Doctor compares conditions at immigrant holding centers to ‘torture facilities’

Political News Doctor compares conditions at immigrant holding centers to 'torture facilities'

Alex Edelman/Getty Images(McAllen, TX) — From sleeping on concrete floors with the lights on 24 hours a day to no access to soap or basic hygiene, migrant children at least two U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities face conditions one doctor described as comparable to “torture facilities.”

The disturbing, first-hand account of the conditions were observed by lawyers and a board-certified physician in visits last week to border patrol holding facilities in Clint, Texas, and McAllen, a city in the southern part of the state.

The descriptions paint a bleak image of horrific conditions for children, the youngest of whom is 2 1/2 months old.

“The conditions within which they are held could be compared to torture facilities,” the physician, Dolly Lucio Sevier, wrote in a medical declaration obtained exclusively by ABC News.

Lucio Sevier, who works in private practice in the area, was granted access to the Ursula facility in McAllen, which is the largest CBP detention center in the country, after lawyers found out about a flu outbreak there that sent five infants to the neonatal intensive care unit.

After assessing 39 children under the age of 18, she described conditions for unaccompanied minors at the McAllen facility as including “extreme cold temperatures, lights on 24 hours a day, no adequate access to medical care, basic sanitation, water, or adequate food.”

All the children who were seen showed evidence of trauma, Lucio Sevier reported, and the teens spoke of having no access to hand washing during their entire time in custody. She compared it to being “tantamount to intentionally causing the spread of disease.”

In an interview with ABC News, Lucio Sevier said the facility “felt worse than jail.”

“It just felt, you know, lawless,” she said. “I mean, imagine your own children there. I can’t imagine my child being there and not being broken.”

Conditions for infants were even more appalling, according to the medical declaration. Many teen mothers in custody described not having the ability to wash their children’s bottle.

And children who were older than 6 months were not provided age-appropriate meal options, including no pureed foods necessary for a child’s development, Lucio Sevier reported.

“To deny parents the ability to wash their infant’s bottles is unconscionable and could be considered intentional mental and emotional abuse,” she wrote.

The attorneys who represent the children threatened to sue the government if it denied a visit from a physician. They are part of a team working under the Flores settlement agreement, a 1997 ruling that stipulated detention standards for unaccompanied minors, including being held for less than 72 hours and in the “least restrictive setting appropriate to the child’s age and special needs.”

As part of that ruling, the lawyers, who are part of a class action lawsuit, represent all children in custody and, as such, are allowed to visit and interview them.

Lucio Sevier has no connection to the lawyers aside from their request for a physician to be granted access. The legal team, also from the Flores settlement agreement group, had negotiated access to the Clint facility in advance and officials from CBP knew of their pending arrival for weeks.

The alleged conditions documented at the facilities follow a Homeland Security inspector general report that found “dangerous overcrowding” and unsanitary conditions at a different CBP facility in El Paso, Texas, where hundreds more migrants were being housed than the center was designed to hold.

The El Paso Del Norte Processing Center housed as many as 900 migrant detainees earlier this month despite only having a recommended capacity for 125.

The reports come as President Donald Trump continues to make immigration a staple of his administration and a key issue in his re-election bid. After threatening to deport more than 2,000 undocumented immigrants, and then extending the deadline by two weeks, the president on Sunday tweeted his intention to “fix the Southern Border.”

Later in the day, the president blamed his predecessor for implementing the policy of separating migrant. Trump said he ended the policy, too.

“You know, under President Obama you had separation. I was the one that ended it,” he told reporters.

The Obama administration’s policy only separated families in rare circumstances when the child’s safety might be at risk.

Last April, the Trump administration and his attorney general at the time, Jeff Sessions, enacted a “zero-tolerance” approach that called for stepped-up prosecutions of any adult crossing the border illegally. As a result, 2,700 children were separated from their families in a matter of weeks.

More than a year later, though, documents from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — obtained by immigration rights groups and the Houston Chronicle through a Freedom of Information Act request — show family separations are still happening, even after a court ordered children to be reunited with their parents.

The documents showed more than 700 children were separated from parents between last June and May, often with questionable legal justification.

The CBP, however, said in a statement it has limited resources and is leveraging all of them to “provide the best care possible to those in our custody, especially children.”

“As [Department of Homeland Security] and CBP leadership have noted numerous times, our short-term holding facilities were not designed to hold vulnerable populations and we urgently need additional humanitarian funding to manage this crisis,” the statement read. “CBP works closely with our partners at the Department of Health and Human Services to transfer unaccompanied children to their custody as soon as placement is identified, and as quickly and expeditiously as possible to ensure proper care.

“All allegations of civil rights abuses or mistreatment in CBP detention are taken seriously and investigated to the fullest extent possible,” the statement continued.

A U.S. government official added that the immigration system is “clearly broken,” but CBP is doing everything it can to “provide appropriate care for children in custody, even though they were never meant to.”

“The acting secretary and acting commissioner have been warning about these dire circumstances for months,” the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, added. “More must be done to confront this humanitarian crisis and the requested supplemental funding is critical to mitigating it.”

The source added that transferring the children to the custody of the Health and Human Services department is a “top CBP priority.”

“Without a specific allegation of separating family members that can be looked into, CBP wouldn’t and shouldn’t provide additional details without knowing the facts and circumstances of individual cases,” the official added.

As for the conditions at detention facilities, lawyers for the Trump administration last week argued that providing basic necessities, like soap, was not a requirement of the Flores agreement. Three judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals repeatedly asked if the lawyers if they were arguing that “safe and sanitary” did not include the ability to sleep soundly or use soap.

In Congress, the Senate Finance Committee last week passed, almost unanimously, a $4.6 billion spending bill that included $2.9 billion for HHS programs for unaccompanied children. The full Senate and House still need to pass the bill, which includes strict regulations that the funds may not be used for Trump’s proposed border wall.

Trump said despite Democrats not “even approving giving us money,” his administration is doing a “fantastic job under the circumstances.”

“Where is the money?” he asked. “You know what? The Democrats are holding up the humanitarian aid.”

Wherever the blame lies, the lawyers with the Flores agreement team said present-day conditions at the facilities need urgent attention. At the Clint facility, the environment was just as bad as they were at the McAllen site, the lawyers said.

The Associated Press first reported on the alleged neglect at the Clint facility, reporting ABC News later confirmed.

All of the detainees had been in custody longer than the 72 hours permitted for unaccompanied minors under the Flores agreement. The lengths of stay ranged from four days to 24 days.

“We wanted to try and find out what was happening down there and why these children were dying at a rate that we’ve never seen before,” said Warren Binford, a law professor at Willamette University who helped interview the children at the Clint border patrol facility.

On the day they arrived, they witnessed the Clint facility was home to 351 children — most from the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. More than 100 were under the age of 13, while 18 children were 4 years old or younger, including the youngest, a 4 1/2-month-old, the lawyers found.

Like the McAllen facility, many were held for three weeks or longer, the lawyers learned from the children. Binford added the children who were old enough explained they arrived with a family member or planned to join a parent in the U.S. and all were lawfully entering and claiming asylum.

A lawyer who works with the Flores team told ABC News many children had parents living in the U.S. with whom they wanted to be reunited; others said they had been separated from their parents at the border.

The administration has maintained that separation only occurs in situations in which a family member is dangerous or cannot be confirmed to be the legal guardian.

At the Clint facility, Binford described conditions that included infants and toddlers sleeping on concrete floors, a lice outbreak that led to guards providing two lice combs to 20 children to “work it out,” guards punishing the children by taking away sleeping mats and blankets, and guards creating a “child boss” to help keep the other kids in line by rewarding them with extra food.

She said one of the most striking examples was a 2-year-old brought to her with no diaper and being cared for by “several other little girls.”

“When I asked where his diapers were and she looked down and said, ‘He doesn’t need them,’ and then he immediately peed in his pants right there on the conference chair and started crying,” Binford said. “So children are being required to care for other very young children and they are simply not prepared to do that.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 23 Jun 2019

President Trump denies sexual assault allegation

Political News President Trump denies sexual assault allegation

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) —  President Trump is denying that he sexually assaulted advice columnist E. Jean Carroll in the mid-1990s, calling her claims false and motivated by attempts to sell her forthcoming book.

In a New York Magazine article posted Friday, Carroll accuses Trump of sexually assaulting her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room 23 years ago. The article features an excerpt from Carroll’s forthcoming book “What Do We Need Men For” which is set to be released July 2.

In response to Carroll’s allegations, the president issued a statement Friday evening vehemently denying her claims, and saying that he never even met Carroll. “She is trying to sell a new book — that should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section. Shame on those who make up false stories of assault to try to get publicity for themselves, or sell a book, or carry out a political agenda.” Trump then called for any information that “the Democratic Party is working with Ms. Carroll or New York Magazine, please notify us as soon as possible.” President Trump also addressed Carroll’s allegations on the South Lawn on Saturday morning, calling New York Magazine a “failing publication” that no one reads anymore.

ABC News has obtained an advance copy of the book, in which Carroll, now 75, details the alleged assault in four pages, writing she ran into Trump at the revolving door entrance of the high-end department store’s entrance sometime during the fall of 1995 or spring of 1996. She claims he said to her “Hey, you’re that Advice Lady,” and then asked her advice on buying a present for “a girl.” She writes after he dismissed several of her suggestions, the two ended up in the lingerie department where Carroll claims he asked her to try on a see-through bodysuit. Inside the dressing room, Carroll alleges that Trump lunged at her, pushed her against the wall, placed his mouth on her lips, reached under her coat-dress and pulled down her tights.

In Carroll’s own words, she alleges: “The next moment, still wearing correct business attire, shirt, tie, suit jacket, overcoat, he opens the overcoat, unzips his pants, and, forcing his fingers around my private area, then thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me. It turns into a colossal struggle. I am too frightened to panic. I am wearing a pair of sturdy, black patent-leather, four-inch Barnes high heels. I try to stomp his foot. I try to push him off with my one free hand — for some reason I keep holding my purse with the other — and I finally get a knee up high enough to push him out and off, and I turn, open the door, and run out of the dressing room.”

Carroll said she never reported the incident to the police, but that she confided in two friends, contemporaneously. In her book, she described one friend as a journalist, a writer for New York and Vanity Fair magazines. The other friend was a “New York anchor-person.”

ABC News has tried reach out to Carroll’s friends but has been unable to do so since their names have been withheld from publication. Reached by cell phone Friday evening, Carroll told ABC News that the corroborating witnesses would be willing to speak to ABC News, on the condition that their names are withheld. ABC News has not yet received those names from Carroll despite multiple attempts to reach her, directly, and through her friends or her publisher.

New York Magazine, in the online article, included a photo provided by Carroll which shows Carroll, Donald and Ivana Trump, and Carroll’s then-husband, television news anchor John Johnson, attending an NBC party around 1987. ABC News reached out to Carroll’s ex-husband, Johnson, who has since retired from the industry. [Note: Johnson worked at Eyewitness News.] Johnson’s current wife said her husband has “no comment” on Carroll’s allegations against Donald Trump. Carroll was married once before, according to her previous writings, but ABC News has been unable to speak with her first husband.

On Friday evening, hours after the first excerpts from her book were posted by New York Magazine, Carroll gave an exclusive interview to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell. She told the cable news host that she believed the situation she describes at Bergdorf’s was her fault.

“I blame myself for that.” she told O’Donnell. “I said I am the stupidest woman who’s ever walked and did that for years and it took my ‘Ask E. Jean’ letter writers who would write into my column ‘Dear Jean’…And I would say over and over, ‘It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. You’re not stupid. You’re doing right.’ You know? I was just saying this to all of these women for all of these years. And I never came forward and said, ‘I understand.’ And I still can’t kick that feeling that it was my fault. I can`t — it’s hard to get rid of that.”

During the interview, O’Donnell played the “Access Hollywood” tape for Carroll, in which Trump is heard bragging that “when you’re a star, they let you do it, you can do anything…grab them by the *****.”

“I was astounded,” Carroll responded. “I couldn’t believe it, and I still can’t…He’s a very powerful man. He takes what he wants. That`s the thing. And the American voters liked it because that was a referendum. Are they going to vote for a sexual harasser? Yes, they are, because his power is so great that it doesn’t matter. He can have whatever woman he wants, and going on.”

To date, more than a dozen women have publicly accused President Trump of sexual misconduct, all of which he denies.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 23 Jun 2019

Broad consensus on abortion rights at Democrat’s Planned Parenthood candidates forum

Political News Broad consensus on abortion rights at Democrat's Planned Parenthood candidates forum

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Nearly all of the Democratic presidential candidates attended Planned Parenthood’s forum on Saturday, and – on the subject of abortion access, at least – presented a united front.

The “We Decide” forum, hosted by Planned Parenthood’s political arm, showcased the broad support among the 20 candidates in attendance for passing a federal law guaranteeing abortion rights, allowing federal funding for abortions, and expanding access to women’s healthcare, especially for poor and marginalized women.

“I got into politics because there are too many communities who are being left out and left behind,” said New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. “And a lot of these assaults on reproductive care are really assaults on low-income women and women in marginalized communities.”

So far this cycle, the parade of 2020 Democrats has sought to reclaim the reins of this politically sensitive issue with proactive proposals following a spate of restrictive anti-abortion bills sweeping across conservative states.

A recent Quinnipiac poll found that 60% of voters said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, with 28% saying abortion should be legal in all cases, matching the highest level of support since the question was first asked in 2004. Only 13% of voters believe abortion should be illegal in the case of rape or incest.

But the ascent of two conservative judges to the Supreme Court under President Donald Trump has also raised hopes among abortion opponents that Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that guarantees abortion rights, might eventually be knocked down.

“We’ve been on defense for 47 years, and it’s not working,” said Massachusetts Senator Elisabeth Warren, who received one of the warmest receptions of the day. “We need to go on offense on Roe v. Wade.”

President Donald Trump, who formally launched his own re-election campaign this week, has adopted rules that hinder the work of abortion providers, including barring health clinics that receive federal funds from making referrals for abortions or sharing office space with abortion providers.

Along with Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Kamala Harris of California have offered detailed plans for safeguarding abortion. Rep. Eric Swalwell of California has a plan for free contraception, while former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has a plan for expanding access to IUD’s.

The three candidates not in attendance – Steve Bullock, Tulsi Gabbard and Wayne Messam – have all in their campaigns expressed broadly similar views. Gabbard, for her part, used to lean more anti-abortion, but as a member of congress, she has a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood.

Many of the candidates said that a particular failing of healthcare in America is that poor, marginalized and black women are denied access to care.

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who represented an area along Texas’ border with Mexico, likened a Trump administration policy that makes it harder for immigrant women to access reproductive healthcare to something out of the dystopian show “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

“Trying to force young women into only one option, not allowing them to make their own decisions about their own body,” O’Rourke said, was “haunting, chilling, reminiscent of maybe a scene from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” not the United States of America in 2018 and 2019.”

The forum also presented an opportunity for several candidates who have clashed with abortion rights activists in the past to explain themselves.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who recently came under fire for saying he supported the Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of federal funds for most abortion care — and then abruptly changed course — said his position is that women should have the same access to health care, regardless of where they live.

“I laid out of health care plan that is going to provide federally-funded health care for all women, and women who now are denied even Medicare in their home states across the board up, you’d be automatically signed up under [an] Obamacare-like provision,” he said.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, when asked about his past support for some anti-abortion candidates, said that recent news has shifted his thinking on the issue.

“I think, right now, given the attacks that we’re seeing, in recent years, on Planned Parenthood, in particular, and on abortion rights in general, I think what we can do and must do is find candidates in every state in this country and every congressional district in this country who do support absolutely a woman’s right to control her own body.”

In addition to offering their views on policy, the candidates also heard from women who recounted harrowing stories of abuse and others who recounted stories about their own abortions.

Near the start of the forum, a women recounted to Gillibrand, the senator from New York, how, at age 19, she had tried to throw herself down a flight of stairs in an effort to terminate her pregnancy. The senator responded by saying the story was “shared by millions of people,” and the attack on freedoms undermines the humanity of marginalized women.

“No legislature in any one of these states, which are mostly white men, mostly older men, they cannot know a minute of your experience,” Gillibrand said. “Not a minute of your experience as a mother, a minute of your experience as someone [who] has to make that decision.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 23 Jun 2019

Former top military adviser concerned president is ‘running out of options’ with Iran

Political News Former top military adviser concerned president is 'running out of options' with Iran

Win McNamee/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The former top military adviser to both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama said on Sunday that he’s concerned escalating tensions with Iran “could spin out of control,” stressing that the last thing the world needs is the United States going to war with the Middle Eastern country.

“My biggest concern is the president is running out of room, running out of options, and while the rhetoric goes back and forth on how close we came to hitting Iran just the other day, that this thing could spin out of control,” retired Adm. Mike Mullen told “This Week” Co-Anchor Martha Raddatz. “The last thing in the world we need right now is a war with Iran.”

Mullen, who boasts a lengthy military career and served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff between October 2007 and September 2011, said politicians need to diplomatically attain their goal of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, and that Americans need to call their representatives to advocate against declaring war on Iran.

“I really would like to know that the American people who feel we should not go to war with Iran are pressing their congressmen, their senators and everybody in the public domain to make sure that no matter what happens with respect to where we are with Iran right now, that we do not go to war,” he said on “This Week.” I think the politicians need to figure out a way to achieve the objective, which is Iran without a nuclear weapon, without — from my perspective — without regime change, without going to war.”

One of those politicians, House Armed Services Ranking Member Mac Thornberry told Raddatz that President Donald Trump “is clearly trying to navigate a fine line to show that you cannot attack Americans and American military equipment without having a response.”

“He’s very conscious of not getting on an escalatory ladder that leads to a military conflict that neither side wants,” the Texas Republican said in an interview on “This Week.”

However, 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, accused the president of “taking a belligerent course of escalation and provocation with Iran” since the beginning of his presidency.

“We pulled out of a anti-nuclear deal that gave us complete transparency into their nuclear program,” Booker said on “This Week,” referring to Trump’s decision in May 2018 to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, colloquially referred to as the Iran nuclear deal. “We literally isolated ourselves from our allies and set us out on a very fragile limb towards conflict.”

“The critical crisis we have is not just a drone being shot down, but now Iran has moved back to where it was before, which could be months from getting a nuclear weapon, which puts us again in that region on the brink of chaos,” he added, also accusing the president of not having a strategy and making the U.S. “weaker.”

In a series of tweets on Friday, Trump said that he called off a military strike on Iran with just 10 minutes to spare on Thursday night, explaining that the civilian casualties that would have occurred would not have been a “proportionate” response to the Iranians shooting down an unmanned U.S. drone late Wednesday.

Iran claimed the drone was flying in its airspace, but the U.S. government disputed that, saying it was flying in international airspace. Trump’s reversal on the strike, which was first reported by The New York Times, was against the advice of Secretary of State Mike Popeo and national security adviser John Bolton, sources told ABC News.

Mullen told Raddatz that a it’s “very, very unusual,” but not unprecedented “that a strike would be called off so close to its execution.”

However, leaving for Camp David on Saturday, Trump told reporters “we hadn’t made a decision to go forward” with striking Iran when the retaliatory response was called off, later tweeting, “I never called the strike against Iran ‘BACK,’ as people are incorrectly reporting.”

The president reiterated to reporters that his reason for stopping the strike was because he didn’t want to kill 150 Iranians “unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

The United States did respond with a cyber strike against the country, The Washington Post reported on Saturday and a source later confirmed to ABC News. Trump approved an offensive cyber strike against Iranian computer systems used to control rocket and missile launches. The cyber attack was launched Thursday and was in the works for weeks if not months.

Thornberry told Raddatz on “This Week” that when Trump met with Democratic and Republican congressional leaders Thursday, himself included, “everyone agreed that shooting down an unarmed American aircraft deserved a response,” and that all agreed “it should be on the lower end of the range of possibilities.”

However, he added, “This story is not over,” saying the Iranian’s response to the cyber strike matters.

“Obviously the president has a whole range of additional responses that he could employ,” Thornberry said. “There are a number of other military and probably other actions that could be taken if the Iranians decide that they want to continue this aggressive provocative sort of behavior.”

The top Republican on the Armed Services Committee credited the president for seeking bipartisan input on how the United States should respond, but Booker was critical of the fact that a military response was considered at all, saying on “This Week” that Trump can’t take military action against Iran without congressional approval.

“The Constitution speaks very clearly on this that he needs to come to Congress before he engages in military action that again could have us tumbling towards chaos and war in that region,” he said.

“This situation is getting more and more tense, not less. We have a president that seems to be doing this like a reality TV show when trying to build more drama and trying to make a foreign policy by tweet,” Booker added. “We have to, as a nation, work in coordination with our allies to denuclearize Iran, and to bring stability and peace back to that region.”

Mullen said that if Iran does begin enriching uranium again and looks to be on its way to developing a nuclear weapon, it may lead to Israel attacking the country.

The former Joint Chiefs chairman also warned, “Iran with a nuclear weapon would start to proliferate nuclear weapons in the Middle East, which is incredibly dangerous. Other countries would then probably generate that kind of capability. And the Middle East has got a lot of problems and we don’t need more nukes.”

Booker echoed that warning, saying, “We’re closer to a nuclear weapon, which could trigger proliferation around the region. It could trigger a military conflict and have us tumbling back into a Middle East war that will cost American lives and trillions of American dollars.”

Thornberry said on “This Week” that Trump is “giving the Iranians every opportunity to back out of this cycle of increasing violence.”

He said Trump shouldn’t be criticized for giving the country the opportunity, but added that there’s a limit to that.

“If Iran goes back to mining tankers, the sorts of things they’ve been doing here lately, then we have a whole range of military and other responses which we can employ, and I think the president will look to do that,” he said.

But Mullen cautioned that if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, “attacking militarily is a very, very difficult task to actually make it happen.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 23 Jun 2019

Mom, 2 young children found dead in home may have been murdered, police say

U.S. NEWS Mom, 2 young children found dead in home may have been murdered, police say

iStock(NEW YORK) — A mother and her two young children have been found dead inside their New York City home just hours after the children’s father was picked up by authorities while wandering along a highway, according to the NYPD.

Emergency dispatchers received a 911 call detailing an assault in progress at a Staten Island home about 10:30 a.m. Saturday, NYPD Assistant Chief Kenneth Corey said in a statement. When officers arrived, the home was filled with smoke, and the bodies of the 36-year-old mother and her children, ages 3 and 2, were discovered by firefighters after they extinguished the small fire, Corey said.

The mother’s body was lying on a bed facedown, ABC New York station WABC-TV reported.

Authorities had picked up a 36-year-old man believed to be the children’s father at 7:48 a.m. while he was walking along the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, and transported him to the hospital for evaluation, Corey said.

He underwent a psychological evaluation at the hospital, according to WABC-TV.

The mother, whose name has not been released by authorities, was an active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force, WABC-TV reported. The 911 call was placed by one of her coworkers, according to the station.

The father, whose identity has not been made public, was also a member of the military, neighbor Rod Hamed, told WABC-TV. He describing him as a “nice guy,” the station reported.

The case is being treated as a homicide, Corey said. The medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

Police did not identify the children, either.

The father has not been charged but is being considered a person of interest, according to WABC-TV.

Police had been called to the home once before for a domestic dispute, the station reported.

Additional details were not immediately available.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 23 Jun 2019

Sen. Cory Booker: Biden showed ‘a lack of understanding’

Political News Sen. Cory Booker: Biden showed 'a lack of understanding'

Sean Rayford/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — Days ahead of the first Democratic debates and following a week of back-and-forth with former Vice President Joe Biden over comments he made about finding consensus with Southern Democrats in the Senate who supported segregation, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said Biden did not seem to fully grasp the impact his comments on the African-American community, during an interview on ABC’s This Week.

“He is a presidential nominee, and to say something — and again, it’s not about working across the aisle; if anything, I’ve made that a hallmark of my time in the Senate, to get big things done and legislation passed — this is about him invoking a terrible power dynamic that he showed a lack of understanding or insensitivity to by invoking this idea that he was called ‘son’ by white segregationists who, yeah, they see in him their son,” Booker told This Week Co-Anchor Martha Raddatz.

On Wednesday, Booker released a statement with strongly worded language calling on the former vice president to apologize for praising segregationist senators while at a fundraiser. That same day — which happened to be Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the abolition of slavery — Booker had testified before a House Judiciary Subcommittee on reparations.

“You don’t joke about calling black men ‘boys,'” Booker wrote. “Vice President Biden’s relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone.”

Biden initially called on Booker to apologize to him, saying, “He knows better. There’s not a racist bone in my body.”

He added Saturday during an event in South Carolina that his use of the word “boy” was taken out of context.

On This Week, Booker explained that in the wake of Biden’s original remarks, he’s heard from “many African-Americans” who told him that they found the words “hurtful,” but he also characterized the vice president’s comments as a “mistake,” though one that the former vice president should have been more mindful of.

“We make mistakes. We sometimes tread upon issues that maybe we aren’t knowledgeable of,” the senator said. “I don’t think the vice president should need this lesson, but this was a time for him to be healing and to be helpful — especially the time that he is looking to bring this party together and lead us in what is the most important election of our lifetime.”

According to ABC News reporting, Biden called Booker shortly after a CNN interview to talk about the situation. Booker said Sunday on This Week that, while he was disappointed, the pair “had a very constructive conversation” and that he maintains “a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for the vice president.”

“That’s why, again, I felt it really, really important, especially with our friends, not to sweep things under the rug, but to be candid and straightforward with each other,” Booker said.

By Friday night, both Biden and Booker were seen shaking hands at Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn’s “World Famous Fish Fry” in Columbia, South Carolina, a gathering that attracted an additional 19 members of the crowded presidential field.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 23 Jun 2019

Severe thunderstorms expected from Texas to Missouri

U.S. NEWS Severe thunderstorms expected from Texas to Missouri

ABC News(NEW YORK) — A complex storm system is bringing the next round of severe weather and flash flooding in the Plains Sunday morning and it will bring more severe weather from Texas to Pennsylvania through Monday.

Late Saturday night, a powerful line of storms moving through parts of Kansas brought wind gusts up to 80 mph. The same system brought at least 5 inches of rain to parts of Illinois on Saturday and caused flash flooding around eastern Kansas and western Missouri.

The radar was very active Sunday morning with multiple clusters of strong to severe, slow-moving thunderstorms moving through parts of the Plains, including Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri. A severe thunderstorm watch was in effect for parts of Oklahoma and Kansas, including Wichita, Kansas, and Oklahoma City, through 10 a.m. local time.

Also, storms across eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas will likely last through the morning hours and could drop over 6 inches of rain and lead to dangerous flash flooding.

The main line of storms will move southeast through parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri through the day and bring additional heavy rain, flooding and damaging winds.

Severe storm activity will likely bring damaging winds, large hail and brief tornadoes from northern Texas to southern Illinois by the early morning hours. There is an enhanced risk of severe weather across parts of northern Texas and southeast Oklahoma, where storms could become the most intense and widespread Sunday evening.

Storms will continue to push south overnight Sunday into Monday and move into eastern Texas and parts of Mississippi. Heavy rain and flash flooding will continue to be an issue with these storms, but the intensity will decrease as they approach the Gulf of Mexico.

Meanwhile, storms will fire along the warm front of this storm system and bring scattered thunderstorm activity across parts of the Ohio Valley and eastern U.S. on Monday. There is a slight risk of severe weather from Kentucky to Pennsylvania, where a couple of storms could turn severe on Monday with damaging winds and large hail.

This storm system is moving quite slowly and will likely bring 4 to 6 inches of rain to parts of the southern U.S., which could cause flash flooding.

It can’t be emphasized enough that parts of the south-central Plains and Midwest — from Texas to Missouri to the Ohio Valley — have seen one to two times their average rainfall this year-to-date. Much of this rain has come in the last four to six weeks and could cause flash flooding fairly easily.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 23 Jun 2019

Wife of Navy SEAL on trial for murder calls prosecution ‘vile and corrupt’

U.S. NEWS Wife of Navy SEAL on trial for murder calls prosecution 'vile and corrupt'

ABC News(NEW YORK) — The wife of a former Navy SEAL, now on trial for the murder of a teenage member of ISIS while he served in Iraq in 2017, said she believes the government’s prosecution is finally being revealed as “vile and corrupt.”

Two days after a shocking twist in the trial of former Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, his wife, brother and lawyer sat down with Good Morning America to say they anticipate Eddie Gallagher will be found completely innocent.

“I feel great after a week of listening to the government’s witnesses,” Andrea Gallagher told GMA. “I feel more confident than ever that my husband will finally get his day in court and get the ability to prove his innocence.”

On Thursday, Special Operator 1st Class Corey Scott revealed for the first time that he saw Gallagher stab the ISIS prisoner in 2017, but said it was himself who suffocated the teen to death, describing it as an act of mercy.

Gallagher’s wife downplayed Scott’s admission and said her husband would be found innocent regardless.

“The witnesses’ inconsistencies to me were as powerful as Corey Scott taking responsibility,” she said. “I felt like that every single witness they brought forward was pretty inconsistent.”

But the prosecution has presented text messages sent by Gallagher to his platoon, where he admitted to the crime, including one that allegedly read, “I’ve got a cool story when I get back, I got him with my hunting knife.”

Eddie Gallagher, 39, spent nine months in prison, but was released on May 30, exactly two months after President Donald Trump interjected in the case and said the SEAL would be “moved to less restrictive confinement.”

Andrea Gallagher said she’s enjoyed having her husband home — as she maintains should have been the case all along.

“He’s confident. My husband has always maintained his innocence from the beginning; he has been confident,” she said. “He’s wanted to go to trial. We have waited so long for this opportunity.”

Gallagher was reportedly considered for a pardon by Trump in May, a request his wife said did not come at her request, saying she didn’t “really have too much thought on the pardon issue.”

“In regard to the pardon, no one was ever asking for a pardon,” she told GMA. “We were asking for fairness in this process and that’s what we have been crying out this whole time.”

She did leave the door open for more presidential intervention in the future, though.

“What we’re seeing right now is just playing out what we’ve always known, which is my husband will be vindicated at face value,” Andrea Gallagher said. “But we’re thankful for the president’s intervention and if something were to go south, but we’re not anticipating that.”

Gallagher’s charges was triggered by an interview conducted by Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Special Agent Joseph Warpinski in April 2018 with a fellow soldier, Craig Miller, after he allegedly saw Gallagher stab the ISIS prisoner. He testified on Wednesday and repeated that claim, also admitting they posed for a photo with the body.

Andrea Gallagher lashed out at the prosecution and said they should be ashamed for arresting her husband — a decorated combat veteran who spent 19 years in the Navy — while he was being treated at Camp Pendleton on Sept. 11, 2018.

“The [Uniform Code of Military Justice] UCMJ is really struggling in this matter, and also the fact that the NCIS investigator lead agent, Joe Warpinski — we will really get a chance to deem all of the things he did as completely vile and corrupt,” Andrea Gallagher told ABC News. “We believe that this case never would have gotten to this point if a real investigation had been done. The fairness aspect is what we’d always been going for.”

“I say to you that this case, as unique as it seems, it’s not. It’s not the first time that this has been done to one of our war fighters,” Gallagher’s lawyer, Tim Parlatore, said. “There are several prior cases that this has happened to. The difference here is two things. One, they arrested a Navy SEAL, which builds media attention just by the name recognition. And two, they arrested Andrea Gallagher’s husband. This is not something that anybody expected for a family to come out and shine the light the way they have.”

Gallagher had been transitioning to a role out of combat when he was arrested.

“The thought of Eddie in jail, unjustly,” his brother, Sean Gallagher, told GMA, trailing off. “There are two motivating factors in this: love and truth. We love our brother, we love our husband, we love our dad, we love our son. And then, the fear of this travesty of justice perpetuating beyond what it already has. It’s gone on for too long.”

In addition to the charge of murder, Gallagher is accused of firing on civilians in Iraq. Three government witnesses testified to that fact during the first week of trial.

“My husband stayed on target the whole time,” Andrea Gallagher said. “He is an aggressive operator. He is an aggressive leader. And I don’t think that he’s ever apologized for that.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 23 Jun 2019

Red Sox legend David Ortiz out of ICU, remains in ‘good condition’

Sports News Red Sox legend David Ortiz out of ICU, remains in 'good condition'

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images(BOSTON) — Former Red Sox great David Ortiz was released from the intensive care unit on Saturday, just one day shy of two weeks since he was shot in a blundered murder attempt in the Dominican Republic.

The Red Sox issued a statement Saturday afternoon from Ortiz’s wife, Tiffany Ortiz, saying the future Hall of Famer’s condition continues to improve.

“David was moved out of the intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital,” Tiffany Ortiz said. “He remains in good condition and continues to recover under the care of Drs. David King and Larry Ronan.”

He is expected to make a full recovery.

Ortiz was shot at Dial Bar and Lounge, a bar in the country’s capital of Santo Domingo, in a case of mistaken identity. The island’s attorney general’s office said Ortiz’s friend, Sixto David Fernandez, was the actual target in the shooting, but the gunman told police that he got confused. Fernandez and Ortiz were sitting at the same table and dressed similarly at the time of the shooting, according to police.

The bullet entered Ortiz’s back and come out through his midsection, authorities said. The shooting did extensive damage to his liver and small intestines, with doctors having to remove part of the latter.

Rolfi Ferreira-Cruz, 25, the New Jersey man accused of shooting Ortiz in the Dominican Republic, was charged Wednesday with conspiring to distribute heroin in his home state. He allegedly ran a heroin mill in Paterson, New Jersey, that was busted by the Drug Enforcement Administration in January.

Ferreira-Cruz remains in custody in the Dominican Republic.

Ten people have been charged in connection to the shooting.

Victor Hugo Gomez, named by authorities in the Dominican Republic as the mastermind of the shooting, remains at large. He allegedly was angry at the intended target, Fernandez, for naming him in a 2011 drug bust that led to his imprisonment.

Two others involved in the shooting remain at large as well: Alberto Miguel Rodriguez Mota, who took the picture of Ortiz at the bar and sent it to the hit man, and Luis Alfredo Rivas-Clase, nicknamed “The Surgeon.”

Ortiz played with the Red Sox from 2003 to 2016 and won three World Series (2004, 2007, 2013). He also made 10 All-Star teams with the Sox.

He finished his 20-year career with 541 home runs, 1,768 runs batted in, 632 doubles and a .931 on-base plus slugging percentage.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 23 Jun 2019

Republican state senators go into hiding as Dems delay climate change vote

Political News Republican state senators go into hiding as Dems delay climate change vote

iStock(SALEN, Ore.) — A group of Republican state senators in Oregon remain in hiding after walking out of the state Capitol over refusing to vote on a climate change bill.

Eleven Republicans refused to show up to work on Thursday and went into hiding in protest of HB2020, a bill that establishes a carbon cap, in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Industries that emit carbon dioxide — power plants, manufacturers, etc. — would have to buy an “allowance” for each metric ton emitted, thereby reducing the incentive to produce carbon dioxide in the first place.

The goal of the bill is to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 versus 1990 numbers.

But the purchasing of allowances would likely mean costs are passed down to the consumers, and prices for gas or diesel would increase — a position untenable for the Republicans holding out from a vote. Rural Oregonians, who drive longer distances, and farmers, who use heavy machinery, would likely be disproportionately affected.

Without a quorum, the legislature cannot legally vote on the bill.

The stalemate continued into the weekend.

“I don’t think you’re going to see us anytime soon,” Republican Sen. Herman Baertschiger Jr, the state Senate’s minority leader, told Portland ABC affiliate KATU-TV by phone Saturday evening.

The senators are being fined $500 per day as they skip out on work.

A GoFundMe account was started to raise money to pay off the absentee politicians’ fines, which had raised over $37,000 in two days as of Saturday night. State ethics laws prevent the senators from accepting the money, however, unless the donations are tracked through the government’s filing system, called Orestar.

“Public servants are chosen by and entrusted to represent their constituents, and working for the people of Oregon is an honor and a privilege,” Kate Kondayen, deputy communications director for Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, said in a statement Tuesday as legislators threatened the walkout. “Playing games and avoiding tough conversations is a dereliction of that responsibility and trust.”

“Governor Brown has always dealt fairly and transparently with the Senate Republicans, and trusted them when they gave their word they wouldn’t engage in further walkouts earlier this session,” Kondayen continued. “She expects them to honor their word and if not is prepared to call upon those resources available to her — including authorizing state troopers to bring senators back to the Capitol and, if necessary, calling legislators back to Salem to complete their work over the summer.”

State troopers were indeed searching for the senators on Friday and Saturday, Brown said.

They were unlikely to find state Sen. Tim Knopp, who told KATU-TV on Friday he was not even in Oregon anymore.

“I am in a cabin near a lake,” Knopp said during a Facebook video chat interview. “And that’s about all I can tell you.”

The 11 senators who are MIA include Baertschiger, Cliff Bentz, Brian Boquist, Fred Girod, Bill Hansell, Dallas Heard, Knopp, Dennis Linthicum, Alan Olsen, Chuck Thomsen and Kim Thatcher.

The walkout got even stranger on Friday, when Democratic state Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward tweeted a text message she had received, saying, “The Senate will not be meeting tomorrow (Saturday). The State Police Superintendent just informed the Senate President of a credible threat from militia groups coming to the Capitol tomorrow.”

No such militia showed up on Saturday, but the Capitol hallways were empty.

Democratic senators, at least, planned to return to the Capitol on Sunday.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 23 Jun 2019