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    Politically ambitious pups and kittens: Put your resumes aside. The job of first pet — an enviable White House gig with luxurious live-in privileges, after-hours access to the president and guaranteed positive press coverage — is not currently available. That's because President Donald Trump is not looking for a fluffy sidekick at the moment. Asked about plans for a four-legged addition to the White House, Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for Melania Trump, said in a statement: 'The first family is still getting settled so there are no plans at this time.' If Trump stays pet-free, he will be breaking with a long held tradition of presidential pet ownership. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's had his beloved terrier Fala. President George H.W. Bush's English springer spaniel Millie was featured on 'The Simpsons.' When President Barack Obama's family acquired their Portuguese water dog Bo, it was big news. 'In the modern-day presidency, almost all of them have had a pet,' said Jennifer Pickens, a White House social expert who wrote 'Pets at the White House.' Still, she noted, 'all didn't necessarily have them at the beginning of the administration.' Power and pets have long gone hand in hand. 'For some reason people in power, they end up suffocating different opinions and dominating their staff, but they in some ways long for someone who will speak up to them, and a pet will,' said Doug Wead, a former George H.W. Bush administration staffer who wrote books on presidential children and the 2016 campaign. Wead noted that political pets can sometimes be used for, well, politics. He recalled an event after Millie had puppies that was 'carefully choreographed so guests could see all these little puppies.' 'It was calculated like a state dinner,' he said. While there have been notable pets in the White House for generations, Millie was the first modern White House dog, said Pickens. She added that Barbara Bush was the first one to 'use the pet as a tool to reach out.' The former first lady wrote 'Millie's Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush,' which reached the number one spot on the New York Times nonfiction best seller list in the fall of 1990. The newspaper's description: 'The memoirs of the English springer spaniel who lives in the White House.' Hillary Rodham Clinton in 1998 followed Bush's lead, with a children's book about family dog Buddy and cat Socks. 'Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids' Letters to the First Pets' featured photographs of the pets, details on their habits and more than 50 letters from children to the pets. During President George W. Bush's administration, when the White House was closed for tours after 9/11, the administration tried to connect with the public through videos. Among them was the 'Barney Cam' series of short videos featuring the Scottish terrier having adventures in the West Wing, with cameos from the first family and White House staff. When he declared victory in the 2008 presidential race, Barack Obama told his daughters: 'You have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House.' Several months later, Bo joined the family, a gift from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Bo quickly became a household name, appearing on morning television shows and in videos promoting the White House Easter egg roll. Some notable pets belonged to first kids, including Amy Carter's Siamese cat Misty Malarky Ying Yang and Caroline Kennedy's pony Macaroni. The Kennedy family had a veritable menagerie of pets, complete with dogs, cats, birds, hamsters and a rabbit named Zsa Zsa. Going back in White House history, some presidential pet stories get more outlandish. According to the Presidential Pet Museum website, President Martin Van Buren was given a pair of tiger cubs that he donated to a zoo and President John Quincy Adams was presented an alligator. While Trump has not embraced presidential pet ownership, Vice President Mike Pence has picked up the slack. The Pences have a bunny, Marlon Bundo, and a cat named Pickles. Another cat named Oreo recently died. And they just added two more pets to the household — puppy Harley and cat Hazel. They also installed a beehive. Pickens said she doesn't know that it matters if Trump gets a dog, but she said they are 'effective tools to connect with the American people and I think pets help humanize the presidency.' Of course, while pet ownership can provide personal and political perks, it can also go wrong. Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney was dogged by criticism for admitting that during a 1983 family vacation, he strapped his Irish setter — in a pet carrier — to the roof of his car for a 12-hour drive from Boston to Canada.
  • Republicans aren't usually big on raising taxes, but they're really eager to eliminate the federal deduction for state and local taxes. Why? A look at the states that benefit the most from the tax break helps explain it — they are all Democratic strongholds, or so-called blue states. New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and California top the list of states where taxpayers get the biggest deductions. Not a single Republican-leaning state ranks in the top 10. 'Although Republicans usually recoil at any type of tax increase, cutting this tax break would almost be fun for them,' said Martin Sullivan, chief economist for Tax Analysts. 'It provides massively disproportionate deductions to high-tax states controlled by Democrats.' Proposals by House Republican leaders and President Donald Trump would repeal the tax break as part of their packages to overhaul the American tax code. But they are getting a lot of pushback from Republican lawmakers in Democratic-controlled states. The standoff illustrates how hard it is for Congress to eliminate any popular tax break, even one that primarily benefits the ruling party's political opponents. Almost 44 million people claimed the deduction in 2014, according to IRS statistics. That's nearly every taxpayer who itemizes deductions, a little less than 30 percent of all taxpayers. Sullivan analyzed which states would be hit hardest by repealing the tax deduction. The Associated Press did a similar analysis and came to the same conclusion. Nationally, the average deduction is about $11,800, but it is much bigger in many blue states. New York is tops with an average deduction of more than $21,000. Connecticut is next at $18,900, followed by New Jersey at $17,200 and California at $17,100. These are states with high property values, high costs of living, high incomes and relatively high state and local taxes compared to other states. They are also states President Donald Trump lost in last year's election. Though the president is from New York, he lost the state to Democrat Hillary Clinton by 22 percentage points. The highest-ranked state won by Trump is Wisconsin, which came in at No. 13, with an average deduction of $11,300. At the bottom is Alaska, with an average deduction of $4,800. It is followed by Tennessee and Alabama. Among the bottom 10 states, Nevada and New Mexico are the only ones won by Clinton. The deduction allows taxpayers to write off real estate taxes, and state and local income taxes. If your state doesn't have an income tax, you can deduct sales taxes. The deduction is heavily weighted to families with high incomes. Seventy-five percent of the benefits went to families making more than $100,000. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, says eliminating a tax break that helps some people will help lawmakers lower tax rates for everyone. 'We're proposing a much simpler code with lower rates where everyone gets help whether they are paying their state and local taxes or they are putting their kids in college,' said Brady, who chairs the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. Eliminating the tax break would raise $1.3 trillion over the next decade, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, money that could be used to help pay for lower income tax rates. The House Republican plan would eliminate most itemized deductions while nearly doubling the standard deduction, to $24,000 for married couples. Notably, the plan would keep the deductions for mortgage interest and charitable contributions. The White House and congressional Republicans have been privately negotiating their tax package for weeks, with no public sign that they're near a consensus. Democrats have been excluded from the talks. Some Republicans claim the deduction for state and local taxes encourages states to spend and tax more because the taxes can be deducted at the federal level. Some also complain that the deduction forces low-tax Republican states — red states — to subsidize high taxes in Democratic states. However, many blue-state Republicans don't buy those arguments. They note that most high-cost blue states send more tax dollars to Washington than they receive in federal benefits. And who benefits from those tax dollars? Low-cost red states where incomes are generally lower. 'If we're going to have a discussion about who is subsidizing whom, it must be across the board. It can't be just one provision,' said Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J. Lance is teaming up with Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr., D-N.J., in an effort to maintain the tax break. 'In New Jersey, (the deduction) encourages very strong public schools,' Lance said. 'I want to maintain strong public schools. For there to be strong public schools, there has to be adequate spending.' Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., said he brings up the deduction every time he sees Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, one of Trump's top advisers on taxes. 'The minute he walked into the room and saw me he pointed and said, 'I know, state and local tax deduction,'' MacArthur said. 'I know the White House is committed to bringing taxes down for everybody,' MacArthur said. 'But people in high-tax states under the plan they're proposing would basically be at a break-even while everyone else in the county enjoys tax relief. That's not fair.' ___ Follow Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter at http://twitter.com/stephenatap
  • A year ago Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte promised to cleanse his Southeast Asian nation of illegal drugs in three to six months. He said he would tame corruption and began a profanity-spiked tongue lashing of America — which he called 'lousy' last week. Those 'shock and awe' declarations of a year ago have collided with reality. Drugs and corruption have persisted and he grudgingly thanked the United States recently for helping to quell a disastrous siege in the south by pro-Islamic State group militants. Thousands of protesters marched with Duterte's effigy Monday to demand that he deliver on promises he made in his first state of the nation speech last year, from pressing peace talks with Marxist guerrillas, which is currently on hold, to upholding human rights and the rule of law. A look at the major issues confronting Duterte as he enters his second year in power. ___ ISLAMIC STATE-LINKED SIEGE Two months after more than 600 pro-Islamic State group militants blasted their way into southern city of Marawi, the military is still fighting the last gunmen — fewer than 100, about 10 of them foreign — in the last three occupied villages. Congress overwhelmingly voted on Saturday to grant Duterte's request to extend martial law in the south to the year's end to allow Duterte to deal with the Marawi crisis, the worst in his yearlong presidency, and stamp out other extremist groups across the south, something five presidents before him have failed to do. About half a million people have been displaced by the fighting, some of whom have threatened to march back to the still-besieged city to escape the squalor in overcrowded evacuation camps in nearby towns. Rebuilding Marawi will require massive funds and national focus and will be fraught with pitfalls. Amid the despair and gargantuan rebuilding, it's important 'to ensure that extremist teachings do not find fertile ground,' said Sidney Jones, director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict. ___ DRUG WAR During the campaign, he promised to rid the country of illegal drugs in three to six months and repeatedly threatened traffickers with death. But he missed his deadline and later declared he would fight the menace until his last day in office. When then-President Barack Obama, along with European Union and U.N. rights officials, raised alarm over the mounting deaths from the crackdown, Duterte lashed at them, once telling Obama to 'go to hell.' Duterte's fiercest critic at home, Sen. Leila del Lima, was detained in February on drug charges she said were baseless. More than 5,200 suspects have died so far, including more than 3,000 in reported gunbattles with police and more than 2,000 others in drug-related attacks by motorcycle-riding masked gunmen and other assaults, police said. Human rights groups have reported a higher death toll and called for an independent investigation of Duterte's possible role in the violence. Duterte 'has unleashed a human rights calamity on the Philippines in his first year in office,' U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said. In April, a lawyer filed a complaint of crimes against humanity against Duterte and other officials in connection with the drug killings before the International Criminal Court. An impeachment complaint against the president was dismissed in the House of Representatives, which is dominated by Duterte's allies. ___ SOUTH CHINA SEA More than a month into Duterte's presidency, the Philippines won a landmark arbitration case before a tribunal in The Hague that invalidated China's massive territorial claims in the South China Sea under a 1982 U.N. maritime treaty. Aiming to turn around his country's frosty relations with China, Duterte refused to demand immediate Chinese compliance with the ruling. He promised he would take it up with Beijing at some point. Confronting China, which has dismissed the ruling as a sham, risks sparking an armed conflict that the Philippines would surely lose, Duterte contended. Nationalists and critics blasted Duterte for what they see as a sellout to China. After meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, China allowed Filipino fishermen to return to the Chinese-controlled Scarborough Shoal, where Chinese coast guard ships had driven Filipinos away since 2012. The Philippines had been the most vocal critic of China's aggressive behavior in the disputed waters until Duterte took power and reached out to Beijing, partly to secure funding for infrastructure projects. His move has effectively de-escalated tensions in the busy sea, but critics have warned that Duterte's friendly overtures to China may erode the country's chances to demand that China comply with the ruling and relinquish its claims to waters regarded as the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.
  • The Latest on the escalation in Israel and the Palestinian territories over a contested Jerusalem holy site (all times local): 9:20 a.m. Israeli media are reporting that President Donald Trump's Mideast envoy is on his way to the region to try and defuse a growing crisis over a sensitive Jerusalem holy site. The newspaper Haaretz says that Jason Greenblatt is expected to arrive on Monday in the Trump administration's first direct foray into the crisis. Tensions have been high since Israel set up new measures after Arab gunmen earlier this month opened fire from the shrine, killing two Israeli policemen. Israel says the measures are meant to prevent more attacks but Palestinians allege they are an Israeli attempt to control the Muslim-administrated site and have launched mass protests. Three Palestinians have been killed in street clashes and a 20-year-old Palestinian stabbed and killed three members of an Israeli family in their home in a West Bank settlement. ___ 8:45 a.m. Israel's security Cabinet has reached no decision about the new security measures at a Jerusalem holy site that have set off a wave of violence. The top decision-making forum met overnight and into early Monday to discuss the latest developments, including an incident in which a security guard at the country's embassy in Jordan opened fire, killing two Jordanians, after being attacked. The incident is threatening to complicate the crisis over the holy site, which is administered by Muslim authorities under the auspices of Jordan. Israel set up the new measures after Arab gunmen opened fire from the shrine, killing two Israeli policemen. It says they are meant to prevent more attacks. Palestinians allege they are an Israeli attempt to control the site and have launched mass protests.
  • The start was not what anyone expected out of Jordan Spieth. All that mattered to him was how he finished the British Open. And that might have been the biggest surprise of all. The record will show that Spieth took a three-shot lead into the final round at Royal Birkdale, closed with a 1-under 69 and won by three shots over Matt Kuchar, giving him the third leg of the career Grand Slam. 'Seventeen pars and a birdie would have been fine, too,' Spieth said, the silver claret jug at his side. 'But there's a lot of roads to get there.' The road less traveled? This was more like blazing a new trail. Seve Ballesteros won the 1979 British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes by making birdie from the parking lot. Spieth was spared at Royal Birkdale by making a bogey from the driving range when he was expecting no better than a double bogey. Henrik Stenson finished with four birdies over the last five holes at Royal Troon last year to pull away from Phil Mickelson in one of golf's greatest duels. Trailing for the first time all weekend, Spieth went birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie to overcome his own doubts and win his third major just four days before he turns 24. 'He's a fighter. He's shown that the whole way through his short career,' Rory McIlroy said. 'He can dig himself out of these holes. He's an absolute star.' Spieth headed back home to Texas with golf's oldest trophy, and the first drink to be poured must surely be some magic elixir. How else to explain how he pulled this one off? 'It was certainly a show that he put on,' Kuchar said. It sure didn't look like that at the start, when Spieth made three bogeys on his opening four holes to lose his lead, regained a two-shot advantage with a birdie and an exquisite pitch for par on the tough sixth hole, and then gave it right back with a three-putt bogey on the ninth as Kuchar made birdie. Spieth couldn't help but think to the last time he had the lead in a major. It was 15 months ago when he lost a five-shot lead on the back nine at Augusta National, and the memories still lingered. 'As you can imagine, thoughts come in from my last scenario when I was leading a major on Sunday,' he said. 'I was so confident and all of a sudden, the wheels have kind of come off everything. And how do we get back on track to salvage this round and just give yourself a chance at the end? It took a bogey to do so.' Lost in the birdies and eagle during that mesmerizing stretch of golf was an intelligent question in the midst of a major meltdown. Spieth's tee shot on the 13th hole went some 75 yards right of the fairway, and he was told it bounced off a spectator's head into even more trouble. The ball eventually was found nestled in thick grass on the slope of a dune so steep that Spieth could barely take a stance, much less swing a club. He had nowhere to go. He only had the presence to ask a rules official, 'Is the range out-of-bounds?' No, it wasn't. That allowed Spieth to take a one-shot penalty for an unplayable lie and go back as far as he wanted on a line from the ball to the flag. That led him to the range, right in the middle of the equipment trucks. He was able to move some more to get the trucks out of his line, and then it was a matter of the shot. He couldn't see where he was going because of the dunes. He didn't know how far — Spieth thought it was about 270 yards, caddie Michael Greller thought it was 230 yards, and the caddie persuaded him to hit a 3-iron . It came up short of a pot bunker near the green, and Spieth pitched over it to about 7 feet. 'The putt on 13 was massive,' he said. Kuchar, who had to wait 20 minutes for the ruling, missed his 15-foot birdie putt and only led by one. Just not for long. What followed was a sequence that takes its place in major championship lore. Spieth hit a 6-iron that narrowly went in the cup , leaving a short birdie putt. He holed a 50-foot eagle putt on the next hole to regain the lead. And he followed that with a 30-foot birdie putt for the 16th. And when Kuchar holed a 20-footer for birdie on the 17th to stay in the game, Spieth poured in a 7-footer on top of him. Kuchar shot 69 and didn't make a mistake until it no longer mattered. Imagine having a one-shot lead, going par-birdie-par-birdie, and being two shots behind. 'I can only control what I do, how I play,' Kuchar said. 'Jordan is a great champion and certainly played that way in the finishing stretch.' Next up is to see if Spieth can finish off the slam. He joined Jack Nicklaus as the only players to get the third leg of the career Grand Slam at age 23. Spieth now goes to the PGA Championship next week in North Carolina with a chance to be the youngest to win them all. 'This is a dream come true for me,' Spieth said. 'Absolutely a dream come true.' That's about what it looked like over the final, wild hour. A dream.
  • ___ AILING ALL OVER Star pitchers Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals are recovering after getting injured Sunday, as is Cardinals on-base machine Matt Carpenter. Kershaw is headed to the disabled list with another back injury, this time suffering from tightness in the lower right side. Strasburg, meanwhile, says he hasn't felt right since the All-Star break because of 'achiness' in his forearm — he left after two innings Sunday to hopefully 'nip it in the bud now.' Carpenter is dealing with right quad tightness and is considered day to day. HERE HE COMES The Cubs could get another boost with the return of Kyle Hendricks, who has been sidelined by pain in the middle finger of his right hand. Hendricks will make his first start since June 4 when the Cubs host the crosstown White Sox. The right-hander went 16-6 with a major league-best 2.13 ERA last season, but has been limited to just 11 starts this year. 'My finger's feeling good,' Hendricks said. 'So it took that amount of time and it is what it is. Obviously I would have liked to come back sooner, but yeah, I'm glad we took the course we did and hopefully it can pay out later down the road.' THE GREAT JAKE Mets ace Jacob deGrom (11-3, 3.37 ERA) has won seven straight starts. He has a 1.51 ERA in that span, striking out 50 and walking 10. He'll try to extend the streak when New York begins a 10-game road trip by visiting San Diego. STRUGGLING CAIN San Francisco right-hander Matt Cain (3-8, 5.49) will try to avoid matching the longest losing streak of his career at eight games — from July 28, 2015-May 10, 2016 — when he pitches the series opener at home against Pittsburgh. ACTION PAXTON Mariners left-hander James Paxton (9-3, 3.06) is 4-0 with 2.05 ERA in four July starts. He'll make his third career start against Boston, and he's 1-0 with a 0.56 ERA against the Red Sox. He'll be opposed by lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (4-2, 3.66). ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
  • Israel's security Cabinet has reached no decision about the new security measures at a Jerusalem holy site that have set off a wave of violence. The top decision-making forum met overnight and into early Monday to discuss the latest developments, including an incident in which a security guard at the country's embassy in Jordan opened fire, killing two Jordanians, after being attacked. The incident is threatening to complicate the crisis over the holy site, which is administered by Muslim authorities under the auspices of Jordan. Israel set up the new measures after Arab gunmen opened fire from the shrine, killing two Israeli policemen. It says they are meant to prevent more attacks. Palestinians allege they are an Israeli attempt to control the site and have launched mass protests.
  • Authorities said they found more than three dozen people, including nine who were dead, in the truck's trailer after an employee at the San Antonio Walmart where it was parked overnight called the police. One later died at a hospital. San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said Saturday that the trailer didn't have a working air conditioning system and the victims 'were very hot to the touch.' Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told The Associated Press that based on initial interviews with survivors, there may have been more than 100 people in the truck at one point, including some who were picked up by other vehicles or who fled. This and other tragic instances of human smuggling, including a 2003 case in Victoria, Texas, in which 19 immigrants died, highlight the dangers that extreme heat poses to would-be immigrants. ___ TREACHEROUS TRAILER With a high of 101 degrees (38 Celsius) in San Antonio on Saturday, the temperature inside a parked car would have reached 120 degrees (49 Celsius) in 10 minutes, said Jan Null, a meteorology professor at San Jose State University who tracks U.S. child deaths in vehicles on his website, www.NoHeatStroke.org. Within 20 minutes, the temperature would have risen to 130 degrees (54 Celsius). The lack of windows on the trailer in San Antonio may have reduced the temperature inside by a couple degrees because of the lack of direct sunlight, but the heat and moisture from the bodies of everyone inside would have added heat and humidity. Enduring those temperatures for any length of time is dangerous, said Dr. Eric Ernest, assistant professor of emergency medicine at University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. 'Those are very brutal conditions that the human body wasn't meant for,' he said. ___ HEAT HAZARDS When heatstroke sets in after a person's body heat rises above 104 degrees (40 Celsius), perspiration shuts down, eliminating the body's primary method of cooling itself through the evaporation of sweat. At this point, a person's skin begins to feel hot and appear red, and a person suffering heatstroke may appear confused, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Around 107 degrees (42 Celsius), cells start to die and organs can begin to fail. Once that happens, a person's health can deteriorate quickly. 'The body loses its ability to deal with heat,' Ernest said. Higher humidity makes things worse because perspiration won't evaporate as quickly. One of the best ways to avoid heat-related illnesses is by drinking plenty of fluids, which authorities say weren't available to those on the truck. 'In 100 degree temperatures, you almost can't drink water fast enough,' Null said. ___ DANGEROUS HEAT Children, the elderly and people who are ill are most susceptible to heat-related problems because their bodies can't cool themselves as effectively as a healthy adult's can. The CDC says about 618 people die in the U.S. each year from heat-related illnesses. Roughly 37, on average, are children who die in vehicles, according to Null's count. ___ Follow Josh Funk on Twitter at https://twitter.com/funkwrite . Sign up for the AP's weekly newsletter showcasing our best reporting from the Midwest and Texas at http://apne.ws/2u1RMfv .
  • It could take months for investigators to determine what preceded the deaths of at least nine people found with dozens of ailing individuals in a tractor-trailer discovered outside a Walmart in San Antonio, Texas, in what authorities are calling an immigrant-smuggling attempt gone wrong. But previous cases of smugglers using similar trucks to move human cargo shed light on the dangerous method of human trafficking — and how it can quickly turn fatal. Here's a look at how smugglers deploy and use large trucks to move people: HOW COMMON IS HUMAN TRAFFICKING BY TRUCK? Border officials have reported an uptick in the number of people-smuggling incidents using tractor-trailers. That included one on July 7, when Border Patrol agents in Laredo, Texas, found 72 people from Mexico, Ecuador, Guatemala and El Salvador locked inside a trailer. Weeks before, they'd rescued 44 people from Mexico and Guatemala discovered after police stopped an 18-wheeler near one of the city's international bridges. Whether this recent increase is a trend and what might explain it is hard to know. A recent report from European-based global -risk group Verisk Maplecroft suggests that a harder line on border security by the Trump administration might be leading migrants to accept the risks of more dangerous smuggling methods. By far the most notorious and best documented case occurred in 2003, when 19 of about 100 people being smuggled in a truck trailer in south Texas died of heat-related injuries; that included a 7-year-old boy. More than a dozen smugglers were convicted in that case, including the American commercial driver at the wheel, Tyrone Mapletoft Williams, and the purported head of the smuggling ring, Karla Patricia Chavez-Joya, a Honduran national. WHERE ARE THE IMMIGRANTS FROM? Transportation by truck is often one of the final steps in a process that can begin months before somewhere in Mexico or more than a thousand miles from the U.S.-Mexican border in Honduras or Guatemala. A review of court documents in other cases indicates the tractor-trailers are often brought in only after Mexicans and Central Americans arrive by train, bus or car to the Mexican-U.S. border region — and then slip into the U.S. by foot or by raft across the Rio Grande. In the 2003 case, the pickup site for the immigrants was near Harlingen, Texas, about 20 miles (32.19 kilometers) from the U.S.-Mexican border. The plan was to drive the tractor-trailer through an immigration checkpoint 50 miles (80.46 kilometers) away on Highway 77 near Sarita, Texas; once through the crossing, the immigrants were to be transferred to separate vans bound for Houston. WHY TRUCKS? The objective of immigrants who make it undetected across the border typically isn't to remain in that border area. Most hope to make it to large U.S. cities, like Chicago or New York, where they may have jobs or family waiting for them. That's where the trucks come in. Smugglers know there are hundreds and thousands of immigrants desperate to get away from the border as fast as possible. And they see the money-making opportunity. The more people they can move at one time, the more the profit. In the 2003 case, the smugglers actively sought non-Hispanic, American drivers who they believed would be less likely to raise suspicions and more likely to make it through the Sarita checkpoint. Tyrone Williams, a licensed truck driver from New York, fit that description. Just before picking up his human cargo, Williams had hauled milk products from New York in his refrigerated truck. HOW DO THEY DIE? Dehydration, hyperthermia, suffocation, and mechanical asphyxia have been among the causes of death in truck cases. In the 2003 case, Williams' trailer was equipped with a refrigeration unit that enabled him to haul milk earlier at 35 degrees Fahrenheit (1.67 Celsius) from New York to Texas. But when it came to his human cargo, he didn't turn it on. The immigrants remained silent as Williams was waived through the checkpoint, but they soon after began banging on the sides of the trailer as it became increasingly hot and increasingly hard to breathe. Finally, fearing detection, Williams unhooked the trailer at a truck stop in Victoria, Texas, and drove off. An appellate court later described the scene inside: 'Bodies, both dead and living, were stacked in a pile in the trailer. Some of the aliens were standing behind the pile. The aliens were stripped down to their underwear and were sweating.' CHARGES Because the crime involves the crossing of international and of state borders, it's often federal authorities who prosecute human traffickers. The available charges range from conspiracy to aiding and abetting the transporting of unlawful aliens resulting death. Maximum sentences can range from a few years behind bars and to the death penalty. Prosecutors did initially indicate they would seek the death penalty for Tyrone Williams. But in 2012, a federal judge sentenced him to more than 30 years in prison without the possibility of patrol.
  • Nine people are dead and the death toll could rise after emergency crews pulled dozens of people from a sweltering tractor-trailer found parked outside a Walmart in the midsummer Texas heat, victims of what officials said was an immigrant-smuggling attempt gone wrong. The driver was arrested, and nearly 20 others taken from the rig were hospitalized in dire condition, many with extreme dehydration and heatstroke, officials said Sunday. 'We're looking at a human-trafficking crime,' said San Antonio Police Chief William McManus, calling it 'a horrific tragedy.' One U.S. official said Sunday evening that 17 of those rescued were being treated for injuries that were considered life-threatening. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the information has not been publicly released. Authorities were called to the San Antonio parking lot late Saturday or early Sunday and found eight people dead inside the truck. A ninth victim died at the hospital, said Liz Johnson, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The victims 'were very hot to the touch. So these people were in this trailer without any signs of any type of water,' San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said. Authorities would not say whether the trailer was locked when they arrived, but they said it had no working air conditioning. It was just the latest smuggling-by-truck operation to end in tragedy. In one of the worst cases on record in the U.S., 19 immigrants locked inside a stifling rig died in Victoria, Texas, in 2003. Based on initial interviews with survivors of the San Antonio tragedy, more than 100 people may have been packed into the back of the 18-wheeler at one point in its journey, ICE acting Director Thomas Homan said. Officials said 39 people were inside when rescuers arrived, and the rest were believed to have escaped or hitched rides to their next destination. Four of the survivors appeared to be between 10 and 17 years old, Homan said. Investigators gave no details on where the rig began its journey or where it was headed. But Homan said it was unlikely the truck was used to carry the immigrants across the border into the United States. He said people from Latin America who rely on smuggling networks typically cross the border on foot and are then picked up by a driver. 'Even though they have the driver in custody, I can guarantee you there's going to be many more people we're looking for to prosecute,' Homan said. Mexican Consul General in San Antonio Reyna Torres said Mexican nationals were among the survivors and those who died on the rig. The Mexican government also released a statement Sunday night expressing its condolences to the relatives of those who died and called for an 'exhaustive investigation' A Guatemalan official said two natives of Central American country were among those hospitalized. Consul Cristy Andrino in McAllen said the two told her they had crossed into the U.S. on foot and were later picked up by the rig. Guatemala was seeking to obtain witness status for the two survivors so they wouldn't be deported, Andrino said. Federal prosecutors said James Mathew Bradley Jr., 60, of Clearwater, Florida, was taken into custody and would be charged on Monday in federal court. The local U.S. Attorney's Office wouldn't say whether Bradley was the alleged driver of the truck who was arrested. It was not immediately known whether Bradley had an attorney who could speak on his behalf. The U.S. Homeland Security Department stepped in to take the lead in the investigation from San Antonio police. Department Secretary John Kelly said the incident demonstrates the brutality of smuggling organizations that 'have no regard for human life and seek only profits.' The truck had an Iowa license plate and was registered to Pyle Transportation Inc. of Schaller, Iowa. A company official did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment. San Antonio is about a 150-mile (240-kilometer) drive from the Mexican border. The temperature in San Antonio reached 101 degrees (38 Celsius) on Saturday and didn't dip below 90 degrees (32 C) until after 10 p.m. The tragedy came to light after a person from the truck approached a Walmart employee and asked for water late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, said McManus, the local police chief. The employee gave the person water and then called police, who found the dead and the desperate inside the rig. Some of those in the truck ran into the woods, McManus said. Investigators checked store surveillance video, which showed vehicles arriving and picking up people from the truck, authorities said. Walmart released a brief statement Sunday saying it was doing what it could to help investigators. On Sunday evening, about 100 people gathered at a San Antonio church for a vigil to mourn those killed. Immigrants' rights activists and church officials held up handmade signs reading 'Who here is not an immigrant' and 'No human is legal.' Those gathered held a moment of silence, then gave speeches blaming federal and Texas authorities' embrace of harsher immigration policies for contributing to the deaths. Jonathan Ryan, executive director of a nonprofit called Raices, said it's 'an unfortunate example' of what happens when such polices are enacted. A new law approved by the Texas Legislature lets police inquire about peoples' immigration status during routine interactions like traffic stops. Bob Libal is executive director of Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based nonprofit that supports more liberal immigration policies. 'These tragedies are compounded when it's incredibly dangerous and incredibly expensive and we push migration into the hands of illicit actors,' Libal told The AP in a phone interview. 'Everyone's thoughts today should be not in politicizing it but in making sure that everyone who survived this ordeal is treated with respect and get the protection they need.' A group of immigration lawyers and advocates sued Homeland Security Secretary Kelly and other U.S. officials this month alleging that guards on the U.S. border with Mexico have illegally turned away asylum-seekers. In the May 2003 case, the immigrants were being taken from South Texas to Houston. Prosecutors said the driver heard them begging and screaming for their lives but refused to free them. The driver was sentenced to nearly 34 years in prison. 'These criminal organizations, they're all about making money. They have no regard for human life,' Homan said. The Border Patrol has reported at least four truck seizures this month in and around Laredo, Texas. On July 7, agents found 72 people crammed into a truck with no means of escape, the agency said. They were from Mexico, Ecuador, Guatemala and El Salvador. Authorities in Mexico have also made a number of such discoveries over the years. Last December, they found 110 migrants trapped and suffocating inside a truck after it crashed while speeding in the state of Veracruz. Most were from Central America, and 48 were minors. Some were injured in the crash. Last October, also in Veracruz state, four migrants suffocated in a truck carrying 55 people. ___ Associated Press writers Mike Graczyk in Houston, Elliot Spagat in San Diego, Peter Orsi in Mexico City and Frank Bajak in Houston contributed to this report. ___ Sign up for the AP's weekly newsletter showcasing our best reporting from the Midwest and Texas at http://apne.ws/2u1RMfv .

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  • Multiple people were found dead early Sunday inside a semi-trailer in the parking lot of a San Antonio Walmart. >> Read more trending news >> Click here or scroll down for more
  • GOP leaders in the U.S. Senate seem ready to push ahead with a showdown procedural vote on a bill to overhaul the Obama health law, even without any assurance that they have enough votes to simply start debate, and without a final decision on what changes Senate Republicans might offer to a health care bill narrowly approved by the House in early May. While most of the attention this week will be on the machinations involving health care legislation in the Senate, the House will take the first steps on spending bills for next year’s budget, and vote on a revised plan for new sanctions against Russia, as the House gets ready to head home for an extended summer break. Here’s the latest from Capitol Hill: 1. Senate GOP bill on health care still in limbo. GOP leaders are still vowing to press ahead this week on a procedural vote that would begin debate on a House-passed bill to overhaul the Obama health law, but it’s not clear that Republicans have enough votes to take that first step. The absence of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) – diagnosed last week with brain cancer – is a big deal, since the White House needs every vote possible. Some still wonder if Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) might be convinced to at least vote to start debate – though he has made clear he is against the options that have been floated so far by top Republicans on health care legislation. As for Democrats, they’re still worried about a late rush to victory by the GOP. We saw what happened in the House of Representatives. They passed a bill after everyone thought it was dead. We can’t let that happen again. — Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) July 23, 2017 2. Senate Parliamentarian knocks some holes in GOP plan. Because Republicans chose to use the expedited procedure known as budget reconciliation, the Senate rules play a much larger than normal role, and that has resulted in problems for a series of provisions in the bill. On Friday, the Parliamentarian said a dozen pieces of the Senate bill could be subjected to parliamentary points of order, which could only be overridden by a 60 vote super majority, something the GOP does not have. That includes provisions designed to block any federal dollars from going through the Medicaid program to Planned Parenthood. And the bill may have more holes poked in it on Monday, when the Parliamentarian goes over four other provisions. 3. Trump keeps pressing GOP on health care. While President Trump again pushed GOP Senators over the weekend to act on health care, his call for action doesn’t seem to be making Republicans in the Congress tremble at the thought of being the target of his ire – and for now, the votes aren’t there to get this Senate health care bill over the finish line. As I type this, it’s not even clear what the GOP might be voting on in the Senate as early as this week – if enough Senators decide to begin debate on the Senate floor. It’s a big week for Republican leaders in the Congress on health care – watch to see what the President says in public about the process, as well as GOP holdouts, and what he does behind the scenes to twist some arms of GOP Senators. Don’t count him out just yet. The Republican Senators must step up to the plate and, after 7 years, vote to Repeal and Replace. Next, Tax Reform and Infrastructure. WIN! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2017 4. House to pass Russia sanctions bill. After sitting on the measure for a few weeks, Republicans in the House will approve a plan that steps up sanctions on Iran and Russia – it was approved on a vote of 98-2 in the Senate. The House though, will add provisions dealing with North Korea, and send that back to the Senate for further action. It’s expected to be approved swiftly there. Behind the scenes, the White House has expressed frustration about the sanctions bill, because it would not allow President Trump to unilaterally roll back economic sanctions against Moscow. The vote comes as there has been more talk that the Trump Administration wants to give two compounds back to Russia, which were confiscated by the Obama Administration last December, in the first punishment for election interference in 2016. The only thing Republicans have fought Trump on are Russian sanctions… is he that upset that the GOP isn't protecting Trump through Putin? https://t.co/Ufvo9pqXDc — Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) July 23, 2017 5. House will leave town without passing all 12 funding bills. For weeks, House GOP leaders and rank-in-file lawmakers have told reporters that they were certainly going to have action on all twelve funding bills for the federal government. Reporters tried not to laugh out loud, knowing full well that was not likely. After this week, the House will be gone from Washington until Labor Day, and the plan is to jam four of the twelve funding bills into one package, and pass them in what’s known as a ‘minibus’ (the smaller version of the omnibus). Funding bills for the military, VA, energy and water programs, and the Legislative Branch (Congress) will be in that plan – but eight other bills will not voted on this week. And yet, the House will go home for five weeks. As you can see, a lot of budget work has not been done in both the House and Senate. Unfortunately, that has become standard procedure no matter which party is in charge. How many spending bills each chamber has passed — House got the last of its bills through cmte yesterday. 2.5 months until govt $$ runs out pic.twitter.com/TlwXVgspWa — Sean McMinn (@shmcminn) July 20, 2017 6. One odd provision in the minibus. One interesting choice made by Republicans this week is that the House will vote on money to build the border wall backed by President Trump – but not the underlying bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security. A provision for $1.6 billion to start work on the wall along the border with Mexico is part of the “Make America Secure” minibus appropriations bill – but the plan to actually fund Homeland Security operations won’t be voted on by the House – until after Labor Day. You can see the House schedule – a rare five day legislative work week is scheduled this week for the House, and then lawmakers head back home for five weeks. 7. Democrats look to force votes on Trump hotels. It wouldn’t be a debate on spending bills without some nettlesome votes being forced by the minority. This week, Democrats have asked for amendments that would prohibit government workers from staying at hotels owned or operated by President Trump’s family. One amendment gives the Defense Secretary the right to waive that on national security grounds; another amendment from Rep. Don Beyer (R-VA) gives a list of 40 different Trump hotels that would be off limits for federal government official business. Just one of the votes to look forward to this week in the ‘minibus.’ Democrats in the House try to stop federal workers from staying at Trump hotel properties https://t.co/ASJrKVr51q — Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) July 23, 2017 8. Not on the schedule – the GOP budget blueprint. While the House Budget Committee last week was finally able to approve a budget outline for 2018, that budget resolution won’t be on the House floor this week. Why? Because it doesn’t have the votes to pass at this point in time. That means any talk you hear from GOP leaders and/or President Trump about action on tax reform needs to be taken with a grain of salt, because that budget blueprint has to be approved by both the House and Senate before any votes on can take place on a tax bill – and since the House isn’t going to be back until after Labor Day, that means tax reform remains on hold in the Congress. So what’s next? Three important agenda items now loom –tax reform, debt ceiling and budget resolution. Path to each is somewhat unclear. — Charlie_Commodities (@lfucha) July 22, 2017 9. Tax reform must be ‘budget neutral.’ One story that didn’t get much play last week because of the GOP troubles on health care is a wonky type of detail from the GOP budget resolution – but it has a big impact on tax reform plans for Republicans. At issue is a provision that says any tax bill must be budget neutral; in other words, if you cut taxes – and therefore raise the deficit by cutting revenue – then you must offset that lost revenue. That most likely would mean getting rid of tax deductions and tax breaks, a plan that sounds great in theory, but is difficult in practice to get through the Congress. Eliminate or cut back on the mortgage interest deduction? Make health care benefits through your job into taxable income? Get rid of the business interest deduction? Lots of difficult choices. If you think health care is hard, tax reform will be even more difficult. 'Budget neutral' tax reform could mean some difficult choices for Republicans in the Congress https://t.co/BcWNLAIlPo — Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) July 22, 2017 10. Infrastructure – the missing Trump agenda item. Along with tax reform, there has been talk for months by the President, top Administration officials, and GOP lawmakers in Congress about voting for a bill to spur the construction of new roads and bridges. Mr. Trump has talked repeatedly about a $1 trillion public-private plan, but no proposal has been sent to the Congress, and none is expected until after Labor Day. Some thought the President should have started with this idea, since increased infrastructure spending is something that Democrats favor – but for a number of Republicans, that wasn’t a good idea, as they repeatedly opposed plans from the Obama Administration for more highway dollars. For now, this is going nowhere fast. Nobody knew infrastructure could be so complicated, complains President Trump https://t.co/QKpBhPMIhL pic.twitter.com/TMXjDW44xy — David Frum (@davidfrum) July 23, 2017
  • Just a few days after St. Johns County deputies say a sex offender cut off his tracking device and absconded, he’s now been tracked down. The Sheriff’s Office says Robert Ferrell was arrested without incident Sunday. No details have been immediately provided, but our partner Action News Jax reports Ferrell was found in the Murabella area. Ferrell cut off his GPS monitoring device and threw it in the trash on Tuesday, according to deputies. The Sheriff’s Office is thanking the community for their help tracking Ferrell down. A Facebook post from SJSO says they received tips from the community- who also widely shared his photo- as part of their investigation.
  • Detectives with the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office Special Victim's Unit/ Sexual Predator Offender Tracking are asking the public to keep an eye out for Robert Ferrell, 35.   Ferrell is wanted for failing to register as a sex offender, among other charges. Bulletins have been posted across the country, as a precautionary measure, to help find Ferrell.    The sheriff's office says Ferrell was just released from prison a week ago and told deputies two days ago that he was homeless and residing in the woods.   As part of his probation, Ferrell was court ordered to wear a GPS tracking device.  However, Ferrell allegedly cut off that device this past Tuesday around 6:00 pm and dumped it into a trash can in the 1900 block of US 1 South.   Ferrell is described as a white male, 5'8'' tall, 135 pounds with a shaved head. He also has tattoos all over his body, including a tattoo on the top of his shaved head that says 'FLORIDA' with a picture of a face next to it.   If you see Ferrell or know where he is, you're urged to contact Detective Kevin Green at (904) 209-3988 or by email at kgreen@sjso.org.
  • Tyler Swantek, 24, was already in custody on drug charges when police tacked on a first-degree murder charge. Police said he killed his father, Todd Swantek, and left the corpse on the couch for weeks. The Standard-Speaker reported that Swantek allegedly shot his father in the head with a rifle. >> Read more trending news Police reportedly were called to the scene in Frackville, Pennsylvania, in late May by a friend of Todd Swantek’s, who had not heard from the father for a month. When police entered the house, they found a gruesome scene: The badly decomposed body was on the couch, covered in blankets and a sleeping bag, the Standard-Speaker reported. Police said they searched the house and found the rifle, which they believe to be the murder weapon, in Tyler Swantek’s bedroom. There were a number of candles and air fresheners in the house, apparently put out in an attempt to mask the smell, the Standard-Speaker reported. Police said that when they interviewed Tyler Swantek about his father’s death, he showed no emotion. An autopsy report suggested that the body may have been on the couch for months before it was discovered. Swantek appeared in court where he asked for reduced bail for drug charges, but the judge didn’t agree to the deal. The judge reportedly said, “He’s a danger to himself and society.” Read more here.

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