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Texas mayor: Transgender and kicked out of military? Join our police force

Published: Wednesday, July 26, 2017 @ 9:23 PM

Austin’s mayor has a message for transgender Americans: Kicked out of the military? Come to Austin. In light of President Donald Trump’s Wednesday announcement that transgender Americans will be banned from serving in the military, Mayor Steve Adler sent a series of tweets firing back at the ban. He also tweeted out a link to the application website for Austin Police Department The Austin Police Department has a transgender officer, and a couple of years ago the city expanded its employee he

In light of President Donald Trump’s Wednesday announcement that transgender Americans will be banned from serving in the military, Austin’s mayor had a message: Kicked out? Come to Austin.

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In the first of a series of three tweets, Mayor Steve Adler said, “If you’re qualified to keep our country safe you’re qualified to keep Austin safe. Transgender Americans are welcome on our police force.” Adler continued, tweeting that Austin is the “safest big city in Texas” due to its respect for people’s differences. He also tweeted out a link to the application website for Austin Police Department: “If you get kicked out of the service because you're transgender, please apply to join our police force.”

The Austin Police Department has a transgender officer, and a couple of years ago the city expanded its employee health care plan to cover transgender health services.

(Getty File Photo)(Onfokus/Getty Images)

In addition, Austin interim police Chief Brian Manley was among the law enforcement leaders from across Texas who gathered Tuesday at the state Capitol to oppose so-called “bathroom bills” involving transgender people. Manley said such bills would make communities less safe by diverting officers from addressing violent crime to enforcing a bathroom bill.

Austin police have also taken steps to address their own treatment of transgender people. A task force has worked on redefining how Austin police will identify transgenderand gender-nonconforming people after the Police Department’s handling of the 2016 killing of Monica Loera, a transgender woman who police initially identified by her male birth name.

Houston police Chief Art Acevedo, formerly Austin’s chief, expressed a sentiment similar to Adler’s on Twitter.

In March, the City Council approved creation of a LGBTQ Quality of Life Advisory Commission, which will advise the council on issues that affect the LGBTQ community and coordinate educational programs on those issues.

The response to Adler’s tweets from Twitter users was mixed (as was the response from American-Statesman readers when the news broke earlier in the day).

Trump's announcement (which also happened on Twitter) did not specify what would happen to transgender people already in the military. In a White House press briefing Wednesday afternoon, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the details were still being worked out.

Girl, 9, unknowingly hands out THC-laced candy to classmates, school says

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 8:35 PM

9-Year-Old Girl Unknowingly Gave THC-Laced Candy to Classmates, School Says

A 9-year-old girl unwittingly ate, and handed out to other classmates, THC-laced candy, school officials said. 

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The girl brought the candies to school last Thursday and said she could not see; another girl ate them and started to feel dizzy, Albuquerque School of Excellence Dean of Elementary School Students Kristy Del Curto told KRQE

“We noticed the student who initially brought the edible to our school was acting strange. She started saying she couldn’t see,” Del Curto said.

Three students shared one gummy and the student who handed it out had three or four pieces, Del Curto said. 

Paramedics were called and monitored the students, who eventually recovered. 

The student who brought them to school did not know they were medicinal, THC-laced gummies, Del Curto said.

“As marijuana becomes legal in each state, it’s going to become more and more of an issue, I believe,” Del Curto said.

Deployed troops will be able to watch NFL playoff games

Published: Sunday, January 21, 2018 @ 8:42 AM
Updated: Sunday, January 21, 2018 @ 10:03 AM

What You Need to Know: Government Shutdown

UPDATE, 10:03 a.m. 1/21/2018: Despite the shutdown of the United States government early Saturday, the NFL announced Sunday morning that the Armed Forces Network will  air the AFC and NFC Championship games.

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The NFL also said it is providing free access to the games via NFL Game Pass to all USO centers.

Meanwhile, Congress is back at work Sunday, attempting to create a deal to end the shutdown. 

ORIGINAL STORY: As a result of lawmakers failing to resolve a standoff over immigration and spending, the United States government has been shut down indefinitely – meaning everyone has been affected, including troops overseas.

>> Watch the news report here

There is a lot of fallout from the shutdown. From government employees who aren't being paid, including the Defense Department, to the Armed Forces Network being taken off the air, the effects of a standstill government can be felt across the board.

Since the AFN has been taken off the air, that means many of our troops overseas won't be able to watch the NFL playoffs Sunday

Surely it's not the biggest issue surrounding a government shutdown, but it's a big morale issue. 

>> Trump campaign ad calls Democrats 'complicit' in killings by undocumented immigrants

Watching the Patriots on the Armed Forces Network has been a comforting piece of home for army Sgt. Matt Connolly, who's serving in South Korea.

"It's kind of the only thing we can do for fun over here," Connolly told WFXT.

For the first time since he's been stationed in Korea, his family came to visit him for the AFC Championship game.

"I'm actually on leave right now. My family from Boston is here right now and we were looking forward to watching the game," Connolly said.

With no one to run it, AFN is off the air. 

>> John Legend blames Trump for government shutdown, calls him racist

The NFL says it is providing free access to Sunday's Championships via the NFL Game Pass to all USO centers.

"No matter what, I'm going to watch them," Connolly said.

Sen. Ed Markey says he's in a holding pattern right now as he says he and most of his colleagues are preparing to negotiate through the night – but it's still unclear if that will be an option.

Immigration issues are at the center of the shutdown. Many Republicans don't want to negotiate on those issues until a spending bill is passed and the government re-opens.

However, those immigration issues – including the DREAMERS Act – are a priority for many Democrats. 

Markey told WFXT that he believes everyone needs to continue working to find some sort of compromise, and he wants President Donald Trump to take the lead.

"Bill Belichick is telling the New England Patriots for tomorrow, 'Do your job,' and we are saying to President Trump for tomorrow, 'Do your job, Mr. President. Make sure that the funding is there for our troops. Make sure that our defense is taken care of, but make sure that we also protect child health and the Dreamers,' but thus far he's been unwilling to do his job," Markey said.

Jim Rodford, bassist for The Kinks, dead at 76

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 7:17 PM

INDIO, CA - APRIL 28:  (EDITORS NOTE: This image has been converted to black and white.) Musician Jim Rodford of The Zombies performs on the Palomino stage during day 1 of 2017 Stagecoach California's Country Music Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 28, 2017 in Indio, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Stagecoach)
Frazer Harrison
INDIO, CA - APRIL 28: (EDITORS NOTE: This image has been converted to black and white.) Musician Jim Rodford of The Zombies performs on the Palomino stage during day 1 of 2017 Stagecoach California's Country Music Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 28, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Stagecoach)(Frazer Harrison)

Jim Rodford, bassist for popular rock band The Kinks from 1978 to 1996, has died at 76, according to the band.

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The Kinks, whose hits include “You Really Got Me,” “Lola,” “I’m Not Like Everybody Else,” “A Well-Respected Man,” “Victoria” and “Waterloo Sunset,” made the announcement Saturday on its official social media accounts.

“It is with deep sadness that we have learned that Jim Rodford passed away – he toured and recorded with the Kinks for many years and will be greatly missed. He was much loved by all of us #JimRodford,” the band said on Twitter.

Founding member Dave Davies also expressed his sorrow over Rodford’s “sudden loss.”

“I’m devastated Jim’s sudden loss I’m too broken up to put words together it’s such a shock I always thought Jim would live forever in true rock and roll fashion – strange – great friend great musician great man – he was an integral part of the Kinks later years RIP,” he wrote on Twitter.

Although Rodford did not play for the band when they burst onto the scene in the ’60s, he was credited by Davies as being an integral part of “The Kinks” in their later years. Rodford would later return to the band The Zombies.

Three people hit by train since its debut last week

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 6:39 PM

A group of boys trespass along railroad tracks next to a Brightline train station, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, in West Palm Beach, Fla. The Brightline train will begin introductory service on Saturday, with round-trip fares starting at $20 between its Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach stations. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee/AP
A group of boys trespass along railroad tracks next to a Brightline train station, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, in West Palm Beach, Fla. The Brightline train will begin introductory service on Saturday, with round-trip fares starting at $20 between its Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach stations. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)(Wilfredo Lee/AP)

For the third time in the week since the Brightline train started its service from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale, a person has been hit by the passenger train, according to Fort Lauderdale police.

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Detective Tracy Figone, public information officer for the police department, said a pedestrian attempted to cross the train tracks at Northeast Third Avenue and North Flagler Drive when the gates were down. The person’s injuries are not life-threatening, according to Figone.

Four people have been hit and killed by Brightline trains since it started testing service. 

Friday night, a Brightline spokesperson reiterated the message from a press conference earlier that day: Safety.

“Today, we joined with partners in South Florida to stress our top priority - safety. Incidents like these can be avoided and train warnings need to be treated exactly like red lights, stop signs and crosswalks,” the spokesperson said.

On Friday, Brightline officials announced newly planned safety and public education initiatives in the wake of two fatal accidents in the last week.

On Wednesday, 51-year-old Jeffrey King was hit and killed by a northbound Brightline train when he pedaled his bicycle around the gates near the Florida East Coast Railway crossing about 4:30 p.m. on Ocean Avenue. Last Friday, 32-year-old Melissa Lavell was hit and killed near the intersection of Northeast Sixth Avenue in Boynton Beach. Witnesses told police she attempted to beat the train when the gates were down.

An 18-year-old who jumped in front of the train while it was making  a test run in July was ruled a suicide, officials said. The November death of a woman on the tracks was ruled an accident.

During the press conference, Brightline’s President and Chief Operating Officer Patrick Goddard said they plan to implement electronic signs as well as put employees at busy intersections as extra warnings of passing trains.

“We offer our deepest sympathy to those affected by the recent incidents,” Goddard said at a news conference to announce the new safety measures. “The fact that these incidents are completely avoidable is what makes them so tragic.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.