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Florida Man Steals Alcohol, Cigarettes While Wearing Spider-Man Mask, Deputies Say

Florida Man Steals Alcohol, Cigarettes While Wearing Spider-Man Mask, Deputies Say

The Latest News Headlines

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is calling for a near-normal 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, with nine to 15 named storms expected this year. >> Read more trending news   The forecast follows an above-average season in 2018 that saw a Category 5 hurricane – Michael – make landfall and devastate Florida’s Gulf Coast. In releasing the forecast Thursday, acting NOAA Administrator Neil Jacobs said several factors led to the agency’s estimate, including a current El Nino, or periodic warming in the Pacific Ocean. While in most cases an El Nino condition would be good news for the suppression of the formation of hurricanes in the Atlantic, this year could be different, Jacobs warned. Other influences, such as warmer than normal water temperatures, could blunt the effect of this year’s weak El Nino, according to Jacobs. What is El Nino, and why does it matter during hurricane season? Here’s a look at the naturally occurring phenomenon.  What is El Nino? An El Nino is a change in the climate pattern that leads to unusual warming of surface waters and the atmosphere. The change happens in the Pacific Ocean near the equator and is temporary.  What causes El Nino? Strong trade winds usually blow from east to west across the Pacific near the equator, causing warm water to be pulled westward and pile up in the western part of the Pacific. The winds also pull the deeper, colder water in the eastern Pacific to the surface as they move westward. During an El Nino, the usually strong trade winds are weaker. The weaker winds don’t pull warm waters westward and the warm water they do pull tends to fall back toward the east, making the waters near South America warmer. What does it matter if the water is warmer in the eastern part of the Pacific? Warmer water in the eastern Pacific tends to make trade winds weaker. Weaker westerly winds lead to increased rainfall in the eastern Pacific, while at the same time causing dryer conditions in the western Pacific. How does that affect hurricane season in the Atlantic? If the El Nino effect is strong in a particular year, it can suppress the formation of hurricanes in the Atlantic. The main way that happens is by wind shear. Wind patterns produced by El Nino align to cut off a tropical storm’s source of power – warm water and air.Wind shear, a change in wind speed and/or direction with altitude, is increased over the Caribbean and Atlantic in years where the El Nino is strong. Jacobs said that while there is a current El Nino, it appears to be a mild one, offering less protection against tropical systems that form in the Atlantic. The weak El Nino, coupled with warmer water temperatures, is likely to produce an average Atlantic hurricane season. NOAA is predicting a near-normal Atlantic season with nine to 15 named storms, four to eight of which will become hurricanes. Of those, two to four are expected to grow to Category 3 or stronger storms. Category 3 storms have winds of 110 mph or higher. What is La Nina? La Nina is the opposite of El Nino. Click here for an explanation. How often do El Ninos happen? They happen about every three to seven years. 
  • A banker accused of trying to buy himself a post in President Donald Trump’s administration by making large, risky loans to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was arrested Thursday. >> Read more trending news Stephen M. Calk, 54, was charged with one count of financial institution bribery. Authorities said he committed the crime while serving as CEO of The Federal Savings Bank, a small bank headquartered in Chicago with an office in New York. Calk pleaded not guilty in an appearance Thursday afternoon in a federal courthouse in Manhattan. He was released on $5 million bail. If convicted, Calk could face up to 30 years in prison. In an indictment released Thursday, authorities said Calk abused his authority when he approved $16 million in high-risk loans to Manafort during and shortly after the 2016 presidential election. The loans were ultimately downgraded by the bank’s primary regulator. Calk approved of the loans with the expectation that Manafort would “in return, assist Calk in obtaining a senior position with an incoming presidential administration,” prosecutors alleged. Neither Trump nor Manafort were identified by name in the indictment unsealed Thursday, although details shared in the record made their identities clear. Prosecutors said Calk asked for and got Manafort’s help in trying to secure a position in the Trump administration, with the secretary of treasury, secretary of defense and secretary of the Army posts at the top of his list. After he approved of Manafort’s initial loan request, Manafort was able to get him appointed to Trump’s National Economic Advisory Committee. Later, after Trump was elected to the White House, Manafort lobbied Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to get Calk an interview for the secretary of the Army post. Ultimately, he did not get the job. William F. Sweeney Jr., head of New York’s FBI office, said Calk “went to great lengths to avoid banking violations in an attempt to secure a senior position in a presidential administration.” “His attempt at petitioning for political favors was unsuccessful in more ways than one — he didn’t get the job he wanted, and he compromised the one he had,” Sweeney said. Manafort was sentenced in March to serve 7 1/2 years in prison after he was convicted of conspiring against the United States, conspiring to launder money and bank and tax fraud charges connected to lobbying work he did for pro-Russia forces in Ukraine. He is serving out his sentence at the U.S. Penitentiary, Canaan, a high-security federal prison in Wayne County, Pennsylvania that also has and adjacent minimum-security satellite camp. Manafort also faces fraud charges leveled at him by state prosecutors in New York. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • As a wildfire continues to burn near the Duval-Nassau county line, I-95 is being closed in both directions between SR 200 in Yulee and Pecan Park Road in north Jacksonville.  The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says your detour for I-95 northbound is heading east on Pecan Park Road, and then heading north on US 17. For I-95 southbound, they suggest heading east on SR 200 and heading south on US 17. In the latest update from the Florida Forest Service of Jacksonville, the Yellowbluff Fire is believed to be an estimated 400 acres in size.
  • A judge in Chicago on Thursday unsealed court records related to 'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett's arrest earlier this year, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news  The decision came after several news organizations asked the records be made public, according to The New York Times. Cook County Judge Stephen Watkins ruled in favor of making all records public two months after Smollett's attorneys asked that records be sealed, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The New York Times reported the decision to seal the case had been based on an Illinois law 'that allows a defendant's court file to be sealed if charges against them were dropped or they were acquitted.' It was not immediately clear when the previously sealed documents would become available. Officials with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office said the department would review documents and release the previously sealed records through its Freedom of Information officer, according to WBBM-TV. In his ruling, Watkins noted Smollett or his attorneys appeared in public and on national television several times to speak about the case. 'While the Court appreciates that the Defendant was in the public eye before the events that precipitated this case, it was not necessary for him to address this so publicly and to such an extent,' Watkins wrote in his ruling, according to the Chicago Tribune. 'By doing so, the Court cann ot credit his privacy interest as good cause to keep the case records sealed.' Smollett was arrested in February on felony charges of disorderly conduct in filing a false police report after authorities said he faked a racist, homophobic attack against himself in downtown Chicago one month earlier. Prosecutors abruptly dropped the case in March in a widely criticized move that took police by surprise. The actor had told officers he was confronted in the predawn hours Jan. 29 by a pair of men who yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him, hit him in the face, poured an unknown substance on him and wrapped a rope around his neck.  Smollett has denied faking the attack.
  • The owner of a lab that conducts paternity tests and drug screenings for at least one Alabama county has been charged with falsifying the results of some of those tests, presenting authorities with a potential wave of consequences in family court cases.  The allegations against Brandy Murrah, 36, of Clopton, first surfaced on May 2, when Ozark police Chief Marlos Walker said his office received word that drug tests and paternity results were being altered by her lab. The Dothan Eagle reported that A&J Lab Collections did testing for the Dale County Department of Human Resources.  “At this stage in the investigation, warrants have been obtained for Mrs. Murrah’s arrest for forgery after evidence of drug screening reports that were provided to the Dale County Department of Human Resources by Murrah were found to be falsified,” Walker told the Eagle on May 10.  Murrah turned herself in at the Dale County Jail, where she was booked on two counts of forgery, AL.com reported. She has since been released on bond.  >> Read more trending news Dale County District Attorney Kirke Adams told AL.com last week that the allegations against Murrah, if true, could mean parents were denied custody of their children based on false failed drug screenings.  “We’re messing around (with) people’s lives and their children,” Adams told the news site. “It just seems beyond irresponsible to the point of being callous about the consequences.” Two women who say they lost custody of their children due to Murrah’s alleged actions filed a lawsuit Tuesday against her. Adam Jones, who represents Amy Farver and Tiffany Long, is seeking class action status for the complaint.  “This is maybe the most troubling case I’ve ever had,” Jones told WTVY in Dothan.  Jones told the news station that tests done by Murrah’s lab indicated both of his clients had methamphetamine in their systems, causing the Alabama Department of Human Resources to remove their children from their homes.  “Both of these ladies went to independent drug testing facilities and medical clinics and got more drug testing done, and all of it was negative,” Jones said.  The women have not regained custody of their children, the attorney said.  If the lawsuit obtains class action status, it would represent “all persons who have submitted urine, blood, hair or other biological specimens to the defendants for testing, with said testing being performed incorrectly, reported incorrectly or not performed or reported at all.” Read the lawsuit filed against Brandy Murrah below.  Adams told AL.com he expected more criminal charges to be forthcoming against Murrah, possibly to include additional forgery charges, as well as theft and perjury charges. Theft charges would stem from tests Murrah was paid to perform but didn’t, and perjury charges would evolve from any cases in which she testified under oath about falsified results.  Murrah was not involved in any criminal cases, AL.com reported. There have been no indications she was paid to change the outcome of any cases.  The district attorney said it was not yet clear how many custody cases were affected by Murrah’s alleged crimes.  “We have no idea at this time how many people did not get their children back because of Ms. Murrah’s alleged fraudulent reports,” Adams told the Eagle. “I am furious and offended by these alleged crimes. I don’t understand how someone could be so callous and evil, to have no regard for the consequences of their actions. In my opinion, all cases affected by Murrah’s alleged actions must be redone in order to be fair. Murrah’s attorney, David Harrison, told the newspaper his client is innocent until proven guilty. “We are looking forward to going to court, and I believe a lot of information will come out during court,” Harrison said.  The forgery charges are not the first criminal charges filed against Murrah. Court records show she pleaded guilty in 2013 to five counts of fraudulent use of a credit or debit card, the Eagle reported.  She served three years’ probation in the Houston County case. 

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