Sightings of Tasmanian tiger, thought to be extinct for 80 years, reported: Australian government

Vac1/iStock(SYDNEY) — Sightings of the Tasmanian tiger, a large carnivorous marsupial thought to be extinct since 1936, have been reported as recently as three months ago, according to the Australian government.

The details of eight supposed sightings of the animal, also known as the thylacine, in recent years were released by the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment in Tasmania.

In July, a man reported seeing a footprint on Sleeping Beauty mountain, according to the document. The man stated that he believes the print belonged to a Tasmanian tiger after he went home and googled photos of it.

In November 2018, a woman reported seeing what she believed to be a Tasmanian tiger and two cubs at the Hartz Mountains National Park, and two people reported seeing the animal after it walked out in front of them while driving in Corinna, describing it as bigger than a fox but smaller than a German shepherd with stripes down its back.

Four other sightings were reported between February 2016 and February 2018, according to the document. A man also reported in August that he believes he saw a thylacine on his land about seven years ago.

The Tasmanian tiger is the largest carnivorous marsupial of recent times and was found on the Australian mainland and island of New Guinea, according to Britannica. It was presumed to be extinct after the last captive animal died in 1936 at the Hobart Zoo in Tasmania.

The animal, which has the face of a fox and yellowish, brown fur and stripes along its back, hunted at night for wallabies and birds, according to Britannica. While it has a skull similar to that of a dog, the females have a shallow pouch that can carry two to four young at a time.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 17 Oct 2019

Turkey agrees to Syria ceasefire: Vice President Mike Pence

omersukrugoksu/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Turkey has agreed to a ceasefire in northern Syria between its forces and their allied rebels and U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds, Vice President Mike Pence announced.

Pence met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Thursday to push for a ceasefire.

Erdogan had repeatedly rejected the idea, saying his government would not negotiate with what it considers a terrorist organization.

The high-level diplomacy comes one day after President Donald Trump dismissed concerns about the violent clashes: “That’s between Turkey and Syria, it’s not between Turkey and the United States, like a lot of stupid people would like us to, would like you to believe,” he said in the Oval Office Wednesday.

Trump has come under withering criticism by Republicans and Democrats for withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria, after initially pulling back two attachments of troops in advance of Turkey’s operation against the Syrian Kurds.

That was seen as giving a green light to Erdogan to attack the Kurds that had been armed by and fought alongside the U.S. against ISIS, losing 11,000 troops in that battle. Turkey considers these forces, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, to be terrorists, indistinguishable from Kurdish separatists in Turkey that Turkey and the U.S. both have designated as terrorists.

Trump denied Wednesday that he had given a green light, saying he could not have stopped Turkey: “There was never given a green light. They’ve been wanting to do that for years and, frankly, they’ve been fighting for many, many years.”

Pence and Erdogan met in Turkey’s capital Ankara for one hour and 20 minutes — a one-on-one meeting that was originally scheduled to last just 10 minutes. In footage released by Turkish state media, Pence shook hands with the strongman president and said, “Thanks for seeing me.”

Pence was joined by U.S. special envoy for Syria Jim Jeffrey, a veteran diplomat who previously served as ambassador to Turkey and served as translator during the meeting.

Later, the full delegations met, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien from the U.S. side and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from Turkey. No one spoke during a brief photo op at the start, even after one reporter asked whether they’d agreed on a ceasefire.

Trump has sent mixed signals on the operation, at times dismissing any U.S. concern over it, but then also penalizing Turkey with sanctions Monday on its defense, energy, and interior ministers and defense and energy ministries.

The day Turkey launched its offensive last week, Trump admonished Erdogan in a surreal personal letter in which he threatened to be “responsible for destroying the Turkish economy” and said his fellow leader should not be “a tough guy” or a “fool.” The letter was first reported by Fox News and later confirmed as accurate to ABC News by a senior administration official.

But on Wednesday, just hours before Pence departed for Ankara — carrying out Trump’s directive to try to negotiate a ceasefire — Trump again said he did not think the United States should get involved. “It’s not our border,” he told reporters at the White House. “We shouldn’t be losing lives over it.”

Erdogan told reporters Tuesday that he could not keep up with all the different messages from Trump: “When we take a look at Mr Trump’s Twitter posts, we can no longer follow them,” he said, according to Turkish media. “We cannot keep track.”

What is clear is that Erdogan has a firm stance against any negotiations, demanding that the Syrian Kurdish forces first lay down their arms and vacate the area.

The back-and-forth has made Pence and his delegation’s job difficult, if not impossible, according to critics — including Republicans.

“The statements by President Trump about Turkey’s invasion being of no concern to us also completely undercut Vice President Pence and Sec. Pompeo’s ability to end the conflict,” Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted Wednesday.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 17 Oct 2019

My son died from positional asphyxia in a car seat. Here’s what parents need to know.

Ryne Jungling(MANDAN, N.D.) — It was a normal Thursday morning in January for new mom Rachel Jungling as she took her infant twins to day care.

Both Rachel and her husband, Ryne Jungling, headed to work, and Rachel was on drop-off duty for Anders and Linnea, who were 11 months old at the time. The boy and girl were miracle babies for the Mandan, N.D., couple, who struggled with infertility for seven years.

“When we found out we were having twins, other twin parents said, ‘It’s awesome. You’re going to have the most fun.’ They were right,” Ryne told Good Morning America.

“Anders, he was the snuggler … always giving hugs and he really liked being held,” he added. “They were pretty inseparable. When they went to bed, if they weren’t sleeping, they’d look at each other and make noises until they fell asleep. If Linnea left the room, Anders wasn’t OK. He really liked companionship and being around her.”

On Jan. 10, Rachel, who was a teacher at the time, brought Anders and Linnea inside their day care facility while strapped into their car seats. Linnea was awake. Anders was close to sleeping.

“With two, Rachel didn’t feel comfort leaving one in the car, so she would grab them both in the carriers and bring them in,” Ryne said. “It was common practice. Every day, we’d give the day care provider the update — how they slept the night before, what they ate. [The kids] were usually out of the car seat.”

Ryne said the day care provider removed Linnea from her car seat. Anders was still in his car seat when his mother walked out the door.

“Anders looked over at Rachel and Rachel said, ‘Bye buddy,'” Ryne said. “He kind of smiled, and she left — with the assumption that he was going to be taken out of his car seat, and he wasn’t.”

“It’s not something you ever think is going to happen.”

A few minutes after 10 a.m., Rachel received a call at work from police.

“They asked her twice, ‘Are you sitting down?’ And they said they were coming to pick her up and that Anders was being rushed to the hospital,” Ryne said.

Ryne, who was also working in education, said his wife called to let him know Anders was being hospitalized.

“She said, something happened to Anders and you need to get to the hospital and I think it’s really bad,'” he recalled. “I remember her voice, I never heard it like that. She was really worried, it was tough. She thought it was kind of weird, but she knew it was pretty serious, if something like that was happening.”

When Ryne arrived to the hospital he was met by two detectives. Ryne said he learned Anders was left sleeping in his car seat for two hours. The day care provider did not know of the risks involved when leaving a sleeping baby in a car seat, Ryne explained.

Anders was given CPR by the day care provider until paramedics arrived and worked on him for 40 minutes. After 30 minutes in the emergency room, Anders was airlifted from Bismarck to a hospital in Fargo, N.D.

“To actually realize what was happening with our son, that was hard,” Ryne said. “We prayed a lot that he would get better, that this would all go away. We were praying for a miracle to happen. At the same time, we started to pray that this story would lead to a miracle. Maybe Anders surviving, maybe that wasn’t the miracle. Maybe it was preventing this [from happening] to someone else.”

On Jan. 12 at 5:45 p.m., after three days on life support, Anders died. An investigation determined he died from positional asphyxia in the car seat after his airway was cut off from his head slumping over and his chin falling into his chest.

“It’s not something that you ever think is going to happen,” Ryne said. “Everybody describes it as a parent’s worst nightmare. I’ll definitely agree with that. You feel helpless when you can’t do anything for your child. It’s hard to say … but we really think lots of good has come out of this.”

“We need this story to get this out there.”

After losing Anders, a friend of the couple connected them to Carma Hanson, coordinator of Safe Kids Worldwide’s Grand Forks, N.D., chapter. The organization’s mission is to help prevent unintentional injuries or death to children with five E’s: education, encouragement, engineering, enforcement and evaluation.

“Carma immediately was like, ‘We need this story to get out there,'” Ryne recalled.

In July, Ryne and Rachel attended the 2019 Safe Kids Worldwide Childhood Injury Prevention Convention where they shared their story with other parents who lost a child through tragic events.

“My heart bleeds for them because I know this is a really difficult time,” Lorrie Walker, the technical adviser for Safe Kids, told GMA. “The fact that they want to help other families is amazing and I can’t thank them enough.”

Ryne and Rachel now have their own mission to spread awareness about positional asphyxia and overall safe sleep practices for children.

“We know it’s not the car seat’s fault, it’s an education issue,” Ryne said. “The old adage of ‘Don’t wake a sleeping baby’ is so wrong when it’s not safe sleep.”

In 2017, there were 3,600 sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) in infants less than 1 year old in the U.S., according to the CDC. Of these deaths, 1,400 were due to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), about 1,300 were unknown causes, and about 900 deaths were due to scenarios involving accidental suffocation (like positional asphyxia) and strangulation in bed.

Besides positional asphyxia, the AAP says deaths can also happen in car seats due to strangulation from straps that are unbuckled or partially buckled.

Edith Bracho-Sanchez, a primary care pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at Columbia University, told GMA that this happens when the devices are being used for things like unsupervised naps or soothing.

“The vast majority of these tragic deaths are easily preventable by taking infants out of car seats and strollers when you’re no longer traveling and placing them in a crib or bassinet,” Bracho-Sanchez said. “This may mean bringing a portable bassinet or crib if the place where parents are going does not have an environment where their babies can continue to sleep safely. “

The AAP said babies “should not be placed on an incline to sleep.”

“With the head elevated, an infant is in a position that could lead to asphyxia,” the AAP noted. “The straps on such products also can strangle infants. In addition, the AAP does not recommend any products for sleep that require restraining a baby, especially if the product also rocks.”

Study co-author Dr. Jeffrey D. Colvin said mothers, fathers and other family members should be educated on safe sleep practices.

“They also need to have parents educate anyone who is taking care of their infant, whether it’s a grandparent, babysitter or child care provider, that car seats are not substitutes for cribs and bassinets,” he said.

Baby Anders inspires education for sleep safety

As part of their new safe sleep initiative, Ryne and Rachel, who welcomed a son, Elias, on Oct. 2, helped launch a class for grandparents at Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health on safe sleep, furniture tip-over prevention, nutrition, breastfeeding support and more.

They hope to eventually have car seat manufacturers place a warning directly on their devices, reminding parents and caregivers that it’s not for sleeping.

“It’s in the pamphlet, but no one reads the instructions besides the installation,” Ryne noted.

Here are safe sleep practices from the AAP to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), plus how to prevent positional asphyxiation in car seats:

1) Do not use a car seat as an alternative to a crib or bassinet.
As Bracho-Sanchez said, be sure to bring a portable bassinet so babies can continue safe sleep while traveling.

2) Children who fall asleep in a car safety seat while traveling in a motor vehicle should remain in the car seat until travel ends.

3) After reaching a destination, children who are still sleeping should be removed from the car seat and placed in a crib or bassinet.

4) Avoid use of soft bedding, pillows, crib bumpers or stuffed animals inside a child’s crib.

5) If you’re getting sleepy or tired, put the baby down on the hard surface to avoid risk for injury or death.

6) Share a bedroom with parents, but no co-sleeping, preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months. The AAP says that room sharing decreases the risk of SIDS “by as much as 50 percent.”

7) Avoid overheating.

8) Follow car seat manufacturer’s guidelines, and make sure the device is installed at a 45-degree angle in the vehicle.

9) Do not place car seats on elevated surfaces or on soft surfaces like a bed, mattress, or couch.

10) Be sure the car seat’s shoulder straps and hip straps are positioned tightly, and the chest clip is buckled at under arm level.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Amber Alert issued for 15-year-old North Carolina girl

North Carolina Department of Public Safety(FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.) — An Amber Alert has been issued for a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety sent out an Amber Alert for Nevia Maihyanna Nixon, of Fayetteville, on Thursday morning.

Nixon was last seen on Sept. 25 along the 600 block of Welsh Place, according to police. She was reported as a runaway the next day and Fayettesville police initially issued a “runaway/missing person” notice about her, but the case has since been upgraded to an Amber Alert.

Sgt. Ranessa Wallace, spokeswoman for Fayetteville police, told ABC News that the department received “new information that raised concern, as well as she hadn’t reached out to family members or friends, so that caused us to raise it to the level of an Amber Alert.”

She said it was a possibility that Nixon was in danger.

“We can’t rule it out,” Wallace said.

Wallace would not say what information police received or where the information came from.

She did note that there has not been a confirmed sighting of Nixon since her disappearance.

Nevia’s father, Carton Adams, pleaded for her return, saying she is a loving girl. Adams said she spends a lot of time on social media, but has not posted anything since Sept. 25.

“I would like to keep positive and believe that my baby is not in any danger, but she loves her family and Nevi would have reached out and came home or said something,” he told ABC Fayetteville affiliate WTVD.

Nevia is described as 5’3″ or 5’0″ and weighing 170 lbs. She has dyed red hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information on her disappearance is urged to contact the Fayetteville Police Department at (910) 676-1538 or the tip line at (910) 484-8477.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 17 Oct 2019

Co-star Matthew Modine says he’s never seen a phenomenon like the record-breaking ‘Stranger Things’

Netflix(LOS ANGELES) — In a tweet on Wednesday, Netflix claimed that 64 million households viewed the third season of Stranger Things in its first four weeks on the streaming service, its best numbers to date.

Unlike Nielsen viewer numbers, Netflix’s audience measurements and their methods aren’t available for independent verification, but that being said, the show is unquestionably a phenomenon — one that took co-star Matthew Modine by surprise, he tells ABC Audio.

The actor played Dr. Brenner, otherwise known as Papa, who performed horrific experiments on Millie Bobby Brown’s “11” — and who apparently met his end at the claws of another horrible creation.

“I was in Italy and and that’s where I started to experience with people, you know, Italians yelling at me, ‘Papa!’ And I thought, ‘How did they know my son and my daughter call me Papa?’ Because we were there when that when the first season one broke. And it was — I’d never experienced anything like that, and I mean, I’ve got a career that spans almost 40 years.” 

Stranger Things, which is set in the 80s, follows a group of kids — played by Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin and  Brown — who encounter supernatural events in their seemingly ordinary town of Hawkins, Indiana.

Modine says of the young cast, “I only I can compare it to…The Beatles or something, you know, that wherever they go, there are screaming rabid fans…that come to see them.” 

Netflix has announced that the hit series has been renewed for a fourth season.

Modine will be seen next in the based-on-real-life drama Miss Virginia, starring Orange Is the New Black Emmy-winner Uzo Aduba, coming to theaters and video-on-demand services Friday.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 17 Oct 2019

Duchess Kate retraces Princess Diana’s steps, delivers powerful speech during Pakistan trip

GraceHenley/iStock(LAHORE, Pakistan) — Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, put a spotlight on children and family Thursday as they wrap up their five-day tour of Pakistan.

William and Kate, the parents of three young children, traveled to Lahore and visited SOS Children’s Villages, an organization that provides a home to over 150 girls and boys.

During their visit, the duke and duchess attended a festive birthday party, complete with cake and presents, for three kids helped by the organization.

 

 

Kate, wearing a traditional cream-colored shalwar kameez, delivered her first speech on the Pakistan tour, about the importance of family.

“We have been really moved and touched by what we have seen, and by the happy home you have made,” she said. “I’m aware that many of you have experienced extremely difficult times in your lives. But it is inspiring to see how you have used your strength and positivity to help transform the lives of so many young children here.”

“Being here in Pakistan this week, William and I have seen on several occasions how family is at the heart of your culture. Parents, children, aunts, uncles, grandparents all play important roles. You have reminded us exactly what family means. You have shown us too that it is not simply a term that describes the relationship between blood relatives. Instead it describes those special bonds we share with those who make us feel safe and supported. It is the quality of those relationships that matters,” Kate continued.

“Here, women who were once vulnerable, now play the most vital of roles as mothers and it is most heartening to see that you are not doing this alone,” Kate said later in her speech.

While in Lahore, William and Kate showed their athletic sides by taking part in cricket, the national game of Pakistan.

The royals played at the National Cricket Academy with boys and girls from underprivileged backgrounds.

 

 

William and Kate’s visit to Lahore was also a chance for them to retrace the steps of William’s late mother Princess Diana of Wales.

The couple spent time at the same Shaukat Memorial Hospital that Diana visited in May 1997, just months before her death in Paris.

While in Lahore, William and Kate also visited the Badshahi Mosque, the second biggest mosque in Pakistan.

William and Kate were scheduled to return to Islamabad late Thursday but their plane was forced to turn back and land in Lahore after two attempted landings in Islamabad.

Severe weather forced the pilot of the Airbus A330 to abort landings at two different airports in Islamabad.

Prince William came back to speak with journalists on the flight once the plane safely landed in Lahore.

He inquired about everyone’s safety and then joked that he had been at the controls of the plane, according to ABC News reporters on the flight.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 17 Oct 2019

Correctional officer suicides in 2019 tied for most in single year: Union president

iStock(NEW YORK) — Deaths by suicide among correctional officers so far in 2019 have tied the highest total ever recorded, according to the head of their union.

Year to date, 13 cases have been documented.

“We’re on course for an all-time record of suicide of staff,” Shane Fausey, the new CPL-33 Correctional Officers Union president, told ABC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas.

Bureau of Prisons union officials for years have been calling for an increase in staffing to match skyrocketing incarceration rates.

Fausey said insufficient staffing and other job-related stressors could be contributing to the suicides, but the Bureau of Prisons doesn’t have hard data on that.

“Unfortunately, the staffing crisis has lead into other issues for employees of the Bureau of Prisons,” Fausey said. “There’s a human factor to this staffing crisis.”

According to a University of California, Berkeley Study in 2018, correctional officers are at a high risk for depression, PTSD and suicide.

The study, which focuses on California state prisons, and a survey conducted in 2017 showed that 10% of correctional officers said they’d considered taking their own life. Among adults in the U.S., about 3% reported having suicidal thoughts, while retired correctional officers, according to the study, reported a rate of 31%.

About 1 in 3 are dealing with PTSD, according to the study, with about half of the correctional officers surveyed reporting that they don’t feel safe at work. Depression also affects about one-third of the officers.

Fausey said the Bureau of Prisons has no plan in place to track the deaths by suicide of correctional officers.

The Bureau of Prisons told ABC News the agency has an employee assistance program for staff and their immediate families. The bureau also said each facility around the country conducts training specific to preventing suicides, and if a location suffers one, more resources and support can be committed to that facility.

Suicides among those working in law enforcement have been dramatically increasing, with BLUE H.E.L.P., a group that tracks that data, reporting 2019 is on pace to be the deadliest year ever recorded.

New York City alone has lost 10 police officers in 2019.

“It’s tragic that law enforcement suicides are on the rise, and it’s important that officers know they aren’t alone and there are resources available,” said Don Mihalek, an ABC News contributor and former Secret Service Agent.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 17 Oct 2019

Pelosi describes Trump’s White House ‘meltdown,’ defends impeachment probe

uschools/iStock(WASHINGTON) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday declined to place a timeline on the impeachment process, pushing back on questions about whether it would wrap up before the 2020 election.

“I keep saying to people impeachment is about the truth and the Constitution and the United States. Any other issues you have with the president … that’s about the election,” Pelosi said. “That has nothing to do with what is happening in terms of honoring our oath of office.”

“These two are completely different,” she continued. “Voters are not going to decide whether we honor our oath of office.”

On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell briefed Republican senators on the impeachment process in a closed-door meeting, suggesting a Senate trial could begin after Thanksgiving and conclude before Christmas.

“The timeline will depend on the truth-line,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi spoke to reporters following a contentious meeting on Wednesday at the White House with President Trump and congressional leaders on the conflict in Syria and Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the region.

Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer left the meeting after a testy exchange with the president about his plan for the region, following clashes between Turkish soldiers and Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.

The House – including two-thirds of Republicans – voted on an overwhelming bipartisan basis Wednesday to approve a resolution of disapproval of Trump’s withdrawal of US troops from Syria.

Pelosi recounted her exchange with Trump at the White House, saying Trump had a “meltdown” when she and Schumer pressed him on his plan for the region.

She said Trump defended his decision to withdraw troops because of his campaign promise to bring American soldiers home.

“My question to him was, is Saudi Arabia home?” she recounted, a reference to a newly-announced deployment of troops to Saudi Arabia.

“He said, ‘well the Saudi Arabians are paying for it,'” she recalled. “It just didn’t add up.”

She also took a moment to eulogize the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who died early Thursday morning.

“He lived the American dream,” said Pelosi, a Baltimore native, referring to Cummings as “my Baltimore brother.”

Pelosi said Democrats would name their signature prescription drug pricing bill, known as House Resolution 3, after Cummings, given his focus on the issue.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 17 Oct 2019

US to hold next year’s G-7 summit at Trump National Doral resort in Miami area

felixmizioznikov/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The United States plans to host next year’s Group of Seven, or G-7, summit at the president’s Trump National Doral Miami resort, White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney announced Thursday.

The selection of a resort owned by the president’s own company is certain to draw criticism from Democrats in Congress who have criticized Trump’s mixing of personal and official business. In August, when reports first emerged that the Doral, Florida, club could host next year’s summit, and Trump voiced support for the idea, the House Judiciary Committee said it would investigate the proposal.

Mulvaney, who came to the White House briefing room to make the announcement, was asked repeatedly by reporters how the selection of Trump Doral for next year’s summit, which will take place June 10-12, was appropriate and how the president would not profit from the selection.

Mulvaney responded that Trump Doral would host the summit “at cost,” which, he said, meant it was millions of dollars cheaper – about half the cost – of another site that had been under consideration.

Democrats on Capitol Hill had previously filed a lawsuit against the president alleging his private businesses violate the Constitution’s emoulments clause, which prohibits US officials like the president from personally profiting from foreign governments. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Thursday that the decision to hold the G-7 summit at Trump’s Doral resort would now become part of that suit.

In August, when reports first emerged that the Doral, Florida club would host next year’s summit and Trump voiced support for the idea, the House Judiciary Committee said it would investigate the proposal.

The Democrat who heads the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, said in a statement, “The Administration’s announcement that President Trump’s Doral Miami resort will be the site of the next G7 summit is among the most brazen examples yet of the President’s corruption. He is exploiting his office and making official U.S. government decisions for his personal financial gain. The Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution exist to prevent exactly this kind of corruption.”

Asked about the marketing opportunity that hosting an international diplomatic summit would present, Mulvaney said Trump didn’t “need much help promoting his brand.”

“I would simply ask you all to consider the possibility that Donald Trump’s brand is probably strong enough as it is, and doesn’t need any more help on that,” Mulvaney said.

He later added that Trump was “not making any money off of this, just like he’s not making any money from working here. And if you think it’s going to help his brand, that’s great, but I would suggest that he probably doesn’t need much help promoting his brand.”

The president himself was the one who first suggested holding it there, Mulvaney said.

“We sat around one night, we were back in the dining room and — going over it with a couple of our advance team, we had the list (of potential sites),” Mulvaney said. “And he goes, what about Doral? And I was like, that’s not the craziest idea. It makes perfect sense.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment about who made the final decision.

Trump was already facing multiple lawsuits based on the foreign emoluments clause, and ethics groups said this latest move fit a pattern.

“President Trump’s behavior in office is a continuing affront to the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause,” the president of the ethics watchdog group Constitutional Accountability Center, Elizabeth Wydra, said in a statement. “By treating the G7 summit like a commercial for his businesses, inviting foreign governments to line his pockets and hold their next meeting at his Doral, FL golf course next year, he mocks the Constitution he swore to uphold.”

The nonpartisan watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) dismissed Mulvaney’s argument the summit would have no impact on Trump’s brand, saying Trump used the federal government “as a public relations and marketing subsidiary of the Trump Organization.”

A spokesperson for CREW told ABC News that its “legal team has been looking into possibilities” of bringing litigation against the president over his G-7 decision, saying the group was “gathering more information.”

When asked at the site of the most recent G-7 summit, in Biarritz, France, about where the next one in the U.S. might be held, Trump told reporters that holding the summit in Miami would be “really fantastic” and that his club would be ideal because it was near Miami’s international airport and because each country could have its own “bungalow.”

“With Doral, we have a series of magnificent buildings — we call them bungalows,” Trump said then. “They each hold from 50 to 70 very luxurious rooms with magnificent views. We have incredible conference rooms, incredible restaurants. It’s like — it’s like such a natural — we wouldn’t even have to do the work that they did here.”

Trump said he was “not at all” concerned about the ethical implications of using a diplomatic gathering to promote a club run by his own company. He said the U.S. Secret Service and the military were involved in the selection process, and that 12 sites had been under consideration.

G-7 summits are massive undertakings that attract hundreds of participants and thousands of law enforcement, support staff, journalists, and more – and sometimes thousands of protesters – and costs to the host country can amount to tens, or hundreds, of millions of dollars. Hosting the summit rotates among the group’s members, with the United States taking the helm next year.

As of Thursday, rooms at the Doral resort ranged from $337 to $637 per night for the days of the summit, according to the resort’s website.

The Miami area has been dealing with effects of climate change such as rising sea levels, but when asked by a reporter Thursday whether climate change would be on the agenda — particularly considering it would take place during a summer month — Mulvaney said it would not.

It would not be the first time the president has used a Trump property to host world leaders. China’s President Xi Jinping and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have both joined him at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, also in South Florida. Trump’s visits to that resort — which he frequents in the winters — have also come under scrutiny from Democrats on Capitol Hill.

There was an initial list of about a dozen sites, and advance staff visited just under 10, including sites in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah, Mulvaney said. That list was further narrowed to four sites, including one in Hawaii, two in Utah, and Trump Doral, he said. “It’s almost like they built this facility to host this type of event,” Mulvaney said an advance staff team member told him.

“We use the same set of criteria that previous administrations have used,” he said. Asked if the White House would reveal the documentation of how the decision was reached, Mulvaney said “absolutely not” but did say relative cost numbers might be made available.

When Trump discussed Doral in August, focus turned to a previous case of bedbugs at the resort. The president at the time criticized Democrats for spreading what he called a “false and nasty rumor,” tweeting, “No bedbugs at Doral.”

But in fact, a possible bedbug infestation was the subject of a 2016 lawsuit, in which a New Jersey man who sued for $15,000 in damages alleging that he woke up covered in bites and sores after a night in one of the resort’s villas. In a court filing responding to the lawsuit, lawyers for the resort denied all of the allegations. The resort settled the suit out of court.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 17 Oct 2019

Thousands of Chicago teachers go on strike after failing to reach contract deal

recep-bg/iStock(CHICAGO) — Thousands of Chicago Public School teachers went on strike Thursday, fighting for working conditions “that respect educators and provide Chicago’s students with the schools they deserve.”

The strike follows months of failed negotiations between teachers and the city’s public school system.

Picket lines went up at 6:30 a.m. local time at Chicago’s public schools, with speakers expected throughout the morning and a mass rally in the afternoon.

Classes were canceled for all 514 schools in the nation’s third largest district. More than 300,000 students were enrolled in the city’s public school system in the 2018-2019 school year.

Teachers are fighting for smaller class sizes, adequate staffing and better wages, according to the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), which represents some 25,000 teachers and education workers.

Some of those working for the district earn less than $30,000 a year and more than 1,100 can’t afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment in any of the city’s zip codes, the union noted.

CTU and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) began negotiating a new contract on Jan. 15, months ahead of the union’s contract expiring on June 30.

CPS has said that it offered improvements to the “already historic offer we’d previously made,” but CTU rejected the proposal.

“All in all, our offer includes over 80 changes to the collective bargaining agreement on issues requested by the union,” according to a joint statement from Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Dr. Janice Jackson, CEO of CPS, last Friday. ” We have bent over backwards to meet CTU’s concerns.”

Teachers feel differently.

“There is a pent up frustration from our membership about what conditions are like in our schools,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said at a press conference Thursday.

Andrea Parker, a CPS teacher, told ABC Chicago station WLS-TV that while she’s disappointed she won’t be teaching, she feels like she and her colleagues “are only the few fighting for our students.”

More than 1,300 classrooms are overcrowded, according to CTU, despite the district’s cap. Almost 25 percent of elementary school students were placed in overcrowded classrooms, with some kindergarten classrooms topping 40 students, according to the union.

Lightfoot and Jackson said they would offer additional support for overcrowded classrooms. They also said they would raise teachers’ salaries by 16 percent, or around $19,000.

The union said that under the mayor’s proposed contract, “most of those workers would still be earning poverty wages.”

The American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teacher’s labor unions in the country, tweeted in support of Chicago teachers.

“Our educators are on a righteous path, fighting for what is right,” the tweet read. “It’s time we gave them what they need to teach.”

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Posted On 17 Oct 2019