Review Category : Top Stories

ACLU Promises ‘Rapid Response Team’ to Combat Deportations Under Trump

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The ACLU, the non-profit rights group whose membership and donations have surged since it launched legal actions against President Trump’s executive order limiting immigration, told ABC News Sunday that it plans on creating a “rapid response team” to combat a potential rise in deportations under the current administration.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency operating under the Department of Homeland Security that is responsible for handling deportations, arrested more than 160 foreign nationals this week in Los Angeles, the majority of whom had criminal records.

ICE LA Field Office Director David Marin said in a press call that the raids conducted were not related to Trump’s executive order, and described them as being “nothing out of the ordinary.”

Between 2009 and 2015 the Obama administration removed more than 2.5 million people through immigration orders, shattering records, and earning him the nickname “Deporter in Chief” among rights groups and activists.

As recently as 2016, Obama drew sharp criticism from some Democrats over ordering raids that targeted women and children, according to Reuters.

But ACLU senior attorney Lee Gelernt told ABC News that while they were “not pleased” with Obama’s handling of deportation raids, his group is concerned that the Trump administration will expand those efforts.

The rapid response team would bring together the ACLU, private law firms and local community groups to ensure that individuals facing deportations have access to counsel right away.

“This administration is just getting started and we’re anticipating much worse,” Gelernt said in a phone interview, citing the language Trump uses about immigrants as his reasoning for his concern that Trump’s approach could be more severe than Obama’s. “His rhetoric is already scaring a lot of people in immigrant communities.”

In September, the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, the official union representing ICE’s 5,000 federal immigration officers and law enforcement support staff, endorsed Trump’s campaign for president. It was an endorsement that he highlighted frequently on the campaign trail.

The ACLU have received nearly $80 million in online contributions alone since the election, according to tTe Associated Press, which also reported that the group’s membership rates have doubled during the same time.

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Two Chicago Girls, 11 and 12, Shot in Head in Separate Incidents

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — Two girls, ages 11 and 12, were both shot in the head in separate, unrelated shootings that took place within an hour of each other in Chicago, police told ABC station WLS-TV.

The 11-year-old was in the rear passenger seat of a car at around 7:40 p.m. when someone fired shots, “striking her in the head,” according to a bulletin published by police.

No one is in custody and the investigation is ongoing, the bulletin said.

The girl was rushed to Comer Children’s Hospital in critical condition, police said.

Her grandmother identified her to WLS-TV as Takiya Holmes, and said that her condition is dire.

“They are treating her as best as they can with all kind of aggressive measures that the hospital can do for her, but it’s grim and we want prayers to go up for her. We want whoever saw what happened to tell the police,” Patsy Holmes told WLS.

The 12-year-old girl, Kanari Bowers, was wounded in in the West Englewood neighborhood at around 7:15 p.m., and was transported to Stroger Hospital where she is in critical condition, WLS reported.

No one is in custody for the Bowers shooting either.

Violence in Chicago has garnered national attention, following a long and violent 2016 that ended with a record number of shootings and the most homicides in two decades, police say.

There were 3,550 shooting incidents and 762 murders last year, a total that works out to an average of more than two murders and nearly 10 shootings every single day.

The trend has continued this year.

Twenty-eight people were shot in the city on the first day of January alone, according to data from the Chicago Police Department.

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Standing Rock Sioux Ask Court to Halt Dakota Access Pipeline Construction

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has joined a motion filed Thursday by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe seeking a temporary restraining order to stop construction of the final section of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which began earlier this week.

In a declaration filed with the motion, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault, II, writes that it is “vitally important to our people that our rights be heard by this Court before Dakota Access drills under Lake Oahe.”

He writes of the “terrible misdeeds and abuse” the Tribe has suffered in its dealings with the federal government,” a pattern he says “continued with respect to the Dakota Access pipeline,” until the Army, in the waning says of the Obama administration, determined that the tribe’s concerns had merit and ordered an environmental impact statement that would explore alternative routes for the pipeline.

“That step suggested, perhaps for the first time ever, that the voices of the Tribe do matter and that the federal government was willing to at least consider, in a meaningful way, our rights,” Archambault wrote. “The decision … signified a recognition that we have a right to be heard.”

On Wednesday, however, the Army Corps of Engineers granted an easement to the developer of the four-state crude oil project, allowing it to install the last stretch of the 1,172-mile pipeline. Part of this 1.25-mile section will run under Lake Oahe, just upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation. The Army also cancelled the environmental impact review.

The tribe’s attorney, Jan Hasselman, told ABC News that the Corps’ decision to grant the easement was a “bow to political pressure.”

Whatever the names are on the lawsuit, Hasselman said, “this is about Trump’s reversal of an action meant to protect the tribe.”

President Trump signed a presidential memorandum aimed at advancing approval of the pipeline, on January 24th, declaring that its completion was in the national interest.

“I don’t even think it was controversial,” President Trump said of his decision during informal remarks at the White House earlier this week. He made no mention of the months of protests and legal challenges that have surrounded the pipeline project.

“I haven’t had one call. Usually if I do something, it’s like bedlam. I haven’t had one call, from anybody,” the president said. “I think everybody is going to be happy in the end.”

But Archambault says in the new court filing, that the decision show the federal government is once again breaking promises and ignoring interests of Indigenous people, and he is asking the Court to step in.

“Having come this far, there will be a deep and harmful impact on us if we are told that, not only has the Army changed its mind, but that the Court will not hear us until after the drilling is done and the oil is flowing,” Archambault writes. “If that happens, it would reinforce the deeply held understanding that the historic wrongs committed by the United States against us will continue and that our voices will not be heard in ways that matter by those who have the power to stop the harm to our people.”

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, which had previously joined the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s lawsuit against the pipeline, filed a motion Thursday morning at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia 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 court documents obtained by ABC News.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, which is part of the Great Sioux Nation, requested that the judge immediately issue a temporary restraining order to stop construction, with a hearing to be held at the court’s earliest convenience.

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 Wednesday. The tribe alleges that the easement granted is “entirely unlawful” under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, according to the court documents.

The joint motion from the tribes is scheduled to be heard Monday at 2 p.m. ET.

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KKK Imperial Wizard Found Dead on a Missouri Riverbank

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The body of a Ku Klux Klan leader who had been missing for several days was found on a Missouri riverbank, according to police.

Frank Ancona, who was a 51-year-old self-proclaimed imperial wizard of a KKK chapter near St. Louis, according to a website promoting the group, was found dead by a family who had gone to the Big River in Missouri to go fishing, according to Daily Journal, a local newspaper.

Ancona was last seen heading for work on Wednesday morning by his wife, the Daily Journal reported.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office referred ABC News to a statement about Ancona’s death on their Facebook page.

“On Friday the Washington County Sheriff’s Office learned of the disappearance of Frank Ancona who was missing from Leadwood Missouri. During this time, we were also informed Mr. Ancona’s vehicle had been located by a United States Federal Forest Service employee on Federal Forest Service Property,” the statement, which is attributed to Sheriff Zach Jacobsen, begins.

Jacobsen said that his office reached out to Missouri State Highway Patrol for help with the case on Ancona’s disappearance. During the investigation that followed, he said, one subject was arrested on an unrelated warrant and two search warrants were executed in Washington County, Missouri.

After the body was found, it was taken by the Washington County Corner’s Office for an autopsy, where it was identified as Ancona, Jacobsen said.

A cause of death has not been released at this time, Jacobsen said.

“The Washington County Sheriff’s Office would like to extend our sympathy to Mr. Ancona’s family and friends. I would like to thank the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Franklin County Sheriff”s Office and the Saint Francois County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance and professionalism during this tragic and senseless act of violence. I would also like to thank my staff for the professionalism and dedication they show day in and day out for our great community, and to the citizens of Missouri,” the statement concludes.

Ancona had conducted interviews with media, speaking on behalf of the Klu Klux Klan in the past.

In 2014, he appeared on the MSNBC show “All In” with Chris Hayes, in which he defended fliers that the Klan distributed during the protests that took place in Ferguson, Missouri, that year.

The fliers threatened “lethal force” against “terrorists masquerading as ‘peaceful protesters.'”

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Yale to Rename Calhoun College After Protests Over Slavery Ties

Kathryn Donohew Photography / Contributor via Getty Images(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) — Yale University has voted to change the controversial name of a residential college after years of backlash and protests against it.

Calhoun College was originally named after 1804 Yale graduate and former U.S. Vice President John C. Calhoun, but critics believed the college should not honor Calhoun because the alumnus was a strong advocate for slavery.

The ivy league announced Saturday the college would be renamed to honor alumnus Grace Murray Hopper, a U.S. Navy Rear admiral and computer pioneer who received her Ph.D. in mathematics and mathematical physics at Yale in 1934.

“The decision to change a college’s name is not one we take lightly, but John C. Calhoun’s legacy as a white supremacist and a national leader who passionately promoted slavery as a ‘positive good’ fundamentally conflicts with Yale’s mission and values,” Yale President Peter Salovey said in a statement.

News of the change comes after Salovey said in April that Calhoun College would keep its name because “at the time, as now, I was committed to confronting, not erasing, our history.”

The president said changing the college’s name to honor Hopper was a popular suggestion.

“Hopper’s name was mentioned by more individuals than any other, reflecting the strong feeling within our community that her achievements and life of service reflect Yale’s mission and core values,” Salovey said in a statement.

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Hopeful of Victory, Anti-Abortion Rights Protests Target Planned Parenthood, Are Met By Counterprotests

Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — From Pennsylvania to Tennessee to California, hundreds of protests of varying size against Planned Parenthood and counterprotests in support of the nonprofit health organization took place across the country Saturday.

#ProtestPP, a national coalition opposed to abortion rights that seeks to end any public funding for Planned Parenthood, said more than 200 rallies were planned in 45 states.

“The time has come to defund America’s abortion giant,” #ProtestPP states on its website. “Join us at the Planned Parenthood facility in your community as we protest and pray for an end to Planned Parenthood’s massive government subsidy, and an end to abortion in our country.”

ABC News reached out to the organizers for comment but has not heard back.

People starting to gather at #DefundPP rallies.200 rallies are planned nationwide. Prayers for those out there today!#ProtestPP #MoralMarch

— Tennessee (@TEN_GOP) February 11, 2017

Roughly 100 show up outside Planned Parenthood urging the defunding of Planned Parenthood #ProtestPP

— Danika Worthington (@Dani_Worth) February 11, 2017

Mary Alice Carter, interim vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said Saturday’s rallies “are designed to intimidate patients seeking basic health care services at Planned Parenthood.”

“Patients don’t go to Planned Parenthood health centers to make a political statement — they go to receive quality care from a provider they know and trust,” Carter said in a statement Saturday. “That’s what we’re focused on today and every day.”

Planned Parenthood supporters also rallied Saturday in a show of solidarity with the nonprofit, which provides a variety of health services including cancer screenings, HIV testing and STI/STD treatement as well as family planning, birth control and abortion.

Carter expressed gratitude for the counterprotests, though she cautioned in a statement against rallies being held immediately outside the organization’s health clinics.

“We are grateful for the incredible outpouring of love and support we’ve been seeing all across the country,” Carter said in a statement Saturday. “We do ask anyone wishing to show support for Planned Parenthood and our work not to rally outside of a health center, unless you are directed to by the local health center or affiliate staff. These rallies can often be intimidating, and can inadvertently prevent patients from getting the care they need. Instead we encourage supporters to attend events away from health centers, become a patient escort, or rally outside their elected officials offices.”

Rights don’t protect themselves, people do! Live from MN standing 4 Planned Parenthood care. #IStandWithPP

— Dawn Laguens (@dawnlaguens) February 11, 2017

I stand with #PlannedParenthood @PPSLR

— Melanie Walsh (@MellyMeldubs) February 11, 2017

Planned Parenthood serves more than 2.5 million patients each year in its over 650 health centers across the country. Abortions account for 3 percent of its services, according to the organization’s annual report from Oct. 1, 2013, to Sept. 30, 2014. The bulk of its services — 45 percent — were for testing and treatment of sexually-transmitted infections and diseases, and contraceptive services accounted for 31 percent.

Planned Parenthood received $553.7 million in federal funds in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2014, its largest single source of money. Most of that comes through Medicaid reimbursements for preventive health services such as HIV testing and cancer screening, the organization says. Another $353.5 million of the group’s funding came from private contributions, and $309.2 million from other nongovernment sources.

Federal law, specifically the Hyde Amendment that was first passed in 1976, bars government dollars from paying for abortion services except in cases where the woman’s life is in danger or if the pregnancy is the result of incest or rape.

Republican lawmakers in states across the country have proposed bills to cut off public funding to any organizations that offer abortions, a move that Planned Parenthood supporters say would threaten the availability of the organization’s health services to women.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has pledged that Republicans will complete legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act this year and that he expected legislation to defund Planned Parenthood would be included.

President Barack Obama in January 2016 vetoed legislation that sought to repeal the Affordable Care Act and strip all federal funds from Planned Parenthood.

Saturday’s protests follow the 44th March for Life on Jan. 27, when tens of thousands of people gathered in Washington, D.C., for the annual anti-abortion rights rally. Vice President Mike Pence, a longtime supporter of the anti-abortion rights movement who as governor of Indiana signed some of the nation’s strictest laws regulating abortions, was the first-ever vice president to address the crowds at the March for Life.

Pence told the cheering supporters on the National Mall, “Life is winning again in America.”

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Convicted Sex Offender Arrested in Shooting Death of Ohio State Student

ABC News(NEW YORK) — A convicted sex offender released from prison in November has been arrested in connection with the shooting death of 21-year-old Reagan Tokes, a senior at Ohio State University who was set to graduate this spring.

The Grove City Division of Police said Saturday they arrested 29-year-old Brian Lee Golsby. Golsby faces charges of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery, police said.

Tokes, a psychology student from Florida, was last seen leaving her job in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday night. Friends reported her missing on Thursday, according to police.

Authorities found her naked body on Thursday near an entrance to Scioto Grove Metro Park in Grove City, which is about 12 miles away from Ohio State University. Tokes was pronounced dead at the scene from what appeared to be gunshot wounds to the head. Police said at the time that the “investigation is being addressed as a homicide.”

Police said they later found Tokes’ car in Columbus and recovered several pieces of evidence inside the vehicle that could be tested for DNA.

Late Friday night, detectives received a call from forensic scientists who matched items found in Tokes’ car with Golsby. Golsby is registered as a sex offender and has no known connection to Tokes, according to police.

Sgt. Chris White of Grove City Division of Police’s detective bureau said authorities worked through the night and Saturday morning to track down Golsby. Police executed a search warrant at his home in Columbus where they arrested him early Saturday morning. Golsby’s residence is near where Tokes’ car was found, White said.

“There’s been a few sleepless nights here,” White told reporters at a press conference Saturday.

Police believe Golsby crossed paths with Tokes shortly after she left work Wednesday night around 9:45 p.m. local time. It’s unclear whether Golbsy approached Tokes before she reached her car.

“Within minutes, less than a half an hour, we think that they made their first contact,” White told reporters.

An initial autopsy performed on Tokes’ body indicated she was shot twice and found no other evidence of trauma to her body. Authorities are still awaiting the results from the official autopsy report, White said.

According to police, Golsby was convicted of kidnapping and rape in Grove City in 2011. He was released from prison in November.

Ohio State University said in a statement that it was “deeply saddened” to learn of Tokes’ death.

“We extend our heartfelt sympathy to her family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this extremely difficult time,” the university said. “Counseling and consultation services are available for those in need of support.”

Police urge anyone with information to call Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations tip line at 1-855-BCI-OHIO.

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Driver Charged With DUI After Her Van Slams into School Bus, Forcing it to Overturn on Illinois Highway

liquidlibrary/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The female driver of a van was charged Friday with driving under the influence after the vehicle slammed into a school bus carrying a high school basketball team and cheerleaders on a highway in central Illinois, causing the bus to lose control, go barreling across the highway, and flip on its side, officials said.

And the entire dramatic incident was captured by a surveillance camera situated at a nearby gas station.

There were no life-threatening injuries among the school bus’ 35 passengers, which included two coaches and one cheerleading sponsor, according to Mike Wilson, the athletic director of Teutopolis High School, located in the central Illinois village of Teutopolis.

Five students were transported to a nearby hospital, where they were treated and released for “lacerations and minor injuries,” according to Sheriff Chris Sims of the Moultrie County Sheriff’s Office. Of the five students, two were male and three were female.

Sheriff Sims said the driver of the van was transported by ambulance to a hospital for “non-incapacitating” injuries, where she was cited by a Moultrie County Sheriff’s deputy for failure to yield and driving under the influence.

In describing how the accident unfolded, Sheriff Sims said in a statement that the bus “was traveling north on IL route 32 to a boys high school basketball tournament with staff, players, and cheerleaders. As it passed the intersection of Moultrie County road 8.00 N, an eastbound van stopped at the stop sign (stop signs for East and West only), then proceeded east, striking the side of the school bus, causing the school bus to lose control and overturn, coming to final rest on its passenger side.”

According to Sullivan Fire Department Capt. Chris Wright, the school bus driver took defensive action to avoid the van that was in the intersection. The school district said the bus driver was a retired staffer with the district.

This crash is still being investigated by the Moultrie County Sheriff’s Office.

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Dylann Roof’s Lawyers Look to Have Death Penalty Tossed

ABC News(CHARLESTON, S.C.) — Lawyers for Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof have filed a motion for a new trial and are looking to throw out the death penalty sentences in the case.

The motion, filed in South Carolina federal court, questions whether Roof’s attack was plotted and carried out wholly within the state, and therefore not a federal case, as well as whether the hate crimes he was convicted of were punishable by death.

“A finding in his favor on this motion would resolve the case, since he would not challenge further the resulting sentences of life in prison without the possibility of release,” the lawyers wrote.

Roof was sentenced to death last month after he was convicted of hate crimes in federal court. He killed nine black churchgoers during a bible style at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston in June 2015.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for more details.

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Marine Surprises Girlfriend After Her ‘Les Misérables’ School Musical

Courtesy of Ally Eckhart(FRIENDSWOOD, Texas) — Who needs a bouquet of roses after performing in a high school musical, when there could be a surprise visit from a boyfriend who’s been away in the Marines?

That’s exactly what senior Ally Eckhart got after her Les Misérables performance at Friendswood High School in Texas on February 3.

“I was honestly in complete disbelief,” Eckhart, 18, told ABC News of seeing her boyfriend, Private First Class Slate Tutt, for the first time since October 2016. “I was so shocked to see him there. My mom had been telling me all that week that this was going to be the best weekend of my life and boy was she right!”

The young actress was still wearing her 1800s hoopskirt dress when she dropped to the floor, overwhelmed by her surprise.

“He tried to come home for the holidays but paperwork fell through and was unable to make it home,” she said of Tutt, who is stationed at Camp Pendleton. “I was completely caught off guard when I turned around and saw his face. It was such a special moment and I’m so glad he’s home.”

Tutt had been planning the special homecoming for three weeks, only letting his mom and Eckhart’s mom in on the secret.

The two lovebirds have been dating since December 2015 and say they’re thrilled they can spend Valentine’s Day together.

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