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Government stays open, funding bill clears key hurdle in Senate

<p>The Senate late Friday cleared a bill to fund the government through the end of April, narrowly averting a shutdown.</p><p>The 63-36 vote came just before a midnight deadline when the government could have run out of money.</p><p>Final passage came after a procedural vote to advance the measure was narrowly adopted. Needing 60 votes, it cleared 61-38. The vote took nearly an hour and was tense and uncertain to the end as senators weighed political and parochial interests in deciding which way to vote. Party leaders and whips, trying to save the must-pass bill, worked their members furiously.</p><p>The late night action came after a day of back-channel negotiations aimed at alleviating concerns from coal-state Democrats who wanted a longer extension of expiring health benefits for retired coal miners. Democrats failed to secure enough votes to that extension.</p><p>The battle centered on how long the government should extend health benefits for retired coal miners, as the Democrats called for an extension lasting one year, rather than the four months in the current proposal. And it amounted to the most intense partisan squabble on Capitol Hill since the general election, where Democrats struggled to win over white, working-class voters.</p><p>Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who faces reelection in 2018 and is under consideration for a job in Donald Trump's administration, took to the Senate floor Friday evening and demanded that his colleagues block the funding bill, which is needed to keep the government open past midnight.</p><p>"We've been working and fighting and really clawing for this," Manchin said. "But we've got some friends on the other side who believed it wasn't an emergency." Still, Democrats privately and publicly conceded they were unlikely to win over the 41 votes needed to shut the government down.</p><p>"I don't think we are going to get to the 41," Manchin said at a news conference Friday evening.</p><p>What Democrats got from the exercise is unclear. Democrats contended they had elevated the issue, and hoped that their aggressive push would pressure top Republicans to cut a deal on a permanent solution early next year. But they did not get the legislative fix they had been demanding.</p><p>During a caucus meeting Thursday, Senate Democratic leaders and coal-state Democrats agreed to use a threat of a shutdown to bring attention to the issue and push for a longer extension in January, a senior Democratic aide said.</p><p>"Our intention was never, never, ever to shut this place down," Manchin told CNN.</p><p>Added Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia: "We're not going to shut down the government on this issue."</p><p>The late-evening developments come as Senate Republicans and Democrats engaged in behind the scenes negotiations to try to head off a shutdown at midnight.</p><p>"I'm hopeful we'll wrap it up this evening but I don't have anything to announce yet," Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the second ranking Senate Republican, told reporters.</p><p>In a sign of possible progress that a disruption to government services could be averted, Cornyn said discussions were underway between GOP leaders and Manchin of West Virginia, the lead Democrat pressing for changes to the health insurance program.</p><p>"We're working through third parties. Third party negotiators," Cornyn said. "I haven't talked to him directly but there are conversations taking place between leadership on the Democratic side and this side."</p><p>Republicans argued McConnell, who represents miner interests in his home state of Kentucky, has already committed to work to extend the health insurance for a full year, which is the central demand of Manchin and the Democrats backing his effort. Republicans note that McConnell initially pushed to get a one year extension into the funding bill and has spoken on the floor about his desire to extend it that long.</p><p>Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, one of the leaders of the effort, told CNN that the GOP would squarely to be blame if there were a shutdown. Asked if he had the support to block a bill, Brown said: "I don't have any idea what we have. I know that the support has been stronger than I expected from Democrats and from some Republicans that will vote with us."</p><p>At issue is whether to extend the miners' insurance program -- which serves retired miners and their spouses -- for one year or for just for the four month length of the GOP-authored spending bill, which is known as a continuing resolution or CR.</p><p>One person who is trying to build support for the measure is Manchin who was holed up in his office Friday talking to Democrats and some Republicans urging them to block the CR. Manchin, a moderate, had been scheduled to meet with Trump in New York Friday about a possible job in his administration but it was postponed until Monday so he could deal with the miners' issue.</p><p>Democrats are worried Manchin might leave the Senate to work for Trump, which could lead to a Republican pick up of his Senate seat.</p><p>Manchin is leading a pack of coal Senate Democrats -- including Brown, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, each of whom is up for re-election in two years --- to bolster the insurance benefits. Manchin has the support of at least one Republican, his fellow West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, while GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio is weighing whether to join the Democrats as well.</p><p>But even Manchin wouldn't predict that he has the 41 votes needed to scuttle the spending bill and force a change to help the miners.</p><p>"We have a strong commitment from our caucus, I can tell you that. Very strong," is as far as Manchin would go when asked specifically late Thursday if he had 41 votes.</p><p>One key Democrat has joined Manchin's battle. Incoming Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer of New York vowed Thursday, "We are going to win this fight."</p><p>There could be political dividends for Democrats making a full-throated fight for the miners, even at the risk of a potentially risky shutdown. Trump won big in coal country and Democrats would love to claw back some of those working class voters.</p><p>As he opened the chamber for what's been expected to be the final legislative day of the year, McConnell implored Democrats to accept the miners provision as it is and not recklessly shutdown the government over it.</p><p>"It's been my intention that the miner benefits not expire at the end of April next year," said McConnell. I'm going to work with my colleagues to prevent that. But this is a good time to take 'yes' for an answer. We should pass the CR without delay."</p><p>McConnell noted that the bill passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support Thursday, a sign House Democrats were okay with the four month extension.</p>

Published: Sat, 10 Dec 2016 04:14:02 GMT

Donald Trump takes aim at US Intelligence

<p>President-elect Donald Trump's transition team slammed the CIA Friday, following reports the agency has concluded that Russia intervened in the election to help him win.</p><p>In a stunning response to widening claims of a Russian espionage operation targeting the presidential race, Trump's camp risked an early feud with the Intelligence community on which he will rely for top secret assessments of the greatest threats facing the United States.</p><p>"These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," the transition said in a terse, unsigned statement.</p><p>"The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It's now time to move on and 'Make America Great Again.'"</p><p>The sharp pushback to revelations in The Washington Post, which followed an earlier CNN report on alleged Russian interference in the election, represented a startling rebuke from an incoming White House to the CIA.</p><p>The transition team's reference to the agency's most humiliating recent intelligence misfire --- over its conclusion that Iraq under Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction --- threatens to cast an early cloud over relations between the Trump White House and the CIA.</p><p>The top leadership of the agency that presided over the Iraq failure during the Bush administration has long since been replaced. But the comments from Trump's camp will cause concern in the Intelligence community about the incoming President's attitude to America's spy agencies. CNN reported this week that Trump is getting intelligence briefings only once a week. Several previous presidents preparing for the inauguration had a more intense briefing schedule.</p><p>Multiple sources with knowledge of the investigation into Russia's hacking told CNN last week that the US intelligence community is increasingly confident that Russian meddling in the US election was intended to steer the election toward Trump, rather than simply to undermine or in other ways disrupt the political process.</p><p>On Friday, the Post cited US officials as saying that intelligence agencies have identified individuals connected to the Russian government who gave Wikileaks thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta.</p><p>Trump has repeatedly said there is no evidence to suggest that President Vladimir Putin's Russia, with which he has vowed to improve relations, played a nefarious role in the US election.</p><p>"I don't believe it. I don't believe they interfered," Trump said in an interview for the latest issue of Time magazine, adding that he thought intelligence community accusations about Russian interventions in the election were politically motivated.</p><p>Trump has also been highly sensitive to any suggestion that he did not win the election fair and square, including claiming that he is only trailing Clinton in the popular vote because of a huge trove of illegal votes -- a claim for which he has provided no evidence.</p><p>Earlier Friday, the White House said that President Barack Obama had ordered a full review into hacking aimed at influencing US elections going back to 2008.</p><p>Russia has demanded evidence of its alleged involvement in the election and denied any wrongdoing.</p>

Published: Sat, 10 Dec 2016 07:20:00 GMT

Oakland fire victims: What we know

<p>The father of 4-year-old twin girls. A sales associate at Urban Outfitters. A woman who battled gender dysphoria for years. A 17-year-old member of the Pacific Boys' Choir.</p><p>These are among the 36 people who lost their lives last Friday in a fire at an Oakland, California, warehouse where an electronic dance party was being held.</p><p>It's one of the city's deadliest blazes and the worst nightclub fire in more than a decade in the US, in terms of the number of victims. In 2003, 100 people died in a fire at The Station in West Warwick, Rhode Island, after a band's pyrotechnics ignited the club's ceiling.</p><p>Here's what we know so far about the victims:</p><h3>Cash Askew </h3><p>Askew, a 22-year-old musician who lived in Oakland, played in the band Them Are Us Too. Dais Records, based in Los Angeles and Brooklyn, released the band's debut album, "Remain," in 2015.</p><p>The label issued a statement about Askew, calling her "one of the most talented and loving people we've ever known."</p><p>"We will never be the same. Completely devastated by the loss of Cash Askew," the statement reads. "Please keep her and her family in your thoughts, along with all those lost in the Oakland tragedy." </p><h3>Em Bohlka</h3><p>Bohlka, 33, of Oakland battled gender dysphoria for years and only recently came out as a woman to a handful of close friends and family, her father wrote on social media. </p><p>"I just wish with all my heart that she had more time to live her life as she truly wanted," Jack D. Bohlka said of his daughter. "My heart goes out to the entire trans community who feel as if they must gather in unsafe buildings to experience their community and celebrate their identity." </p><p>Friend Kassidy Heal posted to Facebook, "She was Matt Bohlka to most of you, but she was Auntie Em to my kids who loved her so much and didn't care how she identified herself, they just wanted to be able to see her... . I have changed my pronouns and adjectives because I know that is how she wanted it. I really sucked at it when I saw her last and I told her I was uncomfortable because I kept saying dude and man. She gently rubbed my shoulder and said, 'the fact that you are even trying means the world to me.'"</p><h3>David Cline</h3><p>Cline, 24, lived in Oakland at the time of his death but was originally from Santa Monica.</p><p>The Alameda County Sheriff's Office Coroner's Bureau confirmed his death in a statement. </p><p>Cline's brother, Neil Cline, wrote on Facebook, "We just received word that my brother David Cline passed away in the Oakland Fire. To all of you, thank you. Thank you for your kindness, help and love. To David, we love you. You will be with us always." </p><h3>Micah Danemayer</h3><p>Danemayer, 28, grew up in Massachusetts and in 2011 graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, according to his Facebook page. </p><p>Danemayer was very involved in the music scene in the Bay Area. Friend Tomas Hemstad wrote on Facebook that "performing for him, he had exactly that kind of subcultural energy that make me still dependent on our DIY scenes. A thirst for new sounds and talent and an enthusiasm that could flatten out any obstacle put in front of him."</p><p>Another friend, Vashti Lilitu, wrote on Facebook that Danemayer was identified after the fire by his tattoos. "I think that Micah would get a kick out of being identified for his tattoos, as they were so important to him, and he was so proud of how his body art was part of his identity," he wrote. </p><h3>Billy Dixon</h3><p>Dixon, 35, lived in Oakland but grew up in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, where he always played in a band. </p><p>Jacqueline Vu Patino said her friend was a talented musician and computer engineer who "always had a bright energy that was uplifting and contagious and was kind to everybody that he met." </p><p>CNN affiliate WJW spoke to Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O'Neill, who knew Dixon. "We know loss here, but this one hurts. This hurts, it just hurts. Billy was a special kid. That's all I need to say ... he was special," O'Neill said.</p><h3>Chelsea Faith Dolan</h3><p>Musician Chelsea Faith Dolan, 33, had traveled to Oakland to perform at the warehouse, her grandmother Marion Dolan said.</p><p>"That was her life. Music was her life. Music was everything to her she just lived for it," she told CNN affiliate WIVB. </p><p>"She traveled all over the country to play. Whenever there was anything going on with electronic music, she was there."</p><p>Chelsea had been living in San Francisco.</p><p>"I know she's gone. But it's still hard to accept. She was just an upbeat girl, she was just always smiling, I never saw her down," Dolan told WIVB.</p><h3>Riley Fritz</h3><p>Riley Fritz, 29, grew up in Connecticut and moved to California a few months ago, her father told CNN affiliate WTIC.</p><p>Fritz said that one of the friends she had been living with called him to say that his daughter had been at the party. </p><p>He said his daughter began identifying as a woman in college and went by Riley. She performed under the stage name "Feral Pines."</p><p>Friend Gabriel Ohara Durkee wrote on Facebook, "Rest in peace Riley Fritz. You were truly one of a kind. I will always remember the way you threw around your bass in the earlier days of Host, dancing in the living room of the Stolen Sleeves Collective, and sharing our genuine love of good and admittedly terrible music together.</p><p>"This is the most tragic and shocking news I've heard in some time. My thoughts go out to the other victims, families and friends of other victims of this weekend's tragic warehouse fire in Oakland. Be safe. Love you."</p><h3>Alex Ghassan </h3><p>Ghassan, 35, spent the last seven years producing and directing projects for institutions, record labels and independent artists and corporations in the New York City market, according to a biography on his website. Most recently he'd been working in California as a contributing documentary producer for PBS affiliate KQED in San Francisco.</p><p>His mother, Emile Grandchamps, told CNN's "New Day" that Ghassan didn't live in the building where the fire occurred, but attended the party with his fianc��e to support the artists. She said that her son planned to move to Finland with his fianc��e. </p><p>"He had a lot of things waiting for him," she said.</p><p>Ghassan was the father of twin 4-year-old girls, she said.</p><p>"I lost my only child," Grandchamps said. "My granddaughters don't have a father. My husband doesn't have a son. My family doesn't have Alex."</p><p>He was originally from New Jersey and of Haitian descent. His sister, Richardine Bartee, confirmed his death on her Facebook page, writing, "Alex, I miss you and I love you, and I always will. I will do my best to continue to help the people that need help, just like you have. You were a great man with a great soul. I hope to be half as great as you." </p><h3>Nick Gomez-Hall</h3><p>Gomez-Hall, 25, lived in Coronado and worked at the Berkeley-based publishing house Counterpoint Press, where colleagues called him "an extraordinary coworker and a true friend." </p><p>The company released a statement on Gomez-Hall's death on its Facebook page: </p><p>"Counterpoint is devastated over the loss of our co-worker and dear friend Nick Gomez-Hall due to the Oakland Ghost Ship fire," it reads. "From the second Nick started at Counterpoint, he became part of our family. Whether he was recommending new music to listen to (and it was always so good), regaling us with tales of the bowling alley, offering his beloved truck for a ride if anyone needed it, or sharing his much appreciated opinions about a book jacket or manuscript, he made everyone feel like they were his friend. He was kind, considerate, hilarious. ... In short, he was an essential part of our team. </p><h3>Michela Gregory</h3><p>Michela Gregory, 20, was a student at San Francisco State University. She graduated from South San Francisco High School in 2014, according to her Facebook profile. She was a sales associate at Urban Outfitters.</p><p>Her mother, Kimberly Gregory, posted to Facebook after her daughter's death, "My heart is broken." </p><p>Gregory was at the warehouse with her boyfriend, Alex Vega, who is still missing. Friend Jacob Narvaez wrote of the couple, "I knew these two thanks to a mutual love of music, art, and dance. Two beautiful souls taken at such a young age."</p><h3>Sara Hoda</h3><p>Hoda, 30, was an elementary school teacher at Urban Montessori in Oakland.</p><p>Carol Crewdson posted on Facebook about her former roommate's love of children and her compassion.</p><p>"Sara was a principled person, she was compassionate, decent, and honorable. She didn't do drugs and she wasn't a drinker. She was a teacher and a gardener, working at a Montessori school. She was a good hardworking person, she loved children and the Earth, and she put those principles into actions," Crewdson wrote. "She didn't deserve to go like that. After reading an account of what it was like to get out of there, all I can hope is that it happened quickly."</p><p>Crewdson knew her friend was attending the party and wrote that her truck was found parked outside the venue. She kept hoping if she posted on Facebook about Hoda she would learn she survived. </p><p>"I'm sorry loves, but it looks like she went with the flames. I'll keep you posted on what happens next," Crewdson wrote." I'm feeling pretty beat up about it ... Sara was a good person. She deserves to be remembered."</p><h3>Travis Hough</h3><p>Hough, 35, was a musician and artist from Oakland.</p><p>He composed and performed very high energy, dance-oriented music, his artistic manager Brendan Dreaper told CNN.</p><p>Hough had previously been a glass blower and his "day job" was working in expressive art therapy, helping kids resolve their emotional issues through art.</p><p>The musician had been a "super positive person, always looking on the bright side, always wanting to make a situation fun and explore the absurd," Dreaper said. They had been in discussions with a record label and had talked about Hough's future plans the day before the fire, he said.</p><p>Hough had been at the Ghost Ship because he was part of a group of musicians who supported each other and had known some of those performing, Dreaper said.</p><h3>Johnny Igaz</h3><p> Igaz was deejaying on the second floor of the Ghost Ship when the fire started, according to the in a tribute post to Igaz. </p><p>"He has this smile -- it stops you. It contains that spark of creativity, of magic and mischief that makes you want to cozy up to it," the tribute said. </p><p>Igaz, 34, was a music producer and DJ who went by the stage name Nackt. He grew up in Alameda and went to Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts and Alameda High School, according to his Facebook page. </p><p>Earlier this year, he said he was finally satisfied with his life, according to a Facebook post from his brother, Paul Igaz.</p><p>"As I look back on the years shared together, it's with certitude that I say that no single person has ever affected or influenced me more as much as my older brother," Paul Igaz wrote. "Of course he shaped me in many areas of life beyond music, but it was in particular his ability to transmit to me his love of music -- and through music, an appreciation of a culture of diversity -- that ensures that his soul will live within my soul, and the soul of all who know him or his music, eternally."</p><p>Igaz was a music buyer for Green Apple Books and Music in San Francisco. The company posted a tribute to Igaz on its social media pages, writing in part, "His charisma and passions were instantly engaging, and he had a welcoming composure that made everyone feel like a friend. He told us (and his brother Paul confirmed it) that this was his dream job." </p><h3>Ara Jo </h3><p>Jo, 29, grew up in Los Angeles and was living in Oakland. </p><p>Jo's Facebook page said she worked for the East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest, which takes place December 10.</p><p>Colton Mars said of Jo on Facebook: "You are a bright light to so many of us. You are a role model to everyone. You are the kindness and genuine beauty we all need in our lives." </p><p>Friends and family have been drawing up tattoos in memory of her. </p><h3>Donna Kellogg</h3><p>Kellogg, 32, went to the art show probably to blow off a little steam after hitting the books at the end of her school term, her friend Josh Howes said.</p><p>Howes got a text message from Kellogg's stepfather that she didn't make it out. </p><p>Howes spoke to her by phone a week ago, and had seen her a week before that. Kellogg loved house shows, and the underground open art space would have been something she would have enjoyed, Howes said. </p><p>Susan Slocum told CNN's Anderson Cooper that her daughter was drummer in a band. Kellogg was so eclectic that her family called her "the Bohemian," Slocum said. </p><p>"She was in, my opinion, beautiful, smart, independent, strong, courageous, and she was very artistic," Slocum said.</p><p>She added: "She was a little redhead with a lot of fire and energy, but ... a very loving young woman, too."</p><p>Kellogg had just gotten a haircut and told her mother she looked like Tinkerbell, according to Slocum. Slocum said her daughter's hair fit her personality. She would "be like Tinkerbell, with a little bit of spunkiness, too," she said. </p><p>Kellogg loved her music. Her family believes she was dancing on the second floor with friends when the fire started. Slocum said: "She died doing something she enjoyed doing."</p><p>Slocum said the family lost their 18-year-old son in 2009. </p><p>"So, we've been down this road before," she said.</p><p>Slocum added: "You find the strength ... that you never knew you had."</p><h3>Amanda Kershaw</h3><p>Kershaw, 34, was an avid photographer and loved dance music. </p><p>She grew up in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, but lived in San Francisco with her husband, Andy. The couple married in 2007, according to her Facebook page. </p><p>Kershaw's friend Robyn Banks wrote on Facebook, "I will greatly miss her sense of humor and affinity for the absurd." </p><h3>Edmond Lapine</h3><p>Lapine, 34, graduated from Judge Memorial Catholic High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, according to his Facebook profile. He attended Evergreen State College in Washington state. </p><p>His former girlfriend, Madeleine Woodhead Nutting, wrote on Facebook: "Almost a year ago, when we decided to part ways as a couple, we both sobbed for a long time, had a huge hug, and when I walked him out to his car he said, 'I am your family. Whatever you need.' And he meant it. We took space for a few weeks, but by February we were back to doing our weekend trips, usually to record stores or Urban Ore or Thrifttown, or he'd help me with whatever errands I needed a car for."</p><p>The last time she saw Lapine he was excited about visiting his mother for Thanksgiving in Portland and was nervous about starting a new job in a San Francisco gallery, Nutting wrote.</p><p>Friend Amanda Stauffer said Lapine taught her to play guitar. "He gave me lessons, and his patience and enthusiasm for the whole project can only be described as saintly in the face of my unwavering lack of discipline," she wrote. </p><h3>Griffin Madden</h3><p>Madden, 23, went to UC Berkeley and was with his friend David Cline the night of the Ghost Ship fire. </p><p>Madden's roommate Mohana Kute wrote on Facebook, "Griffin loved to make music, dance to Robyn and read Spinoza, whom he lovingly referred to as Spinny. My room was right next to his. ... David and Griffin are two of the best people I have had the privilege of living with and I will never understand why their lives were taken so carelessly." </p><p>A GoFundMe page has been set up for Madden's family. "It's hard to use this space to begin to describe how much Griffin means to all of us and how profoundly we feel lost without him," a friend wrote on the fundraising site. "I am just going to hope anyone who reads this knows and understands what an unimaginable hole there will now be in all our lives.</p><h3>Joseph Matlock</h3><p>Joseph Matlock, 36, was an electronic musician who performed under the name Joey Casio, according to a Facebook post from his parents. </p><p>"As difficult it is to lose Joey, we are thankful that the uncertainty has passed we can try to move on. On Wednesday evening, we gathered with about 120 people who came to pay tribute to Joey, tell stories and cry together. It was a beautiful time and we were thankful to be able to share this time together with them," Kathe and John Matlock wrote in the Facebook post.</p><p>He released several singles for the K Records label out of Portland, Oregon. A K Records press release described Matlock as "a one-man dance party. Continually reassembling the wired connections of white-hot punk energy and post-disco electronic dance music." </p><p> </p><h3>Draven McGill</h3><p>McGill, 17, sang in the Pacific Boys' Choir and was the youngest victim of the fire.</p><p>"It is both painful and poignant that the victims' lives were lost while seeking community and connection through a shared love of art and creative expression," San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Myong Leigh wrote in a letter to teachers, identifying McGill as a victim. "We mourn especially deeply for our student, the fire's youngest victim, and with and for his family." </p><p>McGill's former teacher, Rachel Cohn, posted on Facebook.</p><p>"I am remembering clearer than ever his laugh, and his intense eyes in class -- always tuned in, seeking, curious, craving more," Cohn wrote. "Honoring Draven in my thoughts and prayers." </p><p>McGill was an 11th grade student at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts. </p><p>His friend and choirmate Julian Gandhi wrote that McGill's death was devastating. </p><p>"A friend of mine from the choir, Draven McGill has passed away in the Oakland fire. It is a hard loss to me and many other people in the PBA community. I send my prayers to his family and friends. To a lot of you, this year has been a rough one. But the good thing is that we have each other and that's what matters. Rest In Peace Draven."</p><h3>Jennifer Mendiola</h3><p>Mendiola, 35, was a fifth-year health psychology graduate student at University of California-Merced and recently had two papers published in Preventive Medicine Reports and the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, according to a statement from UC Merced.</p><p>Colleagues described her as a passionate and determined scientist, with an inquisitive mind and a collaborative spirit.</p><p>She studied factors that influence risk behaviors and poor health, including one's close relationships and emotional experiences, the school wrote.</p><p>Mendiola was finishing her dissertation proposal for defense in January, UC Merced said. </p><h3>Jennifer Morris</h3><p>Morris, 21, of Foster City, was known as "Jenny" to friends. </p><p>She was a student at the University of California at Berkeley and previously studied at UC Santa Cruz, according to her Facebook page. She graduated from San Mateo High School in San Mateo, California.</p><p>Friend Evan Parry wrote on Facebook, "Good bye old friend. Fair well it seems, we'll dance again, in our dreams. Here's to the good times, long nights and memories. Will miss you a ton Jenny Morris."</p><h3>Vanessa Plotkin</h3><p>Plotkin, 21, was a third-year sociology student at UC Berkeley who went to the Ghost Ship with friends. </p><p>"This is just like a nightmare. I can't believe this," her father, Gary Plotkin, told the San Francisco Chronicle. </p><p>Friends and family shared messages of prayer and strength after her mother posted a photo of her daughter Monday on Facebook. "Gary and Valerie, my heart and prayers are with you," wrote one Facebook commenter.</p><p>Friend Tet Quintos wrote on social media, "I will definitely miss our dance and laugh together, you always giggles with my silly antics, you were the sweetest girl I met, you touched all of us and will never forget you, you'll always have a special place in my heart."</p><h3>Hanna Ruax</h3><p>Ruax, 32, had traveled from her native Helsinki, Finland, to Oakland to reunite with her "partner in crime," her fianc��, Alex Ghassan, according to her Facebook feed. </p><p>Ruax was a jewelry designer who collected recycled items to make her works of art. The name of her company, NANNANDA, came from her childhood nickname of Nanna and "ananda," the sanskrit word for "bliss."</p><p>After the fire, her father, Yrj�� Timonen, asked if anyone had heard from his daughter on Facebook. On December 5, he posted the words no father ever wanted to write: "Lep���� rauhassa rakas Hannani," which translates to "Rest in peace, my dear Hanna."</p><h3>Benjamin Runnels </h3><p>Known to some as Charlie Prowler or Ben Benjamin, the 32-year-old Runnels was the lead singer of band Introflirt.</p><p>Introflirt's self-described "croonwave" style "is a result of founder & singer Ben Benjamin spending countless weekends in an Oakland piano bar, honing his chops with mid-century jazz standards, realizing a vintage flair and rich vocal technique rarely heard in electronic music," according to the biography on the band's website. </p><p>Runnels' mother, Lorrie Runnels, confirmed her son's death on Facebook, saying the family is flying to Oakland to meet as many of his friends as possible. "He was the brightest shining star and we carry him in our hearts," she wrote. </p><p>Friend Colin Jensen Peden wrote on Facebook, "Ben Runnels (Ben Benjamin / Charlie Prowler / Introflirt) was a beautiful singer and really nice young man who I had the good fortune to interview for KALW." </p><h3>Nicole Siegrist </h3><p>Siegrist, 29, who also went by the name Denalda Nicole Renae, regularly wore wacky wigs and colorful hats.</p><p>Co-worker Eric Martin said she left deep impressions with even the briefest of interaction. </p><p>"She wasn't afraid of reflection, and she actively challenged herself to change and improve," Martin said. "Her freedom was what so many of us seek, and in that sense she was who each of us wishes they were confident enough to be."</p><p>Friends of Siegrist told CNN affiliate KOLN that she graduated from Lincoln Southwest High school in Nebraska and attended the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.</p><h3>Jennifer Kiyomi Tanouye</h3><p>Tanouye, 31, was remembered by colleagues at Shazam, the music app maker.</p><p>"The Shazam family is mourning the loss of our amazing Kiyomi Tanouye in the #OaklandFire," the company tweeted. "We love you and will never forget you Kiyomi."</p><p>Longtime friend Lara Fowler went to Mills College with Tanouye, although she had not seen the Oakland resident in a while.</p><p>"She had friends from all different walks off life. She was completely nonjudgmental and loving to everyone she met," Fowler recalled. Tanouye was a creative artist who marched to her own beat, she said. </p><p>"She had all these great hairstyles, constantly reinventing her hair, had artsy clothes," said Fowler. "She worked at this quirky little magazine store called Issues, so I'd go in and ask if she was working. She couldn't be pigeonholed; she was her own person always."</p><h3>Alex Vega</h3><p>Vega, 22, of San Bruno, was at the Ghost Ship with his girlfriend Michela Gregory, who also died. </p><p>Vega's brother, Dan Vega, set up a GoFundMe page for the family. On it, he wrote "I just want to say that my parents, our families and I are extremely grateful for all the continuous support we have been receiving. We are saddened to have gotten the heart wrenching news that Alex has been recovered and identified. Thank you again so very much for everything especially all your prayers, kind words and thoughts." </p><h3>Brandon Chase Wittenauer </h3><p>Wittenauer, 32, was a prolific musician who went by the stage name Nex Luguolo. The Hayward, California, resident was known to friends as Chase, and was part of a musical duo called Symbiotix.Fungi. He was the band's lead vocalist, according to the group's Facebook page.</p><p>Wittenauer lived in Nicaragua for a time as a child, according to his Facebook page. After the fire, Wittenauer's car was still parked outside the warehouse. His father posted a picture of it on his Facebook page, writing, "Please don't let it be true." </p><p>His friends share memories of the singer on Facebook.</p><p>"I woke up to this beautiful picture Saturday morning, no clue that disaster was around the corner. Just before opening Facebook the news feed on my cell was that of the Oakland fire, never ever putting the two together. And now here we are torn to pieces unable to fix it. Life can be so cruel. I feel selfish to say I want him back, i want this not to be true. I want to be back on California. I hate all this pain. Life is just not fair. I love you Chase! Your Tia!," friend Enid Dais wrote. </p><p>Another friend, Amanda Fish, wrote: "I love you so much Chase! You are the most kindhearted, likeable, and artistic person anyone that knows you has ever met. I am so lucky to know you and that you know me. I love you Chase! I cannot say that enough." </p><h3>Other victims</h3><p>City officials have released the names of additional victims. CNN is working to gather biographical details about them. They are: </p><p>-- Jonathan Bernbaum, 34, of Berkeley</p><p>-- Barrett Clark, 35, of Oakland</p><p>-- Jason McCarty, 35, of Oakland</p><p>-- Wolfgang Renner, 61, of Oakland</p><p>-- Michele Sylvan, 37, of Oakland</p><p>-- Peter Wadsworth, 38, of Oakland</p><p>-- Nicholas Walrath, 31, of Oakland</p>

Published: Fri, 09 Dec 2016 02:20:03 GMT

Trump announces Dow CEO as head of America Manufacturing Council

<p>Donald Trump announced Friday at a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris will head the American Manufacturing Council in his administration, part of his economic message to "buy American and hire American."</p><p>The American Manufacturing Council is the principal private sector advisory committee to the Secretary of Commerce on the manufacturing in the United States.</p><p>Trump described Liveris as "one of the most respected businessmen in the world," who will be tasked with finding ways to bring industry back to America.</p><p>"Nobody can do it like Andrew," Trump said.</p><p>Leveris announced that his company will invest in "a new state of the art innovation center" in Michigan, crediting Trump with creating a business climate that energized his company.</p><p>However Liveris, an Australian living in Michigan, wasn't always a fan of the President-elect. During the Republican primary, he compared the election to reality TV.</p><p>"And now the presidential cycle is bringing us 'the Kardashian presidency,'" Liveris said at a business breakfast in Perth, Australia. "I am not sure how big it is in Australia, but reality TV has taken over what most Americans see and most people are disaffected with Washington and Wall Street, and a lot of things like that and they look at reality TV and they imagine that life, and I think Donald Trump is an incredible marketer of the fantasy of what could be."</p><p>And the Daily Beast reported in October that emails released by the State Department showed that former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had close ties with Liveris. In 2010, while Clinton was running the State Department, Liveris asked senior Clinton aides asking they help his company as it faced a political firestorm in India.</p><p>Friday's event was interrupted several times by protestors -- and at one point, while Trump was introducing his Secretary of Education pick Betsy DeVos, she had to repeat the end of her speech because of protestor interruptions.</p><p>And another point while he was speaking, Trump said about the protestors, "Get them out of here ... where do these people come from? Unbelievable."</p>

Published: Sat, 10 Dec 2016 03:14:08 GMT

Winter Garden man describes intruder in 911 call: 'I shot him'

<p>A homeowner shot an intruder Friday morning in Winter Garden, but the assailant and a woman got away, police said.</p><p>The shooting was reported at 9:30 a.m. in the 300 block of Bainbridge Loop.</p><p>Officers with the Winter Garden Police Department said a man inside his house noticed a Honda sedan pull into his driveway. A woman approached the home, rang the doorbell and knocked on the door, police said.</p><p>The man did not answer, so the woman got into the car, and the driver left, police said.</p><p>About two minutes later, the car returned, and the same woman started aggressively knocking on the door of the home, police said. The homeowner then heard a noise in the back of his house, and a man wearing all black, including a black ski mask, entered after smashing through a glass patio door with a brick, police said.</p><p>The homeowner said he shot the man, who then drove off with the woman in the brown Honda, according to police.</p><p>Police said the homeowner was terrified and trying to defend himself. He was home alone, and couldn’t see out the door because his Christmas decorations were in the way.</p><p>"He had a masked person at the back door beating on the glass, and then you have someone beating at the front door,” said Lt. Scott Allen, of Winter Garden police. “He had no idea what was going on. He was in fear for his life and thought that was his best option."</p><p>The 911 tape helps to explain what happened.</p><p>“I have an attempted robber,” the homeowner is heard telling police dispatchers. “I’m pretty sure I shot one of them.”</p><p>“Is there anyone inside the house now?” the dispatcher asked.</p><p>“I shot him as he was trying to break through the glass screen door,” the man said.</p><p>The homeowner shot the man at close range. And that’s when a strange car outside sped off.</p><p>"The burglars probably thought no one was home, so that's kind of scary," neighbor Nathan Thatcher said.</p><p>Another neighbor said she doesn’t open her door for strangers.</p><p>"I'm gonna make sure I see you in my window,” Shelby Steele said. “And we don't have a peephole, so we're gonna make sure we get something like that in."</p><p>The man was screaming when the homeowner shot him, the homeowner told 911 officials.</p><p>“When they originally showed up, they were ringing the doorbell like crazy,” the homeowner told dispatch. “I don't know these people. I wasn't going to answer the door. I did not see who it was.”</p><p>No other details, including a detailed description of the culprits, have been released. Anyone with information is asked to call Winter Garden police.</p>

Published: Sat, 10 Dec 2016 04:30:27 GMT

Man arrested after woman stabbed in Home Depot parking lot, officials say

<p>A man has been arrested after a woman died after being attacked in the parking lot of a Home Depot store Friday, the Osceola County Sheriff's Office said.</p><p>Deputies went to the Home Depot at 1651 S. Poinciana Blvd. in Kissimmee in reference to a disturbance.</p><p>%<inline>INLINE</inline>%</p><p>Deputies said they found a woman -- identified by the Sheriff's Office as Silvia Castillo-Aguilera, 38 -- in the garden center suffering from a laceration to her neck.</p><p>Investigators said Castillo-Aguilera was attacked in the parking lot of the store and then ran into the garden center. She suffered knife wounds during the attack.​</p><p>Castillo-Aguilera was taken to Osceola Regional Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, deputies said.</p><p>%<inline>INLINE</inline>%</p><p>Deputies were able to find the suspect -- identified as Daniel Ortiz, 37 -- a short time later. Deputies said he was taken into custody without incident.</p><p>An investigation revealed Ortiz and Castillo-Aguilera had a domestic relationship. The Sheriff's Office said the two had met in the parking lot of the Home Depot, which is where the disturbance began.</p><p>"My stomach dropped," said one shopper, who said he arrived just as deputies were putting up crime scene tape.</p><p>He told News 6 he watched the heroic efforts made by customers and workers to save the woman's life.</p><p>"I saw a heavyset man sitting on a lawn chair out of the parking lot, right out in the open," he said. "He had quite a bit of blood on him and no shirt on. I kept hearing him say repeatedly, 'I did everything I could, I did everything I could.'"</p><p>He said he assumed the man used his own shirt to stop the woman's bleeding.</p><p>Ortiz was charged with first-degree murder, deputies said. He is being held at the Osceola County Jail without bond.</p><p>Some of the store's parking lot and the garden center were closed while authorities investigated.</p><p>Stay with News 6 and for more on this story.</p>

Published: Sat, 10 Dec 2016 04:14:54 GMT

Trump on 'lock her up' chant: 'Now we don't care'

<p>Donald Trump said Friday he doesn't care about prosecuting Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, after attendees at his rally chanted "lock her up."</p><p>After the chants started at the President-elect's post-election "thank you" rally in Michigan, he responded, "That plays great before the election -- now we don't care, right?"</p><p>The chant "lock her up" became a common occurrence at Trump's rallies while he was running for president. During the presidential campaign, Trump pledged to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton for her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. Despite the fact that FBI director James Comey recommended over the summer against criminal charges for Clinton for the server use, Trump told Clinton during a debate that if he were president, "you'd be in jail."</p><p>However, once Trump became President-elect, he said he wouldn't recommend prosecution of Clinton, whom he told New York Times reporters has "suffered greatly."</p><p>He also said the idea of prosecuting Clinton is "just not something I feel very strongly about."</p>

Published: Sat, 10 Dec 2016 03:31:34 GMT

After the fires, Gatlinburg reopens for business

<p>The Smoky Mountains resort town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, had a message Friday for the world: We are open -- and back in business.</p><p>"I'm really anxious to get back to work and get things back to normal as much as they can be," Terrina Worley, a Space Needle employee, on Thursday told CNN affiliate WVLT in Knoxville.</p><p>The area was hit hard by wildfires that killed 14 people, injured 175 and destroyed some 2,500 buildings.</p><p>Residents on Wednesday were allowed to come home permanently to find much of the area in burned out ruins.</p><p>But the city core was left largely intact. That includes Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, Ole Smoky Distillery, the convention center -- and the Space Needle, which is anticipating New Year's Eve, usually its biggest day of the year.</p><p>"We've heard a lot of rumors that people think we're burned down," said Matt Hensley, general manager of the Space Needle. "We just want everybody to know downtown is still good."</p>

Published: Fri, 09 Dec 2016 23:16:11 GMT

Trump taps Andrew Puzder, CEO of Hardee's and Carl's Jr., as Labor secretary

<p>President-elect Donald Trump has picked Andrew Puzder, the head of the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's fast food restaurants, as his nominee for Labor secretary.</p><p>Puzder, 66, is a vocal critic of government regulation and opposes a $15 minimum wage, broader overtime pay and the Affordable Care Act.</p><p>Trump, in a statement, credited him with an "extensive record fighting for workers."</p><p>The Labor Department oversees America's job market, regulates the workplace, and produces statistics like the unemployment rate that underpin economic policy.</p><p>Puzder has been the CEO of CKE Restaurants since 2000. He's credited with turning around the Hardee's brand, but his company has been accused of labor violations and fielded complaints about sexist commercials.</p><p>His appointment, which would require Senate confirmation, comes at a time when restaurants and other low-wage industries are feeling pressure to increase pay. Puzder would likely resist those pressures as Labor secretary.</p><p>The fast food industry in particular has been the target of nationwide protests pushing for a $15 minimum wage, up from the current $7.25.</p><p>In a Wall Street Journal op-ed in March, Puzder said a $15 minimum wage, mandatory paid sick leave laws and the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, raise costs for employers and force them to rely more on automated technology.</p><p>"While the technology is becoming much cheaper, government mandates have been making labor much more expensive," he wrote.</p><p>Puzder told the Los Angeles Times in March that he's not opposed to raising the federal minimum wage above $7.25 or pegging it to inflation, though he said a jump to $15 an hour will cost workers their jobs.</p><p>Puzder has also been one of the harshest critics of an Obama administration rule that would require workers who make less than $47,500 and work 40 hours per week be paid overtime. The rule was put on hold by a federal judge in November.</p><p>"The real world is far different than the Labor Department's Excel spreadsheet," Puzder wrote in a Forbes guest column in May. "This new rule will simply add to the extensive regulatory maze the Obama Administration has imposed on employers, forcing many to offset increased labor expense by cutting costs elsewhere."</p><p>In 2004, CKE agreed to pay $9 million to settle three class-action lawsuits involving overtime pay. Puzder told the Orange County Register in 2014 that CKE had spent $20 million on overtime lawsuits in California over the previous eight years, and that the company had reclassified managers as hourly workers as a result.</p><p>Under Puzder, Hardee's and Carl's Jr. have come under fire for notoriously lewd commercials targeting young men.</p><p>A racy ad featuring a bikini-clad Paris Hilton washing a car while eating a Carl's Jr. burger debuted in 2005. Since then, the brand has doubled down on using supermodels to sell hamburgers. A 2015 Super Bowl commercial featuring a seemingly nude Charlotte McKinney was widely panned.</p><p>"I don't think there's anything wrong with a beautiful woman in a bikini, eating a burger and washing a Bentley or a pickup truck or being in a hot tub," Puzder told CNNMoney in 2015. "I think there's probably nothing more American."</p><p>If confirmed by the Senate, Puzder will take over for Tom Perez, who was nominated by President Obama in 2013.</p><p>Perez issued a rule that extended minimum wage and overtime protections to home health care workers, and he pushed for a rule requiring lawyers to disclose the work they do for employers on union negotiations. That rule has also been blocked by a federal judge.</p><p>The Labor Department offers job training programs to workers who lose their jobs because of global trade. It can also fine companies for breaking labor laws, such as the minimum wage.</p><p>The Labor Department is one of the economy's principal record-keepers through its oversight of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.</p><p>During his presidential campaign, Trump sought to discredit BLS numbers. He has claimed, falsely, that the published unemployment rate is a "joke" and a "hoax."</p><p>In a speech after he won the New Hampshire primary in February, Trump speculated that the unemployment rate was "probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42%." The unemployment rate was 4.9% at the time and has since fallen to 4.6%.</p><p>The BLS also publishes the monthly jobs report and an an array of data on wages, jobs and industries.</p><p>--CNN's Sara Murray and CNNMoney's Danielle Wiener-Bronner and Patrick Gillespie contributed to this report.</p>

Published: Thu, 08 Dec 2016 20:02:36 GMT

Trump's Thank You Tour coming to Orlando

<p>President-elect Donald Trump will bring his USA Thank You Tour 2016 to Orlando next week.</p><p>The event will be held at the Orlando Amphitheater, at the Central Florida Fairgrounds.</p><p>Gates open at 4 p.m. The official start time is set for 7 p.m.</p><p>The "Thank You Tour" started last week in Ohio. The Trump camp said the tour would focus on the battleground states that proved critical in the 2016 election.</p><p>Vice President-elect Mike Pence is expected to join Trump at the rally.</p><p><strong>Online: <a href="" target="_blank">Get tickets</a></strong></p>

Published: Sat, 10 Dec 2016 02:29:11 GMT

Female suicide bombers kill 31 in Nigeria market

<p>Twin bombings killed at least 31 people at a market in Madagali, Nigeria, on Friday in an apparent suicide attack carried out by two females, a military spokesman said.</p><p>The "female bombers detonated an IED (improvised explosive device) inside a local market," according to a tweet from the National Emergency Management Agency in Nigeria.</p><p>Residents of Madagali, in northeast Nigeria's Adamawa state, said the explosions also resulted in numerous injuries.</p><p>"The military are in full control of the security situation in the area so there is no security threat," said military spokesman Maj. Badare Akintoye.</p><p>Madagali is located on the border with Borno state, the birthplace of the militant group Boko Haram, and has incurred many attacks and abductions since the military retook the area from the militants in 2015.</p><p>The attacks have prevented residents from resuming normal commercial and social activities in the area, locals said.</p><p>Local leaders have called on Nigeria's government to deploy soldiers to villages and bushes connecting the area with Sambisa Forest, where Boko Haram militants are believed to have set up camps.</p>

Published: Sat, 10 Dec 2016 02:25:47 GMT

Inauguration protesters to be barred from National Mall, other sites

<p>Activists planning the "Women's March on Washington" and those protesting the inauguration of Donald Trump won't be able to do so near some of DC's most iconic monuments, a National Park Service official said. </p><p>The government agency filed documents on behalf of the Presidential Inauguration Committee to secure large sections of Pennsylvania Avenue, as well as the Washington Monument, the National Mall and the Lincoln Memorial for the inauguration festivities. </p><p>That means activists who were hoping to hold demonstrations at iconic places like the Lincoln Memorial, where many marches have been held, likely won't be able to do so.</p><p>The National Park Service requests permits for the inauguration a year in advance of the event, said Mike Litterst, spokesman for the agency.</p><p>While the agency has not issued any permits yet, Litterst said activists will likely not get permits for the locations that are already under application.</p><p>"Rather than denying permits, what we are doing with the women's march is we're working with the organizers to find a suitable alternative," he said. </p><p>One of the most high-profile planned events - "Women's March on Washington" - was not announced until November after Trump was elected. Tens of thousands of people are expected to take part in the march on January 21, the day after the inauguration.</p><p>"What we are doing with the Women's March is we're working with the organizers to find suitable alternatives," Litterst said.</p><p>The "Women's March on Washington" was been approved by an interagency task force on Friday, according to the organizers. People will be able to gather at the intersection of Independence Ave and Third Ave SW, near the U.S. Capitol, at 10:00 am on January 21, 2017.</p><p>Fontaine Pearson, one of the march's organizers, has previously said that the march is not a protest against Trump but aims to highlight women's issues, including sexual assault and workplace discrimination.</p><p>"We're strong, but this has been a very difficult election for a lot of women," Pearson told CNN.</p><p>This story has been updated.</p>

Published: Fri, 09 Dec 2016 20:11:02 GMT

Gas prices expected to rise during the holiday season, officials say

<p>Just in time for the holidays and shopping crunch time, gas prices are on the rise. Traffic anchor Amy Biondello has more on what you can expect the next time you fill up.</p><p>It may be one of the happiest and most costly times of the year, and now there is, even more, competition for your hard-earned dollar.</p><p>The most recent AAA numbers show a steady price climb at the pump.</p><p>The travel company reports that the hike can be linked directly to last week's OPEC agreement to cut back on crude oil production by about 1.2 million barrels a day.</p><p>That agreement to cut back on production is an effort to cut down a global oversupply that had been benefiting consumers by driving prices down tracing back to 2014.<br /> As a result, crude prices have topped off at the highest rate since July of 2015.</p><p>How does that impact us in the sunshine state? Since that announcement, the average price per gallon has jumped 9 cents in Florida over the past week. That is one of the highest spikes in the South East region.</p><p>That increase puts the average price per gallon of regular now at $2.18, just about a penny above the national average.<br /> That increase is just in time to coincide with holiday shopping. AAA does add that prices could continue on that upward trend depending on how the market responds.</p><p>So timing isn't the best, but gas prices are a constant ebb and flow so we'll look ahead until the next time we're talking about gas prices going the other direction.</p>

Published: Sat, 10 Dec 2016 01:07:37 GMT

New ramp coming to Maitland Boulevard next week, officials say

<p>Just as drivers are getting used to changes on Maitland Boulevard that went into effect this week, crews are finishing up the final touches on yet another shift that will begin next week.</p><p>"We've got another new ramp that will come online next week for the westbound I-4 drivers. So as you're coming from Seminole County down into Orange County, you'll need to exit a little sooner, about 1,500 feet sooner than you do today,” said Dave Parks, public information officer for the I-4 Ultimate Improvement Project.</p><p>The shift will open up more options for drivers coming off I-4 west.</p><p>"(You'll) exit off to the right-hand side, same as you do today. But as you come down the ramp, you will then have a choice: You can either stay with the traffic that's getting on westbound Maitland Boulevard or, for those folks that are in Maitland Center that need to get on northbound Lake Destiny, they'll have their own lane off of that ramp that will take them right into that business park,” Parks said.</p><p>Despite understandable frustrations, progress at the site has been steady.</p><p><br /> "Things have gone well so far. We are on schedule. Things are progressing the way that we want to. The work here in Maitland is scheduled to be done three years sooner than the rest of the project,” Parks said.</p><p>In the meantime, project officials ask for patience.</p><p>"For those folks, we continue to ask for their patience and know that we are doing everything that we can to get this job (done) quickly to bring about those improvements as soon as possible,” Parks said.<br /> And if you can avoid the area, that would not be a bad idea, Parks said.</p><p>"If they have not explored other options, other routes, they may want to consider those. Obviously,for some people, this is going to be the best option for them,” Parks said.</p>

Published: Sat, 10 Dec 2016 01:06:20 GMT

This may be your best shot to get a Hatchimal before Christmas

<p>If you're reading this, you may already be too late.</p><p>Hatchimals, the must-have toy of the holiday season -- the one that parents can't find anywhere -- will be hitting store shelves this weekend.</p><p>Hatchimals sell for between $50-60, and two popular box stores say more are being shipped.</p><p>Target says shipments of the tiny creatures will be available in their stores on Sunday, Dec. 11.</p><p>Meanwhile, Walmart has the fuzzy friends currently on the shelves of 1,700 of their stores after receiving a late night shipment Thursday.</p><p>Even better, Walmart said shoppers can buy all the Hatchimals they want with no limit. Target is limiting customers to just two Hatchimals.</p><p>The store cautioned, however, that customers should check with the store to see if the toy is in stock.</p><p>The toy that hatches from eggs has driven parents bonkers as they line up to get their hands on the most important item on their children's wish list.</p><p>It looks to be a very happy holiday for Spinmaster, the manufacturer of Hatchimals. The company said it will be producing a new line of toys in 2017.</p><p>Hatchimals are interactive stuffed animals that come to life and peck their way out of an egg. Once out of the egg, the Hatchimal progresses through each stage of life.</p><p>Here are the Orlando-area Walmart stores that recently received Hatchimals:</p> <ul> <li> 8101 S John Young Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32819</li> <li> 2163 W C 48, Bushnell, FL 33513</li> <li> 10500 W Colonial Dr, Ocoee, FL 34761</li> <li> 4400 13Th St, Saint Cloud, FL 34769</li> <li> 1450 Johns Lake Rd, Clermont, FL 34711</li> <li> 1471 E Osceola Pkwy, Kissimmee, FL 34744</li> <li> 1700 S Org Blsmtrail, Apopka, FL 32703</li> <li> 1040 Malabar Rd Se, Palm Bay, FL 32907</li> <li> 845 Palm Bay Rd Ne, West Melbourne, FL 32904</li> <li> 3175 Cheney Hwy, Titusville, FL 32780</li> <li> 1500 E Merritt Island Cswy, Merritt Island, FL 32952</li> <li> 1001 E Eau Gallie Blvd, Melbourne, FL 32937</li> <li> 2700 Clearlake Rd, Cocoa, FL 32922</li> <li> 2600 Sw 19Th Avenue Rd, Ocala, FL 34471</li> <li> 1601 Rinehart Rd, Sanford, FL 32771</li> <li> 1101 Beville Rd, Daytona Beach, FL 32119</li> <li> 2120 Us Highway 92 W, Auburndale, FL 33823</li> <li> 1041 Us Highway 27 N, Avon Park, FL 33825</li> <li> 2000 State Road 60 E, Lake Wales, FL 33898</li> <li> 36205 Us Highway 27, Haines City, FL 33844</li> </ul> <p>Happy shopping!</p><p> </p>

Published: Sat, 10 Dec 2016 00:38:09 GMT

Temperatures in Orlando 11 degrees below normal at 63 degrees

<p>Temperatures were chilly in Orlando on Friday with a high in the afternoon  of 63 degrees, some 11 degrees below the normal temperature of 74.</p><p>The sky in Central Florida will be partly cloudy overnight. The lows will drop to their lowest in the forecast period just after daybreak.</p><p>Look for the low in Orlando to dip to 48 degrees. In Marion County the lows will be in the upper 30s.</p><p>Saturday, the temperatures begin to warm up with a high of 70 degrees at Orlando International Airport.</p><p>The 8A State Championship Football game with Dr. Philips vs Miami Southridge will take place Saturday night at 8 P.M. at Camping World Stadium.</p><p>The temp at 7 p.m. will be 62 degrees, and at 9 p.m. the temperature will be 60. It will a great night for football, as the low for Saturday night will be in the mid-50s.  Sunday will be a pretty nice day with a high of 80 degrees.</p>

Published: Sat, 10 Dec 2016 00:27:56 GMT

Pulse owner vows to rebuild new club, new location

<p>The owner of Pulse nightclub has plans to rebuild the club, but there is no timetable as to when the new nightclub will open and no word about the new location.</p><p>“We will soon begin moving forward with a community-driven effort to determine and design a proper memorial that serves as a sanctuary for healing and all that Pulse represented to so many people and families,” Barbara Poma said in a statement on Friday.</p><p>This statement comes after Poma said on Monday that she “can’t walk away” from the club and wanted to create a “sanctuary of hope” at the site, where 49 people were killed on June 12.</p><p>The City Council was scheduled to have a final vote on Monday on the purchase of the existing Pulse property, which the city agreed to buy for $2.25 million.</p><p>Poma said on Friday that she wants to create a safe place where members of the LGBTQ community can be themselves.</p>

Published: Sat, 10 Dec 2016 00:26:05 GMT

Greyhound deaths at racetracks continue

<p>A racing greyhound named F.F. Maverick had just sprinted out of the starting gate at the Daytona Beach Kennel Club and was about to make the first turn when the 2-year-old dog bumped into two other greyhounds. <br /> <br /> Video posted on the racing website on September 28th shows F.F. Maverick tumble on the sandy surface and roll several times before disappearing off the track.</p><p><strong><a href="">[Read the previous story: Greyhound deaths investigated at Central Florida dog tracks]</a></strong></p><p>A track veterinarian later determined F.F. Maverick “suffered a severe neck injury” that was “catastrophic and not repairable,” according to a state investigative report.</p><p>The greyhound, believed to be less than 2 years old, was euthanized as a result of the racing injury, records show.</p><p>“It is a particularly violent death. There's no doubt Maverick suffered greatly before he died,” said Carey Theil, executive director of GREY2K USA.</p><p>“It's a terrible case. But it is one of many.”</p><p>Theil’s organization, which is pushing to end dog racing, has been compiling information about greyhound deaths since Florida lawmakers began requiring race tracks to report fatalities on their property more than three years ago.</p><p>Since May 2013, at least 360 greyhounds have died at Florida tracks, state reports compiled by GREY2K indicate, an average of one death every three or four days.</p><p>At least 52 of those were reported at the Daytona Beach Kennel Club, where F.F. Maverick suffered the fatal injury.</p><p>Only one other Florida track, Derby Lane in St. Petersburg, reported more deaths with 54.</p><p>“That is absolutely unacceptable,” said Theil.</p><p><br /> “It's something the track should be held to account for, and it’s something the local community should be very concerned about.”</p><p>“The Daytona Beach Kennel Club & Poker Room takes the safety of the greyhound athletes that race at our venue very seriously,” track spokesman Glen White told News 6 in a prepared statement.</p><p>“Our safety practices and procedures are developed with veterinarians and animal experts to focus on the animals’ safety at all times. Our racing operation exceeds Florida’s safety standards and the best practices governing racetracks around the country. In addition, we support the Greyhound Pets of America by averaging more than 500 greyhound adoptions each year.”</p><p>Representatives with Daytona Beach Kennel Club did not provide details about any measures it might be taking to reduce dog fatalities at its track.</p><p>The Florida Greyhound Association, which represents dog owners and breeders, has suggested that the number of deaths at racetracks is relatively low considering the large number of greyhounds that participate in the sport.</p><p>“One death, prematurely, of a racing greyhound is too many. But these are racing greyhounds,” association lobbyist Jack Cory told News 6 in 2014. “If you stopped live greyhound racing today, you would put 8,000 greyhounds at risk. There is no way to absorb them in the adoption program.”</p><p>The Florida Greyhound Association opposes “decoupling,” a proposed change to state law that would allow tracks to end greyhound racing but still operate more profitable forms of gambling like card rooms.</p><p>According to the association, the move would effectively shut down greyhound racing in Florida, leading to the loss of about 3,000 jobs.</p><p>“F.F. Maverick died so that Daytona could have their poker room,” said Theil.</p><p>“The only reason that dog was racing was because state law says the track has to race dogs in order to have their poker room. That makes absolutely no sense.“</p><p>Theil hopes state lawmakers will renew efforts to decouple dog tracks in the 2017 legislative session.</p>

Published: Sat, 10 Dec 2016 00:24:03 GMT

Woman bullied after Trump tweet: I was threatened with rape

<p>It all started more than a year ago, in October 2015, when Lauren Batchelder attended a Donald Trump rally and asked him this question: "I want to get paid the same as a man, and I think you understand that. So, if you become president, will a woman make the same as a man and do I get to choose what I do with my body?"</p><p>Trump responded to Batchelder at the rally, "You're going to make the same if you do as good a job, and I happen to be pro-life."</p><p>But Trump wasn't done with his response. He later took to Twitter to call the woman "arrogant" and said she asked her question in a "nasty fashion."</p><p>That's when the cyberbullying started for Batchelder. A year later, she says she is now ready to talk about what she faced online.</p><p>"I think the worst day was when someone said my address and they said they were coming and they were going to rape me," Batchelder told CNN's Brooke Baldwin. "I never expected that that would ever happen."</p><p>"It made me really angry because to me, they were just trying to objectify me," she said.</p><p>Baldwin asked Batchelder about Trump's claim that she was a staffer for his Republican presidential rival, Jeb Bush. Batchelder said she did work for the Bush campaign, but only as a volunteer, and that she actually considers herself a liberal.</p><p>"I had volunteered for the campaign because I think it's important to volunteer for people you don't necessarily agree with," she said. "I mean, Mr. Bush is a very nice guy, but ultimately I am a Democrat, so I would never, ever, go in there with a planted question."</p><p>"I think words have actions," Batchelder said, "You can't just tweet what you think at a moment, you have to think of the big picture."</p><p>Batchelder is still active on Twitter, but she keeps most of her tweets private.</p><p>"I've seen the really bad side of Twitter. And I know that President-Elect Trump can use it to make the world a better place, and I urge him to do that."</p>

Published: Sat, 10 Dec 2016 00:22:13 GMT

Remembering lives lost, stories of Pulse six months later

<p>For six months Pulse nightclub has been the location for people to mourn and remember.</p><p>Come Monday it's a place that will once again bring unity.</p><p>"I think it's important for our whole community to continue to reflect, to remember, to keep in our hearts those who were harmed and lost but it's also important for us to remember how incredibly blessed we are to live in such a wonderful community so united, so compassionate, so strong and so determined," said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs.</p><p>Jacobs and the city of Orlando have worked together planning Monday's events.</p><p>"The planning for this is also part of the healing process. You know, reaching out to different organizations and reconnecting," said Jacobs.</p><p>At 5:30 p.m. Monday, city leaders, the Orlando Gay Chorus and local organizations will meet at the Orange County Regional History center.</p><p>"We'll have a candlelight vigil and then we'll open up the doors to the history center where we have a video memorial and a lot of pictures people remember but haven't seen. The pictures of tremendous outpouring of support and unity," said Jacobs.</p><p>From there the event will move to Pulse.</p><p>Gates at the nightclub will open at 5:30 p.m.</p><p>Jacobs says  the space will have more of a somber tone but one that she hopes will continue to bring people together.</p><p>"We were an example to all mankind of what compassion and caring and unity and humanity is about. And I could not be prouder of this city," said Jacobs.</p><p>If you plan to attend the event at the Orange County History Center Jacobs suggests getting to the center around 5 p.m.</p><p>Though no roads are planned to be blocked off she says there is expected to be heavy traffic.</p>

Published: Fri, 09 Dec 2016 23:51:03 GMT