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  • The commander of the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet will be relieved of duty following the USS John S. McCain collision and other recent ship accidents, officials told The Associated Press. >> Navy plans operation pause, calls for review of collisions in the Pacific >> 10 sailors missing after USS John S. McCain collides with tanker >> USS John S. McCain collision: Remains found during search for missing sailors >> Read more trending news >> Click here or scroll down for more
  • At a raucous campaign rally in Arizona, President Donald Trump demanded that Congress fund his request for money to build a wall along the border with Mexico, saying that if lawmakers won’t go along with his plan, then it could mean a federal government shutdown showdown with Congress this fall, as Mr. Trump . “Now the obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it, but believe me, if we have to close down the government, we’re building that wall,” Mr. Trump said to loud cheers in a Phoenix rally. No direct votes have been held in either the House or Senate on funding for the wall, as GOP leaders have been worried the plan to fund an initial $1.6 billion in extra border wall money might not be able to gather a majority in either the House or Senate. “Believe me, one way or the other, we’re going to get that wall,” the President added, making clear his desire to gain approval for the money. President Trump at #PhoenixRally: 'Believe me, if we have to close down our government, we are building that wall' https://t.co/Vvoj6x3y4A — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 23, 2017 Unlike a year ago during the campaign for President, Mr. Trump made no mention of his familiar vow to make Mexico pay for the border wall, instead focusing his ire on Democrats in the Congress. “Democrats in Congress who oppose a border wall and stay in the way of border security – you are putting all of America’s safety at risk, you’re doing that,” the President said.
  • A homeless man’s call to police on Monday morning ended an hours-long search for a Louisiana infant who was kidnapped and then abandoned underneath a highway overpass, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news Authorities in Shreveport were called Monday morning by a homeless man who said that another man told him he had left a baby under a bridge in Minden, about 30 miles east of Shreveport, KTBS reported. The child and a man identified by authorities as 25-year-old Kyshaun Wilson had been reported missing around 3:30 a.m. Monday after Wilson left a home in Minden with the 2 1/2-month-old boy, according to the news station. KTBS described Wilson as a friend of the family who lived at the home on Columbia Street, but KSLA reported that he was not a blood relative to the boy. He was visiting the home on Sunday night and got up around midnight Monday to get the infant a bottle, according to KTBS. “For some reason unknown at this time, he walks out with the baby,” Minden police Chief Steve Cropper told the news station. Investigators told KSLA that Wilson walked for miles before he left the baby under an overpass on Interstate 20 around 3 a.m. He got a ride to Shreveport and went to Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino, where he met a homeless man and confessed to leaving the infant, the news station reported. The homeless man, who was not identified, called police, who were able to find Wilson. Wilson initially denied any knowledge of the missing child, but later admitted that he had left him under the overpass, the Minden Press-Herald reported. Police found the child wrapped in a blanket and sleeping underneath the Sibley exit bridge, according to KTBS and The Press-Herald. “The scariest thing about it -- if he were able to roll off that ledge, he would have hit that concrete retaining ledge and probably would have rolled right out into interstate,” Cropper told the Press-Herald. However, he told KTBS, “the child was fine. He had only a few minor abrasions.” The baby has since been released to his mother. Cropper told the Press-Herald that Wilson was arrested on one count of aggravated kidnapping. As authorities took him to police headquarters, Wilson said that “God told me to do it,” according to the Press-Herald.
  • The transcript for the Voyage Date Recorder that was aboard El Faro was already the longest the NTSB had ever assembled, and now it had grown even more. The NTSB says, since the initial release of the VDR- or black box- transcript in December 2016, investigators continued to gather facts and analyze information. They then held additional listening sessions, and that has now resulted in the release of four additional transcript sections. VOYAGE DATA RECORDER: Details from the transcript of the crew’s final hours The new releases are brief, totaling less than three of the more than five hundred pages of the transcript overall. Despite that, they appear to speak directly to some of the areas investigators have been probing. El Faro sank in Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015, killing all 33 people on board. The ship was heavily loaded while transiting from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico. It had taken on water, had a substantial list, and lost propulsion ahead of the Captain’s final shoreside communication and, ultimately, the sinking. FULL COVERAGE: The sinking of El Faro The first insertion is a conversation between the Third Mate and Third Helmsman on El Faro at 11:43AM on September 30th, the day before El Faro sank. Leading up to this new addition the two spoke about a few things, including that a dentist had prescribed the Third Mate a narcotic- although it’s unclear whether that was a current prescription or in the past. They spoke about drug testing and the potential to look “pretty happy”. The conversation then turned to Hurricane Joaquin, with some shock at the wind gusts the storm was producing, but belief they wouldn’t feel those peak conditions. Then comes the new addition, where the Third Mate comments that the Port Engineer has one ship and questions what that position pays. The Third Mate further says he has no idea if the Port Engineer was a Chief Engineer prior or was even licensed. “he really doesn’t seem to do anything or know anything.” says the Third Mate, according to the transcript. The Third Helmsman then questions how many people “look important”, but don’t know what to do, and the Third Mate responded with a comment about salaries that wasn’t completely transcribed. This exchange could speak to a few areas that investigators have been examining, including the competency, responsibility, and workload of some shoreside employees. There has also been an examination of crew morale, and questioning the abilities and salaries of someone in the corporate structure could speak to that. GALLERY: Tributes to the El Faro crew About 15 minutes later in the day- right around noon- is another new insertion, this time in a conversation between the Second Mate and the Second Helmsman. This portion directly preceeded the Second Mate saying El Faro needed to get where they were going “in one piece”. “who cares what time we get there as long as we get there.” The transcript says. The newly transcribed portion shows the two apparently looking at one of the readouts that mapped the ship and time. They appear to be tracking the ship’s location at different times over the coming hours. There are various things talked about over the next two hours or so, but the third new transcript insertion comes around 1:40PM when concern was clearly building. “think this just got worse.” the Second Mate said, according to the transcript. The conversation immediately before and after those comments was not transcribed, so it’s unclear what specifically the Second Mate was speaking about, but the context indicates she is referring to Hurricane Joaquin or the ship’s track compared to the storm.  In the lead up to the new insertion, the Second Mate had been talking to the Captain about the storm and the potential to take an alternate route on the return journey. After the new portion, the Second Mate makes comments about the weather getting better when the ship moves past the storm. The errors in the storm forecasting and problems with one of the ship’s on board weather systems have been frequently scrutinized throughout the investigation. There have additionally been questions about whether the Captain was truly empowered to change the ship’s route as he saw fit, or if he needed approval from officials on shore. GALLERY: El Faro’s wreckage The final insertion was the morning of the sinking, around 5:45AM. “we got cars loose. yeah.” The Captain said, according to the transcript. The Captain made this remark soon after telling the Chief Mate to head down to check out flooding in a hold, which they believed to be the result of a blown scuttle. The transcript previously showed that cars had at least been bobbing in the water, and that there were some other cargo problems including some broken cords to refrigerated containers, leaning containers, and likely containers in the water. Investigators have already raised significant questions about the lashing protocols, the calculations that were and were not being used in stacking, and the training cargo loading crews were given specific to the cargo protocols on each ship. NTSB INVESTIGATION: Factual reports examine aspects of ship operations and sinking The NTSB has already released several “Factual Reports” as part of their ongoing investigation. More are expected to be issued in the coming days and weeks, ahead of the release of their full report later this year. The NTSB did issue ten recommendations dealing with mariner safety in June, despite the fact that their investigation was still ongoing. In presenting the recommendations, the NTSB noted they could have an impact specifically in the hurricane season, so they did not want to wait. EDITOR’S NOTE: The quotes in this story come directly from the VDR transcript. We have inserted the quotes as they appear in the transcript, including in regard to capitalization.
  • St. Johns County deputies are searching for a man who took multiple trips to a Publix liquor store and walked away with 14 bottles of liquor- without paying for a single one. Investigators say this suspect was seen walking in to the Tuscan Way Publix liquor store- off Pacetti Road and State Road 16- around 7PM last Thursday. He was with a woman and two small children at the time. Surveillance footage shows the man put large bottles of liquor in his waistband and then walk out of the store. All four came back a short time later and the suspect took more liquor, according to SJSO. In all, the suspect is accused of stealing 14 bottles, valued at more than $800. The suspect is described as a black man in his 30s or early 40s with a heavy build. He was wearing a black t-shirt with white writing, grey gym-style shorts, a black ball cap, and black slippers. The woman accompanying the suspect was wearing a purple tank top and black yoga-type pants. She had glasses hanging off her neck and a light colored hair wrap. Deputies are identifying the two as a couple, saying the woman was holding a young black male toddler and also brought a young black female child. If you have any information about this suspect or incident, you can contact the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office at 904-824-8304 or vgillis@sjso.org. You can also submit an anonymous tip and be eligible for a possible reward by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-888-277-TIPS.

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