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DeVos: Reporting undocumented students is a local decision


WASHINGTON — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Tuesday that decisions on whether to report undocumented students to authorities rest with local communities.


DeVos was asked during a congressional hearing whether teachers or principals should notify authorities that a student is undocumented.


“I think it’s a school decision, a local community decision,” she said.


DeVos added, “We have laws and we also are compassionate and I urge this body to do its job and address and clarify where there is confusion around this.”


But Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy and campaign at the American Civil Liberties Union, disputed that. Praeli said in a statement that a school taking such action would violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of education to every child.


“Let’s be clear: Any school that reports a child to ICE would violate the Constitution,” Praeli said, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “The Supreme Court has made clear that every child in America has a right to be a basic education, regardless of immigration status.”

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Self-styled prophet sentenced in Utah child-rape case

CEDAR CITY, Utah (AP) — A self-styled Utah prophet who secretly married young girls because of his beliefs in polygamy and doomsday was sentenced Tuesday to up to life in prison after pleading guilty to child rape and abuse charges.

Samuel W. Shaffer was charged after police raided a remote desert compound built to house an upstart group called Knights of the Crystal Blade, The Spectrum newspaper in St. George said.

Shaffer, 34, and a friend formed the group based on arcane Mormon ideas long abandoned by the mainstream church and each believed himself to be married to two young girls, prosecutors said.

The four girls were found in December hidden in 50-gallon (190-liter) plastic water barrels and an abandoned trailer near the makeshift compound made of shipping containers about 275 miles (440 kilometers) south of Salt Lake City.

Shaffer said Tuesday he put the girls there to protect them from the winter weather, and he was glad that the girl spoke out.

“I want her to know that everything that’s happening to me is my fault and it’s not her fault. I love her and I respect her. And it’s OK that she talked,” he said.

Judge Matthew Bell said his conduct toward the children was “highly disturbing.”

“Rather than care for and protect them as you claim was your intent, you groomed, endangered and exploited these victims,” Bell said.

Child kidnapping and additional abuse courts against Shaffer were dropped when he pleaded guilty in an agreement that kept the girl from having to testify. Shaffer tried to withdraw from the deal at one point, but a judge denied the attempt.

His attorney Troy Sundquist did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

Shaffer also faces child bigamy, child kidnapping and other charges in Sanpete County, where prosecutors say the men conducted secret marriages they thought were ordained by God before they decamped to the compound.

His fellow self-styled prophet, John Coltharp, 34, is also facing child bigamy and other charges there.

Authorities believe the two men each held the title of prophet at different points, Coltharp most recently. His lawyer did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Each man secretly married two girls, ages 4 through 8, prosecutors have said. Each man married a relative of the other, according to court documents.

Authorities say the two older girls were sexually abused by the two men, but it doesn’t appear the two younger girls were victimized.

The charges were filed after sheriff’s deputies descended on the rural Iron County compound with helicopters and dogs after the mother of two of the girls reported them missing, along with two of her sons. The men had taken the children there months before in preparation for an apocalypse or in hopes of gaining followers, authorities said.

The boys were found in the makeshift compound, but it took police another day to find the girls in the barrels and trailer.

After Shaffer told police where to find them, the children were treated for the effects of cold and symptoms of dehydration, police said.

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Open statewide seats, House challenges down Georgia ballot

In addition to closely watched primary races for governor, Georgia voters Tuesday found plenty of contests further down the ballot that ultimately will shape the fall general elections.

Open seats for lieutenant governor, secretary of state and insurance commissioner resulted in competitive primary races for both Republicans and Democrats. Meanwhile, Georgia’s GOP state school superintendent was battling for re-election against an old political foe.

Four GOP congressmen from Georgia overcame primary opposition from fellow Republicans, while one Democratic House incumbent also faced a challenger.

Here’s a look at the key down-ballot races in Georgia:

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FILLING VACANCIES

A number of Republicans and Democrats were running for open statewide seats being vacated by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp so they could run for governor.

The open race for lieutenant governor drew three Republicans: state Sen. David Shafer of Duluth; former state Sen. Rick Jeffares of Locust Grove and former state Rep. Geoff Duncan of Cumming. Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico, a Marietta businesswoman, defeated Triana Arnold James of Marietta.

Primary races for secretary of state drew four GOP contenders: former Alpharetta mayor David Belle Isle, state Rep. Buzz Brockway of Lawrenceville, state Sen. Josh McKoon of Columbus, and state Rep. Brad Raffensperger of Johns Creek. Former U.S. Rep. John Barrow of Athens won the Democratic nomination by defeating two primary rivals — former state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler of Lithonia and former Rockdale County tax commissioner R.J. Hadley of Conyers.

Republican Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens opted against seeking re-election, leaving another vacancy to fill. Jim Beck of Carrollton, Hudgens’ former chief of staff and a lobbyist, defeated two fellow Republicans in the GOP primary. Jay Florence of Norcross, Hudgens’ former top deputy, lost the GOP race despite being endorsed by his former boss. Atlanta insurance agent Janice Laws won the Democratic primary.

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SCHOOL CHIEF SHOWDOWN

State School Superintendent Richard Woods successfully defended his job in a Republican primary race against the man who gave up the office four years ago.

John Barge stepped aside as Georgia’s school chief in 2014 to unsuccessfully challenge Gov. Nathan Deal’s re-election. Barge ran a failed attempt Tuesday to win back his old office after serving as the local school superintendent in coastal McIntosh County.

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HOUSE INFIGHTING

Ahead of the fall election battle for control of the U.S. House, four of Georgia’s incumbent Republican congressmen had to defeat challengers from within the GOP. One of the state’s Democratic House members had opposition as well.

Seeking his first re-election in west Georgia’s 3rd District, freshman Rep. Drew Ferguson of West Point defeated fellow Republican Philip Singleton of Sharpsburg, a former Army helicopter pilot. Rep. Rob Woodall of Lawrenceville beat Marine Corps veteran Shane Hazel of Cumming in the GOP primary for the 7th District in metro Atlanta.

In eastern Georgia’s 10th District, Republican Rep. Jody Hice of Monroe easily fended off two GOP businessmen — former Army Ranger Bradley Griffin of Newborn and Joe Hunt of Watkinsville, a vice president for the fast-food chain Zaxby’s.

Rep. Rick Allen of Augusta overcame fellow Republican Eugene Yu of Evans in eastern Georgia’s 12th District. Yu is a former military police officer and sheriff’s deputy who made his third unsuccessful attempt for the seat.

Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Lithonia faced Juan Parks in metro Atlanta’s 4th District. Parks of Lithonia is a Marine Corps veteran who now works as a JROTC high school instructor.

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TARGET: HANDEL

Four Democrats were seeking a shot at a fall challenge to Georgia’s newest member of Congress.

Republican Rep. Karen Handel won the most expensive U.S. House race in history not quite a year ago. Her chief opponent, Democrat Jon Ossoff, proved a surprise threat in a 2017 special election for a district long considered safe for the GOP. But Ossoff passed on a rematch in suburban Atlanta’s 6th District this year, when Handle must seek re-election.

Bobby Kaple of Alpharetta, a former Atlanta TV news anchor, quit his job to run as a Democrat. Another Democratic contender, Lucy McBath of Marietta, is a gun control activist whose teenage son was fatally shot in Florida in 2012.

The Democratic primary race also included businessman Kevin Abel of Sandy Springs and Steven Knight Griffin of Atlanta, a former policy worker at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Handel of Roswell ran unopposed in the GOP primary.

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PSC CHALLENGE

The newest member of the state commission that regulates Georgia utilities faced a primary challenge by a fellow Republican.

Tricia Pridemore of Marietta was appointed by the governor to fill a vacant seat on the Public Service Commission in February. Her GOP primary opponent for the District 5 PSC seat was John Hitchins III, who describes himself as a conservationist and a solar advocate.

The district covers portions of western Georgia, but all PSC members are elected statewide.

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Plea for help and donations after cats abandoned in ‘filthy’ carriers at WA shelter

The shelter re-homes animals, but not until they have all been sterilised, microchipped, and had vaccinations, flea treatments, worming and vet checks.

And at a cost of about $300 per cat, this is an unexpected expense the not-for-profit is struggling to find the money for.

The cost of re-homing a cat is about $300, and with potentially up to two of the cats pregnant, the society is calling for donations.

The cost of re-homing a cat is about $300, and with potentially up to two of the cats pregnant, the society is calling for donations.

Photo: Animal Protection Society of WA/Facebook

Ms Jackson said one of the cats was heavily pregnant and another was suspected to be pregnant, meaning the costs could grow along with the number of cats.

Two team members spent the day cleaning the cats and checking their health; however with 200 animals currently in care the shelter is pushing its capacity.

But, once out of quarantine, the cats would be advertised to be re-homed in the coming weeks, Ms Jackson said.

The shelter is calling for donations to help fund the abandoned felines’ recovery and find them a “forever home” – staff have already dubbed them the “Spice Cats”, and bestowed names such as “saffron” and “cinnamon”.

Cats at the bottom of the carriers were covered in their own urine and faeces.

Cats at the bottom of the carriers were covered in their own urine and faeces.

Photo: Animal Protection Society of WA/Facebook

Ms Jackson said donations over $2 were tax-deductable and implored people to chip in as much or as little as they could.

“The cost of a cup of coffee can help us,” she said.

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Could Democrats take Virginia’s 7th district?

FOUR years after he defeated Eric Cantor, then the second most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives, in the primary for Virginia’s 7th congressional district, Dave Brat (pictured) has himself become the target of an uprising. National Democrats, energised by voters’ distaste for President Donald Trump, have their sights on the seat, which was last won by a Democrat in 1963. 

The 7th district, which covers some of the suburbs of Richmond and surrounding countryside, includes a Trump-friendly, thinly populated farm belt where Mr Brat is certain to win comfortably. But the vote-rich suburbs could pose more of a challenge. Leafy neighborhoods south and west of Richmond are becoming less reliably Republican, a trend that has accelerated since Mr Trump became president.

These bedroom communities—white, affluent and moderate, in part, because of a burst of out-of-state newcomers—are in two counties that tipped Democratic in last year’s governor’s election. In 2016, Henrico fell to Hillary Clinton. Chesterfield was barely carried by Mr Trump. And the 7th District, overall, went Republican for governor by the skimpiest margin.

This has convinced national Democrats, who need 24 seats to take back the House of Representatives in the mid-terms in November, to make a strong play for the 7th District. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting the seat, committing cash and services to the party’s nominee, who will be selected in a primary in June. By the early spring, Dan Ward, a former adviser to the State Department and Abigail Spanberger, formerly a CIA operative, had each raised more than $724,000.  Mr Brat had raised $860,000. But it is emotion, rather than money, that will probably shape the campaign.

Mr Brat is unapologetically conservative, expressing his views in a manner that alternates between a lecture and a bark. He is a stout defender of the president, depicting Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign as “deep-state stuff”. Hostile on immigration and hawkish on the latest tax cuts, he is a favorite of conservative media and often avoids the mainstream press—voters, too, except in situations he can control.

All this has contributed to a long list of complaints against Mr Brat by an increasing number of voters, many of them women. Most notable among his critics is an organisation called the Liberal Women of Chesterfield County, which emerged, almost overnight, thanks to outrage over Mr Trump.

These women, skilled in the person-to-person communications that can quickly mobilise neighborhoods, were initially infuriated by Mr Brat’s complicity in Republican efforts to unravel President Barack Obama’s marquee initiative, the Affordable Care Act. They stalked Mr Brat, online and in-person, occasionally to comical effect. At one point, he complained that “women are in my grill no matter where I go.”

When Mr Brat does communicate with voters, it is in settings that he can control: a radio chat show, the host which is one of Mr Trump’s Virginia organisers, or the op-ed page of his hometown’s editorially conservative newspaper.

This has not gone unnoticed by the sorts of voters who should be with Mr Brat: centrist Republicans who are pro-business and socially moderate. Because Mr Brat comports himself as Mr Trump’s mini-me, they are looking elsewhere or considering staying home in November.

Such Republicans were generally comfortable with Mr Cantor and willing to occasionally look the other way over his accommodations with the party’s restive right wing. They include William Royall, a former Republican operative-turned-direct mail marketer and art impresario who is supporting Ms Spanberger. He does not conceal his hostility for Mr Brat. “I don’t like his politics,” Mr Royall told the Washington Post recently. “I still consider myself a Republican but the party has gone in another direction.”

Republicans like Mr Royall would have to defect on a grand scale for Democrats to prevail in Virginia’s 7th District. Its boundaries, even after they were reset by judges to eliminate racial gerrymandering in an adjacent district, still favour Republicans. But Mr Brat’s success in making enemies of presumed friends has Republicans wondering if the 7th district might soon turn blue.

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Alabama town terrorized by ‘poop train’ gets free Febreze samples

The so-called New York City “poop train” — a trainload of human waste — finally left the small Alabama town it was stranded in, but the smell of excretion was so strong that Febreze stepped in to freshen up the area.

The air freshener brand provided free samples of its products to residents in Walker County’s Parrish, a town with a population of 982, where the train of 200 sludge-filled shipping containers was stuck for more than two months, AL.com reported. 

NYC ‘POOP TRAIN’ SITTING IDLE IN ALABAMA HAS BECOME A ‘NIGHTMARE’ FOR RESIDENTS, MAYOR SAYS

The train of sludge, a byproduct of New Yorkers’ excrement, was stationed in the town until April, before being transported to a landfill roughly 20 miles away.

This April 12, 2018 photo shows containers that were loaded with tons of sewage sludge in Parrish, Ala. More than two months after the so-called "Poop Train" rolled in from New York City, Hall says her small town smells like rotting corpses. Some say the trainloads of New Yorkers' excrement is turning Alabama into a dumping ground for other states' waste. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)

This April 12, 2018 photo shows containers that were loaded with tons of sewage sludge in Parrish, Alabama.

 (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)

Locals had complained about the stench for weeks. “No one should be immersed in the stink,” Febreze told the outlet, explaining their decision to “finally bring a breath of fresh air to the good people of Parrish.”

The Procter & Gamble company, known for its odor-eliminating products, shared a jokingly dramatic video on Twitter of residents complaining about the “awful, stinky” smell, which some compared to that of “dead bodies.”

“The running joke was when the ‘poop train’ came that we needed to just drop Febreze on top of the train,” one resident said in the video.

While New York has discontinued waste shipments to Alabama for now, experts say some cities send their waste to Alabama and other Southern states due to low landfill fees and lax zoning laws.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @nicoledarrah.



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Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano spews lava: Follow live

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported that two lava flows are entering the Pacific Ocean, which has created a potentially deadly “laze hazard.”

Access to the area is prohibited. Residents are being told to stay away from any ocean plume “since it can change direction without warning,” and the U.S. Coast Guard is enforcing a 300-meter “standoff zone.”

So what’s “laze“? Here’s how the USGS describes it:

When molten lava flows into the ocean, it reacts vigorously with sea water to create a different type of gas plume that results in hazy and noxious conditions downwind of an ocean entry. Referred to as a “laze” plume (for a blending of the words ‘lava’ and ‘haze’), it forms through a series of chemical reactions as hot lava boils seawater to dryness. The plume is an irritating mixture of hydrochloric acid gas (HCl), steam, and tiny volcanic glass particles. 

If anyone comes in contact with the gas plume, it can cause skin and eye irritation, as well as breathing difficulties. It can also be deadly.

The USGS attributes two deaths to laze in back in 2000, when the badly burned bodies of two hikers were discovered near a lava entry point in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Both had died of pulmonary edema caused by the inhalation of steam.

“They unwisely accepted a risk by choosing to enter an area the National Park had closed because of known — and posted — eruption hazards,” USGS said.

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Workers hit McDonald’s with new sexual harassment claims

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Ten women who work at McDonald’s restaurants in Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and six other cities have filed sexual harassment complaints in the past few days with the federal government against the company and its franchisees, which they said ignored or retaliated against them for such complaints.

The logo of a McDonald’s Corp restaurant is seen in Los Angeles, California, U.S. October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

The complaints, filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), are the latest effort by the union-backed Fight for $15 to have McDonald’s designated a “joint employer” of workers at McDonald’s franchises and thereby liable when its franchisees violate labor laws.

The claimants, including a 15-year-old from St. Louis, said in a conference call with journalists that they were ignored, mocked or terminated for reporting the behavior. The accusations included claims that co-workers or supervisors sexually propositioned, groped or exposed themselves to the women.

“I felt I had no choice but to tolerate it,” Kimberley Lawson, 25, who makes $8.75 per hour at a McDonald’s in Kansas City, Missouri, said on a conference call with reporters.

The restaurant industry, which employs half of American women at some point in their lives, has one of the country’s largest sexual harassment problems because its low-wage and largely female workforce is vulnerable to mistreatment from customers and colleagues.

The complaints against McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N) and the franchisee operators of the restaurants where the women work are similar to sexual harassment accusations also filed with the EEOC two years ago and land ahead of the company’s annual meeting on Thursday.

The TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, established earlier this year by the National Women’s Law Center, is covering legal fees for the women.

The company said in a statement that it takes the accusations seriously and that the franchisees who operate some 90 percent its roughly 14,000 U.S. restaurants “will do the same.”

McDonald’s spokeswoman Terri Hickey did not immediately comment on the company’s sexual harassment policy or what, if any actions, were taken after the 2016 accusations.

Fight for $15 and TIME’S UP are pressing the world’s largest restaurant chain to establish and train employees on a zero-tolerance sexual harassment policy and to create a safe and effective process for receiving and responding to complaints.

If an EEOC review of the cases finds they have merit, the agency would call on the company to engage in informal settlement talks. If that failed, EEOC could sue the company or issue the workers “right to sue” letters.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld employers’ ability to block workers who signed arbitration agreements from filing class-action lawsuits. Sexual harassment cases are usually not class actions because of the unique facts in each case. If the workers signed arbitration agreements, that could keep individual claims out of court.

Attorneys told reporters on the conference call that they were investigating whether the women had signed arbitration agreements. They said workers in prior cases had not.

The women could find it difficult to hold McDonald’s responsible for the actions of its franchisees.

In two earlier labor law cases, federal judges in California have said that McDonald’s does not exercise enough control over franchise workers to be considered a joint employer.

Also, McDonald’s in April proposed settling a National Labor Relations Board case that allows it to avoid a joint employer ruling without paying any money to franchise workers who claimed they were fired, suspended or had their hours cut for participating in Fight for $15 protests calling for higher wages.

Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles and Daniel Wiessner in New York; Editing by Toni Reinhold

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Hong Kong finance manager lost £1.3m to ‘British film director’ she never met in eight year romance con

A con artist who pretended to be a British film director has reportedly duped a Hong Kong woman out of HK$14 million (£1.3 million) in the city’s biggest ever online romance scam.

The victim of the eight year-long fraud was a manager at a Hong Kong finance firm who believed she was involved in an online relationship with the man, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper reported.

“A police source described the eight-year con as the longest-lasting online love scam in the city, and the HK$14 million lost as the largest in a single case,” the SCMP said.

The victim, who was reported to be in her 40s, never met her purported lover face to face.

She sent him cash in more than 200 transactions to bank accounts in Malaysia and Hong Kong after the pair met on a dating website.

The former British colony has witnessed a surge in online romance scams, with 119 residents being duped out of HK$75.9 million (£7.2 million) during the first three months of this year.

That figure is five times more than the amount for the same period last year, the SCMP said.

In 2016 a 42-year-old woman from the Asian commercial hub was conned out of HK$880,000 (£83,000) by a man who claimed to be her “British lover”. 

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‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli owes IRS more than $1.6M, court filing says

When “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli finally pays for his fraud, the federal government argues its coffers should be filled first.

Shkreli, who was convicted of securities fraud and is serving a seven-year prison sentence, owes the IRS more than $1.6 million, according to a new court filing.

“Martin Shkreli has failed, neglected, or refused to pay in full the liability for the income tax year 2015,” government tax attorney Stephanie Chernoff said in the court filing.

The feds asked a judge to determine whether Shkreli should pay that debt before others. Last month the commissioner of Taxation and Finance in New York said Shkreli should first repay his state tax lien of $480,000, “an interest superior to that of the United States of America,” the state attorney general argued.

The state said its tax lien dates to January 2017, well before Shkreli was ordered in March to forfeit more than $7 million in assets to satisfy his securities fraud conviction.

The federal government said its tax lien is even older.

“The long-established priority rule with respect to federal tax liens is that ‘the first in time is the first in right,’” Chernoff said. “The federal tax lien has priority over the commissioner’s liens.”

If Shkreli cannot pay, the IRS wants a piece of his other forfeited assets, including an E-Trade brokerage account, a Picasso work and the rare Wu-Tang Clan album “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.”

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