Mar 31

Help a local Birthday boy battling cancer

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) A Lexington teacher and his fourth grade class are asking for your help in making a positive impact in the lives of a local boy and his family.

The teacher, Robert, started a GoFundMe page for Aaron Stamper, who is a young man battling Leukemia.  Aaron’s Birthday is on Sunday, April 2, and his Birthday wish is to receive a box full of Birthday cards.  Robert was so touched by his humble request, he was inspired to start the fundraising page to help Aaron’s family financially following a couple of rough years.  You can read his full story, and make a donation at this website:

All of us at ABC36 wish you a very happy Birthday, Aaron!



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Mar 31

Search is on for missing 14-year old boy in Laurel County

LONDON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The search is on for a missing 14-year old boy in Laurel County.

The Sheriff’s Office says Zachary Jununten is a suspected runaway.

He was last seen on Hopkins Cemetery Road, approximately six miles south of London around 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, 2017. He apparently left on foot, according to investigators.

He is 5’2″ tall, 155-pounds with blue eyes, brown hair above ear length with a light complexion. He was last seen wearing a white button up shirt with blue stripes and blue jeans.

Anyone with information on the boy’s whereabouts is asked to call the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office at 606-864-6600 or 606-878-7000. Information will be kept strictly confidential, according to authorities.

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Mar 31

Intel suggests terrorists got airport screening equipment

United States intelligence suggests terrorists have obtained airport security screening equipment to test the effectiveness of their ability to conceal explosives in laptops and other electronic devices, ABC News has confirmed according to two sources familiar with the matter.

CNN first reported that intelligence suggested the screening equipment had fallen into the hands of terrorists.

Last week, ABC News reported that new restrictions for electronics on certain U.S. bound flights were based on new intelligence that radicals associated with ISIS are actively working on developing ways to smuggle bombs onto commercial airliners.

The use of screening equipment is the latest evolution of a threat in which Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula shared its bomb-making expertise with Khorasan Group, an organization of terrorists in Syria, and other al-Qaeda associates in both Syria and Iraq; and now with ISIS.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on the story, but provided a statement:

“As a matter of policy, we do not publicly discuss specific intelligence information. However, evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in electronics,” wrote DHS.

“The U.S. government continually re-assesses existing intelligence and collects new intelligence. This allows DHS and TSA to constantly evaluate our aviation security processes and policies and make enhancements to keep passengers safe. To that end, we use a robust security system that employs multiple layers of security, both seen and unseen.”

Over a week ago, DHS banned all electronics bigger than a cellphone from the cabins of nine airlines‘ direct flights to the U.S. from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries citing threat intelligence gathered by authorities and intelligence analysis paired with other government information.

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Mar 31

WATCH: Barber gets children excited to read

The post WATCH: Barber gets children excited to read appeared first on ABC 36 News.

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Mar 31

Giuliani seeks 'critical' role in Turkish man's case

U.S. prosecutors urged a judge Friday to scrutinize the ramifications of a meeting former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and an ex-U.S. attorney general had with Turkey’s president, saying the men were seeking a “critical” role in resolving charges that a Turkish man helped Iran evade U.S. sanctions without any plans to meet with prosecutors.

A defense attorney later filed a letter accusing prosecutors of trying to sabotage the effort to resolve the case against businessman Reza Zarrab outside of court.

The prosecutors wrote in a letter to a judge presiding over the Zarrab case that they find it “curious” that Giuliani and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey hope to negotiate a disposition of criminal charges without engaging prosecutors. They also said Giuliani and Mukasey had informed prosecutors that they “had sought to meet other officials in the U.S. government outside of this office to discuss a potential disposition of this case.”

Prosecutors noted that Giuliani’s law firm, Greenberg Traurig LLP, is a registered agent of the Republic of Turkey. They included a link to a document showing that the firm has reported to the Justice Department that it is providing counsel “in connection with strengthening the Turkish-American relationship” and educating government officials on issues of importance to Turkey.

A day earlier, defense attorney Benjamin Brafman told U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman in a letter that Zarrab had hired Giuliani and Mukasey, but there was no need to further study the issue for potential conflicts of interest because neither of the lawyers planned to appear in court.

Brafman said their work “may impact the prosecution, but it has not, and whether it will is a matter of speculation.”

After the government filing Friday, Brafman responded in another letter to the judge that the government is not entitled to know what Giuliani and Mukasey are trying to do to assist Zarrab.

“That information quite frankly is none of the government’s business,” Brafman wrote. He said Giuliani and Mukasey did more than required by notifying then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and Attorney General Jeff Sessions that they were going to Turkey before they met last month with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

He said the government was not really trying to ensure there were no conflicts of interest but rather hoped “to attract media attention in the hope of undermining the efforts of counsel to structure a resolution to this case without the direct involvement” of prosecutors.

Brafman added: “If the government has the temerity to even intimate that Messrs. Giuliani or Mukasey are engaging in any inappropriate conduct then let them come out and say it.”

Giuliani was one of Donald Trump’s most prominent advocates during his successful Republican presidential campaign last year. Mukasey’s son, Marc Mukasey, has been mentioned as a candidate for U.S. attorney in Manhattan.

The Iranian-born Zarrab, 33, of Istanbul, Turkey, is charged with conspiring to process hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of financial transactions for Iranian businesses or Iran’s government between 2010 and 2015. Authorities say those transactions are banned by U.S. and international sanctions.

Prosecutors say Zarrab and two others used a network of companies in Iran, Turkey and elsewhere to launder the proceeds and defraud several financial institutions, including U.S. banks, by concealing the true nature of the financial moves. Zarrab is a well-known personality in Turkey partly because he’s married to Turkish pop star and TV personality Ebru Gundes.

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Mar 31

Flynn’s Russia connections back in the spotlight

Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, is back in the spotlight this week after he requested immunity as a condition for speaking with congressional investigators about Russia’s meddling in the presidential election.

That request, however, appears to have been rebuffed by both the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. Two sources told ABC News that the Senate Intelligence Committee described Flynn’s proposal as a “non-starter.” The House committee released a statement calling the request a “grave and momentous step,” adding that it’s too early to consider a request for immunity.

In a statement, Flynn’s lawyer said “no reasonable person who has the benefit of advice from counsel, would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized, witch hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution.”

Trump came to Flynn’s defense on Twitter, saying “this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!”

But last year, both Trump and Flynn were highly critical of aides to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who had asked for immunity in exchange for cooperating in the investigation into her use of a private email server for official government business. “When you are given immunity, that means you probably committed a crime,” Flynn told “Meet the Press” in an interview last year.

During a rally in Wisconsin last year Trump said, “The reason they get immunity is because they did something wrong, if they didn’t do anything wrong, they don’t think in terms of immunity.”

Flynn resigned from his post after his relationship with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak attracted scrutiny and his communications with Kislyak dominated the young Trump administration. The president asked for Flynn’s resignation when it was disclosed that Flynn had given Vice President Mike Pence a false account of his conversations with Kislyak.

While Attorney General Jeff Sessions had contact with Kislyak during Trump’s campaign when Sessions was still a senator and Trump surrogate, Flynn’s known contacts with Kislyak are not believed to have started until during the transition.

Flynn and Kislyak exchanged holiday greetings over texts on Christmas Day, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said later.

Spicer told reporters in a transition team phone call on Jan. 13 that Flynn had texted Kislyak, wishing the Russian ambassador Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Flynn also said he looked forward to working with Kislyak, according to Spicer.

Four days after the Christmas text exchange, the two spoke again by text, with Kislyak asking Flynn to arrange a phone call. Flynn’s and Kislyak’s call “centered around the logistics of setting up a call with the president of Russia and the president-elect after he was sworn in,” Spicer said, adding, “they exchanged logistical information on how to initiate and schedule that call. That was it. Plain and simple.”

Spicer later told ABC News the two discussed a number of topics on the phone, including the crash of a Russian military plane carrying an army choir on Christmas Day and an invitation from the Russian government to the incoming Trump administration to attend upcoming Syrian peace talks.

The conversations between Flynn and Kislyak were happening at the same time the Obama administration was sanctioning Russia for election hacking.

Flynn had initially told Pence that he had not spoken about the sanctions with the Russian ambassador, but that was not the case.

On Jan. 26, the Justice Department‘s then-acting attorney general, Sally Yates, informed White House counsel Don McGahn that it appears, based on public comments from the Vice President, that he had been misled by Flynn about the nature of the expressed concerns that Russia might try to blackmail Flynn. Flynn was then fired for lying to the Vice President.

In the year before Flynn endorsed Trump for president, Flynn, a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was paid $56,200 in 2015 by three Russian firms owned by or closely tied to the Kremlin, according to documents released by congressional Democrats.

Russia’s state-owned TV network, RT, paid $45,000 for the retired three-star general to speak at what the Russian organizers described as a “private, invitation-only conference,” to Leading Authorities, the speakers bureau that represented Flynn. Flynn’s fee was $33,750; the remainder was the agent’s fee.

“General Flynn worked with a speakers bureau and what you’re seeing is a result of that,” Flynn’s spokesman Price Floyd told ABC News on March 16.

In the 24 pages of assorted 2015 emails and documents voluntarily handed over to the House Oversight Committee by Leading Authorities, RT did not mention that the Dec. 10, 2015, conference and dinner in Moscow celebrating the Russian network’s 10th anniversary would be broadcast on television worldwide or that the star speaker — within arm’s reach of Flynn in a video of the televised event — would be Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Floyd said he did not know if the retired general felt misled by RT in its correspondence before the 10th anniversary gala, which offered vague answers to questions from the speakers bureau about who else would attend. But he said Flynn informed defense intelligence officials both before and after the gala that he was attending as a paid guest. The emails were voluntarily handed over to the committee by Flynn’s speaker bureau at the committee’s request.

“General Flynn informed and briefed DIA before his trip to Russia that he was going to get paid for it. On his return, he briefed DIA about his trip to Russia,” Floyd said.

But Democrats claim the RT fee, as well as additional payments totaling $22,500 to Flynn by Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab and Volga-Dnepr Airlines, add up to a clear violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which prohibits retired generals from accepting direct or indirect payments from foreign governments, according to Rep. Elijah Cummings, the committee’s ranking member.

Cummings asked the Pentagon to investigate Flynn for this shortly before Trump asked for his resignation in February.

In a new letter released on March 16, Cummings charged that Flynn had “violated the Constitution” by accepting such payments from “an agent of a global adversary that attacked our democracy,” an apparent reference to U.S. intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russian government-directed hackers had pilfered emails of the Democratic National Committee and Secretary Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Russia is not the only foreign agent that Flynn is known to have ties to; it was revealed after his resignation that Flynn had done lobbying work prior to his appointment as national security adviser that “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey,” according to documents filed with the Department of Justice.

A source familiar with the situation tells ABC News Flynn informed the White House counsel team both during the transition and after the inauguration that he would have to file as a foreign agent because of the work he did on behalf of the Turkish government.

This source could not say if Flynn first made the team aware of his situation before or after President-elect Trump announced on Nov. 18 that he would be appointing the former general as his national security adviser.

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Mar 31

WATCH: Intelligence suggests ISIS may have gained access to airport security screening equipment to test bombs

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Mar 31

Missing teen, ex-teacher spotted at Oklahoma Walmart 2 days after disappearance

A former teacher and the 15-year-old student he allegedly kidnapped were spotted at a Walmart in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, two days after they disappeared, officials said Friday.

After receiving a tip late Thursday, investigators obtained surveillance images showing 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas and 50-year-old Tad Cummins at the store the afternoon of March 15, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said.

The Walmart surveillance images showed Cummins “with an altered appearance to darken his hair,” the TBI said.

“The same images show Elizabeth may currently have red hair,” the TBI added.

Cummins used cash to buy food at the Walmart but he didn’t buy “anything else of significance,” the TBI said. “Efforts to determine what vehicle they were traveling in remain ongoing.”

It’s the first confirmed sighting of the pair since Cummins was accused of kidnapping Elizabeth on March 13.

Cummins, who was fired one day after the alleged kidnapping, is wanted on allegations of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor. An Amber Alert has been issued for Elizabeth.

An attorney for the Thomas family, Jason Whatley, told ABC News today of the new image, “she looks subservient to him, walking behind him, looking to him.”

“It’s a very scary image,” he said. “And frankly, it’s exactly the kind of image that we were expecting; it’s just very shocking to finally see it.”

This new sighting is tearing Elizabeth’s father apart, Whatley said. “It’s just really more than he can take.”

Charles Crowson, senior manager at Walmart Corporate Communications, said in a statement to ABC News, “We are aware of this situation and will continue helping law enforcement with their investigation.”

The TBI said it has received more than 1,200 tips.

Josh DeVine, a TBI spokesman, said today, “We are encouraged by the sighting in Oklahoma City.”

“They could still be anywhere, but [the sighting] proves that we need the national public to stay vigilant. We must encourage the public to keep their eyes open,” he said.

The TBI said earlier that Cummins “may have been abusing his role as a teacher to groom [the teen] … in an effort to lure and potentially sexually exploit her.”

One of Elizabeth’s schoolmates reported seeing her and Cummins kiss in his classroom on Jan. 23, according to a school district investigative report, but both denied the claim. A school report from January reads that neither one “admitted to behaving inappropriately towards the other.”

Cummins, a married father and grandfather, researched teen marriage online, specifically the age of consent, according to law enforcement officials.

A lawyer for Cummins’ wife, Jill Cummins, said that she has filed for divorce after 31 years of marriage.

“Jill will attempt to move forward with her life,” attorney Michael Cox said in a statement provided to ABC News today. “Jill continues to pray for the safe return of Elizabeth Thomas and for a peaceful resolution to this ordeal.”

Mark Gwyn, the director of the TBI, said this week, “This is not a fairy tale. This is a case of kidnapping.”

“She may not realize she’s in danger. She may not realize she’s been taken against her will,” Brent Cooper, the district attorney for Maury County, told ABC News this week. “If you see them and they look happy, that doesn’t matter. This is a serious crime.”

Authorities are asking that anyone with information call 1-800-TBI-FIND and that anyone who sees a car with Tennessee license plate number 976-ZPT call 911.

ABC News’ Nery Ynclan and Dee Morales contributed to this report.

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Mar 31

Everything you need to know about the trade deficit

President Donald Trump signed two executive orders related to trade Friday, telling reporters that he was following through on a campaign promise to protect domestic manufacturing and American workers.

As part of the orders, Trump says that the United States will “review… America’s trade deficits and all violations of trade rules that harm the United States.” Members of the administration termed the violations “trade abuse” and indicated that countries are manipulating the prices of goods in order to export at greater volumes.

A trade deficit refers to a negative value in the worth of a country’s exports versus its imports. When Trump says that the U.S. has a trade deficit, it means that the total worth of all goods purchased and brought into the country is greater than the worth of those sold to other nations. The inverse of a trade deficit is a trade surplus.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the balance of trade in goods and services for 2016 was a deficit of $500.5 billion. The U.S. imported $2.712 trillion worth of goods in services while exporting $2.212 trillion.

The deficit has fluctuated year-by-year for decades but was relatively stable under the presidency of Barack Obama, falling from $708.7 billion in 2008 to $383.8 billion in 2009 and remaining in a range between $461.9 and $548.6 billion for the next seven years.

The last time the U.S. had a trade surplus was in 1975 when it was $12.4 billion. The deficit peaked at $761.7 billion in 2006.

Advisers to Trump cautioned that the executive orders were not specifically directed at China, but noted on a call with reporters Thursday that the country is the U.S.’s biggest single trade partner and accounts for the largest percentage of the trade deficit.

Out of a trade deficit of $734.3 billion in goods alone in 2016, China made up just over 47 percent at $347 billion. Therefore, any action taken as a result of the executive order that reduces Chinese imports to the U.S. would likely also decrease the total deficit.

Trump portrayed the U.S. as losers in international trade throughout his presidential campaign, but economic theory is split over whether maintaining a trade deficit is harmful. The ability to import inexpensive goods and materials enables domestic businesses to produce and sell their own products at lower costs and higher margins and savings can be passed to consumers.

“Imports increase consumer choice, and help keep prices low raising the purchasing power for consumers,” explains the website of the Office of the United States Trade Representative. “Imports also provide high quality inputs for American businesses helping companies and their U.S. employees become or remain highly competitive in both domestic and foreign markets.”

Conversely, U.S. exporters face competition from international exporters that can sell at less expensive rates, which may hurt their bottom lines and lead to a reduction in domestic investment and jobs as they lose out on business.

Trump’s move Friday to direct the government to identify “cheaters” in international trade — potentially those who artificially reduce prices — could allow U.S. companies to better compete in the export marketplace, reducing the overall deficit, but also increasing the price of imports arriving. Ultimately, it could mean more jobs or job security in American manufacturing, but higher prices on goods across the nation.

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Mar 31

Chain reaction crash snarls I-75 traffic in Lexington

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A chain reaction crash clogged traffic on southbound I-75 in Fayette County early Friday evening, according to Lexington Police.

It happened around 6:00 p.m. near mile marker 120, according to investigators.

Police say a car and a truck hauling farm supplies slowed in the southbound lanes, but an SUV behind them didn’t and slammed into the back of the truck, pushing it into the lead car.

Two people were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, according to police.

Two southbound lanes were closed while crews cleaned up the wreck scene as police investigated, which led to a traffic backup. All lanes had reopened by 8:00 p.m.

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