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Steve Bannon says media ‘always wrong’ about Trump

MIKE THEILER/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) —  Donald Trump’s chief strategist, Steven Bannon, pounced on the media during the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday, repeating his attack that the press is the “opposition party” that is “always wrong” about the administration.

“I think if you look at, you know, the opposition party,” said Bannon, referring to the media, during his appearance at the conference with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. “How they portrayed the campaign, how they portrayed the transition and how they’re portraying the administration — it’s always wrong.”

Bannon, who once was the head of the conservative outlet Breitbart News, took issue with descriptions of the White House as “chaotic,” “disorganized” and “unprofessional,” saying that the same terms were used against the ultimately-victorious campaign.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Kindergartners deliver Keep a Baby Warm boxes to newborns in need

Gretchen Hertler McInvale (NEW YORK) — A kindergarten teacher and her class are helping mothers who may struggle to afford necessities for their newborns.

Teacher Gretchen Hertler McInvale leads her students at Spencer Elementary School in Middletown, Connecticut, in assembling boxes of donated necessities for babies and taking them to nearby Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford.

“It starts even with the littlest ones knowing that they can help someone else and they love it,” McInvale told ABC News. “When it’s snowing or rainy the first thing they think of is, ‘A baby gets to go home warm today.’ I just don’t think character could wait to be taught until you’re older. It needs to be taught in the youngest of ages — to be a good person and to give back.”

McInvale gave birth to all three of her children at Saint Francis. She was inspired to start her Keep a Baby Warm” project after having her daughter, Courtney, at the hospital.

“When I was having my first daughter, the woman next to me, we were in the recovery room and I heard her ask the nurse if she had anything to bring her baby home in,” McInvale recalled. “I felt so bad because I just had this beautiful baby shower and she had nothing new.”

McInvale began gathering baby items to infants born to financially-struggling parents. The project started small with her daughters helping with donations.

Soon, the teacher got her kindergarten students involved. Items are donated by the students’ families, school staff and community members.

 This Valentine’s Day, McInvale and her 21 students delivered 30 boxes filled with blankets, onesies, knitted hats, socks, rattles and pacifiers.

The children were even introduced to a newborn through a hospital nursery window during their visit.

“Gretchen McInvale has been doing this for 29 years, and our staff really looks forward to the visit from the children,” said Fiona Phelan, Saint Francis’ media relations manager. “They bring lovely gifts for the newborns, many of which don’t have warm clothes or blankets waiting for them at home. The children are thrilled to be able to be a ‘big’ person and see what it was like to be a baby.”

McInvale is also an author of a book, “Between the Darkness and the Light.” All proceeds from its sales go to the Keep a Baby Warm” initiative, McInvale said.

She hopes that one day her daughters will carry on the project for years to come, McInvale said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Stress hormone measured in hair linked to persistent obesity, study finds

DigitalVision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — People with long-term stress may be more likely to be obese, according to a recent study by scientists at the University College London, and the telltale signs can be found in strands of hair.

The paper published Thursday in the journal Obesity found that people who have a higher level of the stress hormone cortisol, which affect’s the body’s metabolism and how it distributes fat, over a long period of time may be more likely to be obese. Their levels of cortisol were measured through hair samples.

This study is part of growing body of evidence linking stress and excess weight gain, including obesity, which is linked to higher risk for heart disease and cancers, according to the World Health Organization.

“We don’t know what is the true relationship between stress and obesity,” said Sarah Jackson, a research associate at the Institute of Epidemiology & Health at the University College of London. “We know there’s a relationship there but we don’t know if it’s stress causing obesity or obesity causing stress.”

To better understand the long-term relationship between weight and stress over time, researchers looked at information from multiple four-year periods starting in 2002. They compiled data on cortisol and body measurements from 2,527 men and women between the ages of 54 and 87 who were participating in the English Longitudinal Study on Ageing.

Cortisol levels were examined in study participants’ hair at two time points four years apart to determine the relationship between persistent obesity and hair cortisol levels.

Researchers cut a lock of hair from each participant as close to the scalp as possible. Hair grows approximately 1 cm a month and 2 cm of hair was obtained to represent two months of time. Measurements of hair cortisol levels, as well as body height, weight and waist circumference were taken to determine obesity trends over time.

Scientists found those who had higher hair cortisol levels had a tendency to be larger and weigh more. In general, they also had the largest waists, were the heaviest in weight and had the highest body mass indexes (BMI).

Those considered to be obese or having a waist greater than 44 inches in men or 34.5 inches in women had the highest levels of stress hormone compared to other subjects.

The study authors acknowledge that the findings are preliminary and a vast majority of the subjects studied so far, 98 percent, where white and British. The data were also from people older than 50 and from only the most recent assessments since tests for hair cortisol have been established.

While preliminary, Jackson said the findings may help encourage people to take steps to diminish stress in their life.

“Just try to be aware of lifestyle at times of stress,” said Jackson. “Really we need to have people get up and be active.”

She added that finding constructive ways to handle stress could also help mitigate the body’s response to it.

“It could be good to reduce their exposure to stress or finding coping situations to stress, to be able to manage it more effectively,” she said.

The study findings do not prove that stress causes obesity, but do add to past evidence that they are linked, according to Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University Prevention Research Center.

“We have long had a large body of evidence implicating chronic stress and its hormonal effects with elevated body fat,” said Katz. “So the association is certainly plausible.”

Katz said there continues to be a tremendous amount of evidence that chronic stress is a serious factor in determining overall health, adding that the closely associated hormone, cortisol, “contributes to adipose tissue gain and obesity in particular.”

“From the weight of evidence, it is rather clear that chronic stress is both bad for health in general,” Katz said, “and due in part to effects on cortisol.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Dutchess Kate follows in Queen Elizabeth’s footsteps at royal engagement

Anwar Hussein/WireImage via Getty Images(LONDON) — Dutchess Kate had her first official engagement with Action for Children in Wales since taking over from Queen Elizabeth II in December as the organization’s royal patron.

Kate, 35, visited two projects offering support to vulnerable children and families. She listened to experts at MIST, a childhood mental health project that supports young kids in foster care and aims to provide needed support for complex mental health problems before they become more serious.

Kate was “incredibly proud” to be taking on the new role with Action for Children, according to a Kensington Palace spokesman.

Kate is an avid sportswoman who routinely gives her husband, Prince William a run for his money at events, but today she tried her hand at pool in Wales and was not a success. Craig Davies, a 15-year-old who was Kate’s teammate in a friendly round of pool, later joked of Kate’s pool skills saying, “She was dreadful.”

After receiving a hug from a little girl attending the center, Kate was greeted by two young students who gave her a bouquet of flowers and asked about Kate and William’s young children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

Kate told her young admirers, “George and Charlotte would have loved to have met you.”

Kate’s second stop of the day was to the Caerphilly Family Intervention Team which works with young people struggling with emotional and behavioral issues.

“The Duchess firmly believes that every child who needs it should be given the best support at the earliest opportunity,” a Kensington Palace spokesman told ABC News. “The Duchess is pleased to support Action for Children’s important work. She is looking forward to getting to know the people that make Action for Children such a success and meeting the young people they work with.”

Kate, William and Prince Harry launched their “Heads Together” campaign last year to change the conversation on mental health issues. The royal trio has said they see 2017 as a “tipping point” and hope they can get more people to speak about mental health without fear of judgment.

William, Kate and Harry have chosen to tackle the often-taboo subject of mental health and encourage young people and families to speak up and speak out.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Hannah Hart of ‘My Drunk Kitchen’ fame turned to meditation while helping mentally ill mother find care

ABC News(NEW YORK) — YouTube star and comedian Hannah Hart, best known for her boozy cooking mishaps on her popular series, “My Drunk Kitchen,” said she turned to meditation while she was working to get her mentally ill mother proper care.

Meditation “helps with my reactivity,” Hart told ABC News’ Dan Harris during an interview for his podcast/livestream show, “10% Happier.” “On the outside, I’m always seemingly pretty calm unless I’m super happy, but on the inside, I can get really anxious really fast and meditation has kind of helped me control that.”

Her older sister, Naomi, introduced her to the guided meditation app Headspace, and it has “brought meditation into my daily life,” Hart said. “I’m not forcing myself to calm down. I just have more calm in me.”

Hart’s bubbly, shiny personality online has earned her millions of fans, many of whom were surprised to learn about her life-long private struggle of dealing with mental health issues in her family, as detailed in her memoir, Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded.

In her memoir, Hart, 30, goes into great detail about her profound family issues growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Hart said her parents split up when she was a baby and she and her sister, Naomi, were mainly raised by their mother, Annette, who suffers from psychosis, in a home that Hart described as being in total squalor. She and her sister also spent time with their father, a devout Jehovah’s Witness — something Hart also described as having issues with.

“I think my ability to feel compassion for another person has been a great blessing in my life and it’s something my mother has taught me. My ability to have great optimism is something my mother has taught me. But at the same time she hasn’t been the most reliable parent, through no fault of her own,” Hart said. “Everyone’s trauma is different, but it really took me a long time to realize, and I’m still kind of in denial, I guess, that it was more abnormal than normal.”

Hart’s book is told from her perspective of watching her mother’s condition worsen over time, eventually leading Hart to care for her. Last year, her mother was placed in an involuntary psychiatric hold, which eventually led Hart to become her conservator.

“The book really deals with kind of my mother’s decent, eventually culminating in homelessness, eventually culminating in me trying to provide care for her and my journey from a child to an adult trying to provide care for this person that I love, love deeply, and coming against a system that literally told me, ‘There’s nothing you can do,’” Hart said.

Hart had become an established YouTube sensation when she won her case to be allowed to become her mother’s conservator, meaning she can make decisions about her mother’s psychiatric wellbeing on her behalf — something she said is almost never granted. She has become an outspoken advocate for mental health reform.

“I can say, with total sincerity, that the only reason I pursued entertainment was to spread this message,” Hart said. “I’m really lucky that I’m funny, because it gave me a platform to do this.”

Hart’s most-well known series, “My Drunk Kitchen,” was started by accident, Hart said. In 2011, she was living in New York City and wanted to cheer up a friend back in California, so she sent her a YouTube video of herself getting drunk while cooking. That video ended up going viral — today it has over 4.1 million views — and seeing an opportunity, she began to do more.

Since then, Hart has built an entire “Harto” YouTube brand that includes videos of candid confessions about coming out as gay, quirky dating and relationship advice, hilarious DIY mishaps and hanging out and drinking with friends.

Her main YouTube channel now has over 2.5 million subscribers. She has 1.3 million followers on Instagram and 1 million followers on Twitter. In addition, she has written two books, starred in two straight-to-VOD movies and hosted several live #NoFilterShows.

Her next project is to switch from the internet to television with a Food Network series, though she said it will not be a TV-version of “My Drunk Kitchen.”

“I want to be able to have that freedom to post and say and do whatever I want,” she said. “Television, in a lot of ways — you have to work with a bigger partner, and ‘My Drunk Kitchen’ is just for me and my friends.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Dakota pipeline builder says oil could flow in as few as two weeks

Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — On the eve of the deadline for anti-Dakota Access Pipeline protesters to vacate camps in North Dakota, the company in charge of construction said in a court filing on Tuesday that oil could start flowing in as early as two weeks, beating previous estimates.

Texas-based developer Energy Transfer Partners, the builder of the pipeline whose construction has sparked protests since last August over its location, said in the filing to the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., that the company “estimates and targets that the pipeline will be complete and ready to flow oil anywhere between the week of March 6, 2017 and April 1, 2017.”

The court filing was required as part of an ongoing legal battle that is challenging the construction at the site by Lake Oahe.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum last week called for the Oceti Sakowin protest camp — located on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation — to be evacuated by Wednesday, Feb. 23., claiming ecological damage at the camp and rising post-winter floodwaters.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, which is part of the Great Sioux Nation, has joined the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s lawsuit against the pipeline, filing a motion at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Feb. 9 seeking a temporary restraining order “to halt construction and drilling” under and on either side of the land surrounding the lake.

The tribe argued that the pipeline “will desecrate the waters upon which Cheyenne River Sioux tribal members rely for their most important religious practices and therefore substantially burden the free exercise of their religion,” according to a court document obtained by ABC News.

Last Monday, the court denied that motion seeking a temporary restraining order. On Tuesday, the pipeline company said that the Cheyenne River Sioux legal claim under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act “has no chance of success on the merits.”

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe filed a separate motion seeking a preliminary injunction directing the Army Corps to withdraw the easement issued to the pipeline company on Feb. 8. The tribe alleges that the easement granted is “entirely unlawful,” according to court documents. A further hearing on the Cheyenne River Sioux’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the pipeline is set for Feb. 27 in Washington, D.C.

After receiving the easement to build the pipeline across land on both sides of Lake Oahe, Energy Transfer Partners announced it would resume construction immediately, and indeed work has resumed.

The Dakota Access Pipeline, which would connect oil production areas in North Dakota to an existing crude oil terminal near Patoka, Illinois.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has been at the forefront of massive and prolonged protests over the four-state crude oil pipeline. The demonstrations have drawn thousands of Native Americans, environmental activists and their allies to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation.

Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, has said that “concerns about the pipeline’s impact on local water supply are unfounded” and “multiple archaeological studies conducted with state historic preservation offices found no sacred items along the route.”

In the final days of President Barack Obama’s administration, Jo-Ellen Darcy, the assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, announced on Dec. 4 that an easement would not be granted for the pipeline to cross under the large reservoir on the Missouri River.

The move to deny the easement was hailed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other pipeline opponents as a major victory. But on his second weekday in office, President Trump signed a memorandum aimed at advancing the Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as one directed at the Keystone XL pipeline.  

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Scoreboard roundup — 2/21/17

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Here are the latest scores and winners:

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Ottawa 2, New Jersey  1
Pittsburgh 3, Carolina 1
Montreal 3, NY Rangers 2 (SO)
Tampa Bay 4, Edmonton 1
Toronto 5, Winnipeg 4 (OT)
NY Islanders 3, Detroit 1
Calgary 6, Nashville 5 (OT)
Chicago 5, Minnesota 3
LA Kings 2, Colorado 1

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL

(9) Baylor 60, Oklahoma 54
(11) Kentucky 72, Missouri 62
(13) Florida 81, South Carolina 66
(14) Purdue 74, Penn St. 70 (OT)
(25) Wichita St. 109, Evansville 83

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

New Orleans Pelicans acquire star DeMarcus Cousins in trade with Sacramento Kings

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) — The Sacramento Kings agreed to trade star center DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans according to ESPN.

The Kings receive Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and both a 2017 first- and second-round pick. Swingman Omri Casspi was also traded to the Pelicans.

The first-round pick that Sacramento will acquire is top-three protected in the June draft, ESPN.com has learned, which means New Orleans will give up the pick if it lands outside of the top three.

ESPN reports the deal is likely to be submitted for league approval Monday. The move also comes before the NBA’s trade deadline, which is Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.

The Pelicans are confident they will be able to sign Cousins, who becomes a free agent in 2018, to an extension to keep him with the franchise long term, according to ESPN.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Scoreboard roundup – 2/19/17

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Here are the latest scores and winners:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Western Conference  192  Eastern Conference  182

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
N-Y Rangers     2  Washington   1
Detroit         5  Pittsburgh   2
Winnipeg        3  Ottawa       2
Nashville       4  Columbus     3
Chicago         5  Buffalo      1
N-Y Islanders   6  New Jersey   4
Toronto         4  Carolina     0
(OT) Tampa Bay       3  Colorado     2
(OT) Boston          2  San Jose     1
Anaheim         1  L.A. Kings   0
Philadelphia    3  Vancouver    2

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
(11) Wisconsin   71  (23) Maryland   60
(20) Creighton   87  Georgetown      70
(24) Butler      82  DePaul          66

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Hitler’s traveling telephone up for auction in US

Alexander Historical Auctions(CHESAPEAKE CITY, Md.) — A telephone used by Adolf Hitler during World War II is up for auction in the U.S. this weekend.

The Nazi leader allegedly used the red-painted Siemens phone, which is engraved with his name and a swastika, in the war for the last two years of his life. It is believed to have been Hitler’s personal telephone and was recovered from his bunker in Berlin, Germany, in 1945.

“It would be impossible to find a more impactful relic than the primary tool used by the most evil man in history to annihilate countless innocents, lay waste to hundreds of thousands of square miles of land, and in the end, destroy his own country and people…with effects that still menacingly reverberate today,” a description for the listing said.

The auction will be held by Alexander Historical Auctions on Sunday and is expected to fetch between $200,000 and $300,000.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Couple reveals pregnancy by pretending to take photos of family to capture ‘authentic reaction’

Barry Page(ATLANTA) — One Atlanta couple had a novel way to reveal that they were expecting their first child.

Erika and Kareem Hall pretended to take photographs of their family, and instead of yelling, “Cheese!” they yelled, “New baby girl due in March!”

While some family members immediately understood what the couple was trying to say, for others it took a while for the news to sink in.

In the heartwarming video shared Friday on Facebook, one family member asks, “You hear that? Did you hear that?” while another exclaims, “We’re having a what?”

Erika Hall, 31, told ABC News that they decided to tell their family this way in order to “get their authentic reaction.”

“We knew we wanted to do something exciting because it was our first,” she said. “We did not tell our family that we were pregnant until we were three months pregnant, so we had been keeping a secret in for a while.”

Kareem Hall, 33, added that their reveal was perfect because “we were able to capture their actual, genuine response without them knowing it. So that was fun.”

The couple, who have been married for five years, will welcome their first child, a baby girl, next month. Before then, however, they’re looking forward to becoming parents.

“I am most looking forward to making her smile … and dancing with her, and just really trying to make every day special for her in some way,” Kareem Hall said.

“I’m looking forward to teaching her new things, teaching her about the world and … introducing her to life,” Erika Hall said. “That’ll be exciting.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Pirates star Andrew McCutchen talks about position switch

Allen Kee/ESPN Images(PITTSBURGH) — Pittsburgh Pirates star Andrew McCutchen is switching positions from center field to right field. McCutchen was abruptly informed last month he would be making a move to right field from center. Right field is a position he’s played just once in his 12-year professional career dating back to the minor leagues.

The five-time all-star and former MVP spoke to reporters about the move for the first time at spring training. He says it took him awhile to process that he was no longer playing center field. But he says the player taking his place, standout defender Starling Marte, is a great option.

The position switch capped what proved to be a trying calendar year for McCutchen. He watched his batting average drop close to 40 points below his career average in 2016, and he was not playing defense at the same level that earned him a Gold Glove award in 2012.

Following a long offseason of trade rumors, McCutchen told reporters he is, “just happy to be here” at Pirates spring training. He did not expect he would be playing for Pittsburgh when he was one of the most discussed trade pieces during December’s winter meetings.

McCutchen concedes that he still could be traded midseason should the Pirates not be contending for a playoff spot. While he is still a Pirate though, he says he wants to prove 2016 was a fluke and show fans “that this is just the beginning of some good stuff.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Paying for President Trump’s Travel and Security Costs

Ida Mae Astute/ABC(WASHINGTON) — President Trump is spending his third consecutive weekend away from Washington, D.C., at his luxury resort Mar-a-Lago in Florida. The series of getaways is drawing the attention of government watchdogs and members of Congress over associated security and travel costs.

Visits to his southern golf resort –- which Trump dubs the “Winter White House” –- will continue frequently over the next four years, aides say.

“The taxpayer is on the hook every time the president flies to Mar-a-Lago. Every time the president uses Air Force One, we pay for it,” said Tom Fitton, president of the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, which has been filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to obtain government records and reveal the full cost of presidential trips. The group has monitored President Obama and now President Trump.

While the travel is not unprecedented or inherently improper, the Trump presidency does pose a highly unusual –- and undeniably costly -– logistical and security dynamic given Trump’s multiple homes in expensive locations and four active adult children who each require security protection.

The Trump administration won’t provide dollar figures for the initial trips to Florida, but one presidential trip to the Palm Beach area in 2013 cost taxpayers around $3 million dollars, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimate from 2016.

“If President Trump is going to go back and forth to Florida every weekend, those costs could really skyrocket,” Fitton said. “The presidency is too big, it costs too much money and if anyone is able to cut down the cost, maybe President Trump can.”

Fitton suggested Trump spend weekends at one of his properties closer to Washington, or even Camp David, the presidential retreat.

The costs of presidential travel have been in the spotlight for decades. President George W. Bush took 77 trips to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, over 8 years, according to CBS’ Mark Knoller. Richard Nixon frequently spent short weekend trips at his “Winter White House” at Key Biscayne in Florida. Ronald Reagan made occasional trips to his home on the West Coast.

In the past, Trump has been sharply critical of the costs of presidential travel. He lambasted President Obama on Twitter for millions of dollars of “unbelievable!” travel expenses –- and suggested he spent more time golfing and campaigning than working for the American people.

In 2015, Trump went so far as to publicly pledge that he would “rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done,” The Hill reported. But so far, Trump has shown no indication he’s looking to cut down on his own presidential travel costs.

The White House did not respond to ABC News requests for comment about the travel, and the administration will not provide details about the cost of travel and security.

With every presidential visit, there are also added costs imposed on local governments playing host. The Palm Beach Sheriff’s office estimates they pay $60,000 in overtime pay each day when President Trump is in the area. During the Thanksgiving holiday, the county had to absorb $248,000 of overtime wages because Trump was in town.

“We’re hoping to get that reimbursed with the federal government right now, and going forward, if the president continues to come in,” said Rep. Lois Frankel, a Democrat representing the district that includes Mar-a-Lago.

Frankel, who represents Palm Beach, said Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago also have a local airport and some businesses “feeling the pain.” Latana Airport, the country airport, has been shut down for each of Trump’s visits this month.

“Whoever the president is, regardless of your political party you want a president to feel welcome and be safe,” Frankel said. “This has been his winter place for a very long time and he’s used to coming down and it is a beautiful venue … but maybe he should vary his trips. I’m being diplomatic.”

Palm Beach and New York City have asked Congress to help recoup the costs of protecting Trump between Election Day and his swearing in. New York City requested $35 million and Congress eventually allocated $7 million.

Trump also maintains a residence in New York City, where his wife and youngest son Barron reside, and another in Bedminster, New Jersey, among several others. All locations have required added security measures since he’s become president.

The New York City Police Department says it spends $500,000 a day just to protect the president’s midtown residence at Trump Tower.

As for the four Trump adult children, Secret Service has assigned protective details to each as they navigate busy careers, frequent global travel and active lifestyles –- adding to the cost of protecting the First Family.

“Regardless of location, whether it’s the White House or a private residence in New York, Chicago, Texas, or Florida, the Secret Service is confident our security plan consistently demonstrates the ability to evaluate and revolutionize our methods of security, ensuring the safest environment for those we are responsible for protecting,” an agency spokesman told ABC News.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Private detective claims to use his supposed psychic powers to solve crimes

ABC News(PUEBLO, Colo.) — Troy Griffin walked across a bridge in Colorado, searching for a body.

He brought search dogs and a team of volunteers with him, but his main set of tools are his visions.

Griffin is a self-proclaimed psychic detective. Shunning the crystal ball, tarot cards and tea leaves of his fellow intuitives, he says he uses his psychic powers to solve crimes.

“I’ve worked on … about a 100 cases overall,” Griffin said.

He says he’s built a business out of bringing the paranormal into police work, charging up to $250 an hour for his investigative work.

He recently worked a missing person’s case that gripped the nation. Kelsie Schelling, 21, was eight weeks pregnant and disappeared in February 2013 after making a late night drive from her home in Denver to see her boyfriend in Pueblo, Colorado. Her family never saw or heard from her again.

Nearly four years after her unsolved disappearance, Schelling’s mother Laura Saxton is still searching for her daughter and is grateful for Griffin’s help.

“We just want her back, and well do whatever it takes to get her back,” Saxton said. “Any time you can find anybody who sincerely wants to help it means a lot because people come and go very quickly.”

Using Griffin’s supposed psychic intuition and some anonymous tips, they searched a sparsely populated area in Pueblo, Colorado, where Griffin was trying to clue in on any sign of Schelling.

Griffin said his visions are “like watching TV, but just little clips,” and he’ll get overwhelming feelings of nervousness and anxiety.

“It’s nothing to do with the victims, it’s just how I know or how I use my directions,” he said. “When I pick up the feeling I have to go and follow that … So I have in my mind a vision of where I think her body may be that’s what I’m searching for.”

As they combed through rocks and riverbeds at two different points of interest, Griffin appeared to pick up a bunch of different energies.

“I feel nauseous, sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe,” he said.

But hours of searching led to no real clues pointing to Schilling’s whereabouts.

“I don’t feel Kelsie here at all,” he said finally.

Back at his office located outside of Denver, the walls are covered with files, maps and addresses from what he says are his cases. Griffin said he had previously made contact with Schilling when he first met her mother.

“When I contacted Kelsie, it was more just apologies -– ‘I’m sorry mom, I didn’t mean for it to happen. I didn’t know,’” Griffin said. “[Her mother] Laura is never going to have closure unless she finds something.”

In the six years he’s been in business, out of 100 cases, Griffin claims he has an 18 to 20 percent success rate, but defended those numbers.

“When you look at murder cases and unsolved missing persons, they’re very few percentage that actually get solved,” he said.

But of the roughly 100 cases Griffin claims he worked on, Griffin could not provide one example to ABC News to verify that he contributed to a police investigation. Even with the Kelsie Schilling case, when contacted, the Pueblo police department told ABC News they had “no official contact” with Griffin and were “unaware” of his investigation.

When asked how police departments typically receive his offer to help, Griffin said, “It really depends on what a detective or detectives believe in,” but that he was “lucky” if he got a “50/50” shot.

Rhonda Sheya said she is a former client turned friend of Griffin’s, and that she turned to him for help the day after her brother-in-law Danny Sheya mysteriously went missing in December 2014.

“He said, ‘I believe that he is within a few minutes of your home, a few miles, maybe five miles of your home. I see him surrounded by water and a few miles from your home,’” Sheya said. “I was like, ‘Water? There was no water on the route that we were searching.’”

Tragically, Danny Sheya’s vehicle had gone off the road on a dangerous stretch of road in Colorado and was found two days later by passerbys. Rhonda Sheya credits Griffin with helping them find closure.

“It does cross your mind that this a little bit out there,” she said. “It’s not exactly what mainstream people believe or think. It was desperation. You get desperate. At some point you’re grasping at straws. You don’t care. You just want your loved one back.”

Psychic-based crime solvers are not a new phenomenon. There was five seasons worth on the Court TV reality series called “Psychic Detectives.” There have been other hits such as “The Mentalist” and “Medium.” They were even spoofed on “South Park.”

But psychic readings, especially those in the public eye, have not been exempt from scrutiny. One example was a 2004 reading famed psychic Sylvia Browne performed on “The Montel Williams Show” for the mother of then-missing girl Amanda Berry. Browne told Berry’s mother that her daughter was dead, but nine years later, in May 2013, she was found alive.

Prior to her death in November 2013, Browne released a statement saying in part, “I have been more right than wrong. If ever there was a time to be grateful and relieved for being mistaken, this is that time.”

But still, Berry’s mother died believing her daughter was dead when she wasn’t. Critics called Browne a “grief vampire” taking advantage of a grieving parent. Griffin denied that’s what he’s doing in the Schilling case.

“I waited for her mom to tell me what she thought,” he said. “I don’t say you’re dead or you’re alive. I say I have feeling. I’m never going to tell you if you’re dead or alive. If I feel strongly, I’m still not going to tell you.”

But he did tell Schilling’s mother how she was murdered, saying that he believed strangulation was involved. If it turns out he’s wrong, Griffin said it would be time for him to “consider a different career.”

“I don’t take advantage of people that are grieving. Most are referred to me from what I did. I don’t charge them,” he said. “I’m not coming with false hope either way. I’m not here to tell you yea or nay. I’m here to help.”

Griffin said he’s not taking any money from Laura Saxton or any other grieving Schilling family members. He said he makes most of his money doing psychic readings, which he charges $140 an hour for people who come to him.

Famed skeptic Joe Nickell’s office in Buffalo, New York, is a shrine to cases he claims to have debunked over the years, including psychic detectives.

“What people should realize is psychics cannot do what they claim to do,” Nickell said. “They have been reviewed by mainstream science, and they can’t do it. If they can do it, let’s see that they do it.”

Nickell said psychics use a series of mentalist tricks often referred to as “retrofitting.”

“[It] could be defined as ‘after-the-fact matching,’” he said. “In other words, the detectives have a missing person. They assume the person might be dead, but they’re looking to find that person. In comes the psychic, often ingratiating himself or herself with the family, forcing the police, pretty much, to have to pay attention to the psychic.

“The psychic will say things like, ‘I see water. I’m getting the number 7. I see some sort of tall structure,’ and so on. They call these clues,” he added.

But Griffin said he’s isn’t bothered by critics who don’t believe in his work.

“What I say to skeptics is, if you have never been in the people’s shoes that I walk with, don’t judge or put opinion on it until you really know if it’s real or not,” he said. “The only way you’re going to know is if there’s ever a day that you need somebody like me. Then you’ll know. Before then you’ll probably never believe in me but the people that I help and walk away with closure moving forward. They’re the ones who believed in me. That’s why I continue to do what I do.”

To this day, Kelsie Schilling remains missing, and her mother’s painful search for the daughter who never came home continues.

“I have to try and keep hope to keep going because I know if I give up then it just goes away and Kelsie’s forgotten,” Saxton said. “I will just try and find my hope and my drive wherever I can find it and whoever is brought into my life to make that happen and right now [Griffin] has been brought in my life.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

President Trump calls reports that campaign had contact with Russia ‘fake news’

The White House(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump said reports that members of his campaign team had multiple contacts with Russian officials during his presidential campaign are “fake news” and called the
storyline “fabricated” by those bitter over Hillary Clinton’s election loss.

“It’s all fake news,” Trump told reporters at a press conference in the East Room of the White House Thursday, calling the matter a “fabricated deal to make up for the loss of the Democrats.”

The president’s remarks come after the New York Times reported earlier this week that members of Trump’s campaign had multiple contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Sources also told ABC News that Trump associates had contact with suspected Russian intelligence officials in the leadup to the election.

Though the president refuted the reporting as fake news, Trump told ABC News Jonathan Karl that suspected leaks coming from inside the government are real.

“Well, the leaks are real. You are the one that wrote about them and reported them. The leaks are real. You know what they said. You saw it. And the leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake
because so much of the news is fake,” the president said.

Trump has instructed the Justice Department to look into the suspected leaks, which he has called “illegal.” Congressional Republicans have also called for the DOJ inspector general to look into
the potential mishandling of classified information within the law enforcement agency.

When another reporter followed up to ask if any members of Trump’s campaign had contacts with Russian officials, the president said definitively that he was not aware of any such contacts. “No no,
nobody that I know of,” Trump said.

He went on to say that neither he nor his former campaign manager Pual Manafort had contact with Russia.

“Look, how many times do I have to answer this question? Russia is a ruse,” the president said.

“I have nothing to do with Russia, no person that I deal with does, [Paul] Manafort totally denied it. People knew he was a consultant in that part of the world but not for Russia, I think people
having to do with Ukraine or whoever, but people knew that, everybody knew that.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump expected to name Alexander Acosta as labor secretary nominee

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump is expected to name Alexander Acosta as his new nominee for Labor secretary.

Acosta is the first Hispanic person to be named as a nominee to Trump’s cabinet.

The announcement comes after Trump’s first nominee for secretary of labor, Andrew Puzder, formally withdrew from consideration for the position Wednesday, a rare move for a Cabinet-level pick.

Puzder had come under scrutiny after admitting earlier this month that he had employed an undocumented worker for years. In 1990, his ex-wife also claimed that he had abused her. She has since withdrawn the allegations, and Puzder, whose confirmation hearing was set for Thursday after being rescheduled four times, has denied wrongdoing.

Puzder’s withdrawal marks the first unsuccessful nomination of the Trump administration. Eleven of his 23 Cabinet-level picks are yet to be confirmed.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer had been calling on Puzder, who heads CKE Restaurants, which includes Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., to withdraw for more than a week. Several GOP senators hinted that they had reservations about his nomination.

Acosta is currently the chairman of U.S. Century Bank, which is the largest domestically owned Hispanic community bank in Florida, and is the dean of Florida International University Law School.

He has served as the a U.S. attorney for the southern district of Florida, and was an assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights division under President George W. Bush. He was the first Hispanic to hold a rank of assistant attorney general.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump cited in report finding increase in domestic hate groups for 2nd year in a row

ABC News (MONTGOMERY, Ala.) — A nearly three-fold increase in the number of anti-Muslim hate groups last year contributed to an overall rise in the number of hate groups in the United States for the second year in a row, according the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

The number of anti-Muslim hate groups jumped to 101 last year from 34 in 2015 “as the radical right was energized by the candidacy of Donald Trump,” according to the SPLC, a legal advocacy group that monitors extremism in the United States.

Overall, the number of domestic hate groups rose to 917 last year, from 892 in 2015, or about 3 percent, the Montgomery, Alabama-based center said in its annual report, contained in its Intelligence Report released Wednesday.

“2016 was an unprecedented year for hate,” Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the center, said in a statement. “The country saw a resurgence of white nationalism that imperils the racial progress we’ve made, along with the rise of a president whose policies reflect the values of white nationalists.” Such groups had increased nearly 14 percent the year before to 892 from 784 in 2014.

The SPLC defines hate groups as those that malign entire groups of people based on immutable characteristics such as race or ethnicity.

The rise in anti-Muslim hate groups echoes the most recent FBI statistics. Hate crimes against Muslims surged 67 percent in 2015, the more recent year for which statistics are available, the SPLC noted.

The SPLC also said that “several new and energetic groups appeared last year that were almost entirely focused on Trump and seemed to live off his candidacy.”

The center’s findings came just days after anti-Muslim posters were discovered at a mosque in Bossier City, Louisiana, and on the campuses of the University of Texas and Rutgers University in New Jersey.

The SPLC report said the Trump presidency has coincided with a spike in anti-Muslim activity.

In the first 10 days after his election, the SPLC said, it documented 867 bias-related incidents, including more than 300 that targeted immigrants or Muslims.

But the overall growth in hate groups was not limited to anti-Muslim organizations.

The number of black separatist groups also grew, to 193 last year from 180 in 2015, as did neo-Confederate groups, to 43 from 35, according to the SPLC.

Moving in the other direction, however, the number of “Patriot,” or anti-government groups, declined 37.5 percent to 623 last year from 998 in 2015, the center said.

“The groups had skyrocketed from a low of 149 in 2008 to a high of 1,360 in 2012, in large part as a reaction to the November 2008 election of Barack Obama,” the report noted.

Similarly, the number of Ku Klux Klan groups fell to 130 from 190 the year before, after having more than doubled from 72 in 2014.

The center says it uses hate group publications and websites, citizen and law enforcement reports, field sources and news reports to compile its report.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sheriff: Do Abuse Allegations against La. Man Span 5 States?

CHALMETTE, La. (AP) – Authorities want to know if a man accused of abusing a girl in a New Orleans suburb in the early 2000s may have had more recent victims in other states, including Texas. St. Bernard Parish Sheriff James Pohlmann says 54-year-old Timothy Gemelli of Slidell has been arrested on a charge of sexually abusing a girl below the age of 10 in Chalmette. He’s being held in lieu of $400,000 bond. Pohlmann says Gemelli also has lived in Longmont and Firestone, Colorado; Chicopee, Massachusetts; Picayune, Mississippi; and Harris County, Texas. Detectives want to know about possible victims in those areas. At the time of the alleged abuse, Gemelli lived in Chalmette. Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Cannizaro said Thursday that Gemelli does not yet have an attorney who could comment about the allegation.

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Steve Bannon says media ‘always wrong’ about Trump

Posted/updated on: February 23, 2017 at 2:47 pm

MIKE THEILER/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) —  Donald Trump’s chief strategist, Steven Bannon, pounced on the media during the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday, repeating his attack that the press is the “opposition party” that is “always wrong” about the administration.

“I think if you look at, you know, the opposition party,” said Bannon, referring to the media, during his appearance at the conference with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. “How they portrayed the campaign, how they portrayed the transition and how they’re portraying the administration — it’s always wrong.”

Bannon, who once was the head of the conservative outlet Breitbart News, took issue with descriptions of the White House as “chaotic,” “disorganized” and “unprofessional,” saying that the same terms were used against the ultimately-victorious campaign.

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Kindergartners deliver Keep a Baby Warm boxes to newborns in need

Posted/updated on: February 23, 2017 at 2:48 pm

Gretchen Hertler McInvale (NEW YORK) — A kindergarten teacher and her class are helping mothers who may struggle to afford necessities for their newborns.

Teacher Gretchen Hertler McInvale leads her students at Spencer Elementary School in Middletown, Connecticut, in assembling boxes of donated necessities for babies and taking them to nearby Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford.

“It starts even with the littlest ones knowing that they can help someone else and they love it,” McInvale told ABC News. “When it’s snowing or rainy the first thing they think of is, ‘A baby gets to go home warm today.’ I just don’t think character could wait to be taught until you’re older. It needs to be taught in the youngest of ages — to be a good person and to give back.”

McInvale gave birth to all three of her children at Saint Francis. She was inspired to start her Keep a Baby Warm” project after having her daughter, Courtney, at the hospital.

“When I was having my first daughter, the woman next to me, we were in the recovery room and I heard her ask the nurse if she had anything to bring her baby home in,” McInvale recalled. “I felt so bad because I just had this beautiful baby shower and she had nothing new.”

McInvale began gathering baby items to infants born to financially-struggling parents. The project started small with her daughters helping with donations.

Soon, the teacher got her kindergarten students involved. Items are donated by the students’ families, school staff and community members.

 This Valentine’s Day, McInvale and her 21 students delivered 30 boxes filled with blankets, onesies, knitted hats, socks, rattles and pacifiers.

The children were even introduced to a newborn through a hospital nursery window during their visit.

“Gretchen McInvale has been doing this for 29 years, and our staff really looks forward to the visit from the children,” said Fiona Phelan, Saint Francis’ media relations manager. “They bring lovely gifts for the newborns, many of which don’t have warm clothes or blankets waiting for them at home. The children are thrilled to be able to be a ‘big’ person and see what it was like to be a baby.”

McInvale is also an author of a book, “Between the Darkness and the Light.” All proceeds from its sales go to the Keep a Baby Warm” initiative, McInvale said.

She hopes that one day her daughters will carry on the project for years to come, McInvale said.

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Stress hormone measured in hair linked to persistent obesity, study finds

Posted/updated on: February 23, 2017 at 2:48 pm

DigitalVision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — People with long-term stress may be more likely to be obese, according to a recent study by scientists at the University College London, and the telltale signs can be found in strands of hair.

The paper published Thursday in the journal Obesity found that people who have a higher level of the stress hormone cortisol, which affect’s the body’s metabolism and how it distributes fat, over a long period of time may be more likely to be obese. Their levels of cortisol were measured through hair samples.

This study is part of growing body of evidence linking stress and excess weight gain, including obesity, which is linked to higher risk for heart disease and cancers, according to the World Health Organization.

“We don’t know what is the true relationship between stress and obesity,” said Sarah Jackson, a research associate at the Institute of Epidemiology & Health at the University College of London. “We know there’s a relationship there but we don’t know if it’s stress causing obesity or obesity causing stress.”

To better understand the long-term relationship between weight and stress over time, researchers looked at information from multiple four-year periods starting in 2002. They compiled data on cortisol and body measurements from 2,527 men and women between the ages of 54 and 87 who were participating in the English Longitudinal Study on Ageing.

Cortisol levels were examined in study participants’ hair at two time points four years apart to determine the relationship between persistent obesity and hair cortisol levels.

Researchers cut a lock of hair from each participant as close to the scalp as possible. Hair grows approximately 1 cm a month and 2 cm of hair was obtained to represent two months of time. Measurements of hair cortisol levels, as well as body height, weight and waist circumference were taken to determine obesity trends over time.

Scientists found those who had higher hair cortisol levels had a tendency to be larger and weigh more. In general, they also had the largest waists, were the heaviest in weight and had the highest body mass indexes (BMI).

Those considered to be obese or having a waist greater than 44 inches in men or 34.5 inches in women had the highest levels of stress hormone compared to other subjects.

The study authors acknowledge that the findings are preliminary and a vast majority of the subjects studied so far, 98 percent, where white and British. The data were also from people older than 50 and from only the most recent assessments since tests for hair cortisol have been established.

While preliminary, Jackson said the findings may help encourage people to take steps to diminish stress in their life.

“Just try to be aware of lifestyle at times of stress,” said Jackson. “Really we need to have people get up and be active.”

She added that finding constructive ways to handle stress could also help mitigate the body’s response to it.

“It could be good to reduce their exposure to stress or finding coping situations to stress, to be able to manage it more effectively,” she said.

The study findings do not prove that stress causes obesity, but do add to past evidence that they are linked, according to Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University Prevention Research Center.

“We have long had a large body of evidence implicating chronic stress and its hormonal effects with elevated body fat,” said Katz. “So the association is certainly plausible.”

Katz said there continues to be a tremendous amount of evidence that chronic stress is a serious factor in determining overall health, adding that the closely associated hormone, cortisol, “contributes to adipose tissue gain and obesity in particular.”

“From the weight of evidence, it is rather clear that chronic stress is both bad for health in general,” Katz said, “and due in part to effects on cortisol.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Dutchess Kate follows in Queen Elizabeth’s footsteps at royal engagement

Posted/updated on: February 22, 2017 at 4:57 pm

Anwar Hussein/WireImage via Getty Images(LONDON) — Dutchess Kate had her first official engagement with Action for Children in Wales since taking over from Queen Elizabeth II in December as the organization’s royal patron.

Kate, 35, visited two projects offering support to vulnerable children and families. She listened to experts at MIST, a childhood mental health project that supports young kids in foster care and aims to provide needed support for complex mental health problems before they become more serious.

Kate was “incredibly proud” to be taking on the new role with Action for Children, according to a Kensington Palace spokesman.

Kate is an avid sportswoman who routinely gives her husband, Prince William a run for his money at events, but today she tried her hand at pool in Wales and was not a success. Craig Davies, a 15-year-old who was Kate’s teammate in a friendly round of pool, later joked of Kate’s pool skills saying, “She was dreadful.”

After receiving a hug from a little girl attending the center, Kate was greeted by two young students who gave her a bouquet of flowers and asked about Kate and William’s young children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

Kate told her young admirers, “George and Charlotte would have loved to have met you.”

Kate’s second stop of the day was to the Caerphilly Family Intervention Team which works with young people struggling with emotional and behavioral issues.

“The Duchess firmly believes that every child who needs it should be given the best support at the earliest opportunity,” a Kensington Palace spokesman told ABC News. “The Duchess is pleased to support Action for Children’s important work. She is looking forward to getting to know the people that make Action for Children such a success and meeting the young people they work with.”

Kate, William and Prince Harry launched their “Heads Together” campaign last year to change the conversation on mental health issues. The royal trio has said they see 2017 as a “tipping point” and hope they can get more people to speak about mental health without fear of judgment.

William, Kate and Harry have chosen to tackle the often-taboo subject of mental health and encourage young people and families to speak up and speak out.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Hannah Hart of ‘My Drunk Kitchen’ fame turned to meditation while helping mentally ill mother find care

Posted/updated on: February 22, 2017 at 10:08 am

ABC News(NEW YORK) — YouTube star and comedian Hannah Hart, best known for her boozy cooking mishaps on her popular series, “My Drunk Kitchen,” said she turned to meditation while she was working to get her mentally ill mother proper care.

Meditation “helps with my reactivity,” Hart told ABC News’ Dan Harris during an interview for his podcast/livestream show, “10% Happier.” “On the outside, I’m always seemingly pretty calm unless I’m super happy, but on the inside, I can get really anxious really fast and meditation has kind of helped me control that.”

Her older sister, Naomi, introduced her to the guided meditation app Headspace, and it has “brought meditation into my daily life,” Hart said. “I’m not forcing myself to calm down. I just have more calm in me.”

Hart’s bubbly, shiny personality online has earned her millions of fans, many of whom were surprised to learn about her life-long private struggle of dealing with mental health issues in her family, as detailed in her memoir, Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded.

In her memoir, Hart, 30, goes into great detail about her profound family issues growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Hart said her parents split up when she was a baby and she and her sister, Naomi, were mainly raised by their mother, Annette, who suffers from psychosis, in a home that Hart described as being in total squalor. She and her sister also spent time with their father, a devout Jehovah’s Witness — something Hart also described as having issues with.

“I think my ability to feel compassion for another person has been a great blessing in my life and it’s something my mother has taught me. My ability to have great optimism is something my mother has taught me. But at the same time she hasn’t been the most reliable parent, through no fault of her own,” Hart said. “Everyone’s trauma is different, but it really took me a long time to realize, and I’m still kind of in denial, I guess, that it was more abnormal than normal.”

Hart’s book is told from her perspective of watching her mother’s condition worsen over time, eventually leading Hart to care for her. Last year, her mother was placed in an involuntary psychiatric hold, which eventually led Hart to become her conservator.

“The book really deals with kind of my mother’s decent, eventually culminating in homelessness, eventually culminating in me trying to provide care for her and my journey from a child to an adult trying to provide care for this person that I love, love deeply, and coming against a system that literally told me, ‘There’s nothing you can do,’” Hart said.

Hart had become an established YouTube sensation when she won her case to be allowed to become her mother’s conservator, meaning she can make decisions about her mother’s psychiatric wellbeing on her behalf — something she said is almost never granted. She has become an outspoken advocate for mental health reform.

“I can say, with total sincerity, that the only reason I pursued entertainment was to spread this message,” Hart said. “I’m really lucky that I’m funny, because it gave me a platform to do this.”

Hart’s most-well known series, “My Drunk Kitchen,” was started by accident, Hart said. In 2011, she was living in New York City and wanted to cheer up a friend back in California, so she sent her a YouTube video of herself getting drunk while cooking. That video ended up going viral — today it has over 4.1 million views — and seeing an opportunity, she began to do more.

Since then, Hart has built an entire “Harto” YouTube brand that includes videos of candid confessions about coming out as gay, quirky dating and relationship advice, hilarious DIY mishaps and hanging out and drinking with friends.

Her main YouTube channel now has over 2.5 million subscribers. She has 1.3 million followers on Instagram and 1 million followers on Twitter. In addition, she has written two books, starred in two straight-to-VOD movies and hosted several live #NoFilterShows.

Her next project is to switch from the internet to television with a Food Network series, though she said it will not be a TV-version of “My Drunk Kitchen.”

“I want to be able to have that freedom to post and say and do whatever I want,” she said. “Television, in a lot of ways — you have to work with a bigger partner, and ‘My Drunk Kitchen’ is just for me and my friends.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Dakota pipeline builder says oil could flow in as few as two weeks

Posted/updated on: February 22, 2017 at 10:12 am

Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — On the eve of the deadline for anti-Dakota Access Pipeline protesters to vacate camps in North Dakota, the company in charge of construction said in a court filing on Tuesday that oil could start flowing in as early as two weeks, beating previous estimates.

Texas-based developer Energy Transfer Partners, the builder of the pipeline whose construction has sparked protests since last August over its location, said in the filing to the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., that the company “estimates and targets that the pipeline will be complete and ready to flow oil anywhere between the week of March 6, 2017 and April 1, 2017.”

The court filing was required as part of an ongoing legal battle that is challenging the construction at the site by Lake Oahe.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum last week called for the Oceti Sakowin protest camp — located on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation — to be evacuated by Wednesday, Feb. 23., claiming ecological damage at the camp and rising post-winter floodwaters.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, which is part of the Great Sioux Nation, has joined the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s lawsuit against the pipeline, filing a motion at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Feb. 9 seeking a temporary restraining order “to halt construction and drilling” under and on either side of the land surrounding the lake.

The tribe argued that the pipeline “will desecrate the waters upon which Cheyenne River Sioux tribal members rely for their most important religious practices and therefore substantially burden the free exercise of their religion,” according to a court document obtained by ABC News.

Last Monday, the court denied that motion seeking a temporary restraining order. On Tuesday, the pipeline company said that the Cheyenne River Sioux legal claim under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act “has no chance of success on the merits.”

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe filed a separate motion seeking a preliminary injunction directing the Army Corps to withdraw the easement issued to the pipeline company on Feb. 8. The tribe alleges that the easement granted is “entirely unlawful,” according to court documents. A further hearing on the Cheyenne River Sioux’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the pipeline is set for Feb. 27 in Washington, D.C.

After receiving the easement to build the pipeline across land on both sides of Lake Oahe, Energy Transfer Partners announced it would resume construction immediately, and indeed work has resumed.

The Dakota Access Pipeline, which would connect oil production areas in North Dakota to an existing crude oil terminal near Patoka, Illinois.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has been at the forefront of massive and prolonged protests over the four-state crude oil pipeline. The demonstrations have drawn thousands of Native Americans, environmental activists and their allies to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation.

Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, has said that “concerns about the pipeline’s impact on local water supply are unfounded” and “multiple archaeological studies conducted with state historic preservation offices found no sacred items along the route.”

In the final days of President Barack Obama’s administration, Jo-Ellen Darcy, the assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, announced on Dec. 4 that an easement would not be granted for the pipeline to cross under the large reservoir on the Missouri River.

The move to deny the easement was hailed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other pipeline opponents as a major victory. But on his second weekday in office, President Trump signed a memorandum aimed at advancing the Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as one directed at the Keystone XL pipeline.  

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Scoreboard roundup — 2/21/17

Posted/updated on: February 22, 2017 at 6:44 am

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Here are the latest scores and winners:

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Ottawa 2, New Jersey  1
Pittsburgh 3, Carolina 1
Montreal 3, NY Rangers 2 (SO)
Tampa Bay 4, Edmonton 1
Toronto 5, Winnipeg 4 (OT)
NY Islanders 3, Detroit 1
Calgary 6, Nashville 5 (OT)
Chicago 5, Minnesota 3
LA Kings 2, Colorado 1

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL

(9) Baylor 60, Oklahoma 54
(11) Kentucky 72, Missouri 62
(13) Florida 81, South Carolina 66
(14) Purdue 74, Penn St. 70 (OT)
(25) Wichita St. 109, Evansville 83

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New Orleans Pelicans acquire star DeMarcus Cousins in trade with Sacramento Kings

Posted/updated on: February 20, 2017 at 8:06 am

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) — The Sacramento Kings agreed to trade star center DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans according to ESPN.

The Kings receive Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and both a 2017 first- and second-round pick. Swingman Omri Casspi was also traded to the Pelicans.

The first-round pick that Sacramento will acquire is top-three protected in the June draft, ESPN.com has learned, which means New Orleans will give up the pick if it lands outside of the top three.

ESPN reports the deal is likely to be submitted for league approval Monday. The move also comes before the NBA’s trade deadline, which is Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.

The Pelicans are confident they will be able to sign Cousins, who becomes a free agent in 2018, to an extension to keep him with the franchise long term, according to ESPN.

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Scoreboard roundup – 2/19/17

Posted/updated on: February 20, 2017 at 8:06 am

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Here are the latest scores and winners:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Western Conference  192  Eastern Conference  182

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
N-Y Rangers     2  Washington   1
Detroit         5  Pittsburgh   2
Winnipeg        3  Ottawa       2
Nashville       4  Columbus     3
Chicago         5  Buffalo      1
N-Y Islanders   6  New Jersey   4
Toronto         4  Carolina     0
(OT) Tampa Bay       3  Colorado     2
(OT) Boston          2  San Jose     1
Anaheim         1  L.A. Kings   0
Philadelphia    3  Vancouver    2

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
(11) Wisconsin   71  (23) Maryland   60
(20) Creighton   87  Georgetown      70
(24) Butler      82  DePaul          66

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Hitler’s traveling telephone up for auction in US

Posted/updated on: February 19, 2017 at 4:41 am

Alexander Historical Auctions(CHESAPEAKE CITY, Md.) — A telephone used by Adolf Hitler during World War II is up for auction in the U.S. this weekend.

The Nazi leader allegedly used the red-painted Siemens phone, which is engraved with his name and a swastika, in the war for the last two years of his life. It is believed to have been Hitler’s personal telephone and was recovered from his bunker in Berlin, Germany, in 1945.

“It would be impossible to find a more impactful relic than the primary tool used by the most evil man in history to annihilate countless innocents, lay waste to hundreds of thousands of square miles of land, and in the end, destroy his own country and people…with effects that still menacingly reverberate today,” a description for the listing said.

The auction will be held by Alexander Historical Auctions on Sunday and is expected to fetch between $200,000 and $300,000.

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Couple reveals pregnancy by pretending to take photos of family to capture ‘authentic reaction’

Posted/updated on: February 18, 2017 at 3:42 pm

Barry Page(ATLANTA) — One Atlanta couple had a novel way to reveal that they were expecting their first child.

Erika and Kareem Hall pretended to take photographs of their family, and instead of yelling, “Cheese!” they yelled, “New baby girl due in March!”

While some family members immediately understood what the couple was trying to say, for others it took a while for the news to sink in.

In the heartwarming video shared Friday on Facebook, one family member asks, “You hear that? Did you hear that?” while another exclaims, “We’re having a what?”

Erika Hall, 31, told ABC News that they decided to tell their family this way in order to “get their authentic reaction.”

“We knew we wanted to do something exciting because it was our first,” she said. “We did not tell our family that we were pregnant until we were three months pregnant, so we had been keeping a secret in for a while.”

Kareem Hall, 33, added that their reveal was perfect because “we were able to capture their actual, genuine response without them knowing it. So that was fun.”

The couple, who have been married for five years, will welcome their first child, a baby girl, next month. Before then, however, they’re looking forward to becoming parents.

“I am most looking forward to making her smile … and dancing with her, and just really trying to make every day special for her in some way,” Kareem Hall said.

“I’m looking forward to teaching her new things, teaching her about the world and … introducing her to life,” Erika Hall said. “That’ll be exciting.”

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Pirates star Andrew McCutchen talks about position switch

Posted/updated on: February 18, 2017 at 3:43 pm

Allen Kee/ESPN Images(PITTSBURGH) — Pittsburgh Pirates star Andrew McCutchen is switching positions from center field to right field. McCutchen was abruptly informed last month he would be making a move to right field from center. Right field is a position he’s played just once in his 12-year professional career dating back to the minor leagues.

The five-time all-star and former MVP spoke to reporters about the move for the first time at spring training. He says it took him awhile to process that he was no longer playing center field. But he says the player taking his place, standout defender Starling Marte, is a great option.

The position switch capped what proved to be a trying calendar year for McCutchen. He watched his batting average drop close to 40 points below his career average in 2016, and he was not playing defense at the same level that earned him a Gold Glove award in 2012.

Following a long offseason of trade rumors, McCutchen told reporters he is, “just happy to be here” at Pirates spring training. He did not expect he would be playing for Pittsburgh when he was one of the most discussed trade pieces during December’s winter meetings.

McCutchen concedes that he still could be traded midseason should the Pirates not be contending for a playoff spot. While he is still a Pirate though, he says he wants to prove 2016 was a fluke and show fans “that this is just the beginning of some good stuff.”

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Paying for President Trump’s Travel and Security Costs

Posted/updated on: February 17, 2017 at 7:25 pm

Ida Mae Astute/ABC(WASHINGTON) — President Trump is spending his third consecutive weekend away from Washington, D.C., at his luxury resort Mar-a-Lago in Florida. The series of getaways is drawing the attention of government watchdogs and members of Congress over associated security and travel costs.

Visits to his southern golf resort –- which Trump dubs the “Winter White House” –- will continue frequently over the next four years, aides say.

“The taxpayer is on the hook every time the president flies to Mar-a-Lago. Every time the president uses Air Force One, we pay for it,” said Tom Fitton, president of the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, which has been filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to obtain government records and reveal the full cost of presidential trips. The group has monitored President Obama and now President Trump.

While the travel is not unprecedented or inherently improper, the Trump presidency does pose a highly unusual –- and undeniably costly -– logistical and security dynamic given Trump’s multiple homes in expensive locations and four active adult children who each require security protection.

The Trump administration won’t provide dollar figures for the initial trips to Florida, but one presidential trip to the Palm Beach area in 2013 cost taxpayers around $3 million dollars, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimate from 2016.

“If President Trump is going to go back and forth to Florida every weekend, those costs could really skyrocket,” Fitton said. “The presidency is too big, it costs too much money and if anyone is able to cut down the cost, maybe President Trump can.”

Fitton suggested Trump spend weekends at one of his properties closer to Washington, or even Camp David, the presidential retreat.

The costs of presidential travel have been in the spotlight for decades. President George W. Bush took 77 trips to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, over 8 years, according to CBS’ Mark Knoller. Richard Nixon frequently spent short weekend trips at his “Winter White House” at Key Biscayne in Florida. Ronald Reagan made occasional trips to his home on the West Coast.

In the past, Trump has been sharply critical of the costs of presidential travel. He lambasted President Obama on Twitter for millions of dollars of “unbelievable!” travel expenses –- and suggested he spent more time golfing and campaigning than working for the American people.

In 2015, Trump went so far as to publicly pledge that he would “rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done,” The Hill reported. But so far, Trump has shown no indication he’s looking to cut down on his own presidential travel costs.

The White House did not respond to ABC News requests for comment about the travel, and the administration will not provide details about the cost of travel and security.

With every presidential visit, there are also added costs imposed on local governments playing host. The Palm Beach Sheriff’s office estimates they pay $60,000 in overtime pay each day when President Trump is in the area. During the Thanksgiving holiday, the county had to absorb $248,000 of overtime wages because Trump was in town.

“We’re hoping to get that reimbursed with the federal government right now, and going forward, if the president continues to come in,” said Rep. Lois Frankel, a Democrat representing the district that includes Mar-a-Lago.

Frankel, who represents Palm Beach, said Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago also have a local airport and some businesses “feeling the pain.” Latana Airport, the country airport, has been shut down for each of Trump’s visits this month.

“Whoever the president is, regardless of your political party you want a president to feel welcome and be safe,” Frankel said. “This has been his winter place for a very long time and he’s used to coming down and it is a beautiful venue … but maybe he should vary his trips. I’m being diplomatic.”

Palm Beach and New York City have asked Congress to help recoup the costs of protecting Trump between Election Day and his swearing in. New York City requested $35 million and Congress eventually allocated $7 million.

Trump also maintains a residence in New York City, where his wife and youngest son Barron reside, and another in Bedminster, New Jersey, among several others. All locations have required added security measures since he’s become president.

The New York City Police Department says it spends $500,000 a day just to protect the president’s midtown residence at Trump Tower.

As for the four Trump adult children, Secret Service has assigned protective details to each as they navigate busy careers, frequent global travel and active lifestyles –- adding to the cost of protecting the First Family.

“Regardless of location, whether it’s the White House or a private residence in New York, Chicago, Texas, or Florida, the Secret Service is confident our security plan consistently demonstrates the ability to evaluate and revolutionize our methods of security, ensuring the safest environment for those we are responsible for protecting,” an agency spokesman told ABC News.

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Private detective claims to use his supposed psychic powers to solve crimes

Posted/updated on: February 17, 2017 at 7:26 pm

ABC News(PUEBLO, Colo.) — Troy Griffin walked across a bridge in Colorado, searching for a body.

He brought search dogs and a team of volunteers with him, but his main set of tools are his visions.

Griffin is a self-proclaimed psychic detective. Shunning the crystal ball, tarot cards and tea leaves of his fellow intuitives, he says he uses his psychic powers to solve crimes.

“I’ve worked on … about a 100 cases overall,” Griffin said.

He says he’s built a business out of bringing the paranormal into police work, charging up to $250 an hour for his investigative work.

He recently worked a missing person’s case that gripped the nation. Kelsie Schelling, 21, was eight weeks pregnant and disappeared in February 2013 after making a late night drive from her home in Denver to see her boyfriend in Pueblo, Colorado. Her family never saw or heard from her again.

Nearly four years after her unsolved disappearance, Schelling’s mother Laura Saxton is still searching for her daughter and is grateful for Griffin’s help.

“We just want her back, and well do whatever it takes to get her back,” Saxton said. “Any time you can find anybody who sincerely wants to help it means a lot because people come and go very quickly.”

Using Griffin’s supposed psychic intuition and some anonymous tips, they searched a sparsely populated area in Pueblo, Colorado, where Griffin was trying to clue in on any sign of Schelling.

Griffin said his visions are “like watching TV, but just little clips,” and he’ll get overwhelming feelings of nervousness and anxiety.

“It’s nothing to do with the victims, it’s just how I know or how I use my directions,” he said. “When I pick up the feeling I have to go and follow that … So I have in my mind a vision of where I think her body may be that’s what I’m searching for.”

As they combed through rocks and riverbeds at two different points of interest, Griffin appeared to pick up a bunch of different energies.

“I feel nauseous, sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe,” he said.

But hours of searching led to no real clues pointing to Schilling’s whereabouts.

“I don’t feel Kelsie here at all,” he said finally.

Back at his office located outside of Denver, the walls are covered with files, maps and addresses from what he says are his cases. Griffin said he had previously made contact with Schilling when he first met her mother.

“When I contacted Kelsie, it was more just apologies -– ‘I’m sorry mom, I didn’t mean for it to happen. I didn’t know,’” Griffin said. “[Her mother] Laura is never going to have closure unless she finds something.”

In the six years he’s been in business, out of 100 cases, Griffin claims he has an 18 to 20 percent success rate, but defended those numbers.

“When you look at murder cases and unsolved missing persons, they’re very few percentage that actually get solved,” he said.

But of the roughly 100 cases Griffin claims he worked on, Griffin could not provide one example to ABC News to verify that he contributed to a police investigation. Even with the Kelsie Schilling case, when contacted, the Pueblo police department told ABC News they had “no official contact” with Griffin and were “unaware” of his investigation.

When asked how police departments typically receive his offer to help, Griffin said, “It really depends on what a detective or detectives believe in,” but that he was “lucky” if he got a “50/50” shot.

Rhonda Sheya said she is a former client turned friend of Griffin’s, and that she turned to him for help the day after her brother-in-law Danny Sheya mysteriously went missing in December 2014.

“He said, ‘I believe that he is within a few minutes of your home, a few miles, maybe five miles of your home. I see him surrounded by water and a few miles from your home,’” Sheya said. “I was like, ‘Water? There was no water on the route that we were searching.’”

Tragically, Danny Sheya’s vehicle had gone off the road on a dangerous stretch of road in Colorado and was found two days later by passerbys. Rhonda Sheya credits Griffin with helping them find closure.

“It does cross your mind that this a little bit out there,” she said. “It’s not exactly what mainstream people believe or think. It was desperation. You get desperate. At some point you’re grasping at straws. You don’t care. You just want your loved one back.”

Psychic-based crime solvers are not a new phenomenon. There was five seasons worth on the Court TV reality series called “Psychic Detectives.” There have been other hits such as “The Mentalist” and “Medium.” They were even spoofed on “South Park.”

But psychic readings, especially those in the public eye, have not been exempt from scrutiny. One example was a 2004 reading famed psychic Sylvia Browne performed on “The Montel Williams Show” for the mother of then-missing girl Amanda Berry. Browne told Berry’s mother that her daughter was dead, but nine years later, in May 2013, she was found alive.

Prior to her death in November 2013, Browne released a statement saying in part, “I have been more right than wrong. If ever there was a time to be grateful and relieved for being mistaken, this is that time.”

But still, Berry’s mother died believing her daughter was dead when she wasn’t. Critics called Browne a “grief vampire” taking advantage of a grieving parent. Griffin denied that’s what he’s doing in the Schilling case.

“I waited for her mom to tell me what she thought,” he said. “I don’t say you’re dead or you’re alive. I say I have feeling. I’m never going to tell you if you’re dead or alive. If I feel strongly, I’m still not going to tell you.”

But he did tell Schilling’s mother how she was murdered, saying that he believed strangulation was involved. If it turns out he’s wrong, Griffin said it would be time for him to “consider a different career.”

“I don’t take advantage of people that are grieving. Most are referred to me from what I did. I don’t charge them,” he said. “I’m not coming with false hope either way. I’m not here to tell you yea or nay. I’m here to help.”

Griffin said he’s not taking any money from Laura Saxton or any other grieving Schilling family members. He said he makes most of his money doing psychic readings, which he charges $140 an hour for people who come to him.

Famed skeptic Joe Nickell’s office in Buffalo, New York, is a shrine to cases he claims to have debunked over the years, including psychic detectives.

“What people should realize is psychics cannot do what they claim to do,” Nickell said. “They have been reviewed by mainstream science, and they can’t do it. If they can do it, let’s see that they do it.”

Nickell said psychics use a series of mentalist tricks often referred to as “retrofitting.”

“[It] could be defined as ‘after-the-fact matching,’” he said. “In other words, the detectives have a missing person. They assume the person might be dead, but they’re looking to find that person. In comes the psychic, often ingratiating himself or herself with the family, forcing the police, pretty much, to have to pay attention to the psychic.

“The psychic will say things like, ‘I see water. I’m getting the number 7. I see some sort of tall structure,’ and so on. They call these clues,” he added.

But Griffin said he’s isn’t bothered by critics who don’t believe in his work.

“What I say to skeptics is, if you have never been in the people’s shoes that I walk with, don’t judge or put opinion on it until you really know if it’s real or not,” he said. “The only way you’re going to know is if there’s ever a day that you need somebody like me. Then you’ll know. Before then you’ll probably never believe in me but the people that I help and walk away with closure moving forward. They’re the ones who believed in me. That’s why I continue to do what I do.”

To this day, Kelsie Schilling remains missing, and her mother’s painful search for the daughter who never came home continues.

“I have to try and keep hope to keep going because I know if I give up then it just goes away and Kelsie’s forgotten,” Saxton said. “I will just try and find my hope and my drive wherever I can find it and whoever is brought into my life to make that happen and right now [Griffin] has been brought in my life.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

President Trump calls reports that campaign had contact with Russia ‘fake news’

Posted/updated on: February 16, 2017 at 2:33 pm

The White House(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump said reports that members of his campaign team had multiple contacts with Russian officials during his presidential campaign are “fake news” and called the
storyline “fabricated” by those bitter over Hillary Clinton’s election loss.

“It’s all fake news,” Trump told reporters at a press conference in the East Room of the White House Thursday, calling the matter a “fabricated deal to make up for the loss of the Democrats.”

The president’s remarks come after the New York Times reported earlier this week that members of Trump’s campaign had multiple contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Sources also told ABC News that Trump associates had contact with suspected Russian intelligence officials in the leadup to the election.

Though the president refuted the reporting as fake news, Trump told ABC News Jonathan Karl that suspected leaks coming from inside the government are real.

“Well, the leaks are real. You are the one that wrote about them and reported them. The leaks are real. You know what they said. You saw it. And the leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake
because so much of the news is fake,” the president said.

Trump has instructed the Justice Department to look into the suspected leaks, which he has called “illegal.” Congressional Republicans have also called for the DOJ inspector general to look into
the potential mishandling of classified information within the law enforcement agency.

When another reporter followed up to ask if any members of Trump’s campaign had contacts with Russian officials, the president said definitively that he was not aware of any such contacts. “No no,
nobody that I know of,” Trump said.

He went on to say that neither he nor his former campaign manager Pual Manafort had contact with Russia.

“Look, how many times do I have to answer this question? Russia is a ruse,” the president said.

“I have nothing to do with Russia, no person that I deal with does, [Paul] Manafort totally denied it. People knew he was a consultant in that part of the world but not for Russia, I think people
having to do with Ukraine or whoever, but people knew that, everybody knew that.”

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Trump expected to name Alexander Acosta as labor secretary nominee

Posted/updated on: February 16, 2017 at 2:33 pm

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump is expected to name Alexander Acosta as his new nominee for Labor secretary.

Acosta is the first Hispanic person to be named as a nominee to Trump’s cabinet.

The announcement comes after Trump’s first nominee for secretary of labor, Andrew Puzder, formally withdrew from consideration for the position Wednesday, a rare move for a Cabinet-level pick.

Puzder had come under scrutiny after admitting earlier this month that he had employed an undocumented worker for years. In 1990, his ex-wife also claimed that he had abused her. She has since withdrawn the allegations, and Puzder, whose confirmation hearing was set for Thursday after being rescheduled four times, has denied wrongdoing.

Puzder’s withdrawal marks the first unsuccessful nomination of the Trump administration. Eleven of his 23 Cabinet-level picks are yet to be confirmed.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer had been calling on Puzder, who heads CKE Restaurants, which includes Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., to withdraw for more than a week. Several GOP senators hinted that they had reservations about his nomination.

Acosta is currently the chairman of U.S. Century Bank, which is the largest domestically owned Hispanic community bank in Florida, and is the dean of Florida International University Law School.

He has served as the a U.S. attorney for the southern district of Florida, and was an assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights division under President George W. Bush. He was the first Hispanic to hold a rank of assistant attorney general.

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Trump cited in report finding increase in domestic hate groups for 2nd year in a row

Posted/updated on: February 16, 2017 at 2:34 pm

ABC News (MONTGOMERY, Ala.) — A nearly three-fold increase in the number of anti-Muslim hate groups last year contributed to an overall rise in the number of hate groups in the United States for the second year in a row, according the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

The number of anti-Muslim hate groups jumped to 101 last year from 34 in 2015 “as the radical right was energized by the candidacy of Donald Trump,” according to the SPLC, a legal advocacy group that monitors extremism in the United States.

Overall, the number of domestic hate groups rose to 917 last year, from 892 in 2015, or about 3 percent, the Montgomery, Alabama-based center said in its annual report, contained in its Intelligence Report released Wednesday.

“2016 was an unprecedented year for hate,” Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the center, said in a statement. “The country saw a resurgence of white nationalism that imperils the racial progress we’ve made, along with the rise of a president whose policies reflect the values of white nationalists.” Such groups had increased nearly 14 percent the year before to 892 from 784 in 2014.

The SPLC defines hate groups as those that malign entire groups of people based on immutable characteristics such as race or ethnicity.

The rise in anti-Muslim hate groups echoes the most recent FBI statistics. Hate crimes against Muslims surged 67 percent in 2015, the more recent year for which statistics are available, the SPLC noted.

The SPLC also said that “several new and energetic groups appeared last year that were almost entirely focused on Trump and seemed to live off his candidacy.”

The center’s findings came just days after anti-Muslim posters were discovered at a mosque in Bossier City, Louisiana, and on the campuses of the University of Texas and Rutgers University in New Jersey.

The SPLC report said the Trump presidency has coincided with a spike in anti-Muslim activity.

In the first 10 days after his election, the SPLC said, it documented 867 bias-related incidents, including more than 300 that targeted immigrants or Muslims.

But the overall growth in hate groups was not limited to anti-Muslim organizations.

The number of black separatist groups also grew, to 193 last year from 180 in 2015, as did neo-Confederate groups, to 43 from 35, according to the SPLC.

Moving in the other direction, however, the number of “Patriot,” or anti-government groups, declined 37.5 percent to 623 last year from 998 in 2015, the center said.

“The groups had skyrocketed from a low of 149 in 2008 to a high of 1,360 in 2012, in large part as a reaction to the November 2008 election of Barack Obama,” the report noted.

Similarly, the number of Ku Klux Klan groups fell to 130 from 190 the year before, after having more than doubled from 72 in 2014.

The center says it uses hate group publications and websites, citizen and law enforcement reports, field sources and news reports to compile its report.

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Sheriff: Do Abuse Allegations against La. Man Span 5 States?

Posted/updated on: January 19, 2017 at 4:35 pm

CHALMETTE, La. (AP) – Authorities want to know if a man accused of abusing a girl in a New Orleans suburb in the early 2000s may have had more recent victims in other states, including Texas. St. Bernard Parish Sheriff James Pohlmann says 54-year-old Timothy Gemelli of Slidell has been arrested on a charge of sexually abusing a girl below the age of 10 in Chalmette. He’s being held in lieu of $400,000 bond. Pohlmann says Gemelli also has lived in Longmont and Firestone, Colorado; Chicopee, Massachusetts; Picayune, Mississippi; and Harris County, Texas. Detectives want to know about possible victims in those areas. At the time of the alleged abuse, Gemelli lived in Chalmette. Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Cannizaro said Thursday that Gemelli does not yet have an attorney who could comment about the allegation.

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