SRN - US News

Celery stalk in trash, luck, lead to lost wedding rings

WINDHAM, N.H. (AP) — A celery stalk sighting and a little luck came together to help a New Hampshire man find his wife’s wedding rings in a 20-ton trash trailer, the jewelry wrapped in a napkin he had accidentally thrown away.

Kevin Butler had taken the trash to a transfer station in Windham last Wednesday. Unwittingly, he had tossed the napkin into the white trash bag, not realizing his wife had cleaned the rings and wrapped them in the napkin to dry.

Several hours later, he returned and asked for help in finding the rings amid the piles of garbage.

“He said, ‘I’m pretty sure I threw the rings out,'” Dennis Senibaldi, the transfer station supervisor, said Tuesday.

Senibaldi and his crew reviewed surveillance video to see what time Butler first showed up at the transfer station and where he threw it out. They used an excavator to start scooping up trash from the trailer.

After about five or six scoops, they saw a white bag with a telltale clue.

“One of the things he said was (inside) was celery stalks, and I could see a celery stalk sticking out the side of the bag,” Senibaldi said.

They started going through the bag, but there was no sign of the rings.

But at the very bottom, underneath some carrot or sweet potato peelings, there was a napkin. “Literally, I opened up the napkin, there were the two rings,” Senibaldi said.

Butler jumped up and hugged Senibaldi.

“I wouldn’t recommend doing that,” Butler told WMUR-TV of searching through the trash, “but to get the rings back, I would do it a thousand times over.”


Brought to you by www.srnnews.com



Venezuelan publisher receives award from US book association

NEW YORK (AP) — One of Venezuela’s few remaining independent publishers is being honored by the Association of American Publishers, the trade association announced Wednesday.

Editorial Dahbar, which publishes books that include interviews with political prisoners and critiques of the country’s criminal justice system, has been given the AAP’s International Freedom to Publish/Jeri Laber Award.

The publisher is run by Sergio Dahbar, an editor, author and investigative journalist.

“Editorial Dahbar has exhibited tremendous courage and commitment in continuing to publish, even as the social and political environments in Venezuela have deteriorated, causing many others to flee the country,” Terry Adams, who chairs the AAP’s Freedom to Publish Committee, said in a statement.

In its announcement, the association noted that speech is frequently censored in Venezuela, authors are harassed, and Dahbar books are hard to find in stores affiliated with President Nicolas Maduro’s government. Sergio Dahbar has alleged that the government’s “communications hegemony is silencing the media and journalists.”

Previous recipients of the award include publishers in Guatemala, Bangladesh and South Africa. Laber, for whom the award is named, is a co-founder of Human Rights Watch and a founding member of the AAP’s Freedom to Publish Committee.


Brought to you by www.srnnews.com


Hogan to gather with supporters amid White House speculation

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Term-limited Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan was holding fundraisers for future political activity Wednesday at events where the Republican is expected to talk about his eight years as governor, as well as plans for the future.

Hogan, who leaves office in January, has positioned himself to run as a legitimate alternative to former President Donald Trump, who already has announced he’s running for president in 2024.

Hogan was holding two fundraisers at a hotel and casino about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the state capital. One will mark the launch of a political action committee called Better Path Forward, and the other is being held for Hogan’s political organization, An America United, said David Weinman, who is the organization’s executive director.

The events are expected to raise more than $1 million, Weinman said.

Before the fundraisers, Hogan was scheduled to attend a leadership summit in Annapolis to talk about the future of the country.

“For eight years, Governor Hogan has demonstrated how to lead and deliver commonsense conservative results in a deep-blue state, and we’ve seen overwhelming support in Maryland and across the country for building on this model of success,” Weinman said. “We are excited to host these events to celebrate that success and look toward the future.”

Hogan has said publicly he is focused on finishing his term as governor and that an official announcement about his plans would not happen until after he leaves office in mid-January. However, with a media availability scheduled Wednesday night at the casino, the event sounded similar to one Hogan held in November 2013, when he let supporters know that he planned to run for governor, even though he said at the time he did not plan to formally announce his candidacy for a couple of months.

Hogan, who has been a fierce critic of Trump, would be an underdog in a Republican primary. The Republican candidate Hogan endorsed for governor, Kelly Schulz, lost the GOP primary for governor in Maryland to Trump-endorsed Dan Cox. Cox, however, went on to lose by a large margin in November to Democrat Wes Moore.

Hogan has been a popular governor in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1. He is only the second Republican governor to ever be reelected in Maryland.


Brought to you by www.srnnews.com


McConaughey, Kunis among People mag’s ‘People of the Year’

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Matthew McConaughey, Mila Kunis, Jennifer Hudson and “Abbott Elementary” creator and star Quinta Brunson have been named People magazine’s 2022 “People of the Year.”

The magazine unveiled its annual list Wednesday, with Editor in Chief Wendy Naugle explaining this year’s honorees were selected because of their efforts to help others.

McConaughey was chosen for his advocacy efforts after the Uvalde school shooting rocked his hometown. Kunis was lauded for her fundraising — which People said has topped $37 million — for Ukraine, where she was born.

Hudson and Brunson were honored for their onscreen work. Hudson, who launched a daytime talk show this year, was cited for her efforts to create an inclusive show where everyone felt welcome. Brunson’s “Abbott Elementary,” a critical hit that turned her into an Emmy winner, was praised as a show that brought many joy and showed that different generations can work well together.

Each of the honorees are featured on a special cover that highlights their contributions. Kunis’ includes the quote, “I’m proud to be from Ukraine,” while Brunson includes her statement: “I’m a sign that times are changing.”

McConaughey’s proclaims, “We have to do better for our kids,” while Hudson’s says, “I’m living my dream — and learning as I go.”

Previous People honorees have included George Clooney, Regina King, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Sandra Oh, Selena Gomez and Simone Biles. This year’s special editions will be released Friday.


Brought to you by www.srnnews.com


Rolling Stones to release star-stuffed 2012 live recording

NEW YORK (AP) — The Rolling Stones plan to release what they’re calling their “ultimate live greatest hits album,” with appearances by Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen, Gary Clark Jr. and The Black Keys, early next year.

“GRRR Live!” contains songs recorded live on Dec. 15, 2012, at Newark, New Jersey’s Prudential Center. That night saw guest appearances by The Black Keys (“Who Do You Love?”), Clark and John Mayer (“Going Down”), Lady Gaga (“Gimme Shelter”), Mick Taylor (“Midnight Rambler”) and hometown hero Bruce Springsteen (“Tumbling Dice”).

Shown on pay-per-view in 2012, the concert has not otherwise been available to fans until now.

It also features some of the band’s greatest hits, including “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It),” “Honky Tonk Women,” “Start Me Up,” “Sympathy For the Devil” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

The 24-track collection will be released on Feb. 10 in vinyl, CD, DVD, digital and Blu-ray formats.


Brought to you by www.srnnews.com


Tornado threat continues as southern towns assess damage

WETUMPKA, Ala. (AP) — Tornadoes damaged numerous homes, destroyed a fire station, briefly trapped people in a grocery store and ripped the roof off an apartment complex in Mississippi and Alabama. Two deaths were reported as the storm front continued to threaten parts of the Deep South on Wednesday.

The National Weather Service had warned that strong twisters capable of carving up communities over long distances were possible as the storm front moved eastward from Texas. They were fueled by record high temperatures ahead of a cold front and threatened a stretch of the United States where more than 25 million people live.

The “threat for supercells capable of all severe hazards continues” near the Gulf Coast in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Georgia, forecasters said, after multiple tornado warnings were issued starting Tuesday afternoon and continued through the night.

Two people were killed in the Flatwood community just north of the city of Montgomery. “They were in their home that was struck by a tree due to the tornado,” said Christina Thornton, director of the Montgomery County Emergency Management Agency.

Thornton said others in the area were injured, and search-and-rescue crews were able to check all the houses in the area by Wednesday morning. The sheriff’s office said a shelter was being opened at a nearby church for the affected residents.

In the west Alabama town of Eutaw, video from WBMA-TV from showed large sections of the roof missing from an apartment complex, displacing 15 families in the middle of the night.

“We’ve got power lines, trees just all over the road,” Eutaw Police Chief Tommy Johnson told WBRC-TV. “In the morning when we get a little daylight, we’re going to do a door-by-door search to make sure no one is trapped inside or anything like that.”

A suspected tornado damaged numerous homes during the night in Hale County, Alabama, where the emergency director said more than a third of the people live in highly vulnerable mobile homes.

“I have seen some really nice mobile homes tied down, but they just don’t stand a chance against a tornado,” Hale County Emergency Management Director Russell Weeden told WBRC just ahead of the storm.

Two other people were injured as the storm tore apart homes in Caldwell Parish, Louisiana, Sheriff Clay Bennett told KNOE-TV.

The weather service confirmed that tornadoes hit the ground in Mississippi. Images of the wreckage in Caledonia showed a grocery store damaged, a fire station shredded and a house toppled, but Lowndes County Emergency Management Agency Director Cindy Lawrence told WTVA-TV that everyone escaped injury.

Hail stones crashed against the windows of City Hall in the small town of Tchula, Mississippi, where sirens blared and the mayor and other residents took cover. “It was hitting against the window, and you could tell that it was nice-sized balls of it,” Mayor Ann Polk said after the storm passed.

High winds downed power lines, and flooding was a hazard as more than 5 inches (13 centimeters) of rain fell within several hours in some places. More than 50,000 customers in Mississippi and Alabama were without electricity Wednesday morning, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks utility outages.

About 100 people hunkered down in a tornado shelter in Starkville, Mississippi, where Craig Ceecee, a meteorologist at Mississippi State University, said he peered out at “incredibly black” skies. Ceecee has assembled a database of Mississippi tornado shelters, and found several towns without any.

“I’ve had to go through events without (shelters), and trust me, they were scary,” Ceecee said.

Record high temperatures in Texas and Louisiana intensified the storm front before it moved into Mississippi and Alabama, forecasters said Wednesday.

Shreveport, Louisiana heated up to 81 degrees (27.2 Celsius) on Tuesday; and Tyler, Texas hit 82 degrees (27.8 Celsius), according to the National Weather Service in Shreveport. Both those marks broke the old record of 80, set in 1949, the weather service said.

___

Jeff E. Martin and Michael Warren in Atlanta, Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas; Michael Goldberg in Jackson, Mississippi; and Sara Cline in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, contributed to this report.


Brought to you by www.srnnews.com


Gaetz friend says lighter sentence deserved for cooperation

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A former Florida tax collector whose arrest led to a federal investigation of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz learns this week how much prison time he gets on charges of sex trafficking a minor and identity theft, but not before trying to persuade a judge that his cooperation in several probes should lighten his sentence.

Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg had faced a prison sentence of between 21 and 27 years under federal sentencing guidelines, but prosecutors asked a judge to substantially reduce any incarceration to seven to nine years because of his cooperation.

Greenberg pleaded guilty to six federal crimes, including sex trafficking of a minor, identity theft, stalking, wire fraud and conspiracy to bribe a public official. Prosecutors said he had paid at least one underage girl to have sex with him and other men.

His attorney, Fritz Scheller, told a federal judge overseeing Greenberg’s sentencing that the jurist has the discretion to reduce the prison time even further. Greenberg has two hearings before U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell on Wednesday and Thursday related to his sentencing.

The minor was almost an adult and had advertised as being over age 18 in her escort profile on the website “Seeking Arrangements,” which facilitates “sugar daddy” relationships, Scheller said in court papers.

“Greenberg appreciates the seriousness of his crimes. Based on such a recognition, he has been trying to make amends through cooperation and the payment of restitution,” Scheller said. “He has provided significant substantial assistance to the government in the areas of public corruption, election fraud, wire fraud, and sex trafficking.”

The judge should also take into consideration Greenberg’s struggles with mental illness, starting with an attention-deficit disorder diagnosis at age 7 and panic attacks, depressive and anxiety disorders as an adult. At the time he committed the crimes, he was suffering from bipolar disorder with symptoms of mania, which affected his judgment and impulse control, Scheller said.

Both prosecutors and Greenberg’s defense attorney filed documents under seal and out of the public eye, saying they were part of ongoing investigations being conducted by federal authorities in Florida and Washington, as well as state investigators.

Greenberg’s role in those investigations originally was going to be laid out during this week’s court hearings, but ultimately the decision was made to keep them confidential in order “to safeguard confidential and sensitive information concerning ongoing investigations and prosecutions,” his defense attorney said in a court filing.

Greenberg’s cooperation could play a role in the ongoing probe into Gaetz, who is being investigated over whether he paid a 17-year-old for sex. Gaetz has denied the allegations and previously said they were part of an extortion plot. Gaetz, a Republican, represents a large part of the Florida Panhandle. No charges have been brought against the congressman.

Greenberg has been linked to a number of other Florida politicians and their associates. So far, none of them has been implicated by name in the sex trafficking probe.

In his sentencing memo asking for leniency, Scheller noted that other potential co-conspirators that Greenberg has named, “including public figures,” haven’t yet faced criminal charges. If prosecutors want to use Greenberg as an example to deter crime, then those others should face justice too, he said.

“Unfortunately, at the time of Greenberg’s sentencing, many of these individuals have not been held to account,” Scheller said.

___

Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter: @MikeSchneiderAP


Brought to you by www.srnnews.com


Next generation: Hakeem Jeffries set to lead House Democrats

WASHINGTON (AP) — Emboldened House Democrats are poised to usher in a new generation of leaders with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries becoming the first Black American to head a major political party in Congress as long-serving Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her team step aside.

Showing rare party unity after their midterm election losses, the House Democrats are expected to move seamlessly Wednesday from one history-making leader to another, uniting around the 52-year-old New Yorker, who has vowed to “get things done,” even after Republicans won control of the chamber.

“It’s a solemn responsibility that we are all inheriting,” Jeffries told reporters on the eve of Wednesday’s vote. “And the best thing that we can do as a result of the seriousness and solemnity of the moment is lean in hard and do the best damn job that we can for the people.”

It’s rare that a party that lost the midterm elections would so easily regroup and stands in stark contrast with the upheaval among Republicans, who are struggling to unite around GOP leader Kevin McCarthy as the new House speaker as they prepare to take control when the new Congress convenes in January.

Wednesday’s internal Democratic caucus votes are being held behind closed doors, and Jeffries and the other top leaders are expected to win by acclamation, without challengers.

The trio led by Jeffries, who is poised to become the Democratic minority leader, includes 59-year-old Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts as the Democratic whip and 43-year-old Rep. Pete Aguilar of California as caucus chairman. The new team of Democratic leaders is expected to slide into the slots held by Pelosi and her top lieutenants — Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Democratic Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina — as the 80-something leaders make way for the next generation.

But in many ways, the trio has been transitioning in plain sight, as one aide put it — Jeffries, Clark and Aguilar working with Pelosi’s nod these past several years in lower-rung leadership roles as the first woman to have the speaker’s gavel prepared to step down. Pelosi, of California, has led the House Democrats for the past 20 years, and colleagues late Tuesday granted her the honorific title of “speaker emerita.”

“It an important moment for the caucus — that there’s a new generation of leadership,” said Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H., ahead of voting.

While Democrats will be relegated to the House minority in the new year, they will have a certain amount of leverage because the Republican majority is expected to be so slim and McCarthy’s hold on his party fragile.

The House’s two new potential leaders, Jeffries and McCarthy, are of the same generation but have almost no real relationship to speak of — in fact the Democrat is known for leveling political barbs at the Republican from afar, particularly over the GOP’s embrace of former President Donald Trump. Jeffries served as a House manager during Trump’s first impeachment.

“We’re still working through the implications of Trumpism,” Jeffries said, “and what it has meant, as a very destabilizing force for American democracy.”

Jeffries said he hopes to find “common ground when possible” with Republicans but will “oppose their extremism when we must.”

On the other side of the Capitol, Jeffries will have a partner in Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as two New Yorkers are poised to helm the Democratic leadership in Congress. They live about a mile (1.6 kilometers) apart in Brooklyn.

“There are going to be a group, in my judgment, of mainstream Republicans who are not going to want to go in the MAGA direction, and Hakeem’s the ideal type guy to work with them,” Schumer said in an interview, referencing Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

Jeffries has sometimes been met with skepticism from party progressives, viewed as a more centrist figure among House Democrats.

But Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., a progressive and part of the “squad” of liberal lawmakers, said she has been heartened by the way Jeffries and his team are reaching out, even though they face no challengers.

“There’s a genuine sense that he wants to develop relationships and working partnerships with many of us,” she said.

Clark, who is seeking the No. 2 spot, is expected to speak to her colleagues Wednesday about the importance of being a unified party, as the Democrats transition to the minority, and confront the Republicans.

She is seen as a coalition builder on the leadership team, while Aguilar, in the No. 3 spot, is known as a behind-the-scenes conduit to centrists and even Republicans.

Clyburn, now the highest-ranking Black American in Congress, will seek to become the assistant democratic leader, helping the new generation to transition.

The election for Clyburn’s post and several others are expected to be held Thursday.

Jeffries’ ascent comes as a milestone for Black Americans, the Capitol built with the labor of enslaved people and its dome later expanded during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency as a symbol the nation would stand during the Civil War.

“The thing about Pete, Katherine and myself is that we embrace what the House represents,” Jeffries said, calling it “the institution closest to the people.”

While the House Democrats are often a big, diverse, “noisy family,” he said, “it’s a good thing. At the end of the day, we’re always committed to finding the highest common denominator in order to get big things done for everyday Americans.”

___

Associated Press writer Michelle L. Price in New York contributed to this report.

___

This story has been corrected to reflect that Jeffries is age 52, not 57.


Brought to you by www.srnnews.com


Biden making new commitments at Tribal Nations Summit

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden plans to make new commitments to Native American nations during the government’s first in-person summit on tribal affairs in six years.

The changes include uniform standards for federal agencies to consult with tribes, a plan to revitalize Native languages and new efforts to strengthen the tribal rights that are outlined in existing treaties with the U.S. government. Biden, a Democrat, is scheduled to address the White House Tribal Nations Summit on Wednesday, the opening day of the two-day summit.

The gathering coincides with National Native American Heritage Month, which is celebrated in November. Leaders and representatives from hundreds of Native American tribes are expected to attend.

The Biden administration said its goal is to build on previous progress and create opportunities for lasting change in Indian Country. However, the lasting nature of Biden’s commitments isn’t guaranteed without codified laws and regulations.

“It changes with each president,” said Jonathan Nez, the leader of the Navajo Nation in the U.S. Southwest. “And even if it’s legislated, it takes a significant effort especially when, at times, tribal issues take the back seat to larger, national issues.”

Federal agencies recently have been creating tribal advisory councils and reimagining consultation policies that go beyond a “check the box” exercise. Some of the more significant changes involve incorporating Indigenous knowledge and practices into decision-making and federal research.

Nez has been advocating for a speedier process to get infrastructure projects, including internet access, on the Navajo Nation, which stretches 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) into New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. He said it requires constant advocacy.

“You’ve got some new congressional officials who just got elected also, so there’s going to be more educating that has to be done,” he said.

The Biden administration also planned to announce Wednesday that the Commerce Department will work with tribes to co-manage public resources like water and fisheries. The Agriculture Department and the Interior Department have signed 20 co-stewardship agreements with tribes, and another 60 are under review, the administration said.

A new report being released in conjunction with the summit will outline best practices on integrating tribal treaty rights, like hunting and fishing on ancestral lands, into the decision-making process for federal agencies.

The tribal nations summit wasn’t held during then-President Donald Trump’s administration. The Biden administration held one virtually last year as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the U.S. and highlighted deepening and long-standing inequities in tribal communities.

Both administrations signed off on legislation that infused much-needed funding into Indian Country to help address health care, lost revenue, housing, internet access and other needs. The 574 federally recognized tribes in the U.S. received a combined $20 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funding under the Biden administration.

Trump, a Republican, signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which provided $8 billion to tribes and Alaska Native corporations but had more rigid guidelines on how it could be spent. The Treasury Department was sued over how that funding was allocated and faced harsh criticism for the time it took to get the money to tribes.

Biden’s Treasury Department said it prioritized tribal engagement and feedback in distributing funding from the latest aid package. A report being released Wednesday by the administration outlines how tribes spent the money on more than 3,000 projects and services.

The Karuk Tribe in northwestern California, for example, used some of the aid for permanent and temporary housing after a wildfire that burned 200 homes in the Klamath Mountains displaced tribal members.

The Native Village of Deering and other tribal governments in Alaska pooled funds to ensure access to preschool and free meals, along with extra servings in an area where food has been scarce.

Other tribal communities across the U.S. have spent the money on housing for tribal members, transportation to veterans hospitals, after-school facilities, language and culture programs, emergency services and health care facilities.

___

Fonseca reported from Flagstaff, Arizona.


Brought to you by www.srnnews.com


Townhall Top of the Hour News

 

SRN News