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Home Depot to pay $27M in hazardous waste, privacy deal

Officials say Home Depot will pay $27 million to settle allegations in California that the retailer illegally disposed of hazardous waste and tossed customer records without first rendering personal information unreadable.

The state's attorney general, Xavier Becerra, said Thursday that inspections of Home Depot trash bins over a two-year span uncovered the violations.

The company said in a statement that it will work with California in its commitment to responsible waste disposal.

Becerra said the home improvement chain will pay about $16 million in civil penalties, $9 million toward environmental protection and compliance, and nearly $2 million to cover costs.

Officials say Home Depot outlets failed to properly manage the disposal of aerosol cans, batteries, electronics, paint and other items, in addition to customer information.

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The Latest News Headlines

  • With less than three months until the mid-term elections for the U.S. House and Senate, four more states hold primaries today for the Congress, but the roster of races is unlikely to produce the news associated with last week’s tight race in a special U.S. House election in Ohio, which amplified questions about whether the GOP can maintain control of Capitol Hill after November. Primaries take place on Tuesday in four states: Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin. No sitting incumbents in the Congress are on upset alert at this point – though there could always be some out-of-the-blue defeat that no one saw coming; but really, this is more about setting the roster for the final races in November. At this point in time, the Congressional change for November is 57 seats in the House, and 3 in the Senate. (Please note that various news organizations calculate these numbers differently.) As you can see from the data, the total change is already equal to that for the House in the 2016 election cycle, as a large amount of turnover continues in the Congress. Most people don’t realize that currently in the U.S. House, almost 200 of the 435 seats are held by lawmakers who were elected since 2012 – that number will grow substantially after the 2018 elections. In the Senate, fully half of Senators have less than eight years in office, just over one term. The primaries for 2018 are rapidly coming to an end – next Tuesday brings Alaska and Wyoming; Arizona and Florida vote on August 28. Then, after Labor Day, Massachusetts, Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island finish out the primaries for the 2018 mid-term elections for Congress. November is not that far away.
  • When a 3-year-old boy from Clayton County, Georgia, died in a ritual in the northern New Mexico desert, the other children there were allegedly told he would come back to life as Jesus and tell them who to kill. >> Remains of child found at New Mexico compound identified as missing Georgia boy, grandfather says That’s among the jarring allegations leveled Monday by prosecutors, who are accusing the child’s father and four other adults of setting up a squalid isolated compound and plotting violence. Police raided the property in Taos County on Aug. 3 and say they have evidence the occupants were Muslim extremists training their children to become killers with high-powered weapons. >> Atlanta dad planned ‘exorcism’ on son before desert camp found, police say Authorities initially went to the compound looking for Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, who is accused of taking his son, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, from the child’s mother in late November after claiming he was taking the boy to a Jonesboro-area park. A month earlier, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj made a trip to Saudi Arabia and came home wanting to stop his son’s medicine and perform rituals to rid him of “demonic spirits,” the father’s family told authorities. The child suffered from brain damage caused during birth, as well as seizures. >> On AJC.com: Death in the desert: What led to Atlanta dad’s mysterious journey? The father and son had apparently arrived at the compound in January, along with four adult relatives and 11 of their children. The adults are each charged with 11 counts of child cruelty (none relating to Abdul-Ghani) and were in court for a bond hearing, which was streamed online by Albuquerque news station KOB. Judge Sarah Backus said the testimony was troubling, but she wasn’t convinced the suspects were a danger to the community. She granted each $20,000 bond to be released from jail, with the conditions that they wear an ankle monitor until they get stable housing in the county and have only supervised visits with their children. One of the children told an FBI agent the boy would foam at the mouth during the rituals, which consisted of the father reading from the Quran and placing a hand on the boy’s head. The agent said the rituals began before the dad left Georgia and continued in New Mexico at the urging of another of the compound’s occupants, Jany Leveille. Leveille is the “Islamic wife” of Wahhaj and believed that she was originally supposed to be the toddler’s mother, according to FBI agent Travis Taylor. Taylor testified that Leveille believed Wahhaj’s legal wife in Georgia used “black magic” to steal the child from Leveille’s womb. During the final ritual on Abdul-Ghani, his heart stopped, the agent said. Leveille allegedly said she believed the child had already been dead and was only still animated because he was possessed by demons. After his death, the boy reportedly was washed, prayed over, wrapped in a sheet and placed in a tunnel near the camp. At least one child told authorities that the adults led them to believe Abdul-Ghani would come back as Jesus and instruct them on what “corrupt institutions they needed to get rid of,” authorities said. The institutions were expected to include teachers, law enforcement and the military. When police searched the site, they allegedly found a shooting range and a number of firearms, as well as a document with instructions about how to build an untraceable AR-15. Some guns were in the tunnel. Prosecutors said Siraj Ibn Wahhaj had also taken extensive firearms training in Georgia. While the group was at the compound, relatives and friends were trying to locate them, including Wahhaj’s father, the well-known New York City imam also named Siraj Wahhaj. The father has said something must have gone wrong mentally for the group to cut ties suddenly and travel west. In addition to his namesake, the group includes two of the imam’s daughters and his son-in-law. >> Read more trending news  Siraj Ibn Wahhaj’s brother, Muhammad, received a letter from someone at the compound (authorities aren’t sure who wrote it) instructing him to bring all his money and weapons to the site, prosecutor Timothy Hasson said. The letter said not to tell his father. “Allah says he will protect you always,” the letter reportedly said in part, “so follow until he makes you a martyr.” That martyrdom, Hasson said, was supposed to come after Muhammad joined the group in New Mexico. Further details about the trip to Saudi Arabia weren’t revealed. Hasson conceded that countless Muslims make the hajj pilgrimage to the country, which could be a logical explanation for the trip. “The evidence as a whole says this family was on a mission, a dangerous one and a violent one,” the prosecutor said.
  • Update: 3:30 p.m. EDT Aug. 9: The grandfather of a missing Georgia boy confirmed that the remains of a child found at a remote desert compound in New Mexico are those of his grandson, according to WSB-TV. >> Read more trending news  The boy, Abdul-ghani Wahhaj of metro Atlanta, disappeared in December. His mother told authorities that the child’s father took the child because he wanted to perform an exorcism on the 3-year-old, who suffered from health problems. Investigators discovered the remains of a child at the compound in Taos County on Tuesday. Five adults, including the boy’s father,  Siraj Wahhaj, were already in custody on a number of charges related to the condition of 11 children found at the location and the filthy conditions where they were living. >> Related: Metro Atlanta man arrested at compound trained kids for school shooting Siraj Wahhaj is also accused of training the children at the compound for school shootings. He was armed with multiple firearms, including an assault rifle, when authorities raided the compound Friday, according to WSB. >>Related: Photos: 11children found starving, living in New Mexico compound, police say Update: 3:00 p.m. EDT Aug. 8:  The father of a missing Georgia boy,  who was arrested Friday at a compound in the New Mexico desert where 11 starving children were found, was at the compound to train the children on how to carry out school shootings, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Suspect Siraj Ibn Wahhaj was conducting weapons training, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which cited court documents filed on Wednesday. Prosecutors filed the documents related to a request that Wahhaj remain jailed without bail. He was arrested, along with four other adults found at the makeshift compound, last week after authorities discovered 11 malnourished and dirty children living there in squalor. >> Related: DA: Georgia man was training kids to do school shootings in desert The remains of a child were found on the grounds Tuesday, according to investigators, but there’s been no word, yet, on the identity of the child and whether it my be Wahhaj’s son, who disappeared from metro Atlanta last December. Update: 5:00 p.m. EDT Aug. 7: Investigators found the remains of a child on the grounds of a compound in New Mexico  where five adults were arrested and 11 children were discovered starving, according to WSB-TV.  The remains have not been positively identified, so it’s too early to tell they belong to a missing Georgia boy. Abdul-Ghani Wahajj, who would celebrated his 4th birthday Monday, disappeared in December. His mother told police the child’s father took the boy and had said he wanted to “exorcise” demons from the boy, who had a number of health problems. Siraj Wahhaj was one of two men arrested at the compound. (Original Story) Two Georgia men have been taken into custody after authorities in New Mexico served a search warrant on what they are calling a compound, where they said they found women and children malnourished and living in deplorable conditions. Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said the department swore out a search warrant on the makeshift compound in Amalia, New Mexico, on Thursday. Hogrefe said there was a reason to believe that Lucas Morten and others, including Siraj Wahhaj, 39, were living inside the compound. >> On WSBTV.com: Police searching for missing 3-year-old, father Siraj Wahhaj was wanted in connection with the abduction of 3-year-old AG Wahhaj. The warrant came after a two-month investigation with Clayton County, Georgia, investigators and the FBI. The sheriff said the FBI had recently given them information and surveillance video of the compound, but they didn’t feel there was enough cause to get a warrant for the property. “That all changed for me when a message was forwarded to us from a Georgia Detective that we reasonably believed came from someone at the compound – the message sent to a third party simply said in part ‘we are starving and need food and water,’” Hogrefe said in a news release. “I absolutely knew that we couldn’t wait on another agency to step up and we had to go check this out as soon as possible, so I began working on a search warrant right after I got that intercepted message – it had to be a search warrant and a tactical approach for our own safety because we had learned the occupants were most likely heavily armed and considered extremist of the Muslim belief. We also knew from the layout of the compound they would have an advantage if we didn’t deploy tactfully and quickly.” >> Man accused of killing nurse used Tinder to find victims, may be serial killer, police say On Friday morning, eight members of the Sheriff’s Response Team and four state investigators executed a search warrant of the compound. The sheriff said the two men initially refused to follow directions. Hogrefe said Wahhaj was held up inside the compound and was heavily armed with an AR-15 rifle, five loaded 30-round magazines, four loaded pistols, including one in his pocket when he was taken down. Authorities also found more rounds of ammo inside the compound. Investigators said the compound consisted of a small travel trailer buried in the ground covered by plastic with no water, plumbing or electricity. >> Read more trending news  “The only food we saw were a few potatoes and a box of rice in the filthy trailer,” Hogrefe said. “But what was most surprising, and heartbreaking, was when the team located a total of five adults and 11 children, that looked like third-world country refugees, not only with no food or fresh water, but with no shoes, personal hygiene and basically dirty rags for clothing.” Morten and Wahhaj were taken into custody. However, the missing child from Georgia was not located among the children. Morten was charged with harboring a fugitive and Wahhaj was booked on his no-bond warrant on a child abduction charge out of Georgia. Three women, believed to be children’s mothers, were detained for questioning and later released pending further investigation. The 11 children, ranging in ages from 1 to 15, were taken into protective custody. “We all gave the kids our water and what snacks we had – it was the saddest living conditions and poverty I have seen,” Hogrefe said. None of the adults would give a statement to the whereabouts of 3-year-old AG Wahhaj, but it is believed he was at the compound a few weeks ago. His mother said AG Wahhaj suffers from seizures, developmental and cognitive delays and is unable to walk due to suffering a Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) at birth.  The investigation into locating him is being coordinated between Clayton County investigators and the FBI.
  • A Pennsylvania woman who police say is responsible for the death of a 23-month-old girl in Clairton turned herself in on Monday. >> Watch the news report here Deasha Ringgold is charged with homicide and endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the death of Aubree Sherrell, Allegheny County police said Monday. >> More on WPXI.com: Woman accused of killing toddler taken into custody An unresponsive Sherrell was taken to a hospital on April 27 and later pronounced dead, police said. An investigation determined Aug. 10 that Sherrell’s death was a homicide, and a warrant was issued for Ringgold on Monday. Police said the girl died from strangulation and had bruises around her neck. Ringgold was dating Sherrell's father and was babysitting her the day she died, police said. Ringgold allegedly told police that she put the girl to bed in her apartment on Glenn Drive in Clairton and went to sleep herself. According to investigators, she told them she found Sherrell lying on her back and her lips were blue.  >> Read more trending news  Police said Ringgold told them she took Sherrell to the hospital right away, but cellphone records show that an hour before she did, she allegedly Googled the following: 'How to do CPR on a baby?'  'How to wake up a knocked out person' 'My friend got choked out, what do I do?'  The girl died in April, but Ringgold was charged after the autopsy and police investigation. According to the complaint, the baby's father was at work during the incident and has not been charged. 
  • An expecting mother said she feels humiliated after she was asked if she was trying to shoplift from a Staples store in North Carolina. >> UPDATE: Staples manager fired after accusing woman pregnant with twins of shoplifting Shirell Bates said she now regrets leaving her home on Friday for back-to-school shopping. >> Woman used identical twin's name during drug arrest, sister claims 'Being pregnant is already high-risk, and having to deal with that, just additional stress that I don't need,” Bates said. Bates said a police officer asked her if she was shoplifting while she was checking out of the Pineville store. >> More on WSOCTV.com: Manager at North Carolina Staples fired after accusing pregnant woman of shoplifting 'Mid-transaction, a police officer approached me and insisted he wanted to speak with me,” Bates said. “He asked what was under my shirt.” Bates is pregnant with twins. 'Initially, I thought he was joking, so my response was, 'Twins,’” Bates said. “I'm 34 weeks with twins. I'm having a boy and a girl.' Bates said the officer didn’t believe her the first time, and he asked her again. 'At that point, to avoid him asking me again, I actually lifted my shirt just a little bit, just to expose my belly, so he could see that I'm just a regular pregnant person buying school supplies,” Bates said. >> Read more trending news  Pineville police said a Staples manager approached the officer and asked him to speak with Bates because the manager believed Bates may have been “concealing merchandise.” 'When I confronted her about what happened, she admitted that, 'In the past, we've had a lot of people putting school supplies or merchandise in their clothes and hiding, so I asked the officer to reach out to you,’” Bates said. Staples issued the following statement: 'Yesterday at our Pineville location, while a customer was shopping, a manager mistakenly thought they were possibly shoplifting and asked a police officer that happened to be in the store to talk with the customer. 'After a quick conversation, the issue was resolved, the manager apologized to the customer and refunded their transaction due to the inconvenience. At Staples, we want all customers to feel welcome in our store, and work with our store associates to try and foster an inclusive culture. As an organization, we would like to apologize to the customer if that was not the case in this instance.' Bates said she plans on contacting Staples' corporate office on Monday and possibly seeking legal action. 'You pretty much jumped the gun without any type of evidence, except my stomach is large,” Bates said. “That’s not fair. No mom should have to go through that.

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