Mom learns foster baby is her adopted son’s sister, so she adopts her as well

Ashley Creative Co.(NEW YORK) — A single mother received the surprise of her life after discovering that the baby girl she was about to adopt shared the same biological mother as her newly adopted son.

“[Hannah] is the opposite of Grayson,” Katie Page of Parker, Colorado, told “Good Morning America” of her kids. “He loves to chill and she’s a wild thing. As soon as I started figuring it out that she was his sibling, I said, ‘Absolutely, [I’ll adopt her].’ Once I took in Grayson and I accepted being his mom, I accepted his family.”

Page divorced in her early 30s before becoming a foster parent in 2016. During her marriage, she experienced issues with infertility but had dreams of being a mom, she said.

“It was on my bucket list and I also always wanted to adopt,” Page added.

Page cared for four foster children before meeting Grayson — a baby boy who was abandoned at the hospital. On May 25, 2017, Page officially adopted Grayson, who is now 2 years old.

“The minute I saw him in the hospital, I fell in love,” Page said. “He’s so calm and sweet. He has the biggest challenges of all the kids.”

A month after Page adopted Grayson, she received a call about a newborn girl, named Hannah, who needed a home.

Page said as soon as she met Hannah, now a year old, that she knew she wanted to give her a forever home as well.

But when Page brought Hannah home and saw the name of the biological mother on the hospital bracelet, she noticed a similarity.

“[The caseworkers] told me her story, which was really similar to Grayson’s,” Page recalled. “I saw her medical bracelet and the first name of her mother was the same name as Grayson’s mom. She didn’t have a typical name.”

Page said it was unclear whether or not Grayson and Hannah were brother and sister because their mother had lied about her last name and date of birth when she left Grayson at the hospital on the day he was born. Both children had been exposed to methamphetamines in the womb, according to Page.

Page’s roommate, Ashley Chapa, was present as she began unfolding the mystery.

“It was as surreal as you could imagine,” Chapa told “GMA.” “Katie got her binder out from her paperwork with Grayson and we realized, same first name — everything. I’ve always thought she was a superwoman, but I think she is more now.”

On Dec. 28, 2018, Page officially adopted Hannah. Months prior, Page had a DNA test done on the children that confirmed them to be biological siblings, she said.

Page hopes to adopt Grayson and Hannah’s 5-month-old sibling this year, she said.

“I was a single woman in a four-bedroom house and now every room in my house is full,” Page said. It’s never dull. People ask me all the time, ‘How do you do it?’ I never thought I’d have three babies, but God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says she is running for president in 2020

Political News Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says she is running for president in 2020

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) —  Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is running for President in 2020.

The Democrat and Iraq War veteran who was first elected to Congress in 2012 told CNN’s Van Jones in an interview slated to air Saturday evening that a formal announcement of her candidacy will come shortly.

“I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week,” Gabbard said.

Gabbard, who is also the first Hindu member of Congress, is one of the first major candidates to directly declare a presidential candidacy.

Thus far only former Maryland Rep. John Delaney has mounted an official presidential bid. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee at the end of last year.

Gabbard sits on the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees and is currently a Major in the Army National Guard.

Within minutes of the news that Gabbard is mounting a presidential campaign, the Republican National Committee (RNC) blasted out a press release detailing her potential vulnerabilities.

“Tulsi Gabbard has an even bigger problem than her lack of experience — it’s that she has no base of support,” RNC spokesman Michael Ahrens wrote in a statement released Friday evening.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Jan 2019

Florida sheriff suspended over handling of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting

U.S. NEWS Florida sheriff suspended over handling of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(PARKLAND, Fla.) —  Florida’s new governor Ron DeSantis has suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel over his department’s much-maligned response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting last February — which took the lives of 17 students and staff — and installed the county’s first African-American sheriff, former Coral Springs police sergeant Gregory Tony, according to official statements.

On Friday evening, three days after being sworn in, DeSantis issued a tweet saying that “effective immediately, I am officially suspending Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel for his repeated failures, incompetence and neglect of duty.” The tweet linked to an executive order signed by the newly minted governor.

Israel reacted shortly after the governor’s announcement, holding a press conference in which he defended his tenure and contended that he was a victim of local politics.

“There was no wrongdoing on my part,” Israel said at the press conference. “I served the county honorably.”

Israel said he plans to “vigorously fight this unjustified suspension” and intends to return to office soon.

“This was about politics, not about Parkland,” Israel said.

Among a raft of criticism, DeSantis’ executive order noted that Broward County Sheriff’s Department personnel had 21 interactions with the school shooter prior to the massacre, the first one coming in February 2016 — two years before the attack — when the shooter “posted a picture of a gun with a statement similar to, ‘I am going to get this gun when I turn 18 and shoot up school.'”

Israel has been the subject of extraordinary criticism in the wake of the massacre on Valentine’s Day 2018.

Last spring, about two months after the shooting spree, 534 out of 628 deputies issued a ‘no confidence’ vote in his leadership compared to 94 who voted in confidence of the sheriff, Jeff Bell, president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, told ABC News at the time.

“I will not be distracted from my duties by this inconsequential … union vote, which was designed to extort a 6.5 percent pay raise from this agency,” Israel responded, in part, to the union vote.

Last month, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission issued a scathing report about the Broward County Sheriff’s Department, specifying that one of Israel’s key active shooter policies may have contributed to the carnage.

The commission noted that a written policy saying that Broward County deputies “may” confront active shooters, rather than “shall,” provided an excuse for not entering the school to confront the shooter.

Israel, whose elected term ends in 2020, has said he would not leave office voluntarily.

Responding to the commission report last month, Israel said that all Broward sheriff’s deputies completed an additional eight hours of active-shooter training, that the department has created a threat assessment unit and that it has enacted other reforms.

When asked by CNN days after the shooting whether he would have done anything differently, Israel famously replied, “If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts, O.J. Simpson would still be in the record books.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Jan 2019

Growing number of Republicans rebuke Iowa Rep. Steve King over ‘white supremacy’ comments

Political News Growing number of Republicans rebuke Iowa Rep. Steve King over 'white supremacy' comments

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) —  Sen. Tim Scott, the lone African-American in the Senate GOP ranks, is the latest Republican to rebuke Iowa Congressman Steve King, after the eight-term GOP representative, in an interview with the New York Times earlier this week, questioned why the terms “white nationalism” and “white supremacy” are considered offensive in modern America.

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” Mr. King said in the interview with the Times, “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

Those comments, coupled with King’s long history of controversial comments about race and immigration, have led several prominent Republicans to rebuke King and call for a primary challenge to him in 2020.

Scott, from South Carolina, criticized King’s comments, in an op-ed in the Washington Post on Friday entitled: “Why are Republicans accused of racism? Because we’re silent on things like this.”

“I will admit I am unsure who is offended by the term “Western civilization” on its own, but anyone who needs ‘white nationalist’ or ‘white supremacist’ defined, described and defended does lack some pretty common knowledge,” Scott wrote.

King, who won re-election in 2018 by just over 3 points despite representing a district President Trump won by 27 points in 2016, took to the House floor Friday afternoon to lament the “freshman mistake” he made by granting the Times an interview.

The congressman went on to offer an apology for the “heartburn” his comments have caused and said that he rejects the ideology and ideas of white supremacy and white nationalism.

“I regret the heartburn that’s poured forth upon this Congress and this country and especially in my state and congressional district,” King said Friday. “But the people who know me know I wouldn’t have to make this statement because they do know me.”

Other top Republicans, from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., have also leveled harsh criticism of King.

“Everything about white supremacy and white nationalism goes against who we are as a nation,” McCarthy wrote in a statement released Thursday, “Steve’s language is reckless, wrong, and has no place in our society. The Declaration of Independence states that ‘all men are created equal.’ That is a fact. It is self-evident.”



Former GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush weighed in on Twitter as well, calling on party leaders to help defeat King.



Those looking for a significant primary challenge to King may find hope in Iowa State Senator Randy Feenstra, who announced earlier this week that he is taking steps to run against the incumbent in the GOP primary next year.

“Today, Iowa’s 4th District doesn’t have a voice in Washington, because our current representative’s caustic nature has left us without a seat at the table,” Feenstra wrote in a statement Wednesday announcing his candidacy, “We don’t need any more sideshows or distractions, we need to start winning for Iowa’s families.”

King responded to the news of Feenstra’s candidacy by calling it, “misguided political opportunism, fueled by establishment puppeteers,” in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Jan 2019

Tornillo, the Texas tent camp that housed thousands of migrant children, will close: HH

U.S. NEWS Tornillo, the Texas tent camp that housed thousands of migrant children, will close: HH

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — A massive tent camp in Texas that at one point housed some 2,800 migrant teenagers who had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border alone will close, the Trump administration announced Friday.

By this weekend, the last of the children there either will have been sent to live with sponsors or transferred to another shelter, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services.

The Tornillo facility in Texas had become a lightning rod in the immigration debate. The tent camp ballooned as U.S. officials reported an influx of older children and teenagers arriving at the border without parents. HHS took custody of the “unaccompanied minors,” and relied on privately run shelters like Tornillo scattered across the country to care for the teens.

At one point, the total number of migrant minors in U.S. custody reached nearly 15,000. An HHS spokeswoman said Friday that the number has since dropped to 11,0000.

Amnesty International and several Democrats cheered the move to close Tornillo, which had been the subject of an internal investigation on whether background checks into staff members had been sufficient.

“Warehousing thousands of children in tents for weeks and months on end has been one of the most disastrous policies of the Trump administration responding to children and families seeking safety at the border,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA.

Administration officials say they have had little choice but to house teens in facilities like Tornillo because the kids weren’t in the country legally and releasing them to sponsors without stringent background checks could have put them at additional risk.

But company officials who ran the facility told ABC News last month that the company had refused to accept a government contract past Jan. 1. They blamed the government for causing the crisis by demanding onerous FBI background checks and bureaucratic rules that caused some children to languish at the facility for more than 50 days.

With the system buckling under the strain of caring for so many children, the Trump administration announced in December that it would loosen requirements for sponsorship.

Lynn Johnson, assistant secretary of the administration for children and families at HHS, said that the last group of children will be discharged from Tornillo this weekend and the shelter will “continue the path towards closure.”

“As the Trump administration continues to enforce current laws to address our nation’s crisis at the border, the program will need to continue to evaluate needs and capacity in order to care for the hundreds of (unaccompanied minors) that cross the U.S. border daily,” she wrote in a statement provided to ABC News.

Her statement, however, suggested that other facilities like Tornillo aren’t going away and could be used again if there’s continued influx of asylum claims at the southern border.

“The program is designed to expand and contract to meet these needs and facilities, like Tornillo, have been critical during periods of influx as was done in 2012, 2014, and 2016.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Jan 2019

Trump says he’s not declaring national emergency for now, calls it ‘the easy way out’ of border wall fightal emergency in border wall fight

Political News Trump says he's not declaring national emergency for now, calls it 'the easy way out' of border wall fightal emergency in border wall fight

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — On day 21 of the partial government shutdown, President Donald Trump signaled he’s not inclined to declare a national emergency “so fast” – calling that “the easy way out” – even as he continued to assert he has the “absolute right” to do so if congressional Democrats keep refusing to approve paying for the wall Trump wants on the U.S. border with Mexico.

“What we’re not looking to do right now is national emergency, what we want to do, we have the absolute right to do it, in many ways it’s the easy way out, but this is up to Congress, and it should be up to Congress, and they should do it,” the president said Friday during a roundtable discussion on border security.

But even as he expressed his strong preference to reach a deal with Congress, he also made clear that he will go forward with an emergency declaration should he fail to gain congressional approval.

“If they can’t do it, I will declare a national emergency. I have the absolute right to do it,” he said.

But as the third week of the partial government shutdown came to a close, the two sides were no closer to finding any common ground after negotiations fell apart during a White House meeting Wednesday.

Even Republican senators on Friday offered conflicting advice to the president over whether he should go ahead and declare an emergency.

Trump ally and new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, met with the president at the White House on Friday afternoon and in a tweet afterward wrote, “Mr. President, Declare a national emergency NOW. Build a wall NOW.”

But other Republicans have warned the president against using his executive power to circumvent Congress and use funds allocated to the military to build a wall, saying it would set a dangerous political precedent.

“I think the president should not do it. I think as a member of Congress I ought to be very selfish about the constitutional powers that we have to appropriate money. I think it might be a bad precedent,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Friday morning to CNN.

“For people on my side of the aisle, one of the concerns we should have is if today the national emergency is border security, and it entitles him to go out and do something — we all support that,” Sen. Marco Rubio, a Flordia Republican, told CNBC.

“Tomorrow. the national-security emergency might be climate change, so let’s seize the fossil-fuel plants or something. Maybe it’s an exaggeration, but my point is we’ve got to be very careful about endorsing broad uses of executive power.”

GOP Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah Rob Portman of Ohio both said they don’t want the president to declare a national emergency.

Democrats, meanwhile, have vowed to introduce a resolution to overturn an emergency declaration and block Trump and have promised quick court challenges if he makes the move.

As of Friday, there were no negotiations scheduled and no end in sight to the current impasse between Trump and congressional Democrats over border wall funding, with the government shutdown tying the record for the longest in American history.

And on Friday, thousands of the more than 800,000 federal workers furloughed missed their first scheduled paychecks during the shutdown.

The president traveled to McAllen, Texas, on Thursday to draw attention to his continued demands for $5.7 billion for a wall along the southern border, repeating that if negotiations broke down, he was likely to declare a national emergency to secure funding.

The White House has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to find money designated for disaster relief projects for the wall, sources tell ABC News.

On Friday, the president laid the groundwork to his potential claim of a national emergency by tweeting about the situation he observed while on the border.

“Humanitarian Crisis at our Southern Border. I just got back and it is a far worse situation than almost anyone would understand, an invasion! I have been there numerous times – The Democrats, Cryin’ Chuck and Nancy don’t know how bad and dangerous it is for our ENTIRE COUNTRY,” Trump wrote, referring to his standoff with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“The Steel Barrier, or Wall, should have been built by previous administrations long ago. They never got it done – I will. Without it, our Country cannot be safe. Criminals, Gangs, Human Traffickers, Drugs & so much other big trouble can easily pour in. It can be stopped cold!” He continued.

Vice President Mike Pence was briefed Friday by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, and the Chief of U.S. Border Patrol Carla Provost. Afterward, he addressed Customs and Border Patrol employees in an effort to “boost morale,” according to an aide.

“While some in the public debate say this is a manufactured crisis, I expect the men and women in uniform here and those that might be looking on know the truth of it,” he said. The vice president said 27,000 people crossed the border in December, at the highest levels seen since the president took office. “It is putting an extraordinary burden on us border patrol and customs officers.”

“We have a humanitarian crisis on our southern border and it demands action by Congress,” Pence said. He added that the administration will continue to “keep fighting to build the wall and give you the resources you need to do your job.”

Pence told the officers gathered, all of whom are working without pay, that at the president’s direction the administration has “taken steps to mitigate the impact of this partial shutdown,” adding that the House had passed legislation to ensure back pay when the government reopens.

“We’re going to continue to work to end this shutdown but we’re going to continue to stand to get you the resources you need,” Pence said.

Democrats have said, however, that they will not capitulate to the president’s demands for wall funding in order to reopen the government.

The Senate and House adjourned Friday until next week, meaning the partial government shutdown will continue until then at the earliest.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Jan 2019

House GOP urges Trump not to redirect disaster relief money to fund border wall

Political News House GOP urges Trump not to redirect disaster relief money to fund border wall

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) —  Ahead of a potential announcement by President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency and reallocate billions of dollars to pay for a border wall, House Republicans representing congressional districts that are still recovering from hurricanes say they’re opposed to the plan.

“Our district is still recovering from Hurricane Harvey,” Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, told ABC News. “I hope that they can get those [funds] from somewhere else.”

Rep. Buddy Carter said that there’s “no question” Georgians are still recovering from Hurricane Michael, and urged the president not to redirect any disaster relief money from the Peach State to cover the border wall.

“As a result of Hurricane Michael, in southwest Georgia in particular, we’ve had devastating impact on our crops and in order for the farmers to recover and to start planning for the next cycle, then they need that disaster relief as soon as possible,” Carter, R-Georgia, said. “There’s a need for disaster relief. No question about it.”

Another Texas Republican, Rep. Roger Williams, defended the House’s constitutional power of the purse and urged congressional leaders to negotiate an agreement with the president.

“I’m not for that idea right now. I’m for getting back to negotiations,” Williams said. “I think Congress should have a hand in it. I represent Fort Hood, the largest military base in the country, and we’re doing a lot of great things down there with our motor pools, with our runways, with our barracks that sorely need to be done to, you know, create an environment for our soldiers. So I don’t want any money taken from there. We’ve got a lot of momentum going there, so I would hope that we could negotiate this thing.”

Rep. John Rutherford, R-Florida, said it “remains to be seen” whether Trump has the authority to fund the wall without congressional approval, but he is also “very supportive of getting that wall built.”

Carter also agreed there is “some question” as to whether Trump has the power to reprogram disaster relief to pay for the border wall.

“I hope it doesn’t come to that,” Carter said. “I hope that we can get this worked out and that we can fulfill our obligation and that is to secure our borders.”

While he’d like Trump to pursue alternate funding options, Babin – who is refusing his congressional salary until the government reopens – stressed that the president is “doing the right thing” by refusing to reopen government over his $5.7 billion demand.

“I’ll tell you, we need to have border security. That is something else that is pressing hard on the state of Texas right now,” he said. “It is a crisis beyond most people’s imaginations and we’ve got to have some relief there.”

Williams, who served as secretary of state of Texas prior to his election to Congress, said that border patrol has told him that they need a physical barrier at the border to control illegal immigration.

“We have a real, real problem, okay?” Williams said. “They need some sort of barrier to improve what’s going on.”

“I’m total[ly] for border security. It’s a real thing. If you live in Texas, you get it. We want people to realize the American dream, but they need to do it legally,” Williams continued. “A lot of things can happen there, but I totally support the president on border security.”

Carter said he’s visited the southern border and believes a solution will require additional border security measures beyond a physical barrier.

“It’s going to take more than just the wall, more than just a fence,” Carter said. “A fence works perfect in some areas, such as San Diego, but in other areas like Arizona, you need boots on the ground, you need technology. You need blimps, drones. All those types of things.”

The money for the wall could possibly be drawn from the Army Corps of Engineer’s Long Term Disaster Recovery Investment Plan Construction Account, which totals about $13.9 billion and is comprised from more than 50 projects – mainly from Puerto Rico, as well as Texas, Florida, California – and to a lesser degree projects in Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

The White House has specifically asked the Army Corps of Engineers to examine what funds could be redirected to the border wall from an emergency supplemental that passed in February 2018.

One U.S. official said the money could be used to build as much as 315 miles of border wall under the direction of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Jan 2019

‘I need help,’ missing 13-year-old Jayme Closs told dog walker after she escaped alleged captor’s home

U.S. NEWS 'I need help,' missing 13-year-old Jayme Closs told dog walker after she escaped alleged captor's home

releon8211/iStock(GORDON, Wis.) — Jayme Closs, the 13-year-old Wisconsin girl who was reported missing after her parents were found shot to death in October, told the woman who initially found her that she was able to escape her alleged captor after he left his home, the woman said.

Jeanne Nutter told ABC News that she was walking her dog along the side of an ice-glazed and snowy road near her cabin when Closs, who looked disheveled, cold and thin, approached her.

“I need help,” Closs said in a soft voice, Nutter told ABC News. “…I’m Jayme Closs, I don’t know where I’m at.”

Nutter, a retired social worker, lives near La Crosse, Wisconsin, and was only at her cabin in Gordon for a long weekend when she came across Closs.

Her experience as a social worker immediately kicked in, and she knew that Closs had been through a horrifying ordeal, she said.

When Nutter asked Closs where she had come from, she said the girl pointed to a cabin across the way and said the man who was allegedly holding her had left. Wanting to put some distance between her and the suspect’s cabin, Nutter began walking further to the home of Peter and Kristin Kasinskas, knowing that they were foster parents and would want to help, Nutter said.

Kristin Kasinskas was just getting home from work when her dog started barking because someone was walking up her driveway, she told ABC News. It was her neighbor — along with a girl with matted hair and shoes too big for her.

“She came to the door, she knocked, then she actually just opened the door and said, ‘Call 911, this is Jayme Closs.’ We recognized Jayme immediately, because obviously, we’ve seen her picture everywhere, everywhere,” Kasinskas said.

Closs did not explain how she escaped from apparent captivity, Kasinskas added.

“I think [Jayme] looks thinner than what her pictures showed,” Kasinskas said. “She definitely looked unkempt, kind of — she didn’t have shoes that were hers. She was wearing really big shoes that she obviously took from wherever she came from. She looked, overall, in good condition, just a little unclean, like she’d been held captive.”

In the early hours of Oct. 15, police responded to a 911 call featuring “a lot of yelling,” a record from the Barron County Sheriff’s Department obtained by ABC News said.

Police arrived to find James and Denise Closs, 56 and 46, shot and killed in their home. Closs was missing and believed to have been abducted.

On Thursday, Kasinskas said she and Nutter sat Closs on a couch and called 911, with someone staying on the line with them until police arrived and took her to a hospital about half an hour later. In the meantime, they talked, Kasinskas added.

“She was very sweet,” Kasinskas said. “I asked her some questions about if she’d ever heard of Gordon, Wisconsin. She had not. Stuff like that. Not anything real specific, but she did talk to us a little, talked to my kids a little bit. I introduced her to my new puppy. We kept it very simple and just very calm until the cops got here to take her.”

Closs told the women she had been at a house a few doors down from Kasinskas’ and that she hadn’t known the person who was holding her, Kasinskas recalled, but that it was the same person who killed her parents.

“We probably have walked our dog by that house on numerous occasions,” Kasinskas said, although she added she was not familiar with who lived there.

Nutter was “really calm and collected,” Kasinskas said, and “did a very good job getting her here, keeping her calm.”

But underneath the surface, the women were shocked, Kasinskas said. She told ABC News the moment felt “like it wasn’t real,” especially since the community was so familiar with Closs’ story and had been keeping eyes out for her.

Kasinskas’ children recognized Jayme immediately as well — the school district had just done an “event for hope” for her, the mom said.

Kasinskas believes Nutter came to her home “partly because she knew us, of course, but I think she just felt safer knowing my husband would be here, that we’d all be here doing this together rather than her alone.”

The town of Gordon is about 70 miles north of Barron, where Closs lived with her parents.

Nutter said she never imagined that she would end up in the center of an ordeal like the teen’s disappearance. She did not recognize the suspect, 21-year-old Jake Thomas Patterson of Gordon, but said she thought it was unusual that no one ever came in or out of his home because neighbors tend to be friendly in the small, rural community.

The Barron County Sheriff’s Department confirmed on Thursday night that a suspect was taken into custody.

Jennifer Smith, Closs’ aunt and godmother, told ABC News they will be reunited on Friday.

“We are just happy everyone kept praying and didn’t give up hope, like we didn’t,” Smith said. “A lot of happy tears in this house tonight.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Jan 2019

Stress, anxiety weigh on government employees as shutdown continues


(PHILADELPHIA) — The federal government’s partial shutdown is affecting an estimated 800,000 federal employees, many of whom will not be receiving their paychecks this weekend even as they continue to work.

About 51,000 of those employees work for the TSA, including Brian Turner, a 27-year-old husband and father to a newborn baby. Turner is a TSA officer at Philadelphia International Airport. During a work break on Thursday, he told ABC News about the anxiety and stress he felt because of his paycheck getting delayed.

“We are a paycheck-to-paycheck family and we depend on that regular income,” Turner said. “Passengers have been very sympathetic. We’ve had a lot of people coming up and saying, ‘Thank you for being here and working without pay.’ That keeps you going even when you’re feeling stressed.”

As government employees move further into January, they’ll have to consider living expenses, such as bills, groceries, and rent or mortgage, and these can really put a strain on families, increasing stress, according to Oscar Holmes IV, Ph.D., an assistant professor of management at Rutgers University School of Business.

When stress hormone levels rise, a person risks poorer health outcomes, such as high blood pressure and insomnia, Holmes said. And as the shutdown gets longer, the consequences of stress can compound, making people more likely to make careless mistakes or become distracted, he said.

Although Turner said that he doesn’t believe his or his colleagues’ job performance has suffered, he agreed that “there’s no shortage of stress,” having had to celebrate the holidays knowing he likely wouldn’t be getting paid.

“It was our baby’s first Christmas, so we wanted to make it big and special, but we had to cut back a lot on that, which was really hard,” he said. “There’s only so much you can cut back, because all our expenses go to the baby and bills.”

Turner said that he started stretching his income once he heard rumors about a possible shutdown, and because his wife works, too, the family has been able to fall back on a little bit of savings. However, he said that some of his colleagues aren’t as fortunate.

“I have some coworkers who are single parents, so I do have colleagues who don’t think they can make it to the next paycheck. … I can imagine if you have to pick between putting food on the table and paying for gas to drive to work, you’re going to choose to feed your kids,” Turner said.

The government shutdown is poised to become the longest ever, with no end in sight. Even when it does end, it’s likely that the effects of it will linger as employees work to make up for missed payments, Holmes said.

“There is likely to be a psychological hangover effect long after the shutdown ends,” Holmes said, adding that it erodes the idea that the government provides stable jobs. “A situation like this makes the reputation of the government as an employer even worse.”

Turner said that he takes great pride in his job, but he agreed that this shutdown makes him think differently about the stability he has working for the government. He was with the TSA during the 2013 shutdown, but said that this one feels different as it’s the first one where he won’t be getting paid on time.

“This seems like it will be happening more and more now, so it’s something I need to be prepared for,” he said, noting that despite his check getting delayed, he still doesn’t plan to leave his job.

“I love my job, and it would never be an easy choice to leave. I’m going to try to hang in as long as I can. There are a lot of dedicated people who work in the government. You don’t go into this line of work for the pay,” Turner said. “I think the general consensus is that people are going to do it for as long as they can. If they have to leave, it’s not going to be by choice.”

Dr. Anees Benferhat is a resident physician in psychiatry in New York City and a member of the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Family of federal worker struggling because of the government shutdown begs Trump to meet with them

U.S. NEWS Family of federal worker struggling because of the government shutdown begs Trump to meet with them

Allie McKinney(NEW YORK) — A stay-at-home mom whose family is struggling to make ends meet as the government shutdown stretches into one of the longest in U.S. history has a message for President Donald Trump: Come to Walton, Kentucky, and let’s talk.

Allie McKinney, 28, is mom to 1-year-old Harper, born at just 26 weeks weighing one pound and unable to breathe without a ventilator. McKinney, a former social worker, quit her job to tend to Harper and burned through their savings during Harper’s 302-day stay at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

Then came the government shutdown. Harper’s dad, Chris Rachford, is still working nights doing data entry at the IRS facility nearby. But because of the shutdown that began Dec. 22, his paycheck on Monday will likely be zero.

While the family relies on Medicaid to pay for much of Harper’s care, like therapy and medical equipment, it’s dad’s income that puts food on the table and covers gas and insurance, McKinney said, and she wouldn’t be able to return to work without special nursing care for Harper.

Now, McKinney wants to sit down one-on-one with Trump to tell him it’s unrealistic to tell families like hers to “make adjustments.”

“We had a nest egg. We used that nest egg,” McKinney told ABC News on Friday. “Now, you – the government – is creating another traumatic event for us … There are a lot of people who can’t just make it work.”

Some 800,000 federal workers are impacted by the partial shutdown with about half of those workers still required to work without pay.

By Saturday, the funding lapse will become the longest on record at 22 days, as Congress and Trump remain at an impasse over Trump’s insistence that the U.S. build a border wall.

One major union, the American Federation of Government Employees, estimated that about a third of the 800,000 impacted workers will miss their first paycheck on Friday. Another third will experience a missed paycheck on Monday because of the shutdown, and the remaining third will turn up empty on Tuesday.

Tony Reardon, head of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents many IRS and U.S. Customs and Border Protection workers, called Friday an “ominous day” because it’s the day the shutdown finally hits home for many Americans.

“Federal employees started this shutdown nervous and anxious about their future,” he said. “Today, many of them will be downright terrified about whether they can make their car payment, their mortgage, their daycare bill or their children’s tuition bills.”

Hundreds of federal workers across the country on Thursday organized demonstrations against the shutdown. Rallies were held in Washington, D.C., Detroit, Dallas, and Ogden, Utah.

In past shutdowns, federal workers typically received back pay after the government resumed operating, but an unknown number of contractors are unlikely to receive compensation.

One union that represents security guards and custodians, SEIU 32BJ, said it estimates some 600 of its members who work in the nation’s capital as contractors will go without their first paychecks today — paychecks that most of those employees can’t afford to miss.

So far, the Trump administration has tried to blunt the impact on the general public by promising to maintain food assistance through February and bringing back IRS personnel to process tax refunds.

But the longer the shutdown lasts, the more federal agencies will be operating in unknown territory.

Rachford told ABC affiliate WCPO-tv in Cincinnati that he voted for Trump in 2016 but said the shutdown and other recent events have made him regret that decision.

“We’re all scrounging,” he said of his fellow IRS workers. “Everybody’s talking about how they’re going to pay their next rent, how they’re going to pay their next mortgage bill.”

Meanwhile, McKinney said she is hoping Trump will hear her story and be willing to rethink his demands for the border wall if it means keeping the government shutdown any longer.

“He’s a father, you would think he would have some soft spot, somewhere deep down,” she said. “He lacks so much empathy, it seems. I know it won’t change anything, but, I want him to see how it’s hurting us.”

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Posted On 11 Jan 2019