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#News - New Orleans & South Louisiana

#News - New Orleans & South Louisiana

Mom, boyfriend accused of beating 4-year-old to death over spilled cereal

Posted: 10 Apr 2018 01:37 AM PDT

PHILADELPHIA – A Pennsylvania mother and her boyfriend are accused of beating a 4-year-old boy to death for spilling his cereal, KYW reports.

Lisa Smith, 19, and her 26-year-old boyfriend, Keiff King, have been charged with murder in connection with the Jan. 22 death of Tahjir Smith.

Paramedics found the 4-year-old unresponsive inside a home in Willow Grove, a suburb of Philadelphia. Lisa Smith, the boy's mother, initially told police she was walking home from a local mall when Tahjir became "wobbly" and struggled to breathe.

But his death was recently ruled a homicide after an autopsy showed that he died of multiple blunt and thermal injuries, as well as shock.

Smith admitted to police that she disciplined the boy, who she said was acting "sneaky" and started stuttering – something he did out of fear, according to KYW.

The boy was reportedly forced to hold a push-up position for a long period of time. When he dropped from the position, Smith and her boyfriend allegedly hit him on the head and struck his body repeatedly with a sandal.

The boyfriend also admitted to throwing the 4-year-old under a scalding shower after the boy urinated on himself, which an expert later discovered burned his shoulder, prosecutors said.

Paramedics found Tahjir "limp and unresponsive," according to WDRB. He was pronounced dead at an area hospital.

The autopsy also revealed old rib fractures, showing that the beating that led to the boy's death was not the first time he was abused.

Smith and King are both due back in court April 18.

They’re in: Pelicans reach playoffs for the first time since 2015

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 11:09 PM PDT

The New Orleans Pelicans clinched their first playoff berth in three seasons with a 113-100 win Monday night over the Clippers in Los Angeles.

Anthony Davis had 28 points and 5 blocks. Nikola Mirotic had 24 points and 16 rebounds for the Pelicans, who won their fourth consecutive game.

The Pelicans won their 47th game of the season against 34 losses. New Orleans won 24 road games in the regular season, 3rd highest total in the Western Conference, behind top seeded Houston and second seed Golden State.

New Orleans can still be the fourth seed, and can still be the 8th seed in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

The Pelicans host San Antonio Wednesday night. The clubs have identical 47-34 records.

‘It’s a miracle’: Couple unhurt after woman’s wallet stops bullet

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 08:35 PM PDT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis woman is crediting her wallet with saving her life and that of her husband after it stopped a bullet Thursday.

She said her husband had picked her up from her shift at a hospital, and they  were pulling into their Hickory Hill apartment complex when they heard several gunshots.

"We heard a loud pop noise," said the woman, who wanted to remain anonymous.

Unhurt, they parked and got out of their car to see what had happened.

"That's when we noticed all of the bullet holes," she said.

Three on the passenger side. Two more in the trunk.

Soon after, she found one more.

"I said 'Oh my God, honey! Here's another hole that came through my purse!'" she said.

A bullet went through her trunk, pierced her purse and got stuck in her wallet. Her purse was in the backseat. She believes it was her shield.

"Just by the grace of God. It's a miracle to keep me or him from getting hit," she said. "Got me so traumatized."

Employees at the apartment complex told WREG that the safety of their tenants is a priority, and that they want to get rid of crime in the area. They installed security cameras throughout the property, and said they would turn the footage over to police.


Popular merengue singer knocked out, attacked with machetes in New York City

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 06:45 PM PDT

NEW YORK — A group of teens beat a well-known merengue singer in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan Saturday night, knocking him out and leaving him with knife wounds.

Javier Gutierrez, a 43-year-old merengue artist from New Jersey who goes by Mala Fe, was in a van at 180th Street and Audubon Avenue on his way to meet with other musicians. A group of teens in the street refused to move and one of them broke the vehicle's rear window, according to Gutierrez' Instagram account.

When he asked them to let him pass, Gutierrez said the teen told him to get out of the car, saying that he wanted to fight him. "I said 'No, I don't want to fight you, you look like my son,'" Gutierrez told WPIX.

Then, someone broke a window of Gutierrez's white Mercedes, and when Gutierrez got out of the van to inspect the damage, he says they attacked him. "They throw the first bottle, they knocked me out," Gutierrez said. "I go to the floor, they start punching me, cutting me with a knife."

An emotional Gutierrez told WPIX he remembered asking the teens, "Are you guys going to kill me?"

The teens beat him and the van driver was also attacked, police said. Gutierrez is now at home recovering.

"I try to be a nice person with everybody, I don't have any enemies," Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez's assailants used machetes in the attack, said Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who referred to the teens as "young gang members."

Police arrested a teen on Sunday. His name was not immediately available.

"The impact of violence is costly and our families can't live in fear," Rodriguez said. "The City and all communities must come together to reduce this senseless violence and do more for our teenagers to prevent them to join those cruel gangs."


Zurich Classic will have walk up music for golfers this year

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 06:38 PM PDT

AVONDALE, LA — “Now teeing off…” you might hear the announcer say at this year’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans as each player approaches the first tee.  Then LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” blares over loudspeakers.  Maybe another player will select Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”.

Yes, walk up music is coming to the tournament.  Players get to pick their tunes.

"This innovation will try to further enhance the concept and the team atmosphere," tournament director Steve Worthy says in a written statement.  The Zurich Classic will be the first PGA event to have the music.

The move is just the latest to set the tournament apart from others.  Last year, it introduced the two-man team format.

“Our fans and the players have enthusiastically embraced our team format," Worthy says.

This year 80 teams have committed to play in the tournament including this year’s Masters champion Patrick Reed and former Masters champions Sergio Garcia and Bubba Watson.

"We are continuously looking for fun and innovative ways for our players to connect with fans," said Tyler Dennis, the PGA Tour’s Chief of Operations. "Given the team format and the location being New Orleans, I can't think of a better event to introduce this on the PGA TOUR.”

The tournament is televised in 224 countries.  This year’s Zurich Classic runs from April 23-29.  Along with the walk-up music and the two-man format, the tournament also has more than $7 million to be distributed among the top finishers.  The winning pair will each receive more than $1 million.

Single day tickets start at $35.

1 death, 265 illnesses in 8 states linked to salmonella-tainted chicken salad

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 04:48 PM PDT

DES MOINES, Iowa – One person has died following an outbreak of salmonella traced to chicken salad sold at Fareway Stores across the Midwest.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the outbreak appears to be over, but not before 265 people in eight states were infected by the food that was recalled in February. Ninety-four hospitalizations were reported, and one Iowan died as a result of the contamination.

Bill Marler, an attorney with the Food Safety Law Firm out of Seattle, is representing 48 people allegedly affected by the outbreak.

"There's a woman in Nebraska who was in ICU for a week and a gentleman in Iowa who has lost his large intestine," Marler said. "He's now facing another surgery in a month or two to try to reconnect that. So there are obviously some pretty significantly sick people."

The chicken salad – manufactured by Triple T Meats in Ackley – was sold at stores in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota from January 4th to February 9th.

Fareway referred to the following statement released on February 21st:

"We are aware of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service's Recall Release, where Triple T Specialty Meats, Inc., is recalling its chicken salad product. Fareway Stores, Inc. pulled this product from its stores nearly two weeks ago on February 9, 2018. We have not sold any product since this date and all product has been discarded." 

CDC Officials are asking Fareway chicken salad customers to do the following:

  • Even if some of the chicken salad was eaten or served and no one got sick, throw the rest of it away, including any chicken salad in your freezer. Put it in a sealed bag in the trash so that children, pets or other animals can't eat it.
  • Wash and sanitize countertops as well as drawers or shelves in refrigerators or freezers where recalled chicken salad was stored.
  • If you don't remember the date when you purchased chicken salad from Fareway, don't eat it. Throw it away or return it to the place of purchase.

See the CDC announcement for more information.

Applebee’s hostess accused of stealing from mother of 9-month-old during birthday celebration

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 04:27 PM PDT

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- A Virginia Applebee's hostess, on the job less than a month, was arrested and charged with stealing from a customer, according to WTVR.

Ashley Jones, 23, was celebrating her birthday with friends and her infant son Sunday at the Applebee's near Midlothian Turnpike and Robious Road in Chesterfield.

After their meal, Jones walked back to her car and realized she had left her wallet on the table.

"I knew exactly where it was, leaning against the table," Jones said. "As soon as I got in there, I went to the table and [the hostess] put her hands up in the air. I didn't understand."

Ashley Jones said she saw the hostess put her hands in the air when she asked about her missing wallet.

Jones said the hostess was acting peculiar and when other customers overheard Jones asking her about the missing item, they interjected to say that the hostess "looked guilty."

When asked directly if she had seen the wallet, Jones said the hostess stepped back, raised her hands again, and said she hadn't seen it. She then brought Jones to the hostess stand and asked her to leave contact information in case the wallet turned up.

Jones was not comfortable with the situation, so she said she asked to speak with a manager.

She said the manager was not helpful and did not seem to care about the missing wallet. He told her he could not access security footage that could have shed light on the situation.

Jones said she eventually called Chesterfield Police.

An officer arrived quickly, she said, and handled her concerns in a "great manner."

"He was awesome," Jones said.

The officer asked Jones to wait in her car while he reviewed the security footage.

Zekeisha M. Williams (Chesterfield Police)

When he eventually called her back inside, she said she saw the hostess in handcuffs.

"When police searched her, they found the victim's purse inside the employee's purse," a Chesterfield Police spokesperson said.

Zekeisha M. Williams, 30, of Richmond, was charged with grand larceny and credit card theft.

Williams, police said, was also wanted in another jurisdiction for forgery, identity theft, failure to display lights and driving with a suspended/revoked license.

"She was lying the whole time," Jones said. "She saw me with my son. I have a 9-month-old child. It's just like, 'you really don't care.'"

Jones said she was also upset with the treatment she received from the restaurant manager.

After several phone conversations Monday, she said she was happy with the way the corporate office responded to her concerns -- including additional training for the manager.

"This was an isolated incident, and what happened goes against everything we stand for as a company," Dennis Benson, Chief Operations Officer at Potomac Family Dining, said. "We immediately terminated the employee and are fully cooperating with the police investigation. Further, we are working with our teams to ensure this doesn't happen again in one of our restaurants."

Volunteers plant more than 1,700 plants at future home of Louisiana Children’s Museum

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 04:14 PM PDT

NEW ORLEANS -- Volunteers got dirty at City Park Monday, planting more than 1,700 plants that will support the wildlife habitat that's being built around the future home of the Louisiana Children's Museum.

The Louisiana Children's Museum's future site in City Park encompasses 8.5 acres, including a lagoon that will be restored to include freshwater and brackish wetland environments.

The lagoon on the children's museum site in New Orleans City Park creates an opportunity to display the unique qualities and importance of several coastal plants species and how they support a complex and sensitive environment. These native plants are especially good for stabilizing or restoring disturbed or degraded areas, and for erosion and slope control.

LCM in City Park will have indoor and outdoor environmental elements, including decks, bridges, sensory and edible gardens, a floating classroom and a restored interpretive wetlands area.

Other museum additions will include a life-sized interactive chess board that will teach children about New Orleans history, an experiential floating classroom on the lagoon's edge in the wetlands environment and a Mighty Mississippi exhibit which tells the story of the journey of the River from the Twin Cities, through St. Louis and Memphis, all the way to the Port of New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico.

The museum, which has been in the Warehouse District for the last 30 years, is expected to open at its new site in City Park later this year.

Russian woman ’embalmed alive’ after hospital mix-up

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 04:00 PM PDT

ULYANOVSK, Russia – A Russian woman reportedly died after a routine procedure when hospital workers mistakenly injected her with a drug used to preserve dead bodies.

Ekaterina Fedyaeva, 28, underwent surgery last month at a hospital in Ulyanovsk, in western Russia, to have ovarian cysts removed, according to state-owned television station RT.

During the March 15 operation, however, medical personnel gave Fedyaeva what should have been saline, but turned out to be formalin, which contains formaldehyde, according to Russia’s Tass news agency. Formalin is highly toxic if ingested, and just one ounce can kill an adult.

Hospital staff realized the mistake two minutes later and tried to wash out the formalin, but it was too late – the embalming fluid was already making its way through her body.

“Mom, I’m dying,” Fedyaeva later told her mother, who thought she wasn’t being serious at the time, according to RT.  Fedyaeva was rushed to Moscow’s A.I. Burnazyan Federal Medical and Biophysical Center where doctors administered multiple drugs in an attempt to counteract the formalin, according to Tass, but they were unable to save her.

At one point, doctors brought her to back to consciousness and Fedyaeva’s mother said she opened her eyes and whispered to her, according to RT. In the end, however, Fedyaeva’s organs started to shut down and she died Thursday.

News of the horrific death quickly spread, and headlines about a woman being “embalmed alive” soon appeared on international news sites.

The minister of health, family and social well-being in Ulyanovsk, Rashid Abdullov, expressed “sincere condolences” to Fedyaeva’s family.

Abdullov said the mix-up at the hospital happened because the medical staff “did not read the name on the vial,” according to RT.

“We will provide all the necessary assistance to the family. All the guilty officials have already been held accountable, the investigating authorities continue to work,” Abdullov tweeted Thursday.

The head physician at the hospital where Fedyaeva received the fatal dose has been fired, according to local news reports.

Trump slams FBI for raid of his personal attorney’s office

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 03:49 PM PDT

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President Donald Trump slammed the FBI raid on his personal attorney Michael Cohen’s office and hotel room as a “disgraceful situation” and “an attack on our country.”

“I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys. Good man. And it’s a disgraceful situation. It’s a total witch hunt,” Trump said Monday, referring to a lawful FBI raid.

“It’s an attack on our country,” Trump said. “It’s an attack on what we all stand for.”

The President also criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the special counsel investigation, saying, “the attorney general made a terrible mistake.”

Just hours earlier, news broke of the FBI raid on Cohen’s office and hotel room. A source familiar with the matter told CNN authorities seized documents related to the porn star Stormy Daniels — who was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about an affair she alleges she had with Trump years before he was President. Trump has denied the affair.

Trump — speaking during a meeting that was slated to focus on the situation in Syria — was visibly angered by the news and repeatedly slammed the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, whose office provided some of the information used by the Southern District of New York to obtain its warrants for the raids.

Trump lamented what he called a “witch hunt” that has dogged his term in office, slammed Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe and argued that investigators on Mueller’s team are “just about” all Democrats — which is false.

“This is ridiculous. This is now getting ridiculous,” Trump said, pointing to a “whole new level of unfairness.”

Asked why he hasn’t moved to fire Mueller, Trump again said the situation is a “disgrace.”

“Why don’t I just fire Mueller? Well, I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on. We’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “Many people have said you should fire him. Again, they found nothing. And in finding nothing, that’s a big statement.”

Hit the Quilt Trail in Ponchatoula: Unique outdoor art is part of a national craze

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 03:39 PM PDT

PONCHATOULA, La. - Strawberry aficionados  in the south known that Ponchatoula is Louisiana's official strawberry capital, but did you know that this cheerful town also doubles as an art gallery?

The Louisiana branch of a colorful craze that's now in every state in the continental U.S., and in Canada was launched in Ponchatoula in 2011, and now there are 50 bright "quilt blocks" that hang on homes, businesses and prominent town buildings such as the fire station and the junior high school.

Ann Boudreaux, who was born and raised in Ponchatoula, came up with the idea of creating a Quilt Trail in Louisiana. She discovered one while vacationing in North Carolina and immediately thought the concept would take off in her hometown. She was right!

Quilts have been a part of American folklore for centuries and this is a new twist on quilting: an art form that brings the intimacy of a bedroom quilt out into the open air.

There are quilt blocks in five parishes, featuring everything from pelicans to trees, hearts, flowers, fleur-de-lis symbols and even alligators!

"It's the fastest growing grassroots art movement in American history," says Kim Zabbia, the first lady of Ponchatoula. She's the chairperson for this artistic mission, and has painted more than 60 of the blocks herself, including the very first one, "Classic Clay," which hangs on The Clay Station on West Oak Street.

It's no surprise that several blocks in and around Ponchatoula feature strawberries, but these blocks are not just decorations; they each tell a story.  Pick up a map at one of the visitors centers so that you can read the full story on each of these works of art. Many of them represent family histories or have strong themes that are not obvious at first glance.

Warning: once you hit the trail, you might get addicted to seeking out these treasures. There are more than a hundred in the state, and Ponchatoula is where you'll find the highest concentration of them.

One rule artists must follow: no logos or words can appear on the blocks.

Anyone can apply to have block made for their home or business; there's a $50 application fee, and the organizers of the Louisiana Quilt Trail will work with the Tangipahoa Parish Tourist Commission to connect all interested parties in order to keep the trail growing.

Cajun fiddler Amanda Shaw releases new album, ‘Please Call me Miss Shaw’

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 03:28 PM PDT

 NEW ORLEANS– Renowned Louisiana musician Amanda Shaw released her new CD called, “Please Call Me Miss Shaw.”    The CD consists of seven songs including her popular singles, “Holiday” and “Soulful Dress.”

Her new album showcases her talents as a musician, vocalist, and songwriter, and of course it showcases her natural talent of playing the fiddle.

Other songs on the new CD include:  “Lipstick Stain Blues,” “How Lucky are You,” “Dirty Blonde,” “Naked to the World,” and “Wednesday Night Waltz.”

Shaw said her new album takes a look at her evolution, authenticity, and commitment to music.

Amanda Shaw will be headlining the 35th annual French Quarter Fest on Saturday night at  7:30 p.m. on the Chevron Cajun Zydeco Stage.

For more information about Miss Shaw, click HERE.


Big Sky animal rescue gets 71,000-pound pet food donation

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 03:27 PM PDT

FOLSOM, La. --  Big Sky Ranch in Folsom has received a big gift that is sure to go a long way in the animal rescue group's mission.

American Humane and Chicken Soup for the Soul donated 71,000 pounds of pet food to the ranch, which primarily serves as a rescue organization and also responds to natural disasters.

It's a small chunk of the more than 1 million meals they distribute each year. They chose to partner with Big Sky because of their disaster response efforts in the wake of the Baton Rouge flooding and Hurricane Harvey. The team has also worked together on other lifesaving efforts in Louisiana, specifically Big Sky's TNR efforts (trap/neuter/return).

"A donation like this can make a difference. It's a  night and day difference for a small rescue, or even a large rescue," said Big Sky Ranch Catnip Foundation CEO Catherine Wilbert. "So much of rescues' funding goes to feeding animals, so a donation like this frees up so much of those funds to be able to handle medical care and spay and neuter.

Big Sky also offers seminars, retreats, camps and events to support its mission and increase awareness surrounding the issues its seeks to solve. Read more about Big Sky here.

‘Black Jeopardy’ and other shows we wish were real

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 02:55 PM PDT

The answer: It went viral and made us wish it were real.

The question: How well did the skit “Black Jeopardy” do on this weekend’s “Saturday Night LIve’?

The hilarity featured guest host Chadwick Boseman in character as his “Black Panther” character, T’Challa, the king of Wakanda on the black version of the game show.

It’s not the first time the skit has fired on all cylinders.

Tom Hanks’ 2016 appearance as a Trump supporter who finds he does indeed have something in common with the other “Black Jeopardy” contestants also got some guffaws.

Related: Hanks plays Trump supporter on ‘Black Jeopardy’

Fans love it so much that it got us to thinking about other shows within shows we wish had gotten their own standalone billing.

Shows like:

‘Due North’ from ‘Insecure’

The parody from the hit HBO comedy melds slavery with prime time drama and has been described as a hybrid between the now canceled “Underground” and Fox’s hit “Empire.”

The mock soap set in the pre-Civil War South featured Regina Hall as a slave named Ninny and Scott Foley as her master, with whom she is as romantically involved with as one can be with someone who owns them.

It managed to be both irreverent and funny when it appeared as the show “Insecure” characters were obsessed with during the second season of that series, and it received some major love during the finale.

We wouldn’t mind if it got picked up by HBO (which is owned by CNN’s parent company).

‘Inspector Spacetime’ on ‘Community’

Admit it, part of the reason you miss the comedy “Community” is because you also miss Troy and Abed’s favorite show, which looked a great deal like “Dr. Who.”

At the very least we deserve an “Inspector Spacetime” convention like the characters attending in season four.

‘The Itchy & Scratchy Show’ on ‘The Simpsons’

Forget “Tom & Jerry.”

Give us the blood letting that happens on “Itchy & Scratchy” any day.

This animated series inside the long-running animated series has its own fan base.

‘The Terrance and Phillip Show’ on ‘South Park’

Speaking of popular animated shows, Terrance and Phillip had major fans in the characters from “South Park” who enjoyed their many fart jokes.

The pair were crudely drawn and even cruder in their dialogue.

‘Pawnee Today’ on ‘Parks and Recreation’

Who says local television isn’t exciting?

“Pawnee Today” gave a pretty entertaining view of the fictitious Indiana town where the NBC comedy was set.

No one answered calls better than Ron Swanson.

Oklahoma middle school teacher confesses to raping student

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 02:47 PM PDT

CLINTON, Okla. – An Oklahoma middle school teacher has been arrested for raping one of her students, officials said.

Middle school algebra teacher Keri Hoffman, 35, was arrested after allegedly raping a teenage student. (Custer County Jail)

Keri Hoffman, 35, an algebra teacher at Clinton Middle School, was arrested Sunday for multiple counts of rape involving a student, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation reports.

State officials say Hoffman and her husband drove to the Clinton Police Department on Saturday, where she confessed to having a sexual relationship with one of her 15-year-old students.

Hoffman reportedly told authorities that she used Facebook messenger to communicate with the teenage boy and set up locations for sexual contact.

She allegedly admitted to having sex with the boy numerous times since March 30, 2018, inside her car and inside her father’s detached garage.

Hoffman also told authorities that she had sex with the boy before taking him to the Capitol for a teacher walkout last week and before she dropped him off at home later that evening.

She was booked into the Custer County Jail for facilitating sexual conduct or communication with a minor by use of technology, two counts of second degree rape, and pattern of criminal offenses.

Her bond is set at $30,000.

Backpage creators indicted on prostitution and money laundering charges

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 02:24 PM PDT

The Justice Department announced Monday that seven people associated with Backpage.com, a classified ads website that has long been criticized for failing to crack down on sex trafficking on its platform, have been indicted for facilitating prostitution, conspiracy and money laundering-related charges.

The department announced the news Monday afternoon after a federal judge in Arizona unsealed a 93-count indictment against Backpage creators Michael Lacey and James Larkin, and five others.

According to the indictment, Backpage earned over $500 million dollars in prostitution-related revenue from the site and illegally routed the proceeds through unrelated entities.

“For far too long, Backpage.com existed as the dominant marketplace for illicit commercial sex, a place where sex traffickers frequently advertised children and adults alike,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “But this illegality stops right now. Last Friday, the Department of Justice seized Backpage, and it can no longer be used by criminals to promote and facilitate human trafficking.”

The website was seized on Friday and a banner appeared saying: “Backpage.com and affiliated websites have been seized as part of an enforcement action” by the FBI, US Postal Inspection Service and the IRS Criminal Investigation Division.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill and advocacy groups have long called for an investigation into Backpage.com for allegedly facilitating prostitution and sex trafficking.

The lawsuit represents a major takedown of a “gigantic marketplace of online prostitution” by directly targeting those who facilitate the crime, a Justice Department official said.

The individuals are not being directly charged with commercial sex exploitation, but Backpage’s involvement in facilitating prostitution was “no mistake” the official said, adding that the site turned a “blind eye” to sex trafficking that resulted from ads on the web pages.

“The Backpage defendants have admitted — in internal company documents and during private meetings — that they know the overwhelming majority of the website’s ads involve prostitution,” prosecutors allege in the indictment. “Many of the ads published on Backpage depicted children who were victims of sex trafficking. Once again, although Backpage has sought to create the perception that it diligently attempts to prevent the publication of such ads, the reality is that Backpage has allowed such ads to be published while declining — for financial reasons — to take necessary steps to address the problem.”

Law enforcement officials said the case was brought in Arizona because Backpage was founded there, and that’s where its servers and banking accounts exist.

A two-year Senate investigation into online sex trafficking found that found that Backpage.com knowingly aided criminal sex trafficking of women and young girls, simply scrubbing terms from ads such as “Lolita,” “teenage,” “rape,” “Amber Alert,” and publishing them on its site. After the investigation was published in January 2017, Backpage.com shut down its adult ads section.

The company has been targeted with several lawsuits over the years but has been largely protected by Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, a legal protection that gives a broad layer of immunity to online companies from being held liable for user-generated content. Companies are supposed to act in good faith to protect users but critics argue it can be used as a shield. The law, however, does not, protect sites from federal liability against criminal law, like child-pornography laws.

Last month, however, the Senate approved bipartisan legislation called the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. The legislation would create an exception to Section 230, which would pave the way for victims of sex trafficking to hold websites accountable for facilitating abuse.

Two days after the Senate approval, Backpage competitor Craigslist removed its personal ads section.

Coroner’s office apologizes for mixing up survivor, victim of horrific hockey bus crash

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 02:20 PM PDT

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HUMBOLDT, Saskatchewan – The coroner misidentified two of the Humboldt Broncos hockey players involved in a fatal bus crash, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Xavier Labelle, who was originally listed among the deceased, is actually alive, while Parker Tobin, who had been listed among the survivors, died as a result of the Friday collision, the RCMP said in a Monday news release.

“The Office of the Chief Coroner apologizes for the misidentification and any confusion created by it,” the news release said. “The Coroner’s office extends its deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those who lost their lives as well as those who were involved in the collision.”

At a news conference, a spokesman for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice said the young men involved in the crash were similar ages and builds, and the teammates had dyed their hair blond in solidarity for the Broncos’ playoff run.

“A lot of these boys looked alike,” Drew Wilby said.

Dental records are the best way to ensure an identification is accurate, and it takes time to procure those records, especially considering some of the players hail from British Columbia, a province hundreds of miles to the west, the spokesman said.

“New information came to light last night that raised questions with the health care professionals,” Wilby said, adding that the information was not related to dental records.

Health care professionals were then able to correctly identify Labelle, and the Labelle and Tobin families were notified Sunday night, he said.

The Labelle and Tobin families were involved in the initial identification processes, Wilby said, without elaborating.

Citing Canadian privacy laws, Wilby declined to provide details of Labelle’s injuries other than to say he is “an active patient in the system.”

After being informed that Labelle had died, brother Isaac Labelle told CNN he was at the gym when he got a text about the bus wreck. He called his father, an emergency room doctor, who had been en route to the game but had changed course to the crash site.

Once there, Isaac Labelle said, his father told him that there didn’t appear to be any survivors. Isaac Labelle went on to say his brother was “well-loved by everybody.”

“I also want people to know the good person he is,” he said.

The Labelle family could not be immediately reached to discuss the news that Xavier Labelle had been misidentified.

Tobin is among the 15 killed in the crash in Canada’s Saskatchewan province. The death toll includes nine other Broncos players, two coaches, two employees of a broadcasting company and the bus driver.

The crash occurred around 5 p.m. Friday north of Tisdale, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as the team was headed for the town of Nipawin for a playoff game. RCMP Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said the tractor-trailer, traveling west on Highway 335, collided with the bus, which was traveling north on Highway 35.

The cause of the crash is not known, and “the scope and complexity of this investigation means it will take some time to determine the cause of the collision and the circumstances surrounding it,” said RCMP Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki.

The tragedy was felt across Canada, where hockey is the dominant sport and many young players take long bus rides to tournaments.

Humboldt, a town of about 6,000, has a tradition of fielding teams in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. The players, ranging in age from 16 to 21, come from different parts of Canada and stay with host families during the season, according to the team’s website.

“Our Broncos family is in shock as we try to come to grips with our incredible loss,” Kevin Garinger, the team’s president, said in a statement.

The hockey community and others rallied around the victims and their families, offering financial assistance.

By Monday morning, a GoFundMe page for the players and their families had raised more than $4.8 million, the result of about 70,000 donations.

State health department confirms measles case in New Orleans

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 02:03 PM PDT

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana state health officials are investigating a confirmed case of measles in New Orleans.

According to a news release from the state Department of Health, the illness was confirmed through laboratory testing in a recent traveler from Europe to New Orleans.

Measles is a highly contagious viral illness that can spread rapidly amongst individuals who are unvaccinated.  In extreme cases, the illness can lead to hospitalization and even death.  The person with measles is now under care in a New Orleans hospital.

The visitor came to New Orleans late last week from the United Kingdom.  He became increasingly ill through the week and was admitted to the hospital over the weekend.  Doctors quickly recognized that the individual may have measles and sent samples to the Office of Public Health laboratory for testing. All samples have come back positive for measles.

The state Office of Public Health is working with the New Orleans City health department to identify and notify those who may have come into contact with this person and to implement measures to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Students in Louisiana are required to have two doses of the MMR vaccine — and the documentation to prove it — before entering elementary school. The result has been that almost all cases of measles in the U.S. have been diagnosed in people who have traveled here. In these cases, as well as the current case, the sick individuals had not been vaccinated for measles.

Since a virus causes measles, it is not treatable with antibiotics. However, the same hygiene practices that help prevent the spread of influenza and other contagious diseases can also help prevent the spread of measles.

According to the CDC, the symptoms of measles generally appear about seven to 14 days after a person is infected.

Measles typically begins with high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. Two or three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots (Koplik spots) may appear inside the mouth of a patient.

Three to five days after symptoms begin, a rash breaks out. It usually begins as flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet. Small raised bumps may also appear on top of the flat red spots. The spots may become joined together as they spread from the head to the rest of the body. When the rash appears, a person's fever may spike to more than 104° Fahrenheit.

After a few days, the fever subsides and the rash fades.

Get the Royal treatment at Windsor Court in honor of the Royal wedding

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 01:20 PM PDT

NEW ORLEANS --  The royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is May 19, but for those who can't make it across the pond to Windsor Castle, the Crescent City is calling.

Windsor Court Hotel – a luxury hotel in the heart of New Orleans – is celebrating the famous nuptials with the "Royal Wedding Weekend Getaway," available May 17-20, 2018. While experts estimate the Royal Wedding itself will cost half a million pounds, Windsor Court's weekend getaway is available for only $51,918 – a tip of the crown to the official wedding date.

Windsor Court is no stranger to the British celebrity sect. From royals like Princess Ann, to rockers like Roger Waters and Paul McCartney, the roster of glamorous guests is extensive. The lucky guests who book the hotel's "Royal Wedding Weekend Getaway" will be staying in the very same suite as these stars and immersed in star-studded life, with extravagant amenities like:

  • Roundtrip, first-class airfare from anywhere in the continental U.S.
  • 3 nights in the 2-bedroom Presidential Suite – perfect for 2 couples or 4 close friends
    • Life-sized cardboard cutouts of Harry and Meghan, so it truly is a royal weekend
    • Fully stocked bar of premium spirits, including Champagne Bollinger, the first champagne ever to receive the royal stamp of approval
    • Signature Windsor Court floral arrangements throughout the suite
    • Daily butler service
    • Welcome amenities tailored for a king and queen
  • $4,000 hotel credit for food, drinks and spa services
  • Friday afternoon ladies' hat-fitting at a premier local milliner, with a $1,500 credit so they can fancy themselves with fascinators and chapeaus suited to the ceremony
  • Private shopping experience at Saks Fifth Avenue with a $5,000 shopping credit
  • Wedding day champagne breakfast en-suite on May 19
  • Lemon elderflower wedding cake, covered in buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers, as inspired by the couple's official selection from pastry chef Clair Ptak, of London's Violet Bakery
  • Chauffeured car service throughout the stay – from arrival to departure
  • Traditional afternoon tea service for four, either in Le Salon or en-suite
  • Private luncheon and tour of M.S. Rau Antiques, where you'll see items currently available for purchase, like The Royal Ice Pail from the Grand Service, valued at $1.485 million; or the much more affordable Prince Edward Enamel Cufflinks, valued at $88,500
  • Dinner at Arnaud's
  • Private tour of Windsor Court's $8 million, museum-quality collection art collection of more than 60 artists, many of British origin

Whether it's Waterford wedding crystal toasting flutes to cheers the happy couple, Mignon Faget King and Queen Goblets for a private wine tasting with Windsor Court's sommelier, or Wedgwood china teapots for a private tea service en-suite, it's the additional, take-home touches that make this package worthy of the crown jewels.

  • 4 Mignon Faget King and Queen Goblets
  • 4 Waterford Wedding Heirloom Toasting Flutes
  • 4 Wedgwood Wild Strawberry tea place settings (Windsor Court's signature china pattern)
  • Exclusive licensed Royal Wedding Souvenir

If this package isn't in your price range the Windsor court will also be celebrating with a "Royal Tea" and viewing party in the Polo Lounge.

NYT: FBI raids Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s office

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 01:12 PM PDT

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The FBI raided the office of Michael Cohen, a personal lawyer and confidant of President Donald Trump, The New York Times reported Monday.

Stephen Ryan, a lawyer for Cohen, said the US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York had executed “a series of search warrants and seized the privileged communications” between Cohen and his clients, according to the Times.

CNN has reached out to Cohen and his attorneys for comment.

Ryan told the Times the search was “completely inappropriate and unnecessary,” and that federal prosecutors had told him it stemmed partially from a referral by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller.

A person briefed on the search told the Times that one of the topics being investigated was the payment Cohen facilitated to Stephanie Clifford, known as the porn actress Stormy Daniels. The FBI also seized emails, tax documents and business records, including communications between Trump and Cohen, according to the Times.

Cohen is a longtime ally of the President, and admitted earlier this year to setting up a limited liability company in 2016 to pay Daniels. She has alleged she had an affair with Trump a decade earlier, and that the payment was hush money. The White House has denied Daniels’ allegations of an affair with Trump.

Asked about the Daniels controversy last week, Trump said he did not know about the payment and declined to comment further, instead referring questions to Cohen.

“You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen,” Trump said. “Michael is my attorney. You’ll have to ask Michael.”