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    Pacific Gas & Electric Co. pushed back Friday on a U.S. judge's revised proposals to prevent the utility's equipment from causing more wildfires, saying it could not 'monitor every tree at every moment of every day' to ensure they don't pose a threat to its electric lines in violation of California laws. Judge William Alsup earlier this month proposed requiring the company to fully comply with all vegetation management and clearance laws as part of its probation in a criminal case. Alsup called the utility's efforts to prevent trees from hitting its power lines and starting wildfires dismal. That requirement would likely result in probation violations because tree conditions are constantly changing, PG&E said in a court filing. 'A tree that was compliant at the time of a prior inspection might become a non-compliant hazard tree one day later when it is damaged by a natural or man-made event or three months later after a bark beetle infestation has taken hold,' attorneys for the company said. Alsup should also leave assessments of PG&E's compliance with vegetation management laws to state law enforcement officials and regulators, the attorneys said. PG&E also objected to Alsup's proposal to ban it from paying dividends to shareholders until it meets his vegetation management requirements. The company said that requirement would substantially hamper its ability to raise money from investors, which in turn would affect its safety efforts. The company has already suspended dividends and said it will not pay any at least until it emerges from bankruptcy. The company sought bankruptcy protection in January in the face of billions of dollars in potential liability from recent wildfires. Alsup is overseeing a criminal conviction against PG&E stemming from a 2010 gas line explosion that killed eight people in the San Francisco Bay Area. The judge's proposals follow devastating wildfires in California in 2017 and 2018 — some of which investigators have blamed on PG&E equipment. Alsup has said his goal is to prevent PG&E equipment from causing any wildfires during the 2019 fire season. He initially proposed ordering PG&E to undertake more drastic measures, including removing or trimming all trees that could fall on its power lines and cutting off power during certain wind conditions.
  • Free tax preparation services might be offering you that free service in exchange for your data; Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a “Clark Stinks” to share you can leave it here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Watch the video This article was originally published on Clark.com The post 3.22.19 Free tax prep and your privacy; Clark Stinks appeared first on Clark Howard.
  • Pinterest is pinning its future on Wall Street, with the digital scrapbooking site on Friday filing for an initial public offering of stock. It follows a similar filing with securities regulators earlier this month by ride-hailing company Lyft in what is shaping up to be a busy season for technology IPOs. Also expected to sell stock to the public in the coming weeks: Lyft rival Uber and messaging app Slack. Pinterest said in its filing that it intends to list itself on the New York Stock Exchange using the ticker symbol 'PINS.' The company hasn't yet said how many shares it's selling in the IPO or how much money it intends to raise. The San Francisco-based company had revenue of $756 million last year, a 60 percent bump from 2017. It had a loss of $63 million last year, compared to a loss of $130 million in 2017. Pinterest allows people to search for and 'pin' images as inspiration for fashion, interior design, travel and more. The company said it has more than 250 million users each month, and users have saved more than 175 billion pins since the site was launched. Pinterest has raised nearly $1.5 billion in the private markets, and was last valued at $12.3 billion in 2017, according to PitchBook Data. Pinterest has long shunned being labeled a social network. Because of that, it doesn't push users to add friends or build connections. It also means it's been able to avoid problems of its larger rivals like Facebook. But despite the lack of friend networks, many advertisers likely still consider Pinterest to be part of their 'social' budgets, said eMarketer analyst Andrew Lipsman, meaning it competes in part with Facebook, Snapchat and others. Pinterest makes advertising revenue when businesses promote pins in users' feeds. Pinterest has the potential to be more valuable than most digital media to advertisers, Lipsman said, because it has direct information about what a user wants. It's all clear in the search — if a user is searching for new floor lamps or diamond rings, there's a decent chance they want to buy those things. 'Visual search has a much bigger impact in terms of driving desire,' Lipsman said. Pinterest was founded in 2010 by Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp, who still serve as CEO and chief product officer, respectively. The company has been working on developing its artificial intelligence search, which allows people to take a photo or upload a screenshot of an item and find similar products on Pinterest. Like many other tech companies, including Facebook and Google, Pinterest will create two classes of stock — one that will give the holder one vote per share, and another that will get 20 votes per share. Shares held by executives and board members will be converted into shares of the second, more powerful, class. Pinterest's filing did not break down the percentage of ownership.
  • PolyMet Mining Corp. has received the final permit it needs to proceed with building Minnesota's first copper-nickel mine, the company and the Army Corps of Engineers announced Friday. The Corps said it issued the permit late Tuesday. It deals with the steps PolyMet must take to mitigate the project's effects on wetlands. The announcement said the project will impact 500 fewer acres of wetlands than PolyMet's original proposal. 'We are confident that we have identified an appropriately balanced alternative and proffered a permit that will allow access to an important mineral resource, while maximizing protection to natural resources including wetlands,' Col. Sam Calkins, commander of the Corps' St Paul District, said in a statement. In a separate statement, PolyMet called it a 'historic achievement' that will let it move forward with Minnesota's first copper-nickel-precious mine. 'It's a really big day for us,' spokesman Bruce Richardson said. PolyMet and its supporters say the projects near Hoyt Lakes and Babbitt would create hundreds of jobs in northeastern Minnesota. Environmentalists have long fought the project because the vast but untapped reserves of copper, nickel and precious metals underneath the region are in the form of sulfide minerals, which can leach sulfuric acid and other toxic chemicals when exposed to the environment. They've also raised questions about the safety of the dam that will hold back its mine waste pond. Minnesota regulators issued the other key permits for the project last year. But the mine still faces litigation that could hold it up, including challenges to its state-issued permits before the Minnesota Court of Appeals and lawsuits pending in federal court that seek to void a land swap between the company and the federal government. Polymet's critics denounced the final permit. The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy tweeted that it will lead to the largest permitted destruction of wetlands in Minnesota history. 'Nearly a thousand acres of irreplaceable wetlands will be destroyed, and thousands of acres will be adversely impacted by PolyMet's toxic copper-sulfide mine. This is an unacceptable degradation of the headwaters of Lake Superior and must be stopped,' said Lori Andresen, president of Save Our Sky Blue Waters, said in a statement. While a lot of site preparation work and planning for final engineering and construction work is underway, Richardson said PolyMet's focus now shifts to raising the $945 million it needs for construction financing. That process could take several months, he said. The financial work also includes paying off debt coming due to PolyMet's largest investor, Swiss commodities giant Glencore AG. PolyMet's statement also announced an agreement with Glencore on how they'll proceed with that. 'We would not be where we are today, we would not have these permits, without the support and backing of Glencore,' Richardson said. 'This agreement shows that they continue to support and have confidence in this project.
  • One of the largest coal-fired power plants in the West will close this year as planned after a Navajo Nation company ended its long-shot bid Friday to acquire it. The Navajo Generating Station has operated for decades in northeastern Arizona near the Utah border, providing a hefty chunk of revenue to the Navajo Nation. Both the Navajo and the neighboring Hopi Tribe benefit from the Kayenta Mine, which feeds the 2,250-megawatt power plant, transporting the coal on a rail line. Navajo leaders asked the Navajo Transitional Energy Company last year to look into acquiring the power plant and the coal mine as a way to save the revenue and hundreds of jobs held by tribal members. Negotiations with the power plant owners came to a halt recently over who ultimately would be responsible for cleanup. The owners wanted the energy company to take on any known or unknown liabilities for the plant, but the Navajo Nation declined. With that and a decision Thursday from a Navajo Nation Council committee not to support the acquisition, the energy company called it quits. SRP expects to award contracts for decommissioning as early as next month. The news is tough for families who have relied on the jobs for generations, company spokesman Erny Zah said. 'A decade-long process would have definitely helped explore some newer opportunities that would have created economic stability for northeastern Arizona,' Zah said. 'And, now, we are going to do our best to see what we can do to help.' The Hopi Tribe did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. Environmentalists have urged the Navajo Nation to ditch coal in favor of renewable energy projects. When the plant closes in December, the Navajo Nation will have access to a portion of the transmission lines under the existing lease agreement. 'Everyone else around the Navajo Nation is moving forward,' said Percy Deal, who lives near the coal mine at Big Mountain. 'We just need to go forward and start rebuilding the community around the mine and the plant. We're looking for recovery, and I'm glad it started today.' The power plant owners cited cheaper prices for natural gas in deciding to close the power plant. An earlier bid by two companies to own and operate the plant fell through because they couldn't get anyone to commit to buying the power. The Navajo Transitional Energy Company had outlined a plan to operate the power plant for 10 more years, running two of the units and using the third for research of clean coal and other technology, Zah said. It would sell the energy at a price that would be competitive with natural gas and have a lesser tax burden because it's a tribal entity, Zah said. So far, about 280 Navajo Generating Station employees have accepted new jobs, retired or declined to relocate within the Salt River Project, the power plant's majority owner and operator, SRP spokeswoman Patty Likens said. She said SRP has ensured that all of the plant's employees will have a job if they are willing to be moved and placed in a new role. There are about 265 contractors at the plant, Likens added. Peabody Energy, which runs the Kayenta Mine, laid off 40 employees in late February and is sending its last shipment of coal to the power plant before the end of September, company spokeswoman Charlene Murdock said. About 300 workers are at the mine. The Navajo Transitional Energy Company plans to hold a job fair for mine workers later this year, Zah said. Peabody applauds those who worked to protect the jobs and preserve the energy source 'even though these efforts ultimately couldn't prevent premature closure of NGS,' Murdock said. Navajo Nation Council Speaker Seth Damon said alternative energy, tourism and carbon credits can all help with the loss of jobs. The Navajo Generating Station initially was built to move Colorado River water through a series of canals to Arizona's major metropolitan areas. But the operators of the canal said they, too, could find cheaper energy.
  • President Donald Trump criticized European auto makers Friday, suggesting he could impose tariffs on imports from companies such as BMW and Mercedes unless they build more plants in the United States. In an interview with Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo, Trump said that he has rejected proposals from the European Union that would bring auto tariffs on both sides to zero. 'They have BMW, they have Mercedes, they have a lot of very good cars that come in,' Trump said of Germany. 'I want them to make them here. ... If you're going to sell them to the Americans, make them here.' Trump's comments come roughly a month after the Commerce Department completed an investigation into whether auto imports threaten national security and forwarded its conclusions to the White House. The results of the report haven't been released. But Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said he has seen a copy and that it concludes auto imports threaten national security by worsening the trade deficit. The president has until roughly mid-May to decide what action to take, if any, in response to the report. He could impose tariffs of up to 25 percent on all auto and auto parts imports, or a just on specific items from specific countries. The prospect of such duties has sparked strong opposition on Capitol Hill, where they have been criticized by members of Congress from both parties. Most White House officials oppose them too, analysts say. 'I don't think there's any official in the White House that supports' auto tariffs, said David Dollar, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. The U.S. auto industry also opposes the duties, because they use imported auto parts, which would be more expensive if the tariffs were imposed. In his interview on Fox Business Network, Trump said that eliminating tariffs on all auto trade wouldn't necessarily help U.S. automakers. 'The problem is that the Chevrolet will never be accepted in Europe like the Mercedes is accepted here, so it's not a good deal,' he said. He also praised the 25 percent tariff the United States imposes pickup truck imports, a legacy of a decades-old trade fight with Germany. 'That's our best segment by far,' he said.
  • The efforts to clean up a Texas industrial plant that burned for several days this week were hamstrung Friday by a briefly reignited fire and a breach that led to chemicals spilling into the nearby Houston Ship Channel. The Texas attorney general also filed a lawsuit against Intercontinental Terminals Company, which operates the petrochemical tank farm east of Houston. Attorney General Ken Paxton said Texas had to hold the company 'accountable for the damage it has done to our environment.' 'ITC has a history of environmental violations, and this latest incident is especially disturbing and frightening,' Paxton said in a statement. 'No company can be allowed to disrupt lives and put public health and safety at risk.' An ITC spokeswoman said the company would not comment on pending litigation. While the new fire was extinguished about an hour after it began Friday afternoon, the spillage of chemicals led the U.S. Coast Guard to close part of the ship channel, a critical commercial waterway that connects oil refineries between the Port of Houston and the Gulf of Mexico. Among the chemicals released into the air this week were benzene, which evaporates quickly and can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, and headaches, with worse symptoms at higher levels of exposure. Crews on Friday continued to drain an estimated 20,000 barrels of chemicals from a tank damaged in the fire that began Sunday and was initially put out on Wednesday . A foam layer was reapplied to keep the chemicals contained. But a dike wall partially breached shortly before 12:30 p.m., company spokesman Dale Samuelsen said, leading to the spill of possibly hazardous chemicals. The Coast Guard eventually closed the ship channel in the nearby area to prevent the spread of what a spokesman said was a mix of chemicals, foam, and soot from the fire. Just before 4 p.m., another fire broke out, emitting more large plumes of black smoke. Samuelsen said the fire was extinguished by 5 p.m., though some smoke was still visible shortly afterward. After the dike breach, the company asked neighboring industrial sites and the nearby San Jacinto Texas State Historic Site to shelter in place. Authorities did not extend that order to residents. People living near the plant in Deer Park were told Thursday to remain indoors after air monitors detected elevated levels of benzene. That order was lifted later Thursday. Adam Adams of the Environmental Protection Agency said air tests by the EPA and the company had not shown any positive results for high levels of benzene. One positive test after 4 a.m. from a sensor operated by Harris County was verified to be a false alarm, a county spokeswoman said. The Harris County fire marshal's office said it continued to investigate the origin and cause of the fire with the help of federal authorities. 'This incident has captured the attention of the nation and beyond, with many questions being asked why and how this incident occurred,' Harris County Fire Marshal Laurie L. Christensen said in a statement.
  • The federal government posted a record budget deficit in February, pushing the overall deficit for the first five months of the budget year up 39 percent from a year ago. The Treasury Department said Friday in its monthly report that the deficit hit an all-time high for February of $234 billion. That surpasses the old February deficit record of $232 billion set in 2012, the last year the deficit for the year topped $1 trillion. For the first five months of this budget year that began on Oct. 1, the deficit totals $544.2 billion, up from a deficit of $391 billion in the previous budget year. In its new budget sent to Congress last week, the administration is projecting that this year's deficit will total $1.09 trillion and will remain above $1 trillion for the next four years. The administration's 2019 forecast would represent a 40 percent increase from last year's deficit of $779 billion. According to the forecast, this year's deficit will be the largest imbalance since the government had a $1.1 trillion deficit in 2012. That was the fourth straight year of trillion-dollar deficits during a period when the Obama administration had boosted spending to grapple with the 2008 financial crisis and lift the country out of the deepest recession since the 1930s. From October through February, revenue is down 0.6 percent from the same period a year ago. Outlays are up 8.6 percent compared to the same period last year. Critics of the administration's economic policies blame the bigger deficits on the $1.5 trillion tax cut for individuals and corporations that the administration pushed through Congress in December 2017. They also cite billions of dollars in increased spending on the military and domestic programs that Congress approved last year. For this budget year, withheld taxes for individuals and Social Security taxes are down 1 percent. Corporate taxes have fallen 23 percent. Tariffs, which the Trump administration has increased on China and other nations as part of the president's get-tough trade policies, are up 91 percent to $30 billion in the first five months of this budget year.
  • A senior Senate Republican Friday unveiled a five-year budget plan that would modestly curb budget deficits that would otherwise soon breach $1 trillion, while rejecting President Donald Trump's gimmick of using war funding to sustain big increases for the Pentagon. Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said the nonbinding blueprint is a 'responsible first step' toward curbing budget deficits 'by reducing overspending and setting real, achievable deficit reduction targets.' Enzi's plan would slow so-called mandatory spending by $551 billion over the next five years and reject Trump's plan to declare $174 billion as an emergency to get around automatic spending cuts. It would ease the deficit from a projection of $903 billion this year to $748 billion in 2024. It is set for a committee vote next week. 'Strengthening America's future for our children and grandchildren begins by putting our nation on a more sustainable fiscal path,' Enzi said. Under Capitol Hill's arcane ways, the annual congressional budget blueprint lays out tax and spending goals but it takes follow-up legislation to actually enact them. Democrats controlling the House have yet to unveil their alternative plan amid differences within the party over expensive progressive initiatives like 'Medicare for all.' Enzi's plan leaves in place tight 'caps' on spending that would force cuts to both the Pentagon and domestic programs, but it holds out the possibility for more defense spending if lawmakers can scrounge up matching spending cuts elsewhere in the budget. In any event, it's unlikely that the measure would serve as the basis for any budget deal since the GOP-held Senate and Democratic-controlled House are unlikely to forge an agreement on it.
  • China has stopped all new purchases of Canadian canola seeds in what some see as retaliation for Canada's arrest of a top executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei. The Canola Council of Canada said late Thursday exporters are reporting Chinese importers are unwilling to purchase the seeds at this time. In 2018, China bought about 40 percent of Canada's canola exports for a total of $2.1 billion. Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said Canada's government now needs to retaliate and should expel any Chinese athletes training in Canada for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games in 2022. 'We are going to lose billions in dollars in trade and it's time to show our displeasure,' Saint-Jacques said Earlier this year, Beijing suspended canola imports from Canadian-based Richardson International Ltd. for what one Chinese official alleged was the detection of hazardous organisms in the company's product. But David Mulroney, Canada's former ambassador to China, said the blockage of Canadian canola is 'absolutely related' to the Huawei arrest. Relations between both countries have been tense since Canada arrested Chinese executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver in early December at the request of the U.S. U.S. prosecutors have filed fraud charges against Meng, who is Huawei's chief financial officer and the daughter of its founder. China has warned of 'grave consequences' if Meng is not immediately released. On Dec. 10, it arrested two Canadians in an apparent attempt to pressure the government of Justin Trudeau. A Chinese court also sentenced a Canadian to death in a sudden retrial in December, overturning a 15-year prison term handed down earlier. Mulroney said the latest move by China should convince the Canadian government that Huawei should be banned from supplying equipment for 5G networks in Canada. 'This is really the example that should convince people that the risk is too great,' Mulroney said. Canada and its security agencies are studying whether to use equipment from Huawei as phone carriers prepare to roll out fifth-generation technology. 5G is designed to support a vast expansion of networks to facilitate medical devices, self-driving cars and other technology. Huawei is the world's biggest supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies, but has long been seen as a front for spying by China's military and its highly skilled security services. 'We are about to make a really, really important decision on the future of the technology on which our internet is based,' Mulroney said. 'How can we not at least consider what's happening in the agriculture sector when we make a decision in the technology sector?' 'If China intervenes capriciously in one sector, might it not intervene capriciously in another? We have to turn the tables on China. China turns the tables on us,' he added. Prime Justin Trudeau said Canada's intelligence and security services are very carefully examining Huawei. Trudeau added that he is optimistic his government will be able to solve the canola issue, noting a previous issue over canola exports to China in 2016 was solved. It is not the first time that Beijing has struck back against a nation which appears to cross it. In 2010, China suspended its bilateral trade deal with Norway and restricted imports of Norwegian salmon after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Chinese political prisoner Liu Xiaobo. Britain and other countries were also retaliated against over their meetings with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who is considered a dangerous separatist by Beijing. 'We cannot take this laying down any longer. It's a two-way relationship and they cannot do this to an old friend,' said Saint-Jacques, the ex- ambassador. Saint-Jacques also said it is getting close to the point where Canada should expel China's ambassador. 'He has not been helpful in this crisis,' he said. 'When you look at what the Chinese are doing this is pretty significant.' He also said the Trump administration needs to speak up more on Canada's behalf. 'We are in a big mess and Canadian farmers are going to suffer and so the Americans should recognize they have some responsibility in this. And they should try to help us,' he said.

News

  • A paraprofessional in a Texas school district was fired from a high school after she was accused of sending sexually explicit photos and videos of herself by Snapchat to a 15-year-old student, the Houston Chronicle reported. >> Read more trending news  According to court records, Kelsie Rochelle Koepke, 25, of Katy, allegedly sent nude photos of herself to the student at Paetow High School, where she worked, through the Snapchat application, the newspaper reported. Koepke was charged with improper relationship with a student, a second-degree felony, and solicitation of a minor, according to the Chronicle. She was released on a $15,000 bond, the newspaper reported. According to court documents, Koepke exchanged Snapchat information with the student around October 2017, and began a chat relationship with him, KTRK reported. Koepke used the nicknames 'kelsie_koepke' and 'Momma K,' the television station reported, citing court documents. The conversations allegedly turned sexual in nature, and “she instructed him not to save any of their chats,' according to court documents. Koepke then allegedly sent the first set of nude photos and videos of herself on homecoming night, KTRK reported. Koepke told investigators she thought she was sending the nude photos to someone else, the Chronicle reported. When she found out she was sending the photos to a student, she said she did not delete him from Snapchat because she wanted to “keep the peace,” the newspaper reported, citing court records. The student allegedly receiving the photos and videos reported what happened to school officials on Feb. 28, KTRK reported. Paetow High School Principal Mindy Dickerson sent a letter out to parents advising them of the situation, the Chronicle reported.
  • If you enjoy viral posts, a “Little Mermaid”-themed hairdo of a girl who attends a Houston preschool is part of your world.  >> Read more trending news  Atlantis Castillo sported braided hair to resemble the ponytail of Ariel, the main character in the Disney movie classic, “The Little Mermaid,” KTRK reported. It was part of a crazy hair day theme at Clear Lake United Methodist Church’s preschool, the television station reported. Ariel Romero posted photos of her younger sister’s hairstyle on Twitter, and they created a wave of positive reaction on social media. “My sister had crazy hair day at school today and my mom was not playing games and really wanted her to win,” Romero tweeted Tuesday. The hairstyle featured a bright green-colored braid that looked like a mermaid tail, topped by an Ariel doll on Atlantis’ head that resembled a hair pick. The hairstyle was created by Atlantis’ mother, KHOU reported. “My mom did the mermaid because my name is Ariel and my sister is Atlantis which is where Ariel lives under the sea,” Romero tweeted. “We’ve grown up loving mermaids thanks to my parents.” 
  • City Council members in San Antonio approved a concession agreement at the city’s airport that will exclude Chick-fil-A, KSAT reported. >> Read more trending news  By a 6-4 vote, the council approved the Food, Beverage and Retail Prime Concession Agreement with Paradies Lagardère at the San Antonio International Airport. The motion to exclude the Atlanta-based chicken chain from the airport was brought to the floor by council member Roberto Treviño, WOAI reported. Chick-fil-A has a history of donating to anti-LGBTQ organizations, and the city’s vote was applauded by the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio, a local LGBTQ political action committee, KSAT reported. “The LGBTQ community is excited that the City Council has decided to look for restaurants that support all Americans in our airport,” Chris Forbrich, a co-chairman of the organization, told the television station. Treviño released a statement Friday, saying the decision “reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion.” “San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior,” Treviño said. 'Everyone has a place here, and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport. I look forward to the announcement of a suitable replacement by Paradies.” Chick-fil-A released a statement, calling the action “disappointing.” “This is the first we’ve heard of this. It’s disappointing. We would have liked to have had a dialogue with the city council before this decision was made,” the company said in its statement. “We agree with Council member Treviño that everyone is and should feel welcome at Chick-fil-A. We plan to reach out to the city council to gain a better understanding of this decision.”
  • The U.S. Coast Guard offloaded more than 27,000 pounds of cocaine in Miami Beach that was seized in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. >> Read more trending news  'It will all be offloaded by the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa today in Miami Beach Florida and sent for destruction,' the Coast Guard said in a Facebook post.  The Coast Guard said in a news release that the drugs are worth an estimated $360 million. The cocaine was seized in 12 separate operations off the coasts of Mexico, Central America and South America during a three-month period.  Using #notonourstreets, the Coast Guard posted video on Facebook of the seizure, saying, “Here’s what 27,000 lbs. of cocaine looks like.”  'It takes a collaborative and sophisticated network to defeat a criminal network,' Deputy Commandant for Operations VADM Daniel Abel said in a news conference. The news release also stated: 'The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement along with allied and international partner agencies play a role in counter-drug operations.  The cutter Tampa even participated in the first joint boarding in recent memory between the United States and Ecuador. The fight against transnational organized crime networks in the Eastern Pacific and the Caribbean Basin requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring, and interdictions, to prosecutions by U.S. Attorneys in Florida, California, New York, the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere.
  • The Georgia mother of a teen who recently overdosed after vaping THC wax is speaking out, hoping other kids and parents become aware of the danger. THC is the active ingredient in cannabis. >> Read more trending news Lacey Turner, of Butts County, wants to spare other parents the anguish that she and her son Bailey went through. Turner told WSB-TV her son could barely keep his eyes open and his blood pressure was dangerously low at the time of the incident. “When I pulled up to the school, they were loading Bailey on the ambulance,' Turner said. Turner described the harrowing day in January when paramedics rushed her 16-year-old son to the hospital. She said he collapsed after taking a single hit of THC vaping wax, provided by a friend, in the high school cafeteria. 'He continued to vomit in the bathroom and passed out until someone came in and found him,” Turner said. After arriving at the hospital emergency room, the teen was still unconscious and had an extremely fast heartbeat and low blood pressure. 'Cognitively, he was completely disassociated. You pretty much had to slap him and get him to open his eyes,' Turner said. Turner, a nurse, first thought her son had overdosed on opioids, and so did the emergency room doctors. They administered an overdose reversing drug. “They gave him a shot of Narcan -- absolutely no change,' Turner said. Urine and blood tests told another story. “He was negative for anything in his system, except THC,' Turner said. Schools in metro Atlanta have reported students falling ill after vaping THC or synthetic THC. Turner believes the high potency is the problem. “This form of marijuana can be 85 to 90 percent concentrated with THC,” Turner said. The mother is thankful her son has fully recovered, but thoughts of what could have happened still haunt her. “My son could have passed out there in the bathroom, hit his head on the toilet on the way down and died of blunt force trauma,” Turner said. Turner said that when she posted her son's story on Facebook, she got responses from kids and parents across the country who had had the same experience.
  • A Florida man is facing child sex abuse charges after officials said he paid over $800 on an Uber to bring a teenage girl to Apopka. >> Read more trending news Police said 25-year-old Richard Brown raped the 17-year-old girl in his parents' home over the course of several days. The two met over Instagram after he told the victim that he was a 19-year-old Instagram celebrity and that he would 'take care of her.' The victim told Apopka police that Brown paid for an Uber to drive her from San Antonio, Texas, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In Louisiana, she got into another Uber that dropped her off in Apopka on Sunday. Brown would later show police receipts showing the second part of the trip that amounted to over $800. According to arrest documents, Brown told police he was 'only friends' with the victim and thought that she was of age and 'in need of a place to stay.' One neighbor couldn't believe the accusations. 'You might never know about it and now the cops are here,' said Amanda Trail. 'That's crazy for the parents.' The victim said once she realized Brown wasn't 19 or 'Instagram famous' that she wanted to go home. Brown then allegedly told her, 'no you owe me now for bringing you all the way here.' She later told officials that she escaped on Wednesday when Brown fell asleep and while she was on Snapchat with her mother. Police would locate her near Ustler and Wekiwa Preserve Drive, but said she wasn't able to point out which home belonged to the victim or what his name was on social media.  Brown's attorney took issue with the story, citing 'several inconsistencies.' Brown faces six felony counts of child sex abuse.