Review Category : Top Stories

North Carolina Lawmakers Fail to Repeal HB2 ‘Bathroom Bill’

iStock/Thinkstock(RALEIGH, N.C.) — North Carolina lawmakers failed to repeal House Bill 2, commonly known as the “bathroom bill,” which limits LGBT rights and has sparked controversy across the Tar Heel state since it was signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory in March.

The Senate Wednesday debated a bill that would repeal HB2 and also add a six-month moratorium on any local government from passing an anti-discrimination ordinance.

But the Republican-controlled legislature showed once again that it preferred to go its own way.

HB2 requires public schools, public college campuses and government agencies to designate multiple-occupancy bathrooms and changing facilities, such as locker rooms, for use according to the “biological sex” stated on a person’s birth certificate. Under the law, transgender people cannot use bathrooms and changing facilities that correspond to their gender identity unless they get the sex on their birth certificate changed.

HB2 has prompted economic boycotts and a loss of jobs in the state. The NBA announced in July that it was moving 2017’s All-Star Game out of Charlotte over concerns about the law.

The special session was called to “reconsider existing state legislation,” McCrory said in a statement Monday. The session was prompted by the Charlotte City Council’s Monday vote to rescind its LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance, a local law that led to the statewide HB2, The Charlotte Observer reported.

Charlotte’s city council met again Wednesday morning, and voted again to rescind the ordinance, a move the city called “additional steps to ensure the repeal of HB2 would not be jeopardized in any way.”

Wednesday’s vote was “7-2 to remove all aspects of the original ordinance that remained,” the city said in a statement. “The City Council acted in good faith to do everything that it understood was necessary to facilitate the repeal of HB2.”

After the initial Charlotte vote Monday, Gov.-elect Roy Cooper said that legislative leaders promised to call a special session to repeal HB2.

McCrory then said in a statement Monday, “As I promised months ago, if the Charlotte ordinance was repealed, I would call our General Assembly into a special session to reconsider existing state legislation passed earlier this year. And I’m doing just that for this Wednesday.”

McCrory added, “Now that the Charlotte ordinance has finally been repealed, the expectation of privacy in our showers, bathrooms and locker rooms is restored and protected under previous state law. I have always publicly advocated a repeal of the overreaching Charlotte ordinance. But those efforts were blocked by [Charlotte Mayor] Jennifer Roberts, Roy Cooper and other Democratic activists. This sudden reversal with little notice after the gubernatorial election has ended sadly proves this entire issue, originated by the political left, was all about politics at the expense of Charlotte and the entire state of North Carolina.”

“The whole issue of gender identity is a national issue that will be resolved by the courts and the United States Justice Department,” McCrory said. “I look forward to that resolution and to working with our state legislators in the coming days.”

McCrory came under fire earlier this year for signing HB2 into law.

HB2 supporters say the law protects women and children from sexual offenders who they say might falsely claim to be transgender in order to access bathrooms of the opposite sex.

But groups including the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project have dismissed that concern as a myth.

Chase Strangio, staff attorney at the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project, told ABC News earlier this year that allowing transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity “doesn’t increase in any way public safety incidents.”

Strangio said there were two central falsehoods to North Carolina legislators’ reasoning: one is “that transgender people aren’t real and [are] inherently dangerous.” The second falsehood is that without HB2, “non-transgender people will take advantage” of the situation — for example, a man could dress up as a woman to enter a woman’s bathroom.

“All this does is to heighten gender policing of everyone by law enforcement, and individual people who do not conform to gender norms are targeted,” Strangio said.

McCrory conceded the North Carolina gubernatorial race to Cooper earlier this month, weeks after requesting a vote recount.

Cooper, a Democrat, has called HB2 “one of the most discriminatory laws in the country” and argued that the bill should be repealed.

Cooper said in a statement Monday that a full repeal of the law “will help to bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state.”

The special session began at 10 a.m., according to The Charlotte Observer.

As the special session began, Lt. Governor Dan Forest -– who was re-elected in November –- said today he supports HB2 and doesn’t want it repealed. “No economic, political or ideological pressure can convince me that what is wrong is right. It will always be wrong for men to have access to women’s showers and bathrooms,” he said in a statement.

“If HB2 is repealed, there will be nothing on the books to prevent another city or county to take us down this path again,” Forest said, adding that if it’s repealed, “we will fight this battle all over again with another city or county. The names will change, but the national groups who are pushing this agenda will not stop until their social engineering is accomplished.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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NC Lawmakers Debate Bill that Would Repeal HB2 ‘Bathroom Bill’

iStock/Thinkstock(RALEIGH, N.C.) — North Carolina lawmakers met in a special session Wednesday to reconsider House Bill 2, commonly known as the “bathroom bill,” which limits LGBT rights and has sparked controversy across the Tar Heel state since it was signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory in March.

The Senate debated a bill that would repeal HB2 and also add a six-month moratorium on any local government from passing an anti-discrimination ordinance. Senate Republicans have so far blocked two amendments: one to remove the six-month clause and one to cut it to three months.

HB2 requires public schools, public college campuses and government agencies to designate multiple-occupancy bathrooms and changing facilities, such as locker rooms, for use according to the “biological sex” stated on a person’s birth certificate. Under the law, transgender people cannot use bathrooms and changing facilities that correspond to their gender identity unless they get the sex on their birth certificate changed.

HB2 has prompted economic boycotts and a loss of jobs in the state. The NBA announced in July that it was moving 2017’s All-Star Game out of Charlotte over concerns about the law.

Wednesday’s special session was called to “reconsider existing state legislation,” McCrory said in a statement Monday. The session was prompted by the Charlotte City Council’s Monday vote to rescind its LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance, a local law that led to the statewide HB2, The Charlotte Observer reported.

Charlotte’s city council met again this morning, and voted again to rescind the ordinance, a move the city called “additional steps to ensure the repeal of HB2 would not be jeopardized in any way.”

Wednesday’s vote was “7-2 to remove all aspects of the original ordinance that remained,” the city said in a statement. “The City Council acted in good faith to do everything that it understood was necessary to facilitate the repeal of HB2.”

After the initial Charlotte vote Monday, Gov.-elect Roy Cooper said that legislative leaders promised to call a special session to repeal HB2.

McCrory then said in a statement Monday, “As I promised months ago, if the Charlotte ordinance was repealed, I would call our General Assembly into a special session to reconsider existing state legislation passed earlier this year. And I’m doing just that for this Wednesday.”

McCrory added, “Now that the Charlotte ordinance has finally been repealed, the expectation of privacy in our showers, bathrooms and locker rooms is restored and protected under previous state law. I have always publicly advocated a repeal of the overreaching Charlotte ordinance. But those efforts were blocked by [Charlotte Mayor] Jennifer Roberts, Roy Cooper and other Democratic activists. This sudden reversal with little notice after the gubernatorial election has ended sadly proves this entire issue, originated by the political left, was all about politics at the expense of Charlotte and the entire state of North Carolina.”

“The whole issue of gender identity is a national issue that will be resolved by the courts and the United States Justice Department,” McCrory said. “I look forward to that resolution and to working with our state legislators in the coming days.”

McCrory came under fire earlier this year for signing HB2 into law.

HB2 supporters say the law protects women and children from sexual offenders who they say might falsely claim to be transgender in order to access bathrooms of the opposite sex.

But groups including the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project have dismissed that concern as a myth.

Chase Strangio, staff attorney at the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project, told ABC News earlier this year that allowing transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity “doesn’t increase in any way public safety incidents.”

Strangio said there were two central falsehoods to North Carolina legislators’ reasoning: one is “that transgender people aren’t real and [are] inherently dangerous.” The second falsehood is that without HB2, “non-transgender people will take advantage” of the situation — for example, a man could dress up as a woman to enter a woman’s bathroom.

“All this does is to heighten gender policing of everyone by law enforcement, and individual people who do not conform to gender norms are targeted,” Strangio said.

McCrory conceded the North Carolina gubernatorial race to Cooper earlier this month, weeks after requesting a vote recount.

Cooper, a Democrat, has called HB2 “one of the most discriminatory laws in the country” and argued that the bill should be repealed.

Cooper said in a statement Monday that a full repeal of the law “will help to bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state.”

The special session began at 10 a.m. Wednesday, according to The Charlotte Observer.

As the special session began, Lt. Governor Dan Forest -– who was re-elected in November –- said he supports HB2 and doesn’t want it repealed. “No economic, political or ideological pressure can convince me that what is wrong is right. It will always be wrong for men to have access to women’s showers and bathrooms,” he said in a statement.

“If HB2 is repealed, there will be nothing on the books to prevent another city or county to take us down this path again,” Forest said, adding that if it’s repealed, “we will fight this battle all over again with another city or county. The names will change, but the national groups who are pushing this agenda will not stop until their social engineering is accomplished.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Water Emergency in Louisiana Town Follows Years of Concern Over Aging Infrastructure

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — For more than a year, state health officials and residents of the small town of St. Joseph, Louisiana, have been worried about discolored tap water tied to aging infrastructure, waiting for an audit to free up funds to update the water system.

Last week, the town’s water supply tested positive for high levels of lead and copper in two different locations, which prompted Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to declare a public health emergency and direct residents to use bottled water instead of tap water.

Aging water pipes and infrastructure have concerned health officials for years, according to Dr. Jimmy Guidry, Louisiana State Health Officer. But, in the last year, the state’s health department has stepped up testing to check for lead or other dangerous substances in the water.

High levels of iron and manganese were previously found to be causing the discoloration in the water, Guidry explained. Though the discolored water was not believed to be unsafe, health officials were concerned that deteriorating pipes could lead to increased lead levels.

“The Town of St. Joseph has experienced water problems for years due to the poorly maintained and deteriorating water distribution system,” the governor’s office said in a statement last week. “Frequent breaks in the water distribution system provide a potential health risk because of the drop in water pressure.”

Though the state has made repairs to the pipes in the past, the problem has grown.

“We’ve had more repairs this year than last year and the repairs are taking longer and longer,” Guidry said.

While declaring a public health emergency, Edwards also ordered a month’s worth of bottled water sent to the town so residents didn’t have to use tap water.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the Louisiana Department of Health recommends that residents use an alternative source of water for personal consumption, including making ice, brushing teeth or using it for food preparation and rinsing of foods,” the Governor’s office said in a statement.

Guidry said state health officials plan to test every home in the town and the residents’ lead levels through blood tests.

“So far we don’t have evidence that it is in the blood of any [level of] concern,” Guidry. “But right now we are promoting that children get tested.”

The state government is hoping to replace all the water infrastructure in the town of approximately 1,100 within a year, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Health told ABC News. She said funds to fix the St. Joseph water system were delayed pending an audit of 2015 finances, which finished in June of 2016. The state health department has designated $8 million for the replacement.

The town’s water issues have been compounded by new scrutiny that has faced their Mayor, Edward Brown. Brown was accused in a state audit of mismanaging funds in March, awarding work to his cousin without properly documenting the payments. He is now under criminal investigation, according to state police.

Brown denied wrongdoing in an interview with CNN.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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NC Lawmakers Poised to Reconsider ‘Bathroom Bill’ in Special Session

iStock/Thinkstock(RALEIGH, N.C.) — North Carolina lawmakers are meeting in a special session Wednesday to reconsider House Bill 2, commonly known as the “bathroom bill,” which limits LGBT rights and has sparked controversy across the Tar Heel state since it was signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory in March.

HB2 requires public schools, public college campuses and government agencies to designate multiple-occupancy bathrooms and changing facilities, such as locker rooms, for use according to the “biological sex” stated on a person’s birth certificate. Under the law, transgender people cannot use bathrooms and changing facilities that correspond to their gender identity unless they get the sex on their birth certificate changed.

HB2 has prompted economic boycotts and a loss of jobs in the state. The NBA announced in July that it was moving 2017’s All-Star Game out of Charlotte over concerns about the law.

Wednesday’s special session is intended to “reconsider existing state legislation,” McCrory said in a statement Monday. The session was prompted by the Charlotte City Council’s Monday vote to rescind its LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance, a local law that led to the statewide HB2, The Charlotte Observer reported.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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New York City Police Identify Suspect in Theft of $1.6M Pot of Gold

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Police have identified the man who they say stole a real-life pot of gold from an armored truck in New York City.

The New York City Police Department said 53-year-old Julio Nivelo, also known as David Vargas, snatched the 5-gallon aluminum bucket from the back of an armored truck in Midtown Manhattan at about 4:30 p.m. local time on Sept. 29. The pail was filled with 86 pounds of gold flakes, worth an estimated $1.6 million, police said.

The alleged theft happened near the corner of 5th Avenue and West 48th Street, and it was captured on surveillance footage obtained by ABC News. The suspect can be seen lifting the bucket from the parked truck in broad daylight and fleeing eastbound on foot with the stolen treasure. There were no reported injuries as a result of the incident, police said.

The suspect is believed to be in Los Angeles, according to a news release from the NYPD on Tuesday.

Anyone with information in regards to the alleged theft is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or 1-888-57-PISTA (for Spanish). All calls are kept strictly confidential. The public can also submit their tips by logging on to the Crime Stoppers Website at www.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.com or by texting 274637(CRIMES) and entering TIP577.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Year in Review: Longtime Downtown Findlay Restaurant Gets Makeover

12/21/16 – 5:30 A.M.

2016 is rapidly winding down and we’re taking a look back at the biggest local stories of the year, as decided by the number of views a story received on our website and by our editorial staff.

One of the most-viewed stories of the year was the announcement that a well-known downtown restaurant would close its doors in the summer of 2016. “Waldo Pepper’s” ceased operations June 5. After a renovation project, “Legend’s Steakhouse & Sports Bar” reopened later in the summer. Jameson Botimer owns the location and decided to make the switch.

The new restaurant features windows at the front of the building that open for outdoor dining on Main Street when the weather is nice. Memorabilia from the Hancock Sports Hall of Fame is also displayed in the restaurant.

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Rogue Elector Uses Vote to Highlight Dakota Access Pipeline

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — A member of the Electoral College from Washington state went rogue Monday and voted for a Native American tribal leader from South Dakota over Hillary Clinton, who had won the state in the presidential election.

By casting his vote for the tribal leader, the elector said he had hoped to shed light on the importance of protecting the environment and empowering indigenous people around the country.

“What is bigger than all of this [election] is water,” Robert Satiacum, a member of the Puyallup Tribe in western Washington, told ABC News.

Satiacum had publicly stated for weeks that he did not plan to vote for Clinton. But once he was in the room with the other electors, he came up with the idea of voting for Faith Spotted Eagle.

“The world is on fire, we need first responders,” he said. “Faith Spotted Eagle is committed to the Earth. She is the air, she is the land and the water … she cares about my mother, your mother, this Earth.”

Satiacum met Spotted Eagle, an elder with the Yankton Sioux Reservation, when he visited the large Oceti Sakowin Camp on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation in North Dakota earlier this month, where thousands of indigenous people and environmental advocates have gathered in opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline.

The $3.8 billion project, if completed, would carry 470,000 barrels of oil a day over 1,100 miles from North Dakota to Illinois. Its proposed path has several river and waterway crossings, which area tribes say threaten their land, water and sacred burial grounds. The tribes are currently locked in court battles with Energy Transfer Partners LP, the company building the pipeline. Earlier this month, the Army Corps denied an easement that would have allowed the Dakota Access pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota.

Spotted Eagle has been a vocal leader in the fight against both the Dakota Access pipeline and the Keystone XL. She said the news of the Electoral College vote came as a surprise to her.

“It is kind of like getting a big bouquet of roses,” she told ABC News, adding with a laugh that her grandson now believes she is famous. But she said Satiacum’s vote was about a movement larger than herself.

She added that the national attention and support the Sioux tribes had received in their fight against the pipeline was due to people around the country awakening to threats against the environment.

“The worst terrible thing in the world would be for your grandchild to ask for water and to not be able to give them water,” she said.

Satiacum passionately described the proposed pipeline as part of a “re-plumbing” of America “for profit.”

“Where are our advocates, where is our protection?” he said. “Why are our natural resources always being hunted?”

According to a tally from The Wall Street Journal, only 85 electors since 1804 have voted for someone other than the candidate to whom they were pledged, and Satiacum was the first to vote for a tribal leader.

American Indian and Alaska Native people account for under 2 percent of the national population, according to the National Congress of American Indians.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Air Traffic Controller Accidentally Sends Plane Close to Mountains: FAA

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — The Federal Aviation Administration has launched an investigation after an air traffic controller accidentally told a pilot to turn the wrong way earlier this month, sending the Boeing 777 dangerously close to Southern California’s largest mountain range.

A regional air traffic controller outside of Los Angeles had just taken over Taiwan-bound EVA Air flight BR15, which was headed east, but supposed to loop back south to fly over the Pacific Ocean.

Instead of telling the jet to make a right (to a heading of 180), the controller said to make a left (to the north), but still gave the correct heading of 180 degrees, a contradictory message.

The controller quickly alerted the EVA pilot to her mistake, but not before the aircraft made the left turn, coming close to an Air Canada jet that was flying right behind it.

In an effort to separate the two jets, the controller ordered the Air Canada jet to climb and told the EVA plane to remain as its current altitude of 5,000 feet, according to ATC audio provided by LiveATC.net. Federal regulations require planes to be at least three miles away from another object laterally or 2,000 feet above mountains.

But the EVA aircraft soon encountered another problem: it was quickly approaching the San Gabriel Mountains at an altitude of 5,000 feet, which is lower then the nearby 5,700-foot Mt. Wilson. Ninety seconds before the EVA jet entered the mountain region, the controller can be heard sending opposing messages to the pilot.

“Confirm, EVA 015-heavy, maintain 5,000. Left – right – uh, right heading,” she told the pilot, according to the audio.

Likely to avoid the mountains, the air traffic controller repeatedly ordered the EVA pilot to turn south.

“Turn southbound, southbound now!” the controller told the pilot over ATC frequency.

Within moments though, the plane entered the mountains.

“EVA 015-heavy, climb maintain 7,000. And turn south now,” she repeated.

The plane started to climb and began to turn south, but by the time it flew over the Mt. Wilson area forty seconds later, its altitude was 6,275 feet… only 500 feet above Mt. Wilson. According to data provided by FlightRadar21, the mountain was just outside the jet’s left window.

ABC News Aviation Consultant Col. Steve Ganyard explained those final moments in the cockpit were likely extremely hectic.

“No doubt in the cockpit the crew is getting all sorts of warnings [like] ‘Pull up, there’s terrain ahead.’ So they’re confused, they’re trying to turn and their airplane’s trying to tell them they’re about to run into the side of a mountain,” said Ganyard .

“[But] as airplanes get more sophisticated [and] as they get more capable, it will continue to be human beings that make the tragic errors,” Ganyard added. “There might have been some people who were asleep and who never know how close to death they came.”

Ultimately, the EVA jet cleared the mountains and continued its journey to Asia. A government official told ABC News the controller is not currently working in the regional tower.

EVA Air, the third safest airline in the world according to JACDEC’s 2016 Airline Safety Ranking, said it is working in full cooperation with the FAA and related authorities in the investigation.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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San Francisco Names LAPD Deputy Chief as New Police Chief

KGO-TV(SAN FRANCISCO) — San Francisco has hired a new police chief as the city’s police department works to recover from a string of fatal police shootings.

William “Bill” Scott, Los Angeles’ African-American deputy police chief, was announced Tuesday by Mayor Ed Lee as San Francisco’s new top cop. The 52-year-old will replace interim Chief Toney Chaplin, also African-American, who took the job following Greg Suhr’s resignation.

Scott, a 27-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department and its highest-ranking African-American officer, said at a news conference Tuesday that he was a person who would be “fair and consistent.”

“Change is difficult for all of us, but I think we can do it,” he said.

A U.S. Justice Department review of the San Francisco Police Department in October found it had “outdated use of force policies” and disparities “in traffic stops, post-stop searches, and use of deadly force against minorities.”

In April, five protesters went on a high-profile hunger strike in San Francisco’s Mission District over officer-involved shootings of minorities and the release of transcripts showing racist text messages by police officers. At the time, they demanded the resignation of former Chief Suhr and Mayor Lee.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Los Angeles Launches $10 Million Legal Defense Fund to Aid Immigrants Facing Deportation

Photodisc/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — Officials in Los Angeles have proposed a $10 million legal defense fund to provide attorneys for undocumented immigrants facing deportation.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is expected to vote Tuesday on allocating $1 million to the L.A. Justice Fund this year, and the Los Angeles City Council will vote in January to contribute $2 million over the next two years.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said there’s a push to get funds like this approved in major cities before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, who has promised to crack down on illegal immigration.

“We’ll have a change in government next month. We expect there could be actions right away and we need to have the beginning of that money in place to be able to help people,” Garcetti said.

Critics believe the fund is a waste of taxpayers’ money, including Ira Mehlman, media director for Federation for American Immigration Reform, who told ABC affiliate KABC-TV that “there’s so many public needs that are going on these days.”

“For the mayor and the city council to turn around and take $10 million and devote it to helping people fight removal after they have violated federal immigration laws, it does not do justice to the vast majority of the people who live in Los Angeles,” he said to KABC-TV.

Los Angeles isn’t the only major city working to protect undocumented immigrants. Earlier this month, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a $1.3 million legal fund in partnership with the National Immigrant Justice Center to help immigrants in the city fight deportation.

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