Review Category : National News

Military planes create loud ‘booming sound’ in south Florida

iStock/Thinkstock(WESTON, Fla.) — Military planes traveling through south Florida created a loud boom Friday night that alarmed some residents, officials said.

Some residents mistook the loud sound related to the incident for an explosion, but the Broward Sheriff’s office confirmed that the noise was from a military exercise.

The Sheriff’s office said 911 centers were flooded with phone calls about the incident.

Booming sound heard in @CityofWeston and nearby cities was from military planes headed to Palm Beach County. Please don’t tie up 9-1-1.

— Broward Sheriff (@browardsheriff) February 18, 2017

The boom was felt and heard from Weston to Boca Raton, which is located about an hour north of Miami, the sheriff’s office said.

Twitter users in multiple cities reported that they heard a loud explosion-like sound. Some users also said felt an impact that shook their windows.

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US doesn’t plan to use National Guard to arrest immigrants, despite early memo

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The White House and Department of Homeland Security said Friday that they are not planning to use the National Guard to apprehend and arrest undocumented immigrants, despite a “preliminary draft memo” that indicated doing so was a possibility.

“The President and the White House has never had that as part of any plan to use the National Guard in any capacity for that,” White House Deputy Spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday.

But a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security told ABC News there was in fact “a very early, preliminary draft memo” that included language to utilize the Guard to, as the memo put it, “perform the functions of an immigration officer in relation to the investigation, apprehension, and detention of aliens in the United States.”

The proposal would have covered 11 states — those bordering Mexico as well as those adjacent to them.

This senior official confirmed that the memo, circulating online, appears to be an authentic version of that early draft, but that the latest version had removed any reference of using the National Guard as a law enforcement and immigration force.

DHS officials insist Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly never saw that version of the document and that his name appears on it only because he would be the person who ultimately signs off on it.

Kelly has seen the latest version and his name still appears on it, according to this official.

“The Department is not considering mobilizing the National Guard for immigration enforcement,” a spokesman for DHS said.

Using the National Guard for the purpose of border protection is by no means unprecedented. There were two major border protection efforts that employed the Guard under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama: operations Jump Start in 2006 and Phalanx in 2010. But neither were along the scale of what this plan was proposing. The biggest difference being the proposal to allow Guardsmen to arrest people.

Operation Jump Start authorized National Guard to do border enforcement and construction of a fence, but they were there to observe and report and were not involved in law enforcement. Under Obama they were mainly doing overflight and surveillance, working with law enforcement on the ground. They weren’t arresting people.

Nevertheless, the DHS is adamant there is no longer any proposal to use the National Guard to arrest illegal immigrants and that this draft never made it to the secretary’s desk for consideration.

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Inmates at a California men’s prison find purpose in beauty school

iStock/Thinkstock(BLYTHE, Calif.) — Valley State Prison in Chowchilla is a men’s prison in California where inmates can get beauty school training, like everyone else in the state.

“I like doing the facial stuff,” Juan Brizuela, 36, an inmate at Valley State told ABC News. “It’s a real intimate moment that you have with your client, you trust one another.”

Brizuela was convicted of second degree murder when he was 15 years old and received a sentence of fifteen years to life in prison. Before coming to Valley State he was held for 18 years at Ironwood State Prison in Blythe, California.

“I hadn’t touched another person in 18 years, so when I had to do my first haircut I couldn’t and [the instructor] had to do it for me,” Brizuela said. It took him 9 months in the cosmetology program to feel comfortable touching other people, he said.

Inmates aren’t allowed to touch staff or other inmates, and there are a lot of rules when it comes to personal space, according to Lieutenant Ronald Ladd, Administrative Assistant and Public Information Officer at Valley State.

Lt. Ladd said that Valley State was previously a women’s prison. But because of a decrease in the female inmate population and the need for more male institutions, the institution became a male prison in 2013.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has identified Valley State as a “re-entry hub,” according to its website, which includes rehabilitation programs, educational and vocational training, like the cosmetology program, for its population.

“We asked the male inmates if they were interested in a cosmetology program when the prison first converted,” Ladd told ABC News, “and we were surprised at how many were interested.”

The cosmetology training consists of book work, hands on training with mannequins first, then real clients and, lastly, a written test that allows the student to obtain their California State Barbering and Cosmetology License after they’ve completed 1,600 hours of training.

They learn everything from human anatomy and psychology to the business of cosmetology to the different textures of hair and what chemicals to use for those hair types, Brizuela said.

He is the second male inmate at Valley State to receive a cosmetology license, he said, and he enjoys helping other inmates get ready for the licensing exam. When he’s not practicing his newfound trade, Brizuela is preparing for life outside of prison in a parole preparation program.

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Private detective claims to use his supposed psychic powers to solve crimes

ABC News(PUEBLO, Colo.) — Troy Griffin walked across a bridge in Colorado, searching for a body.

He brought search dogs and a team of volunteers with him, but his main set of tools are his visions.

Griffin is a self-proclaimed psychic detective. Shunning the crystal ball, tarot cards and tea leaves of his fellow intuitives, he says he uses his psychic powers to solve crimes.

“I’ve worked on … about a 100 cases overall,” Griffin said.

He says he’s built a business out of bringing the paranormal into police work, charging up to $250 an hour for his investigative work.

He recently worked a missing person’s case that gripped the nation. Kelsie Schelling, 21, was eight weeks pregnant and disappeared in February 2013 after making a late night drive from her home in Denver to see her boyfriend in Pueblo, Colorado. Her family never saw or heard from her again.

Nearly four years after her unsolved disappearance, Schelling’s mother Laura Saxton is still searching for her daughter and is grateful for Griffin’s help.

“We just want her back, and well do whatever it takes to get her back,” Saxton said. “Any time you can find anybody who sincerely wants to help it means a lot because people come and go very quickly.”

Using Griffin’s supposed psychic intuition and some anonymous tips, they searched a sparsely populated area in Pueblo, Colorado, where Griffin was trying to clue in on any sign of Schelling.

Griffin said his visions are “like watching TV, but just little clips,” and he’ll get overwhelming feelings of nervousness and anxiety.

“It’s nothing to do with the victims, it’s just how I know or how I use my directions,” he said. “When I pick up the feeling I have to go and follow that … So I have in my mind a vision of where I think her body may be that’s what I’m searching for.”

As they combed through rocks and riverbeds at two different points of interest, Griffin appeared to pick up a bunch of different energies.

“I feel nauseous, sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe,” he said.

But hours of searching led to no real clues pointing to Schilling’s whereabouts.

“I don’t feel Kelsie here at all,” he said finally.

Back at his office located outside of Denver, the walls are covered with files, maps and addresses from what he says are his cases. Griffin said he had previously made contact with Schilling when he first met her mother.

“When I contacted Kelsie, it was more just apologies -– ‘I’m sorry mom, I didn’t mean for it to happen. I didn’t know,’” Griffin said. “[Her mother] Laura is never going to have closure unless she finds something.”

In the six years he’s been in business, out of 100 cases, Griffin claims he has an 18 to 20 percent success rate, but defended those numbers.

“When you look at murder cases and unsolved missing persons, they’re very few percentage that actually get solved,” he said.

But of the roughly 100 cases Griffin claims he worked on, Griffin could not provide one example to ABC News to verify that he contributed to a police investigation. Even with the Kelsie Schilling case, when contacted, the Pueblo police department told ABC News they had “no official contact” with Griffin and were “unaware” of his investigation.

When asked how police departments typically receive his offer to help, Griffin said, “It really depends on what a detective or detectives believe in,” but that he was “lucky” if he got a “50/50” shot.

Rhonda Sheya said she is a former client turned friend of Griffin’s, and that she turned to him for help the day after her brother-in-law Danny Sheya mysteriously went missing in December 2014.

“He said, ‘I believe that he is within a few minutes of your home, a few miles, maybe five miles of your home. I see him surrounded by water and a few miles from your home,’” Sheya said. “I was like, ‘Water? There was no water on the route that we were searching.’”

Tragically, Danny Sheya’s vehicle had gone off the road on a dangerous stretch of road in Colorado and was found two days later by passerbys. Rhonda Sheya credits Griffin with helping them find closure.

“It does cross your mind that this a little bit out there,” she said. “It’s not exactly what mainstream people believe or think. It was desperation. You get desperate. At some point you’re grasping at straws. You don’t care. You just want your loved one back.”

Psychic-based crime solvers are not a new phenomenon. There was five seasons worth on the Court TV reality series called “Psychic Detectives.” There have been other hits such as “The Mentalist” and “Medium.” They were even spoofed on “South Park.”

But psychic readings, especially those in the public eye, have not been exempt from scrutiny. One example was a 2004 reading famed psychic Sylvia Browne performed on “The Montel Williams Show” for the mother of then-missing girl Amanda Berry. Browne told Berry’s mother that her daughter was dead, but nine years later, in May 2013, she was found alive.

Prior to her death in November 2013, Browne released a statement saying in part, “I have been more right than wrong. If ever there was a time to be grateful and relieved for being mistaken, this is that time.”

But still, Berry’s mother died believing her daughter was dead when she wasn’t. Critics called Browne a “grief vampire” taking advantage of a grieving parent. Griffin denied that’s what he’s doing in the Schilling case.

“I waited for her mom to tell me what she thought,” he said. “I don’t say you’re dead or you’re alive. I say I have feeling. I’m never going to tell you if you’re dead or alive. If I feel strongly, I’m still not going to tell you.”

But he did tell Schilling’s mother how she was murdered, saying that he believed strangulation was involved. If it turns out he’s wrong, Griffin said it would be time for him to “consider a different career.”

“I don’t take advantage of people that are grieving. Most are referred to me from what I did. I don’t charge them,” he said. “I’m not coming with false hope either way. I’m not here to tell you yea or nay. I’m here to help.”

Griffin said he’s not taking any money from Laura Saxton or any other grieving Schilling family members. He said he makes most of his money doing psychic readings, which he charges $140 an hour for people who come to him.

Famed skeptic Joe Nickell’s office in Buffalo, New York, is a shrine to cases he claims to have debunked over the years, including psychic detectives.

“What people should realize is psychics cannot do what they claim to do,” Nickell said. “They have been reviewed by mainstream science, and they can’t do it. If they can do it, let’s see that they do it.”

Nickell said psychics use a series of mentalist tricks often referred to as “retrofitting.”

“[It] could be defined as ‘after-the-fact matching,’” he said. “In other words, the detectives have a missing person. They assume the person might be dead, but they’re looking to find that person. In comes the psychic, often ingratiating himself or herself with the family, forcing the police, pretty much, to have to pay attention to the psychic.

“The psychic will say things like, ‘I see water. I’m getting the number 7. I see some sort of tall structure,’ and so on. They call these clues,” he added.

But Griffin said he’s isn’t bothered by critics who don’t believe in his work.

“What I say to skeptics is, if you have never been in the people’s shoes that I walk with, don’t judge or put opinion on it until you really know if it’s real or not,” he said. “The only way you’re going to know is if there’s ever a day that you need somebody like me. Then you’ll know. Before then you’ll probably never believe in me but the people that I help and walk away with closure moving forward. They’re the ones who believed in me. That’s why I continue to do what I do.”

To this day, Kelsie Schilling remains missing, and her mother’s painful search for the daughter who never came home continues.

“I have to try and keep hope to keep going because I know if I give up then it just goes away and Kelsie’s forgotten,” Saxton said. “I will just try and find my hope and my drive wherever I can find it and whoever is brought into my life to make that happen and right now [Griffin] has been brought in my life.”

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Columbia University accidentally sent acceptance letters to 277 applicants

Raymond Boyd/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — An Ivy League university informed more than 200 students that they’d been accepted earlier this week, but it turned out to be a mistake.

Columbia University said it accidentally sent acceptance emails to 277 prospective students on Wednesday and then recalled them.

The university said the notices “incorrectly implied” that they’d been admitted to its Mailman School of Public Health Master’s program. Columbia said it sent a follow-up email within an hour saying the initial notice was sent erroneously.

Columbia attributed the mix-up to “human error” and said it is working to strengthen its procedures.

“We deeply apologize for this miscommunication. We value the energy and enthusiasm that our applicants bring to the admissions process, and regret the stress and confusion caused by this mistake,” Julie Kornfeld, Vice Dean for Education at Columbia University, told ABC News in a statement on Friday.

“We are working assiduously to strengthen our internal procedures in order to ensure that this mistake does not happen in the future,” the statement continued.

The university did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for additional information on what will happen to those students’ applications.

Columbia is not the first university to make such a mistake.

In 2015, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh said it mistakenly informed 800 applicants that they were accepted into their master’s program in computer science, the university said on its website.

And just last year, the University of Buffalo sent out 5,109 acceptance letters in error, according to CNN.

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City of Delphi, Indiana, left heartbroken and rattled by murders of 2 teenage girls

Handout via WLFI(DELPHI, Ind.) — The rural city of Delphi, Indiana, has been rocked by the unsolved murders of two teenage girls, whose bodies were found a day after they disappeared on a nature trail near the city.

Liberty German, 14, and Abigail Williams, 13, were first reported missing by their families on Feb. 13 after they did not return from a hike, according to authorities.

A widespread search was immediately launched for the girls. On Tuesday, a volunteer discovered the bodies of German and Williams in the woods by Deer Creek.

Here is the area where Delphi teens were found dead. Property owner points out its very rough terrain @rtv6

— Mike Pelton (@MikePeltonRTV6) February 16, 2017

Based on “the way the bodies were found,” state police believe the girls were murdered, Indiana State Police Sgt. Kim Riley told ABC News.

So far, no one has been arrested. However, authorities have released an image of a man they believe is a person of interest in the double-homicide case.

The man was photographed on a nature trail around the same time German and Williams were hiking before they disappeared, according to state police.

“We are asking help from the public to help identify him so he can be contacted regarding what he might have seen,” state police said in a statement Wednesday.

Investigators also told ABC News that a search warrant was executed at a home in Delphi on Thursday night, but it did not yield anything of value to the investigation.

Meanwhile, the double-murder mystery has left the tight-knit community of Delphi heartbroken and fearful.

“Delphi is one of the safest places, and now, to think something could have happened here in our own town — it’s scary,” resident Melissa Deal, a family friend of the two girls, told ABC News.

Another family friend, Kevin Kolonginsky, told ABC News he was shocked that such a “horrible” thing could happen in the nature trail near the town.

Here is the Monon High Bridge, where teens Abby Williams and Libby German were last seen alive Monday @rtv6

— Mike Pelton (@MikePeltonRTV6) February 16, 2017

“We have a wonderful trail system here, that’s one of the beautiful things about living here,” Kolonginsky said. “And this is as horrible a thing that could happen to an asset like that for a town and to the children of our town.”

He said that “from now on, kids on trails will have their moms and dads with them.”

Delphi’s mayor, Shane Evans, told ABC News Friday that the loss of German and Williams has been “surreal” for the city’s residents.

“This is difficult time for everyone,” Evans said. “I think a double-homicide is rare anywhere, but it’s extremely rare for the city of Delphi.”

The 27-year-old mayor said the last homicide in the city he could remember happened when he was in middle school.

Evans said Delphi is a “generally very safe and friendly area” where “people wave when they see each other on the streets.”

Despite the heartbreak, Evans said that the community has come closer together in “an outpouring of support” for each other, the girls and their families.

Hundreds of people in Delphi and other communities in Carroll County showed up on Tuesday to try and help find the two girls after they were reported missing, according to Indiana State Police Sgt. Kim Riley.

Volunteers are gathering at the Delphi Municipal Building to search for Abby & Libby. The 13 year old girls went missing yesterday.

— Jillian Deam (@JillianDeam) February 14, 2017

“You got to realize this is rural Indiana,” Riley told ABC News. “Most of the people born and raised here stay here. People are family. Everyone knows everyone.”

News that the girls were found murdered really hit the community hard, according to Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby.

“It’s not like anything we’ve had in our past,” Leazenby told ABC News. “This one has a different feel to it. These were wonderful girls … this was their innocence taken away from them at a very young age.”

The mayor said that the city’s people will likely “continue to carry on, but with increased vigilance and more acute awareness of their surroundings in the interim.”

“We all had hope we’d find the girls alive, but then that hope turned into sorrow when their bodies were found, and then that sorrow turned into frustration and anger for whoever did this,” he said.

As law enforcement continue to work around-the-clock to find the girls’ killer, the community has set up several public events in the coming days to honor the lives of German and Williams.

People are uneasy here, but businesses all over Delphi are showing support for Liberty German and Abigail Williams.

— Madeline Buckley (@Mabuckley88) February 17, 2017

Viewings for both girls are being held on Feb. 18 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Delphi High School gymnasium, ABC’s Indianapolis affiliate WRTV reported.

Family tells me the viewing for the two Delphi teens killed this week will take place Saturday from 4-8p at Delphi High School. @rtv6

— Mike Pelton (@MikePeltonRTV6) February 16, 2017

Brad Henry, a longtime friend of the Williams family, told WRTV that Williams was a wonderful young girl who was taken way too soon.

“It’s tragic, and there are really no words to describe it,” Henry said. The lack of answers has the small community rattled the most, he noted.

“It impacts everybody, especially if you have children,” Henry said. “People move away from the city to small towns to get away from this kind of thing, and you think it’s never going to happen and when it does it’s total chaos and it’s total shock.”

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Strongest storm in years to drench Southern California

ABC News(LOS ANGELES) — Southern California is bracing for torrential rain and powerful winds Friday in what could be the strongest storm to hit the region in years, if not decades.

The massive storm took aim at the West Coast Friday morning and will dump heavy rain across southwest California Friday, with numerous rain showers lingering into Saturday, according to forecasts. Flash flood watches are in effect for Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties from Friday morning through Saturday morning.

“The storm looks to be the strongest storm to hit southwest California this season,” the National Weather Service office for the Los Angeles region wrote. “It is likely the strongest within the last six years and possibly even as far back as December 2004 or January 1995.”

The storm is expected to generate a total of 3 to 6 inches of rain in Los Angeles County beaches and valleys and 5 to 10 inches of rain in south-facing foothills and coastal mountain slopes, according to the National Weather Service.

Heavy rainfall and gusting wind moved into Southern California Friday around 7 a.m. local time. Los Angeles will start to see the heaviest downpour Friday afternoon. By 6 p.m. local time, heavy rainfall will move further south into San Diego, according to ABC News meteorologists tracking the storm.

With soil already soaked from significant rainfall this winter, forecasters warned of the potential for flash floods and debris flows, especially near areas stripped bare by wildfires.

“A combination of the Pacific jet stream and a storm system will bring copious amounts of rain to Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Diego today into tonight,” said ABC News senior meteorologist Max Golembo. “This will lead to major flash flooding in urban areas. Mudslides and rockslides are possible in the recent burn areas.”

Numerous showers in Southern California will continue through Saturday, Golembo added.

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Dakota Access Pipeline protesters meet with authorities over emergency evacuation order

Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Dakota Access Pipeline protesters at the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation in North Dakota met with state representatives on Thursday, after the governor issued an emergency evacuation order for the Oceti Sakowin protest camp.

John Bigelow, media director of the Oceti Sakowin camp, told ABC News that representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and one official from the Morton County Sheriff’s Department attended the meeting outside on the Cannonball River Bridge, along with officials from North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum’s office, including the executive director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission, Scott Davis.

The meeting was scheduled, in part, to discuss the details of the emergency evacuation order, according to Bigelow.

A source at the camp told ABC News after Thursday’s meeting that the federal deadline of Feb. 22 — the same deadline set by the governor’s order — remains in effect for the camp to be vacated.

Burgum signed an emergency evacuation order on Wednesday night for the Oceti Sakowin protest camp “out of concern for the safety of people who are residing on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) land in southern Morton County and to avoid an ecological disaster to the Missouri River,” according to a statement from the Republican governor’s office.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe began coordinating a cleanup in late January, but state officials say it isn’t happening fast enough. Burgum’s emergency evacuation order cited increasing temperatures and the threat of flooding as the impetus in speeding up the camp’s clean-up.

“Warm temperatures have accelerated snowmelt in the area of the Oceti Sakowin protest camp, and the National Weather Service reports that the Cannonball River should be on the watch for rising water levels and an increased risk of ice jams later this week,” the statement from the governor’s office read.

“Due to these conditions, the governor’s emergency order addresses safety concerns to human life as anyone in the floodplain is at risk for possible injury or death. The order also addresses the need to protect the Missouri River from the waste that will flow into the Cannonball River and Lake Oahe if the camp is not cleared and the cleanup expedited,” the statement added.

The Cannonball River is a tributary of the Missouri River.

The Army Corps, in a letter issued Feb. 3, ordered those camping on federal property to vacate to prevent injuries and significant environmental damage in the event of flooding in the area.

“The Oceti Sakowin camp needs to be evacuated no later than Feb. 22 in order to allow private contractors to accelerate the removal of waste from the camp,” the statement from the governor’s office read.

Bigelow, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who has been at the Oceti Sakowin protest camp for the past six months, said law enforcement officials on Wednesday moved up the barricade separating protesters from the pipeline construction area to within a few hundred yards of the camp’s north gate, the main entrance. But there was no law enforcement presence south of the barricade ahead of Thursday’s meeting, Bigelow said.

Bigelow said there was some tension Thursday morning when front-load tractors and roll-off trucks rolled in to begin removing garbage and waste from the campground, which is situated at the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation.

“Most folks are concentrating on breaking down their camps to move out of Oceti Sakowin and either back home or to one of the other camps that’s been set up,” he told ABC News Thursday, ahead of the scheduled meeting.

Federal officials from the Bureau of Indian Affairs remained south of the barricade Thursday morning and were expected to set up a road block to prevent vehicles from crossing the Cannonball River Bridge during the meeting, according to Bigelow.

The Army Corps granted an easement on Feb. 8 to the developer of the Dakota Access Pipeline, allowing it to install the final segment of the 1,172-mile pipeline. Part of this 1.25-mile section will run under Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota just upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation.

“The safety of those located on Corps-managed land is our top priority, in addition to preventing contaminants from entering the waterway,” U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District Commander Col. John Henderson said in a statement at the time. “We appreciate the proactive efforts of the tribes to help clean the protest site ahead of potential flooding along the river, typical during the runoff season.”

The granting of the easement follows a decision on Feb. 7 by Robert Speer, the acting secretary of the Army, to terminate the notice of intent to perform an environmental impact statement and to notify Congress of the Army’s intent to grant permission for the crossing under Lake Oahe. Speer said the decision was made based on a sufficient amount of available information.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said in a statement at the time that it will “challenge any easement decision” on the grounds that the environmental impact statement was “wrongfully terminated.” The tribe said it will also “demand a fair, accurate and lawful environmental impact statement to identify true risks to its treaty rights, including its water supply and sacred places.”

If the Dakota Access Pipeline is completed and begins operating, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said it will “seek to shut the pipeline operations down.”

While the Army Corps says this area is federally owned land, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe cites an 1851 treaty that it says designates the land for Native American tribes. The tribe, which claims its members were never meaningfully consulted before construction began, sued in July to block the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline. That lawsuit is pending, and the Army Corps and the company behind the pipeline argued in court papers that they followed a standard review process.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, which is part of the Great Sioux Nation, has joined the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s lawsuit against the pipeline, filing a motion at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Feb. 9 seeking a temporary restraining order “to halt construction and drilling” under and on either side of the land surrounding Lake Oahe.

The tribe argued that the pipeline “will desecrate the waters upon which Cheyenne River Sioux tribal members rely for their most important religious practices and therefore substantially burden the free exercise of their religion,” according to a court document obtained by ABC News.

On Monday, the court denied that motion seeking a temporary restraining order.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe filed a separate motion seeking a preliminary injunction directing the Army Corps to withdraw the easement issued to the pipeline company on Feb. 8. The tribe alleges that the easement granted is “entirely unlawful,” according to court documents.

“The government has granted the easement, and Dakota Access has begun to drill. This court cannot wait until the harm begins to issue equitable relief. When the free exercise of religion is at stake, a threat certain to that right is enough to constitute irreparable harm,” the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe stated in a court document.

“And in view of the threat to the tribe’s and its members’ constitutional right, this court may not wait until the oil is slithering under the tribe’s sacred waters. The law entitles the tribe to relief as soon as the government acts to threaten their rights,” the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe added in the court document.

That motion seeking a preliminary injunction is expected to be heard in court later this month.

In addition, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed a motion on Tuesday seeking “expedited summary judgment” on its claims that this easement decision as well as the Army Corps regulatory actions “are arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law.”

After receiving the easement to build the pipeline across land on both sides of Lake Oahe, the Texas-based developer, Energy Transfer Partners, announced it would resume construction immediately, and indeed work has resumed.

The Dakota Access Pipeline, which would connect oil production areas in North Dakota to an existing crude oil terminal near Patoka, Illinois, is expected to be in service in the second quarter of 2017, according to the company.

“The drilling under Lake Oahe will take approximately 60 days,” a company spokesperson told ABC News in a statement on Feb. 8 after the Army Corps granted the easement. “It will take an additional 23 days to fill the line to Patoka, Illinois, enabling Dakota Access to be in service in approximately 83 days.”

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has been at the forefront of massive and prolonged protests over the four-state crude oil pipeline. The demonstrations have drawn thousands of Native Americans, environmental activists and their allies to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation. The protesters, who call themselves “water protectors,” argue that the pipeline will threaten the reservation’s water supply and traverse culturally sacred sites.

Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, has said that “concerns about the pipeline’s impact on local water supply are unfounded” and “multiple archaeological studies conducted with state historic preservation offices found no sacred items along the route.”

In the final days of President Barack Obama’s administration, Jo-Ellen Darcy, the assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, announced on Dec. 4 that an easement would not be granted for the pipeline to cross under the large reservoir on the Missouri River.

She said at the time of the decision that the Army Corps would engage in additional review and analysis, including a “robust consideration and discussion of alternative locations for the pipeline crossing the Missouri River.” Darcy also encouraged the Corps to share company documents containing risk analyses and spill models that had not been made available to the tribes during the initial environmental review.

All these steps, Darcy determined, would best be accomplished by the Army Corps’ preparing a full environmental impact statement allowing for public input — a process that could have take years. She is no longer in the position after the change in administrations.

The move to deny the easement was hailed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other pipeline opponents as a major victory. But on his second weekday in office, President Trump signed a memorandum aimed at advancing the Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as one directed at the Keystone XL pipeline.

At a news conference Thursday, Trump told reporters his administration has “taken steps to begin construction” of the two pipelines.

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Russell Simmons teams up with rabbi, imam for anti-Trump rally dubbed ‘I Am A Muslim, Too’

David Livingston/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The 9th Circuit Court may have blocked President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations, but a massive rally organized by Def Jam Records co-founder Russell Simmons in response to the travel ban remains slated for Sunday in New York City’s Times Square.

The rally, called “I Am A Muslim Too,” seeks to unite people of all faiths. So Simmons will be joined by Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the non-profit organization Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) and Imam Shamsi Ali of the Jamaica Muslim Center, who served as grand marshal of New York City’s Muslim Day Parade last fall.

Religious leaders from more than 50 other organizations will also take part in the rally, “to declare their solidarity with Muslims facing discrimination,” reads a press release for the rally, taking place from noon to 4 p.m. Organizer says they expect thousands to attend.

“As Trump wraps up [his] first month in office we call on all New Yorkers to gather and declare ‘I am a Muslim too,'” adds the press release.

61 degrees in NY, this Sunday 02/29. No excuses. JOIN US!! #todayiamamuslimtoo

— FFEU (@FFEUnyc) February 16, 2017

Simmons, who also serves as FFEU’s chairman, said in a statement, “We are living in a time when unity will make America great. This is a special moment for all Americans of good will to band together to promote the kind of compassion and equality for others that we want for ourselves.”

Imam Ali, said, “The Muslim community of New York City is deeply grateful to people of all backgrounds, who will come to Times Square on Sunday to say they will stand with, and even register as, Muslims if this discriminatory pattern continues.”

And Rabbi Schneier, who co-organized the first “Today, I Am A Muslim Too” in 2010, said in a statement, “We must join together at the most famous crossroads in the world to make a collective statement that, ‘Whenever my Muslim brothers and sisters are demonized and vilified, discriminated against or victimized by hate crimes and violence, ‘Today, I am a Muslim too.'”

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Man arrested by FBI after threatening ‘Dylann Roof-style attack’

Horry County Sheriff’s Office(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) — A man with a felony record in South Carolina purchased a gun from an undercover FBI agent with the intention of carrying out an attack in “the spirit of Dylann Roof,” authorities said Thursday.

Benjamin McDowell, 29, who had allegedly become affiliated with white supremacist gangs during his time in prison, purchased a .40 caliber Glock handgun and ammunition, according to an affidavit filed by FBI agent Grant Lowe.

According to the complaint, McDowell was arrested in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina shortly after purchasing the weapon and charged as a felon in possession of a firearm.

The agent said that McDowell had made unspecified threats, once telling Lowe that he might shoot at a gathering of black people.

Authorities began investigating McDowell in December after he threatened a local synagogue on Facebook. Several days later, he again posted to Facebook, complaining that white supremacists were often unwilling to act on their convictions.

“All they wanne (sic) do is stay loaded on drugs the Jews put here to destroy white man and they feast on the drugs. they should be Feasting on the enemy that stole their Heritage and their bloodline and trying to run us off of this Earth,” McDowell wrote. “if you ain’t got the heart to fight for Yahweh like dylann roof did, you need to shut the f— up.”

On or about Jan. 6, 2017, according to the complaint, McDowell had requested an “iron,” a code word for a gun, over Facebook Messenger.

Court records show that since 2008, McDowell’s criminal record included charges for assault and burglary. It also said local authorities had kept tabs on him prior to December because of the alleged white supremacist connections he had made in prison.

Dylann Roof was sentenced to death last month for the 2015 massacre of nine black worshipers at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

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