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    Kentucky may be known as the Bluegrass State, but some people in the northeastern part of the state took the color scheme a bit too far. A pot-bellied pig was tortured and spray-painted blue in the city of Grayson, WBKO reported. The animal had been left behind by its former owner and then was tortured by several area residents, according to a Facebook post Saturday by Tara Collins Gallion. “Owners moved and left her and now she wanders the roads. To be tortured by the stupid locals. They throw things at her and now decided to spray paint her!! If it soaks into her bloodstream she will die! They even sprayed her eyes, so she may be blind,” Gallion wrote. The post gained thousands of likes and shares, and the pig, now named Eden, was rescued, WBKO reported. Gallion wrote an update later Saturday on Facebook, saying the pig had been rescued and was safe, the Courier-Journal reported. A farmer in Grayson rescued the pig and decided to keep it, the newspaper reported.
  • Attorney General William Barr has told people close to him he’s considering quitting his post after President Donald Trump wouldn’t heed his warning to stop tweeting about Justice Department cases, an administration official told The Associated Press. The revelation came days after Barr took a public swipe at the president, saying in a television interview that Trump’s tweets about Justice Department cases and staffers make it “impossible” for him to do his job. The next day, Trump ignored Barr’s request and insisted that he has the “legal right” to intervene in criminal cases and sidestep the Justice Department’s historical independence. The administration official was not authorized to discuss Barr's private remarks and requested anonymity. It’s unclear how seriously Barr has considered resigning or whether he is instead trying to pressure Trump to back off his provocative tweets about the Justice Department. Barr’s spokeswoman said late Tuesday that the attorney general 'has no plans to resign.” Barr is one of the president’s closest allies in the administration and has been a staunch defender of Trump’s policy decisions. But considering resigning from his post suggests he sees the Justice Department’s reputation as an institution that makes decisions on criminal cases independently, unmoved and unbound by political sway, as more important than his allegiance to the president. Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he’s considering suing those involved in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and opined that his confidant Roger Stone deserved a new trial after being convicted of witness tampering and obstruction. Barr's comments about Trump's tweets came during an interview with ABC News just days after his Justice Department overruled its own prosecutors — who had recommended in a court filing that Stone be sentenced to seven to nine years in prison — and took the extraordinary step of lowering the amount of prison time it would seek. All four prosecutors from Stone's trial quit the case and one left the Justice Department altogether. The reversal came after Trump blasted the original sentencing recommendation as “very horrible and unfair,” though officials have insisted the decision to make a new recommendation came before Trump's tweet. “I’m happy to say that, in fact, the president has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case,” Barr said in the ABC News interview. “However, to have public statements and tweets made about the department, about our people ... about cases pending in the department, and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors in the department that we’re doing our work with integrity.” The attorney general had been sharing the same sentiment privately with Trump for several weeks, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. The person was not authorized to discuss Barr's private conversations and requested anonymity. Speaking to reporters earlier Tuesday, Trump told reporters he understood his tweets makes Barr’s job harder, but he showed no signs of relenting. He said he had “total confidence in my attorney general” but insisted that “everybody has the right to speak their mind.” He added: “And I probably wouldn’t have gotten here without social media because I certainly don’t get fair press.” “Yeah, I do make his job harder. I do agree with that. I think that’s true,” he said. “He's a very straight shooter. We have a great attorney general, and he's working very hard. ... But I will say this: Social media, for me, has been very important because it gives me a voice, because I don’t get that voice in the press. In the media, I don’t get that voice. So I'm allowed to have a voice.” Barr, serving in his second stint as attorney general, sought to paint himself as an independent leader who would not bow to political pressure. But Democrats have repeatedly accused Barr of acting more like the president’s personal attorney than the attorney general. Barr proved to be a largely reliable Trump ally and defender of presidential power. Some Democrats have called for Barr to resign, and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called on the Justice Department’s inspector general to open an investigation into Barr's role in the sentencing reversal. More than 1,100 former Justice Department prosecutors called on Barr to resign in a letter released Sunday, insisting that Barr’s decision to intervene in Stone’s case tarnished the department’s reputation. In recent days, a stream of Trump allies, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, have issued statements expressing their full confidence in the attorney general. But Trump has a low tolerance for criticism, especially public criticism, from his allies and often fires back in kind. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Graham released a joint statement on Tuesday, calling Barr a “man of the highest character and unquestionable integrity.” “I think he's doing an excellent job,” Trump said of the attorney general on Tuesday. “He's a strong guy.” ___ Miller reported from Beverly Hills, Calif. Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.
  • After driving a school bus for 55 years, a Minnesota man’s final stop will be celebrated in a bus-themed casket. Glen Davis, who drove a school bus in Grand Meadow from 1949 to 2005, will be buried in a casket painted to look like the bus he drove for so many years, the Brainerd Dispatch reported. Davis, who was 88, died Saturday, according to his obituary. The yellow casket will be decorated with headlights, a side-mounted stop sign and block capital letters that memorialize the bus Davis drove -- “Grand Meadow Schools — ISD #495,” the Star-Tribune reported. The casket was donated by Jim Hindt, owner of Hindt Funeral Home. Known to several generations of students as “Glennie,” Davis began driving a school bus when he was 18, the year he graduated high school, according to the Dispatch. In 1949, many of his passengers were friends and former classmates. By the time he retired, Davis was driving grandchildren of his former classmates, the newspaper reported. Davis is not the first school bus driver to be buried in a bus-like casket. As recently as August 2019, a Tennessee man who drove a bus in Wilson County for more than five decades was laid to rest in a bus-themed casket. Davis knew he would be getting his casket, as Hindt surprised him with the idea six years ago, the Star-Tribune reported. Hindt asked a family friend to paint the casket and a niece to put the finishing touches to it, the newspaper reported. “Glen had always just joked with me about wanting to be buried in a casket that looked like a school bus,” Hindt told the Star-Tribune. “We just kind of put it together out of friendship for him. I wasn’t sure whether Glen really wanted to use it.” “Oh, I loved it,” Davis said in a Jan. 31, 2015, Rochester Post Bulletin interview. “My family was a little leery of it, it being a little bit personal.' “He was speechless,” Davis’ daughter, Lisa Hodge of Rochester, told the Star-Tribune. “He was just overjoyed, and he couldn’t believe somebody was actually able to do it for him.” Davis was a farmer for most of his life, the eighth of nine children born at the family homestead in Grand Meadow. He drove the bus in the morning and then milked cows when he returned home, the Dispatch reported. “He just enjoyed the kids and driving the bus so much,” Hodge told the newspaper. Davis’ funeral is 10:30 a.m. Friday in Grand Meadow. While it will be a sad time, the mood will be lightened somewhat by Davis’ custom-made casket. “He really got a kick out of it,” Hodge told the Star-Tribune. “It’s what he loved about life.”
  • Mike Bloomberg will confront the greatest test of his presidential campaign on Wednesday when he faces five Democratic rivals in a debate in Las Vegas that could fundamentally change the direction of the party’s 2020 nomination fight. The debate debut for the billionaire former mayor of New York is poised to offer fresh insight into whether his unconventional campaign strategy — bypassing early voting states such as Nevada and spending hundreds of millions of dollars to spread his message on the airwaves — is sustainable. The debate comes at a pivotal point in the campaign as moderate voters are struggling to unify, with some increasingly looking to Bloomberg to become the clear alternative to progressive Bernie Sanders. And lest there be any doubt, all the participants expect a hostile reception for Bloomberg, who formally registered as a Democrat in 2018 and has faced relatively little national scrutiny so far in his surprisingly swift rise from nonpartisan megadonor to top-tier presidential contender. “He is going to have a giant target on his back from all sides,” said Democratic strategist Brian Brokaw. “It’ll either all come together brilliantly or could fall apart very quickly. ... The stakes are just incredibly high for him.” The stakes are high for others as well just days before Nevada’s next-up presidential caucuses, the third contest in the Democrats’ chaotic 2020 primary season. After more than a year of campaigning, there is little clarity in their urgent search for a nominee to run against President Donald Trump in November. Longtime establishment favorite Joe Biden, a former two-term vice president, is fighting to breathe new life into his flailing campaign, which enters the night at the bottom of a moderate muddle with former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Sanders, a Vermont senator, has emerged as the progressive wing’s clear preference after two contests as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is struggling to regain energy around her campaign. Some Democrats fear that the conditions are ripe for a bare-knuckles brawl on national television that could carve new scars into a divided Democratic Party that must ultimately come together this fall if it hopes to deny Trump a second term. Bloomberg’s rivals have already indicated they will lean into his explosive comments on race and gender in addition to their charge that he’s using a fortune earned from a career on Wall Street to buy the presidency. Bloomberg’s rise in national polls has been fueled almost exclusively by an unprecedented national advertising campaign, carefully controlled campaign events and a sprawling national organization that has likely already cost him more than half a billion dollars. Alexandra Rojas, executive director of the Sanders-allied Justice Democrats, called Wednesday Bloomberg’s first “public moment of accountability.” “It’s going to be a chance to finally bring scrutiny to Bloomberg’s record as a Republican plutocrat,” she said. Bloomberg has been preparing for the debate behind closed doors for weeks, including prep sessions that feature senior aides playing his leading competitors. They expect him to come under attack early and often from multiple rivals. His team was working to lower expectations ahead of his performance, suggesting his debate skills are rusty after more than a decade since his last election. Bloomberg hasn’t been on a debate stage since 2009. His team notes he never faced more than one rival at a time over three elections for New York City mayor. Despite the challenges, senior adviser Tim O’Brien signaled that Bloomberg welcomed a fight against Sanders, whom the campaign perceives to be the race’s clear front-runner. “I think you’re going to see us go toe-to-toe with Bernie Sanders on important issues,” O’Brien said in an interview, raising questions about Sanders’ personal wealth, record on criminal justice and gun control. Sanders welcomed the fight as well. The Vermont senator railed against Bloomberg and “a system that allows billionaires to buy elections,” while campaigning in Nevada on the eve of the debate. “Here is the message: Anyone here worth $60 billion, you can run for president, and you can buy the airwaves. My friends, that is called oligarchy, not democracy.” While the same age and race, Bloomberg and Sanders are ideological opposites. Bloomberg is one of the world’s richest men, having generated a net worth estimated at $60 billion after a career on Wall Street. He has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to combat climate change and gun violence and promote immigration reform in recent years, yet he takes a decidedly pragmatic approach that celebrates incremental improvement backed by data. Sanders has a net worth estimated at $2.5 million thanks to book sales and the value of his home, but he has spent a lifetime in politics as an uncompromising democratic socialist demanding a political revolution to transform the nation’s politics and economy. He measures his success largely by the impact he’s had on the public debate, which has warmed to his calls for a $15 minimum wage, universal health care and sweeping action on climate change. Voters will not formally judge Bloomberg’s performance until next month. He is not technically competing in Nevada’s Saturday caucuses or any of the four primary contests scheduled for this month, preferring to invest his time and resources in the delegate-rich states that begin voting in March. In the modern era, such a strategy has never worked. Yet it's never been attempted by someone as wealthy as Bloomberg, who has already invested more than $400 million into a national advertising campaign and hired more than 2,000 campaign staffers. The focus on Bloomberg on the debate stage, of course, means there will be less oxygen for others at a critical moment. Buttigieg essentially tied in Iowa with Sanders and was a narrow second-place finisher in New Hampshire, yet many establishment leaders remain skeptical of the 38-year-old’s limited experience and ability to assemble a multiracial coalition to defeat Trump. Buttigieg needs a strong performance to help blunt Bloomberg’s momentum. Klobuchar surged into the top tier of the race with a strong debate performance in New Hampshire. But with a significantly smaller national brand, she faces lingering questions about the strength of her organization and appeal among minority voters. Warren may have the most to gain Wednesday night, having been pushed from the top tier after a bad performance in New Hampshire’s primary last week. She remains popular with her party’s far-left wing, though it's unclear if or when she will win a primary contest. And Biden is betting everything on a comeback fueled by minority support in Nevada and South Carolina in the next two weeks. A top Biden official described the former vice president as eager to confront Bloomberg on the debate stage. But Biden is also targeting Sanders. He previewed one line of attack over the weekend, seizing on Sanders’ support for a 2005 law that granted gun makers civil immunity. Biden also hammered his strength with the powerful Culinary Union, which hasn't endorsed a candidate but claimed that Sanders' 'Medicare for All' proposal would threaten their current health care coverage. Amid the infighting, Democratic National Committee member Robert Zimmerman fears that his party may lose sight of its chief mission in 2020: defeating Trump. “It’s going to get much nastier,” Zimmerman said of Wednesday’s debate. “The candidates have an obligation to unite the party, and they’re not going to get there by throwing around charges of racism and personal slurs.” ___ Associated Press writers Kathleen Ronayne in Sacramento, Calif., and Alexandra Jaffe in Washington contributed to this report. ___ Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”
  • Singer Harry Styles was unharmed after being robbed at knifepoint Friday night in London, authorities said. Styles, 26, the former One Direction band member, released “Fine Line,” his second solo album in December. He was approached by a man with a knife who “demanded cash,” E! News reported. London police officials confirmed they were investigating a knifepoint robbery in the Hampstead area of London, the BBC reported. Police said no arrests had been made and that an investigation was ongoing, the network reported. Earlier Friday, Styles stopped by “The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show” to cover Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi,” New Musical Express reported.
  • Utah lawmakers voted Tuesday to put new regulations on pornography and remove some on polygamy in separate proposals moving quickly through the Legislature in the deeply conservative state. Senators voted unanimously to change state law to remove the threat of jail time for consenting adult polygamists, a step that supporters argue will free people in communities that practice plural marriage to report abuses, like children being taken as wives, without fear of prosecution. A majority of people in Utah belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which had an early history of polygamy but has forbidden it for more than a century. An hour later, House lawmakers approved a proposal to require pornography to carry warning labels about harm to minors. An adult entertainment industry group called the vote a dark day for freedom of expression. The faith widely known as the Mormon church declared pornography a public health crisis in 2016, and since then, more than a dozen states have advanced similar proposals. The labeling proposal from Republican state Rep. Brady Brammer would carry a potential penalty of $2,500 per violation. “I think it will make a difference,' Brammer said. “It won’t stop every problem related to obscenity, it will not stop all obscenity, but it will move the ball further down the field.” Republican lawmakers called it a creative solution. The measure would apply to material that appears in Utah in print or online and allow the state and residents to sue producers. The new measure is narrowly aimed at hardcore obscene material, but the way the law is written could still allow for thousands of lawsuits, said Mike Stabile, a spokesman for the Free Speech Coalition, a pornography and adult entertainment trade group. “Really it just sort of opens up the floodgates for lawsuits over all sorts of content,” he said. He also argues the dire harms outlined in the proposed warning label haven't been proven. The porn warning labels need to be approved by the Senate, while the reduction in punishments for polygamy must pass the House. Utah's restrictive bigamy law is an outgrowth of the church's history with polygamy. While mainstream members abandoned the practice in 1890, an estimated 30,000 people living in polygamous communities follow teachings that taking multiple wives brings exaltation in heaven. Utah goes further than other states by prohibiting cohabitation with more than one purported spouse. The measure from Republican Utah Sen. Deidre Henderson would make that an infraction rather than a felony. Some former members of polygamous groups have spoken against the change, saying it would do little to help victims like those in underage marriages. Polygamists with Utah ties range from Warren Jeffs, who was convicted of sexually assaulting girls he considered wives, to Kody Brown, whose four wives chose the relationship as adults. The Browns have opened their lives to reality TV cameras in the TLC show “Sister Wives.' Utah has publicly declined to prosecute otherwise law-abiding polygamists for years. Still, Henderson argues that fears remain, left over from raids where children were separated from their parents. The new proposal would keep harsher penalties for other crimes sometimes linked to polygamy, including coerced marriage. “Bad people really can, and have, weaponized the law in order to keep their victims silent and isolated in their control,' she said.
  • Ricky Leo Davis, who was convicted nearly 15 years ago of the murder of a newspaper columnist, has become the first California inmate to be exonerated by genetic genealogy, the same technology that identified the alleged Golden State Killer in April 2018. Davis, 54, was released Thursday from the El Dorado County Jail in Placerville after the same DNA evidence that proved he did not kill his housemate, Jane Anker Hylton, in July 1985, pointed to another man as the killer. Hylton, a 54-year-old mother and columnist for the Foothills Times, was stabbed 29 times and suffered a bite mark on her left shoulder, according to authorities. Saliva from that bite mark would ultimately solve the case. Davis, who was convicted in the 20-year-old case in August 2005, is the second inmate in U.S. history to be freed using genetic genealogy, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “Simply put, Ricky Leo Davis did not kill Jane Hylton,” El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson said. Pierson announced the latest development in Davis’ case during a news conference Thursday. He also announced the arrest of the new suspect, who the Sacramento Bee identified as 51-year-old Michael Eric Green. CBS Sacramento reported Green was arrested outside his Roseville home, where neighbors said he’d spent much of his life living with and caring for his parents. Green was one of three young men Hylton’s then-13-year-old daughter told investigators she’d met in a park the night her mother was slain. She identified the boys by first names only: Calvin, Michael and a third boy named either Steve or Brian. Green, who was a juvenile when Hylton was killed, was arrested Tuesday in Placer County. He was booked Friday into the El Dorado County Jail on a murder charge, according to jail records. Pierson said the other two boys Hylton’s daughter named the morning her mother’s body was discovered have also been tracked down. One has since died and the other is cooperating with the investigation. The prosecutor said the new developments in the murder case were “two of the most dramatic extremes” he’d experienced in his 28 years on the job. “On one hand, a person, Ricky Davis, was falsely accused, brought to trial, convicted and has spent the last 15-some years in custody for a crime that I can tell you, in all confidence, he did not commit,” the prosecutor said. “It’s not a matter of we don’t have sufficient evidence to move forward on it or to proceed to a new trial. “In all confidence, he did not commit this crime. He is not responsible.” A brutal crime Davis, who was 20 when Hylton, 54, was killed, called police shortly after midnight July 7, 1985, after he and his girlfriend at the time, Connie Dahl, found Hylton’s body in the home they had just begun sharing, according to the Northern California Innocence Project. The home, located in El Dorado Hills, belonged to Davis’ grandmother, who the day before had allowed Hylton, who was her employee, and Hylton’s daughter to move in because the columnist was having marital trouble. “Davis and Dahl told detectives they had gone to a party the night before and returned home at 3:30 a.m., where they found Hylton’s daughter waiting outside,” the organization’s synopsis of Davis’ case reads. “She told them that she had gone out with a group of boys that night and was afraid her mother would be upset with her for being out too late. The three entered the house together. “Davis saw blood in the hallway outside the master bedroom and found Hylton’s body on the bed. Davis and Dahl immediately called 911 to report the crime.” Hylton’s estranged husband was cleared of the crime and the case eventually went cold. Fourteen years later, in November 1999, cold case detectives with the El Dorado Sheriff’s Office reopened the investigation and brought in Dahl for questioning. “The detectives interrogated Dahl four times over the next 18 months using techniques known to increase the chances of false confessions,” the case synopsis says. “Dahl ultimately changed her story for police and implicated Davis as the killer. She also implicated herself in the crime, telling the police that she bit the victim during the attack.” In addition, Dahl claimed Hylton’s daughter helped the couple move her mother’s body. Based nearly entirely on Dahl’s new claims, Davis was convicted in 2005 and sentenced to 16 years to life in prison, the synopsis states. Dahl, meanwhile, received a sentence of a year in county jail for her purported role in the crime. The Northern California Innocence Project became involved in Davis’ case in 2006, opening its own investigation into Hylton’s murder. With the cooperation of Pierson’s office, Davis’ attorneys sought DNA testing on evidence from the crime scene, including the victim’s nightgown and scrapings taken from under her fingernails. The testing found a man’s DNA on the nightgown in the area of the bite mark, the synopsis says. DNA found under the victim’s fingernails matched the sample from nightgown. “The test results excluded Davis, Dahl and Hylton’s daughter as the sources of the DNA,” according to the case synopsis. “The unknown male DNA profile found on the nightgown indicated that Dahl did not bite the victim, contrary to her testimony at trial.” Innocence Project attorneys went to court with the new evidence, successfully arguing in 2018 that the evidence would have likely resulted in a different outcome at Davis’ trial. Davis’ conviction was overturned on April 15, 2019, but prosecutors initially intended to retry him for Hylton’s slaying. Instead, Pierson’s office teamed up with the Sacramento County Crime Lab to use genetic genealogy to trace the unknown DNA to potential family members who had submitted their own genetic profiles to public websites. The process led detectives and prosecutors to Green. ‘Aggressive confession-driven interrogation tactics’ Pierson on Thursday highlighted the interrogation tactics he said led to Davis’ arrest and conviction more than two decades after Hylton was killed. In a court hearing at which Davis was officially set free, the prosecutor described Dahl’s questioning by two now-retired investigators as “aggressive, confession-driven interrogation.” In a snippet of Dahl’s interrogation transcript shared by Pierson’s office via video, a detective urged her to be the first to talk in the case. “So the train is coming through right now and, in my experience in law enforcement, the first one to jump on the bandwagon always gets the, always gets the easiest ride,” the unnamed detective said. “Right,” Dahl responded. Watch a video about the Jane Hylton case below. Editor’s note: The video contains crime scene footage that may be too graphic for some viewers. The detective then brought up the bite mark on the victim’s left shoulder. “…whether Ricky brings it on you or you bring it on somebody else, have you ever been the type of person that, during a fight, you know, whether you scratch, hit, punch, have you ever bitten someone? Do you ever bite?” the detective asked. “I’ve bitten some,” Dahl responded. “I’ve bitten a couple of times. Yeah.” The next snippet shows Dahl saying she didn’t know if she’d bitten Hylton. “I don’t know if … I don’t believe that I have it in me to help do this,” she said. Eventually, Dahl confessed to biting Hylton and said Davis killed her. Dahl died in 2014, the Bee reported. Watch Thursday’s news conference announcing Ricky Davis’ exoneration below. According to the newspaper, which covered Davis’ hearing Thursday, Pierson told El Dorado Superior Court Judge Kenneth J. Melekian that the DNA evidence exonerating Davis led his office to go over the murder case again as though it had never been solved instead of trying to prove Davis was the killer. When Melekian turned toward Davis a short time later, he declared him “factually innocent.” Davis and his attorneys were emotional following the hearing, the Bee reported. One Innocence Project lawyer, Melissa O’Connell, thanked Davis for his “tremendous strength and resilience, and never giving up hope,” the newspaper said. Davis, who emerged from the jail shortly after 3 p.m., walked into a crowd of about two dozen family members and Innocence Project staff. They hugged him and welcomed him back into the outside world. “God bless the Innocence Project,” Davis said as he held up a T-shirt from the organization. Both his own lawyers and Pierson said Davis will likely be financially compensated for the time he wrongfully spent in prison. According to The Associated Press, that compensation, under California law, would equal $750,000, or $140 for each day he spent behind bars. Pierson talked after the fact about meeting face-to-face with Davis a few nights before his release. “It’s an interesting conversation, to meet with someone as a prosecutor and realize that this person has, in fact, been falsely accused, convicted and incarcerated,” Pierson said. “He said a number of things. He knew that we had made a commitment that we would follow up on it.” He said Davis referenced the amount of time it had taken to free him since the DNA evidence first indicated his innocence in 2014. “I had to tell him, in all candor, if this investigation had moved forward years ago, the technology did not exist, the techniques did not exist that were employed in this case to unwind it the way that we were able to do it now,” Pierson said. “I wish it had occurred sooner, that we could have gotten him out of custody sooner. The practical reality is it’s only been the past year and a half, two years that genetic genealogy to identify someone in these circumstances has been in existence.” O’Connell said she and her colleagues believed in Davis’ innocence since they took on the case, both because of his own claims and what they believe were coercive interrogation methods. She said it was amazing how composed Davis remained in court Thursday. “I asked him, ‘Did you ever think this day would come?’ and he said, ‘Yes.’” O’Connell said. “He never gave up hope, and he trusted that the system would undo this wrongful conviction.” Watch Pierson and O’Connell discuss Thursday’s developments below, courtesy of the Bee. © 2020 © 2020 Cox Media Group
  • The U.S. government made good on its warning to Americans who chose to remain on board a quarantined cruise ship in Japan, telling them they cannot return home for at least two weeks after they come ashore. U.S. officials notified the passengers Tuesday of the travel restriction, citing their possible exposure to the new virus while on board the Diamond Princess. More than 100 U.S. citizens are still on the ship or in Japanese hospitals. A two-week quarantine of the Diamond Princess ends Wednesday. Over the weekend, more than 300 American passengers, including some who tested positive for coronavirus, left Japan on charter flights. Most of them remain under quarantine at military bases in California and Texas, although about a dozen have been moved to a hospital. Some Americans decided to take their chances and stay on the ship. On Tuesday, they were told their names would be put on a travel restriction list. The letter from U.S. health authorities said the passengers would not be issued a boarding pass or allowed on a flight “until you are no longer at risk of spreading infection during travel.” The letter also warned them against trying to enter the country through Mexico or Canada or at a seaport, saying “you will be stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.” ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign plans to ask for a partial recount of the Iowa caucus results after the state Democratic Party released results of its recanvass late Tuesday that show Sanders and Pete Buttigieg in an effective tie. Sanders campaign senior adviser Jeff Weaver told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday that the campaign has had a representative in contact with the Iowa Democratic Party throughout the recanvass process. 'Based on what we understand to be the results, we intend to ask for a recount,' he said. A Sanders spokesman confirmed that the campaign still planned to pursue a recount after the party released its updated results. In the new results, released by the Iowa Democratic Party, Buttigieg has 563.207 state delegate equivalents and Sanders has 563.127 state delegate equivalents out of 2,152 counted. That is a margin of 0.004 percentage points. The AP remains unable to declare a winner based on the available information, as the results may still not be fully accurate and are still subject to the recount. The caucuses were roiled by significant issues in collecting and reporting data from individual precincts on caucus night. There were also errors in the complicated mathematical equations used to calculate the results in individual caucus sites that became evident as the party began to release caucus data throughout the week. The Iowa Democratic Party had previously said publicly that the only opportunity to correct the math would be a recount, but after a vote by its state central committee, the party changed that policy. It agreed to change some mathematical errors during the recanvass, in instances where “the rules were misapplied in the awarding of delegates' to viable candidates. That changed the results of the caucuses slightly, but resulted only in a slimmer margin separating the two front-runners. The state party corrected 29 precincts overall in the recanvass, 26 of those because of mathematical errors and 3 because of reporting errors. In a recount, party officials use the preference cards that caucusgoers filled out outlining their first and second choices in the room on caucus night and rerun all the math in each individual precinct. The Iowa Democratic Party states in its Recount and Recanvass manual that 'only evidence suggesting errors that would change the allocation of one or more National Delegates will be considered an adequate justification for a recount.' That means the errors must be significant enough to change the outcome of the overall caucus. Iowa awards 41 national delegates in its caucuses. As it stands, Buttigieg has 13 and Sanders has 12. Trailing behind are Elizabeth Warren with eight, Joe Biden with six and Amy Klobuchar with one. The 41st and final delegate from Iowa will go to the overall winner. The caucus won’t formally come to an end until the recount is completed. In its recanvass request, the Sanders campaign outlined 25 precincts and three satellite caucuses where it believes correcting faulty math could swing the delegate allocation in Sanders’ favor and deliver him, not Buttigieg, that final delegate. Until this year, the only results reported from that process was a tally of the number of state convention delegates — or “state delegate equivalents” — awarded to each candidate. For the first time, the party in 2020 released three sets of results from its caucuses: adding the “first alignment” and “final alignment” of caucusgoers to the number of “state delegate equivalents” each candidate received. During the caucuses, voters arriving at their caucus site filled out a card that listed their first choice; those results determined the “first alignment.” Caucusgoers whose first-choice candidate failed to get at least 15% of the vote at their caucus site could switch their support to a different candidate. After they had done so, the results were tabulated again to determine the caucus site’s “final alignment.” The AP has always declared the winner of the Iowa caucuses based on state delegate equivalents, which are calculated from the final alignment votes. That’s because Democrats choose their overall nominee based on delegates. While the first alignment and final alignment provide insight into the process, state delegate equivalents have the most direct bearing on the metric Democrats use to pick their nominee — delegates to the party's national convention. ___ Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement subpoenaed a sheriff's office in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon, on Tuesday for information about two Mexican citizens wanted for deportation, a move that is part of a broader escalation of the conflict between federal officials and local government agencies over so-called sanctuary policies. ICE, the Homeland Security agency responsible for arresting and deporting people in the U.S. illegally, served the Washington County Sheriff's Office in Hillsboro, Oregon, with the subpoenas in an attempt to get more information about two men, including one who has already been released from custody, said ICE spokeswoman Tanya Roman. Deputy Shannon Wilde, a spokeswoman with the sheriff's office, said Tuesday that her agency was preparing a statement and had no immediate comment. Proponents of sanctuary policies say they allow people to feel safe reporting crime without fear of deportation, while those opposed to them say the inability of local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration authorities helps shield criminals. Oregon’s 1987 sanctuary state law, the nation’s first, prevents law enforcement from detaining people who are in the U.S. illegally but have not broken any other law. Authorities in the state won’t hold in custody those who committed crimes and have finished their sentences to be picked up by federal immigration agents, unless they have a warrant signed by a judge. A U.S. judge ruled in August that the Trump administration cannot withhold millions of dollars in law enforcement grants from Oregon to force the state to cooperate with U.S. immigration enforcement. Since January, ICE has issued similar immigration subpoenas in California, Colorado, Connecticut and New York. Tuesday's subpoenas were the first issued in Oregon. The action means the agency could ask a federal judge to order Washington County to comply and hold it in contempt of court if it doesn't. It was unclear what options were available to the sheriff's office, which is subject to the state's sanctuary law. The subpoenas relate to two separate cases, both involving Mexican nationals, Roman said. The first person, a 39-year-old man, was sentenced to more than six years in an Oregon prison for sexual abuse. He was transferred to the Washington County Jail last month and ICE filed an immigration detainer asking the jail to hold him. Roman said he currently faces additional charges of displaying a child in sexual conduct, sexual abuse and sodomy. The agency did not provide the man's name. The second person, a 44-year-old man, was released from the Washington County Jail late last year after serving a sentence for driving under the influence of intoxicants. Hillsboro, Oregon, the Washington County seat, is about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Portland.

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  • Doctors at Baptist Health say in general, adults and children can sometimes wait months to see a counselor for their mental health needs. “There’s not enough behavioral heath providers in the community,” Dr. Terrie Andrews said.  That’s why Baptist is rolling out a new Acute Care Clinic. A $25,000 grant from CVS Health is helping them offer families same-day access to mental health services.  “If you have a cold or you're experiencing flu symptoms, you can be seen immediately in primary care. That’s what we’re wanting to build at Baptist Behavioral Health,” Dr. Andrews said.  Dr. Andrews said one in five adults and kids need mental health counseling at some point in their life.  “Something happened, maybe they’re going through a divorce they weren’t expecting,' she said. 'We’re trying to get them quick access, help to be able to stabilize them.'  She said the new clinic will also serve patients who need a prescription for their medication but can’t get an appointment with their psychiatrist.  The grant from CVS is helping to fund telehealth technology that allows doctors and patients to video chat.  Right now, the program is serving adults out of Baptist's downtown campus. Dr. Andrews says they hope to have the pediatric side of the clinic up and running by the fall.  'We know if we can intervene earlier, then their trajectory is much greater for success,' she said.  The bottom line – they want families to be able to get the help they need faster.
  • The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is investigating after human remains were found in North Jacksonville. A construction worker was pushing dirt with a bulldozer and found bones within a dirt mound, JSO said.  The Sheriff’s Office said the medical examiner was on site and confirmed the bones are human. The bones will be collected and taken to the medical examiner’s office where the medical examiner will work to make an identification. The identification process could take weeks, according to the Sheriff’s Office.  The dirt came from another site off Eastport Road and was brought to this site near I-295 and Main Street where workers are building a ramp.  JSO said the bones may be years, even decades old.
  • After decades of searching, a local Jacksonville man has finally found the family he never knew existed. This story dates back to the 1980s with a shocking plot twist.  Right now, Steven Flowe lives in Jacksonville. His parents, Joyce and Steven Flowe Sr. raised him in Charlotte, North Carolina. Despite having a great childhood, Steven Jr. felt like a piece of him was missing.  “Learning from my cousin that I was adopted started the curiosity,” Steven Flowe Jr., said. “I was desperately looking, you know, asking anybody, ‘Hey I was born in this area do you know’ and I told my story.”  His story started back in 1984, when a baby was found in a cardboard box on the porch of a dry cleaners in Charlotte.  The original broadcast report from our sister station, WSOC in Charlotte, explains that an employee saw a box with a big splotch of blood on top of it.  “I eased the sheet back and I saw the baby’s head,” a man said in that report.”  The baby was Steven Jr.  His story was all over the news and in newspapers too.  “It was ten days later that we picked him up and brought him home.” Joyce Flowe, Steven’s adoptive mother, said. “He's been with ever since.”  The Flowes were trying to have children, and Steven was their miracle child.  “From the first moment I looked at him and I believe I saw his eyes and he made eye contact with me, I said ‘This is my son,’ and it’s been that way ever since,” Steven Flowe Sr. said.  As Steven Jr. got older, he had questions about where he came from. He even took to the local newspaper to find his biological family.  “I think it’s my personality -- that I just have to know. I have to know the answer,” Steven Flowe, Jr. said.  His questions remained unanswered for decades. Steven moved to Jacksonville with his wife and created their own family. It wasn’t until September 2019 that his curiosity re-lit a fire inside of him, and he decided to take a DNA test. His expectations were low.  “I got my results back and it showed that I had a half sibling,” Steven Jr. said. “I was like ‘Whoa wait a minute.’ I wasn’t expecting that. I was expecting a fifth or sixth cousin but not a sibling.“  Soon after Steven Jr. got his results, Karen Perry got a Twitter message saying “we may be related.”  “He sent me a picture.” Perry said. “I was like, ‘oh my God he looks like me and my family.’“ That wasn’t even the craziest part. “He told me he lived in Jacksonville. I said I live in Jacksonville.”  The two lived less than a mile apart from each other in the Bartram Park community—just a quick four minute drive down the road.  Despite being separated for decades, it was as if the two knew each other forever.  “When I saw him in person, I felt that I knew that this was my brother,” Perry said. “I knew it was my brother.”  “When I hugged her, it was just like everything went away, and it was like this is my sister,' Steven Jr. said.  Perry eventually led Steven Jr. to his biological mother, who he said he has forgiven.  “She knew that she needed ... that I needed to be with another family.” Steven Jr. said. “I needed to be with another family.”  His family has finally come full circle.
  • Shirley Colter is a Navy veteran who lives in Orange Park. Colter uses VA Video Connect to chat with her VA health care providers. It’s new technology that lets her talk to her doctor using a smartphone, computer or tablet.  More than 1,600 veterans are using this technology.  One of the advantages is you don’t have to physically be in the VA hospital or clinic. The user can be anywhere and meet with their doctor face-to-face.  “To me it’s just as good as being in person,” Colter said.  VA Video Connect reaches patients from southern Georgia all the way down to the villages in Florida.  Dr. Melinda Screws, the chief medical officer for the Jacksonville Outpatient VA Clinic, said it’s more convenient for many patients.  “Sometimes it’s really just a relatively simple question that they need answered. Maybe they have a rash and they think they may have shingles and they can show that to me on camera and we can, ‘Yes, I think that it is shingles, or no maybe you got into some poison ivy,’” Screws said.  Colter said the technology can also help other veterans like her who may live in rural communities and can’t make the drive to a VA clinic.  “I think it’s just going to be pretty awesome, especially for those veterans that live pretty distance away from the clinic,” Colter said.  The VA says this technology will mainly be used for follow-up appointments, like speaking to patients about medications or test results.  If you would like a demonstration you can visit the Jacksonville VA Outpatient Clinic on Jefferson Street. in the Primary Care Lobby on Feb. 26 and 27.  To learn more about VA Video Connect you can head to mobile.va.gov/appstore.
  • UPDATE: The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says 10-year-old Sam Booker has been found safe. ORIGINAL STORY: The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is asking for the community's help finding a missing 10-year-old.  JSO says Sam Booker was last seen walking out from his classroom at Long Branch Elementary on Franklin Street around 1:00 PM Tuesday. Due to the circumstances involved, police say they want to make sure he's safe.  Booker is described as being 4'6'' tall, 60 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. Police say he was wearing a red hoodie, blue jeans, and red and white shoes.  If you've seen him or know where he is, you're urged to call the sheriff's office at (904) 630-0500.

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