Friday, May 25, 2018

Search on for 14-month-old toddler after mother's body found

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Police in western New York issued an Amber Alert on Friday for a missing 14-month-old boy whose mother’s body was found in a plastic bag hidden in the woods two days earlier.

According to the alert, the child, Owen Hidalgo-Calderon, was last seen May 16, the same day his mother, Selena Hidalgo-Calderon, was last seen before her body was found Wednesday morning.

“The child was taken under circumstances that lead the police to believe that he is in imminent danger of serious harm and/or death,” the alert said.

The body of 18-year-old Selena Hidalgo-Calderon was found at a farm in the Wayne County town of Sodus where she and her boyfriend, 25-year-old Edward Reyes, worked. The body was between two logs and covered with soil and branches.

Reyes, caught on a hunter’s trail camera going in and out of the woods with a shovel, was arrested Wednesday night on charges of tampering with physical evidence. He has admitted to burying the woman but not killing her, Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts said.

Reyes was being held on $25,000 bail in the Wayne County Jail pending a court appearance May 29. Virts said he is working with authorities in Mexico, where Reyes is from, to learn more about him and if he has a criminal record. He is not the missing child’s father.

At one point while the mother and child were missing, relatives indicated that Hidalgo-Calderon and Reyes, who lived together, may have run off because of their immigration status, the sheriff’s office said, but checks of surrounding train and bus stations had turned up nothing.

Rebecca Fuentes of the Workers’ Center of Central New York told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that Hidalgo-Calderon was from Guatemala and was seeking asylum.

“I don’t care about your race, creed, color, national origin or religion,” Virts said at a news conference. “If you are a victim, we will fight for you, we will triumph for you. If you are a perpetrator and you have abused somebody, we are going to hunt you down.”

Hidalgo-Calderon had been in the U.S. since November 2016, according to the Workers’ Center.

“My daughter and my grandson were my life,” her mother, Estela Calderon, said in a statement issued by the center. “She was my first born and I feel like a piece of my heart is gone.”

School bus driver in crash that killed 2 appears in court

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The driver of a school bus that collided with a dump truck on a New Jersey highway last week, killing a student and a teacher and injuring more than 40 others, is due in court.

Parkland parents call for probe into disgraced deputy’s handling of assault incident involving sheriff’s son

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Some parents of the victims of the deadly Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting have called for an investigation into Broward Sheriff’s Officer Scot Peterson, who handled an assault case that involved Sheriff Scott Israel’s son.

Judge orders higher-calorie meals for Alaska Muslim inmates

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A U.S. judge has ordered Alaska corrections officials to provide Muslim inmates with nutritionally sufficient, pork-free meals when they break their Ramadan fasts at night.

Texas man shocked as 7-foot snake wrapped around front door grille moves in for a 'closer look'

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A Texas man was shaking in his boots after a surprise guest showed up at his front door Tuesday.

A nearly 7-foot reptile, later identified as a Texas rat snake, was coiled around the homeowner’s front door grille. As the man went to turn his key in the door, the snake moved.

“The serpent moved in for a closer look … the guy was clearly a bit caught off guard,” Taran Vaszocz-Williams, a training chief with Morgan’s Point Resort Fire Department, told KTRK-TV.

Vaszocz-Williams, along with several coworkers, grabbed snake handling tongs to safely remove the reptile from the door. The officials then packed the serpent up in a cardboard box and relocated it.

Snake 2

Morgan’s Point Resort Fire Department officials removed the Texas rat snake from the home.  (Morgan’s Point Resort Fire Department)

“You just never know what you might encounter on an Engine Company…” Morgan’s Point Resort Fire Department joked on Facebook Tuesday, posting several photos of the large brown and white-colored snake.

“The serpent moved in for a closer look … the guy was clearly a bit caught off guard.”

– Taran Vaszocz-Williams

In Texas, you have to be prepared for anything, a spokesman for the department told Fox News. Morgan’s Point firefighters are encouraged to shake out their fire gear and check their boots for critters.

“We definitely see a variety of things out there,” the spokesman said, adding that they’ve found some tarantulas in their station. “They can be an unpleasant surprise, but both are an important part of our ecosystem and natural pest control.”

tarantula

Morgan’s Point Resort Fire Department officials said it isn’t uncommon to deal with critters, especially tarantulas.  (Morgan’s Point Resort Fire Department)

The Texas rat snake is a non-venomous reptile that’s commonly found in North Texas. The largest rat snake ever recorded in the area was 7.2 feet long, according to the Amphibian and Reptile Diversity Research Center

“Texas rat snakes are excellent climbers and there have been occasional reports of Texas rat snakes climbing the sides of brick walls on buildings,” the center explains on its website. “This can be the result of the snake detecting the presence of rodents, which often seek shelter in attics.”

Vaszocz-Williams assured residents that the reptile was taken to nearby woods, where it can find plenty of tasty treats.

“Officer Martinez provided a chauffeured ride to a wooded area where the snake could go about his business with rodents and such,” Vaszocz-Williams told KTRK-TV.

Male student in custody after shooting at Indiana middle school; 2 victims reported

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A male student was in custody Friday following reports of an active shooter situation at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana; two victims were being transported to the hospital.

Woman whose ex killed himself after she attacked him with acid gets life sentence

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A jilted woman’s decision to destroy her ex-boyfriend by pouring acid over him – leaving him in such pain and disfigurement that he chose to die through euthanasia — has been handed a life sentence in jail.

A judge in England sentenced Berlinah Wallace to life in prison with eligibility for parole after a minimum of 12 years, according to published reports.

She was found guilty by a Bristol court of throwing a corrosive substance with intent to harm her ex-boyfriend, Mark van Dongen, in 2015. She was cleared of murder charges.

Van Dongen had gone to Wallace’s apartment, at her insistence, to put an end to their on-again-off-again relationship of five years, and to tell her that he was moving in with a new girlfriend.

But Wallace was bent on revenge, deciding that if she couldn’t be with him, no one would, according to Sky News.

She threw 98 percent sulfuric acid on van Dongen, laughing as she did it, reports say. Prior to the attack, police said, Wallace had conducted a Google search on acid attacks.

He looked like he was covered in a clay sort of mud, which I later realized was his skin melting.

– Nic White, neighbor of attacker, testifying in court

Neighbors of Wallace said that van Dongen ran out of the apartment screaming for help.

“I looked out of the window and there was a guy standing there in his boxer shorts and he looked a really odd color from his head down to his shoulders,” Nic White testified, according to Sky News. “He looked like he was covered in a clay sort of mud, which I later realized was his skin melting.”

Judge Nicola Davies called the attack “an act of pure evil” and described Wallace as a danger to others.

“You intention was to burn, disfigure and disable Mark van Dongen so that he would not be attractive to any other woman,” the judge said.

A worker who decontaminated van Dongen when he arrived at a hospital after the attack said the victim unleashed a bloodcurdling scream when he saw his reflection.

“He said: ‘Kill me now,’” the healthcare worker told The Sun. “‘If my face is going to be left looking like this I don’t want to live.’”

The attack left van Dongen partially blind and paralyzed from the neck down. He also lost a leg to amputation, suffered several septic chest infections, became unable to move his arms and suffered chronic pain and itching.

He was transferred to a hospital in Belgium, where his father lived, and which allows assisted suicide.

He knew he’d lose his voice. So what would he have left? Just pain and itching and another ceiling to stare at all day long.

– Kees van Dongen, father of the victim

Van Dongen was found eligible for euthanasia by a panel of three doctors who concluded that he lived with “unbearable physical and psychological suffering.” He ended his life in January 2017, more than a year after the attack.

“He knew he’d lose his voice,” his father told Sky News. “So what would he have left? Just pain and itching and another ceiling to stare at all day long.”

The life sentence for Wallace left the elder van Dongen ambivalent.

“I am very pleased she is going to be locked up for 12 years, but really this is too little, as we as a family have been sentenced for life. I hope she messes up and doesn’t ever come out of prison again,” Kees van Dongen said, according to the Guardian.

“There are only losers in this case. This has completely ruined our lives – financially and as a family. Our home has fallen apart. I hope we can start to pick up the pieces and rebuild.”

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

2018 Ford Mustang GT test drive: Survival of the fittest

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The Mustang isn’t Ford’s best-selling car, but it will be soon.

That’s because it will be the only true car the company sells in the U.S., as the brand switches to a lineup of mostly trucks and crossovers in a couple of years.

It’s doing alright now, though. The Mustang outsells the Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger here, and Ford says it’s been the best-selling sports coupe in the world since the latest generation launched three years ago.

To keep the ball rolling, Ford updated it for 2018 with mildly redesigned front and rear styling, more soft-touch trim in the cabin and an available full-digital instrument cluster. But the biggest changes are heard and felt, not seen.

2018 mustang

Ford dropped the Mustang’s tried and true V6 engine, made its 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder the new base motor and gave the GT a more powerful V8. The 5.0-liter truly is one now, thanks to a switch from liners to spray-in cylinder coatings that increased its displacement from 4970 cc to 5030 cc.

A blend of port and direct fuel injection, along with a freer-flowing intake and sky-high 7,500 rpm redline help to increase output from 435 hp to 460 hp, making this the most powerful Mustang GT ever. (At least until the new Bullitt edition arrives later this year with a promised 480 hp.)

There’s a 10-speed automatic now, but a six-speed manual is still standard at the GT’s starting price of $36,090. Believe it or not, the stick accounts for more than half of GT sales these days. Either can be had with a few semi-autonomous driving assist features, including radar cruise control and pedestrian-detecting automatic emergency brakes.

Performance Pack Level 2 is accentuated by a lower, more aggressive stance, aerodynamically balanced high-performance front splitter and rear spoiler – all designed to add more downforce to attack curves for an exhilarating feel behind the wheel.

That’s great stuff on the street, where the Mustang remains an excellent cruiser, even without the optional computer-controlled MagneRide shock absorbers that are worth their weight in gold, not to mention their $1,695 price tag.

For the track, Ford offers two Performance Package options that make it quicker in a straight line and a round curves. The first costs $3,995 and comes with wide, sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires on dark 19-inch wheels, a stiffer chassis and suspension with heavy duty springs, Torsen limited slip differential, Brembo front brakes, sportier stability control and anti-lock brake calibrations and a larger radiator to keep things cooler during hot lap sessions.

Ford claims one of these fitted with the 10-speed and set to its Drag Mode with launch control enabled will do 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds, while the rest of the changes sharpen the handling without messing up the on-road ride too much. It’s a nice compromise for someone who uses their Mustang as a daily driver but likes to put it through its paces sometimes.

2018 mustang

If you prefer doing the latter most of the time, you’ll want to check the box for the Performance Package 2, which costs $6,500, but is mandatorily bundled with another $2,000 package of comfort and entertainment features. It steps things up with foot-wide Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, standard MagneRide shocks, more extreme tuning across the board, and a jutting chin splitter that produces downforce to squeeze the front tires into the tarmac and can take out someone’s ankles if you’re not careful with it. The only caveat is that you can only order the PP2 on GTs with manual transmissions. Sorry, lazy boys and girls.

2018 mustang

Mustang Vehicle Engineering Manager Tom Barnes says the goal was to create a car that felt really alive. The kind of car that a track rat looking for the best handling might build for themselves, but with the bonus of factory integration and tuning for all of the modifications.

The incredibly responsive steering is the first thing you notice as those huge contact patches go to work, but the overall grip is monumental. During a couple of laps around a short circuit at the Monticello Motor Club, the PP2 felt right at home. It requires a recalibration of your expectations of what a Mustang GT should be able to do before you start getting anywhere close to the most out of it.

Unfortunately for me, it was a rainy, and those nearly slick steamroller tires turn into skates on anything resembling a puddle, so my time flying in it was limited. You have to tread lightly when things get wet. On public roads, the front tires keep your hands busy as they chase ruts and ridges in the pavement, too. Otherwise, a PP2 GT remains a very comfortable car. I drove one equipped with a set of racy and very huggy Recaro seats two hours from the office to the track and would happily do it again.

In fact, I did just that in the other direction at the end of the day.

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2018 Ford Mustang GT W/PP2

Base price: $44,590

Type: 4-passenger 2-door rear-wheel-drive coupe

Engine: 5.0L V8

Power: 460 hp, 420 lb-ft

Transmission: 6-speed manual

MPG: 15 city/25 hwy

Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor. Follow him on Twitter @garygastelu

NRA hails ‘good guys’ who took out Oklahoma shooter as police look for motive behind ‘random’ attack

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The National Rifle Association is hailing the two armed citizens who took out a shooter at a restaurant in Oklahoma City as “another example of how the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” as police continued Friday to search for a motive in the “random” attack.

Trump strikes deal with China over ZTE

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President Trump told Fox News on Friday he has struck a deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping to ease U.S. sanctions imposed on Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE.

The Commerce Department last month blocked China’s ZTE from importing American components for seven years, accusing it of misleading U.S. regulators after it last year settled charges of violating sanctions against Iran and North Korea. The ban was a virtual death sentence for ZTE, which relies on U.S. parts.

The Trump administration, though, caused controversy by putting ZTE in play as part of trade negotiations.

According to Trump, Xi recently called him to ask if there was something he could do to put the company back in business. Trump asked Xi what he was prepared to do, the president said — and Xi replied that he was willing to have ZTE pay a fine of $500 million dollars for the embargo violations, change the management and replace the board. Trump countered with a fine of $1.5 billion, the management and board swaps, security guarantees and a guarantee that ZTE would buy a large percentage of its parts from U.S. companies, he said.

After further negotiations, they settled at a $1.3 billion fine, according to the president.

Trump told Fox News his handling of ZTE shows that he is prepared to be tough on China and Chinese companies when they misbehave. 

“ZTE – I shut it down,” Trump told Fox News. “Obama didn’t punish ZTE. I shut it down.”

Trump said Xi told him tens of thousands of people would lose their jobs if the U.S. continued to refuse to sell parts to ZTE.  Xi told Trump many of those jobs were in his hometown.

The Commerce Department also informed officials on Capitol Hill on Friday that a deal has been reached.

Democrats, meanwhile, blasted the potential deal on Friday.

“If the administration goes through with this reported deal, President Trump would be helping make China great again,” said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “Simply a fine and changing board members would not protect America’s economic or national security, and would be a huge victory for President Xi, and a dramatic retreat by President Trump. Both parties in Congress should come together to stop this deal in its tracks.”

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio also came out against it, calling it a “great deal… for #ZTE & China.”

The ZTE talks occur after the U.S. and China last weekend suspended plans to impose tariffs on as much as $200 billion in each other’s goods, pulling back from the brink of a trade war. China on Tuesday made a conciliatory gesture by cutting the tariff on imported vehicles to 15 percent from 25 percent, effective July 1.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin famously said last weekend that the trade war is “on hold.”

In the face of congressional criticism, Mnuchin on Tuesday denied that the U.S. is offering relief for ZTE in exchange for trade concessions.

“This is not a quid pro quo or anything else,” Mnuchin told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee.

Fox News’ Alex Pappas and Chad Pergram and Fox News’ Blake Burman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

John Roberts currently serves as the chief White House correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). He joined the network as a senior national correspondent in January 2011, based in the Atlanta bureau.

Police: Suspected restaurant gunman had no criminal record

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The man suspected of shooting three people inside an Oklahoma City restaurant before being fatally shot by bystanders had no criminal record or obvious connection to the victims or the restaurant, police said Friday.

Oklahoma City Police Capt. Bo Mathews said investigators were trying to determine a motive behind the Thursday attack that wounded four people. He said the only interaction police had with the suspected gunman, 28-year-old Alexander Tilghman, was during a domestic assault and battery call when Tilghman was 13.

Mathews said the shooting appeared to be random but noted that Tilghman drove to the restaurant and wore protective gear for his ears and eyes.

“It looked like his mind was made up that he was going to discharge his firearm once he got there,” Mathews said during a Friday news conference.

Mathews praised the two civilians who each retrieved a firearm from their vehicles and fatally shot Tilghman outside the restaurant. His body was discovered about 50 to 75 feet from the front door, almost in the parking lot.

“They were able to shoot the suspect and put an end to a very dangerous situation,” Mathews said.

Police said Tilghman was armed with a pistol when he opened fire inside Louie’s On The Lake around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday. A 39-year-old woman and two girls were shot and wounded, while an unarmed man broke his arm while trying to flee.

All four victims were in good condition Friday, according to police.

Dennis Will said his daughter and granddaughter were among those shot. Talking with reporters outside the hospital where the shooting victims were taken, Will said his daughter called him after the shooting and said they had been shot while entering the restaurant for a birthday dinner.

A woman who answered the phone at the home believed to belong to Tilghman’s mother declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press.

Mathews said it’s unlikely either of the civilian shooters will face criminal charges, but said that decision will be made by Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater’s office once the investigation is completed.

Police identified the citizen shooters as Juan Carlos Nazario and Bryan Whittle. Telephone and text messages seeking comment from the two men were not immediately returned.

The Hal Smith Restaurant Group, which owns the restaurant, released a statement saying the restaurant was closed Friday and counselors were available to employees and customers.

“We are extremely thankful the situation didn’t escalate further, and that injuries were not more widespread. However, our hearts are with the wounded during this incident,” company officials said, referring other questions to police.

The National Rifle Association said in a tweet Friday that the shooting was an example of “how the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” The organization said it hopes the incident serves as a “wake-up call” for Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, who recently vetoed a so-called constitutional carry bill that would have allowed adults to carry firearms without a license or training in Oklahoma.

In April, a restaurant patron wrestled an assault-style rifle away from a gunman at a Waffle House in Nashville, Tennessee. Four people were killed in that shooting. Police have said there would have been far more casualties if it weren’t for the patron’s quick thinking.

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This story has been updated to show that police say one of the citizens who shot the suspected gunman is named Bryan Whittle, not Bryan Wittle.

Police officer released from hospital after stabbing

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A Hartford police officer who was critically injured in a stabbing last week has been released from the hospital.

Police say Officer Jill Kidik, a 12-year member of the department, was discharged from the hospital on Friday and is expected to make a full recovery.

Kidik was repeatedly stabbed in the neck on May 17 while responding to a tenant-landlord dispute.

Her jugular vein and trachea were lacerated. Two maintenance workers have been credited with pulling the attacker off Kidik and saving her life.

The suspect, 39-year-old Chevoughn Augustin, of Hartford, is in custody on $2 million bail and is due back in court June 5 on charges including attempted murder.

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Information from: WFSB-TV, http://www.wfsb.com

Connecticut surgeon saves, adopts baby born with rare birth defect

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Now the Surgeon-in-Chief at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Dr. Christine Finck has performed countless operations. But it was one procedure she performed nearly 13 years ago that changed her life forever.

US exit from Iran nuclear deal could trigger instability, Putin says

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Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Friday that the U.S. exit from the Iranian nuclear deal could trigger dangerous instability and raise new threats for Israel if Tehran resumes a full-fledged nuclear program.

“We can’t sort things out with North Korea. Do we want another problem on the same scale?” Putin asked at a business forum.

The Russian leader said the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 agreement came even as the international nuclear watchdog confirmed that Tehran was fulfilling its obligations. “What should it be punished for, then?” Putin asked.

President Donald Trump’s administration has demanded that Iran stop the enrichment of uranium and end its involvement in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Afghanistan in order to negotiate a new deal.

“If international agreements are revised every four years it would offer zero horizon for planning,” Putin said. “It will create the atmosphere of nervousness and lack of trust.”

While Israel hailed the U.S. withdrawal, Putin warned that the move could eventually hurt Israeli security if the deal completely falls apart.

“Would it be better for Israel if Iran opts out of the deal or is pushed out of it?” he asked. “In that case, its nuclear activities would become totally non-transparent. What kind of risks will it entail?”

The Iran deal was the first time Russia, France, Germany and others had agreed on a major international issue since relations between Russia and the West chilled over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Moscow’s hopes for better ties with Washington under Trump have fizzled amid investigations into alleged collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Speaking at the panel, Putin again denied any meddling in the U.S. election in 2016.

While criticizing the U.S. policy on Iran, Putin had some warm words for Trump and held out hope for holding a summit with him.

“We certainly can’t be happy with the level and nature of Russia-U.S. relations,” Putin said. “We are ready for dialogue. It long has become overdue.”

He also suggested that Trump might have won a few points domestically by exiting the Iran deal. “He fulfilled his campaign promises and in that sense he might have won in terms of domestic politics,” Putin said.

The Russian leader also engaged in a tongue-in-cheek exchange with French President Emmanuel Macron, saying with a smile that Russia could help protect Europe if its rift with the U.S. widens over Iran.

“Don’t you worry, we will help ensure your security,” Putin said. Macron responded on a serious note that France and its allies could stand for themselves.

In his speech at the forum and during talks with Putin on Thursday, Macron called for closer ties between France and Russia despite their differences.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also spoke at the forum and called for closer cooperation with Russia.

The presence of Macron and Abe and their statements in favor of cooperation with Moscow were important for Putin, indicating that the U.S.-led efforts to isolate Russia face increasing obstacles.

The U.S. and its allies have hit Russia with several waves of sanctions that badly hurt its economy.

Putin sharply criticized the sanctions, saying they signal “not just erosion but the dismantling of a system of multilateral cooperation that took decades to build.”

In a later meeting with top editors of international news agencies, Putin said he would observe constitutional term limits that would prevent him from running for a new term in 2024. However, some observers have suggested he might seek to have the constitution changed.

On tensions with Britain over allegations that Russia was behind the March poisoning of a Russian former spy in Britain, Putin said there should “either be a joint, full-value, objective investigation or simply stop talking about this subject because it doesn’t lead to anything except worsening relations.”

Russia has repeatedly demanded that Britain let it take part in investigating the case.

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Associated Press writers Vladimir Isachenkov and Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed.

Marines' new Switchblade drones will unleash lethal mini missiles

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Marines will soon be even more deadly – and safer – with their new extremely lethal Switchblades.

When you think of a switchblade, you think of a smallish knife that fits in a pocket, right?

Marines will soon have in their hands entirely different breed of Switchblades – these are smart, flying little drones loaded with devastating miniature missiles.

Tiny, fast and very quiet, they are extremely difficult for adversaries to detect or track.

Even if an adversary does spot the drone, it doesn’t matter. Once Switchblade finds its target, the enemy cannot escape. They can’t run, they can’t hide, they can’t even try to evade or out speed in vehicles … Switchblade will silently track them and strike.

SOFIC: WHERE SPECIAL OPERATIONS SHOP FOR CUTTING-EDGE WEAPONS

Armed with mini missiles, Switchblades hunt dangerous threats – like a car loaded with heavily-armed terrorists attacking aid workers – and strike with astonishing precision. Their miniature missiles may be tiny, but don’t let that fool you. They are staggeringly deadly and destructive.

BarrieSwitchblade2

Switchblade launcher on display at SOFIC (Allison Barrie)

Announced this week at SOFIC, Marines will soon be receiving a slew of Switchblades. Going forward, adversaries will have to face even more of these deadly drones.

Made by AeroVironment, Switchblades have been helping to keep U.S. forces safe for several years now. This is the first order for the Marine Corps and means Marines will also benefit from this important innovation too.

Once Switchblades are in their backpacks, Marines will have instant access to a powerful, smart, flying weapon to deliver precision strikes – one that will help protect them as well.

In fact, Marines can put about six miles between them and a dangerous threat, but still be able to precisely strike.

US ARMY GETS EVEN DEADLIER WITH FUTURISTIC NEW NIGHT VISION GOGGLES

A team could, for example, use the drone’s advanced surveillance-type tech to reveal there’s an ambush waiting for them ahead. Imagine how much safer Marines could be if they could be 10 minutes away from the ambush – and stop it – before the enemy sees them, let alone fires a single shot at them.

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AeroVironment display at SOFIC (Allison Barrie)

Now Marines will actually be able to do this within minutes. Such a significant reduction in risk will be as simple as pulling the drone out of a backpack and launching.

PODCAST: SOUTHERN HUNTER TURNED MARINE RECON, SNIPER + STAR OF HBO HIT SHOW “GENERATION KILL”- GET SPECIAL ACCESS 

The Switchblade edge – protect Marines, precision strikes

Switchblade’s Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile System is dreaded by enemies of the U.S. Here’s why:

No one wants to see a Switchblade heading their way. If you are a bad guy and spot a Switchblade loaded with mini missiles flying towards you, those are your final seconds.

Such a small drone could seem harmless. After all, it has the sleek look of many popular hobby drones. Looks can be misleading. Switchblades unleash powerful warheads that destroy threats with decisive precision.

5 ULTIMATE ADVENTURE-PROOF GRAD GIFTS FOR 2018

For the significant impact it provides, Switchblade is surprisingly lightweight, weighing only 5.5 pounds.

So how can this little drone punch so much above its weight?

Switchblades can be loaded up with miniature, but ultra-powerful warheads made by Orbital ATK. The details have not been made public, but they are highly effectively for a range of missions. A terrorist vehicle, for example, can be easily destroyed by a single Switchblade strike.

In combat, these drones attack with remarkable precision. Crucially, they are so “smart” that Switchblade strikes have the reputation of consistently delivering minimal, and often no, collateral impact in recent war zones.

PODCAST: THIS GREEN BERET USES HIS COMMANDO SKILLS FOR BASEBALL – LEARN HOW TO USE COMMANDO TECHNIQUES FOR AN EDGE IN FITNESS, HUNTING + YOUR FAVORITE SPORT

How does it work?

The lightweight, tiny, highly-advanced drone fits easily into a backpack. It only takes one Marine to carry the drone, the launcher and other key bits and bobs so the Marine can pilot, see through the drone’s “eyes” and teach the drone its target if it will be flying the mission autonomously.

BEER IN SPACE? CUTTING-EDGE PROJECT TOUTS UNIQUE ZERO GRAVITY BREW

With the special launch tube, a Marine can quickly, and easily, blast the futuristic drone out of tube to hunt the enemy and destroy the threat to U.S. forces.

Switchblade can either be remotely piloted or can fly itself in “autonomous” mode. With its ultra-quiet electric propulsion, it still reaches speeds of 85 knots. It can even glide, delivering an even more silent strike.

How can a Marine pilot and accurately strike a target from a safe position about six miles away that he cannot see with his own eyes? The Marine sees what the drone “sees.”

Switchblade also plays a valuable role in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance with its state-of-the-art tech. There are a range of tools that be used to identify and confirm a target. For example, it can locate tiny thermal and acoustic signatures to reveal hidden threats.

With real-time video feeds and GPS coordinates, Marines can observe the enemy force, confirm identities, license plates and threats like bombs or weapons – and then strike from a safe, remote position behind cover.

MEET THE US MILITARY’S WARSHIP KILLER: THESE NEW MISSILES WILL SINK ENEMY SHIPS

In practice, this means that the Marines can take up a position behind a stone wall. With their own eyes, they can’t see the enemy force that is around the corner of a compound. But they can launch Switchblade that will provide eyes for them.

If Switchblade’s feed reveals there are children with the terrorists, for example, then the Marine can instruct Switchblade to “wave-off” and not complete the strike mission.

From the ground, the drone can be launched in other ways too like from an armored vehicle. From sea and rivers, Marines could also launch it from watercraft like a Zodiac. And they can even launch the drone from an aircraft.

What’s next?

Switchblades have proven themselves vital to protecting the force and delivering precise strike capabilities -so much so, an “urgent needs statement” was issued and the military freed up funds to buy them for the Marine Corps. Since August 2017, the US military has ordered $111 million worth of the drones, operator training and support.

Once loaded in their backpacks, U.S. Marines will be even more lethal – and hopefully safer – in combat.

 

Allison Barrie is a defense specialist with experience in more than 70 countries who consults at the highest levels of defense and national security, a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees, and author of the definitive guide, Future Weapons: Access Granted, on sale in 30 countries.  Barrie hosts the new hit podcast “Tactical Talk”  where she gives listeners direct access to the most fascinating Special Operations warriors each week and to find out more about the FOX Firepower host and columnist you can click here or follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie and Instagram @allisonbarriehq.

Names of 4 soldiers killed in Niger added to memorial wall

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The names of four Special Forces soldiers killed last year in an ambush in Niger are among those added to a memorial wall at Fort Bragg.

The Fayetteville Observer reports the names of Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright and Sgt. La David Johnson were added to the wall.

The four died in the Niger ambush in October.

The names of eight other soldiers also were added Thursday to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Memorial Wall.

The wall includes combat deaths dating back to World War II. It now has the names of 1,218 soldiers from Special Forces, civil affairs, psychological operations, Rangers and other special operations units.

Lt. Gen. Kenneth Tovo said each soldier was an exceptional American.

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Information from: The Fayetteville Observer, http://www.fayobserver.com

Colombia re-arrests Pablo Escobar’s hitman for extortion

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Colombian police have re-arrested a former hit man for the late drug lord Pablo Escobar as part of an investigation into extortion.

Lawyers for abused girls to get 40 percent $6.75M settlement

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Lawyers for two young sisters who were sexually abused by their parents while in foster care deserve 40 percent of the $6.75 million settlement they reached with New Hampshire’s child protection agency, a judge ruled Friday.

Mystery sea creature 'like a crocodile' found washed up on beach in Wales baffles experts

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A mysterious “crocodile-like” creature found washed up on a Welsh beach has left experts baffled.

The five-foot long carcass found on Rhossili Beach, Swansea has a long head, giant jawline and slender tail.

Beth Jannetta, 41, who discovered the monster while walking her dogs, sent a photo of the creature to experts, hoping they would identify it.

A mystery sea creature was found washed up on a British beach - baffling experts as to what it may be. The five-ft long carcass of the alien-like creature was discovered washed up on sand by dog walker Beth Jannetta, 41. Beth snapped the mystery monster - which has a long head, giant jawline and slender tail - and passed on her pictures to experts. But marine boffins are unable to identify the creature - but say it could be a type of whale, dolphin, or porpoise. WALES NEWS SERVICE

 ((Credit: Wales News Service))

But experts are not sure if it is a type of whale, dolphin or porpoise.

Beth said: “It looked like a well rotted cetacean to me. Other people think it is something different, like a crocodile.

“It would be very interesting to find out what species it is.”

Bioscience expert Dr. Dan Forman, from Swansea University, said: “When you look at it the first time you may think it is a crocodile, but it is certainly not.

“There is a big bulge on the base of the skull which is characteristic of a cetacean.”

He added: “We get a reasonable amount of whales and dolphins, a lot which are dead and decomposed in places like Pendine and Rhossili.

“From the data around carcasses washed up, there seems to be a cluster this time of year around June and July.

Mark Hipkin, National Trust area ranger, who was called to collect the body, said he thought it was a porpoise.

He said: “We have porpoises washing up quite regularly, as well as dolphins and seals and sometimes sheep.”

This story originally appeared in The Sun.

Gaza officials: 86 hurt by Israeli fire in border protest

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Gaza’s Health Ministry says dozens of Palestinians were hurt along the border with Israel.

It said most of the 86 people injured Friday were treated for tear gas inhalation while some sustained gunshot wounds.

Israel’s military said Palestinians tried to damage the border fence, rolled burning tires and threw an explosive device at soldiers.

It said troops responded with tear gas and live fire.

Leaders of Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, visited protest tents near the border and vowed to continue the weekly rallies they’re leading.

Over 110 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since demonstrations began March 30.

Israel says it is defending its border as well as its communities nearby. It accuses Hamas of trying to carry out attacks under the guise of protests.

Deportation protection restored in high-profile Georgia case

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Lawyers for a Mexican woman whose case made national headlines when she was a Georgia college student eight years ago say federal immigration authorities have agreed to renew her temporary protection from deportation.

The American Civil Liberties Union said in a news release Friday that the Department of Homeland Security has agreed to renew Jessica Colotl’s protected status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

A lawsuit filed last year on Colotl’s behalf accused immigration authorities of arbitrarily terminating Colotl’s DACA status and rejecting her renewal application.

Colotl, 30, was thrust into the national spotlight in 2010 after she was pulled over on a traffic charge at Kennesaw State University, near Atlanta. She was arrested and turned over to federal immigration authorities who detained her for 37 days.

Porn star lawyer Michael Avenatti ‘hot-tempered,’ ‘loud’ wife says in docs detailing messy divorce

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Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, was branded “emotionally abusive” and “angry and vindictive” by his wife in court documents after he allegedly verbally ambushed and threatened her in the wake of their messy divorce.

The hotshot attorney has attracted near-universal admiration from CNN and MSNBC for his representation of Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, in her legal battle against a non-disclosure agreement involving an alleged 2006 fling with President Trump.

But while the lawyer is being celebrated as a hero for standing up to the president, his wife’s sworn testimony from his divorce alleged a darker side.

Avenatti court 1

Allegations laid out in court records by Lisa Storie-Avenatti.

“[Avenatti] is hot tempered and used to having his way – when he doesn’t he gets extremely loud and verbally aggressive,” Lisa Storie-Avenatti said in court records obtained by Fox News. 

While she has since walked back the allegations, at the time she called him “emotionally abusive” and “harmful” to both her and their 3-year-old son – and requested the court to issue an exclusion order against him, barring him from entering their Newport Beach, Calif., residence, fearing his presence could cause harm.

“The purpose of these exclusion / exclusive use orders is intended to prevent acts of domestic violence and to provide for a separation of the persons involved for a period sufficient to enable them to seek a resolution of the cause of the violence,” court records noted.

Avenatti denied the abuse allegations Thursday, saying “there was never any abuse, alleged or otherwise,” noting that the court never gave credence to the allegations and pointing to the signed stipulation filed in court.

Following the email exchange with Avenatti, Storie-Avenatti also issued a statement backtracking on the allegations she made in court under oath, saying “there was never any abuse, alleged or otherwise, in our relationship.”

Lisa Storie Avenatti TWitter

Lisa Storie-Avenatti, soon-to-be ex-wife of Michael Avenatti.  (Twitter)

The alleged behavior may be another setback for the ubiquitous attorney who suggested his fight against Trump is a victory for women who were silenced by powerful people like the president.

Avenatti has been on a media crusade for months now, pursuing Trump and, more recently, the president’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Avenatti has appeared on broadcast and cable news nearly 150 times over the past 10 weeks, with 74 of the appearances on CNN, according a Media Research Center report last week.

But amid controversy over his tax issues and a ruling on Tuesday ordering a law firm managed by Avenatti to pay up $10 million to an attorney for failing to honor a settlement deal, he has found himself on defense lately.

ANTI-TRUMP PORN STAR LAWYER MICHAEL AVENATTI SUDDENLY VANISHES FROM CNN STUDIOS AFTER DOZENS OF INTERVIEWS

Storie-Avenatti, who has been married to the lawyer since 2011, reportedly kicked him out of the house and changed the locks. In court records, she provided examples of Avenatti’s alleged troubling behavior.

Avenatti court 3

Allegations laid out in court records by Lisa Storie-Avenatti.

In one instance, on Dec. 17, 2017, court records claim, Avenatti appeared outside their former marital residence and “angrily” demanded entry. He allegedly began shouting at his wife and threatened to stay at the house “every night of the coming week” against her consent.

Then, he allegedly started filming Storie-Avenatti with his cell phone and said that he brought his 15-year-old daughter from his previous marriage to act as a “witness.” The wife tried to escape Avenatti’s “incessant tirade” and verbal outbursts, asserting that he was frightening both of the children, according to court records.

Avenatti then allegedly called the police, asking for help to enter the property. Upon arrival, police officers refused his request. They later told Storie-Avenatti to “expect a nasty divorce.”

Avenatti court 4

Avenatti had a different recollection of the incident. He denied to Fox News that there was verbal abuse and said he never threatened to stay in the house against his wife’s wishes, though he added that, “if I did, that was my right under California law.”

He said the police were actually supportive of him, but “stated they could not grant me access, but if I wanted to force access I could because I had every right to the home.”

“The statements you are relying on were made in connection with Lisa’s failed attempt to get a spousal and child support order of $215,000 a month ordered by the court. That never happened and the Court never gave any credence to her allegations,” Avenatti said.

In another incident, on Dec. 19, Storie-Avenatti detailed a meeting with her husband regarding a Christmas visitation schedule for their child, in which he allegedly threatened her again, saying he would “burn” all their fortune in the divorce. He also allegedly said he would ensure both of them get arrested to ensure their child gets placed in protective custody.

Avenatti court 2

Allegations laid out in court records by Lisa Storie-Avenatti.

Avenatti said the incident “never happened.”

“[Avenatti’s] appalling lack of judgment in bringing his teenage daughter to act as a witness and frightening her in the process, demonstrated that he is a selfish and not child-centered, not to mention the emotional upheaval that he [caused] to Lisa,” an attorney for Storie-Avenatti wrote.

His “follow-up with threats on December 19 that he would intentionally deprive the parties’ son of his mother and primary care giver and cause [their son] to be placed into protective custody further illustrate that [Avenatti] is angry and vindictive, and has no regard for any emotional harm caused to his son, his daughter, or to Lisa,” it added.

Yet, despite the alleged conduct, Storie-Avenatti claims to be having problems legally separating from him.

“I need to be divorced and if [Avenatti] continues to paint the narrative, he can ignore our case!” she told Fox News last week.

According to court records, Avenatti’s “persistent refusal to cooperate” and respond to his wife’s discovery requests — asking information about his income, assets and liabilities — is causing a delay in the proceedings.

Avenatti court 5 sized

Allegations laid out in court records by Lisa Storie-Avenatti.

“This matter can neither settle nor proceed to hearing or trial without accurate and complete assessment of assets and obligations of the parties. Therefore, [Avenatti], by his willful refusal to provide sufficient and compliant responses … is causing needless delay in resolution of this matter,” Storie-Avenatti’s legal team said.

Avenatti declined most requests for information about his finances, claiming the requests were “vague,” “ambiguous,” “overbroad,” and “unduly burdensome and oppressive.” He also claimed some requests were “protected by the attorney-client privilege.” He denied stalling the divorce proceedings.

In an email to Fox News, Avenatti also addressed a number of other allegations laid out by Storie-Avenatti in court documents, despite not being asked about them.

“You are publishing this story as part of your attempt to discredit me and distract away from the serious legal issues surrounding Mr. Trump. You see me and my client as a serious threat to his presidency so you have decided to resort to personal attacks designed to malign us. It will not work,” he wrote in an email. 

Avenatti recently publicized information about large corporate payments Cohen received in exchange for “insights” into the young Trump administration, as well as payments from a Russia-linked firm. The details have led to widespread scrutiny of those deals, and brought the lawyer into the national public spotlight. 

Storie-Avenatti, meanwhile, was adamant in her email to Fox News that abuse did not take place: “To be clear, there was never any abuse, alleged or otherwise, in our relationship. I never feared for my safety or that of my son. Period. Michael has in the past been a loving and caring husband and is a loving and caring father. I never called the police because I was never threatened with harm. I never sought to have him excluded from our home because I felt threatened or feared for my safety or that of my son.

“Further, he has paid all child support and spousal support. He is a good man. It appears you are trying to harm him and our family by publishing a defamatory story that has no basis in reality.”

Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @LukasMikelionis.

Michael Avenatti's messy divorce records allege porn star lawyer was 'emotionally abusive,' 'angry'

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Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, was branded “emotionally abusive” and “angry and vindictive” by his wife in court documents after he allegedly verbally ambushed and threatened her in the wake of their messy divorce.

The hotshot attorney has attracted near-universal admiration from CNN and MSNBC for his representation of Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, in her legal battle against a non-disclosure agreement involving an alleged 2006 fling with President Trump.

But while the lawyer is being celebrated as a hero for standing up to the president, his wife’s sworn testimony from his divorce alleged a darker side.

Avenatti court 1

Allegations laid out in court records by Lisa Storie-Avenatti.

“[Avenatti] is hot tempered and used to having his way – when he doesn’t he gets extremely loud and verbally aggressive,” Lisa Storie-Avenatti said in court records obtained by Fox News. 

While she has since walked back the allegations, at the time she called him “emotionally abusive” and “harmful” to both her and their 3-year-old son – and requested the court to issue an exclusion order against him, barring him from entering their Newport Beach, Calif., residence, fearing his presence could cause harm.

“The purpose of these exclusion / exclusive use orders is intended to prevent acts of domestic violence and to provide for a separation of the persons involved for a period sufficient to enable them to seek a resolution of the cause of the violence,” court records noted.

Avenatti denied the abuse allegations Thursday, saying “there was never any abuse, alleged or otherwise,” noting that the court never gave credence to the allegations and pointing to the signed stipulation filed in court.

Following the email exchange with Avenatti, Storie-Avenatti also issued a statement backtracking on the allegations she made in court under oath, saying “there was never any abuse, alleged or otherwise, in our relationship.”

Lisa Storie Avenatti TWitter

Lisa Storie-Avenatti, soon-to-be ex-wife of Michael Avenatti.  (Twitter)

The alleged behavior may be another setback for the ubiquitous attorney who suggested his fight against Trump is a victory for women who were silenced by powerful people like the president.

Avenatti has been on a media crusade for months now, pursuing Trump and, more recently, the president’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Avenatti has appeared on broadcast and cable news nearly 150 times over the past 10 weeks, with 74 of the appearances on CNN, according a Media Research Center report last week.

But amid controversy over his tax issues and a ruling on Tuesday ordering a law firm managed by Avenatti to pay up $10 million to an attorney for failing to honor a settlement deal, he has found himself on defense lately.

ANTI-TRUMP PORN STAR LAWYER MICHAEL AVENATTI SUDDENLY VANISHES FROM CNN STUDIOS AFTER DOZENS OF INTERVIEWS

Storie-Avenatti, who has been married to the lawyer since 2011, reportedly kicked him out of the house and changed the locks. In court records, she provided examples of Avenatti’s alleged troubling behavior.

Avenatti court 3

Allegations laid out in court records by Lisa Storie-Avenatti.

In one instance, on Dec. 17, 2017, court records claim, Avenatti appeared outside their former marital residence and “angrily” demanded entry. He allegedly began shouting at his wife and threatened to stay at the house “every night of the coming week” against her consent.

Then, he allegedly started filming Storie-Avenatti with his cell phone and said that he brought his 15-year-old daughter from his previous marriage to act as a “witness.” The wife tried to escape Avenatti’s “incessant tirade” and verbal outbursts, asserting that he was frightening both of the children, according to court records.

Avenatti then allegedly called the police, asking for help to enter the property. Upon arrival, police officers refused his request. They later told Storie-Avenatti to “expect a nasty divorce.”

Avenatti court 4

Avenatti had a different recollection of the incident. He denied to Fox News that there was verbal abuse and said he never threatened to stay in the house against his wife’s wishes, though he added that, “if I did, that was my right under California law.”

He said the police were actually supportive of him, but “stated they could not grant me access, but if I wanted to force access I could because I had every right to the home.”

“The statements you are relying on were made in connection with Lisa’s failed attempt to get a spousal and child support order of $215,000 a month ordered by the court. That never happened and the Court never gave any credence to her allegations,” Avenatti said.

In another incident, on Dec. 19, Storie-Avenatti detailed a meeting with her husband regarding a Christmas visitation schedule for their child, in which he allegedly threatened her again, saying he would “burn” all their fortune in the divorce. He also allegedly said he would ensure both of them get arrested to ensure their child gets placed in protective custody.

Avenatti court 2

Allegations laid out in court records by Lisa Storie-Avenatti.

Avenatti said the incident “never happened.”

“[Avenatti’s] appalling lack of judgment in bringing his teenage daughter to act as a witness and frightening her in the process, demonstrated that he is a selfish and not child-centered, not to mention the emotional upheaval that he [caused] to Lisa,” an attorney for Storie-Avenatti wrote.

His “follow-up with threats on December 19 that he would intentionally deprive the parties’ son of his mother and primary care giver and cause [their son] to be placed into protective custody further illustrate that [Avenatti] is angry and vindictive, and has no regard for any emotional harm caused to his son, his daughter, or to Lisa,” it added.

Yet, despite the alleged conduct, Storie-Avenatti claims to be having problems legally separating from him.

“I need to be divorced and if [Avenatti] continues to paint the narrative, he can ignore our case!” she told Fox News last week.

According to court records, Avenatti’s “persistent refusal to cooperate” and respond to his wife’s discovery requests — asking information about his income, assets and liabilities — is causing a delay in the proceedings.

Avenatti court 5 sized

Allegations laid out in court records by Lisa Storie-Avenatti.

“This matter can neither settle nor proceed to hearing or trial without accurate and complete assessment of assets and obligations of the parties. Therefore, [Avenatti], by his willful refusal to provide sufficient and compliant responses … is causing needless delay in resolution of this matter,” Storie-Avenatti’s legal team said.

Avenatti declined most requests for information about his finances, claiming the requests were “vague,” “ambiguous,” “overbroad,” and “unduly burdensome and oppressive.” He also claimed some requests were “protected by the attorney-client privilege.” He denied stalling the divorce proceedings.

In an email to Fox News, Avenatti also addressed a number of other allegations laid out by Storie-Avenatti in court documents, despite not being asked about them.

“You are publishing this story as part of your attempt to discredit me and distract away from the serious legal issues surrounding Mr. Trump. You see me and my client as a serious threat to his presidency so you have decided to resort to personal attacks designed to malign us. It will not work,” he wrote in an email. 

Avenatti recently publicized information about large corporate payments Cohen received in exchange for “insights” into the young Trump administration, as well as payments from a Russia-linked firm. The details have led to widespread scrutiny of those deals, and brought the lawyer into the national public spotlight. 

Storie-Avenatti, meanwhile, was adamant in her email to Fox News that abuse did not take place: “To be clear, there was never any abuse, alleged or otherwise, in our relationship. I never feared for my safety or that of my son. Period. Michael has in the past been a loving and caring husband and is a loving and caring father. I never called the police because I was never threatened with harm. I never sought to have him excluded from our home because I felt threatened or feared for my safety or that of my son.

“Further, he has paid all child support and spousal support. He is a good man. It appears you are trying to harm him and our family by publishing a defamatory story that has no basis in reality.”

Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @LukasMikelionis.

Salisbury Man Convicted of 2nd Degree Murder

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Image courtesy Wicomico County States Attorney

Image courtesy Wicomico County States Attorney

A Wicomico County Circuit Court Judge has convicted 24 year old Brian Watkins of Salisbury of 2nd degree murder after Watkins pleaded guilty by way of an Alford plea.  In April of 2017 Sheriff’s deputies were called to Watkins’ home on Booth Street in Salisbury for shots fired.  They found Wyatt Fitzgerald shot once in the chest – he died a short time later at PRMC in Salisbury.  Police say the two men got into an argument over an alleged debt of $30 Watkins mother owed when Watkins pulled a handgun and fired.  Sentencing has been deferred in order to conduct a pre-sentence investigation.


 

UN says issues 'narrowed' over Greece-Macedonia name dispute

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The U.N. mediator trying to resolve a 25-year-old dispute between Greece and Macedonia over the former Yugoslav republic’s name says the issues “have been narrowed” and both sides are determined to reach an agreement.

Matthew Nimetz told reporters Friday that talks “have been intensified considerably” after two days of meetings with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and Macedonia Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov. He said the ministers are heading to Brussels and will continue their dialogue there.

Greeks maintain their northern neighbor’s name implies a territorial claim to Greece’s adjoining province of Macedonia. Officially called the Republic of Macedonia when it gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Greece has blocked the country’s bid to join NATO because of the dispute.

Nimetz said both countries recognize “the importance of reaching an agreement.”