Tribune News Service

News Budget for Friday, January 11, 2019


Updated at 11:30 p.m. EST (0430 UTC).








Additional news stories appear on the MCT-NEWSFEATURES-BJT.

This budget is now available at TribuneNewsService.com, with direct links to stories and art. See details at the end of the budget.


^Jayme Closs reunited with family as alleged abductor awaits kidnapping, murder charges<

WIS-MISSINGGIRL-4TH-LEDE:MS. — Jayme Closs has been reunited with family and her alleged abductor is expected to make his first court appearance Monday where he will be formally charged with kidnapping and murder, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said Friday afternoon.

Fitzgerald said the 13-year-old was reunited with her aunt Friday afternoon, and is expected to join the rest of her family soon.

"She is doing as well as the circumstances allow," he said at a 4 p.m. news conference outside his office here. "I have not personally seen or spoken with her yet, which I am anxious to do.

"Jayme is the hero in this case, there's no question about it," he added.

1350 (with trims) by Pam Louwagie and John Reinan in Barron, Wis. MOVED


^Shutdown could drag on as Trump won't move 'fast' on national emergency for wall<

SHUTDOWN:CON — President Donald Trump signaled Friday that a partial government shutdown now in its record-tying 21st day could drag on for a while as he said he will not move "fast" to declare a national emergency to access border wall funds.

The president told reporters during a border security event in the White House's Cabinet Room that he has the "right" and legal authority to make the move, which would allow him to access Defense Department dollars and shift them to the construction of a border barrier. But he made clear he plans to continue to press Democrats to give in to his demands before he issues such a decree.

350 by John T. Bennett in Washington. MOVED



Also moving as:

SHUTDOWN:WA — As shutdown shatters a record for the longest ever, Congress vacates D.C.

700 by Lesley Clark in Washington. MOVED


^US has begun troop withdrawal from Syria, official tells AP<

USSYRIA:BLO — The U.S.-led coalition in Syria has begun to withdraw forces from the country in line with President Donald Trump's orders, the Associated Press reported on Friday, citing Col. Sean Ryan, spokesman for the coalition against Islamic State.

Ryan declined to give a specific timeline for the withdrawal, citing operational security, AP reported. The news came after the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the withdrawal began on Thursday, with a convoy of about 10 armored vehicles and some trucks moving out of Rmeilan in Syria and relocating to Iraq.

250 by Benjamin Harvey in Istanbul. MOVED


^Drug overdose deaths among American women have more than tripled since 1999<

^MED-USWOMEN-OVERDOSEDEATHS:LA—<For many decades, drugs of abuse were a menace that mostly threatened the lives of men. In 1999, fewer than 1 in 25,000 adult women in the United States died of a drug overdose, and childbirth was twice as deadly.

No more. Drug overdoses have become a prodigious thief of female lives in the U.S. And they are increasingly claiming women's lives deep into middle age, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

700 by Melissa Healy. MOVED



^Government shutdown: How much longer can Mitch McConnell sit it out?<

SHUTDOWN-MCCONNELL-CORRECTION:LA — Congress' most powerful Republican has intentionally taken a back seat in the negotiations over how to end the government shutdown, even as it extends to a record three weeks with no resolution on the horizon.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has gotten Congress out of a lot of political jams in the past decade, including other shutdowns, fiscal cliffs and funding disputes.

But he's ceded control over the latest Washington stalemate to President Donald Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.

950 by Jennifer Haberkorn in Washington. MOVED


^As president talks of safety, security workers miss pay<

^SHUTDOWN-PAYCHECKS-1ST-LEDE:LA—< President Donald Trump saluted a Black Hawk helicopter hovering over the Rio Grande on Thursday, seeking to highlight the need for $5.7 billion for his trademark border wall to stop what he calls an "invasion."

Next to the president stood a Customs and Border Protection officer and a Border Patrol agent. Both were working unpaid during the partial government shutdown, which on Friday tied the record for the longest in U.S. history.

Among the roughly 800,000 federal employees who've gone without pay in the three weeks since the shutdown began are tens of thousands of Border Patrol agents, Customs and Border Protection officers, immigration judges and Coast Guard crews — the workers on the front lines of the border security problems that the White House and Congress have been fighting over.

1200 (with trims) by Molly O'Toole in Washington. MOVED


^California water projects could be tapped to pay for Trump's border wall<

SHUTDOWN-CALIF-WATERPROJECTS:LA — Officials have given President Donald Trump a plan to divert funds designated for Army Corps of Engineers projects in California and Puerto Rico to help pay for a wall along the southern border, a leading member of Congress said Thursday.

800 by Sarah D. Wire in Washington. MOVED


^'We have people counting on that': Fla. governor weighs in on using hurricane funds for border wall<

^SHUTDOWN-FLAGOV:PT—<Ron DeSantis hasn't even finished his first week as Florida governor and he already appears to be on a collision course with the man who helped him get the job: President Donald Trump.

On Friday, DeSantis said that it would not be acceptable for Trump to take funds from hurricane relief to be used toward the border wall.

"We have people counting on that," he told reporters. "If they backfill it immediately after the government opens, that's fine but I don't want that to be where that money is not available for us."

550 by Emily L. Mahoney. MOVED


^Health law appeal paused as shutdown affects federal courts<

SHUTDOWN-LAWSUITS:CON — The partial government shutdown halted a major challenge to the 2010 health care law among other civil litigation on Friday, as Justice Department lawyers sought the same in a challenge from three Senate Democrats to the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit issued a two-page order granting the Trump administration's request to halt the 2010 health care law case "in light of lapse of appropriations."

400 by Todd Ruger in Washington. MOVED


^Shutdown ties up Trump's fossil fuel agenda<

SHUTDOWN-FOSSILFUEL:CON — The partial government shutdown has snagged progress on President Donald Trump's ambitious agenda to boost fossil fuel use and extraction, including the administration's repeal and replacement of the Clean Power Plan, which has a March deadline.

Over the last two years, the Trump administration set in motion an aggressive deregulatory agenda, easing emissions regulations and making it easier for energy companies to extract fossil fuels from public lands. Some of the regulatory rollbacks that have been in the works are scheduled to be finalized in the next two months but are now facing delays — such as cessation of public hearings — because of the shutdown, now in its third week.

900 (with trims) by Elvina Nawaguna in Washington. MOVED


^As shutdown keeps TSA screeners home, Miami's airport is closing off a terminal<

SHUTDOWN-MIAMI-AIRPORT:MI — With more federal security screeners refusing to work without pay, Miami International Airport plans to cut off access to one of its terminals over the weekend in order to send TSA workers to busier checkpoints, a spokesman said Thursday night.

Closing of the security checkpoint at Terminal G is set to begin at 1 p.m. Saturday, in what would be the 22nd day of a partial shutdown of the federal government. Federal screeners are calling in sick at double the normal rate for Miami, and TSA managers aren't confident they will have enough workers to operate all 11 checkpoints at normal hours throughout the airport, said MIA spokesman Greg Chin.

600 by Douglas Hanks and Taylor Dolven in Miami. MOVED



^Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is cancer-free after surgery, Supreme Court says<

GINSBURG:LA — The Supreme Court said Friday that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's recovery from lung cancer surgery is on track and that post-surgery tests found "no evidence of remaining disease."

The reassuring report on the 85-year-old justice is in line with the statements issued after her surgery on Dec. 21. Her doctors said then that a lobe with two malignant nodules had been removed from her lung but that they saw no evidence of further disease and no further treatment was planned.

300 by David G. Savage in Washington. MOVED


^Steve King defends himself on House floor against 'white nationalist' criticism<

CONGRESS-KING:CON — Rep. Steve King spoke on the House floor Friday to address what he referred to as "heartburn that seems to be churning across the media and America today" after The New York Times quoted him questioning how labels like "white nationalists" and "white supremacists" became offensive.

250 by Lindsey McPherson in Washington. MOVED


^Why Trump's offering candy before doomed meeting wasn't so sweet<

^SHUTDOWN-TRUMP-CANDY:NY—<President Donald Trump had an agenda with his candy, but the sugary goodies didn't bring the sweet results he desired.

Before an ill-fated White House meeting on Wednesday, the president treated congressional leaders to an assortment of treats in what was likely a strategic move masquerading as a sweet gesture, according to business etiquette expert Maryanne Parker.

500 by Jessica Schladebeck. MOVED


^Trump Organization answers on foreign payments irk key Democrat<

TRUMP-CUMMINGS:BLO — The chairman of the House Oversight Committee said Friday that he's dissatisfied with responses from a lawyer for the Trump Organization regarding payments that properties owned by President Donald Trump have received from foreign governments.

"Today's production by the Trump Organization in response to the committee's previous bipartisan request is largely a rehash of arguments and information previously provided," said Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat.

At issue are questions about whether the Trump Organization's dealings with foreign governments violate anti-corruption provisions in the U.S. Constitution.

450 by Billy House in Washington. MOVED

^Nicaragua accuses US of financing international coup as OAS considers punishment<

USNICARAGUA:WA — The Nicaraguan foreign minister on Friday accused the United States of financing an attempted coup against President Daniel Ortega's government as the United States, Latin American allies and Canada took the "first step" to possibly suspend the Central American nation from the America's hemispheric body.

Foreign Minister Denis Ronaldo Moncada Colindres of the Republic of Nicaragua blasted Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro for acting as a "foreign agent" of the United States after Almagro called for a meeting of member countries to discuss suspending or sanctioning Nicaragua.

700 by Franco Ordonez in Washington. MOVED


^Shalala takes on Democratic attack role<

CONGRESS-SHALALA:WA — Prepare to see a lot of Donna Shalala on C-SPAN.

As most House members await their committee assignments, Shalala has already been assigned to the Rules Committee, a role that cements her status as an attack dog for Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and will require hours of sparring with Republicans on the House floor.

Shalala's work began on Wednesday when she led the debate on a package that would compel the House of Representatives' chief lawyer to fight an ongoing lawsuit by conservative-led states, including Florida, which want to end Obamacare.

900 by Alex Daugherty in Washington. MOVED


^Rep. Ilhan Omar likens access to medicine in US to that in her native Somalia<

MINNHOUSE-OMAR-HEALTHCARE:CON — Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar shared that her aunt died of "diabetic shock" in Somalia when she was 21 years old because she did not have access to medication, and said the fact that this sort of tragedy can happen in a country as wealthy as the United States is a "mark of shame."

"There are people in the developing world who are dying because they don't have access to health care or they don't have access to medicine. My aunt was one of those people," said Omar, whose family resettled in Minnesota as refugees after fleeing the civil war in their native Somalia.

Omar's aunt died within days of her diagnosis.

500 by Emily Kopp in Washington. MOVED


^10 House Republicans cross aisle to support shutdown of Interior-Environment programs<

CONGRESS-SPENDING:CON — The House voted 240-179 on Friday to pass a fiscal 2019 Interior-Environment spending bill, the latest in a series of stand-alone appropriations measures the chamber has sent this week to a Senate that has no plans to hold a vote. Ten House Republicans crossed the aisle to support the Democratic-drafted bill.

200 by Lindsey McPherson in Washington. MOVED

^Beto meets Oprah: Former Texas congressman to sit down with talk show host<

OROURKE-OPRAH:CON — They're both popularly known by one name only: Beto is set to meet Oprah.

Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke will sit down with billionaire talk show host Oprah Winfrey in New York on Feb. 5, according to the Oprah Winfrey Network.

200 by Emily Kopp in Washington. MOVED



^Tulsi Gabbard, first Hindu and American Samoan member of Congress, says she'll run for president in 2020<

^GABBARD:NY—<She's running.

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the first American Samoan and Hindu member of Congress, announced Friday she's throwing her hat in the ring to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020.

350 by Chris Sommerfeldt. MOVED


^Texas county Republicans stand 'against bigotry of all kinds' as Muslim surgeon keeps party post<

TEXAS-GOP-MUSLIM:FT — Shahid Shafi, a Muslim, remains a vice chairman of the Tarrant County Republican Party.

Tarrant County Republicans voted 139-49 late Thursday night — after more than 2 1/2 hours of private discussion among precinct chairs — to keep Shafi, 54, in the leadership post.

1550 (with trims) by Anna M. Tinsley in Richland Hills, Texas. MOVED



^Last migrant youths are moved from Texas 'tent city' in the desert<

IMMIGRANTS-BORDER-TENTCITY:LA — The last child departed what was once the nation's largest shelter for migrant youths on Friday, a "tent city" in the west Texas desert town of Tornillo that had spurred protests, official criticism and proposed legislation.

Workers have been dismantling parts of the massive temporary shelter east of El Paso for months, ever since the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the agency responsible for initially housing migrant youths, ended its contract with the nonprofit BCFS Health and Human Services.

850 (with trims) by Molly Hennessy-Fiske in McAllen, Texas. MOVED


^Rookie police officer in California, 22, is fatally shot; suspect also dead<

^CALIF-OFFICERSHOT:LA—<A rookie 22-year-old police officer who had just completed field training before Christmas was fatally shot while she responded to a car crash in downtown Davis, Calif., the city's police chief said.

The suspected gunman was found dead inside a home about a block away from the shooting, police said in a statement at around 1:30 a.m. Friday, "with what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound."

500 by Rong-Gong Lin II and Laura Newberry. MOVED



Also moving as:

CALIF-OFFICERSHOT-1ST-LEDE:SA — 650 by Benjy Egel, Vincent Moleski and Sam Stanton in Davis, Calif. MOVED


^Broward Sheriff Scott Israel removed over failures during Parkland shooting<

FLA-SCHOOLSHOOTING-SHERIFF-1ST-LEDE:FL — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis removed Broward Sheriff Scott Israel from office Friday, replacing him after 10 months of turmoil spawned by the slaughter of 17 staff and students in Parkland.

The governor replaced Israel with former Coral Springs Police Sgt. Gregory Tony, 40, who has a background in active-shooter training and becomes the first black sheriff in Broward County's history.

1250 (with trims) by Anthony Man, Lisa J. Huriash, Linda Trischitta and Brittany Wallman in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. MOVED


^After nearly 70 years, Florida Clemency Board pardons Groveland Four<

GROVELANDFOUR-PARDON:MI — After nearly 70 years, all members of the Groveland Four — four young black men falsely accused of raping a white woman in Lake County, Fla. — were pardoned by a unanimous vote Friday

The Florida Cabinet met for the first time as the state Clemency Board Friday, where they heard from family members of the men who were either imprisoned, tortured or murdered by mobs and a racist sheriff. The Groveland Four matter was only supposed to be up for discussion and families were not expecting to hear a vote Friday. But at the very end of the meeting, Gov. Ron DeSantis called for a vote.

600 by Samantha J. Gross in Tallahassee, Fla. MOVED


^Megyn Kelly officially exits NBC News<

TV-NBC-KELLY:LA — Megyn Kelly's turbulent two-year run at NBC News is over as both sides reached an agreement Friday night on her exit from the network.

Terms of her departure were not disclosed, but people familiar with the negotiations said the former morning show host is leaving with the money she was owed on her contract, which is said to be about $30 million. Kelly is free to work for an NBC competitor.

"The parties have resolved their differences, and Megyn Kelly is no longer an employee of NBC," a representative of NBC said.

1100 (with trims) by Stephen Battaglio in New York. MOVED


^Austin Beutner presents new offer for LAUSD teachers, but strike remains likely<

EDU-LA-TEACHERS-STRIKE:LA — With a Monday teachers' strike approaching, Los Angeles schools Superintendent Austin Beutner brought a revised offer to the union Friday, on the expectation of new money from California Gov. Gavin Newsom's proposed budget.

The new proposal would provide a full-time nurse at every elementary school and also lower class sizes at middle schools by about two students. This offer builds on a proposal from earlier in the week, in which the district also proposed lower class sizes.

Teachers union President Alex Caputo-Pearl was not immediately available for comment but indicated that the district's offer earlier this week included loopholes that could have resulted in larger classes.

400 by Howard Blume in Los Angeles and John Myers in Sacramento, Calif. MOVED


^Flock party for rare bird<

ENV-RAREBIRD-LIBRARY:LA — Hundreds of hard-core birders from across the nation have been flocking to South Los Angeles this week, hoping to catch a glimpse of a rare avian that wandered in from Siberia and inexplicably chose to hunker down within a hedge just south of the 10 Freeway.

The foreign visitor — or "vagrant," as bird-watchers say — became an instant celebrity five days ago, when a sharp-eyed librarian in Jefferson Park identified it as a red-flanked bluetail.

Ever since then, fans toting binoculars have crowded onto the grounds of UCLA's William Andrews Clark Memorial Library to marvel at the so-called megatick — a species so rare that most birders may never get the opportunity to "tick" it off their life's list of hoped-for sightings in the U.S.

950 (with trims) by Louis Sahagun in Los Angeles. MOVED


^SpaceX to lay off 10 percent of its workforce<

SPACEX-LAYOFFS:LA — SpaceX will lay off about 10 percent of its more than 6,000 employees, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.

The company responded to Los Angeles Times questions with a statement: "To continue delivering for our customers and to succeed in developing interplanetary spacecraft and a global space-based internet, SpaceX must become a leaner company. Either of these developments, even when attempted separately, have bankrupted other organizations. This means we must part ways with some talented and hardworking members of our team."

Hawthorne-based SpaceX is offering a minimum of eight weeks' pay and other benefits to those affected, according to an email sent Friday to employees by SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell. The company will also provide assistance with career coaching, resume help and job searches, according to the email.

350 by Samantha Masunaga in Los Angeles. MOVED


^A trial on whether Trump has the right to end TPS for Haiti ends. Now comes the wait<

^IMMIGRATION-TPS-HAITIANS:MI—<A federal trial in New York challenging the Trump administration's decision to end Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, for thousands of Haitians, concluded Thursday with internal government emails showing that the administration was so determined to end the program that it ignored its own government's research flagging health and safety concerns.

A decision in the case isn't expected until after March 1, the deadline given by Eastern District of New York federal judge William Kuntz to lawyers to file post-trial submissions.

1800 (with trims) by Jacqueline Charles. MOVED


^Mongols must give up logo, jury says<

GANG-TRADEMARK-VERDICT:LA — On California's freeways, in biker bars and during not-infrequent clashes with other outlaw motorcycle clubs, members of the Mongols are easily identified.

They are the ones in the leather vests and jackets adorned on the back with the distinctive image of a Genghis Khan figure in sunglasses riding a motorcycle beneath the group's name, spelled out in large block letters.

Since the group was formed in the late 1960s, the logo has been a potent element of the Mongols' identity, which over the years has included an unmistakable penchant for drug dealing and violence by many members. Only those who have been admitted to the inner ranks of the insular group are allowed to stitch the large patches of the insignia onto their riding apparel. And in the closed-off world of motorcycle clubs, built largely around rivalries and alliances with other groups, the logo is an unmistakable totem.

1200 (with trims) by Joel Rubin in Los Angeles. MOVED


^Police investigate theft from Aretha Franklin's estate<

FRANKLIN-THEFT:DE — The Bloomfield Township police department is investigating a theft from Aretha Franklin's estate, which has been embroiled in controversy both before and since the late singer's death.

Police Lt. Timothy Abbo told the Free Press late Thursday an active theft investigation is underway involving the Queen of Soul's suburban mansion, but that it started before Franklin's death. He offered no further details.

550 by Tresa Baldas in Detroit. (Moved as an entertainment story.) MOVED


^Preservation Board votes to remove Confederate plaque from Texas Capitol<

TEXAS-CONFEDERATE-PLAQUE:AU — In a meeting that didn't last five minutes, the Texas State Preservation Board voted Friday to remove from the Capitol a plaque on a wall near the Rotunda that presents a historically inaccurate retelling of the Civil War.

The plaque, erected in 1959 and titled "Children of the Confederacy Creed," states that slavery was not the underlying cause of the Civil War, which historians say is false.

250 by Johnathan Silver in Austin, Texas. MOVED


^Democratic donor's attorney says critics have unfairly used race to blame his client for 2 deaths<

DEMOCRATIC-DONOR-BODY:LA — The attorney for Ed Buck, the longtime Democratic donor whose West Hollywood home has been the scene of two black men's deaths since 2017, said Friday that critics have unfairly used race to blame his client for the deaths.

"Some people still want us to have a race war," attorney Seymour Amster said of Buck's critics. "Some people want to look at things as black, white or brown. It's not. If we want to move forward and get away from identifying individuals by race, we must take race out of the conversation."

700 by Hailey Branson-Potts in Los Angeles. MOVED


^Surgeon will pay $3,000 fine for removing a kidney he mistook for cancerous mass<

REMOVEDKIDNEY:PM — A West Palm Beach surgeon has agreed to pay a $3,000 fine — among other penalties — for accidentally removing a woman's kidney, thinking it was a cancerous mass, according to the Florida Board of Medicine.

Dr. Ramon Vazquez, a West Palm Beach surgeon, was tasked with opening up Maureen Pacheco on April 29, 2016, at Wellington Regional Medical Center. Orthopedic surgeons were then scheduled to perform a spinal fusion to alleviate Pacheco's lower back pain.

650 by John Pacenti in Palm Beach, Fla. MOVED

^Casey Anthony's father struggles to recover from spinal cord injuries after car accident<

CASEYANTHONY-FATHER:MI — George Anthony, the father of Casey Anthony, is in a bad way after a serious car crash in Daytona Beach in November.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with his medical expenses. As of Friday afternoon, $1,470 of the $100,000 goal had been reached for his medical expenses.

400 by Madeleine Marr in Miami. MOVED


^Police find no evidence of women being held hostage at R. Kelly's Trump Tower residence<

RKELLY-APARTMENT:TB — Police went to embattled R&B superstar R. Kelly's Chicago home Friday on a tip that women were being held hostage there but left after finding no evidence of wrongdoing, a police spokesman confirmed.

The Cook County state's attorney's office passed along to police a tip from an out-of-state caller saying two women were being held against their will at Kelly's Trump Tower residence, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Chicago Tribune.

350 by Megan Crepeau in Chicago. MOVED


^Judge allows city to inspect R. Kelly's Chicago recording studio<

RKELLY-STUDIO:TB — A Cook County, Ill., judge granted an emergency motion Friday allowing Chicago building inspectors to check out the Near West Side recording studio of embattled R&B singer R. Kelly.

R. Kelly's lawyers did not object to the inspection but disputed the city's characterization of the situation as an emergency.

During a hearing at the Daley Center, Judge Patrice Ball-Reed ordered the inspection to take place Wednesday.

750 by Jason Meisner in Chicago. MOVED


^A 'technological wall'? Pelosi and Democrats slammed over idea<

BORDER-PELOSI-TECHNOLOGY:SJ — As the federal government shutdown continues over the wall that President Donald Trump wants built at the U.S.-Mexico border, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday presented possible alternatives to a physical wall.

Among the president's justifications for a wall is to stop drugs from coming into the United States, so Pelosi proposed spending "hundreds of millions of dollars" for technology to scan cars for drugs, weapons and contraband at the border.

That didn't go over well with Fight for the Future, a digital rights advocacy group that on Friday started a petition asking Democrats to drop plans for a "technological wall" that it says could threaten Fourth Amendment rights that guard against unreasonable searches and seizures.

350 by Levi Sumagaysay in San Jose, Calif. MOVED


^Family of those killed in fiery I-75 crash with truck files lawsuit<

FLA-FATALCRASH:PM — A week after seven people, including five children and a West Palm Beach trucker, were killed in a fiery crash on Interstate 75 near Gainesville, the mother of one of the young victims on Thursday filed suit in Palm Beach County Circuit Court.

Attorney Joseph Fried, who filed the lawsuit against trucker Steve Holland and others on behalf of the mother of 14-year-old Jeremiah Warren, said he had to move quickly to assure he would have access to information about the horrific crash that involved a church van carrying kids from Louisiana to Disney World.

550 by Jane Musgrave in West Palm Beach, Fla. MOVED


^12-year-old girl stabbed to death by brother remembered by teachers and coaches as joyful, compassionate<

CONN-STABBING:HC — Tuesday would have been Brigid Curtin's 13th birthday.

Instead of celebrating at Sedgwick Middle School with a decorated locker and notes of joy, students remembered Brigid by wearing blue and yellow shirts, blue soccer paint under their eyes or blue hearts drawn on their hands, and by wearing mismatched sneakers or socks. Hugs, high-fives and kind acts circulated about the school.

On Dec. 17, police said Brigid was killed after her twin brother stabbed her at their home on Stoner Drive. Her mother, Janemarie Murphy, was severely wounded in the attack, but is expected to survive.

1550 (with trims) by Mikaela Porter in West Hartford, Conn. MOVED


^Sheriff: Helicopter blade kills man at Florida airport<

AIRPORT-DEATH:PT — A spinning helicopter rotor blade struck a 62-year-old man in the head on Thursday, killing him instantly, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Al Nienhuis said Salvatore Disi "died almost immediately" in the incident that took place at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport.

200 by Jack Evans and Justin Trombly in Brooksville, Fla. MOVED


^Later dude, Florida town tells surfers. Not so fast, say legal experts<

FLA-SURFINGBAN:FL — Surfers who dare to catch waves off Hallandale Beach are breaking a town law that bans the sport.

But the ban itself may be illegal, experts say.

350 by Susannah Bryan in Hallandale Beach, Fla. MOVED


^People claiming to see red-eyed Bigfoot at night in NC woods weren't imagining things, county says<

^NC-BIGFOOT:CH—<Multiple reports of a Bigfoot with glowing red eyes in the North Carolina town of Mocksville have been explained, and it turns out the callers weren't imagining things.

Davie County Animal Services revealed in a Friday Facebook post that the creature seen standing in a forested area is an 8-foot wooden statue of a Bigfoot and not the real thing.

350 by Mark Price. MOVED


^Anti-Maduro protesters gather in Venezuela as parliament vows ouster<

VENEZUELA-MADURO:DPA — Hundreds of Venezuelans on Friday protested against President Nicolas Maduro's second six-year term in office, calling on National Assembly President Juan Guaido to replace him in the role.

The meeting in front of a U.N. office in Caracas was called by the opposition-dominated National Assembly, which had declared itself in "a state of emergency" after Maduro took the oath in a ceremony boycotted by all but a handful of countries' presidents on Thursday.

"Nobody doubts that Maduro is a usurper," Guaido told the crowd, saying it was now his task to exercise power and calling for protest marches against the president to take place on Jan. 23.

350 by Sinikka Tarvainen in Bogota, Colombia. MOVED


^Myanmar judge rejects the appeal of two jailed Reuters reporters<

MYANMAR-REPORTERS:LA — A Myanmar court on Friday rejected the appeals of two jailed Reuters reporters facing seven-year prison terms for violating a state-secrets law in a decision that cast doubt on the country's commitment to democracy and the rule of law.

A judge ruled that reporters Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, failed to provide enough evidence to overturn a lower court's decision in September convicting the journalists in connection with their investigation into attacks on Rohingya Muslims.

650 by David Pierson in Singapore. MOVED


^Congo's Fayulu to file challenge with court over election results<

CONGO-ELECTION:DPA — Martin Fayulu, the opposition candidate who says he was cheated of winning Congo's presidential election, plans to file a challenge with the constitutional court on Saturday, said Michel Koyakpa, his spokesman.

Fayulu immediately cried foul after another opposition politician, Felix Tshisekedi, was declared winner of the Dec. 30 polls on Thursday — marking the first electoral victory by an opposition challenger in the troubled country's history.

600 in Goma, Congo. MOVED



^One day our sun will solidify into a giant crystal orb<

^SCI-SUN:LA—<Our sun and billions of stars just like it are headed for a strange, cold destiny.

New research suggests that long after our roiling, boiling life-giving star runs out of fuel it will slowly form a cold, dead, super-dense crystal sphere about the size of the Earth that will linger like a translucent tombstone for close to eternity.

850 by Deborah Netburn. MOVED


^New orca calf seen among Puget Sound's critically endangered killer whales<

ENV-PUGETSOUND-ORCAS:SE — A new calf has been born to the critically endangered southern resident killer whales, researchers confirmed.

The calf was born to L77, said Ken Balcomb, founding director of the Center for Whale Research. He confirmed the birth in a text to The Seattle Times Friday. He estimated the calf is several weeks old.

300 by Lynda V. Mapes in Seattle. MOVED



NEWSBRIEFS:MCT — Nation and world news briefs.



^Russia investigation could spark battle to learn Robert Mueller's findings<

USRUSSIA-HACKING-REPORT:LA — Only a few blocks from the National Mall, amid a cluster of nondescript buildings, more than a dozen prosecutors working for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III have followed an unusual routine as they toil away on the Russia investigation.

When they leave the office at night, they often wonder if it could be their last day on the job, according to an attorney familiar with their work. Fearful that President Donald Trump will try to shut down the sprawling criminal investigation, they've been compiling and writing their conclusions as they go, the attorney said.

Even if Trump doesn't try to fire Mueller and disband his team — something he's threatened several times — the president's lawyers have indicated they'll try to keep the public from learning whatever the special counsel's office has discovered.

1500 by Chris Megerian, Del Quentin Wilber and David Willman in Washington. MOVED


^Firefighters' fateful choices: How the Woolsey fire became an unstoppable monster<

CALIF-WILDFIRES-WOOLSEY:LA — It was clear from the beginning that the Woolsey fire had the potential to be a monster.

It broke out mid-afternoon Nov. 8 on Boeing property near the Santa Susana Pass, fueled by strengthening winds and burning toward populated areas.

But during the critical first hours, the Woolsey fire took second priority.

Ventura County firefighters were already engaged in a pitched battle with another blaze, called the Hill fire, about 15 miles to the west that had jumped the 101 Freeway and was threatening hundreds of homes and businesses.

The Woolsey fire was growing but still far enough from subdivisions that it got fewer resources from Ventura County. Neighboring fire agencies sent some help, but it would take hours before they launched an all-out attack at the fire lines.

These turned out to be fateful choices in what would become the most destructive fire in Los Angeles and Ventura county history.

3800 (with trims) by Jaclyn Cosgrove in Los Angeles. MOVED




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