The report by CNN released Wednesday alleges that Trump “raised Biden’s political prospects” and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren’s during a June phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Hannity blasted the media as “corrupt” and accused it of pushing “anti-Trump speculation.”
“A corrupt media is now trying to flood the zone with the anti-Trump speculation especially since Ukraine is blowing up in their faces and again backfiring,” Hannity said.
The host predicted Democrats would begin demanding all of the president’s phone call transcripts.
“They’re going to now demand every transcript ever of every conversation our president has as commander-in-chief of the foreign leader,” Hannity said before calling for the release of transcripts himself to prove his point.
“All right well let’s play this game. I would like to release of every Biden-Ukraine phone call transcript. And by the way when I read it I would like every Obama-Iran, Mullah Rohani transcript. I’d like the Obama-Putin transcripts,” Hannity said. “It’s all a fishing expedition.”
WASHINGTON — Two of President Trump’s top envoys to Ukraine helped draft a statement for the country’s new president in August that would have committed Ukraine to pursuing investigations sought by Mr. Trump into his political rivals, three people briefed on the effort said.
Their work on the statement is new evidence of how Mr. Trump’s fixation with conspiracy theories linked to Ukraine began driving senior diplomats to bend American foreign policy to the president’s political agenda in the weeks after a July 25 call between the two leaders.
The statement was worked on by Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt D. Volker, then the State Department’s special envoy to Ukraine, according to the three people who have been briefed on it.
The Ukrainians never released it. But if they had, Mr. Trump’s aides would have effectively pressured a foreign government to give credence to allegations intended to undercut one of the Democratic Party’s leading 2020 president candidates — former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. — without leaving Mr. Trump’s fingerprints on it.
Mr. Volker spent Thursday on Capitol Hill being questioned by House investigators as Democrats pursued their impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump’s actions. He disclosed a set of texts in September in which William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, alluded to Mr. Trump’s decision earlier in the summer to freeze a military aid package to the country. He told Mr. Sondland and Mr. Volker: “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
After speaking with Mr. Trump, Mr. Sondland texted back that there was no quid pro quo, adding, “I suggest we stop the back and forth by text.”
The statement worked on in August by Mr. Sondland and Mr. Volker was among the topics that came up during the closed-door questioning of Mr. Volker on Capitol Hill.
The statement was written with the awareness of a top aide to the Ukrainian president, as well as Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer and the de facto leader of a shadow campaign to push the Ukrainians to press ahead with investigations, according to one of the people briefed on it.
The statement would have committed Ukraine to investigating the energy company Burisma Holdings, which had employed Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s younger son. And it would have called for the Ukrainian government to look into what Mr. Trump and his allies believe was interference by Ukrainians in the 2016 election in the United States to benefit Hillary Clinton.
The idea behind the statement was to break the Ukrainians of their habit of promising American diplomats and leaders behind closed doors that they would look into matters and never follow through, the people briefed on it said.
It is unclear if the statement was delivered to Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, but no statement was released publicly under his name. Around that time, the Ukrainian officials indicated to the Americans that they wanted to avoid becoming more deeply enmeshed in American politics.
The drafting of the statement, which came in the weeks after the July 25 phone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky, was an effort to pacify Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani and to normalize relations between the two countries as Ukraine faced continuing conflict with Russia. Mr. Sondland and Mr. Volker believed that Mr. Giuliani was “poisoning” Mr. Trump’s mind about Ukraine and that eliciting a public commitment from Mr. Zelensky to pursue the investigations would induce Mr. Trump to more fully support the new Ukrainian government, according to the people familiar with it.
ABC News on Thursday published portions of texts between Mr. Volker and Mr. Sondland referring to the writing of the draft statement.
The topic of the investigations came up during the July call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky, and Mr. Zelensky appeared open during the conversation to Mr. Trump’s request that he coordinate with Attorney General William P. Barr and Mr. Giuliani. Within weeks Mr. Volker and Mr. Sondland were working on the draft statement, along with Andriy Yermak, a close adviser to Mr. Zelensky.
Mr. Giuliani said he was aware of the statement but that it was not written at his behest.
Mr. Giuliani said that the statement was being handled by Mr. Sondland and Mr. Volker, and that he was not sure if Mr. Trump was involved in it.
“I don’t have any information that would suggest that it was at his request, but I can’t tell you it wasn’t, either,” he said.
He said he thought that the statement was intended to be delivered as part of a series of announcements by Mr. Zelensky’s government about the confirmation of new prosecutors and other officials.
“He was supposed to do something, or say something, to assure everybody — meaning our people — that he was going to take serious action about corruption,” said Mr. Giuliani. “I know that the investigations — which would be the collusion, the Burisma investigation — would be included in it, but it would have been part of an overall statement about dealing with corruption in an aggressive way.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment. Aides to Mr. Zelensky did not immediately respond to requests for comment sent in the overnight in Ukraine.
Despite Mr. Trump’s accusations of corruption on the part of the Bidens, no evidence has surfaced that the former vice president knowingly took any steps to help his son or his son’s Ukrainian employer.
Mr. Trump’s regular suggestions that Ukraine, rather than Russia, was responsible for the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee have been thoroughly debunked. While some Ukrainian officials expressed support for Mrs. Clinton in 2016, claims by Mr. Trump and his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, that documents released in Ukraine that year implicating Mr. Manafort in financial fraud were falsified or doctored have not been substantiated.
But Mr. Trump’s continued efforts to press Ukraine to investigate those matters has drawn in a growing number of his aides, including Mr. Volker, who stepped down last week at the State Department’s special envoy for Ukraine, and Mr. Sondland, who has taken an increasingly prominent role in dealing with Kiev.
Mr. Sondland, 62, made a fortune in luxury hotels, and has been a prominent Republican donor and fund-raiser for years.
But Mr. Sondland donated $1 million through his companies to the inaugural committee for Mr. Trump, who subsequently tapped Mr. Sondland last year to be United States ambassador to the European Union.
The role traditionally has not focused on Ukraine, which is not part of the European Union, but Mr. Sondland increasingly worked to establish himself as a central figure in Ukraine policy, administration officials said.
Mr. Sondland came to be seen in the administration as more loyal to Mr. Trump than was Mr. Volker, an acolyte of Senator John McCain, an outspoken critic of the president.
Mr. Sondland told reporters last month that he saw Ukraine as among a handful of “low-hanging fruit” policy areas where the European Union could work together with Washington to improve relations.
Mr. Sondland raised some hackles at the State Department and in the National Security Council when he asked to be included in the United States delegation that attended Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration, according to people familiar with the events. Mr. Sondland attended an Oval Office meeting afterward with other members of the delegation — which also included Mr. Volker, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin — to brief Mr. Trump on the delegation’s impressions of Mr. Zelensky.
When the delegation praised Mr. Zelensky and urged Mr. Trump to fully support the new Ukrainian government, the president was dismissive. “They’re terrible people,” Mr. Trump said of Ukrainian politicians, according to people familiar with the meeting. “They’re all corrupt and they tried to take me down.”
Mr. Sondland continued building a relationship with Mr. Zelensky, inviting him to a June dinner at the United States mission to the European Union in Brussels, and meeting him again in Kiev in July with Mr. Volker on the day after Mr. Trump’s phone call with Mr. Zelensky.
And Mr. Sondland kept in contact with Mr. Zelensky’s aides, who have told people that Mr. Sondland urged them to encourage the Ukrainian president to push forward with investigations into Burisma and the 2016 election.
James Franco has been accused of sexually inappropriate behavior by five women — four of whom were his students Time
James Franco is being sued by two former students from his acting school, who accuse “The Deuce” star of “inappropriate and sexually charged behavior.”
Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, who both attended Franco’s now-defunct acting school Studio 4, filed a lawsuit against him in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday.
The actresses accuse Franco and his partners of “sexualizing their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects,” according to the lawsuit obtained by Variety and the New York Times.
In a statement to USA TODAY, Franco’s attorney, Michael Plonsker, said the actor plans to fight the lawsuit.
“This is not the first time that these claims have been made and they have already been debunked,” Plonsker said. “We have not had an opportunity to review the ill-informed Complaint in depth since it was leaked to the press before it was filed and our client has yet to even be served. James will not only fully defend himself, but will also seek damages from the plaintiffs and their attorneys for filing this scurrilous publicity seeking lawsuit.”
Franco opened Studio 4 in Los Angeles in 2014 with his business partner, Vince Jolivette, who is also named in the lawsuit, in addition to Franco’s production company Rabbit Bandini. The school closed in 2017.
The lawsuit claims that Franco intimidated student actors into performing sex scenes in an “orgy type setting,” all while promising “false hopes of acquiring job opportunities.”
“The reality was that (Franco) was looking to create a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation,” the lawsuit added.
The situations described in the suit arose during a master class in sex scenes that Franco taught at the school. The lawsuit alleges that to take Franco’s master class, students had to audition by simulating sex acts on film, which he watched to choose candidates.
It says the class began with “encouraging female student actors to appear topless, then perform in sex scenes, then orgies and gratuitous full nudity,” without the careful guidelines and closed sets that are the industry standard for shooting sex scenes.
The suit alleges that Gaal was kept out of the master class for questioning its exploitative nature.
Tither-Kaplan took the class and was subsequently cast in Rabbit Bandini films, “which she now recognizes was a direct result of her willingness to accept Franco’s exploitative behavior without complaint.”
In 2018, the Los Angeles Times reported sexual misconduct allegations against the actor by five women, including Tither-Kaplan, who also took her accusations to Twitter.
“Hey James Franco, nice #timesup pin at the #GoldenGlobes, remember a few weeks ago when you told me the full nudity you had me do in two of your movies for $100/day wasn’t exploitative because I signed a contract to do it? Times up on that!” she tweeted on Jan. 7, 2018, the same night Franco won a best-actor Golden Globe Award for “The Disaster Artist.”
Gaal, the other plaintiff in the lawsuit, is coming forward for the first time.
Many Republican lawmakers have been wrongfully silent and have even defended Trump in these actions, Stoddard claimed Thursday on “Special Report.”
“The president was facing impeachment because of his phone call with the Ukrainian president — the transcript of which the administration released, where without a quid pro quo or any kind of question of extortion, he was asking for the help of a foreign government in his election,” she said.
“Today, he asked for the help of others — there’s been reporting he’s asked for help from Australia and Britain — and now he’s asking the Chinese and admitting it out in the open. He is not allowed to do that.”
Stoddard, associate editor at Real Clear Politics, said the situation is the latest example of Trump putting lawmakers from his own party in a troubling spot.
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She claimed unless there is an outcry within Republican ranks against what Trump has asked of Beijing and Kiev, his presidential successor will be able to play by the new set of rules he purportedly created.
“They either have to say ‘there’s a new set of rules’ for President Trump — and there will be for President Warren — she will be able to declare national emergencies and take away Congress-appropriated and approved funds from military construction projects to spend them on her pet projects… or they’re going to say this is a problem,” she said.
Stoddard added Warren would also be allowed to ask for assistance from foreign governments unless Trump’s actions are curtailed by Congress.
“He is literally trying to break the system. It’s a system they’ve sworn an oath to and they have to be for the system and not the man,” she claimed.
Republican lawmakers who were present at ex-Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker’s closed-door marathon interview before three House committees on Thursday seemed confident it disproved any allegations of a “quid pro quo” in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump, as sources told Fox News that Volker was worried about the reliability of the Ukrainian prosecutor informing Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Volker abruptly resigned last week after a whistleblower complaint claimed he traveled to Kiev to help Ukrainian officials navigate Trump’s alleged request to investigate 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden, his son Hunter and their business dealings in Ukraine. The complaint also claimed that the envoy connected Giuliani with Ukrainian officials.
Sources familiar with the nine-and-a-half hour interview before the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees told Fox News it was a “clean” and “powerful” interview.
Volker did not think Victor Shokin, the prosecutor investigating Ukrainian firm Burisma — on which Hunter Biden held a board seat — was reliable when he told Giuliani that he was told to back off of the investigation at then-Vice President Joe Biden’s behest, which is why he worried what Giuliani might try to do with Shokin’s claims, according to sources familiar with the testimony.
Text messages obtained by Fox News showed Volker and other U.S. officials battling internally over whether Trump was engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine as he pressed the country to look into the Biden family, reportedly using $400 million in military aid as leverage during a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to induce him to have officials investigate the Bidens.
Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said Thursday’s interview with Volker “undercut” the Democratic narrative that Trump tried to interfere with an election.
House Democrats launched their impeachment inquiry into Trump, prompted by the whistleblower complaint, after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., made a formal request on Sept. 10 to transmit the complaint to Congress.
“The facts we learned today undercut the salacious narrative that Adam Schiff is using to sell his impeachment ambitions,” Jordan and Nunes said in a joint statement. “We hope the American people get to read the transcript of today’s testimony and see the truth.”
Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., was also present at the interview and asserted Thursday on Fox News’ “The Story” that Volker’s testimony disproved the idea of a quid pro quo.
“You really couldn’t have a more professional and more credible witness — and more knowledgable about Ukraine,” Perry said. “I would call Ambassador Volker the star witness in the so-called whistleblower’s report. Everything he said unsubstantiated this claim of a quid pro quo.”
Democrats did not have the same takeaway from Volker’s interview.
“We saw further evidence that there was a shadow shakedown going on and that the lead […] deputy for the president was Rudy Giuliani. You had an experienced diplomat working for free — special envoy Mr. Volker — who, in many ways, was a front for work that was being done on the side parallel to his efforts by Rudy Giuliani,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., as NBC News reported.
Fox News’ Martha MacCallum and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.
CHICAGO — After just a few hours of deliberation late Thursday night, a Cook County jury found a man guilty of first degree murder of Tyshawn Lee, a 9-year-old boy who was shot and killed in one of Chicago’s most horrific crimes.
Jurors found Dwright Boone-Doty guilty of murder in the first degree for shooting the boy in the head after promising to buy him a treat. Boone-Doty led the boy into an alley and executed him in a gang hit that shocked the nation for its brutality.
Boone-Doty and another man, Corey Morgan, were tried before separate juries. Morgan’s jury was still deliberating as of Thursday night.
Several members of the boy’s family held hands as the court read the verdict. Upon hearing the verdict, they began crying.
A third man involved in the murder, Kevin Edwards, has already pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in exchange for a 25-year prison sentence.
“Tyshawn Lee’s life is over, way too short. Although his life is over, his story isn’t,” state’s attorney Craig Ingleford told the jury earlier in the day during closing arguments. “It’s an ending you get to write. It will never be a happy ending, but it can be a just one.”
Tyshawn was a fourth grader in November 2015 when he was killed by gang members to send a message to his father, an alleged member of a rival gang, prosecutors say. The killing was seen by many as underscoring the viciousness of warring factions in Chicago.
Over the past two and a half weeks, the jury has borne witness to the horrifying details of the child’s execution-style murder, with testimony ranging from police to family members.
After school on Nov. 2, 2015, Tyshawn was sitting on a swing at the park down the street from his grandmother’s house when a man approached him, dribbled his basketball, offered to buy him a snack and then led him to an alley, where he shot the child several times at close range, prosecutors say.
The execution-style shooting was an act of revenge, according to prosecutors. Boone-Doty and Morgan, members of the same gang, believed that a rival faction had killed Morgan’s 25-year-old brother and wounded his mother a month earlier.
Morgan and Boone-Doty were angered by the attack and wanted to get back at Tyshawn’s father, Pierre Stokes, who was also an alleged member of the rival gang, prosecutors say. So Boone-Doty struck up a conversation with Tyshawn and led him to the alley.
Shell casings at the scene of the crime and the associated gun would eventually be linked back to Morgan and his brother, Anthony Morgan, who purchased the gun from a man in New Mexico.
A major moment in the case came last week, when a witness revealed how officers first recovered the weapon used to murder Tyshawn: In 2017, a squad car pulled up on an empty lot where a rap video was being filmed, causing “several dozen people” to flee the scene, leaving behind five guns, according to Sun-Times reporting. One of those guns was linked to Tyshawn’s murder.
The revelation angered Morgan’s lawyers, who wondered why individuals involved with the video were not brought in for questioning. On Thursday, Cook County Circuit Judge Thaddeus Wilson said that the new information did not merit a mistrial.
The final week of testimony packed a punch.
On Monday, jurors heard recordings of Boone-Doty from 2015 bragging about the murder to a jailhouse informant, who was secretly wearing a wire. In the recording, Boone-Doty can be heard rehashing how he lured Tyshawn into the alley and laughing about how he shot the boy.
Boone-Doty’s attorney argued that the defendant didn’t really mean what he had said —that he was only putting on a front to look tough in jail.
On Wednesday, prosecutors revealed graphic images of the boy’s autopsy, including images of bullet wounds to Tyshawn’s head and hands.
Cook County medical examiner Dr. Ponni Arunkumar testified that the manner of death was homicide, caused by multiple gunshots wounds.
About a dozen of Tyshawn’s family members and supporters were present in the fourth-floor courtroom for closing arguments Thursday.
In the morning, prosecutors reiterated the evidence against Corey Morgan and replayed a clip of one key eye-witness identifying him. The prosecution based its argument on eyewitness testimony, GPS tracking in the car that Edwards drove, Morgan’s cell phone records, DNA evidence found in the car and on Tyshawn’s basketball, and more. Ingleford again made the case for Morgan’s motive: His family had been attacked, and he wanted revenge.
At one point, the prosecution briefly showed two images of Tyshawn’s small body crumpled on the ground in the alley where he was shot.
Morgan’s lawyer Todd Pugh presented the defense’s closing argument, saying that Morgan had been improperly identified, and that Chicago police had not explored other potential suspects.
Pugh labeled the prosecution’s argument a “wonderful presentation,” but called it a “pivot” that “bends the evidence.” He encouraged the jury to consider the credibility of “coerced” witnesses and said several police lineups had not been conducted properly, to Morgan’s detriment.
Pugh told the jury not to let the tragedy of the case or prejudice against gang members lower the burden of proof.
“You know, if Corey Morgan had been somebody different, the investigation would have been different. In the eyes of the police, he’s one of those throwaway people,” Pew said.
The defense honed in on one of the eye-witness identifica, saying that the witness was shown photos of the defendants before the official ID process began, prompting him to identify Morgan. The defense also pointed to GPS information to show that the timeline of the afternoon that the witness presented was “just not possible.”
Pugh highlighted the testimony of one witness who did not see Morgan or Boone-Doty at the park.
In his rebuttal, Assistant State’s Attorney Patrick Waller said the defense was placing blame on Chicago police and making them a “scapegoat.”
He responded directly to Pugh’s characterization of Morgan as a “throwaway person.”
“Well you know whose life was thrown away by this defendant and his compatriots?” Waller asked. “Tyshawn Lee. They threw his life away.”
As the jury in Morgan’s case was still deliberating Thursday afternoon, the court heard closing arguments in Boone-Doty’s case.
The prosecution detailed how probabilistic genotyping had linked Boone-Doty to DNA found on Tyshawn’s basketball. In situations where DNA evidence is of low quality or comes from a mixture of different sources, probablistic genotyping software offers scientists a way to statistically determine how much that DNA evidence should be weighed.
The prosecution then re-played the audio of Boone-Doty bragging and laughing about shooting Tyshawn.
“This is someone without an ounce of remorse,” Waller said.
After hearing the audio, one family member had to step outside the courtroom.
The defense opened its closing arguments with a recognition of the horror of Tyshawn’s murder.
“What does someone say to a jury when they’ve sat through three weeks of testimony about the murder of a 9-year-old child?” asked Boone-Doty’s lawyer Danita Ivory.
Ivory critiqued the way that Chicago police had collected witnesses and conducted lineups. Ivory said one key eye-witness only identified Boone-Doty after requesting a reward. She said that the science behind probablistic genotyping was suspect and could not definitively link Boone-Doty to the murder.
“You can have all the sympathies in the world for Tyshawn…but justice doesn’t say you convict for the sake of conviction,” Ivory said. “Justice does not mean convicting the wrong person.”
A teenage girl who spoke with The Associated Press and “Frontline” said she and other children were constantly watched while detained inside a Florida facility for migrant children, not allowed to touch, and there were alarms on the windows.
“It looks like a camp, but sometimes it seems like a jail because you feel very trapped,” said the girl, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of concern for her safety.
Sheltering migrant children has become a growing business for Comprehensive Health Services Inc., the private, for-profit company paid by the U.S. government to hold some of the smallest migrant children.
A migrant toddler is cradled by a Comprehensive Health Services, Inc. caregiver at a “tender-age” facility for babies, children and teens, in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in San Benito, Texas. Sheltering migrant children has become a booming business for Comprehensive Health Services, a Florida-based government contractor, as the number of children in government custody has swollen to record levels over the past two years. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
The migrant children are officially under the custody of the federal government.
The Trump administration has started shifting some of the caretaking of migrant children toward the private sector and contractors instead of the largely faith-based nonprofit grantees that have long cared for the kids.
So far, the only private company caring for migrant children is CHS, owned by Washington-area contractor Caliburn International Corp. In June, CHS held more than 20 percent of all migrant children in government custody. And even as the number of children has declined, the company’s government funding for their care has continued to flow. That’s partly because CHS is still staffing a large Florida facility with 2,000 workers even though the last children left in August.
Trump administration officials say CHS is keeping the Florida shelter on standby in case they need to quickly provide beds for more migrant teens, and that they’re focused on the quality of care contractors can provide, not about who profits from the work.
A young migrant boy walks with a Comprehensive Health Services caregiver at a “tender-age” facility for babies, children and teens, in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in San Benito, Texas. Sheltering migrant children has become a booming business for Comprehensive Health Services, a Florida-based government contractor, as the number of children in government custody has swollen to record levels over the past two years. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
“It’s not something that sits with me morally as a problem,” said Jonathan Hayes, director of the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. “They’re not getting any additional money other than the normal grant or contract that would be received. We’re not paying them more just because they’re for profit.”
HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement runs migrant children programs by funding 46 organizations that operate more than 165 shelters and foster programs for more than 67,000 migrant children who came to the U.S. on their own or were separated from parents or caregivers at the border this budget year.
Overall, the federal government spent a record $3.5 billion caring for migrant children over the past two years to run its shelters through both contracts and grants.
During that time, CHS swiftly moved into the business of caring for migrant children, an AP analysis of federal data found. In 2015, the company was paid $1.3 million in contracts to shelter migrant children, and so far this year the company has received almost $300 million in contracts to care for migrant kids, according to publicly available data. The company also operates some shelters under government grants.
Handprints representing migrant children line a hall at a “tender-age” facility for babies, in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, Thursday, Aug. 29 in San Benito, Texas. Sheltering migrant children has become a booming business for Comprehensive Health Services, a Florida-based government contractor, as the number of children in government custody has swollen to record levels over the past two years. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Critics say this means Kelly now stands to financially benefit from a policy he helped create.
In a statement, Caliburn’s president, Jim Van Dusen, said: “With four decades of military and humanitarian leadership, in-depth understanding of international affairs and knowledge of current economic drivers around the world, General Kelly is a strong strategic addition to our team.”
Today CHS is operating six facilities including three “tender age” shelters in the Rio Grande Valley that can house the youngest, infants and toddlers. And CHS has plans underway to run a 500-bed shelter in El Paso, Texas, the company said.
A Comprehensive Health Services caregiver watches TV with a young migrant at a “tender-age” facility for babies, children and teens, in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in San Benito, Texas. Sheltering migrant children has become a booming business for Comprehensive Health Services, a Florida-based government contractor, as the number of children in government custody has swollen to record levels over the past two years. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Under Trump, the numbers of detained children grew in part due to new, strict requirements to screen every adult in a potential home, which significantly slowed reunifications until the policy ended late last year.
The government doesn’t disclose the names of individual shelters, nor how many children are in each one. But confidential government data obtained by AP shows that in June nearly one in four migrant children in government care was housed by CHS. That included more than 2,300 teens at Homestead and more than 500 kids in shelters in Brownsville, Los Fresnos and San Benito, Texas. For each teen held at Homestead at that time, it cost taxpayers an average $775 per day.
At the time, a total of 13,066 migrant children were being held in federally funded shelters. Those numbers have dropped sharply over the summer. By early October, HHS said there were 5,100 children in their care.
“Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Joe Giudice‘s request to be released from the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) so he can move to his native Italy while appealing a deportation order against him has been approved, his lawyer told Fox News Thursday.
Family attorney James J. Leonard confirmed that Joe’s petition, which he filed on Sept. 24, had been granted but declined to comment further. The ruling was first reported by People magazine
According to Page Six, Leonard said in the filing that Joe “wishes to be released so that [he] can begin working and contributing financially to his wife and four young children.”
Joe and Teresa pleaded guilty in 2014 to three counts of bankruptcy fraud and one count conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Joe Giudice also pleaded guilty to one count of failing to file a tax return.
Teresa was sentenced in October 2014 to 15 months in prison and was released in December 2015. Joe has been held by immigration officials since he completed his 41-month prison term this past March. A judge ruled in October 2018 that he would be deported to his native Italy upon completion of his prison sentence.
Joe Giudice has said he came to the U.S. as an infant and wasn’t aware he wasn’t an American citizen.
Wednesday marked one year since a pregnant Illinois postal worker was last seen. On Thursday police told reporters the case “is still an active missing persons investigation.”
Kierra Coles, the Chicago woman who was 26 when she vanished, was three months pregnant when she was last seen on Oct. 2, 2018, walking around outside her South Side apartment. That same day, she called out sick.
The U.S. Postal Service letter carrier was due to give birth on April 23.
Her family members have said they believe she’s still alive.
Wednesday marked one year since a pregnant postal worker, Kierra Coles, was last seen. (Chicago Police Department)
Surveillance video showed Coles wearing her uniform and walking up and down a street the morning she vanished, according to WBBM-TV.
Following the disappearance, Coles’ purse and cellphone were found in her car, which was reportedly parked on her block.
Chicago police have been working with the postal Inspection service to find Coles, but new information has not been released. Last October police said they suspected “possible foul play.”
“It’s frustrating for everyone that’s involved because our federal agencies, we’re all working together and trying to get any information that we can to locate Kierra,” Chicago Police Lt. Senora Ben told reporters at a news conference on Thursday.
Ben added that someone must know something and said police are urging anyone with information to come forward.
Kierra Coles is described as being 5-foot-4 and 125 pounds, with a “Lucky Libra” tattoo on her back and one of a heart on her hand. (Chicago Police Department)
Coles’ family and the U.S. Postal Service have offered more than $46,000 in reward money for information leading to her whereabouts, WBBM-TV reported.
“It’s a struggle to wake up every day not knowing where your child is,” her mother, Karen Phillips, said in August. “We have hope. We know Kierra is coming home, we are going to bring her home. We are not going to stop until she is home.”
Coles is described as being 5-foot-4 and 125 pounds, with a “Lucky Libra” tattoo on her back and one of a heart on her hand.
Anyone with information about Coles is urged to call the Chicago Police Department at 312-747-8274 or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455.
Writer-director Todd Phillips says it isn’t fair to link his film “Joker” to real-world violence. And star Joaquin Phoenix says he felt uncomfortable while making the movie — and is pleased that audiences have had equally strong reactions. (Sept. 24) AP, AP
Federal authorities are monitoring and warning local law enforcement of a series threatening social media posts linked to the R-rated “Joker,” now in theaters, a law enforcement official said Thursday.
The official, who is not authorized to comment publicly, said the joint FBI and Department of Homeland Security bulletin was issued out of an abundance of caution, as there is no specific or credible threat against a particular venue.
Amid polarizing reviews for “Joker,” which holds a 69% positive rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, the Todd Phillips-directed drama is stirring passionate debate and real-world concerns over the film’s portrayal of graphic and random violence.
Fears have been heightened because of the infamous, chaos-loving character at the center of the story (played by Joaquin Phoenix) – and the long-held but debunked belief that the gunman who shot 12 moviegoers to death at a 2012 opening-weekend showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colorado, was dressed as or inspired by Joker.
Concerns have been raised about the potential for a copycat attack or violence in theaters.
Phillips has pushed back, pointing out misinformation connecting the Aurora shooter to the Joker character. He says “Joker” is being held to a different standard than other violent Hollywood films that glorify real violence and minimize the consequences.
“The movie still takes place in a fictional world,” he told the Associated Press. “It can have real-world implications, opinions. But it’s a fictional character in a fictional world.”
Warner Bros. re-enforced the sentiment with a statement last week: “Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind. It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero. “
Here’s how concerns have played out across the country:
An internal Army memo that vaguely warned of a possible mass shooting threat in relation to “Joker” touched off public concern last week, even as Army officials said no credible information has been received. The Sept. 23 memo went public when officers in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, warned service members to be “cautious” and “increase situational awareness” if attending the film. Christopher Grey, chief of public affairs for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, said officials are “not aware of any information indicating a specific, credible threat to a particular location or venue.”
Police departments are beefing up visible patrols. NYPD’s Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison told Deadline the department plans to place officers at theaters, while a significant undercover detachment will also be deployed to make sure nothing untoward occurs inside cinemas throughout the city. The Los Angeles Police Department “will maintain high visibility around theaters when it opens.” according to a police statement to the Los Angeles Times.
Landmark Theatres decreed in a statement last week that “no masks, painted faces or costumes will be permitted in our theaters.” AMC Theaters will continue banning masks, reminding costumers of the theater chain’s existing policy, “Guests are welcome to come dressed in costume, but we do not permit masks, face paint, or any object that conceals the face.”
The theater where the Aurora shooting occurred – previously the Century 16, renamed the Century Aurora – won’t show “Joker.” Crystal McCoy, public information officer for the Aurora Police Department, told USA TODAY the theater manager confirmed the film would not be shown at the location.
Family members of Aurora shooting victims expressed their concerns in an open letter sent Sept. 24 to Warner Bros., writing that they were given pause “when we learned that Warner Bros. was releasing a movie called Joker that presents the character as a protagonist with a sympathetic origin story.” The letter didn’t demand that the studio pull “Joker” from theaters, but asked that it stop political contributions to candidates “who take money from the NRA and vote against gun reform.”