Day: June 6, 2017

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'Travel ban' foes threaten to use Trump tweets against him in court


President Trump’s recent tweets about his controversial travel ban — now before the U.S. Supreme Court — could hurt his own case, with the administration’s legal opponents already threatening to use the statements to their advantage.

“Here at the ACLU, we think you should keep using social media,” the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted Tuesday, after saying a day earlier they might use Trump’s tweets in court.

“Yes, we may incorporate @realDonaldTrump’s tweets about the ban into our Supreme Court argument,” the ACLU said Monday.

The Trump tweets give courtroom foes an opportunity to seize on mixed messages out of the administration regarding the evolving set of executive orders. 

Trump unleashed a series of tweets starting Sunday night that took direct aim at DOJ attorneys, chiding them for not pursuing his original executive order and instead throwing their legal weight behind a “watered down” version.

“The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.,” Trump tweeted on Monday.

Trump’s tweets came just a few days after the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to lift lower court rulings that blocked the executive order suspending travel from six mostly Muslim countries. 

Some experts say Trump’s comments give an opening for the other side to argue the order is a full-blown ban and that it discriminates based on religion.

Multiple Trump aides including Kellyanne Conway and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer have repeatedly defended the executive order as a temporary pause in travel and not a ban. However, Trump’s tweets in all capital letters refer to the executive order as “a TRAVEL BAN” on “certain DANGEROUS countries” and said anything short of a ban would jeopardize the safety and security of Americans.

Even the husband of Kellyanne Conway argued Monday that the tweets could handicap the department’s ability to do its job.

George Conway wrote on Twitter that Trump’s tweets “may make some ppl feel better, but they certainly won’t help OSG (Office of Solicitor General) get 5 votes in SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States), which is what actually matters. Sad.” 

The White House pushed back. Asked Monday whether the Trump team was concerned about the tweets tainting the case, Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said “not at all.” 

But Doug Schoen, former adviser to President Bill Clinton, told Fox News that Trump’s tweets slamming his own lawyers could create problems. 

“To second guess your own side in the context of an ongoing fight, using language that is not helpful … it doesn’t make any sense,” Schoen, a Fox News contributor, said. 

Trump’s tweets came after the government filed briefs with the high court last week urging justices to ignore polarizing and fiery comments Trump made multiple times during the campaign about the need for a “Muslim ban.“

They argued “taking that oath marks a profound transition from private life to the nation’s highest public office, and manifests the singular responsibility and independent authority to protect the welfare of the nation that the Constitution reposes in the president.”

Cecilia Wang, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing challengers to the ban from Maryland, argued Trump’s tweets undermine the government’s claims that both executive orders are not bans but merely temporary travel restrictions on a small group of nations.

“With his four tweets this morning, the president is basically reaffirming whatever his intent was in the beginning,” Wang told USA Today.

Neal Katyal, a former acting U.S. solicitor general and the lead attorney representing challengers in a case from Hawaii, weighed in on Twitter that Trump’s actions were working in favor of Katyal’s case.

“We don’t need the help but will take it!” he tweeted.

Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who served under President George W. Bush, told the Huffington Post that Trump’s actions “presents a challenge that the Department of Justice will have to deal with.”

Trump’s initial executive order, rolled out seven days after taking office in January, banned travel from seven mostly Muslim countries. The order sparked protests at airports around the country and brief detentions of hundreds of travelers. It was met with immediate resistance from the courts, with several federal district judges issuing orders blocking aspects of it.

On March 6, Trump issued a revised order that temporarily suspended travel of from six mostly Muslim countries: Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iran and Libya. The original ban included Iraq. The revised order also cleared up who the ban applies to, when it would go into effect and did not single out refugees from Syria by barring them indefinitely as the original version had.

Regardless of changes, both orders were challenged in court on claims they were discriminatory on the basis of religion.



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Vladimir Putin: I don't have bad days like women do


Russian President Vladimir Putin displayed his manliness during an interview with director Oliver Stone. 

“I am not a woman, so I do not have bad days,” Putin said. “I am not trying to insult anyone. That’s just the nature of things. There are certain natural cycles.”

Stone met with the Kremlin leader for his documentary called, “The Putin Interviews,” Bloomberg reported.

Putin and Stone touched on topics from sports to Edward Snowden and Hillary Clinton, according to Variety.

RUSSIAN JET INTERCEPTS US BOMBER OVER BALTIC SEA

During the meeting, Putin, 64, flexed his muscles and played ice hockey. The Russian president claimed he exercised every day.

While discussing his stamina, Putin told Stone that as the president he does not have an off day due to his gender.

TILLERSON: TRUMP WANTS ME TO FIX US RELATIONSHIP WITH RUSSIA AMID TURMOIL

The Oscar-winning director also asked Putin if he would shower next to a homosexual man while on a submarine.     

“Well, I prefer not to go to the shower with him. Why provoke him? But you know, I’m a judo master.”

The interview, stretched in four parts, is slated to air on Showtime later this month.



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OPINION: D-Day: The greatest day of the 20th Century


For years, George refused to talk about it. Whenever I pressed him, I would be met with silence, or a brief outburst of nothing more than staccato words: bangalores, shingle, terror, dead men everywhere. George, you see, as a young US Army officer, landed on Omaha Beach during the famed D-Day invasion of Europe 73 years ago, on June 6, 1944.

The last time I saw him, on Christmas Day 1998, he looked at me with misty eyes, threw down the rest of his bourbon and said that D-Day will forever be remembered as the greatest day of the 20th century. George, like so many members of his generation, is no longer with us, but on this anniversary of Operation Overlord, his words resonate strongly. And so they should.

In the late spring of 1944, World War II was in its fifth year in Europe. The German Army had suffered defeats in North Africa, Sicily and in the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk in Russia. But, the formidable Wehrmacht still controlled Europe from the Russian steppes to the Norwegian fjords to the English Channel.

Several months before, in the autumn of 1943, Hitler had discerned that the main threat to Germany loomed not out of the East, but the West. In Fuehrer Directive Number 51, he proclaimed, “I can no longer justify the further weakening of the West in favor of other theaters of war. I have therefore decided to strengthen the defenses in the West.”

He appointed Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, The Desert Fox, to reconstruct the fortifications along the Atlantic Wall. Like the Fuehrer, Rommel believed that the invasion, when it came, could only be halted on the beaches. In just two years, the German Army had shifted from a blitzkrieg doctrine to a defensive posture hiding behind Rommel’s vaunted Festung Europa.

Despite around-the-clock Allied strategic bombing, Germany’s industry was producing arms and munitions at the highest capacity since the war began. Hitler’s insane fantasies of wonder weapons were becoming a reality as V-1 rockets, ME-262 jet fighters and the mammoth Tiger tank rolled off of German assembly lines.

In occupied Poland and Russia, the Nazis’ Final Solution (the complete genocide of European Jewry) was proceeding on schedule. Reichsfuehrer Heinrich Himmler had promised Hitler that by 1945 almost all of Europe’s Jews would be dead.

In Western Europe, millions of subjugated people, living in a nightmare world of starvation, deportation and summary execution awaited their resurrection from tyranny. They would not have much longer to wait.

At 1600 on June 5, 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower met once again at Southwick House with his key subordinates: Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, Gen. Omar Bradley, Air Marshal Arthur Tedder, Air Vice Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, Adm. Bertram Ramsey, Maj. Gen. Kenneth Strong (SHAEF G-2) and RAF Group Capt. J.M. Stagg, his meteorologist. The night before, Stagg had predicted horrible weather conditions for the English Channel and the Normandy coastline. Ike had delayed the invasion for 24 hours. Now, Stagg’s forecast was more optimistic. The weather would clear, providing marginal conditions for up to 48 hours. After consulting with his commanders and staff and pausing to think on his own, Ike stared at his subordinates and said, “Okay, let’s go.”

Within an hour of Ike’s decision to go, the BBC began to broadcast its nightly “messages personnel” to the French Resistance. But, on this night, several of the messages were codes for the Maquis to begin sabotage operations. Two of them were: “Blessent mon Coeur d’une langeur monotone” (Wounds my heart with a monotonous languor) “Jean a une longe moustache.” (John has a long mustache.)

Those in the French Resistance knew that the hour of liberation was at hand. On the evening of June 5, 1944, the troops of the Allied Expeditionary Force quickly received word of Ike’s decision to go. Each man knew he bore a gigantic responsibility. The success of Operation Overlord would determine the freedom of a continent, and of the world for years to come.

The men of D-Day knew they could not fail. There was no substitute for victory. Winston Churchill knew the price of failure too. “If we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.” Churchill knew that with victory, “All Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.”

Operation Overlord commenced at just after midnight on June 6. As British Glider troops secured Pegasus Bridge near Caen, the American airborne armada was on its way to the Cotentin Peninsula. The 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions had orders to secure the various causeways and roads connecting Utah and Omaha Beaches to the Normandy interior.

Within minutes of crossing the Normandy coastline, the vast air armada ran into thick clouds and intense anti-aircraft fire. Many of the 870 C-47s carrying both divisions separated from their “V-of-V” formations and became lost, with each plane flying seemingly blind toward the drop zones.

As the enemy fire intensified, disoriented pilots began to unload the airborne troops. In the dead of night, many of the paratroopers landed alone, miles from where they were supposed to be. Separated from their buddies, their officers, their platoons, even their divisions, the paratroopers nevertheless began to move out to their objectives. Some of them located other soldiers from their companies. Some fought with troopers from another division. Some fought alone.

As dawn broke on June 6, the Allied fleet opened-up on the German coastal defenses with naval gunfire and rockets. Under the impression that the bombardment had killed or wounded a large percentage of the German defenders, the troops of the 4th, 29th and 1st Infantry Divisions, and the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions, boarded Higgins landing craft.

Allied intelligence had claimed that the U.S. 29th and 1st Divisions would face the crippled German 716th Division – and only one battalion from that unit at that. Intelligence was dead wrong. Three battalions from the veteran 352th Infantry Division were dug in defending the area known as Omaha Beach.

Then a navigational error caused the 4th Infantry Division to land a mile south of its intended target. Utah Beach was lightly defended and became a quick success. Eyeing a tactical opportunity, Brig. Gen. Teddy Roosevelt Jr. ordered his commanders to “start the war from right here.”

By 0700, Omaha Beach had become a shambles. Gen. Bradley, who as commander of the 1st U.S. Army was responsible for the Utah and Omaha Beach landings, considered at one point pulling out of Omaha and shifting the incoming forces to Utah. Troops were pinned down at the water’s edge by intense machine gun fire. Zeroed mortars and 88s picked off disembarking soldiers like sitting ducks. But, still the men landed and attempted to move inland.

By noon, thousands of casualties littered Omaha Beach. Many soldiers huddled against the rocky shingle awaiting a certain fate. But others knew that they had to achieve a breakthrough. They had to get through the draws, climb the bluffs and destroy the machine gun nests and the pillbox crews.

One by one, junior officers and young sergeants inspired their men to get off the beach. Using Bangalore explosives, they blew obstacles and opened narrow gaps in the barriers. As the men moved inland, they set off numerous anti-personnel mines. Paths of dead and wounded men marked trails to follow.

By late afternoon, the U.S. forces had finally secured Omaha Beach. Across the Allied front, forces were gaining a small foothold in Normandy. D-Day succeeded not because of a brilliant plan, not because of special intelligence, and not because of technology. D-Day succeeded because of the ingenuity of 18-year-old-privates, the bravery of 22-year-old junior officers and the innovation of their commanders. D-Day succeeded because everyone knew the stakes at hand. They knew that to live in a world conquered by the Nazis was not an option.

What if the men of D-Day had failed?

It would have taken the Allies perhaps another year to launch a second cross-channel invasion. By that time, the Germans would have been equipped with thousands of their new jets. The V-1 and V-2 rockets would have wreaked extreme havoc on London and Southern England. The Final Solution would probably have been completed. German scientists, although behind the Allies in the race for the atomic bomb, may have gained precious time to create their own device.

Worst of all, Adolf Hitler would have continued to walk this earth.

In 1964, on the 20th anniversary of D-Day, CBS newsman Walter Cronkite – who as a young UPI reporter had landed behind enemy lines that night in a troop-carrying glider – interviewed Eisenhower on Omaha Beach. Gazing at the coastline, the former allied commander and retired president recalled why that mammoth invasion was different from famous battles in ancient history:

“It’s a wonderful thing what those fellows were fighting for and sacrificing for, what they did to preserve our way of life. Not to conquer any territory, not for ambitions of our own. But to make sure that Hitler could not destroy freedom in the world. I think it’s just overwhelming. To think of the lives that were given for that principle, paying a terrible price on this beach alone. But, they did it so the world could be free. It just shows what free men will do rather than be slaves.”

Perhaps correspondent Ernie Pyle most eloquently expressed what we owe these men today, more than seven decades later. In a column, written on June 12, 1944, Pyle said: “I want to tell you what the opening of the second front entailed, so that you can know and appreciate and forever be humbly grateful to those both dead and alive who did it for you.”

The glory of D-Day will never die.

Ray Starmann is the founder of US Defense Watch. He is a former U.S. Army Intelligence officer and veteran of the Gulf War. He was a contributing writer for several years at SFTT.org.  



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Pennsylvania man found guilty of sexually assaulting girls 'gifted' to him by parents


A Pennsylvania man was found guilty on Tuesday of sexually abusing six girls from the same family, including one who was “gifted” to him by her parents, authorities said. 

A jury convicted Lee Kaplan, 52, of Feasterville, guilty of all 17 counts after a two-day deliberation, Bucks County District Attorney’s Office said. He faced multiple charges of child, statutory sexual assault and other offenses. 

“The verdict was perfect and just,” District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub said on Tuesday. 

A neighbor’s tip led authorities to Kaplan’s house in suburban Philadelphia last June where they discovered the mother of the girls, her nine daughters and two grandchildren, living there. The parents of the girls, Savilla and Daniel Stoltzfus, had “gifted” their eldest daughter, who was 14 at the time, to Kaplan in exchange for financial help, authorities alleged. He fathered two children — now ages 1 and 4 — with the teen. 

GIRLS TESTIFY ABOUT SEX ABUSE BY MAN WHO GOT THEM AS ‘GIFT’

At the time of the arrest, Kaplan was only charged with sex crimes related to the “gifted” girl. Authorities later uncovered more evidence that led to additional charges.

Several of the girls, who are now between ages 9 and 19, testified in the trial last week and said they had sex with Kaplan for years and considered him as their “husband.” A 9-year-old girl testified that Kaplan began molesting her when she was 7 and the defendant told her not to tell anyone. 

Savilla Stoltzfus also admitted that she knew about Kaplan’s sexual activity with her daughters but believed “it could be a good thing.” 

“I always trusted him that whatever goes on is a good thing,” she said Wednesday, adding that she had no regrets because “we had a good life.” 

Kaplan denied the charges and maintained that he only had sexual relations with the girl he had the children with, according to Fox 29 Philadelphia. 

GRANDMA SUSPECTED IN STABBINGS THAT KILLED GIRL ARRESTED

Deputy District Attorney Kate Kohler argued that Kaplan “brainwashed” the woman and her family, casting himself as a prophet, as he sought “power, manipulation and control.” She said the “six children became his sex toys.” 

The girls’ parents are still awaiting sentencing. The mother pleaded guilty to child endangerment charges last month. David Stoltzfus entered a no-contest plea, acknowledging that prosecutors had enough evidence to support the charges. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Click here for more from Fox 29. 



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Dems scrambling to flip Georgia seat in runoff, after losing streak


Democrats are hoping to flip an open House seat this month in deep-red Georgia — and flip the 2017 election story in which they’ve so far failed to win any Republican-held seat in this year’s special elections.

The races had been billed as a potential prelude to Democrats’ grand plan to win control of the House next year — based largely on the expectation that voters would take out their frustration with President Trump on majority Republicans in Congress. 

However, Democrats have not won any of the three races this year in which a GOP House member left open his seat to join the Trump administration. They have now put their hope on first-time candidate Jon Ossoff in the June 20 runoff race for the House seat in suburban Atlanta.

“There shouldn’t even be a Democrat in that runoff,” New Mexico Rep. Ray Lujan, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said last week at the group’s Capitol Hill headquarters.

However, he also acknowledged: “It’s going to be a tight race.”

The 30-year-old Ossoff could not secure an outright victory in the initial special election in April. But he was a top-two finisher in an 18-candidate field for a seat held by Republicans for nearly four decades, which lands him in the runoff with GOP establishment candidate Karen Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state.

The latest RealClearPolitics.com averaging of polls has Ossoff up by 2 percentage points.

With a crop of wavy, dark hair and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics, Ossoff, a documentary filmmaker and former Hill staffer, has emerged as an ideal candidate for Democrats.

And though he’s running for office for the first time, Ossoff has run a relatively astute and mistake-free campaign, with the exception of living with his girlfriend outside of the district and declining to debate Handel on CNN.

“If I had lied about having national security credentials, I’d want to hide too,” the National Republican Congressional Committee said in a blog post, referring to Ossoff appearing to have inflated his role as a Hill staffer.

Ossoff touts tax cuts for small businesses, a Republican pillar, while also championing equal rights from women and minorities, which has earned him the support of civil rights icon and Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis.

The race has reportedly broken a spending record for House contests.

The candidates and outside groups have bought roughly $29.7 million in TV ads for the seat Republican Tom Price left open to become Health and Human Services secretary, according to Politico.

And that spending total does not include the millions being spent on digital and radio ads as well as get-out-the-vote efforts.

While Republicans have held the seat since former House Speaker Newt Gingrich took it from Democrats in 1978, the district does not appear as conservative as in year’s past.

Trump won the district over Democrat Hillary Clinton last year by just 1.5 percent, compared to 2008 when Republican presidential nominee Arizona Sen. John McCain won by 18.9 percent.

Democrats can hardly count any Republican seat as a lock, considering GOP candidate Greg Gianforte won in Montana last month despite allegations he body-slammed a reporter the day before the election. He later apologized. 

Democrats will notch a victory on Tuesday, however, with only Democratic candidates vying for the House seat in California once held by fellow party member Xavier Becerra.

Democrats also lost the special election this spring for the open House seat in Kansas of Republican Mike Pompeo, the new CIA director.  



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PA school district hit with 'ghost teacher' lawsuit


The controversial practice of having “ghost teachers” in public schools is haunting another Pennsylvania school district.

A lawsuit was recently filed against the Reading School District in eastern Pennsylvania, alleging that so-called ghost teachers have been paid more than $500,000, essentially to skip teaching classes and instead work full time for the local teachers’ union, the Reading Education Association (REA).

Under current state law, a collective bargaining agreement between a union and a school district can require the district to allow teachers to work full time for the union while still drawing a teacher’s salary and benefits. Such ghost teachers are also paid by their union.

The lawsuit’s plaintiff, Americans for Fair Treatment (AFT), is seeking to end the practice of ghost teaching in Reading. The group claims tax dollars are illegally being given to members of the REA. The AFT filed the lawsuit with assistance from the Fairness Center, a watchdog group.

“I think this has been off people’s radars for a while,” Karin Sweigart, the AFT’s deputy general counsel, said to Fox News. “Unless taxpayers were specific in requesting information on where their money was being allocated, they would not know about these salaries for ghost teachers.”

Sweigart and the AFT point out the district laid off 100 teachers along with hundreds of other employees in 2012 — even while the Reading School District continued paying the salary of REA President Mitch Hettinger, who has not taught in a classroom since 2013.

“These teachers were forced from their classrooms while their union president [Hettinger] continued to receive full salary and benefits,” Sweigart said.

In the 2015-16 academic year Hettinger’s salary and benefits, as a teacher, came to $131,000 — nearly 10 times the average per capita income of Reading residents — while working full time for the union, according to the Fairness Center.

Hettinger is also scheduled to retire this year, which means he will collect a pension based on his current teacher’s compensation.

“In addition to siphoning money from the district to pay their salaries, Reading’s ghost teachers have been illegally boosting their pensions while working for the union,” Sweigart said. “That’s why, separate from this lawsuit, the Fairness Center has filed a formal complaint on behalf of a Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) member and Americans for Fair Treatment, asking PSERS to revoke any unearned pension credits from Reading ghost teachers.”

Officials for the Reading School District, as well as Hettinger, did not respond to requests for comment.

The litigation mirrors legislative action on the controversy. Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania have voted in favor of a bill that would stop the state’s public school ghost teachers from collecting a paycheck from districts within the state.

The legislation, re-introduced by Republican state Sen. Patrick Stefano, would bar public school districts from allowing educators to take time away from teaching to work for local or statewide teachers unions in areas like personnel disputes and professional development — while accruing salaries, benefits and pensions from the school district.

The Commonwealth Foundation, a Pennsylvania-based think tank, issued a report recently that found that more than 20 percent of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts authorize full-time ghost teachers, according to a statewide survey of school district collective bargaining agreements.

The issue at Reading School District is similar to a lawsuit that was filed in the Allentown (Pennsylvania) School District last year, which led to the pension credits of current and former union presidents being revoked.

“Anytime taxpayer dollars are being steered out of the classroom it’s an unfair thing,” former Allentown School Board member Scott Armstrong, who was also a plaintiff in the suit, tells Fox News. “These kids need all the resources they can get.”

“I took the issue to the rest of the board and [initially] no one wanted to take action.”

Armstrong adds that while a decision was made, nothing has been put into effect in the Allentown School District thus far.

“The situation has not been resolved,” he says.

“Teachers should be teaching. Taxpayers should expect their money to go towards education and not to labor organizing.”

Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @perrych



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'POTENT' PILL 2 dead, dozens hospitalized after massive overdose


At least four people are dead and dozens more have been hospitalized after overdosing on what authorities in Georgia believe to be Percocet. A Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) spokesperson said reports of overdoses are still coming in and the number of fatalities could increase, AJC.com reported.

GBI spokesperson Nelly Miles told the news outlet that over the past 48 hours emergency workers in Macon, Centerville, Perry, Warner Robins and Albany responded to overdose calls and found people unconscious and not breathing. Some had to be placed on a ventilator, AJC.com reported.

‘DEATH CAP’ MUSHROOMS SICKEN 14 IN CALIFORNIA

The victims reportedly ingested a “yellow pill,” which authorities have not yet definitely identified.  The Georgia Department of Public Health called the pills “extremely potent” and warned that while the overdoses are concentrated in the middle and southern areas of the state, the drugs may be sold elsewhere, AJC.com reported.

Opioid overdoses, including prescription drugs and heroin, killed more than 33,000 people in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than half of the fatalities involved a prescription opioid. 



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Deadly Lyme disease-like tick-borne illness reported in Maine


Two new cases of a dangerous and potentially fatal tick-borne illness have health officials in Maine on high alert as agencies across the nation brace for a particularly high-population tick season. The patients, who were not identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), contracted Powassan virus, which differs from Lyme disease as it can be transferred from tick to human in a matter of minutes.

“It’s a virus, whereas Lyme is a bacteria,” Dr. Kent Holtorf, a Lyme disease expert and medical director of Holtorf Medical Group, told Fox News. “If you catch Lyme early, antibiotics can eradicate it, but with a virus, you have much less options to do anything about it.”

‘MIRACLE BABY’ BORN WITHOUT A NOSE DIES AT AGE 2, FAMILY SAYS

Holtorf added that the symptoms of Powassan are more severe than Lyme, and can quickly reach a patient’s brain, leaving them susceptible to long-term neurological damage. The patients in Maine began presenting symptoms in late April and were hospitalized with encephalitis. They’ve since been discharged and are continuing to recover. Not all patients will have symptoms and will not be impacted by the infection, but those who are may experience fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures and memory loss. In 10-15 percent of cases, the virus proves fatal.

Holtorf said people who are most likely to be symptomatic are those who are immunosuppressed or those who have previously contracted tick-borne illnesses like West Nile, Dengue and Lyme disease.

“In terms of the risk of you getting it, it’s very low,” Holtorf said, citing an average of seven cases reported annually by the CDC. “But there are going to be people that are going to get it, and though most won’t have symptoms, there are going to be people that are going to have severe brain damage from it — so it is concerning that you’re normal one day, and a few weeks later, you’re on a respirator and never the same again.”

According to the CDC, the two most recent cases brings Maine’s total count to nine since 2000. Holtorf said the overall recent spike in tick-borne illnesses likely has to do with the warmer temperatures during the two previous winters, and that the pests are developing mutated versions of some diseases.

“These things are mutating, and it’s becoming a scary world out there,” he said.

‘LIKE BEING PLUNGED STRAIGHT INTO HELL’: MOM OF TODDLER KILLED IN CRASH WARNS ON CAR SEAT SAFETY

While officials in the state are calling for hikers and others who choose to head outdoors to be vigilant, politicians and health agencies in other states are making similar pleas. In New York City, where more than 8,000 people were diagnosed with Lyme disease over the past 15 years, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for greater federal funding to fight against the disease.

Holtorf cited CDC recommendations to use tick repellent with DEET, and advised people who enjoy the outdoors to wear long pants, tuck jeans into pants or socks, and conduct frequent tick checks.

“With Lyme, you go back, take a shower and check yourself for ticks because you have time,” he said. “The problem with this is you don’t have much time.”

 



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Rep. Chaffetz on Comey testimony: 'We actually have to see the documents' – Trump's thoughts on Comey — from having 'guts' to being a 'nut job'


The chairman of the House oversight committee told Fox News Monday night that fired FBI Director James Comey must produce memos he allegedly wrote detailing conversations with President Trump in which the president asked Comey to drop the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told “The Story with Martha MacCallum” that he looked forward to Comey’s testimony Thursday before the Senate intelligence committee, but added, “we actually have to see the documents themselves … I haven’t seen them. [Rep.] Trey Gowdy [R-S.C.] hasn’t seen them. We’re not aware of anybody in Congress who has actually seen these unless they’ve been given to Senate intel in the last 48 hours or so and nobody knows about it.”

According to Chaffetz, Comey could be compelled to produce the memos, since they are federal documents. 

“You can’t just put that in your back pocket and walk it home,” Chaffetz said. “Are there truly classified material in there? You can’t walk out of the building with classified information. I don’t care if you’re the former FBI Director or anybody else.”

Chaffetz added that if Comey claims Trump leaned on him to stop the Flynn investigation, he must also explain why he denied there was pressure from the White House to halt the counterintelligence investigation into links between Russia and Trump’s campaign.

“Why is it that you publicly testified under oath that there was no political interference?” Chaffetz asked rhetorically. “Why is it that your replacement … testified under oath that he had seen no political influence happening whatsoever? As Director Comey had previously said, this is a big story if that had happened. But where is the evidence of that happening?”



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Clooney has big news


George and Amal Clooney have welcomed twins.

Ella and Alexander Clooney were born Tuesday according to George Clooney’s publicist Stan Rosenfield.

He added that both babies are “happy, healthy and doing fine.”

Rosenfield joked, “George is sedated and should recover in a few days.”

Julie Chen announced on CBS’ “The Talk” in June that George Clooney told her in late January that his wife, a human rights attorney, was pregnant.

“Congratulations are in order for George and Amal Clooney,” Chen said at the time. “‘The Talk’ has confirmed that the 55-year-old superstar and his highly accomplished 39-year-old attorney wife are expecting twins.”

The children are the first for the couple, who married in 2014.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

You can find Sasha Savitsky on Twitter @SashaFB.



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