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Teen on vacation survives nearly 10 hours in waters off Georgia coast

Published: Thursday, July 12, 2018 @ 6:38 AM

Teen Survives Nearly 10 Hours in Waters off Georgia Coast

A 19-year-old spent nearly 10 hours in the ocean fighting for his life off the coast of Georgia's St. Simons Island.

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“Worst vacation ever, but also my most exciting ever,” said Blake Spataro.

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But it’s the kind of excitement most would like to avoid.

“I was out there sitting by the shore when a rip tide washes me straight into the ocean,” he said.

>> Teen attacked, bitten by shark in waters off northern Florida beach

The teen was stranded in the ocean for nearly 10 hours.

“I didn’t want to die out there. I was talking to God the entire night,” Spataro said.

He screamed for help, but no one heard him over the waves and wind. And he continued to get pulled out to sea Tuesday night.

“I wanted to live; I wanted to live. I was too young to die and I didn’t want it to end there,” said Spataro.

>> Great white sharks seem to love warmer ocean waters, not cold, surprising scientists

For hours, the U.S. Coast Guard searched in the sky and by boat, along with multiple agencies. Spataro’s father, Kirk, spent all night walking up and down the beach, desperate to find his son.

“I was screaming. I was hollering. I was looking,” Kirk Spataro said.

Throughout the night, the teen did his best to stay calm.

“Whenever I was tired I floated on my back,” he said.

He was about to give up, but then came a ray of hope, literally.

Lights from an approaching Coast Guard boat boosted his spirits.

“That gave me some comfort and gave me some motivation to keep going,” he said.

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The teen kept pushing through until he came across a golf course early Wednesday morning where he came close enough to walk to shore and get help.

Workers there gave him food and water until an ambulance arrived. 

“I’m alive,” the teen said.

“I’ve been in the Coast Guard for 18 years and I have never seen anything like this,” said Justin Irwin, senior chief with the U.S. Coast Guard in Brunswick.

Irwin visited the teen in his hospital room to let Spataro know how amazed and proud he was.

“I am truly blessed to be alive today,” Spataro said. 

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Trump again contradicts U.S. Intelligence on Russia

Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 @ 1:14 PM

For the second time this week, President Donald Trump publicly went against the findings of the U.S. Intelligence Community with respect to Russian efforts to undermine election activities in the United States, as the President shot down a question about whether Russia was still engaged in activities like their 2016 interference in the U.S. elections.

“Is Russia still targeting the U.S.?” a reporter asked, as the President wrapped up a Cabinet meeting at the White House.

“Thank you very much. No,” President Trump said firmly as he shook his head, giving an answer that again runs counter to what American intelligence agencies have been warning for months, that Russia is looking for a repeat of their 2016 interference efforts.

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In brief remarks to reporters, the President said several times that he has been tough on Russia.

“There’s never been a President as tough on Russia as I have been,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “And I think President Putin knows that better than anybody, especially the media.”

On Monday, after Mr. Trump had seemingly sided with the denial of Vladimir Putin at a joint news conference in Finland, the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, quickly issued a statement reiterating that the U.S. firmly believes Russia meddled in the 2016 election, noting “their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy.”

Mr. Trump then clarified his comments on Tuesday, in a statement read to reporters – but Wednesday’s remarks seemed to take him back to square one – where the President argues that the Russians are not coming after the U.S.

The President’s answer puts him squarely at odds as well with many in both parties in the Congress, who fully believe that Russia is still actively engaged in efforts to meddle with the 2018 and 2020 elections in the United States.

“OMG. OMG. OMG,” wrote Michael Hayden on Twitter, a former Director of the CIA and National Security Agency.

“Mr. President. Walk this back too,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.

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Clown car: Driver uses clown masks to try to get into HOV lane

Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 @ 12:55 PM

FILE PHOTO
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
FILE PHOTO(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

You may have names for the commuters who share the road during rush-hour traffic. Clown may be the safest one to go with. 

But one driver in New York may live up to that moniker.

A driver in the high occupancy lane on FDR Drive in New York City tried to beat the law by adding clowns, to his convertible to qualify for the HOV lane, WNBC reported

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Masks were added to some of headrests in the car, but sitting in the passenger seat was a person-like shape wearing a mask, with an arm and hand draped casually out of the window. 

The unidentified driver was sporting sunglasses, a red clown nose and a cigarette. 

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By law, drivers with passengers in the car can use the HOV lanes, usually with a minimum of two or three people in the car, WNBC reported.

If a police officer sees some alone in a vehicle using HOV lanes, or using a fake passenger to get around the rules, the officer can issue a summons. Drivers face two points on their license for breaking the law, WNBC reported.

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Police: Man shoots suspected burglar holding his wife at gunpoint

Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 @ 11:22 AM

Man Shoots Suspected Burglar Holding His Wife at Gunpoint, Police Say

A man opened fire Tuesday night when a pair of would-be home invaders attempted to force his wife into their Houston home at gunpoint, leaving one man injured, according to police and news reports.

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The incident started around 10:30 p.m., when the two men stole the woman’s purse while she was in the driveway of her home in South Houston, KPRC reported.

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Police said the men tried to force the woman into her house while her husband was inside. The husband heard noises coming from outside the home and looked out a window to see that the men had grabbed his wife, according to KTRK.

He grabbed a pistol and confronted the men, exchanging gunshots with the suspects and injuring one of them, KTRK reported.

Police Lt. Larry Crowson told the Houston Chronicle that the injured man was shot in the head. He was last listed at a hospital in serious condition, the Chronicle reported

The other man ran from the scene, KRIV reported.

Neither of the victims were injured in the attack, according to KHOU.

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Russian government accuses FBI of 'political put-up job' after suspected foreign agent indicted

Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 @ 12:58 PM

In this photo taken on Sunday, April 21, 2013, Maria Butina, leader of a pro-gun organization in Russia, speaks to a crowd during a rally in support of legalizing the possession of handguns in Moscow, Russia. Butina, a 29-year-old gun-rights activist, served as a covert Russian agent while living in Washington, gathering intelligence on American officials and political organizations and working to establish back-channel lines of communications for the Kremlin, federal prosecutors charged Monday, July 16, 2018.
AP Photo
In this photo taken on Sunday, April 21, 2013, Maria Butina, leader of a pro-gun organization in Russia, speaks to a crowd during a rally in support of legalizing the possession of handguns in Moscow, Russia. Butina, a 29-year-old gun-rights activist, served as a covert Russian agent while living in Washington, gathering intelligence on American officials and political organizations and working to establish back-channel lines of communications for the Kremlin, federal prosecutors charged Monday, July 16, 2018.(AP Photo)

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the FBI of “implementing a political put-up job” after authorities arrested a Russian national over the weekend on allegations that she illegally acted as an unregistered foreign agent.

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Authorities on Sunday arrested Mariia Butina, a 29-year-old Russian citizen living in Washington, D.C., on suspicion of “conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian Federation within the United States without prior notification to the Attorney General,” according to the Justice Department. In a criminal complaint released Monday, authorities accused Butina of failing to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

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>> From Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree: Russian woman arrested, charged with illegal political activities in U.S.

In a pair of tweets attributed Wednesday to Maria Zakharova, director of the Information and Press Department for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the foreign ministry wrote that officials were dismayed to learn of Butin’s arrest.

“We are dismayed by the reported arrest of Russian citizen Maria Butina in the US on July 15,” Zakharova said, using an alternative spelling of Butina’s first name. “It looks as if the FBI, instead of carrying out their responsibility of fighting crime, is implementing a political put-up job set to it by forces that are whipping up anti-Russia hysteria in the US.”

Justice Department officials allege that Butina schmoozed with influential people and organizations in the U.S. in order to advance the interests of Russia.

“From as early as 2015 and continuing through at least February 2017, Butina worked at the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government who was previously a member of the legislature of the Russian Federation and later became a top official at the Russian Central Bank,” Justice Department officials said Monday in a news release. 

>> Who is Mariia Butina, the woman charged with acting as a Russian agent in the US?

Authorities added that the unnamed official was among the 24 Russian oligarchs and senior Russian government officials sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for profiting from the country’s illegal and subversive activities in the U.S. and abroad. 

Butina was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday for a hearing. Prosecutors are expected to argue that the 29-year-old should be held without bail ahead of trial because she is a flight risk, NPR reported.

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