- Louisiana horse whose father won the Kentucky Derby could help find a cure for equine cancer
- New Orleans man gets prison time for dumping tires
- Netflix to reboot ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ to ‘haunt a new generation’
- ‘El Chapo’ Guzman associate claims kingpin paid $100M bribe to former Mexican President
- Diana Ross joins Jazz Fest 2019 lineup
- $1 home deal leaves Italian mayor ‘flabbergasted’ by response
- Ariana Grande drops ‘7 rings’
- Citywide Freeze Plan going into effect as temperatures set to plunge
- Triangle Roofing
- On Bourbon Street: Royal Sonesta New Orleans is ready for some Saints football
- What are the odds? Saints need a strong start to compete with the explosive Rams
- Prove them right
- House panel demands answers from Trump administration on ‘zero tolerance’ family separation policy
- Buddhist poker player makes enlightened move after winning $671K at tournament
- Pawn shop that bought dying 78-year-old’s stolen wedding ring demands payment
- Report: Ben Watson out for NFC Championship vs Rams
- NOPD looking for missing woman from St. Thomas area
- Detention deputy fired for using excessive force on inmate in wheelchair
- Emergency situation training exercise in Destrehan
- White House announces second Trump-Kim summit
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 09:00 PM PST
Franklinton, LA - When it comes to equine royalty, Contrada is a princess with a shiny light gray coat and a sweeping grayish brown tail. She's a gorgeous thoroughbred mare with a sassy attitude that dominates her sweet disposition.
Maybe she knows that she has the right to be a little cocky; her daddy won the most famous horse race in the world in 2001, with the second-fastest speed of all time! His name was Monarchos, and he ran the Kentucky Derby in under 2 minutes. In the history of the race, the only horse to do it faster was the 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat.
Contrada prances around her home at Barney's Farm Sanctuary in Franklinton with such spirit and zeal that you'd never know she's suffering. But take one look under her sweeping tail and you'll know something is wrong: You'll find many oozing tumors; it's advanced equine melanoma, rampant in horses with gray coats.
Up until a few weeks ago, she was in a New Orleans stable where her owner was unable to provide her with the necessary medical care, but word travels fast among people who love horses.
Thanks to some networking led by a caring stable owner, Contrada is now in the optimistic and altruistic hands of Allison Lee, the founder of Barney's Farm Sanctuary, who also happens to be a registered nurse, specializing in cancer (but normally treating people). Allison has a soft spot for horses, and especially for thoroughbreds who have been subject to the challenges of the race track.
"There are so many thoroughbreds in the world that don't have homes. The market is saturated with them because they are retired at five or six years old and they live to be 30," she explains. The Sanctuary is also home to a few horses retired from Mardi Gras parading.
Contrada's case meant countless hours of research for Allison, resulting in a road trip to the large animal hospital at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where veterinarians are conducting a trial vaccine study for gray horses with melanoma. Allison, who owns two additional gray horses, jumped at the chance to help find a cure.
On Wednesday, she and fellow horse lover Brian Henderson loaded up Contrada and drove to Gainesville for what was to be the first of four trips, one month apart. But when the vets in Florida examined the 12-year old mare, the decision was made to postpone the vaccine and schedule surgery to remove the large tumor that could eventually grow in a way that would prevent her from being able to pass bowel movements.
"Eighty percent of gray horses get melanoma in their lifetime, so it's extremely common," says Allison. The lesions are most common under the tail but they can also appear in the ears and around the horse's lips where there is less hair and more concentration of gray skin.
Other treatment options involve injecting chemotherapy directly into the lesions, or administering a drug called Cimetidine, to the tune of $200 a month, a hefty price tag that would possibly stabilize the condition for comfort, but not offer a cure.
The surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, and with costs mounting, the Sanctuary has started a fundraiser. If you want to help, Click here to donate to Contrada's Cancer Care.
We'll keep you posted on Contrada's status as she races toward a cure for equine cancer.
More about Barney's: With pigs roaming about, roosters crowing, kittens mewing and a loud whinny from a horse now and again, the Sanctuary is a lively place, celebrating its two year anniversary on the Northshore. Allison and her boyfriend Shaun Accardo, who happens to be a cancer doctor, manage the place with the help of one farmhand and occasional volunteers. If you want to help, check out the Facebook page by clicking here.
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 09:00 PM PST
NEW ORLEANS — The Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office announced the conviction and prison sentence of a man who was convicted of dumping tires in the city.
According to prosecutors, 57-year-old Bryant Ballard withdrew his initial plea of not-guilty and pleaded guilty on four counts of illegal dumping and one count of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. He was sentenced to four years in prison.
Prosecutors say Ballard was one of the city’s most prolific illegal dumpers. They say he was responsible for dumping as many as 14,000 used tires across the city.
Ballard was charged with dumping tires at these locations:
“Illegal dumping is a serious problem in some areas of the city,” District Attorney Cannizzaro said in a written statement announcing the conviction. “No neighborhood should have its property values and quality of life diminished by the blight, health hazards and other problems associated with illegal dumping activities. I’m glad that in this case our police and prosecutors were able to put together a solid case against one such practitioner, and that the judge imposed a meaningful sentence that hopefully will dissuade others from such activity.”
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 08:34 PM PST
Netflix is rebooting the show “Unsolved Mysteries,” the streaming service announced Friday.
According to Netflix, the original creators of the show have teamed up with the producers of “Stranger Things” for a modern take on the series.
As with the original series, investigators will be looking to the viewers for help in solving cases.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, unlike the original series, each episode will focus on a single case rather than multiple cases.
The original series debuted in the late 1980s and ran for 14 seasons with almost 600 episodes.
Each episode of the show covered a different real-life mystery, usually of a true crime variety and occasionally even a paranormal one.
Netflix has not given viewers a release date yet.
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 03:50 PM PST
A former close personal aide to Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman testified Tuesday that the drug kingpin once paid a $100 million bribe to former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
The stunning testimony came from Alex Cifuentes, a Colombian trafficker who once served as Guzman’s secretary and close personal aide.
After three days on the stand in the Brooklyn federal courtroom, the bombshell revelation was only brought up in court by defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman, not prosecutors.
Peña Nieto’s former chief of staff, Francisco Guzman, denied the allegation Tuesday evening.
“The statements of the Colombian drug trafficker in New York are false, defamatory and absurd. The government @EPN was the one who located, arrested and extradited Joaquín Guzmán Loera. Since the beginning of the administration, it was a priority objective of the security cabinet,” Francisco Guzman said in a tweet.
Cifuentes had been testifying about two years spent living with Guzman in the mountains of Sinaloa as the fugitive kingpin eluded the army.
While previous testimony implicated lower-level Mexican politicians as well as police and military officials in the vast corruption network that facilitated Guzman’s cartel’s trafficking, Tuesday’s accounts struck at the highest levels of Mexican political life.
There is a chance jurors may get to hear from Guzman himself during the trial — Lichtman revealed in court that Guzman is being listed as a potential defense witness. But that doesn’t mean his attorneys are required to call on him to testify. The move gives prosecutors a chance to prepare in the event that he chooses to do so.
Details of the alleged bribe
Under cross examination by defense lawyer Lichtman, who referred to transcripts of de-briefings Cifuentes had with US authorities, Cifuentes alleged that a $100 million bribe was paid to Peña Nieto, who was President from 2012 to 2018.
During opening statements in November, Lichtman claimed that Peña Nieto and former Presidents of Mexico “received hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes from his organization.”
A spokesman for Peña Nieto at the time also denied the accusation in a statement posted on Twitter.
“The accusations made by his lawyer are completely false and defamatory,” the statement said.
On Tuesday, Lichtman asked Cifuentes about statements he made to US officials in November 2017, when he claimed the former President allegedly contacted Guzman to say he “didn’t need to stay in hiding” if he paid the money.
Cifuentes told authorities the money was given to Peña Nieto in October 2012, when he was president-elect.
“Yes, that very thing is what Joaquin told me,” Cifuentes responded, adding that a bribe would ensure the kingpin could “continue working.”
Cifuentes said in three separate meetings with US authorities, in 2016 and 2017, that $100 million was paid to Peña Nieto. In a September 2018 meeting, his story changed. He told prosecutors he had been confused about the exact amount of payment.
On Tuesday, he testified that he was “confused” about the exact amount of the bribe.
In one debriefing with the US, Lichtman said Cifuentes told US authorities that a woman who worked for political strategist JJ Rendon sent the witness pictures of suitcases filled with cash inside Rendon’s personal plane. Rendon was running Peña Nieto’s campaign at the time.
Cifuentes testified Tuesday that he believed the photos of cash-filled suitcases were taken in Mexico City, but not on Rendon’s plane.
Rendon denied Cifuentes’ allegations in an interview with CNN Español on Tuesday, and said he is willing to be investigated for them.
Lichtman also asked Cifuentes about another claim he made to US authorities in 2016: that former President Felipe Calderón received a bribe from the Beltrán Leyvas family, Guzman’s drug trafficking rivals.
In November, Calderón denied that he ever received any payments. “The claims made by Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman’s lawyer are absolutely false. Neither he nor the Sinaloa cartel nor anyone else made any payments to me,” he wrote on Twitter.
In court Tuesday, Cifuentes said he did not recall this incident.
Tuesday evening, Calderón tweeted an excerpt of Cifuentes’ testimony in which he told Lichtman “I do not recall the incident very well.” At the end of his tweet, Calderón added, “To clarify.”
Cifuentes, who described himself as Guzman’s “right-hand man, his left-hand man,” had testified earlier Tuesday that Guzman had attempted a $10 million bribe to another high ranking Mexican official but was turned down because the official disliked Guzman.
Cifuentes took the stand against his former boss on Thursday, sharing details on Guzman’s trafficking operations and how the head of the Sinaloa cartel evaded authorities in a series of remote mountain hideaways in his home state.
Cifuentes was arrested in Mexico in 2013 and later extradited to the United States, where he pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges and entered a cooperation agreement with the US government.
Guzman, 61, has pleaded not guilty. If convicted of international drug trafficking, conspiring to murder rivals, gun charges and money laundering, he faces a sentence of life in prison.
In 2017, Guzman was extradited aboard a flight from Juarez, Mexico, to New York.
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 03:37 PM PST
NEW ORLEANS – Diana Ross has joined the lineup for Jazz Fest 2019.
The legendary performer will make her Jazz Fest debut on May 4, according to festival organizers.
Bob Seger was originally scheduled to perform at Jazz Fest, but backed out due to scheduling conflicts.
Tickets can also be purchased in-person at the Smoothie King Center Box Office. Visit http://www.nojazzfest.com for the full lineup and information.
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 03:25 PM PST
SAMBUCA, Italy – Tempted by the deal offering homes for just over $1 in the town of Sambuca on Italy’s island of Sicily?
You and everyone else.
Since CNN Travel broke the news about the €1 ($1.14) offer aimed at revitalizing a beautiful but depopulated community, there’s been a stampede to buy.
Within 48 hours of the story going live, the town has been inundated with tens of thousands of inquiries from people hoping to grab their piece of the rural Italian dream.
Giuseppe Cacioppo, the town’s deputy mayor, says he’s excited by the level of interest, but is freaking out.
“This is great, I’m flabbergasted by the response,” he says. “I haven’t come up for air since the story appeared.
“It’s just been a few days, and I’m already under stress. The €1 houses email inbox is full, so people have been calling me on my mobile. It hasn’t stopped ringing. I have received something like a thousand phone calls, I hope not to go nuts.”
The deputy mayor says the constant phone calls mean he hasn’t been able to sleep. He’s struggling to juggle his institutional role, private job and this new unexpected PR gig.
As of Friday, the town had received 38,000 emails about its deal, which requires buyers to promise to spend up to $17,200 to renovate their new Sicilian homes.
“The whole world has got in touch,” Cacioppo adds. “Callers are from Europe, mainly Spain, Russia, and as far as South Africa, Australia, USA, the Arab Emirates.”
And it’s not just individuals and tourists lured by a dream house in sunny Sicily.
“A team of US lawyers, working for an American company interested in doing real estate business in Sambuca, wants to meet up with us,” says Cacioppo.
“A businessman from New York just called me, saying he’s flying to Sicily tonight.
“And a very rich lady called from Dubai. She wouldn’t say her name or who she works for, but wants the whole package. She wants to buy all the dozens of €1 houses on sale.”
Cacioppo says he’s delighted the article has triggered such global interest but won’t be able to satisfy all incoming requests.
Language barriers are making it all the more harder.
“That story has killed me,” he jokes. “My English is OK — not great — but with other languages I must admit I have a hard time understanding what I’m being asked.
“It’s not easy talking to people on the other side of the world over the phone.”
Cacioppo says newspapers and TV outlets have gotten in touch with him, including Italy’s state broadcaster, RAI, which had no idea of the initiative until CNN reported it. The Italian network now plans to run a special coverage on Sambuca.
Susanne Heinson, a German woman who has already bought a home in Sambuca and was quoted in CNN’s original article about what makes it such a “great, perfect place to live in,” says she’s been tracked online by interested buyers and national German media.
“People get in touch to have more info about the location, what Sambuca is like, how’s the lifestyle there,” she says. “Many ask me to liaise with the town authorities and put them through to Cacioppo. Now I’m just worried Sambuca will stop being a niche place and that flocks of foreigners will arrive.”
Many interested buyers have also targeted CNN’s reporter via social media out of desperation to get a slice of the Sambuca action.
One woman from the United States implored: “Please, can you forward me the phone number of Cacioppo? I need to buy a house in Sambuca. I need to buy it NOW!”
City of Splendor
Ther is a catch to the jaw-dropping officer, however. The new owners must commit to refurbish their choice of the crumbling 40- to 150-square meter dwellings within three years, at a cost starting from €15,000 (about $17,200).
They’ll also need to cough up a €5,000 security deposit that will be returned once the restyle is complete.
Buyers won’t be disappointed, says Cacioppo.
“Sambuca is known as the City of Splendor,” he adds. “This fertile patch of land is dubbed the Earthly Paradise. We’re located inside a natural reserve, packed with history. Gorgeous beaches, woods and mountains surround us. It’s silent and peaceful, an idyllic retreat for a detox stay.”
With the population dwindling, Cacioppo says the town needs outsiders to prevent it falling into ruin.
“We can’t afford to lose our lovely Arab heritage. Luckily, foreigners are lending a hand in this rescue crusade.”
Founded by the Ancient Greeks, Sambuca was later conquered by Saracens who turned it into a flourishing trade center.
The town is named after the Emir Al Zabut, aka the Splendid One. It’s an open-air museum, a patchwork of contrasting architectural styles.
Churches with round Arab-looking domes sit next to Baroque palazzos with glazed tile floors, decorated with smiling cherubs, fearsome gargoyles, twisted columns, allegorical statues and coats of arms.
This is where Sicily’s Arab soul lies. Most houses on sale are located within the “Saracen District,” a kasbah maze of arcaded stone portals and winding narrow alleys (less than a meter wide) through which people squeeze.
Guardian of the valley
The two-story Moorish dwellings, built with pink-reddish stones that glow at sunset, feature inner courtyards, lavish palm gardens with orange and mandarin trees, arcaded entrances, flowery majolica staircases, typical Sicilian tile roofs and terraces overlooking the stunning scenery.
On clear days it’s possible to see Sicily’s Mt. Etna volcano and the distant island of Pantelleria from the Belvedere Terrace, where Al Zabut’s lavish palace once stood as the “guardian of the valley.”
Zabut’s legacy is strong. Streets and local surnames are Arab-sounding. There are couscous cooking classes and Moorish costume parties.
Sambuca’s charm lies also underground, in its “sunken city,” Cacioppo organizes guided tours through the labyrinth of purrere, the holes and caves of old sandstone quarries. Most houses come with private grotto access.
The ghosts of Saracen soldiers slaughtered by the Christians are said to haunt the caves and district at night — there’s even one street called The Phantom — but so far there’ve been no spooky sightings.
Susanna Heinson, from Germany, has already purchased a house and is restyling it, anxious to move in.
“I can’t wait to spend next summer in Sambuca,” she says. “It’s a lovely, special place. The people are very open-minded and friendly. Good restaurants, great wineries. We feel at home.”
She says she’s happy the recovery of the Saracen neighborhood will help to preserve the original face of Sicily and feels “proud to be a part of this.”
The revival is already underway.
Sambuca was nominated in the 2016 Italy’s Most Beautiful Towns contest and there are plans to open a “diffuse,” scattered hotel to help newcomers experience the thrill of blending in with local village life and mingling with residents.
Sambuca’s prime location is one of the biggest selling points.
The countryside is dotted with ruins of pagan temples and Arab lookout towers. Trekking routes lead up to the rocky peak of the nearby Genuardo mountain and its Greek necropolis of Adranon, a hotspot for mushroom foraging.
The mesmerizing archaeological site of Selinunte and the Valley of the Temples are also just a stone’s throw away.
Food and wine
And then there’s the wine. Made in the area since the time of the ancient Greeks, Sambuca now has vast vineyards stretching all the way to the sea.
This is where the renaissance of elite Sicilian wine started.
Niche red grapevines — mainly Nero d’Avola — are grown in estates surrounding Lago Arancio, an artificial lake where low water levels in summer sometimes expose the ruins of an Arab fortress.
Non-local grapes such as Merlot, Syrah and Chardonnay have recently been planted to make premium bottles exported worldwide.
This being Italy, there’s also the attraction of the local food. Anyone staying here should be prepared to stretch their waistline.
Sambuca is called “Sicily’s barn” for its huge amount of grain production.
Old millstones still make bread and pasta using traditional methods and ancient Saracen black wheat varieties, such as sweet-flavored Tumminia.
Signature dishes include busiate short pasta with qualeddu (a wild large leaf yellow flower), sausages and breadcrumbs, and macco di favedried beans soup with wild fennel.
Cucciddatu is a doughnut with pepper, cheese and sausages.
Grandmother-recipe omelettes are made with blue borage flowers and lemon.
Vastedda is a special string cheese of sheep milk, flat as a pizza.
The sweet-toothed can indulge in almond cupcakes and cassateddi, fried sweet ricotta-filled ravioli covered in sprinkled sugar.
“Imagine having breakfast each morning with one of these cakes: who wouldn’t drool at the simple thought?” says Cacioppo.
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 03:13 PM PST
Ariana Grande makes one thing clear in her latest single: She doesn’t need a man.
The singer has been on a roll recently, dropping hit after hit. It appears she may have done it again.
Grande released “7 rings” on Friday, along with a music video for the song that had amassed more than 12 million views on YouTube by Friday afternoon.
“Yeah, breakfast at Tiffany’s and bottles of bubbles/Girls with tattoos who like getting in trouble/Lashes and diamonds, ATM machines/Buy myself all of my favorite things,” the single begins.
Related: Ariana Grande drops song about her exes, and Pete Davidson addresses break up on ‘SNL’
Grande also appears to reference her split with “Saturday Night Live” star Pete Davidson and the death of her ex-boyfriend, Mac Miller.
“Been through some bad s**t/I should be a sad b***h/ Who woulda though it’d turn me to a savage/Rather be tied up with cuffs and not strings/ Write my own checks like I write what I sing, yeah,” she sings.
It doesn’t sound like Grande is looking to settle down again anytime soon.
“Wearing a ring, but ain’t gon’ be no Mrs/ Bought matching diamonds for six of my b****es/ I’d rather spoil all my friends with my riches,” the lyrics read.
“Thank u, next,” Grande’s other relationship reflection song, released in November.
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 03:02 PM PST
NEW ORLEANS – The forecast for the weekend calls for plunging temperatures and that’s triggered the activation of the city's freeze plan.
With the temperatures expected to drop into the 30s for more than four hours Saturday and Sunday nights and "feels like" temperatures expected to dip into the 20s, safety precautions are taking effect.
Temporary shelter will be provided for the homeless, according to city officials.
The public is asked to call the New Orleans Police Department's non-emergency number, (504) 821-2222, to report someone in need of shelter.
Individuals needing shelter will be accepted, free of charge, at the following locations under the following conditions:
Temperatures should return to the middle to upper 50s by Monday afternoon and should stay well above freezing through at least Wednesday.
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 03:00 PM PST
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Posted: 18 Jan 2019 02:52 PM PST
NEW ORLEANS - It's time for the game.
And the Royal Sonesta New Orleans in the heart of the French Quarter on Bourbon Street is ready.
WGNO News with a Twist features guy Wild Bill Wood is headed in the front door, welcomed by Malcolm the Doorman, the best in the entire hotel business.
Malcolm the Doorman is welcoming Saints fans from all over the world into the Royal Sonesta New Orleans.
He's even got a special welcome for fans of the Los Angeles Rams.
Malcolm the Doorman says, "who dat!"
The Royal Sonesta New Orleans is no doubt the place to stay if you're headed to Sunday's Saints game.
And it's the place to quench your thirst.
And to drink if your team does not win the game.
In the hotel's Restaurant R'evolution, you can sip all day on a Saintsation cocktail.
It's stirred up expertly by Jim Carney, one of the restaurant's bartenders
If the Saintsation cocktail gets you in the mood for something sweet, you can take a bite out of a Black and Gold King Cake.
Or you can have a slice of the hotel's Queen's Cake.
It has edible chocolate shoes instead of a baby.
Wild Bill Wood figures, "no doubt inspired by Gayle Benson. and her shoes."
You can pick up one of the cakes at the PJ's Coffee shop located in the lobby of the Royal Sonesta New Orleans.
And then the guy you really need to meet is Darin Stearns.
He's the concierge.
He's ready to hook you up with your ride to the Superdome.
It's hard to leave the Royal Sonesta New Orleans, but if you're in New Orleans for the game, sooner or later, you have to go.
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 02:50 PM PST
NEW ORLEANS - The weekend is here and the countdown has begun. Saints and Rams face off on Sunday, in the Dome.
Jason Logan from Covers.com is here, and Saints fans, you may not like what the numbers are saying.
Although the Saints open at -3 , it seems betters are relying heavily on a field goal.
That looks like early money on home team, but there has since been some shifting.
In the beginning bets were base on the week 9 matchup between the Saints and Rams, where the Saints dominated.
But actually, the Saints blew a 35-14 lead in that game.
The Rams tied 35-35 in 4th quarter, they just weren't able to pull off the win.
"Over their last six games, just one in five ATS, without really a convincing win," says Logan. "You've got that loss to Dallas, a come from behind win against Tampa Bay, a near loss to Carolina, a near loss to Pittsburgh, a week 17 loss to Carolina, and they barely pulled it out last weekend, with a come from behind against the Eagles."
Logan says the Saints have been struggling this season with slow starts. They have actually been outscored 54-10 in the first quarter over the last six games, while the Rams come out strong and explosive.
Now, the Saints have a 10-0 record at home over the last 5 seasons, so that is promising.
The Saints at 2 and 6 over/under at home, while the Rams have the same on the road.
Whoever takes home the win, this should be a great match-up and definitely a nail biter.
Want more? Head on over to Covers.com for all sports betting needs.
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 02:39 PM PST
Metairie, La. -- During training camp, the Saints put a banner up on the wall next to their practice field that reads "Prove them Right." It's right next to their Compete Street sign and has remained hanging there all season. It's been the team's motto and motivation this year, as they embrace the role of being one of the favorites since the preseason.
"I think a lot is talked about the underdog mentality," Brees said. "I think that's an easy thing for people to rally around, you know chip on the shoulder and underdog nobody thinks we can do it and then you go out and you prove them wrong. What's really not talked about a whole lot is when you do have the hype, right? Or when you do have everyone picking you as a pre-season contender and all that stuff. I think it's much harder to handle success then it is failure.Right? Everybody's going to want to bounce back with their best effort after failure and yet, after success and people picking you to be one of the top teams, it's easier to get complacent. I think Sean has done a great job of making sure that there's always a sense of urgency with us in the way that we practice and the way that we prepare. But also embracing that role a little bit and challenging ourselves to see how good we can be."
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 02:28 PM PST
A House panel sent a letter Friday to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar requesting he turn over documents related to the administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy after the release of a memo showing the policy was discussed earlier than previously known.
The letter from the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations cites a 2017 draft memo released Thursday by Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley detailing plans to deter migrants, including the “zero-tolerance” policy. A new inspector general report also found that “thousands” more children had been separated than previously reported by the government.
The letter comes amid a week of back-to-back revelations about the administration’s policy that led to the separation of families apprehended at the US-Mexico border. It’s yet another example of how House Democrats intend to hold Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security accountable.
The panel — headed by Rep. Diana DeGette, Democrat of Colorado — has oversight authority over the Department of Health and Human Services among other agencies.
DeGette will hold a hearing soon in which more information about the policy is likely to come to light.
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 02:16 PM PST
Buddha wasn’t talking about high-stakes poker when he said “Develop the mind of equilibrium,” but it’s advice that seems to be working out pretty well for Scott Wellenbach.
The 67-year-old Canadian, who converted to Buddhism as a young man, won $671,240 at a poker tournament in the Bahamas Wednesday and plans to give it away, as he does with all his winnings. Wellenbach, who works as a translator of Sanskrit and Tibetan Buddhist texts, jokes to the CBC that his deal with the “poker gods” is that they give him results beyond what his ability warrants in return for him giving his winnings away.
He donates to Oxfam and Doctors Without Borders, as well as Buddhist charities and local charities in Nova Scotia.
Wellenbach says he’s won hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years, but the Bahamas win was his biggest by far. He tells the BBC that he was more disciplined than usual in his meditating during the poker tournament, since he was “desperate for a little glimpse of sanity in the midst of all this.”
He admits that it’s tough to reconcile Buddhist practice with the rush of playing poker, though the game itself contains the “contradictions of existence.”
“Poker gives you a tremendous opportunity to work with the heavens and hells of your mind,” he says. “You’re winning and losing every minute-and-a-half, and so some sense of how your hopes and fears go up and down with the passing circumstance of the world is brought to fore at the poker table.” (Buddha would definitely not approve of cheating with radioactive cards.)
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 02:15 PM PST
OKLAHOMA CITY - A wedding ring stolen from the hand of a sleeping 78-year-old woman has been found at a pawn shop, but, with her health failing, her daughter fears she may never get it back before she dies.
Trela Wishon said the ring was stolen off of her elderly mother's hand while she was in an Oklahoma City senior living home, Accel at Crystal Park. She said it happened the same night she was given an Ambien the first time.
"Then when she went to eat breakfast," Wishon said, "she noticed on her hand that her rings were missing."
The ring, or rings, started as her wedding ring. As she could afford to, Wishon's mother would add stones to it. Then, on her 50th anniversary, and then 60th anniversary, her mother added two new diamond studded bands and had all three fused together.
"She was so proud of that set of rings," Wishon said, "so very proud of it."
They never thought they would see the ring again.
Then on Wednesday, a detective called Wishon with great news. He had located the ring at an Oklahoma City pawn shop, which had apparently bought it from someone for $475.
"I just started screaming – I was excited, I was happy, I cried a little bit," Wishon said. "I said, 'Mom, they found your rings! They found your rings!' Her eyes opened up real bright."
But she didn't have the heart to tell her the bad news she had learned from the police.
"The pawn shop is still wanting to maintain ownership of those rings because they forked out $475 for them," Wishon said.
Wishon was told by officers that before the ring can be released to anyone, Wishon and the pawn shop may have to fight over its ownership in property court, unless someone pays the pawn shop for it beforehand.
"Right now, all I want to do is get those rings back to my mom," Wishon said, "because she's in the hospital right now, she's not expected to live, and she's so wishing she could have those rings back, and she's not getting them yet."
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 01:23 PM PST
Saints tight end Ben Watson will be inactive for Sunday’s NFC championship game against the Rams.
Watson has suffered from appendicitis the past few days. He did not have surgery, and returned to practice Friday. ESPN was the first to report that Watson will miss Sunday’s game.
If the Saints win, it is unclear if Watson would play in the Super Bowl. He’s announced his retirement after this season, so if the Rams defeat the Saints Sunday, Watson’s last NFL game would be the playoff win over Philadelphia.
Watson has 35 receptions this season, 2 for touchdowns. One of his TD catches came in a November 4th win over the Rams at the Superdome.
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 12:35 PM PST
NEW ORLEANS – The NOPD is looking for a missing woman with a mental illness who may have wandered away from home.
Forty-three-year-old Toby Sullivan was last seen on January 18 at her home in the 1800 block of St. Thomas Street, according to the NOPD.
Sullivan has wandered away from home at least once before.
She is approximately 5'4" tall and weighs about 240 pounds. She was last seen wearing a green shirt, blue jeans, black sneakers, and carrying a lunch box with a flower pattern.
If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of Toby Sullivan please notify NOPD at (504) 821-2222 or any Sixth District detective at (504) 658-6060.
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 12:09 PM PST
PINELLAS COUNTY, FL — A detention deputy at the Pinellas County Jail was fired Thursday for using excessive force on an inmate in a wheelchair, according to a press release.
Deputy Aaron Hull can be seen in surveillance video from September 2018 grabbing the inmate by the neck and striking him in the face. The Administrative Investigation Division said Hull was verbally counseling a group of inmates during a lock down when the incident happened.
Investigators say the inmate, 24-year-old Taylor Schuessler, verbally challenged Hull and other inmates. Hull approached Schuessler after he refused commands to stop, and grabbed his neck while exchanging words with him.
Hull then poked Schuessler in the head multiple times while maintaining the grasp on his neck, according to the release. Then the deputy grabbed Schuessler’s shirt and got close to his face while exchanging words.
The release says Schuessler then spit toward Hull’s face. Hull reacted by hitting Schuessler three times in the face with an open hand. Hull then called for assistance to remove Schuessler, according to the release.
While relocating him, Hull told investigators Schuessler tried to hit him using his head, elbows and a closed fist. While transporting Schuessler the release says Hull grabbed him around his torso until he deescalated his resistance.
Investigators say during an administrative investigation, Hull admitted that poking Schuessler’s head was inappropriate contact and he should have stopped.
According to the release, Hull was disciplined for similar behavior in 2015 when he flipped over a table while trying to resolve an issue with an inmate.
The Administrative Review Board determined on Thursday that Hull violated policy and he was fired.
Neither Hull nor the inmate were injured in the altercation.
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 12:08 PM PST
DESTREHAN, LA – The St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office and the St. Charles Parish Public School System are in the process of conducting a training exercise.
The joint training exercise is at Harry Hurst Middle School, located at 170 Road Runner Lane Destrehan, LA.
The exercise will started around noon and will continue through the afternoon.
The purpose of this training exercise is to test a multilevel response system by the Sheriff’s office.
This begins with emergency calls from the school to the 9-1-1 Communications Center.
Following that, there will be examinations on actions taken by the first responding deputies, additional Sheriff’s Office personnel, and Command Staff.
Additionally, within the school, the school staff response to critical incidents and emergencies will be tested using reality based training scenarios.
Emphasis will be placed on implementation of an Incident Command System as well as medical response to a Mass Casualty Event, with concentration on demonstrating the ability to facilitate a unified response to identify and stop any threat to the school.
Participants in this training exercise include: personnel from the St. Charles Parish Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, East St. Charles Parish Fire Department, St. Charles Parish Mass Casualty Response Team, St. Charles Parish Emergency Medical Services, St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office, and the St. Charles Parish Public Schools.
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 12:06 PM PST
The White House announced Friday that a second summit will take place between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in February.
The announcement came after Trump met with Kim Yong Chol, North Korea’s lead negotiator on nuclear talks, for more than 90 minutes at the White House Friday “to discuss denuclearization and a second summit, which will take place near the end of February,” according to press secretary Sarah Sanders.
“The President looks forward to meeting with Chairman Kim at a place to be announced at a later date,” she added.
Trump welcomed Kim Yong Chol into the Oval Office shortly after the North Korean envoy met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a Washington hotel. Pompeo also invited Kim and his delegation to lunch following the White House meeting with Trump.
Kim arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport Thursday evening, bringing with him a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meant for Trump, a source familiar with the denuclearization talks between the US and North Korea told CNN.
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