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    Lawmakers visiting the Border Patrol station where a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl was taken hours before her death are demanding an investigation into the response by federal agents. Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus spoke Tuesday outside the Border Patrol station in Lordsburg, New Mexico. Jakelin Caal and her father were taken into custody Dec. 6 at the Antelope Wells port of entry in rural New Mexico. She began vomiting and later stopped breathing while being transported to Lordsburg. U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz, a California Democrat and doctor, questioned whether the Border Patrol should have called for an air evacuation as soon as Jakelin's father reported her distress. She was eventually air-lifted to an El Paso, Texas, hospital, but died hours later.
  • It was the first time many liberal advocates had set foot inside President Donald Trump's White House. And they came at the invitation of presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner — a top White House adviser whom many liberal and good-government groups have criticized, questioning his lack of experience in government, potential conflicts of interest and cozy relationship with foreign leaders, including Saudi Arabia's crown prince. But in White House conference rooms and lobbying trips to Capitol Hill, Kushner worked with advocates, legislators and others on both sides of the aisle to try to craft a deal to make the nation's criminal justice system fairer. Now Kushner, the likely subject of new investigations when Democrats take control of the House next year, is getting credit for helping to spearhead what could be the first major bipartisan legislative success of the Trump era: a first-in-a-generation criminal justice overhaul that is expected to pass Congress as soon as this week. 'I don't think this would have happened without him,' said Sen. Corey Booker of New Jersey, a potential 2020 Democratic presidential contender, adding that the bill would have 'a profound effect on thousands of families who have been suffering as a result of this broken system.' Inimai Chettiar, director of the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, who attended multiple meetings at the White House and lobbied with Kushner on the Hill, said that while the center's policies are generally 'very oppositional' to the Trump agenda, criminal justice offered a rare opportunity for cooperation. Kushner 'understands why this is a very important issue and the effect that it could have,' she said. For Kushner, the criminal justice issue has long been deeply personal. Kushner was in his early 20s and a law and business school student in the mid-2000s when his father was sentenced to federal prison on charges of tax evasion, witness tampering and illegal campaign donations. 'When you're on the other side of the system, you feel so helpless,' Kushner told The Associated Press in a recent interview. 'I felt like, I was on this side of the system, so how can I try to do whatever I can do to try to be helpful to the people who are going through it' and deserve a second chance. While the issue was never part of Trump's campaign message, within months of his father-in-law taking office, Kushner was spotted in the hallways of Congress, coming and going from meetings on the subject. He worked with groups including the ACLU, Brennan Center, and the conservative Koch brothers' network, along with Republican governors, law enforcement groups, former Obama special adviser Van Jones and reality star Kim Kardashian West. Trump supports the measure. Even before the bill comes up for a vote, though, some of the unlikely allies who successfully worked with Kushner on criminal justice are skeptical the working relationships built in recent months will translate into further bipartisan successes. The Trump administration enters a new era in January, when Democrats take control of the House. Democrats have made clear that they intend to use their subpoena power to investigate the administration, including Kushner, who is expected to face an onslaught of inquiries digging into everything from his businesses, to his security clearance, to his relationship with the man accused of ordering the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Revamping criminal justice, they say, was a unique and rare area of consensus. 'The fact of the matter is that many of the policies of the Trump administration are squarely at odds with ACLU principles. And it's lovely to have a rapport on an issue you can agree with,' said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. 'It might be much harder to find common ground on any other issue.' Kushner declined to comment on the record about the expected inquiries, and what the new reality might mean for his father-in-law and the White House. He also faced opposition from within the administration, including former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was deeply opposed to the sentencing changes that helped to bring Senate Democrats on board. Even on Tuesday, critics of the bill, including Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, were making a final push to amend the legislation, which gives judges more discretion when sentencing some drug offenders and boosts prisoner rehabilitation efforts, in a way that would likely kill its prospects. But Romero, whose ACLU has filed 107 lawsuits against the Trump administration so far, most challenging its immigration policies, said that Kushner's role in working with Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, was 'critical to getting us to this point.' He praised Kushner's 'tenacity' and 'doggedness,' pointing to repeated phone calls and weekend text messages to trade ideas and status reports, even after an initial summer meeting at the White House when Romero told Kushner a previous version of the bill was 'anemic.' 'Though we have many areas of disagreement with the White House, it was refreshing to find one area where we could work together,' Romero said, adding that, Kushner's personal commitment to the issue 'allowed us to break through.' Holly Harris, a conservative strategist and executive director of the Justice Action Network, credited Kushner's efforts to put Republican governors supportive of the legislation in front of the president to share their experiences about how similar efforts in their states had helped reduce crime. 'Their voices were critical in showing another side of reform to the president,' she said of Trump. 'He never quit. He never slowed down. He kept moving things,' added Grover Norquist, an advocate for lower taxes, who also worked with Kushner. ___ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. __ Follow Colvin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/colvinj
  • Large numbers of Guatemalan families and unaccompanied children are surrendering to U.S. immigration agents in an extremely remote and dangerous stretch of New Mexico desert, a new smuggling route that has baffled authorities. It is where 7-year-old Jakelin Caal and her father were found Dec. 6 with 161 others near a border crossing in Antelope Wells. Caal started vomiting on the bus ride to the nearest Border Patrol station 94 miles (150 kilometers) away and had stopped breathing by the time she arrived. She died at a hospital in El Paso, Texas. U.S. authorities this week encountered groups of 257 and 239 people consisting of families and unaccompanied children, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said Tuesday. The Border Patrol found groups of more than 100 people along the entire U.S. border with Mexico about eight times during the budget year that ended Sept. 30 and encountered nearly four times that amount since Oct. 1. 'This is a brand new phenomenon,' McAleenan told reporters in a conference call. 'It's really challenging our resources.' Antelope Wells is the site of one of about three dozen Border Patrol 'forward operating bases' in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — bare-bones facilities designed to increase enforcement in remote areas. About four agents are assigned to Antelope Wells and they sleep at the base on eight-day shifts to avoid having to drive home every day. Migrants have told agents that they took commercial buses from Guatemala to New Mexico in four or five days straight, a sharp contrast to the traditional route that can take 25 to 30 days to reach the U.S. border and includes rest stops at 'stash houses' along the way, McAleenan said. It's unclear why Guatemalans are choosing such a remote spot, but McAleenan said it may be less expensive for smugglers to pay other criminal organizations fees to pass through. The U.S. is working with Mexico to determine the reasons behind it, hoping to redirect traffic to the nearest cities, El Paso and Nogales, Arizona. Families began arriving in large groups about once or twice a week since mid-October and the trend has accelerated in recent weeks, McAleenan said. The families are generally seeking out U.S. agents to turn themselves in, raising questions about why they would go to such lengths when they could do so in large cities. All along the border, migrants are increasingly turning themselves in to U.S. authorities to seek asylum or other form of humanitarian protection. The U.S. has shifted additional medical personnel and more vehicles to Lordsburg and Antelope Wells to help manage. 'In a group as large as 250 you're going to have medical issues,' McAleenan said. 'You're going to have people that have the flu, and people that have scabies or lice or other skin conditions, and so we are making hospital runs with pretty much every group that arrives at this time.' Only about 30 vehicles a day enter the U.S. at the Antelope Wells, compared to tens of thousands at San Diego's San Ysidro crossing, the nation's busiest. McAleenan said buses typically drop off Guatemalans near Antelope Wells and they cross a barbed-wire fence to reach the U.S. McAleenan gave a tour of the area to members of the Democratic Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, said the group had seen many young children and their parents in the facility, and called for a congressional investigation into the conditions at the facility and the girl's death. Caal's body was expected to be returned to Guatemala Thursday, and then taken to her hometown of San Antonio Secortez. Her death touched off a firestorm. Border Patrol agents said they did all they could do to help the girl who seemed healthy when she first reached encountered them. But it's not clear if there was a translation issue. Border Patrol agents were speaking to her father in Spanish, as they are required to do, but his first language is the Mayan tongue known as Q'eqchi'. Attorneys in Texas representing the girl's father criticized U.S. officials for asking him to sign a form that asks questions with check boxes of 'yes' or 'no.' ''Claims good health' was handwritten in the 'additional comments' section. Her cause of death has not been released. The family also disputed the accounts by U.S. officials that the girl walked for days in the desert without food or water before crossing. The father's lawyers said Caal took care of his daughter, giving her sufficient water and food, and she appeared to be in good health. ___ Spagat reported from San Diego.
  • It's a high-stakes game of whack-a-mole with no end in sight. Social media companies are fighting an expensive and increasingly complex battle against Russian trolls who are using catchy memes, bots and fake accounts to influence elections and sow discord in the U.S. and beyond. This week, two reports released by the Senate Intelligence Committee gave strong evidence that Moscow's sweeping online disinformation campaign was more far-reaching than originally thought, with agents working to divide Americans by race, religion and ideology and erode trust in U.S. institutions. It is also clear that the culprits are learning from one another and quickly adapting to sophisticated countermeasures taken against them. Here are some questions and answers about the efforts to combat misinformation. WHAT ARE THE TROLLS DOING? When it comes to election meddling, much of the focus for the past two years has been on the biggest internet platforms, especially Facebook, where agents in Russia (as well as Iran and elsewhere) have used phony accounts to spread fake news and divisive messages. But the latest reports offer more proof that the Russians went beyond the social media giant, taking advantage of smaller services like Pinterest, Reddit, music apps and even the mobile game Pokemon Go. Instagram, Facebook's photo-sharing app, was also found to have played a far bigger role than previously understood. In many ways, the Russian operation works like a corporate branding campaign, except in this case, the goal is not to sell running shoes but to sway elections. On Facebook, agents might post links to fake news articles, or slogans pitting immigrants against veterans or liberals against conservatives. One image showed a ragged, bearded man in a U.S. Navy cap. It urged people to like and share 'if you think our veterans must get benefits before refugees.' Another post had a photograph of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the words 'Enough dreaming, wake your ass up.' On Instagram, the post with the most interactions was a photo showing a row of women's bare legs, ranging from pale white to dark brown, with the caption 'All the tones are nude! Get over it!' The image had over a quarter-million likes. Many of the posts and memes were not incendiary and didn't contain anything that could get them promptly banned from social networks for violating their standards against hate speech or nudity, for example. Instead, they looked like the ordinary sorts of things regular people might share on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. WHAT ARE THE COMPANIES DOING? Caught off guard by Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter have thrown millions of dollars, tens of thousands of people and what they say are their best technical efforts into fighting fake news, propaganda and hate. They are using artificial intelligence to root out fake accounts or to identify bots that post divisive content. For example, while a human might post at random moments and needs sleep, a bot may give itself away by tweeting at all hours of the day, at fixed times, such as on the hour. Of course, malicious actors are learning to sidestep these countermeasures. Bots are being designed to act more like humans and stop sending tweets out at fixed intervals. Or users who are operating fake accounts change their identities rapidly and delete their tweets to cover their tracks. Some companies have made progress. Facebook's efforts, for example, appear to have reduced trafficking in fake news on its platform since the 2016 election. But some of these efforts go against these companies' business interests, at least in the short term. In July, for example, Facebook announced that heavy spending on security and content control, coupled with other business shifts, would hold down growth and profits. Investors reacted by knocking $119 billion off the company's market value. Smaller platforms have fewer resources to throw at the problem, and that is one reason the trolls have moved on to them. WHY AREN'T THE COMPANIES DOING MORE? Created to sign up as many users as possible and have them posting, liking and commenting as often as possible, social networks are, by design, easy to flood with information. And bad information, if it's catchy, can spread faster than a boring but true news story. Companies like Facebook and its competitors have also built their business on letting advertisers target users based on their interests, where they live and a multitude of other categories. Trolls sponsored by malicious governments can do the same thing, buying ads that automatically target people according to their political leanings, ethnicity or whether they live in a swing state, for example. Some companies have taken countermeasures against that. But critics say that unless companies like Facebook change their ad-supported business models, the exploitation is not going to stop. Filippo Menczer, a professor of informatics and computer science at Indiana University, said the problem is a very difficult one to solve. Facebook, for example, has focused a lot of its efforts on working with outside fact-checkers to root out fake news and suppress the spread of information that has been deemed false. But those items are only a part of the problem. Fact-checking doesn't necessarily screen out memes and other more subtle means of shaping people's opinions. 'A lot of the stuff is not necessarily false, but misleading or opinion,' Menczer said. WHEN WILL THIS END? According to one of the Senate-released reports, 2016 and 2017 saw 'significant efforts' to disrupt elections around the world. 'We cannot wait for national courts to address the technicalities of infractions after running an election or referendum,' the Oxford researchers warned. 'Protecting our democracies now means setting the rules of fair play before voting day, not after.' There are also new threats, already seen in countries such as Myanmar and Sri Lanka, where messaging apps like Facebook's WhatsApp have been instrumental in spreading misinformation and leading to violence. With these apps, the messages are private, and even the platforms themselves can't get access to them as they try to combat those trying to spread havoc, Menczer said. Menczer said the cost of getting into the misinformation game is low. The entire campaign by Russia, he said, might have involved a few dozen employees and an advertising budget in the tens of thousands of dollars. 'Clearly, they will continue,' he said. 'There is no reason why they wouldn't.
  • FedEx Corp. delivered a disappointing earnings report Tuesday and said it plans to offer buyouts to some of its workers and reduce spending to make up for weak international shipping, especially in Europe. The Memphis, Tennessee-based company said it had a fiscal second-quarter profit of $935 million, or $3.51 per share. That's up $775 million, or $2.84 per share, a year ago. But the 11 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research were expecting earnings of $4.05 per share. 'While the U.S. economy remains solid, our international business weakened during the quarter, especially in Europe,' said FedEx chairman and CEO Fred Smith. 'We are taking action to mitigate the impact of this trend through new cost-reduction initiatives.' The package delivery company said it expects to record a charge related to buyouts for its U.S. employees between $450 million and $575 million in its fiscal fourth quarter. FedEx says the buyouts should save it between $225 million and $275 million annually. FedEx expects to deliver a record number of packages again this year during the peak holiday season as online shopping continues to grow. The company reported revenue of $17.82 billion in the period, exceeding Wall Street forecasts. Nine analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $17.71 billion. FedEx expects full-year earnings in the range of $15.50 to $16.60 per share. Analysts had been expecting $16.31 a share, according to FactSet. FedEx's stock was down $11.05, or 6 percent, at $173.96 in after-hours trading following the release of the earnings report. _____ Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on FDX at https://www.zacks.com/ap/FDX
  • Prime-time viewership numbers compiled by Nielsen for Dec. 10-16. Listings include the week's ranking and viewership. 1. NFL Football: Philadelphia at L.A. Rams, NBC, 18.12 million. 2. NFL Football: L.A. Chargers at Kansas City, Fox, 17.41 million. 3. '60 Minutes,' CBS, 14.55 million. 4. 'NCIS,' CBS, 12.28 million. 5. 'NFL Pregame,' NBC, 11.66 million. 6. NFL Football: Minnesota at Seattle, ESPN, 11.63 million. 7. 'NFL Pregame,' Fox, 10.34 million. 8. 'Football Night in America,' NBC, 9.22 million. 9. 'FBI,' CBS, 9.04 million. 10. 'The Voice' (Tuesday), NBC, 8.97 million. 11. 'God Friended Me,' CBS, 8.53 million. 12. 'The Voice' (Monday), NBC, 8.43 million. 13. 'The Big Bang Theory,' CBS, 8.08 million. 14. 'Survivor,' CBS, 7.78 million. 15. 'NCIS: New Orleans,' CBS, 7.76 million. 16. 'Mom,' CBS, 7.71 million. 17. 'Young Sheldon,' CBS, 7.7 million. 18. 'Bull,' CBS, 7.4 million. 19. NFL Football: Cleveland at Denver, NFL Network, 7.29 million. 20. 'NCIS: Los Angeles,' CBS, 7.21 million. ___ ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co.; CBS is a division of CBS Corp.; Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox; NBC is owned by NBC Universal.
  • Professional football — the lifeblood of live television this time of year — illustrated its dominance in the ratings this past week. Four NFL games finished among the Nielsen company's 20 most popular prime-time programs, with NBC's Sunday night and Fox's Thursday contests the top two. Both games featured Los Angeles teams. Add in three pre-game shows, and football accounted for seven of Nielsen's entries. The games usually dwarf regular programming. For example, Fox drew 17.4 million to its Thursday night game. Its next most popular show, 'Last Man Standing,' had 12 million fewer viewers. Similarly, the 18.1 million people who watched NBC's 'Sunday Night Football' were nearly 10 million more than 'The Voice.' CBS' lineup has a broader base of support and no pro football in prime-time, but it should be noted that its highest-rated show, '60 Minutes,' comes on after football on the East Coast. CBS won the week in prime time, averaging 7.2 million viewers. NBC had 6.2 million viewers, Fox had 5.1 million, ABC had 3.6 million, Univision had 1.4 million, ION Television had 1.3 million, the CW had 1.2 million and Telemundo had 1.1 million. ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.4 million people in prime time. Fox News Channel had 2.04 million, Hallmark had 2.02 million, MSNBC had 1.91 million and USA had 1.31 million. ABC's 'World News Tonight' topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.9 million viewers. NBC's 'Nightly News' was second with 8.6 million and the 'CBS Evening News' had 6.4 million For the week of Dec. 10-16, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: Philadelphia at L.A. Rams, NBC, 18.12 million; NFL Football: L.A. Chargers at Kansas City, Fox, 17.41 million; '60 Minutes,' CBS, 14.55 million; 'NCIS,' CBS, 12.28 million; 'NFL Pregame,' NBC, 11.66 million; NFL Football: Minnesota at Seattle, ESPN, 11.63 million; 'NFL Pregame,' Fox, 10.34 million; 'Football Night in America,' NBC, 9.22 million; 'FBI,' CBS, 9.04 million; 'The Voice' (Tuesday), NBC, 8.97 million. ___ ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks. ___ Online: http://www.nielsen.com
  • A Yemeni mother on Tuesday won her fight for a waiver from the Trump administration's travel ban that would allow her to go to California to see her dying 2-year-old son. Shaima Swileh planned to fly to San Francisco on Wednesday after the U.S. State Department granted her a visa, said Basim Elkarra of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Sacramento, whose lawyers sued this week. The boy's father, Ali Hassan, is a U.S. citizen who brought their son, Abdullah, to California in the fall to get treatment for a genetic brain disorder after the boy's health worsened. Swileh and the boy had been living in Egypt, and she had hoped to accompany them but was not given a visa to enter the United States. Citizens from Yemen and four other mostly Muslim countries, along with North Korea and Venezuela, are restricted from coming to the United States under the travel ban enacted under President Donald Trump. As Swileh and her husband fought for a waiver, their son's health declined. Last week, doctors at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in Oakland put him on life support. 'I am emailing them, crying, and telling them that my son is dying,' Hassan said in an interview with The Sacramento Bee newspaper. Hassan told reporters he wants his wife to be able to kiss their son one last time. 'This will allow us to mourn with dignity,' he said in a statement provided by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Hassan was losing hope of getting her a waiver and was considering pulling his son off life support to end his suffering, but then a hospital social worker reached out to the council, which sued Monday, Elkarra said. He said Swileh lost months with her child over what amounted to unnecessary delays and red tape. State Department spokesman Robert Palladino called it 'a very sad case, and our thoughts go out to this family at this time, at this trying time.' He said he could not comment on the family's situation but that in general cases are handled individually, and U.S. officials try to facilitate legitimate travel to the United States while protecting national security. 'These are not easy questions,' he said. 'We've got a lot of foreign service officers deployed all over the world that are making these decisions on a daily basis, and they are trying very hard to do the right thing at all times.' Immigration attorneys estimate tens of thousands of people have been affected by what they call blanket denials of visa applications under Trump's travel ban, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in a 5-4 ruling in June. The waiver provision allows a case-by-case exemption for people who can show entry to the U.S. is in the national interest, is needed to prevent undue hardship and would not pose a security risk, but many say the government is denying nearly all visa applicants from countries under the travel ban. A lawsuit filed in San Francisco says the administration is not honoring the waiver provision. The 36 plaintiffs include people who have had waiver applications denied or stalled despite chronic medical conditions, prolonged family separations or significant business interests. 'We hope this case makes the administration realize the waiver process is not working,' Elkarra said. 'Thousands of families have been split apart, including families who have loved ones who are ill and are not able to see them in their final hours. I'm sure there are more cases like this.' In addition to the waiver, the government gave Swileh a visa that will allow her to remain in the United States with her husband and begin a path toward U.S. citizenship, Elkarra said. ___ Associated Press journalist Maria Danilova in Washington contributed to this report.
  • A judge declined Tuesday to shorten the jail term for an elite prep school graduate convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old classmate in 2015, saying he needed to consider the victim's family, which wants him to serve the remaining 10 months of his sentence. Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler appeared unmoved by defense arguments that Owen Labrie, 23, of Tunbridge, Vermont had become more mature and had already been punished by being under a curfew and having to wear an electronic monitoring device. Prosecutors wanted Labrie to serve the remainder of his sentence. Instead, Smukler said, his decision to uphold the sentence took into account 'justice for the victim.' He accepted a defense request that Labrie begin serving the sentence the day after Christmas but rejected a request that he be allowed out for work release. 'Given the crimes and the circumstances, it is just not appropriate to amend the sentence,' Smukler said. Labrie was acquitted in 2015 of raping a 15-year-old classmate as part of 'Senior Salute,' a game of sexual conquest, at St. Paul's School. But a jury found him guilty of misdemeanor sexual assault charges and endangering the welfare of a child. He also was convicted of using a computer to lure an underage student for sex, requiring him to register as a sex offender. Labrie did not speak during the hearing, nor did he comment to reporters as he left the courthouse. Several of his relatives and friends also left without speaking to reporters, with one crying as she walked out. 'Disappointed. It's been a very long haul for him,' Labrie's attorney, Jaye Rancourt, said. 'He was a very young man at the time he was convicted. We had hoped four years later would be a different outcome. Unfortunately, it wasn't.' In making her case for suspending the sentence, Rancourt detailed how Labrie had followed the rules since his conviction, other than the curfew violation that resulted in him serving two months in jail. She noted he has recently worked two jobs, partly to pay for the cost of the electronic monitoring, and presented the court with several letters from employers that spoke to his 'character and hard work.' Rancourt also talked about how Labrie has struggled to find work because of the case and how he and his family have been subjected to abuse, including piles of hate mail. She acknowledged Labrie 'had a great deal of remorse' but insisted the school was also to blame for allowing 'a highly sexualized culture' that 'fostered if not encouraged some of this behavior.' 'He recognizes that he was not respectful to women ... and that is very shameful for him,' Rancourt said. 'This young man now has to live the rest of his life with the majority of people in the world thinking that is him ... when in fact it's not. He is actually a very caring, sensitive individual whose life has been unalterably changed by this case and the publicity that it has generated.' Last month, the state Supreme Court upheld Labrie's convictions on the computer charge. The court dismissed arguments by Labrie's lawyers that prosecutors had failed to prove intent in his use of the computer and that the law was meant to be used to target internet predators and pedophiles, not cases like this. The court is also considering a separate appeal in which Labrie's lawyers argue he deserves a new trial over ineffective counsel. His lawyer argued his original counsel in the 2015 case failed to mount a defense against the computer charge or effectively communicate that Labrie had no intention of having sex with Chessy Prout when he sent her the messages. The lead trial lawyer, J.W. Carney Jr., is a well-known defense attorney whose clients included the late Boston gangster James 'Whitey' Bulger. Two years ago, Prout spoke publicly about the assault for the first time. Prout, now 20, has since become an advocate for sexual assault survivors and co-wrote a memoir, 'I Have The Right To: A High School Survivor's Story of Sexual Assault, Justice, and Hope,' with Boston Globe journalist Jenn Abelson.
  • U.S. authorities say a German engineering company has agreed to plead guilty and pay $35 million for its role in the Volkswagen vehicle emissions scandal. The Justice Department said Tuesday that IAV has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy in Detroit federal court on Jan. 18. The government says IAV misled regulators about whether certain VW and Audi vehicles met pollution standards. The diesel vehicles were programmed to trigger certain pollution results only during testing, not during regular road use. The scheme affected nearly 600,000 vehicles. An email seeking comment was sent to IAV. In a court filing, the government says IAV engineers traveled to a California test facility in 2006 and 2007 to evaluate whether the 'defeat device software' was working. VW pleaded guilty in 2017.

The Latest News Headlines

  • The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is asking for your help tracking down an armed robbery suspect who they consider armed and dangerous. The suspect is 20-year-old Jebre Cook, who’s described as 5’9” and 174 lbs. Police say you should not approach him, because he is considered armed and dangerous.  JSO has not said what armed robbery incident they believe Cook is responsible for. If you know anything about Cook’s location, you’re asked to contact JSO at 911 or 904-630-0500, or JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. You can also submit an anonymous tip and be eligible for a possible $3,000 reward by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.
  • The Trump administration moved Tuesday to ban bump stocks -- devices that can make semi-automatic firearms fire at a rate similar to automatic weapons -- under a federal law that also bans machine guns, Justice Department officials said in a news release. >> Read more trending news Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said authorities amended a regulation on Tuesday to include bump stocks in the definition of “machinegun” under federal law. The regulation will go into effect 90 days after it’s formally published in the Federal Register, a move expected to come Friday, according to The Associated Press. >> Read the final rule White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a news briefing Tuesday that people who have bump stocks will be required to turn the devices over to officials at field offices for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or destroy them by March 21. >> What is a bump stock, how does it work and is it legal? Hours after Whitaker announced the move, opponents of the decision said they planned to fight the change. >> From Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree: Trump ban on ‘bump stocks’ to face immediate legal challenge The ban was expected after the Justice Department earlier this year proposed a rule to classify bump stocks and similar devices as prohibited under federal law. >> Trump administration expected to announce gun bump stock ban Trump issued a memorandum in the wake of February’s deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, ordering the attorney general to “propose for notice and comment a rule banning all devices that turn legal weapons into machineguns,” according to Justice Department officials. Authorities reviewed more than 186,000 public comments as part of the review process. The Justice Department opened a review of the devices in the wake of the 2017 shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas that left nearly 60 people dead. Authorities said a gunman had bump stocks equipped to several weapons on Oct. 1, 2017, when he fired on festivalgoers.
  • A 20-year-old Jacksonville man has been arrested after allegedly kidnapping a woman at gunpoint, raping her, and stealing her car. The arrest report for Billy Gaines says he first approached the victim late Sunday at a gas station on Lem Turner Road, where he put a gun to her back and told her to get in the car. JSO says they drove off, but at one point he stopped the car and raped her in the back seat, while he was still holding the gun. The victim reported that they then went to the home of a friend of Gaines, and she then told Gaines something that led him to drive her to another location, according to the arrest report. At that location, police say the victim went inside, called police, and did not come back out. Gaines allegedly fled in the victim’s vehicle. Early Sunday, a patrol Sergeant searching for the suspect saw a vehicle matching the description, while on Golfair Blvd near I-95. JSO says Gaines sped up and took evasive actions. Several marked vehicles continued to pursue him, and he was ultimately stopped in a vacant lot. Gaines allegedly fled on foot from that point, but was caught soon after. He has been arrested for armed sexual battery, kidnapping, carjacking with a firearm, fleeing law enforcement, and resisting an officer without violence.
  • Hours after the Trump Administration signaled that it would administratively move to ban ‘bump stocks,’ which allow semi-automatic weapons to be fired at a much more rapid rate, lawmakers in both parties said it was time for the Congress to enact those regulations into law, as opponents of the decision vowed to immediately challenge the President’s plan in court. “We will be filing our lawsuit very, very soon,” the Gun Owners of America said in a written statement. “After all, in the coming days, an estimated half a million bump stock owners will have the difficult decision of either destroying or surrendering their valuable property – or else risk felony prosecution,” the group added. At the White House, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that is the plan, making clear that bump stocks will be illegal as of March 21, 2019. On banning bump stocks, Sanders says people have until March 2019 to turn them in or have them destroyed. Says they fall under same guidelines as machine guns. — Dana Brown Ritter (@danabrownritter) December 18, 2018 “A 90 period now begins which persons in possession of bump stock type devices must turn those devices to an ATF field office, or destroy them by March 21,” Sanders said at the White House briefing. Justice Department officials told reporters on Tuesday that bump stocks will be administratively banned by using language from a federal law which prohibits machine guns. There was no immediate comment from the National Rifle Association on whether that group would join in legal action against bump stocks as well. In Congress, lawmakers in both parties said while the President’s step is overdue, the House and Senate should also vote to codify the bump stock ban. “This is good news, but it is just one small step toward stopping mass shootings,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH). “We must do far more to prevent gun violence.” “There’s no justification for bump stocks that transform semi-automatic weapons into machine guns,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). A regulation – not a law – is finally being issued to ban bump stocks. This is welcome news. But the country shouldn’t have had to wait a year+ after Vegas to get the most basic regulation. It’s testament to how hard we’ll need to fight to get the comprehensive gun safety we need https://t.co/LgjgBcAhxv — Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) December 18, 2018 “The President seems to be more interested in making headlines than making progress,” said Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV). “We know that his proposal will likely be tied up in the courts.” 58 people were killed in Titus’ district in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017, when a gunman opened fire on an outdoor concert, using ‘bump stocks’ to allow him to shoot more ammunition more quickly, in what was the deadliest mass shooting in the United States. “Finally and should be codified,” said Rep. Carlos Cubelo (R-FL), one of the few Republicans who has called for action on bump stocks in Congress.
  • A Texas 19-year-old has been charged with killing a young mother in a violent crash Sunday night as she drove with her toddler son and her mother.  Erick Raphael Hernandez, of Pearland, was charged Monday with intoxication manslaughter in the death of 23-year-old Taylor Phillips, court records show. As of Tuesday morning, he had been released from the Harris County Jail on $30,000 bond.  >> Read more trending news ABC 13 in Houston reported that Phillips was driving an SUV with her mother and 1-year-old son inside when Hernandez crossed three lanes of traffic on a South Houston street and slammed into Phillips’ vehicle with his truck.   The entire crash was caught on a security camera outside a nearby auto repair shop, the news station said. The grainy footage, seen below, appears to show Hernandez’s truck smash into the front driver’s side of Phillips’ SUV. The impact flings debris across the roadway.  Phillips died at the scene.  Her son and 48-year-old mother were hospitalized with serious, but not life-threatening, injuries. The victims’ family told ABC 13 both have since been released to recover at home.  Phillips’ social media profile is filled with photos of her son, who celebrated his first birthday in August.   “Sometimes when I need a miracle, I look into my son’s eyes and realize I’ve already created one,” Phillips wrote on Facebook alongside a photo of her son in October. In another post, she wrote that she had waited for the love of her son her entire life and would “cherish it forever.” Phillips also often mentioned a sister, Tyré Rai Sai Phillips, on her Facebook page. According to the Houston Police Department, Tyré Phillips was an innocent bystander at a party on April 14, 2013, when multiple fights broke out, during which shots were fired.  Tyré Phillips, who was killed as she sought safety, died a week after her 19th birthday. It was not immediately clear if an arrest has ever been made in her slaying.  Court records obtained by ABC 13 indicated that Hernandez was drinking at a bar with a cousin before Sunday’s deadly crash. The legal drinking age in Texas is 21.  Hernandez, whose appears intoxicated in his mugshot, had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and was off-balance after the crash, the news station said. When questioned at the scene, Hernandez admitted he drank a few beers.  “Based on his field sobriety tests, it was a lot more than a few,” Sean Teare, a member of the Harris County District Attorney’s Vehicular Crimes Unit, told The Houston Chronicle. Teare told the Chronicle that investigators had learned where Hernandez had been drinking prior to the crash. ABC 13 identified the bar as Frontera Events Venue, which is located about a mile from the crash site.  “Obviously, at 19 he shouldn’t be drinking anywhere,” Teare told the newspaper.  ABC 13 reported that the court records indicate Hernandez had been drinking since 6 p.m. Sunday but could not remember when he’d had his last drink. A fake ID and bar receipt were found in his car after the crash.  “We believe that he spent well over $100 at the bar drinking alcohol that day,” Teare told the news station.  The district attorney’s office is now investigating the bar to determine if workers there overserved Hernandez. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission records indicate Frontera, which obtained its license in October 2017, has had six complaints filed against it this year involving alcohol being in the hands of underage individuals. One of those complaints, in which a violation was not found, involved employing someone under the age of 18 to sell or handle alcohol. The remaining five complaints dealt with selling or serving alcohol to minors and serving alcohol to someone already intoxicated. Three of the five complaints were substantiated, the records show. One of the three substantiated claims also included the sale of drugs by the licensee.  Teare told ABC 13 that Frontera’s owner and employees could face charges related to the fatal crash.  “If an establishment, if a server sees somebody who is intoxicated, they’ve got to stop serving,” Teare said. “They’ve got to take steps to ensure that person doesn’t leave their establishment and kill people.” The district attorney’s office is also considering action to shut the bar’s doors for good.  “I just know that a 19-year-old individual came out of that establishment highly intoxicated and moments later took a 23-year-old's life,” Teare told ABC 13. “That shouldn’t happen. Someone in addition to that 19-year-old is going to have to answer for that.”

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