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    While this is only the first part of the Golden Ray and the St. Simons Sound incident, there remains a lot of work to do, threats to the environment, hazards to the people and to the Port of Brunswick continue to be addressed through a unified command,' said U.S. Coast Guard Captain John Reed, Charleston sector Coast Guard commander.   While an ongoing review and investigation unfolds of a fire and the subsequent capsizing of the South Korean automobile transport tanker, the Golden Ray, off the Georgia coast, you can bet millions that the ship's owner, automobile manufacturer/shipper and insurer were all hoping that there were some very experienced hands at the wheel the night that this massive cargo ship fell over on its side.
  • Since then President Bill Clinton was unable to keep Georgia in his win column during his 1996 re-election campaign, Georgia has been viewed as a reliably red, and safe GOP state. The state's congressional delegation made the shift to red and right in 1994, the Governor's office eventually fell in a surprise upset win in 2002 by Sonny Perdue, shortly followed by majority wins in the State Senate and State House. Since the middle of the 2000 decade, the Georgia GOP has controlled or held virtually all levers of power at state and federal government levels. The 2020 election cycle offers the most realistic potential that Georgia will move to the top of Democratic Party target lists for several reasons in a changing political landscape. The close victory for the Governor's office by Governor Brian Kemp is being misread by some as placing the Georgia Democratic Party at the cusp of multiple victories. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the GOP Republicans will be defending 23 seats, including McConnell's as well as both Georgia's Senate seats. Senator David Perdue is seeking his second term, and by January of 2020, Governor Kemp will have named another Republican as the Interim Senator to seek the seat in a November Special Election, to replace retiring Senator Johnny Isakson. Though also held on General Election day, that contest will take all-comers from both parties, and quite possibly result in a run-off contest, the first Tuesday in January of 2021.  As of the September 12 Democratic Presidential candidate debate, the primary field of candidates, following several withdrawals and shifts to other races has essentially been winnowed to 10, versus the more than two dozen a month ago. The focus will stay on what is shaping up to be a consistently top five in polling, fundraising and among party activists - former Vice-President Joe Biden, U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigeg. New Jersey Senator Corey Booker cracks this circle in some polls as well.  Back to our U.S. Senate contests, the GOP is defending 23 seats, while Democrats only have 11 incumbent or existing seats in contest. If Democrats win the White House, the party will only need a net pick-up of three seats to take Senate majority, and four seats if Trump wins re-election. Georgia will be the only state in the nation, and for the first time in our state's history, with both Senate seats on the ballot at the same time.  Senator Perdue will have a real campaign and contest, but it is always difficult to oust an incumbent U.S. Senator, and the current four announced Democratic challengers combined have yet to match Perdue's fundraising or polling numbers. An essentially 'open' seat, with only an interim incumbent of less than a year, is a much easier target. Expect renewed pressure on former State House Minority Leader Stacy Abrams, to consider entering that second Senate seat contest.  The White House race, particularly with Trump as its nominee, will cause the GOP to focus its finances on retaining the White House first, with the Senate a secondary priority. Candidates and the Republican National Senatorial Committee will raise and expend dozens of millions across 34 states, and it will be quite difficult for the RNSC to be a primary funding source for two Georgia Senate contests. Perdue, as a close ally of President Trump, and as an incumbent, will be the priority among the two. Georgia's demographic shifts, Trumps fallibility among metro area voters and the two Senate contests will move our state to the top of the target list for Team Blue pick-up. And as Georgia voters have pretty consistently split party votes in recent elections in consistent percentages from the top to the bottom of the ballot, a close or successful U.S. Senate contest for Democrats would also have substantial down ballot impact on the Georgia State House and Senate, just as Ms. Abrams candidacy impacted dozens of other state and local races in 2018.  All this adds up to Team Blue moving in campaign staffers, non-aligned 527 PAC endorsements and dollars and a record amount of green into this once reliably red state, starting almost as soon as the ink is dry on Governor Kemp's interim U.S. Senate appointment in January. Among the biggest guaranteed winners of these contests will Georgia broadcasters who will also likely also see record political spending before the end of 2020. It's off to the races!
  • This is not one to play around with,' said Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, during a September 2nd press conference ordering the partial evacuation of 6-coastal counties during the approach of then Hurricane Dorian. With the heat of summer still baking our great state, it's hard to believe that a week ago thousands were battening the hatches, boarding up doors and windows and preparing for Mother Nature's worst, before heading north on Interstate 16 and evacuating the region. Thankfully, unlike the Bahamas and large swaths of North Carolina, the South Carolina low-country and coast -- Georgia's coast and Golden Isles largely dodged this once maelstrom storm bullet unscathed. However hurricane season is far from over, and indications are that with this summer heat lingering, in the atmosphere and across the Carribean, there may be a few more like Dorian yet to come.  Thousands of home, business and property owners did choose to ignore the evacuation orders, stay and ride out the storm. Though evacuations were only mandated for residents and property owners east of I-95, most everyone took precautions and prepared for the storm. Signs of that were everywhere, from boats moved to dry dock, to grocery shelves emptied of staple items and bottled water.  The primary evacuation route also functioned as it should have, I-16 traffic became one-way heading north and traffic flow north surged overnight by 30 percent. Some admittedly grousing that the National Weather Service and Georgia Emergency Management (GEMA) were being overly cautious, would certainly be kicking themselves if Dorian had made a decisive left-hand turn.  Kemp's predecessor, Governor Nathan Deal, and Atlanta's then Mayor Kasim Reed, each learned the downside of not listening in full earnest to dangerous weather forecasts. The two were both being honored at a Georgia Trend magazine luncheon recognizing Outstanding Georgians on the morning of January 28, 2014, an unusually strong snow and ice storm was looming for most all of north Georgia, and as far south as Macon. Deal and Reed were having their photos taken and enjoying the company of many of Georgia's community and business leaders, as the first sleet and frost started landing and sticking on Georgia streets and highways outside around noontime.  Before the salt trucks could be mobilized, the ice froze and was then joined by 2-6 inches of snow, as the onset of metro Atlanta's infamous rush hour became the now historic Snowmaggedon. Thousands were trapped on metro interstates which had become practically solid sheets of ice, and many simply abandoned their vehicles and walked home. School buses were similarly delayed 8-10 hours, many idling on the roadside until they ran out of fuel. No significant injuries or loss of life were attributed to the snow, sleet and ice storm, but the north side of the state was practically paralyzed for several days.  Deal and north Georgia Mayors, county commissions, school boards and superintendents became decidedly more cautious after that. Snow days were added to the state school calendar of 180 school days. Even the hint of an inch of frozen precipitation would cause full school system closures. Erring to the side of caution since 2014 has become our rightful norm. Yes, meteorology is a science, but so is geology and the prediction of earthquakes. Both include a margin of error, as well as the very real change in temperament of winds, rain and the occasionally mercurial shift of storm fronts. Dorian stalling and sitting atop the Bahamas for several days was also something quite difficult to pre-forecast.  Having been on Jekyll Island a few times in my childhood and teen years during tropical storms, a downed tree on a home, car or family pet is a quite significant challenge moving forward just the same. Perhaps the happiest folks in reaction to the evacuation call were hoteliers, restaurant and gas station owners in points north like Dublin, Macon and Atlanta. Reports of price-gouging were thankfully minimal and multiple Georgia cities and households welcomed the evacuees into their homes and shelters with open arms. Our state and coastal citizenry have their lives largely returned to normal and thankfully, a few million are largely none the worse off after taking a course and path of taking heed, playing it safe and being better safe than sorry.  And perhaps most thankful of all are our neighbors in lower Alabama and along the Gulf coast, hammered hard a year ago by Hurricane Michael, but now also spared, thanks to the magical power of a Presidential Sharpie, from any injury or further harm.
  • Not even a decade out of the University of Georgia (Class of 1966), Johnny Isakson was first elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1976, in the aftermath and GOP wreckage of Watergate. Most Americans were still running from the party of Nixon, while Isakson and a handful of others in Georgia were instead trying to build out a two-party system. Throughout the remaining 70s and 80s, Isakson, soon the Georgia House Minority Leader, would join his State Senate counter-part Paul Coverdell, along with DeKalb GOP Senator Bob Bell, in building a party calling for smaller, more efficient government, free markets, individual responsibility and the fiscal conservatism which would long define the Georgia Republican Party. Isakson, Bell and Coverdell were a strong trio, raising funds, credibility and visibility, traveling the state and particularly seeking support from Georgia's fast growing business community. Then Congressman Newt Gingrich would arrive later on the scene, create GOPAC and begin building out the machinery which would result in the GOP take-over of the U.S. Congress in 1994 (as well the Georgia Congressional delegation majority which it has held since). But while Gingrich was a grenade thrower always seeking the spotlight and attention, the man who would later hold his congressional seat (Isakson), was instead focused on building consensus and getting results. Thank you Johnny.  Isakson would carry the mantle for a GOP contest for Governor in 1990, losing to then Lieutenant Governor Zell Miller. Miller thought enough of his opponent that he would later appoint him chair of the State School Board. Isakson would serve as State GOP Party Chair, a member of the State Senate and all the while continuing to build out the family business, Northside Realty, which would go on to become one of the largest independent realtors in the southeast. Through the Reagan/Bush and later Bush again years, Isakson was continually seen as a voice of consensus and moderation, reaching across the aisle whether from the minority or majority position.  'I've been in the Minority and the Majority. The majority is better (pause, wink and smile), but you still need the other side to reach a solution, pass laws and solve the problems facing our nation. Compromise may seem to some a dirty word, but it is necessary to the infrastructure of building legislation,' Isakson said. This moderation would be viewed by some critics as weakness and caused a few election nights to last longer than they otherwise might have for Isakson. But thankfully, in part due to a loyal core of support in metro Atlanta, as well as a healthy percentage of moderates and independents who long followed and supported him, he only lost the one political contest in 1990. Isakson is the only Georgian to have served in both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly, as well as in the U.S. House and Senate. He is also the only GOP U.S. Senator to win three terms and the only current member of our Senate to chair two committees, Veterans Affairs and Ethics. Thank you Johnny.  Slowed by the onset of Parkinson's Disease, which Isakson took public in 2013, Georgia's senior senator was still walking 10 miles each day on his home treadmill to maintain muscle strength and coordination. Though his steps were smaller and slower, his mind remains sharp as ever. His recall for detail, names and faces, figures to the decimal point as well as minor amendments made to legislation is legendary. And though some of his critics would occasionally forget his role as architect and builder of the Georgia GOP, calling him a RINO, moderate or worse...Isakson was never one to exchange that kind of fire. His political campaigns and commercials would remain positive and focused on GOP priorities and his vision for Georgia and our nation. I will miss those jingles and upbeat ads as well. Thank you Johnny.  The bumper of my late model Jeep Liberty proudly holds a bumper sticker in its right hand corner, touting Isakson's last statewide contest, it says simply 'Johnny 2016.' It definitely says something about the place you have reached in life when one word clearly tells folks who you are and what you are asking about... Cher, Farrah, Prince...Johnny. We now know that Johnny won't be seeking our votes again, though he will always have mine. They don't make'em like that anymore. And that sticker isn't coming off the Jeep. Again...thank you Johnny.
  • My beloved hometown of Decatur is well managed and in many ways offers an idyllic, walkable downtown, like generations of Georgians can remember. Though one can seldom get too much of a good thing, it is still possible to over-indulge,' said columnist Bill Crane in a July 2012, Georgia View column in Georgia Trend magazine.Nearing a decade ago now, we started a raised bed vegetable garden behind our Scottdale home. I wanted to try my hand at tomatoes and a few other home-grown veggies, as well as educate my youngest child on where our food supply comes from, and perhaps broaden her interest and taste for vegetables that weren't potatoes. We’ve had great success with the former, and the latter...not so much.Those years in the 'grotten,' toddler Olivia's early name for our tiny green space, don't make me into an expert like DeKalb County's famed Extension Agent, Walter Reeves, but it has caused me to learn more than a little bit about what will and won't grow well in our non-amended and heavily under-fertilized DeKalb County topsoil atop a miles-long granite shelf which eventually raises to become Stone Mountain, twin Arabia Mountain and the several granite quarries nearby.
  • I'm outraged, and you should be too. This entire nation should be outraged,' said El Paso, Sheriff Richard Wiles in the wake of a mass shooting at a Walmart ending more than 20 lives.  I suspect like many Americans, I am still a bit numb with the horrific news of the latest two back to back mass shootings, still ringing in the ears of local law enforcement in the border town of El Paso, Texas as well as in the heart of Ohio, Dayton. And as advocates on both sides of the gun control debate line up and open fire on each other across online spaces...I sit and wonder if this too isn't part of the division these shooters want to foment? A race war? A new civil war?  Another young white male, another 'manifesto,' more than 30 innocent lives lost, dozens more injured...and where/when does it end? No one really has an answer for that, so perhaps we should try harder to determine where this is all beginning.  I have spent in my volunteer life, much of the past few decades remaining engaged with college students, both through my alma mater, the Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia, as well as through my college fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau, at both the local and national levels. Where much of college life remains the same, as campus culture and society evolve, I've noted a significantly general softening among my younger male counter-parts on most college campuses today, which has at times caused me both pause and concern.  Alienation, non-socialization and remaining a virgin against one's will or life plans are powerful seeds planted towards building resentment and hatred. Who is to blame? How to reassert or change one's status? It's not difficult to see a pattern to fame and glory and even some degree of notoriety playing out an afternoon of Fortnite in the real world. For those unfamiliar, Fortnite (created in 2017) is an online video gaming platform with three separate games, each played by millions. Fortnite Battle Royale, which can be played simultaneously by as many as 100, pits player against player in a battle of survival of the fittest, ending when all but one player has been eliminated or killed. I have walked in on a few groups playing this game with great passion and enthusiasm, the gun play and swearing might only be louder at a convention among mercenaries of war.  There will again be talk of gun control reform. However, Chicago, Illinois, with some of the most stringent gun laws in the nation, and also one of the world's highest rates of murder and violent crime, experienced dozens of separate shootings and nearly 40 deaths the same horrific weekend. Yes, we can revisit the law, but isn't it time we also re-visit how we raise our young men?  I did not walk six miles to school, through the snow each day, barefooted...but household chores, mowing our lawn and part-time jobs became routine during what would have then been middle school years. Real life lessons of adversity, work ethic, dues paying, conflict resolution and accepting constructive criticism had all been learned well before the middle of high school.  As a late Baby Boomer, we were also towards the end of the Selective Service and potential draft, which I'm not suggesting be re-instated, however I can see great benefit in renewing discussions of a year or two of national service work just after high school. As with serving in our nation's military, the common duty, common mission and shared surroundings might help serve as a great equalizer.  We are yet entering fall of this year, and 125 Americans have already lost their lives in mass shootings. As schools start back, how many children are heading to their classrooms in fear, and how many parents are wondering if they have done enough to prepare their offspring for sudden attack?  Whether or not you agree with it taking the whole village to raise a child, I'll wager a majority of you can well remember when your neighbors almost all knew one and other, and at times came to assist without ever being asked. Conflict is a part of life, and building coping skills for such challenges are as important as developing coordination, balance and muscle strength for sport.  It is time for a national conversation and determining the root causes of this plague. If the Ebola virus or some other virulent strain attacked and killed a few hundred Americans in a period of months, we would fight back with all of our national will and unlimited resources. Finding this cure may take a bit longer, but certainly there are steps we can begin to take as soon as today to move us in a better and safer direction. Our sympathies and condolences to those grieving the lives lost. And prayers do matter as well.
  • It wasn't a single attempt. They're doing it as we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign. ...I hope this is not the new normal. I fear it is,' former Special Counsel and FBI Director, Robert Mueller, regarding Russian election interference attempts, during his U.S. House testimony on 7/24/2019.Robert Mueller wrapped up his nearly four decades of service to our nation with a less than glorious farewell appearance on Wednesday, July 24, 2019, before two U.S. House committees, answering their queries about his Special Counsel Report on Russian interference attempts throughout the 2016 Presidential Election.Some view Robert Mueller as a patriot and war hero, with two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart among many honors from his Vietnam era service in the Marines, or his later work as a U.S. Attorney, Deputy Attorney General and F.B.I. Director, appointed and then re-appointed by three very different Presidents, from both major political parties. Others see a biased partisan tool of Congressional Democrats and/or the Democratic Party, and still others...something in between.
  • A little healthy fear is a good thing.' Anonymous.For many, summertime means more time spent outdoors, recreating and on occasion taking risks which we might not normally consider. A lesson I learned early, though it admittedly took longer than it should have to sink in is, “Large risk, small reward…don’t take the risk.”Two recent tragedies hit close to home, impacting many friends and families we know well, and in both cases potentially avoidable, reminded me of the importance of reminding others of two very simple words which can mean a great deal in your lives as well as the lives of others...take care.Georgia’s Lake Lanier has already had 12 fatalities this summer, either due to drowning or watercraft accidents.
  • Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do,' said global football legend Pele prior to his retirement from the game.I have loved the game of soccer (north American football) nearly as long as I remember. My parents entered my brother and I in YMCA league play in early elementary school We played together for years, and I continued with the sport through high school. We were early devotees of the Atlanta Chiefs, actually the first national league sports franchise to win and bring a national championship title to Loserville, and perhaps ironically, the second team to do so was the Atlanta United, our capital city's newest sports franchise, during the team's sophomore year of existence. And I was there in the stands.
  • Like, love or loathe him, it is clear that President Donald J. Trump's brand of politics is scorched earth. If you take a swing, he will swing back and probably harder. His blows don't always connect of course, and he often ends up damaging himself. A reasonably well-respected United Nations Ambassador, Nikki Haley, announces her own pending departure. Before this became an almost weekly event in the Trump White House, there was a significant amount of punditry around who might replace her, or become the 'face of America' on the floor of the U.N. Assembly Hall. Trumpster fire distraction...'I might appoint my daughter Ivanka.'  White House Chief of Staff, Defense Secretary and Director of Homeland Security depart in successive order, leaving a series of 'acting' Secretaries in place without Senate confirmation. Trumpster fire... 'I might appoint my son-in-law Jared.' I think I'm noting a pattern here.  The U.S. economy continues to perform as if on steroids. The month of June and second quarter, when many economists were forecasting a slowdown and 'cooling,' produced nearly a quarter million new jobs. President Trump and his trade representatives have negotiated the U.S./Mexico/Canada, Trade Agreement to replace NAFTA, however the new treaty has not begun the confirmation process required in the U.S. Senate...and though brinksmanship and threatening massive tariffs may de-stabilize the financial markets, it has, so far, been a successful brokering tool for getting China back to the negotiating table.  As with President Trump's recent desire for a massive spectacle and salute to the military on the Fourth of July, the devil is in the details. His speech was reasonably high-minded and patriotic, without devolving into jingoism or becoming a campaign platform. The President stuck largely to script and teleprompter, and he stayed until the end despite some pretty heavy rainfall (which he despises) and which somewhat made he and his First Lady appear a bit wilted before they were able to make a speedy exit.  And yet this platform also provided the perfect stage for another missed opportunity.  For nearing a quarter century, during Democratic and Republican administrations alike, Congress and the White House have been wrestling with a gaffe and glitch in federal law which has diminished survivor death benefits for widows of service personnel. This glitch is known as “The Widow’s Tax.” A long standing V.A. death benefit is a roughly $15,000 annual payment, paid monthly, to the survivors of uniformed service personnel killed in the line of duty.  A second program, offered by the Department of Defense, the Survivor Benefits plan, is funded out of potential retirement benefits of the enlisted, via payroll deduction and subsidized by the DOD, providing survivors up to 55% of the salary of the departed soldier. As a cost-saving measure, post-Vietnam and prior to the first Persian Gulf conflict, the DOD introduced a funding cut offset. For every dollar paid out by the V.A. death benefit, up to $15,000 per year, the pay-out from the DOD survivor benefits plan is REDUCED by matching dollar amount paid to widows. Many families figured this out and changed the beneficiary on the second policy to their children, versus the widowed parent. This saved families suffering great loss more than $1,000 a month. Until the 2018 Tax Law went into effect...the new law ended the benefit of passing this benefit through to surviving children, and subjects that income to an income tax of up to 35%.  The latest Congressional bill to 'fix' this mess has 324 U.S. House and 72 U.S. Senate co-sponsors. Bi-partisan with greased skids anyone? The President should have challenged Congress to have this bill on his desk, ready for signature prior to Labor Day, while celebrating the Fourth with veteran families at the same time.  This would have been wedding the President's stated priorities with his actions, and not just symbolism, Tweets or commanding attention. The cost of this change is estimated to be about $5.6 billion, and will immediately impact roughly 65,000 survivor families. And with that type of substantive 'real news' in his remarks, several attending members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, might have appeared a bit happier to be there.  So Mr. President, though I know you are not one greatly prone to taking advice and counsel from others...more action, less distraction. Communicate, complete and deliver more of your agenda...less million shots a day, more laser beam, less shotgun style. Fewer Trumpster fires, more solutions that matter. You'll be glad you did.

News

  • A Missouri mom warned others not to leave aerosol cans in their vehicles after she said a can of dry shampoo exploded in her daughter's car, shooting through the sunroof and landing 50 feet away, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news  Christine Bader Debrecht took to Facebook last week after she said her daughter left an aerosol can of dry shampoo in the closed middle console of her car during hot weather in Missouri. She said the can exploded, shattering the vehicle's sunroof and flying into the air. 'It blew the console cover off of its hinges,' Debrecht wrote. 'I just want to remind you (and your kids) to heed those warnings on products you may be using. Please don't leave aerosol cans (and especially dry shampoo, as this seems to be an issue with some brands) in your car! I am so grateful that no one was hurt.' Debrecht told KSDK and  ABC News that her family first believed something fell from the sky after her husband noticed the damage done to the 2018 Honda Civic hatchback. 'We were shocked and bewildered. We had no idea what had happened,' she told ABC News. 'We couldn't believe it had done so much damage. We still can't believe it. She told KTVI she was grateful her 19-year-old daughter wasn't in the vehicle when the incident happened. 'Don't leave aerosol cans in your car,' she told told KSDK. 'It's not something we think about every day.
  • Four men are accused of abducting a Maine man at gunpoint, forcing him to strip naked, and then shooting at him as the man attempted to escape by running down a road, police said Monday, >> Read more trending news  Ajoung M. Malual, 22, of Westbrook, Maine, Mahdi B. Ali, 23, of Boston, Noh Y. Okubazghi, 20, of Boston, and Samson S. Samsom, 22, of Minneapolis, were charged with drug trafficking and may face other charges, the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office said in a news release. Each man is being held in lieu of $150,000 bond apiece, the Sheriff's Office said. Deputies said they received reports of gunshots fired at a naked man about 1:30 a.m. Monday, WMTW reported. When deputies located the 39-year-old Naples resident, he told them he was taken at gunpoint from his home and put into a trunk, the Sheriff's Office said in its news release. He told deputies he was taken to an area and told to strip naked, and at that point began running through the woods while he was being shot at, deputies said. The victim gave deputies a description of the vehicle, which was located in Windham and stopped by authorities, the Sheriff's Office said. The four men in the vehicle were detained and subsequently arrested, deputies said. The victim, who was wounded, was taken to an area hospital and is in stable condition, deputies said.
  • What was an exciting celebration for one Texas couple became the subject of criticism on Twitter. The New York Post reported Jonathan Joseph and Bridgette Joseph were at Capital of Texas Zoo in Cedar Creek, Texas, where they enlisted the help of Tank the hippo for their gender reveal. >> Read more trending news  Video was posted to the zoo's Facebook page, but not before going viral on Twitter, where Ana Breton, a filmmaker, posted a screen recording of a TikTok post of the gender reveal. 'I did it. I found the worst gender reveal,' she tweeted Saturday. Time reported that the video showed Tank chomping on a watermelon, which revealed a blue color, meaning the couple is expecting a boy. Criticisms soon followed. 'The whole reveal concept is just completely stupid to begin with, but I guess you can make it even dumber,' one person tweeted. 'That person's baby is not remotely important enough to feed a hippo 10 pounds of food coloring,' another person replied. On Sunday, Breton said she got in contact with Bridgette Joseph, although it's not clear if Bridgette Joseph reached out to Breton to respond or not. 'While I’m not a fan of gender reveals, it was not my intention to bring darkness to their special day,' Breton tweeted, which included a response from Bridgette Joseph. 'This was one of the happiest days of our lives,' Bridgette Joseph said, according to Breton's tweet. 'With the help of the zoo and the amazing Tank the hippo, we learned that we are having a baby boy. After many years of raising our beautiful young lady, we decided to try for another baby. It took some time and some extra money in fertility treatments, but we finally got pregnant!' Bridgette Joseph said she and her husband would have been happy to have another girl, but for them, it would have meant they 'would have had to keep tying for a boy.' Michael Hicks, the director of the zoo, told The Post the Jello-O was not harmful to Tank, despite what some said on social media. 'This is the same Jell-O people feed their kids. It's totally harmless,' zoo director Michael Hicks told the tabloid. Hicks said the hippo wasn't forced into the gender reveal. 'You can't make a hippo do anything. He weighs 4,000 pounds,' Hicks said. 'He enjoyed it as much as anybody else did.
  • Officials in an Iowa city said the U.S. Department of Transportation has asked the city manager to remove multi-colored sidewalks, according to KCCI. >> Read more trending news  Ames officials said they received a letter from the USDOT's Federal Highway Administration, explaining the crosswalk at Fifth Street and Douglas Avenue did not meet codes and requested its removal 'as soon as it is feasible,' the television station reported. The crosswalks, installed earlier this month, feature a minority-inclusive rainbow on Douglas Avenue, KCCI reported. The crosswalks on Fifth Street feature gender non-binary colors on the east crosswalk and pride transgender colors on the west crosswalk, the television station reported. Ames officials said the FHWA's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices prohibits the use of anything but white paint in crosswalks, adding that colored crosswalks and multi-colored crosswalks were not allowed. Ames officials are contesting the request. “I note that the FHWA’s letter included a “request” -- not a demand -- for the City to remove the colored crosswalk markings,' Ames City Attorney Mark O. Lambert told KCCI. 'This is not a lawful order or demand by a federal agency, it is merely a request.”
  • While this is only the first part of the Golden Ray and the St. Simons Sound incident, there remains a lot of work to do, threats to the environment, hazards to the people and to the Port of Brunswick continue to be addressed through a unified command,' said U.S. Coast Guard Captain John Reed, Charleston sector Coast Guard commander.   While an ongoing review and investigation unfolds of a fire and the subsequent capsizing of the South Korean automobile transport tanker, the Golden Ray, off the Georgia coast, you can bet millions that the ship's owner, automobile manufacturer/shipper and insurer were all hoping that there were some very experienced hands at the wheel the night that this massive cargo ship fell over on its side.
  • Chicago police have captured a man suspected of nearly killing an officer over the weekend, three days after he is accused of shooting a 28-year-old woman in the back as he rode a bicycle near downtown. Michael Blackman, 45, was in critical condition Sunday after he was shot during an armed confrontation with police, authorities said Sunday. As of Monday morning, he had been charged with four counts of attempted murder, according to Anthony Guglielmi, chief communications officer for the Chicago Police Department. A news conference was slated for later Monday to provide more details, but a time had not been set.  Blackman was captured Saturday afternoon, several hours after he allegedly shot a 40-year-old police officer on Chicago’s South Side. Chicago Deputy Police Chief Brendan Deenihan said Blackman was caught after investigators who were canvassing the Englewood community, where the officer’s shooting took place, obtained surveillance footage that showed Blackman fleeing through a vacant lot several blocks away. The footage did not show him leave the lot. Detectives and patrol officers descended upon the area, Deenihan said. “When they went to go search that lot, this defendant popped up,” Deenihan said. “This is when the gun battle ensued between the defendant and the officers.” Blackman ran over some railroad tracks, where he encountered more officers. Additional shots were fired, and Blackman was struck multiple times. “He has eight holes in him at this time and a broken femur,” Deenihan said. Watch Deputy Police Chief Brendan Deenihan talk about the shooting and capture of Michael Blackman below.  Blackman was taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, the same hospital where the officer he is accused of shooting was rushed earlier that morning. No officers were injured in the second encounter with Blackman, Deenihan said. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said during a news conference Saturday that the 16-year veteran officer who was shot serves on the department’s fugitive apprehension team. The team, which was looking for Blackman in connection with Wednesday’s bicycle shooting, went shortly after 8:30 a.m. that morning to a home in the 1900 block of West 65th Street, where Blackman was believed to be hiding, Johnson said. >> Read more trending news  When members of the team knocked on the door, Blackman ran out the back of the house, where the injured officer and his partner were stationed, Johnson said. “At that time, a physical struggle ensued, followed by an armed confrontation,” Johnson said. The unnamed officer was shot in the groin and in the lower leg, doctors said. Fellow officers loaded him into a patrol car and rushed him to the hospital, where he underwent surgery. He was in stable condition Saturday afternoon. “It is reported that the injured officer had the self-awareness to apply his own tourniquet, as his partner maintained pressure on the gunshot wound on the way to the hospital,” the superintendent said. Guglielmi tweeted that the officer lost nearly a third of his blood volume. “He came basically bleeding to death,” trauma surgeon Dr. Jane Kayle Lee said during Saturday’s news conference. “He had already lost a significant amount of blood and was taken emergently to the operating room for surgery.” Lee said the officer had a hole in one of the largest veins in his leg. She was able to repair the injury. The surgeon said the bullet to the officer’s groin remains in his body. The gunshot to his leg was a “through-and-through” wound, with both an entrance and exit wound. The officer suffered significant fractures to his leg when that bullet tore through his body, Lee said. His leg was splinted for the time being, but he will need additional surgery. “I do expect that he will have a good recovery,” Lee said. Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who met with the man’s family at the hospital, said the shooting is a reminder of the sacrifice police officers make every day to protect the city’s residents. She also praised the work of the officer’s colleagues in the fugitive apprehension unit. “Their quick work saved this officer’s life,” Lightfoot said. She asked the public to pray for the officer’s full recovery. “I ask that all Chicagoans continue praying for the officer and his family throughout his recovery,” Lightfoot said at the news conference. “Also, keep all of our first responders in our thoughts and prayers because, as the superintendent said, and we see on a daily basis, they run to danger to protect us.” Like the officer, the woman Blackman is accused of shooting on Wednesday is expected to survive. According to The Chicago Tribune, the woman was headed to lunch with co-workers around noon in the city’s Fulton Market District when she was shot by a man on a bicycle. Watch police and city officials, along with medical personnel, speak below about the Saturday shooting of a Chicago police officer.  “Based on the information we have right now, the shooter passed by a group of individuals and went directly to her to extend his arm and fire one single gunshot,” Johnson said at the time, according to the Tribune. “Appears right now the victim may have been targeted by the offender.” As the gunman fled the scene, the woman was rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in serious to critical condition, the newspaper said. Her condition was unknown Monday. Police officials released still images and video the day of the shooting that showed the alleged gunman riding his bicycle near the scene of the shooting. Guglielmi tweeted Friday that detectives had been given a tip to go to a bicycle shop, where they discovered security footage that showed a man fitting the description of the shooter getting his bike fixed about an hour before the woman was shot. The clearer images, which show a man later identified by police as Blackman, offer a full view of the man’s face as he stands at the counter. At one point, he takes off his black Nike baseball cap and wipes his head with paper towels. He is seen standing and chatting with the employee working on his bike and leaning on the counter, his wallet out, as he pays his bill. The man smiles several times as he talks to the worker. Blackman was identified as a suspect in Wednesday’s shooting based in part on the images from the bike shop, Johnson said. His motive in the woman's shooting was unknown as of Saturday. The superintendent declined to speculate on Blackman’s state of mind but pointed out that he was accused of shooting two people, including a police officer. “Obviously, this is not a person that should be walking the streets of Chicago,” Johnson said Saturday while Blackman was still at large. “He’s a dangerous individual. There’s no hiding that.” Blackman has an extensive criminal history dating back to 1991, Johnson said Saturday. His previous charges range from burglary and domestic battery to drug charges. He remained hospitalized in police custody Monday morning.