JUST IN:


Feds move forward on asking states to track car emissions

Published: Thursday, September 28, 2017 @ 4:00 PM
Updated: Thursday, September 28, 2017 @ 3:58 PM

Federal officials moved forward Thursday with requirements that states track vehicle emissions on federal highways after months of delays that prompted California and seven other states to sue.

But they might repeal the new rules next year anyway, rendering this week's decision moot.

The rules require state transportation departments to track on-road emissions of greenhouse gas emissions by looking at gas purchased and miles traveled on federal highways. States must then set emissions targets, with the goal of reducing them over time. Emissions from cars, trucks and other vehicles make up roughly 27 percent of the nation's total greenhouse emissions.

In the short term, the rules will move forward. But federal officials will also undertake a fresh review of whether they're necessary or could be made better.

"We have heard anecdotally that some states are already collecting such data, and we do not want to complicate their work with potentially duplicative federal requirements," said Doug Hecox, a spokesman for the Federal Highway Administration. "It is also unclear whether the rule, as currently written, will have any meaningful utility."

Still, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is claiming victory, arguing the multistate lawsuit he filed Sept. 20 proved the Trump administration can't ignore the law. "This is a victory for the American people and will help us tackle climate change," Becerra said in a statement.

Becerra has sued the Trump administration repeatedly over environmental policy decisions, arguing it is needlessly delaying rules aimed at combating climate change.

Hecox said he couldn't comment on pending litigation when asked whether the lawsuit prompted the change in course. He also did not say whether the Federal Highway Administration believes asking states to track such emissions is good policy. The new review could eliminate the rules entirely or make them better, he said.

"We'll see what the public wants," Hecox said.

Report: Tech companies to lobby for ‘Dreamers’ to stay in US

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 5:47 AM

Protesters favor
Protesters favor "Dreamers" to stay in the United States.(Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Nearly two dozen companies in technology -- including Google, Microsoft, Facebook and other industries -- are planning to launch a coalition to demand legislation that would allow young, undocumented immigrants a path to permanent residency, Reuters reported.

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Citing documents, Reuters reported that the Coalition for the American Dream intends to ask Congress to pass bipartisan legislation this year that would allow these immigrants, referred to as “Dreamers,” to continue working in the United States.

Other companies planning to take part include Intel, Uber, Univision, and Marriott International, according to the documents.

Intel, Uber and Univision confirmed their membership, but the other companies did not immediately comment. It is possible that plans to launch the group could change.

“We’re pleased to join with other organizations in urging Congress to pass legislation to protect Dreamers,” Intel spokesman Will Moss said in a statement.

Matthew Wing, a spokesman for Uber, said, “Uber joined the Coalition for the American Dream because we stand with the Dreamers. We’ve also held town halls, provided legal support and launched an online Dreamer Resource Center for any of our drivers.”

The push for this legislation comes after President Donald Trump’s September decision to allow the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to expire in March. That program allows approximately 900,000 illegal immigrants to obtain work permits.

3-month-old girl among 84 rescued in sex trafficking sting

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 4:01 AM

Protesting sex trafficking.
NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Protesting sex trafficking.(NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A 3-month-old girl and her 5-year-old sister were rescued in Denver by undercover agents during this month’s FBI-led sting operation against sex traffickers, CNN reported.

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In announcing details of Operation Cross Country XI, FBI officials said 82 other juveniles were rescued during a nationwide sweep last week. The FBI said 120 people were arrested.

In the case of the two sisters in Denver, the alleged trafficker was a friend of the children’s family who made a deal to sell them for sex for $600, the FBI said. The friend communicated with an undercover agent. 

"Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested -- and the number of children recovered -- reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work," FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement.

The average age of the victims recovered from this year's operation is 15, the FBI said. Traffickers would offer the victims to outsiders from hotels, truck stops or from online, the FBI said.

On Oct. 13, the second day of the operation, a minor was rescued by the FBI in El Paso, Texas, when a 16-year-old female victim was advertised online for "entertainment," CNN reported.

The girl was accompanied by a 21-year-old female who offered an undercover agent sexual intercourse with both her and the underage victim for $200, the FBI said.

At a news conference in Denver on Thursday, District Attorney George Brauchler reminded traffickers that undercover agents and task force officers are always lurking, whether behind cameras, on the Internet or in a casino, prepared to make another bust.

"To those out there who are watching this who might avail themselves at the opportunity to exploit children or to engage in even the adult sex trade, this is a bit of a warning. ... The people that you can't see behind those cameras, they are fins. They are fins in the water and they represent sharks who are there all the time,” Brauchler said.

"And my advice to you is to stay out of those waters where the kids are, to stay out of those waters where exploited adults are for sex, because they are out there and they will get you. And when they get you, my office will handle the rest."

Florida teacher accused of molesting 13-year-old girl

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 5:16 AM

Sonny Juarez, left, and  Felipe Diaz Hernandez.
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
Sonny Juarez, left, and Felipe Diaz Hernandez.(Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office)

A Florida teacher and another man have been arrested after being accused of molesting a 13-year-old girl in a school classroom, Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies said. 

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Teacher and soccer coach, Sonny Juarez, 29, faces charges of lewd and lascivious molestation, which occurred between November 2016 until March 2017, WFLA reported. 

Juarez, who taught at RCMA Academy in Wimauma, allegedly molested the girl for five months on campus in the back of the classroom while she was pregnant, according to deputies. 

Investigators told WFLA that another man, Felipe Diaz Hernandez, 54, also abused and sexually battered the girl, and is the man who got her pregnant. The victim gave birth to a baby girl in September, WFLA reported. 

Juarez has since been fired from the school and was released from the county jail on a $15,000 bond. Hernandez faces charges of child abuse and sexual battery. He remains in jail on a $600,000 bond, according to jail records. 

White nationalist Richard Spencer jeered by University of Florida crowd

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 2:19 AM

White nationalist Richard Spencer speaks during a news  conference at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Gainesville, Florida. Spencer delivered a speech on the college campus, his first since he and others participated in the
White nationalist Richard Spencer speaks during a news conference at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Gainesville, Florida. Spencer delivered a speech on the college campus, his first since he and others participated in the "Unite the Right" rally, which turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia.(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

White nationalist Richard Spencer’s speech at the University of Florida was cut short Thursday by chants, jeering and shouting, Gainesville.com reported.

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Spencer spoke at an afternoon event at the university’s Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, but cut his scheduled two-hour appearance shortened by 25 minutes after having to yell over a heckling crowd, Gainesville.com reported.

“I feel sorry for you,” Spencer told the crowd. “Do you know how this is going to be read? Do you think this is going to be read as ‘great victory for U of F’? No, it’s going to be read as the University of Florida is filled with child-like antifa, who shout at people as opposed to talking to them.”

>> Who is Richard Spencer? 5 things to know about white nationalist

The event brought nearly 2,500 protesters to the university, and 500 tickets were distributed for the event in the 1,700-seat theater. Police in riot gear stood on the second level of the Phillips Center, and several rows remained empty, separating Spencer supporters from protesters, Gainesville.com reported.

The university spent an estimated $600,000 for security for the event, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in advance of Spencer’s speech.

Spencer spent the first half hour arguing and trying to be heard above the crowd, which chanted “Black Lives Matter,” “Let’s go, Gators,” and “Go Home, Spencer,” Gainesville.com reported.

Spencer called the crowd “babies” and “pathetic” and their chants “stupid.”

“Oh, Nazis have no right to speak, really?” he asked the crowd. “So, you don’t believe in free speech at all, do you?”

Spencer opened up the floor for questions earlier than expected, Gainesville.com reported.

The first question: “Why are you still here?”

A few dozen in the crowd supported Spencer and his organization, the National Policy Institute, although most declined to comment to the media.

As the event ended, Spencer thanked the university for allowing him to speak, but chastised the crowd, saying UF “failed” its test of allowing free speech, Gainesville.com reported.

“You think that you shut me down, well you didn’t,” Spencer said. “You failed at your own game ... The world is not going to be proud of you.

Some of social media also chastised the Florida crowd. Columnist Ben Shapiro called the students “dumb,” saying  “You gave Spencer what he wanted. You should have left him an empty auditorium.”

In a telephone interview after the speech, Spencer described the appearance as "frustrating and exhilarating at the same time." 

"I'm inspired that we persevered against totally thuggish behavior," he told The Washington Post. "Screaming at the top of your lungs is the same as trying to bar the door."