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Officials find debris from F-35 fighter jet that crashed in South Carolina after pilot ejected

South Florida Local News - Mon, 09/18/2023 - 22:24

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The crash site for a stealth fighter jet that went missing during the weekend after its pilot ejected was located Monday in rural South Carolina after the military asked the public for help finding an aircraft built to elude detection.

The debris field was discovered in Williamsburg County, about two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston. Residents were being asked to avoid the area while a recovery team worked to secure it.

“We are transferring incident command to the USMC this evening, as they begin the recovery process,” the base posted Monday on the X social media platform.

Authorities had been searching for the jet since the pilot, whose name hasn’t been released, parachuted to safety into a North Charleston neighborhood about 2 p.m. Sunday. He was taken to a hospital, where he was in stable condition, Marines Maj. Melanie Salinas said.

“The mishap is currently under investigation, and we are unable to provide additional details to preserve the integrity of the investigative process,” the Marine Corps said in a news release on Monday evening.

The Marine Corps announced earlier Monday it was pausing aviation operations for two days after the fighter jet’s crash — the third costly accident in recent weeks.

Gen. Eric Smith, the acting commandant of the Marine Corps, ordered the stand-down while authorities searched near two South Carolina lakes for the missing FB-35B Lightning II aircraft.

It’s the third event documented as a “Class-A mishap” over the past six weeks, according to a Marine Corps announcement. Such incidents occur when damages reach $2.5 million or more, a Department of Defense aircraft is destroyed, or someone dies or is permanently disabled.

Commanders will spend the stand-down reinforcing safe flying policies, practices and procedures with their Marines, according to the Monday release.

The announcement gave no details on the two previous incidents. But in August, three U.S. Marines were killed in the crash of a V-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft during a training exercise in Australia, and a Marine Corps pilot was killed when his combat jet crashed near a San Diego base during a training flight.

Cpl. Christian Cortez, a Marine with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, said the details of what prompted the pilot to eject from the aircraft Sunday were under investigation.

Based on the missing plane’s location and trajectory, the search was initially focused on Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion, said Senior Master Sgt. Heather Stanton at Joint Base Charleston. Both lakes are north of North Charleston.

A South Carolina Law Enforcement Division helicopter joined the search after some bad weather cleared in the area, Stanton said. Military officials appealed in online posts Sunday for any help from the public in locating the aircraft.

The pilot of a second F-35 returned safely to Joint Base Charleston, Salinas said.

The planes and pilots were with the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing based in Beaufort, near the South Carolina coast.

Canada expels an Indian diplomat as it investigates a Sikh’s killing. India denies an alleged link

South Florida Local News - Mon, 09/18/2023 - 21:05

By KRUTIKA PATHI and ROB GILLIES (Associated Press)

NEW DELHI (AP) — Canada expelled a top Indian diplomat as it investigates what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called credible allegations its government may have had links to the assassination in Canada of a Sikh activist, an accusation that India rejected as “absurd.”

Trudeau said in Parliament on Monday that Canadian intelligence agencies have been looking into the allegations after Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a strong supporter of an independent Sikh homeland known as Khalistan, was gunned down on June 18 outside a Sikh cultural center in Surrey, British Columbia.

Trudeau told Parliament that he brought up the slaying with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Group of 20 summit last week in New Delhi. He said he told Modi that any Indian government involvement would be unacceptable and that he asked for cooperation in the investigation.

Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly said the head of Indian intelligence in Canada has been expelled as a consequence.

“If proven true this would be a great violation of our sovereignty and of the most basic rule of how countries deal with each other,” Joly said. “As a consequence we have expelled a top Indian diplomat.”

India’s foreign ministry dismissed the allegation of government involvement as “absurd and motivated.” The ministry’s statement Tuesday added that Trudeau made similar allegations to Modi at the G20 summit.

“Such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the statement noted, referring to a separatist movement India regards as a security threat.

The expulsion comes as relations between Canada and India are tense. Trade talks have been derailed and Canada just canceled a trade mission to India that was planned for the fall.

During a meeting with Trudeau at the G20 summit, Modi expressed “strong concerns” over Canada’s handling of the Punjabi independence movement among overseas Sikhs, according to India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

The statement described the Sikh movement as “promoting secessionism and inciting violence” against Indian diplomats. It called on Canada to work with India on what New Delhi said is a threat to the Canadian Indian diaspora.

Canada has a Sikh population of more than 770,000, or about 2% of its total population.

“Over the past number of weeks Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau said Canada has declared its deep concerns to the Indian government. “Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.”

Trudeau said his government has been working closely and coordinating with Canada’s allies on the case.

“In the strongest possible terms I continue to urge the government of India to cooperate with Canada to get to the bottom of this matter,” he said.

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said Canada’s national security adviser and the head of Canada’s spy service have travelled to India to meet their counterparts and to confront the Indian intelligence agencies with the allegations.

He called it an active homicide investigation led by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Joly said Trudeau also raised the matter with U.S. President Joe Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

“We are deeply concerned about the allegations referenced by Prime Minister Trudeau,” White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson. “We remain in regular contact with our Canadian partners. It is critical that Canada’s investigation proceed and the perpetrators be brought to justice.”

Opposition New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh, who is himself Sikh, called it outrageous and shocking. Singh said he grew up hearing stories that challenging India’s record on human rights might prevent you from getting a visa to travel there.

“But to hear the prime minister of Canada corroborate a potential link between a murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil by a foreign government is something I could never have imagined,” Singh said.

The Khalistan movement is banned in India, where officials see it and affiliated groups as a national security threat. But the movement still has some support in northern India, as well as beyond, in countries like Canada and the United Kingdom which are home to a sizable Sikh diaspora.

Nijjar was organizing an unofficial referendum in India for an independent Sikh state at the time of this death. Indian authorities announced a cash reward last year for information leading to Nijjar’s arrest, accusing him of involvement in an alleged attack on a Hindu priest in India.

British Columbia Premier David Eby said he’s received a briefing from Canada’s spy agency about the “assassination” of Nijjar and he’s “deeply disturbed” by what he was told.

He said he’s calling on the Canadian government to share all information related to ongoing foreign interference and “transnational organized crime threats.”

The World Sikh Organization of Canada called Nijjar an outspoken supporter of Khalistan who “often led peaceful protests against the violation of human rights actively taking place in India and in support of Khalistan.”

“Nijjar had publicly spoken of the threat to his life for months and said that he was targeted by Indian intelligence agencies,” the statement said.

Nijjar’s New York-based lawyer, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, has said Nijjar was warned by Canadian intelligence officials about being targeted for assassination by “mercenaries” before he was gunned down.

Janice Stein, a political scientist and international relations expert at the University of Toronto, said to kill a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is astounding.

“It’s tragic for Canada because we have issues of foreign interference with the two largest economies in Asia, China and India. And we have two very large diaspora from both countries. This is not what we want,” Stein said.

Indian authorities have cracked down on Sikh separatism over the years, after an armed insurgency in the 1980s for an independent Sikh state called Khalistan took off in Punjab state. A subsequent military operation killed thousands of people, according to official estimates.


Gilles reported from Toronto. Associated Press journalist Aamer Madhani contributed to this report from New York.

Five Americans detained in Iran walk free, released in deal for frozen Iranian assets

South Florida Local News - Mon, 09/18/2023 - 20:05


DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Five Americans detained for years in Iran walked off a plane and into freedom Monday, most arm-in-arm, as part of a politically risky deal that saw President Joe Biden agree to the release of nearly $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets owed by a third country, South Korea.

The successful negotiations for the Americans’ freedom brought Biden profuse thanks from their families but heat from Republican presidential rivals and other opponents for the monetary arrangement with one of America’s top adversaries.

“Today, five innocent Americans who were imprisoned in Iran are finally coming home,” Biden said in a statement released as the plane carrying the group from Tehran landed in Doha, Qatar. A plane carrying the Americans home to the United States was due to land Monday night.

Iran’s hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi, on hand for the United Nations General Assembly in New York, suggested Monday’s exchange could be “a step in the direction of a humanitarian action between us and America.”

“It can definitely help in building trust,” Raisi told journalists.

However, tensions are almost certain to remain high between the U.S. and Iran, which are locked in disputes over Tehran’s nuclear program and other matters. Iran says the program is peaceful, but it now enriches uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels.

The prisoner release unfolded amid a major American military buildup in the Persian Gulf, with the possibility of U.S. troops boarding and guarding commercial ships in the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of all oil shipments pass.

After the plane slowed to a stop in Doha, three of the prisoners walked down the stairs. They hugged the U.S. ambassador to Qatar, Timmy Davis, and others.

The three — Siamak Namazi, Emad Sharghi and Morad Tahbaz — then threw their arms over one another’s shoulders and walked off to a building in the airport.

In a statement issued on his behalf, Namazi said: “I would not be free today, if it wasn’t for all of you who didn’t allow the world to forget me.”

“Thank you for being my voice when I could not speak for myself and for making sure I was heard when I mustered the strength to scream from behind the impenetrable walls of Evin Prison,” he said.

The United States did not immediately identify the other two freed Americans, all of whom were released in exchange for five Iranians in U.S. custody and for the deal over the frozen Iranian assets. The Biden administration said the five freed Iranians pose no threat to U.S. national security.

Two of the imprisoned Americans’ family members, Effie Namazi and Vida Tahbaz, who had been under travel bans in Iran, also were on the plane. The women, too, clasped arms and kissed on the tarmac in Qatar.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said two of the Iranian prisoners will stay in the U.S. Meanwhile, Nour News, a website believed to be close to Iran’s security apparatus, said two of the Iranian prisoners were in Doha for the swap.

Nour News identified the two released Iranians in Doha as Mehrdad Ansari, an Iranian sentenced by the U.S. to 63 months in prison in 2021 for obtaining equipment that could be used in missiles, electronic warfare, nuclear weapons and other military gear, and Reza Sarhangpour Kafrani, an Iranian charged in 2021 over allegedly unlawfully exporting laboratory equipment to Iran.

The $5.9 billion in cash released to Iran represents money South Korea owed Iran — but had not yet paid — for oil purchased before the U.S. imposed sanctions on such transactions in 2019.

The U.S. maintains that, once in Qatar, the money will be held in restricted accounts to be used only for humanitarian goods, such as medicine and food. Those transactions are currently allowed under American sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic over its advancing nuclear program.

Iranian government officials have largely concurred, though some hard-liners have insisted, without evidence, that there would be no restrictions on how Tehran spends the money.

The planned exchange comes ahead of the convening of world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly this week in New York, where Raisi will speak.

The deal has already opened Biden to fresh criticism from Republicans and others who say the administration is helping boost the Iranian economy at a time when Iran poses a growing threat to American troops and Mideast allies. That could have implications in his re-election campaign.

Former President Donald Trump, currently the lead Republican challenger in the polls against Biden’s 2024 re-election bid, called it an “absolutely ridiculous” deal on the Truth Social social media site. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Biden of “rewarding and incentivizing Tehran’s bad behavior.”

Biden held what the White House described as an emotional phone call with the families of the freed Americans after their release.

In his statement, Biden urged Americans not to travel to Iran and demanded more information on what happened to Bob Levinson, an American who went missing years ago. The Biden administration also announced fresh sanctions on former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence.

The U.S. government, the prisoners’ families and activists have denounced the charges against the five Americans as baseless.

The Americans included Namazi, who was detained in 2015 and later sentenced to 10 years in prison on spying charges; Emad Sharghi, a venture capitalist sentenced to 10 years; and Morad Tahbaz, a British-American conservationist of Iranian descent who was arrested in 2018 and also received a 10-year sentence.

In a statement, Sharghi’s sister, Neda, said she “can’t wait to hug my brother and never let him go.”

“This is my brother, not an abstract policy,” she added. “We are talking about human lives. There is nothing partisan about saving the lives of innocent Americans and today should be a moment of American unity as we welcome them home.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken thanked Qatar, Switzerland, South Korea and Oman for helping make the deal happen. Biden pledged in a statement to keep pressing for “accountability for Iran and other regimes for the cruel practice of wrongful detention.”

Iran and the U.S. have a history of prisoner swaps dating back to the 1979 U.S. Embassy takeover and hostage crisis following the Islamic Revolution. Their most recent major exchange happened in 2016, when Iran came to a deal with world powers to restrict its nuclear program in return for easing sanctions.

The West accuses Iran of using foreign prisoners — including those with dual nationality — as bargaining chips, an allegation Tehran rejects.

Negotiations over a major prisoner swap faltered after then-president Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal in 2018. From the following year on, a series of attacks and ship seizures attributed to Iran have raised tensions.

Iran also supplies Russia with the bomb-carrying drones Moscow uses to target sites in Ukraine in its war on Kyiv, which remains another major dispute between Tehran and Washington.


Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Lee from Washington. Associated Press writers Nasser Karimi and Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran; Paul Haven in New York; Ellen Knickmeyer, Eric Tucker and Farnoush Amiri in Washington, and Aamer Madhani and Michelle Phillips in New York contributed.

Carmakers and the United Auto Workers are talking. No signs of a breakthrough to end the strike

South Florida Local News - Mon, 09/18/2023 - 20:05

By DAVID KOENIG (AP Business Writer)

The United Auto Workers and Detroit’s Big Three carmakers resumed talks aimed at ending a strike now in its fourth day, and under the threat that the walkout could soon spread.

Stellantis said it resumed negotiations with the union Monday and described the talks as “constructive.” A spokesman for General Motors said representatives of the company and the United Auto Workers also were continuing to negotiate.

However, UAW President Shawn Fain said on NPR, “We have a long way to go,” and if the companies don’t respond to the union’s demands, “then we will escalate action.”

In a video statement late Monday, Fain said more factories could be targeted if “serious progress” toward an agreement isn’t reached by Friday at noon.

“We’re not messing around,” he said.

So far the strike is limited to about 13,000 workers at three factories — one each at GM, Ford and Stellantis, the successor to Fiat Chrysler.

However, the union’s strategy hinges on its ability to escalate the strike quickly, and the carmakers are warning of potential layoffs as the limited strike reduces the amount of material needed at plants that remain open.

GM said Monday that 2,000 UAW-represented workers at an assembly plant in Kansas City are “expected to be idled as soon as early this week” because of a shortage of supplies from a GM plant near St. Louis, where workers walked off the job Friday.

Workers at the Kansas City plant build the Chevrolet Malibu and Cadillac XT4.

The strike could begin to affect suppliers and their employees too. CIE Newcor told Michigan officials that it expects a one-month closure of four plants in the state to start Oct. 2 and idle nearly 300 workers.

In a sign of concern of the strike’s potential economic and political fallout, the Biden administration stepped up its response.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she is hoping for a quick resolution, while adding that is too soon to gauge the strike’s impact.

“It’s premature to be making forecasts about what it means for the economy. It would depend on how long the strike lasts and who would be affected by it,” she said on CNBC.

Yellen said labor activism this year — strikes by Hollywood writers and actors, by workers at about 150 Starbucks locations and walkouts that were narrowly averted at United Parcel Service and West Coast ports — has been driven by a strong labor market and high demand for workers.

President Joe Biden is sending two top administration officials to Detroit to meet with both sides. Biden has backed the UAW in brief public comments, saying that the automakers have not fairly shared their record profits with workers.

An administration official said Monday that acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and senior aide Gene Sperling will not serve as mediators — they won’t be at the bargaining table — but are going to Detroit “to help support the negotiations in any way the parties feel is constructive.” The official was not authorized to discuss private discussions and spoke anonymously.

Fain said the Biden administration won’t broker a deal

“This is our battle. Our members are out there manning the picket lines,” he said Monday on MSNBC. “This battle is not about the president, it’s not about the former president” — a reference to reports that former President Donald Trump plans to skip a debate for Republican presidential candidates next week to meet with striking autoworkers in Detroit.

A key feature of the UAW strategy is the threat of escalating the strike if the union is unhappy with the pace of bargaining.

On Monday, Ford workers on a picket line outside a plant in the Detroit suburb of Wayne were joined by members of other unions and the occasional politician.

Tevita Uhatafe, an aircraft-maintenance worker from Arlington, Texas, showed his support and saw what it might look like if UAW members strike against a GM truck plant in his hometown.

“This is a fight that is most likely going to happen in our backyard,” Uhatafe said.

U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., said she walked the picket line because the strike “is showcasing a modern movement for worker justice and worker fairness.”


Associated Press writer Mike Householder in Wayne, Michigan, contributed to this report. Koenig reported from Dallas.

Jeff McNeil’s tiebreaking homer in ninth lifts Mets over Marlins, Miami falls out of playoff position

South Florida Local News - Mon, 09/18/2023 - 19:05

MIAMI — Jeff McNeil hit a tiebreaking homer leading off the ninth inning and the New York Mets knocked the Miami Marlins out of playoff position with a 2-1 victory Monday night.

Mark Vientos had an RBI single and José Butto pitched six stingy innings to help the fourth-place Mets play spoiler again with their second consecutive win over a postseason contender. New York also beat the Cincinnati Reds at home on Sunday.

Miami fell a half-game behind the idle Chicago Cubs for the third and final National League wild card. Cincinnati is also a half-game in front of the Marlins after defeating Minnesota on Monday night.

McNeil pulled a slider from closer Tanner Scott (8-5) over the right-field wall for his 10th homer. That snapped a string of seven straight scoreless outings for Scott, who hadn’t allowed an earned run in 18 appearances since July 31.

Phil Bickford (5-5) pitched a perfect eighth for the win, and Adam Ottavino closed for his 11th save.

Luis Arraez had two hits for Miami and increased his season total to 201. He became the fourth Marlins player to reach 200 in a season.

Butto shut down a Miami lineup that scored 36 runs in a three-game sweep of the major league-leading Atlanta Braves last weekend. The right-hander struck out six and scattered four hits while allowing one run.

Jorge Soler nearly gave the Marlins a 3-1 lead with a two-run homer in the sixth. After he finished his trot around the bases, the umpires huddled and ruled Soler’s towering drive down the left-field line sailed foul above the pole. The call stood following a replay review, and Soler ultimately struck out.

Vientos’ run-scoring single off Marlins starter Edward Cabrera in the fifth put New York ahead 1-0. Ronny Mauricio hit a one-out single and stole second. Omar Narváez walked before Vientos hit a line drive to center that scored Mauricio.

Miami tied it in the bottom half when Jesús Sánchez scored from third on Joey Wendle’s double-play grounder. Sánchez drew a leadoff walk and advanced two bases on Garrett Hampson’s single.

Cabrera was lifted after 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander gave up one run, four hits and struck out four.


The Mets reinstated INF Luis Guillorme from the injured list and optioned INF Jonathan Araúz to Triple-A Syracuse.


Mets: OF Starling Marte (right groin strain) is with the club in Miami. Marte has appeared in two games since July 16.

Marlins: RHP Sandy Alcantara (right forearm flexor strain) said he felt good after throwing his second bullpen. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner has been sidelined since Sept. 6.


Mets LHP Joey Lucchesi (3-0, 2.83 ERA) starts the middle game of the series Tuesday night against LHP Braxton Garrett (9-6, 3.67).

Trump calls DeSantis abortion ban ‘a terrible mistake,’ sparking anger from some key Republicans

South Florida Local News - Mon, 09/18/2023 - 18:21

By SARA BURNETT (Associated Press)

Donald Trump is facing new blowback from anti-abortion activists for refusing to commit to national abortion restrictions and for calling Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signing of a six-week ban on the procedure a “terrible mistake.”

Speaking Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Trump repeatedly declined to say whether he would support a federal ban on abortion. He said he could “live with” the procedure being banned by individual states or nationwide through federal action, though he said “from a legal standpoint, I think it’s probably better” to be handled at the state level.

Regarding the bill signed by DeSantis, which bans abortions before many women know they are pregnant, Trump said, “I think what he did is a terrible thing and a terrible mistake.”

So far, the former president has dominated the 2024 field while at times spurning the anti-abortion groups that traditionally have huge influence in Republican primaries. But Trump’s direct attack on DeSantis, whom he’s long treated as his chief rival, could give the Florida governor new fodder as he tries to regain momentum in his campaign and solidify his second-place standing.

Speaking to an Iowa radio station on Monday, DeSantis said he was proud to have signed the Florida legislation, which he called “noble and just.”

“I don’t know how you can even make the claim that you’re somehow pro-life if you’re criticizing states for enacting pro-life protections for babies,” DeSantis told Radio Iowa.

He also criticized Trump’s statement that he would work with both sides regarding abortion policy, warning, “I think all pro-lifers should know that he’s preparing to sell you out.”

At a campaign stop in Mason City, Iowa, on Monday, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina mentioned other candidates who oppose a national abortion ban but specifically accused Trump of retreating on the issue.

“Frankly, those pro-life folks that we really want to stand with us are not standing,” he told more than 80 people in a church meeting room. “President Trump said he would negotiate with Democrats and walked back away from where I believe we need to be, which is a 15-week limit on the federal level.”

Following Sunday’s interview, the country’s largest anti-abortion organization, which backs a national ban on abortions at 15 weeks of pregnancy, quickly released a statement saying anything less restrictive “makes no sense.”

“We’re at a moment where we need a human rights advocate, someone who is dedicated to saving the lives of children and serving mothers in need. Every single candidate should be clear on how they plan to do that,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America.

The Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade left the decision of whether and how to restrict abortion to the states, creating a patchwork of laws across the country, with most Republican-led states imposing new restrictions and states led by Democrats passing protections. Twenty-five million women of childbearing age now live in states where abortions are more difficult to get than before the ruling.

Trump has approached abortion from a political stance, saying that the Supreme Court’s decision gave conservatives room to negotiate new restrictions. He has argued Republicans’ push for abortion restrictions hurt the GOP in the 2022 midterm elections and that GOP candidates need to do a better job of explaining the issue.

Banning abortion at six weeks of pregnancy, as Florida enacted earlier this year, is unpopular with the U.S. public, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research conducted in June. The poll found that 73% of all U.S. adults believe abortion should be allowed up to six weeks of pregnancy, which is when cardiac activity in a fetus may be detected and before women often know they’re pregnant. About half of Americans say abortions should be permitted up to 15 weeks.

In that poll, 56% of Republicans said abortion should be allowed in their state up to 6 weeks and 29% supported making the procedure legal up to 15 weeks.

But in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation Republican caucuses, evangelicals and other social conservatives who strongly oppose abortion make up the majority of those who participate and decide the winner. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds this summer signed an abortion ban similar to Florida’s. Reynolds has not endorsed a candidate.

Trump has called himself the “the most pro-life president in American history” and noted that three of his Supreme Court picks formed part of the conservative majority that overturned Roe.

He has so far declined to go along with some of his rivals, including his onetime vice president, Mike Pence, who is pushing for national bans that would take effect relatively early in a pregnancy.

Interviews with GOP voters and activists over the past several months suggest a split between people satisfied with Trump’s record during his term and others who want Trump to endorse a national abortion ban.

Some Republicans in some key states, including those backing his rivals, expressed displeasure after the interview.

Among them was South Carolina state Rep. John McCravy, who sponsored the most recent, restrictive abortion measure, which bans the practice in his state after around six weeks of pregnancy. South Carolina will be among the early states to choose a nominee. McCravy described himself in an interview as “certainly disappointed.”

“It sounded completely out of step with his staunch support for life while he was president,” he said.

Kristen Waggoner, CEO of the conservative legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom, also took issue.

“Laws protecting the unborn are not a ‘terrible mistake.’ They are the hallmark of a just and moral society,” she wrote on X. “Governors who protect life should be applauded, not attacked.”

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life Action, called the interview “extremely disappointing” and sent a letter to Trump asking him to clarify his statements. The organization, one of the largest anti-abortion groups in the U.S., said it plans a $5 million door-knocking campaign in 2024 but noted its members were discouraged by Trump’s comments.

“The pro-life vote is up for grabs,” Hawkins stated.

“We need clarity on your vision even as we celebrate your pro-life record.”


Burnett reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Thomas Beaumont in Mason City, Iowa, Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix, Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina, and Michelle L. Price in New York contributed to this report.

Two arrested after ‘prolific amount’ of Jeep part thefts at Fort Lauderdale airport

South Florida Local News - Mon, 09/18/2023 - 17:10

Several Jeep owners returned to their cars parked at a Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport parking garage after trips in recent months to find their headlights missing, their hoods unlatched or their front grilles damaged.

Two South Florida men have been arrested in connection with the string of thefts, and the Broward Sheriff’s Office said detectives believe the same men were involved in similar thefts at Miami and Palm Beach International airports in the past few months.

Jonathan Quintero, 22, of Hollywood, and Diogenes Morel Martinez, 25, of Fort Lauderdale, were arrested Saturday after Sheriff’s Office detectives surveilled the Hibiscus Garage that afternoon and saw them in a silver 2015 Nissan Altima “slowly and meticulously” driving on multiple floors and targeting two Jeep Wranglers, a probable cause affidavit said.

They used an electric drill to remove the headlights from one black and one white Jeep Wrangler on Saturday afternoon, taking turns acting as lookouts, police said. Deputies were watching them from feet away, the affidavit said.

Quintero and Morel Martinez drove off from the parking garage, and deputies followed them, the affidavit said. The men left the Nissan in the area of Southwest 18th Avenue and Northwest Fourth Court and carried a red tool bag as they got into another car.

Deputies then followed the men to Sawgrass Mills mall in Sunrise, the affidavit said. The Sheriff’s Office said “they tried to commit a similar crime” at the mall and were taken into custody.

The affidavit said a “prolific amount” of Jeep-part thefts had occurred at the Fort Lauderdale airport recently, totaling 28 criminal complaints. Palm Beach International Airport documented 18 criminal complaints with similar parts being stolen and 14 at Miami International Airport. The affidavit did not give a time frame for the alleged criminal complaints.

A commonality deputies found during the investigation was that the suspects were using a silver Nissan Altima, according to the affidavit. Security cameras in the parking garage recorded suspects who arrived in the Altima canvassing the garage on Aug. 31 shortly before noon. The suspects, later identified as Morel Martinez and Quintero, approached multiple parked Jeeps, making stops in between at the parked Altima before walking or driving to another row of cars on different levels, the affidavit said.

Detectives using law enforcement databases and surveillance footage earlier this month found that the possible driver of the Altima on Aug. 31 was Morel Martinez, who had been arrested by Hollywood Police in April, the affidavit said. Court records show he was arrested on a warrant relating to a still-pending misdemeanor traffic criminal case from 2022.

Deputies contacted the Hollywood Police officer who arrested Morel Martinez in April and showed him the surveillance footage from the parking garage. The officer identified Morel Martinez as the suspect in the video, the affidavit said.

When the two men were arrested Saturday, deputies found a 9 mm handgun in Morel Martinez’s waistband. The affidavit said both admitted to the theft that day and both identified themselves in the August surveillance footage from the parking garage.

The Sheriff’s Office said investigators believe Morel Martinez and Quintero stole headlights and grilles from dozens of Jeeps parked at the three South Florida airports in the past few months. Miami-Dade Police and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office are still investigating the thefts.

Quintero faces two counts of possession of burglary tools with intent to use, six counts of unarmed burglary of an unoccupied conveyance, five counts of grand theft, one count of misdemeanor petit theft and three counts of misdemeanor criminal mischief, court and jail records show.

Morel Martinez faces two counts of possession of burglary tools with intent to use, two counts of armed burglary of a conveyance or structure, five counts of grand theft, four counts of unarmed burglary of an unoccupied conveyance, three counts of misdemeanor criminal mischief and one count of misdemeanor petit theft, court and jail records show.

They were held in the Broward Main Jail as of Monday evening.

GATORS PODCAST: Florida ascends to Top 25, Billy Napier returns to Gator Nation’s good graces (Ep. 185)

South Florida Local News - Mon, 09/18/2023 - 17:05

UF’s resounding win against No. 11 Tennessee in a sold-out Swamp reasserted the Gators’ dominance against the Vols and showcased one of college football’s best home-field advantages. Transfer quarterback Graham Mertz continued to capitalize on his second chance, Trevor Etienne exhibited star potential and a retooled defense turned in another inspired effort under Austin Armstrong. The effort was far from flawless, but was a major step for an embattled coach and a group of players with something to prove. During the latest Swamp Things, Edgar and Mark recall a memorable night and discuss how the Gators build on it.

  • Gator suspensions (:17)
  • Billy Napier: ‘It validates your plan’ (4:57)
  • Upcoming games / expectations (12:00)
  • The Swamp showed up in force (19:55)
  • Identifying talent / leadership (28:00)
  • Gushing about Graham Mertz (35:20)
  • Special teams needs help (38:57)
  • Jeremy Foley’s Corner: Volleyball (45:50)

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