Day: May 18, 2017

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Pennsylvania dad locked 2-year-old son in cage, left toddler and newborn home alone, police say


Pennsylvania state troopers arrested a man after they found his son locked in a wooden cage, and left home alone with his two younger siblings, including a newborn.

Police arrived at the North Manheim Township home Wednesday afternoon after receiving a tip. When no one answered the door, troops forced their way in and found a 1-year-old boy in a playpen, a newborn girl in a baby seat and a 22-month-old son locked inside a makeshift cage, made of plywood and wooden lattice.

PROSECUTORS SAY OREGON DAY CARE PROVIDER LEFT CHILDREN ALONE

Police arrested 38-year-old Cecil Kutz, father of the three children, on child endangerment charges once he returned home. State police Trooper Thomas Robin said the children’s mother gave birth to the newborn at the home on Tuesday around 9 p.m., and soon suffered from severe bleeding. Kutz called for an ambulance the following morning, according to Robin. The mother was taken to a hospital and underwent surgery.

Hospital staff allegedly asked the mother where her baby was, to which she responded, “The baby’s at home.” Robin said that “put up a red flag.”

Kutz, who would not tell police where he was when the children were home alone, said he used the cage as a makeshift crib to keep the toddler safe at night because he would crawl all over the place, according to Robin.

MOM ARRESTED FOR ALLEGEDLY LEAVING 19 KIDS ALONE IN HOT KENTUCKY HOME

Kutz “really didn’t seem very concerned” about leaving his children home alone, but the mother expressed alarm and “said this was never done on her watch,” the trooper said.

The newborn was taken to a hospital for evaluation. The boys were placed in the custody of child welfare authorities.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Venezuelan 'daughters of Chavismo' exposed living lavishly overseas


A Twitter account set up by members of Venezuela’s opposition has become a window into the opulent lives of the so-called “daughters of chavismo” — young women who grew up in privileged households owned by members of the socialist government and now continue enjoying the good life abroad.

In the past few weeks, VVsincensura has been posting photos provided by its followers showing family members of the political elite having a good time in their brand new car, eating in Paris or surfing in some exotic beach.

HUGO CHÁVEZ DAUGHTER IS THE RICHEST INDIVIDUAL IN VENEZUELA, REPORT CLAIMS

One of them is Lucia Rodriguez, daughter of hard-left mayor of Caracas and niece of the foreign minister, who actually started the trend by posting images of herself as a student at a private university in Sydney. This enraged many in the hyperinflationary country, where the population is struggling with accute shortages of food and medicine.

According to The Times of London, Rodriguez was tracked down by an opposition activist to Bondi Beach, where she was photographed surfing and sipping cocktails.

Other daughters of the Bolivarian Revolution exposed as leading lavish capitalist lifestyles are two teenage children of Defense Minister Vladimir ­Padrino Lopez, who are reportedly studying in Spain, and Daniella Cabello, a glamorous daughter of senior government adviser Diosdado Cabello, believed to be studying in Brazil.

OUTRAGED WITH SERIES ABOUT CHAVEZ’S LIFE, VENEZUELA PREZ ORDERS A REMAKE

A couple of weeks ago, a group of Venezuelans confronted Mayor Rodríguez’s daughter when they saw her walking in the Australian capital.

“People are dying because of your dad!” the group shouted, as shown on a YouTube video that quickly went viral in Venezuela.

“Call your aunt and ask her where Leopoldo is!” they also said, alluding to jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

Rumors of extreme privilege also surround the two daughters of late President Hugo Chavez. Maria ­Gabriela, the eldest, is deputy ambassador to the UN in New York City and according to some in the opposition she is worth billions. Her sister ­Rosines Chavez is reportedly studying at the Sorbonne university in Paris.

VENEZUELA’S TOP OFFICIALS SPORT LUXURY WATCHES WHILE COUNTRY STARVES

According to UK Times, many families linked to the Maduro government have moved to the U.S., despite it being deemed an evil capitalist empire that is plotting a coup to overthrow the president.

Eugenio Vasquez ­Orellana, a former banking minister, was spotted recently at a Miami bakery, and former judge Dayva Soto and her husband Rafael Jiménez, an ex-minister, reportedly live in a $900,000 home in Florida.

Two nephews of President Maduro’s wife, Cilia Flores, are in a New York, albeit involuntarily: they are in a New York jail after being convicted last year of attempting to smuggle millions of dollars of cocaine into the U.S.



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Slain Mexican journalist had gone into hiding recently, considered leaving Mexico


A Mexican journalist killed on Monday and who gained international fame for taking on cartels and government corruption had gone into hiding for a couple of weeks recently out of fear for his life, said the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Javier Valdez’s death in broad daylight came a few weeks after the veteran investigative journalist had told members of the independent nonprofit group, which advocates for press freedom around the world, that he felt tensions were higher than usual among cartel groups fighting for power in the northern state of Sinaloa, said Maria Salazar-Ferro, CPJ’s emergencies director.

“He told my colleague here that it was very tense where he was, he said he had a [tip] for story but that he wasn’t going to do the story, he was going to step back,” Salazar-Ferro told Fox News. “He was nervous and felt he had to leave his home for a bit.”

“He relocated inside Mexico for a few weeks to let things cool down,” she said.

Valdez, for whom threats to his life had become part and parcel of his determination to call out crime and corruption wherever he found it, even was considering leaving Mexico for his safety, Salazar-Ferro said.

“He decided that he didn’t want to pull that alarm quite yet,” she added.

Valdez, 50, is at least the sixth journalist to be murdered in Mexico since early March, an unusually high number even for one of the world’s deadliest countries for media professionals.

Valdez was shot to death in the early afternoon in the state capital of Culiacan, near the offices of the publication he co-founded, Riodoce. State Prosecutor Juan Jose Rios visited the scene and said authorities were investigating all possible motives, including that the killing could have been due to Valdez’s work, though he gave no details.

He was nervous and felt he had to leave his home for a bit. He relocated inside Mexico for a few weeks to let things cool down.

– Maria Salazar-Ferro, Committee to Protect Journalists

Valdez was said to have been driving about a block from Riodoce offices when he was intercepted by gunmen. Valdez was also a correspondent for the national newspaper La Jornada, which reported that he was pulled from his car and shot multiple times.

Images in Mexican media showed a body lying in a street covered by a blue blanket and surrounded by 12 yellow markers of the kind typically used to flag evidence such as bullet casings.

Duncan Wood, director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center, recalled Valdez as a committed, selfless journalist who insisted on beating the drum for justice and rule of law in his homeland.

“He was very very brave, he didn’t hesitate to speak out against those who were doing wrong,” said Wood, who taught in Mexico for 17 years and has served as advisor to Mexican newspapers. “He was very well respected by his peers and he was considered to be an authority in his field and dearly loved by his colleagues.”

Wood and Salazar-Ferro both said they believe Valdez’s cold-blooded killing will put pressure on Mexican authorities to take steps to find the perpetrators, as well as do more to protect journalists.

His death could become an issue in bilateral U.S.-Mexico talks.

– Duncan Wood, director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center

“It’s attracting a lot of attention,” Wood said of Valdez’s death. “The U.S. ambassador in Mexico has made statements. His death could become an issue in bilateral U.S.-Mexico talks.”

Wood said that most homicides in Mexico go unresolved and unpunished. Conviction rates are less than 2 percent for homicides, he said.

“The real problem is the breakdown in the rule of law,” Wood said. “There’s widespread violence in the culture and that is because of the influence of organized crime and the failure of authorities to deal with the situation.”

Many news organizations have simply stopped doing investigative work.

According to CPJ, in 2009 unknown attackers threw a grenade into the Riodoce offices days after it published an investigation on drug trafficking. No one was hurt.

By the group’s count, some 40 journalists have been killed in Mexico for reasons confirmed as related to their work since 1992. An additional 50 were slain during the same period under circumstances that have not been clarified.

Journalists targeted in Mexico are most often local reporters in places where the rule of law is tenuous, but there have also been killings of journalists with national profiles such as Valdez and Regina Martinez Perez, who was slain in 2012. The recent spate of slayings includes Miroslava Breach, correspondent for La Jornada in the northern state of Chihuahua, who was gunned down in March.

On Saturday, seven journalists were assaulted and robbed by a mob of about 100 armed men on a highway in the troubled southern state of Guerrero.

Emilio Gutierrez Soto, 53, knows the dangers of being a journalist in Mexico.

A journalist himself, he fled Mexico nearly 10 years ago after learning that a military officer issued orders to have him killed.

Gutierrez Soto, who lives in New Mexico and has asked the U.S. government for political asylum, said that he felt he had nowhere to turn in his home country. He said authorities routinely harassed him, raiding his home, for instance, without court warrants.

“The government itself is filled with corrupt officials, Javier Valdez’s death must be call to protect press freedom,” he told Fox News. “I was told to stop writing critical stories about the military or I would be killed.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Elizabeth Llorente is Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com, and can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnews.com. Follow her on https://twitter.com/Liz_Llorente

 



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White House press shop could see shake-up


The communications team at the Trump White House could be in for a shake-up.

A senior administration source told Fox News that President Trump is planning changes at the press shop, eyeing a “two-handed approach” to the top jobs.

Under the plan, Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders – who has proven popular in the daily briefings as a sub for Press Secretary Sean Spicer – would more frequently appear at the podium.

Meanwhile, Spicer, who spent most of his career behind the scenes at the Republican National Committee and other political assignments, would move into more of a strategic role. In this capacity, he would work closely with Communications Director Michael Dubke. 

WHO IS SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS?

The White House press shop has been the subject of much speculation in recent days.

Sanders stood in for Spicer last week while the press secretary was on Navy Reserve duty, in what some saw as a test of sorts for the deputy spokeswoman.

Fox News is told Trump sees Spicer’s strength lying more behind the scenes, while seeing Sanders as a strong on-air advocate for the president’s policies.

Politico also reported Thursday that Trump is considering scaling back Spicer’s role – and as part of potential changes, the press secretary would no longer do daily, on-camera briefings.

Trump last week floated the possibility of outright canceling the briefings, amid a storm of political and media criticism over his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.

Fox News’ John Roberts contributed to this report. 



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Couple climbs Mount Everest for spectacular wedding


A northern California couple captured their wedding on Mount Everest in vivid photos.

James Sissom, 35, and Ashley Schmeider, 32, of Sacramento, California, in March climbed the earth’s highest mountain with photographer Charleton Churchill for the adventurous wedding, according to USA Today.

“The photos are amazing and we’ll treasure them for the rest of our lives, but the experience also brought us closer together,” Sissom told People.

Schmeider became interested in Mount Everest after reading “Into Thin Air,” a book about the author’s experience during the 1996 Mount Everest disaster.

“This was kind of a bucket list trip for us,” Schmeider said. “This is already something we had planned on doing in the future, but not necessarily for a wedding.”

Schmeider contacted Churchill on Instagram, where the photographer posts pictures of the adventurous weddings and engagements he shoots. The couple and Churchill discussed and decided on Mount Everest for a wedding destination.

COUPLE WHO LOST 578 POUNDS COMBINED ARE GETTING MARRIED

The two spent nine months preparing for their hike.

The couple, along with Churchill, hired porters, guides and cooks and then traveled on a 15-hour flight to Nepal. On March 8, the group began climbing. The group stayed in small brick structures along the hike and endured freezing temperatures and rising altitudes.

After eight days, the group made it to the camp on March 16, the wedding day. They were 17,500 feet high.

The couple had a small ceremony and posed for pictures in freezing temperatures. Both Sissom and Schmeider wore thermal underwear beneath their suit and dress.

MAN WHOSE WEDDING WENT VIRAL ACCUSED OF FAKING TERMINAL ILLNESS

Schmeider said she was initially concerned about how the pictures would look.

“I didn’t feel like the prettiest bride on my wedding day,” she said. “I was really blown away when I saw them and I don’t know how he made us look like we did.”



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MORE COMEY FALLOUT Dem Sen: Deputy AG knew Comey to be fired


Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein knew that FBI Director James Comey would be removed before he penned a now-famous memo that was cited by the White House as rationale for the firing, Democratic senators said Thursday after a briefing with the senior DOJ official.

Rosenstein, who a day earlier named a special counsel to oversee the Russia probe that Comey was helping lead before his ouster, briefed all U.S. senators on Capitol Hill Thursday.

Coming out of that briefing, lawmakers said Rosenstein revealed that President Trump’s decision came first.

“He knew that Comey was going to be removed prior to him writing his memo,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., also said Rosenstein learned on May 8 that Trump “was going to terminate Comey.”

Rosenstein wrote the memo on May 9.

The memo is a critical factor, as the Trump administration initially cited Rosenstein’s assessment in its explanation for Comey’s firing last week. Rosenstein had castigated Comey over his handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe.

On Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters after the briefing that Rosenstein did find Comey’s actions “inappropriate” with regard to the Clinton probe. But the revelations about the timeline dovetail with more recent statements from Trump that he planned to fire Comey regardless of any DOJ recommendation.

Some Democrats have suggested all along that the Comey memo was used as pretext to remove the FBI director helping lead the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 race and alleged ties to Trump associates.

The White House has defended its actions, and continues to deny any collusion with Russian during the 2016 campaign.

In the wake of former FBI director Robert Mueller being named as special counsel, lawmakers said Rosenstein in the briefing made clear he was giving Mueller leeway to do that job.

McCaskill said he would have “complete discretion to take the investigation” where it needs to go.

Trump earlier Thursday called the probe a “witch hunt.” And during a lunch with reporters, he said the special counsel appointment is bad for the country.

“I believe it hurts our country terribly, because it shows we’re a divided, mixed-up, not-unified country,” he said. “And we have very important things to be doing right now, whether it’s trade deals, whether it’s military, whether it’s stopping nuclear — all of the things that we discussed today. And I think this shows a very divided country.”

He also suggested the Russia claims are an “excuse” being used by the Democrats to explain their 2016 election loss.  

“I think it’s a very, very negative thing. And hopefully, this can go quickly, because we have to show unity if we’re going to do great things with respect to the rest of the world,” he said. 

Rosenstein had much to cover in the long-awaited Senate briefing, including the Comey firing, the naming of a special counsel and the Russia probe itself.

The briefing was on the books before Rosenstein announced Wednesday that he had named Mueller to take over the investigation.

In a statement, Rosenstein said he decided to hand off the high-profile investigation to an independent investigator, “in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome.”

“In my capacity as acting Attorney General, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a Special Counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,” Rosenstein said. “My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted.”

The appointment gives Mueller, who led the FBI through the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and served under presidential administrations of both parties, sweeping powers to investigate whether Trump campaign associates colluded with the Kremlin to influence the outcome in his behalf, as well as the authority to prosecute any crimes uncovered during the probe. 

The Justice Department said Mueller has resigned from his job at a private law firm to take the job of special counsel.

In a related development, former CIA director John Brennan is now expected to appear before the House Intelligence Committee next week to answer questions on the Russia investigation. 

Fox News’ Judson Berger, Catherine Herridge, Bret Baier and Chris Wallace and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 



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AIRSTRIKES IN SYRIA US targets pro-Assad forces in fresh attacks near the Iraqi border


The U.S. military launched fresh air strikes against pro-Assad troops in Syria after they ignored repeated warnings from both coalition and Russian forces, officials told Fox News Thursday.

The Syrian forces, in several vehicles including at least one tank, were near the Jordanian border and deemed a threat to coalition partners on the ground, a Pentagon official said. They were repeatedly ordered to stop their advance toward a de-escalation zone, but ignored the warning, officials said.

“The coalition commander assessed the threat and after shows of force didn’t stop the regime forces and those forces refused to move out of the deconfliction zone, the commander on the ground called for the air strike as a matter of force protection,” a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News.

Another military source told The Associated Press it appeared the Syrian forces were poised to attack an area that included U.S. advisers.

“They were building a fighting position” about 55 kilometers from a U.S.-coalition base close to At Tanf, where advisers train members of the Syrian Democratic Forces and Syrian Arab Coalition, the second official said.

Defense Secretary James Mattis briefly addressed the strikes Thursday during a meeting with Swedish Defense minister Peter Hultqvist.

“We’re not increasing our role in the Syrian civil war but we will defend our troops, and that is a coalition element made up of more than just U.S. troops, and so we’ll defend ourselves,” Mattis said. “If people take aggressive steps against us, and that’s been a going in, a policy of ours for a long time.”

The U.S. and Russia, which is allied with the pro-Assad forces, have established buffer zones around their separate areas of operation to avoid collateral damage. Each side has agreed to notify the other if the deploy forces within the buffer zones.

In this case, an official told The Associated Press, Russia tried multiple times to contact the Syrian forces. It was at that point that U.S. and coalition jets escalated their warnings.

“We conducted a show of force. We conducted warning shots. All to no avail,” the official said.

The American strikes were the first against Assad positions since the Pentagon rained 57 Tomahawk missiles on the Shayrat air base near Homs. But the strikes confirmed Thursday were believed to be the first targeting Syrian personnel.

The attack on forces does not reflect an escalation, the Pentagon official said.

“There is no change in policy,” the official said.

Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.



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Town Rejects Proposal to Grant Sex Leave to Workers…


The issue of work-life balance is taken seriously in European countries. France, for example, which already has a 35-hour workweek, recently introduced legislation granting employees a “right to disconnect.” But critics of the Swedish proposal had argued that it was too intrusive and that it could have stigmatized some employees: those who were single, for example, or who did not feel like having sex.





Tomas Mortberg, a member of the Overtornea council from a right-leaning party, said the state had no business poking its nose into employees’ sex lives.

“We don’t see this as a health and wellness-promoting activity, just like gardening isn’t,” he said in a phone interview. “The break should be used for a walk or going to a gym. A love act with your loved one should be done in your own free time, not during paid work hours.”

In its decision, the council also rejected Mr. Muskos’s argument that state-subsidized sexual excursions during working hours would encourage couples to have more children. It said that Overtornea’s dwindling population was not a result of too little sexual activity, but of young people leaving the town in search of opportunity or prosperity.

Mr. Muskos said that he was unhappy that his proposal had been rejected, but that he was not surprised. He said he remained convinced that if his idea had caught on, it would have buttressed romantic relationships, benefited busy couples with children, and empowered women by giving them time to ensure they were sexually satisfied. “I expected this. But I am disappointed,” he said.

Sexologists also expressed dismay that the council had not seen public good in the proposal.

Malin Hansson of the University of Gothenburg said research showed that Swedish parents with small children had a separation rate of about 30 percent, and that more time for sex would improve intimacy and a feeling of togetherness.

Malena Ivarsson, whose advice on sex and relationships has made her a well-known voice in Sweden, said the proposal could have been especially beneficial for professional couples, though she warned that one hour for sex might not be enough time for women to “switch gears and get in the mood.”

Even the skeptics in Overtornea acknowledged that something positive had come from the debate. Tomas Vedestig, a left-leaning councilman, said he was fed up with the global attention the proposal had generated. But he added: “We talk more openly about sex and relationships now. It is no longer taboo.”

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Fight at Memphis high school graduation caught on video


New video showed a fight breaking out at the start of a high school graduation on Tuesday night in a Memphis, Tennessee, church.

The footage was captured during the Arlington High School graduation ceremony at the Bellevue Baptist Church.

The video showed a woman in a brown dress shoving a couple of people before a woman in a blue dress appeared and pulled the woman in brown by her hair. A woman in black got involved and pulled the woman in blue by her hair. A few people tried to stop the brawl.

TENNESSEE OFFICERS SHOOT MAN HOLDING WOMAN AT GUNPOINT

A separate video shows a woman in handcuffs sitting in the church lobby, Fox 13 reported.

The fight apparently started because a family was trying to save a seat and a woman became bothered by it, according to WREG.

It was not immediately clear whether anyone was arrested or charged.

BIBLE CLUB SHUT DOWN BY TENNESSEE GRADE SCHOOL

“The graduation ceremony was not affected by this incident due to the actions of Bellevue’s security team who promptly removed the adults from the ceremony,” Tammy Mason, the superintendent of Arlington Community Schools, said in a statement according to the Commercial Appeal.

“It is our hope that the focus will shift to our students and their accomplishments instead of the poor decisions by adults in attendance,” Mason said.



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Dog finds Michigan family's missing cat under house fire rubble


More than two months after a fire tore through a home in Michigan, family members said they had almost given up hope they’d ever see their beloved cat again — but their dog saved the day.

The cat, Ringer, apparently got trapped under the floor of the South Haven home when it went up in flames in March, Fox 17 reported. When the family returned home Sunday, the first time since the devastating fire, their dog, Chloe, sniffed out the cat’s location.

VIDEO CAPTURES MOMENT GOOD SAMARITANS RESCUE MAN TRAPPED UNDER CAR

“This cat’s a miracle,” said Christine Marr, the owner of the pets. “This cat has been in this area for two months with no food or water. And Chloe just found him down in this hole.”

The fire had almost killed the family’s dog, Chloe, but firefighters revived it with an oxygen mask.

A veterinarian’s examination confirmed Ringer was underweight.

CONCRETE CRASHES THROUGH WINDSHIELF, KNOCKS MICHIGAN DRIVER UNCONSCIOUS

“We’re assuming he was eating bugs and spiders and stuff under there,” said Marr.

Fire crews were astonished by the discovery of the missing cat and called Chloe a hero.

“Looking for that cat, we picked up furniture, looked around beds, looked in every nook and cranny for that cat,” said Chief Ronald Wise of the South Haven Area Emergency Services. “To know that Chloe had found the cat, that’s amazing. She’s a true hero, she is.”

Click for more from Fox 17.



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