Mar 31

Estill County Jail forced to close

ESTILL COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ)- The Estill County Jail closed its doors Friday night after the state ordered it to earlier this week. It is all because of what should be a simple repair. The county Judge-Executive says the jail’s sprinkler system would cost about $5,000 to repair. He says it is money the jail just does not have.

The jail staff desperately tried to find new jails to send all their inmates to Friday. Inmates’ families say it could be burdensome to drive to their loved ones’ new jails, some about two hours away.

“You should pay for what you do. I agree, but you should be able to pay for it in your own county, close,” Dottie Gregory, the Grandmother of an Estill inmate, said.

The Judge-Executive says the jail is already $30,000 dollars in debt from February and does not have the $5,000 to pay for the sprinkler repair. Deputy Jailer Peggy Frazier says she thinks he just wants to see the jail close.

“It’s like he’s cutting his nose off to spite his face. It’s just something he wants done and he’s gonna get it done one way or the other,” Frazier said.

The Judge-Executive did not have time to talk on camera, but over the phone he told ABC 36 that is not true. It is what is happening, though, and Frazier says about half of the staff, six or so people, could lose their jobs.

“There’s other people in here that have children, you know, that need this job. This is their livelihood,” Frazier said.

Dottie Gregory says even though it seems like a small number of jobs lost, it has a big impact on her home.

“You hate to see people lose a job in a county that we don’t have anything here,” Gregory said.

The judge-executive says he has filed a petition with the state, but he i not sure when he will hear back.

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Mar 31

White House officials played role in surfacing documents Nunes viewed

At least two White House officials played a role in surfacing the classified documents that were viewed by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, ABC News has confirmed.

Nunes, R-California, later described that information as potential evidence of improper surveillance by United States spy agencies working under the Obama administration.

On Friday, the intelligence committee’s ranking member, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, visited the White House to view what Schiff described as “precisely the same materials” that Nunes viewed. Schiff did not provide details about what was contained in the documents but said he saw no reason the committee shouldn’t have been consulted before Nunes went public.

“Nothing I could see today warranted a departure from the normal review procedures, and these materials should now be provided to the full membership of both committees,” said Schiff in a statement. “The White House has yet to explain why senior White House staff apparently shared these materials with but one member of either committee, only for their contents to be briefed back to the White House.”

A day after having a meeting with a source on White House grounds, Nunes briefed President Trump on his concerns and held a press conference in which he indicated that members of the Trump transition team, and possibly the president, were incidentally surveilled.

Trump, who claimed that President Obama had his “wires tapped” at Trump Tower, said he felt “somewhat” vindicated after speaking to Nunes. A senior White House official said that Trump spoke with Schiff for 10 minutes after the Democrat viewed the materials for a couple hours Friday, describing their meeting as “very cordial and polite.” The president told Schiff that he wanted to be helpful to the committee’s investigation.

Two U.S. officials say senior National Security Council staffer Ezra Cohen-Watnick and NSC lawyer Michael Ellis were both involved in the matter. According to one official familiar with the situation, Cohen-Watnick discovered the documents during the course of a separate intelligence review of unmasking procedures, a process by which names that are normally concealed in the course of surveillance are revealed to the intelligence community when they are believed to be critical to understanding the value of intelligence.

After reading them, Cohen-Watnick decided to alert Ellis, the official said. It was unclear what Ellis did with the information after that.

Ellis declined to speak when approached by reporters today outside his home.

It is unclear how Cohen-Watnick came across the documents and whether he found them on his own or whether they came from an outside intelligence agency. One U.S. official also emphasized that Cohen-Watnick did not directly brief Nunes and was unaware that Nunes would eventually be briefed on the documents.

The official added that Cohen-Watnick was not responsible for clearing Nunes onto the White House grounds. At this point it’s unclear who eventually took Nunes onto the grounds and showed him the documents.

Today, White House press secretary Sean Spicer continued to deflect questions regarding Chairman Nunes’ handling of classified information, but did defend his visit to the White House to view classified documents as “routine and proper.”

“It’s not in our interest to talk about the process, what occurred between Chairman Nunes and coming here was both routine and proper,” Spicer said. “I know a lot of folks want to talk about the process and not the surveillance and the underlying issue. The substance, the unmasking and leaks, is what we should all be concerned about.”

According to Spicer, Nunes was summoned to the White House by an “individual” and was not hiding or roaming secretly on the grounds.

“He was asked to come over here by an individual,” Spicer said. “He came over, which happens daily. He was asked to go somewhere. He went there. He’s cleared. What he did, what he saw and who he met with is 100 percent proper.”

Nunes has faced criticism over the course of the investigation for his relationship with the Trump administration. Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, including the House Intelligence Committee’s Ranking Member Adam Schiff, D-Calif., have called for Nunes to recuse himself from the inquiry.

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Mar 31

Kentucky drivers warned of travel impacts in Georgia

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – With Fayette County and several other school districts observing spring break next week, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) alerts motorists of closures on I-85 near the Piedmont Road roadway in Atlanta, Georgia.

Travelers should use alternate routes and avoid areas impacted by the closure.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency on Thursday, March 30 when sections of a bridge on I-85 collapsed due to a fire. The cause of the fire is unknown. Georgia officials have not determined how long repairs are expected to take.

Drivers are encouraged to use alternate routes and detours to avoid the affected areas, which can be found at http://www.dot.ga.gov/AboutGeorgia/Pages/GDOTAnnouncementDetails.aspx?postID=153.

For the latest updates, visit www.dot.ga.gov.

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Mar 31

Most occupants in Texas bus crash were wearing seat belt: NTSB

Most — if not all — of the occupants of a bus transporting churchgoers from a retreat in Texas were wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash, according to the NTSB.

While the driver and front-seat passenger were equipped with standard three-point seat belts, the rear passenger seats were equipped with lap-only belts, said NTSB Investigator-in-Charge Jennifer Morrison at a press conference Friday.

Only one passenger on the bus — 64-year-old Rose Mary Harris — survived, according to authorities. Both Harris and the driver of a pickup truck that crashed into the crash, 20-year-old Jack Dillon Young, sustained serious injuries, the NTSB said on Friday afternoon.

The bus driver and remaining 12 passengers died.

Emergency calls made to the Real County Sheriff’s Office and obtained by ABC San Antonio affiliate KSAT reveal that a witness called to report a white Dodge truck, the same model involved in the crash, that was “all over the road.”

“Somebody needs to stop this guy,” the witness told the dispatcher. “… Somebody needs to get this guy off the road.”

The NTSB completed its first full day of investigations of Wednesday’s crash today, said Morrison. The NTSB’s investigation is focusing on transportation safety and what could have been done to prevent future crashes and fatalities.

Morrison did not discuss the cause of the crash, adding that the on-scene investigation will continue for about a week.

The bus was carrying members of the First Baptist Church in New Braunfels, who were returning home from a three-day retreat at the Alto Frio Baptist Encampment, according to the church.

Young, who was driving a white Dodge Ram pickup truck, veered into the opposite lane of U.S. Route 83 near Concon before he crashed into the bus head-on, authorities said.

Most of the passengers on the bus were in their 80s, according to officials. The youngest victim was 61-year-old Rhonda Barlow Allen, the Department of Public Safety said.

ABC News’ Emily Shapiro contributed to this report.

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Mar 31

Douglass introduces hoops coaches

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Frederick Douglass High School still doesn’t have an official mascot as of today.

The students will decide that once school starts.  But the new boys and girls basketball programs have their coaches.

MOD Pizza off Winchester road the site for Kurt Young and Shawn Ransom being introduced Friday to the media.

Young of course was at Mercer County last season and has experience at the NCAA DI and D2 levels as well as NAIA and high school levels including a state runner up finish with Hopewell, Virginia.

Ransom comes from Bryan Station after four years with the Defenders.  The Paris alum has spent 17 years in all coaching in Central Kentucky at Bourbon County, Lafayette, Paris and Station.

So, simple question guys, why lead inaugural programs?

Hear from Young and Ransom in the video.

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Mar 31

White House allowing public to request financials for senior staff

The White House said today it will start making financial disclosure information on senior Trump administration officials available to the public through a request system.

Starting this evening, members of the public will be able to fill out a form to request the financial disclosure information for senior level staff who are either commissioned officers or earn more than $161,755 — as required by law.

In response, they will be sent information on salaries and assets that officials had to disclose when they entered government jobs.

However, President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will not make their information available unlike former President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who released their financial disclosure forms each year in addition to their tax returns.

The Obama administration had a similar system for making requests for financial disclosure information.

Two administration officials urged caution about the documents, which contain information from “the time when the individuals came into office.”

The officials said the process of identifying potential conflicts for the officials who entered into this administration versus previous administrations was complex given their wealth.

“These are incredibly successful individuals,” one official said. “Very high net worth, very sophisticated complex asset structures, numerous sub-LLCs, trusts and other items all of which have to be worked through.”

The officials said there should be disclosures available for around 180 upper-level individuals in the administration. Officials entering in the administration had 30 days to fill out the forms and a few took advantage of 45-day extensions granted on a case-to-case basis.

For example, one official noted, Jared Kushner had to resign from 266 positions before he was able to earn a certificate of divestiture.

As for Ivanka Trump, the officials said most of her assets will be listed in Kushner’s filing, though she has 28 days from now to file her own disclosure form with the administration.

The president’s daughter recently joined the administration after ethics concerns were raised about her informal role as an adviser to her father.

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Mar 31

WATCH: Officers come to the rescue when dad can't make daddy-daughter dance

The post WATCH: Officers come to the rescue when dad can't make daddy-daughter dance appeared first on ABC 36 News.


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Mar 31

Court won't revive Confederate-themed state flag suit

A federal appeals court has blocked an African-American attorney’s effort to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the Mississippi state flag. He says he’ll take the case to the Supreme Court.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Friday that it would not revive a lawsuit rejected by a lower court. Carlos Moore filed the suit in 2016, saying that the flag is “state-sanctioned hate speech.”

Moore said he is disappointed with the ruling from the New Orleans-based appeals court, which came less than four weeks after judges there heard arguments for and against reviving the suit.

“If we ever get to the merits of the case, I believe we will be able to show the state flag was created with a discriminatory intent and has a negative impact on African-Americans,” Moore said in a written statement to The Associated Press. “Once those two things are proven, the state Confederate flag will finally come down for good.”

Mississippi’s state flag has been used since 1894 and is the last in the nation to prominently feature the Confederate battle emblem — a red field topped by a blue X dotted with 13 white stars. In a 2001 referendum, voters chose to keep it.

Opponents say the flag is a reminder of slavery and segregation, while supporters say it represents history and heritage.

A spokesman for Republican Gov. Phil Bryant did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the appeals court’s decision. Bryant has said he thinks if the flag design is going to be changed, it should be done in another statewide vote.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves dismissed Moore’s suit in September, saying Moore lacked legal standing to sue because he failed to show the emblem caused an identifiable legal injury. The appeals court agreed Friday.

Moore had asked the appeals court to order Reeves to hold a trial on the merits of the lawsuit.

On behalf of Bryant, state assistant attorneys general Douglas Miracle and Harold Pizzetta wrote in arguments to the appeals court: “The district court was correct that Moore fails to identify that part of the Constitution that guarantees a legal right to be free of anxiety.”

Like other Confederate symbols, the Mississippi flag has come under increased scrutiny since the June 2015 killings of black worshippers in South Carolina. The white man convicted in 2016 in that case had posed with the Confederate battle flag in photos published online. Several cities and counties and seven of Mississippi’s eight public universities have stopped flying the state flag.

————

Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .

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Mar 31

White House makes clear it's not trying to push Assad out

The Trump administration declared Friday that it wasn’t pursuing a strategy to push Syrian President Bashar Assad out of power, making clear its focus is on defeating the Islamic State group.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the U.S. approach was being driven by a new “reality” and that Assad’s future had to be a decision for the Syrian people. Similar statements were made earlier by U.S. Cabinet members speaking in Ankara, London and at the United Nations.

“There is a political reality that we have to accept in terms of where we are right now,” Spicer told reporters. “We had an opportunity and we need to focus on now defeating ISIS.”

Hours earlier, Jim Mattis, President Donald Trump’s Pentagon chief, said Washington was looking at Syria “one day at a time,” indicating Assad’s status wasn’t the most immediate question. On Thursday, Trump’s U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, said of Assad: “Do we think he’s a hindrance? Yes. Are we going to sit there and focus on getting him out? No.”

Assad’s grip over Syria has been at the heart of a six-year war that has killed as many as a half-million people, helped spawn a global migration crisis and led to the emergence of IS as a worldwide terror threat. All mediation efforts have failed. And with the help of Russia and Iran, Assad has crushed much of the armed opposition and regained control over most of Syria’s biggest cities.

While the statements of Trump’s policy, by themselves, break little from where President Barack Obama left U.S. policy upon exiting office, they differ sharply from Obama’s earlier demands for Assad to leave power. Five months into Syria’s civil war, Obama gave a high-profile speech saying “the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”

Those calls ebbed after a Russian-backed military intervention on Assad’s behalf in September 2015 and a series of devastating setbacks for Syria’s Western-backed and Arab-backed opposition forces. These developments appear to represent the “reality” Spicer alluded to on multiple occasions at Friday’s news briefing — but it is one Obama officials acknowledged as well.

In December 2015, then-Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a very similar message in Moscow, saying “the United States and our partners are not seeking so-called regime change” and promising to facilitate a peace process in which “”Syrians will be making decisions for the future of Syria.” His efforts failed.

Nevertheless, top Trump officials sought to describe their approach as new.

Speaking to reporters at the U.N., Haley said the U.S. “can’t necessarily focus on Assad the way that maybe the previous administration did.” She spoke of pressure to rid Syria of Iran’s influence, saying “that is really a problem,” and indicated the U.S. would be working with Turkey and other countries on trying to “bring peace and stability back.”

“You pick and choose your battles,” she said. “And when we’re looking at this, it’s about changing our priorities, and our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out. Our priority is to really look at how do we get things done, who do we need to work with to really make a difference for the people in Syria.”

The Trump administration is threading many competing interests.

It wants to defeat IS and needs the support of moderate Sunnis in Syria, who’ve competed with extremists for leadership of the anti-Assad insurgency. It hopes to work with Russia, which has proved in deed that it won’t let Assad fall to a chaotic revolution. And it needs Arab allies, who’ve held firm on the mantra of “Assad must go.”

But the White House also has been trying to emphasize to American voters how it is pursuing a new track on U.S. foreign policy after Trump’s severe criticism of the status quo.

In Turkey on Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recited part of the new message: “The longer-term status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people.”

Spicer said avenues that might have existed for Obama to drive Assad from power had since been closed off. “There is not the opposition that existed last time and the opportunities that existed,” he said.

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Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed.

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Mar 31

White House to share financial information about top staff

The White House says it will share financial information about some top staff members on its website late Friday.

President Donald Trump, a billionaire New York businessman, has hired some of the wealthiest people to ever serve in government. Their financial assets must be detailed in documents accessible to the public, and the Trump administration is continuing President Barack Obama’s tradition of warehousing that paperwork on the website.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer described the business people who have joined the administration as “very blessed and very successful,” and said the disclosure forms will show that they have set aside “a lot” to go into public service.

Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump just this week agreed to serve as a government employee, triggering the need for her to file financial disclosures. Her husband, Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to Trump, also must file, as must economic adviser Gary Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive.

It is unclear whether the Friday disclosures will include all of the aides.

Financial information for members of Trump’s Cabinet who needed Senate confirmation has, in most cases, been available for weeks through the Office of Government Ethics.

The president must also file periodic financial disclosures, but he is not required to make another disclosure until next year.

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