. No Russian leader has visited the White House in nearly a decade.

Trump asked National Security Adviser John Bolton to invite Putin, and "those discussions are already underway," Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday. Trump earlier had tweeted that he looked forward to "our second meeting" as he defended his performance at Monday's summit, in which the two leaders conferred on a range of issues including terrorism, Israeli security, nuclear proliferation and North Korea.

"There are many answers, some easy and some hard, to these problems ... but they can ALL be solved!" Trump tweeted.

In Moscow, Anatoly Antonov, Russian ambassador to the U.S., said it is important to "deal with the results" of their first summit before jumping too fast into a new one. But he said, "Russia was always open to such proposals. We are ready for discussions on this subject."

The Kremlin has the final say, but hasn't responded yet to Trump's invitation.

News of Trump's invitation to Putin appeared to catch even the president's top intelligence official by surprise.

"Say that again," National Intelligence Director Dan Coats responded, when informed of the invitation during an appearance at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.

"OK," he continued, pausing for a deep breath. "That's going to be special."

The announcement came as the White House sought to clean up days of confounding post-summit Trump statements on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump's public doubting of Russia's responsibility in a joint news conference with Putin on Monday provoked withering criticism from Republicans as well as Democrats and forced the president to make a rare public admission of error.

Then on Thursday, the White House said Trump "disagrees" with Putin's offer to allow U.S. questioning of 12 Russians who have been indicted for election interference in exchange for Russian interviews with the former U.S. ambassador to Russia and other Americans the Kremlin accuses of unspecified crimes. Trump initially had described the idea as an "incredible offer."

The White House backtrack came just before the Senate voted overwhelmingly against the proposal. It was Congress' first formal rebuke of Trump's actions from the summit and its aftermath.

Asked about the Putin invitation, Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan said "I wouldn't do it, that's for damn sure."

"If the Russians want a better relationship, trips to the White House aren't going to help," he added. "They should stop invading their neighbors."

Mixed messages from Trump have increased worries in Congress that the White House is not taking seriously the threat that senior officials say Russia now poses to the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.

Democrats in the House sought Thursday to extend a state grant program for election security but were blocked by Republicans. There is $380 million approved in the current budget for the program, which is intended to help states strengthen election systems from hacking and other cyberattacks.

Democratic lawmakers erupted into chants of "USA! USA!" during the debate,

As for Putin's offer on investigations, Sanders it was "made in sincerity" and the U.S. hopes he will have the indicted Russians "come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt."

Just a day earlier, the White House had said the offer was under consideration, even though the State Department called Russia's allegations against the Americans, including former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, "absurd."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday of the proposed Russian questioning, "That's not going to happen."

"The administration is not going to send, force Americans to travel to Russia to be interrogated by Vladimir Putin and his team," Pompeo said in an interview with The Christian Broadcasting Network.

Senate Republicans joined Democrats in swiftly passing a resolution, 98-0, that put the Senate on record against the questioning of American officials by a foreign government.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell hastily arranged the vote as lawmakers unleashed an avalanche of resolutions and other proposed actions expressing alarm over Trump's meeting with Putin and the White House's shifting response.

Coats said Thursday he wished the president hadn't undermined the conclusions of American intelligence agencies while standing next to Putin and felt it was his duty to correct the record. He restated the U.S. intelligence assessment about Russian meddling and Moscow's "ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy."

While they had met privately on three occasions in 2017, Trump opened the door to a potential White House meeting with Putin earlier this year. The Kremlin had said in April that the president had invited the Russian leader to the White House when they spoke by telephone in March. At the time, White House officials worked to convince a skeptical president that the Nordic capital would serve as a more effective backdrop — and warned of a firestorm should a West Wing meeting go through.

Still, Trump has expressed a preference for the White House setting for major meetings, including floating an invitation to Washington for North Korea's Kim Jong Un after their meeting in Singapore last month.

Putin would be setting foot inside the building for the first time in more than a decade.

He last visited the White House in 2005, when he met President George W. Bush, who welcomed the Russian leader in the East Room as "my friend."

President Barack Obama welcomed then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to the White House in 2010, and took him on a burger run at a joint just outside the capital.

Putin, in his first public comments about the summit, told Russian diplomats that U.S.-Russian relations are "in some ways worse than during the Cold War," but that the meeting with Trump allowed a start on "the path to positive change."

Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she still has not seen evidence that Moscow tried to help elect Trump. She said at the Aspen Forum that Russia is attempting to "cause chaos on both sides."

___

Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann in Aspen, Colorado, and Mary Clare Jalonick, Matthew Daly, Tami Abdollah, Darlene Superville and Susannah George in Washington contributed to this report.

___

This story has been corrected to show vote now underway, not canceled.

Published on 20 July 2018 | 12:00 pm








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