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    Stone Mountain Park in DeKalb County, Georgia, canceled duck boat rides for Friday and Saturday in light of the tragedy in Missouri on Thursday. >> Read more trending news The accident that killed 17 people on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, prompted the metro Atlanta attraction to pause letting visitors ride. “All of us at Stone Mountain Park are heartbroken about the accident that happened last evening on Ride the Ducks in Branson, Missouri,” the park said in a statement Friday. “As always safety is our top priority here at Stone Mountain Park. Therefore, we have suspended our Ride the Ducks operation until more information about the Branson tragedy becomes available.” DUKW, known as duck boats, are six-wheel-drive amphibious vehicles that were used by the U.S. military during World War II and the Korean War.  Since then, duck boat tours have become popular and are offered on lakes and rivers around the United States, including in Missouri, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Alabama.
  • The director of the successful “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, James Gunn, has been fired from the franchise’s third installment over offensive tweets about pedophilia and rape. >> Read more trending news  The shocking tweets, which had been taken down, aren’t new and Gunn had apologized for them in the past, but conservative media personalities resurfaced the posts from 2008 - 2011 this week, causing a backlash against Gunn, who has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump. 'The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him,' Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said in a statement Friday, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Gunn also issued a statement Friday, saying he’s a “very, very different” person than he was a few years ago and that he’s “developed as a person” since he posted the offensive tweets. 'My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative,' he said. 'I have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don't reflect the person I am today or have been for some time.' “I used to make a lot of offensive jokes. I don’t anymore,” he said. >> Related: Disney: ′Star Wars Clone Wars′ will be back, announcement made at San Diego Comic Con Gunn was fired before a scheduled appearance Friday at Comic-Con International: San Diego. He was still writing the script for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” and was expected to start shooting the movie this fall in Atlanta. Disney and Marvel Studios saw huge successes with the “Guardian” movies, with the first one making more than $773 million and the second raking in $863, according to THR.  
  • Update 7:00 p.m. EDT July 20: An attorney for  Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime former attorney, has confirmed that Cohen secretly recorded conversations with Trump and that he does have a recording made in 2016 before the presidential election about a former Playboy Playmate who claims that she had a year-long affair with Trump in 2006. Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis denied that the tape would help Trump, as a Trump attorney claimed. “Obviously, there is an ongoing investigation, and we are sensitive to that. But suffice it to say that when the recording is heard, it will not hurt Michael Cohen. Any attempt at spin can not change what is on the tape,” Davis posted on Twitter. >> Jamie Dupree: Cohen’s lawyer confirms existence of Trump tape  (Original story) Recordings that attorney Michael Cohen secretly made of his longtime client, President Donald Trump, were seized earlier this year when FBI agents raided Cohen’s office, The New York Times reported Friday. >> Read more trending news According to the newspaper, Cohen recorded a conversation he had with Trump two months before the 2016 presidential election, in which they talked about possibly paying Karen McDougal, a former Playboy Playmate who claims that she had a year-long affair with Trump in 2006. >> Who is Karen McDougal? 6 things to know about the woman who says she was Trump’s mistress Trump and Cohen discussed buying the rights to McDougal's story about one month after the publisher of the National Enquirer, American Media Inc., paid her $150,000, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. The recording obtained by authorities was less than two minutes long, according to the Journal. It cut off while the conversation was ongoing, the newspaper reported. Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, confirmed the existence of the recording to the Times, but he said it lasted less than two minutes and that no payment was ultimately made to McDougal. “Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance,” Giuliani said told the newspaper. He confirmed to CNN that Cohen also made other recordings, which he described as “mundane discussions.” The recordings were among the things seized in April by federal agents who raided Cohen’s hotel and office, according to the Times. Other items seized included Cohen’s computer, his phone and several records, The Washington Post reported. >> Trump allies fear investigators seized Cohen recordings in raid: reports Trump allies worried after the FBI raid on Cohen was made public earlier this year that recordings might have been among the items seized, as Cohen was known to sometimes tape conversations he had with associates. He kept the recordings as digital files that he would replay for colleagues, the Post reported, citing unidentified sources. Authorities sought details on Cohen’s efforts to stave off negative publicity of Trump, CBS News and the Times reported. Among other things, authorities sought information on the release of an infamous tape in which the president could be heard on a hot mic making derogatory comments about women and payments Cohen made to a pair of women who claim they had sexual relationships with Trump, including McDougal and adult film star Stormy Daniels, according to the Times. >> Trump says he may sue over 'illegal' 2005 'Access Hollywood' videoDaniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, called for the release of what he called the “Trump tapes” on Friday. 'If Michael Cohen is a patriot, then ALL of the tapes should be released to the American people,' Avenatti wrote on Twitter. 'Now. Too much is at stake.' During the April raid, officials also sought details on the role AMI played in keeping McDougal’s and Daniels’ stories from going public, according to the Times.  Just before voters went to polls in the 2016 presidential election, the Journal reported that the company agreed to pay McDougal $150,000 for her story about her affair with Trump. The tabloid never published a story on the alleged affair, which McDougal claims took place in 2006, while Trump was married to his current wife, Melania. >> National Enquirer paid Trump doorman $30K to spike unproven 'illegitimate child' rumor: AP report The publisher has denied accusations that McDougal’s story was bought in order to “catch and kill” it in an effort to shield Trump from bad publicity in the run-up to the 2016 election. In a statement, company officials told the Journal that the payment to McDougal was for “two years’ worth of her fitness columns and magazine covers as well as exclusive life rights to any relationship she has had with a then-married man.” Then-Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks denied that McDougal and Trump had an affair and told the Journal that campaign officials had “no knowledge” of the agreement between AMI and McDougal.
  • A man in Memphis, Tennessee, was kidnapped and brutally beaten by a man and a woman who posed as police officers during the attack. An arrest affidavit detailed the horrific crimes, which occurred on July 13.  PHOTOS: Man kidnapped, tortured by fake police officer in Memphis (WHBQ-TV) Police said the victim had just gotten into his car to drive to work when a Ford Taurus pulled up behind him with flashing lights. Two people got out of the car wearing vests that read “Police.” They forced the victim to the ground and took the keys to two of his vehicles. He was placed in handcuffs, a black mask was placed over his head, and he was put in the back of the Taurus. The victim was then taken to the 7600 block of Reese Road where the brutal torture would start to unfold, according to the arrest affidavit. The suspects held hot objects to his body, burning his face, neck, and arms. They forced a sock into his mouth and tried to force him to tell them “Where's the money at?”  >> Read more trending news Eventually, the man gave in to the suspects' demands and told them the information to a storage unit including the code to get inside, police said. The suspects continued to say he was not telling them the truth and threatened to cut off his fingers and toes with saws and pliers, the affidavit states. When the suspects went into the kitchen, the victim ran out of the room and dove head-first into a window, all while still being handcuffed and with a mask covering his face.  People who were driving by saw the victim on the ground and were able to help by flagging down officers. Emergency responders made the scene and started to treat the victim, who was covered in second and third-degree burns.  Police took fingerprints off the Ford Taurus, which was a rental from Avis. Stolen City of Memphis Government tags were also on the car.  The prints belonged to Anthony Davis, police said. Detectives said Yolanda Marin was the person who rented the car.  The victim also identified Davis as someone he spent time in prison with.  Davis was arrested when he went to meet with his parole officer. Investigators went to his home, and found Martin in the master bedroom. Davis and Martin are both charged with especially aggravated kidnapping, especially aggravated robbery, possession of a deadly weapon during offense and criminal impersonation.
  • Two men are facing charges of stealing or damaging more than $8 million in rare books and materials from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh for over two decades. >> Read more trending news Investigators Friday charged Greg Priore and John Schulman, alleging the two men worked together to remove the items from the Oliver Room.  According to the criminal complaint, Priore worked as the manager and sole archivist of the Oliver Room for 25 years before being fired in June 2017. Schulman is the co-owner of Caliban Book Shop in Oakland, which specializes in rare books. WPXI news reporter Aaron Martin reached out to Carnegie Library spokesperson Suzanne Thinnes, who said in a statement:'We are grateful the investigation into the Oliver Room theft has resulted in arrests, however we are deeply disappointed that at the center of this case are two people who had close, long standing relationships with the Library. We look forward to the appropriate individuals being held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. We will continue to cooperate with the DA’s office and deeply appreciate their efforts to recover the stolen materials. The District Attorney will release information as appropriate as the case progresses through legal proceedings. We would like to thank our community for their support throughout this lengthy and complex investigation. We have been asked not to comment further until legal proceedings are complete.'  Both Priore and Schulman are facing numerous charges, including theft and conspiracy.
  • A Yulee, Florida, man was seen lying on the ground, shaking and inhaling from a can of compressed air outside a Nassau County Walmart, deputies said in a report. >> Read more trending news Sean Humberson, 31, was found next to a dumpster with seven cans of Dust-Off around him, the report said. He was taken to Baptist Medical Center Nassau for evaluation and was later arrested and charged with inhaling dangerous chemicals and for trespassing after an earlier warning.  Humberson was charged with trespassing after a warning because he had been observed huffing air cans in the parking lot before, deputies said.  On March 12, 2018, Humberson had 50 cans of Dust-Off around him but was not actively inhaling them, the report said . Walmart staff had requested that Humberson not to be allowed on the property for one year. 
  • Investigators discovered an emaciated 15-year-old boy living in a barn and eating sticks and grass while his family had plenty of food inside a house in rural Oklahoma, police said.  >> Read more trending news Someone passing by the residence was concerned and called authorities, who said the 80-pound boy was likely only going to be able to live another week in those conditions, according to the Shawnee News-Star. The boy also had several broken bones and shotgun pellets stuck in his leg. He was taken to the hospital where he may have to undergo surgery to remove the sticks and other foliage. He is expected to remain there for at least a month, according to the News-Star. The boy had been removed two years ago from public school and was supposed to be home-schooled, according to the News-Star. A four-year-old who appeared to be healthy and living inside the home, was removed by department of health service officials, according to the News-Star.  The boy’s father, stepmother and two brothers were taken into custody, according to the News-Star. Jimmy L. Jones, 34, Amy A. Jones, 46, Jonathan Luke Plank, 20 and Tyler Joe Adkins, 24, were arrested and charged with child neglect, according to the News-Press. Jimmy L. Jones was also charged with child abuse. 
  • A duck boat accident on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, Thursday night killed 17 people, including the boat’s driver, and injured 14, according to authorities. >> Read more trending news  Update 5:15 p.m. EDT July 20: Stone County authorities now say all 17 of the victims in the duck boat accident have been accounted for and that nine of the victims were from the same family, according to Gov. Mike Parson’s office. Two members of the family, identified by local news outlets as the Coleman family, survived. Officials said the victims range in age from 1 to 70 years old. Meantime, mourners are putting flowers on the victims’ cars in the Ride the Ducks parking lot, and the community of Branson, Missouri, is holding several candlelight vigils Friday night in memory of those killed. One of the vigils is scheduled at Table Rock Lake where the accident happened, according to KY3-TV. Update 4:30 p.m. EDT July 20: As the search for the bodies of the final four victims in the tragic duck boat accident in Branson, Missouri, continues, family and friends are mourning the staggering loss of life on Table Rock Lake Thursday evening. One woman lost nine members of her family, USA Today reported, citing Gov. Mike Parson’s office. Update 2:20 p.m. EDT July 20: Branson Mayor Karen Best told The Associated Press that Bob Williams, the man who was driving the Ride the Ducks boat that sunk Thursday in a southwest Missouri lake, was a “great ambassador for Branson” who “was at every event.” Seventeen people died, including Williams, and 14 others were injured Thursday when the duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake, according to authorities. Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said earlier Friday that the boat’s captain survived. In a statement posted on Facebook, employees of Ride the Ducks Branson said the business would be closed “while we support the investigation, and to allow time to grieve for the families and the community.” “This incident has deeply affected all of us. Words cannot convey how profoundly our hearts are breaking,” the statement said. “Thank you for your support, and we ask that your thoughts and prayers be with the families during this time.” Update 11:40 a.m. EDT July 20: Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said Friday morning that authorities recovered four more bodies after a duck boat capsized in southwest Missouri, KSMU reported, bringing the death toll from Thursday’s incident to 17. Rader said 14 people were taken to hospitals after the incident. He said the driver of the Ride the Ducks boat died. The captain survived. Update 11:20 a.m. EDT July 20: Nearly two decades ago, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a warning about boats with overhead canopies like the one that sank Thursday on Table Rock Lake after a deadly accident claimed 13 lives in Arkansas, according to the Kansas City Star. The Miss Majestic duck boat was carrying 21 passengers when it sank in 1999 in Lake Hamilton, the Star reported. Authorities found seven dead passengers trapped inside the boat when they recovered it, four of which were pinned to the underside of the canopy, according to the Star. “Contributing to the high loss of life was a continuous canopy roof that entrapped passengers within the sinking vehicle,” NTSB officials said in an accident report. Authorities continued searching Friday for four people who are presumed dead after Thursday’s accident in southwest Missouri. Officials said 13 other people have been confirmed dead in the incident. Update 10:25 a.m. EDT July 20: Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said divers are going back in the water Friday in search of four people who remain missing and are presumed dead after Thursday’s duck boat accident on Table Rock Lake. Rader said the search had shifted to “recovery mode for the bodies that are still missing,” at a news conference Friday morning. 'It's been a long night,” Rader said. “It's been a very trying night.” Rader said the driver of the Ride the Ducks boat died but that the captain survived. Update 10:05 a.m. EDT July 20: Authorities are expected to provide an update on the investigation into Thursday's deadly duck boat accident in Missouri at a news conference Friday. Update 9:55 a.m. EDT July 20: President Donald Trump shared sympathies Friday to the families and friends of the people involved in Thursday’s deadly duck boat accident in southwest Missouri. “Such a tragedy, such a great loss,” the president wrote Friday in a tweet. “May God be with you all!” Update 8:15 a.m. EDT July 20: Officials with the State Highway Patrol said Friday that two more bodies have been found after Thursday’s duck boat accident in southwest Missouri, bringing the death toll to 13.  >> On AJC.com: Bahamas boating tragedy brings vacation safety to the forefront State Highway Patrol Sgt. Jason Pace said four other people remained missing. Original report: Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said 14 people were taken to hospitals after the incident. Seven were being treated early Friday, he said. The boat capsized after a strong line of thunderstorms moved through the area around 7 p.m. Thursday. Rader said weather “was a factor” in the incident. Authorities said the boat had 31 people on board, including children, when it capsized.  The boat had life jackets on board, according to CNN. The news network reported that other boats on the water docked before the bad weather hit. The National Transportation Safety Board has sent a team to investigate and are asking anyone who witnessed the accident to come forward. A dive team and rescue officials worked through the night to find survivors. They ended the search around 11 p.m., according to KY3. Emergency responders set up a staging area overnight on the lakeshore near the Showboat Branson Belle, local media reported, although the Belle was not involved in the accident. Branson officials opened an emergency shelter inside city hall for the victims. National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Linderberg said a top wind speed of 63 mph was measured around 7 p.m. Thursday at Branson Airport.  “There’s nothing to slow down winds in an open area,” he said. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is watching the developments. DUKW, known as duck boats, are six-wheel-drive amphibious vehicles that were used by the U.S. military during World War II and the Korean War.  Since then, duck boat tours have become popular and are offered on lakes and rivers around the United States, including Missouri, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Alabama. Ripley Entertainment acquired the Ride The Ducks in Branson in late 2017 from Ride the Ducks International, a subsidiary of Norcross, Georgia-based Herschend Family Entertainment Corp. Ride the Ducks International manufactures amphibious vehicles and licenses them for tours at affiliates. It also operates duck tours at Stone Mountain Park in Georgia. The company formerly operated tours in several other cities, including Baltimore, San Francisco and Philadelphia. But in recent years it ended operations following deadly accidents.  In 2015, a Ride the Ducks tour bus collided with a charter bus carrying student on the Aurora bridge in Seattle. Four students were killed and several others injured. The Associated Press and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.
  • The risk of having a heart attack during pregnancy and labor is rising, according to a new report.  >> Read more trending news  Researchers from the New York University School of Medicine recently conducted a study, published in the Mayo Clinics Proceedings, to determine the frequency of heart attacks among pregnant patients.  To do so, they assessed more than 49 million births. Of the women who gave birth, more than 1,000 of them had a heart attack during their labor and delivery. More than 900 had a heart attack during their pregnancy, and nearly 2,400 women had a heart attack after giving birth. They found that the risk of having a heart attack had increased by 25 percent from 2002 to 2014. Although they said the overall heart attack risk was low, they called the death rate “relatively high”at 4.5 percent. >> Related: You can avoid strokes and heart attacks with these two household fruits, study says “Our analysis, the largest review in a decade, serves as an important reminder of how stressful pregnancy can be on the female body and heart, causing a lot of physiological changes, and potentially unmasking risk factors that can lead to heart attack,” senior author Sripal Bangalore said in a statement. Although researchers are unclear why the risk of heart attacks among pregnant women has increased, they hypothesized that age could be a factor as more women are waiting to have children later in life. They noted that the risk rises as women get older.  Women between 35 to 39 who become pregnant are five times more likely to suffer a heart attack, compared to a women in their 20s. And women in their early 40s are 10 times more likely.  >> Related: You may be able to better avoid heart attacks with this common snack, study says Furthermore, the researchers report more women are also obese and/or have diabetes, which increases the risk, and early detectors of heart damage have also improved. “Our findings highlight the importance to women considering pregnancy to know their risk factors for heart disease beforehand,” coauthor Nathaniel R. Smilowitz added. “These patients should work out a plan with their physicians to monitor and control risk factors during pregnancy so that they can minimize their risk.” >> Related: Got heart disease? You may have a better chance of survival if married
  • Willie Nelson’s newest album will be one of Frank Sinatra covers. Rolling Stone reported that the 85-year-old country music and songwriting icon will release “My Way” Sept. 14. It will be the second album he’s released this year. He released “Last Man Standing” in April. >> Read more trending news  Nelson and the late Sinatra were good friends, having appeared in a TV spot for NASA in the 1980s. He first heard Sinatra at 10 years old, when he appeared on the radio show “Your Hit Parade.” In an interview in the June/July issue of AARP magazine, Wilson said he learned from Sinatra. “I learned a lot about phrasing listening to Frank,” Nelson said. “He didn’t worry about behind the beat or in front of the beat, or whatever — he could sing it either way, and that’s the feel you have to have.” Before the release of the album, which contains songs made famous by Sinatra, fans can watch the music video for Wilson’s cover of “Summer Wind.” Taste of Country reported that “My Way” is available for pre-order on vinyl, CD and digital formats. The track list for “My Way” is below. “Fly Me to the Moon” “Summer Wind” “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)” “A Foggy Day” “It Was a Very Good Year” “Blue Moon” “I’ll Be Around” “Night and Day” “What Is This Thing Called Love” (with Norah Jones) “Young at Heart” “My Way”

News

  • It was Hank Aaron who convinced the Braves to draft Chipper Jones. What led him to believe, at a young age, that Chipper was going to be a Hall of Famer? WSB Radio’s Jay Black and Chris Camp sat down with the baseball legend to discuss his answer to that question, and many more on topics including the Braves’ success during the first half of the season and his take on the crop of young players having success this year: LISTEN TO WSB’S FULL INTERVIEW WITH HANK AARON HERE.
  • Stone Mountain Park in DeKalb County, Georgia, canceled duck boat rides for Friday and Saturday in light of the tragedy in Missouri on Thursday. >> Read more trending news The accident that killed 17 people on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, prompted the metro Atlanta attraction to pause letting visitors ride. “All of us at Stone Mountain Park are heartbroken about the accident that happened last evening on Ride the Ducks in Branson, Missouri,” the park said in a statement Friday. “As always safety is our top priority here at Stone Mountain Park. Therefore, we have suspended our Ride the Ducks operation until more information about the Branson tragedy becomes available.” DUKW, known as duck boats, are six-wheel-drive amphibious vehicles that were used by the U.S. military during World War II and the Korean War.  Since then, duck boat tours have become popular and are offered on lakes and rivers around the United States, including in Missouri, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Alabama.
  • Judge Brett Kavanaugh has a long record of judicial and executive branch service to recommend him as President Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court. And that's part of the problem in getting him confirmed by the Senate. Democrats are demanding to see the conservative appellate court judge's lengthy paper trail before they even start meeting with him, let alone casting their votes on a lifetime appointment that could shift the court rightward. The documents extend far beyond the 53-year-old's nearly 300 rulings as a judge on the circuit court of appeals. The Democrats are demanding access to paperwork from Kavanaugh's tenure as staff secretary in the George W. Bush White House, on the 2000 election presidential recount and on Special Counsel Kenneth Starr's probe of Bill Clinton. The tally could stretch at least 1 million pages. The paper chase has become a game of high-stakes political strategy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to have Kavanaugh confirmed for the start of the Supreme Court session Oct. 1 and to serve up a midterm election boost for Republicans in November. But the Democratic search for documents could complicate that timeline. McConnell spent this week's closed-door GOP policy lunch outlining the schedule ahead, senators said. With Republicans holding just a slim 51-seat majority, they are under pressure from conservatives to confirm the nominee, who could tilt the court's decisions for a generation to come. He would take the place of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, often a swing vote. 'We've already begun to hear rumblings from our Democratic colleagues that they're going to want to see every scrap of paper that ever came across Brett Kavanaugh's desk,' the No. 2 Republican, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, told reporters. But the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, said in light of this week's 'disturbing events' — namely, Trump's Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin — it's all the more important to thoroughly vet the president's nominee. 'It is, ultimately, the Supreme Court that will have the last word on whether a sitting president is above the law,' she said. 'We — the Senate — and the American public must know where Judge Kavanaugh stands. ... And this starts with having access to Judge Kavanaugh's documents from his time in the White House and as a political operative.' At particular issue in the document fight are the years the Yale-educated Kavanaugh spent at the White House as staff secretary for Bush — a job that touches almost every slip of paper that makes it to the president's desk — as well as his work during the Clinton probe and the Florida election recount. Kavanaugh served in the White House Counsel's Office under Bush beginning in 2001. He told lawmakers in a May 2006 confirmation hearing for his current job that he provided advice on ethics and separation of power issues, the nomination of judges, and legislation dealing with tort reform and a federal backstop to limit insurers' losses in the event of a terror attack. Kavanaugh described the staff secretary position as being 'an honest broker for the president,' someone who tried to ensure that the president received a range of policy views on issues of the day in an even-handed way. Democrats say his policy-making role was more substantial than that. The Judiciary Committee is negotiating how much information will be pulled for the confirmation process. The task is daunting, involving a universe of paperwork that will need to be culled from the National Archives, the Bush library and others, and reviewed by stables of attorneys. Talks are still at the early stages. Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who said this will be his 15th Supreme Court confirmation hearing, promised the 'most transparent and thorough process' of any of them. But he also warned against dragging it out. 'I will not allow taxpayers to be on the hook for a government-funded fishing expedition,' Grassley said. He cited the volume of records reviewed in recent Supreme Court confirmations: 173,000 pages of documents for the confirmation of Elena Kagan in 2010, and 182,000 pages for the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch last year. The citation no doubt was by design, showing what the Senate has considered appropriate in the past. Republicans say dragging out the process might backfire on Democrats if they push the votes too close to the midterm election. But Democrats appear willing to take that risk. They note that the more information that came out about one of Trump's nominees to the circuit court, Ryan Bounds, the less support he had. McConnell stunned senators this week when he withdrew Bounds from consideration. ___ Associated Press writer Kevin Freking in Washington contributed to this report. Follow Mascaro on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LisaMascaro
  • Strip searches. Overcrowded cells with open toilets. Scant meals that violate religious restrictions. Federal public defenders say 120 asylum seekers are enduring those conditions at a federal prison in Oregon where some have considered suicide and at least one has attempted it. 'We are dying day by day inside here,' one detainee said, William Teesdale, chief investigator for the federal public defender's office in Oregon, wrote in a filing in federal court in Portland. The immigrant was unwilling to be identified in the filing due to fear of persecution or retaliation, Teesdale said in the documents. Most of the asylum seekers held at the prison in rural Sheridan say they faced risks in their home countries, including India, Nepal, Guatemala, Mexico and China. Instead of being welcomed to the U.S., they ran into the 'zero-tolerance' policy of the Trump administration that calls for the detention of people who try to enter the country illegally. 'Here we have come to save our lives but I think we will die here in jail,' one detainee said, according to Teesdale's affidavit. Several detainees have untreated medical conditions, including a heart problem, gunshot wound and broken leg. He said they are triple-bunked and confined for long hours in cells with open toilets. They must eat in the cells and have no indoor or outdoor recreational opportunities. They are strip-searched in front of other detainees, and Hindus were given beef and pork to eat, even though it's against their religion, and tried to survive on just the vegetables accompanying the meals, Teesdale said. Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently transferred four detainees to a center in Tacoma, Washington, for specialized medical care, ICE spokeswoman Clarissa Cutrell said. The agency has no comment on the conditions in Sheridan due to pending litigation, Cutrell said. Leland Baxter-Neal, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, called the conditions inhumane and unconstitutional. The Trump administration's decision to put the immigrants in the prison, where they mixed for three weeks with the general prison population, has caused 'chaos, confusion and massive human suffering,' he said. Federal Public Defender Lisa Hay said in a letter to Warden Josaias Salazar and Acting ICE Field Office Director Elizabeth Godfrey that her office learned of an apparent suicide attempt by a detainee.  'Both those who witnessed the incident and those who heard of it have expressed great distress,' Hay said. Other detainees also considered killing themselves, court documents state. Petitions were filed Wednesday by Hay's office seeking court hearings for five detainees, whose names were redacted because of their security concerns. 'I have to cry in my pillow,' an immigrant identified as ICE detainee No. 1 said in his habeas corpus brief. 'I have suicidal thoughts but then I remember my family. My family is all that keeps me going.' The public affairs office of the Federal Bureau of Prisons did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A statement filed in court shows the prison had to scramble to take in the immigrants, who were sent there because other holding facilities used by ICE were overloaded. The prison received only one day of notice — on May 30 — that about 130 detainees would be arriving, Amberly Newman, an adviser to the prison warden, said in a declaration in federal court. She said they had to be mixed with the general prison population for the first three weeks before they could be separated into different units. One of the detainees described guards making him and his two cellmates strip to their underwear. 'In the night, it gets so cold in the cell and when l was in boxers and T-shirt, I was terribly cold,' he said, according to his habeas corpus filing. Victoria Bejarano Muirhead of Innovation Law Lab said her Portland-based group has engaged over 80 volunteers to provide legal services to the detainees. Those seeking asylum must show authorities they have credible fear in their homelands. Twenty of those immigrants at the prison have provided statements that lead to hearings before a judge, Muirhead said in a conference call with journalists. Hay wrote on July 9 to Salazar and Godfrey that some conditions have improved, 'but continue to fall below the minimum standards set by our government for immigration detention and, in my view, violate the Constitution by imposing punitive detention on civil detainees.' ___ Follow Andrew Selsky on Twitter at https://twitter.com/andrewselsky
  • The red-and-white soccer ball tossed to President Donald Trump by Russia's Vladimir Putin is undergoing a routine security screening. The U.S. Secret Service says that's standard for all gifts to the president. During a joint news conference after their summit this week in Finland, Putin used soccer metaphors and was handed a soccer ball that he tossed to Trump. Russia hosted the 2018 World Cup. Trump said he'd give the ball to his 12-year-old son Barron, a soccer fan. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Putin critic, tweeted after the exchange that he'd have the ball checked for listening devices and 'never allow it in the White House.' Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told a security conference he's sure the ball 'has been looked at very carefully.