The latest local news

11,000 scientists warn of ‘untold suffering’ caused by climate change

WQAD News -

(CNN) — More than 11,000 researchers from around the world issued a grim warning Tuesday of the “untold suffering” that will be caused by climate change if humanity doesn’t change its ways.

The group said that as scientists, they have the “moral obligation to tell it like it is.”

Phoebe Barnard, one of the lead authors of the report and the chief science and policy officer at the Conservation Biology Institute, a nonprofit science group, told CNN the report makes it clear “there’s no more wiggle room” for policymakers.

“Posterity will remember them badly for dismissing climate change as a serious threat to our civilization,” she said.

It’s not the first time thousands of academics united to urge people to take action on climate change. More than 16,000 scientists from 184 countries published a letter in 2017, warning that “human beings and the natural world are on a collision course.”

The latest report was published in BioScience, a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The scientists, who come from over 150 countries, said the climate crisis is “closely linked to excessive consumption of the wealthy lifestyle.”

Echoing the words of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, the scientists have criticized policymakers for failing to take an action.

“Despite 40 years of global climate negotiations, with few exceptions, we have generally conducted business as usual and have largely failed to address this predicament,” they said.

They listed six key issues that need to be addressed if humanity wants to prevent the most catastrophic scenarios.

These include replacing fossil fuels, cutting the emissions of climate pollutants such as methane and soot, eating less meat, restoring and protecting ecosystems, building a carbon-free economy and stabilizing population growth by investing into family-planning services and girls education.

Barnard said the changes shouldn’t be seen as “sacrifices,” but as a way of “transforming things that we have found stressful.”

“Everything from road rage and congestion and dirty air,” she said.

Plunging temperatures in sight… Winter cold rest of the work week

WQAD News -

Might have been a bit breezy today but it was one to enjoy because this day will be the warmest we’ll see for the rest of the year.

Temperatures have climbed well into the 50s to even around 60 in the Quad Cities!  A strong cold front pushing through this afternoon will plunge temperatures into the lower 40s as we head toward evening.

The drop doesn’t stop there.

Overnight, the mercury may be as low as the mid 20s. Combined with a stiff breeze, temperatures will feel more like in the lower teens.

Throughout this transition, a few flurries or a brief snow shower can’t be ruled out, especially this evening.

The first surge of cold air will be felt for the rest of the work week with highs either at or just above the freezing mark, which is typical for the later part of December. I’m still expecting to see some wind during this period with wind chills in the teens and 20s.

Temperatures will moderate some for the upcoming weekend with upper 40s on Saturday before cooler 40s are noticed on Sunday.   Colder winds return to start the new week as the second wave of winter cold spills across the area with temperatures not getting out of the 20s for daytime highs!

– Chief meteorologist James Zahara

Here’s a look at the hour-by-hour forecast from the StormTrack 8 Weather App!

Click on the links below to download the free app:

 

Veterans Day freebies & deals

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Veterans Day is Monday, November 11th. Many businesses and organizations have special deals and events marking the occasion and honoring America’s heroes. Here’s a list to keep track of them.

Applebee’s: Veterans and active-duty military receive a free meal from a limited menu, on Nov. 11.

Chili’s: Veterans and active military service members get a free meal from a select menu on Nov. 11.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store: On Monday, Nov. 11, the restaurant is offering a complimentary slice of Double Chocolate Fudge Coca-Cola Cake or a Pumpkin Pie Latte.

Golden Corral: Golden Corral Restaurants’ Military Appreciation Night free dinner will be available on Nov. 11, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Military retirees, veterans, active-duty, National Guard and Reserves are all welcome.

Gordmans: The department store chain is donating 5% of all sales, up to $50,000, on Nov. 11 to Pets for Patriots.

Great Clips: On Nov. 11, veterans and current military members can visit a Great Clips salon to receive either a free haircut or the free haircut card to use at a later date. Non-military customers can purchase a service on Veterans Day and get a free haircut card to give to a veteran you know. Haircuts are redeemable until Dec. 31.

Home Depot: Home Depot offers a 10% discount to all veterans on Nov. 11. Home Depot offers the 10% discount year round to for active duty and retirees.

Hy-Vee: On Monday, Nov. 11, the grocery store is offering free breakfast to all veterans and active-duty military members, as well as complimentary appreciation cards and a 10% discount on grocery bill totals.

Kohls: From Thursday, Nov. 7 to Monday, Nov. 11, the department store chain is offering a 30% discount to active and former military personnel, veterans, and their families with valid Military ID, Military Dependant Id, or Veteran ID. It is also offering all customers deals exclusive to the four-day period, as well at $10 for $50 Kohl’s Cash.

Little Caesars: Veterans and active military members receive a free $5 HOT-N-READY Lunch Comb from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 11.

Muscatine Municipal Golf Course: On Nov. 9 and 10, the course is offering an exclusive rate of $15 for a day of golf with a cart to veterans who present their DD-214, DOD Retiree Card, or VA Benefits Card. Season pass holders who are Armed Forces veterans will receive a discount on golf carts: $5 for 9 holes or $10 for 18 holes.

National Parks: On Nov. 11, veterans will have access to over 100 National Parks that require entrance fees for free.

Planet Fitness: Veterans and active military personnel can work out for free from Nov. 8 -15. In addition to full access to club services, veterans and active military personnel are invited to bring a workout buddy at no additional charge and relax after they work out with free HydroMassage and chair massages.

Six Flags Great America: On Nov. 9 and 10, active duty members of the military, veterans, and Department of Defense employees receive complimentary admission to the park with valid proof of service, alongside the ability to purchase four discounted admission tickets for friends and family. These are only made available at the park’s tickets sales center. Additionally, on Saturday, Nov. 9, the 6th annual Legions of Beer Craft Fest will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Six Flags is partnering with American Legion Post 771 and the Village of Gurnee to feature 35 beer and wine vendors and live music. All proceeds are benefitting the American Legion and Lake County Honor Flight of Illinois. Guests must have a valid form of park admission and a Legions of Craft Beer Festival ticket to access the fest.

Target:  Active-duty military, veterans, Reservists and their dependents can receive a 10% discount on a purchase made in-store and online from Nov. 3 -11.

Texas Roadhouse: On Monday, Nov. 11 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the restaurant is offering free lunch from to all active, retired, or former U.S. military with proof of service. This entails a choice of one of 10 entrees from the special Veterans day menu, including a 6-ounce sirloin and two made-from-scratch sides plus a choice of any Coca-Cola product, sweet tea/iced tea or coffee during lunch.

T-Mobile — As Veterans Day approaches, T-Mobile announced that, starting Nov. 1, active-duty military and veterans can get 50% off the latest Samsung smartphones, including the new Samsung Galaxy Note10 and Note10+. This is in addition to their Magenta Military plan, which includes 50% off family lines, available to military, veterans and their families year-round.

Verizon: As Veterans Day approaches, Verizon announced that active-duty military members, Reservists, cadets, Gold Star families and veterans can receive a 1-year membership of Amazon Prime when they add a new line of service. These customers are also eligible for Wireless and Fios discounts. The offer will run from Oct. 24 to Dec. 2. This is in addition to their year-round discounts on plans and accessories.

Villa Italian Kitchen: On Monday, Nov. 11, the restaurant is offering veterans and active duty members, with proof of service, a free slice of Neapolitan cheese pizza.

Know of any deals we’re missing? Send an email to ‘news@wqad.com’.

 

Woman reunited with heirloom ring after wildfire destroys home

WQAD News -

BRENTWOOD, Calif. (KTLA) - Despite losing her Brentwood home and essentially everything inside during the Getty Fire, Patty Shales says she still feels "blessed."

Other than her loved ones and the clothes on her back, the only thing to escape the flames was her mother's wedding ring that somehow made it to the street, where it was picked up by firefighters.

Patty Shales and Jaime Moore, assistant chief at the Los Angeles Fire Department, smile during a press briefing at a fire station in Sawtelle. ( KTLA)

What makes the discovery all the more unlikely is that the ring was one of the few items salvageable after a fire destroyed Shales' parents' home in Las Vegas in 1994.

Details of the story relayed Tuesday differ from those set forth in an Instagram post from the Los Angeles Fire Department Monday. The agency said Shales' mother had lived in a Brentwood home that burned down in the 1961 Bel Air Fire.

Shales says the ring was kept in a box with other jewelry passed down by her mom, tucked in a cupboard in her bedroom's walk-in closet at the rear of the home on Chickory Lane. No one is sure how it became the only item cast into the road.

“I consider this a miracle ring of all rings," Shales told KTLA. "This is so symbolic, I just can’t believe it happened.”

Firefighters who were working on the street on Oct. 30th happened to peer into the gutter, brimming with water runoff, and noticed a ring box in the stream. They collected it with the hopes of finding the owner, said LAFD Assistant Chief Jaime Moore.

The next day, when homes were being repopulated, Shales approached Moore as he was checking residents' identification. He says he recognized Shales' address right away, because hers was on the only home destroyed on her block.

“I had the unfortunate task of telling her that her house had been destroyed," Moore said. "But I asked her to hold on a minute, that I might have something for her.”

Shales says she immediately recognized the box.

The heirloom ring that survived when a Brentwood home was destroyed by the Getty Fire is displayed at a fire station in Sawtelle. (Credit: KTLA)

Shales described her mother as “really a special person,” a native Angeleno and beautiful opera singer with “the clearest voice.” Her parents were married 70 years before her mother died following a battle with Alzheimer's last November; her father is now 96.

She believes the ring's unlikely survival — again — is a message from her mother.

“She sent me this to tell me she’s in heaven and she’s OK, and I’m going to be OK,” Shales said. “I just feel so blessed, and so grateful to the firemen.”

When she and her daughter saw flames approaching the morning the Getty Fire broke out, they barely had time to escape and left with only the clothes on their backs, Shales said.

“I could see these big balls of fire pieces — just raining fire," she said. "I had to find my purse and my keys and get my dogs leashed up.”

As they were leaving, Shales said she could see flames consuming her home in the rear-view mirror: “I just said goodbye to the house; I had no idea that was going to happen.”

She'd lived in the home since 1976. It was designed by her husband, who passed away in 2007 after battling pancreatic cancer.

“Although I lost my home, I survived, my daughter survived and my dogs (survived),” Shales said. “I don’t have one other thing — I don’t have anything, except for this.”

The blow has been softened a bit by the fact that Shales was already planning to move — and now, she won't have many belongings to pack up, she joked. She said she plans to move into a smaller place, “maybe away from the fire zone, and rest easy.”

Shales’ advice to those who do live in fire-prone areas: Fill a suitcase with important documents, passports, things you can never replace and a pair of tennis shoes. “When I had to leave, I kind of had to run,” she said.

QC area mayors serve soup lunch to help combat homelessness and hunger

WQAD News -

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Mayors of the Quad Cities came together to serve at a soup luncheon to benefit agencies focused on combating hunger and homelessness.

The 27th annual Mayor’s Hunger Luncheon was held at the Golden Leaf Banquet and Convention Center, hosted by “In From the Cold.”

In From the Cold is a group of volunteers in the QC area focused on raising money for the Quad Cities Shelter and Transitional Housing Organization.

Through the years, In From the Cold has raised nearly $500,000 to help fund these agencies.

Propane suppliers struggle to meet rural demands amid chill

WQAD News -

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A late harvest, wet grain and the fall chill have combined to multiply demand for propane in Iowa and other states, according to agriculture and propane industry officials.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig told The Des Moines Register that the demand on the supply system during the last week to 10 days has been tremendous.

“It’s really created a supply pinch,” Naig said, adding that nearly every bushel of corn needs to be dried.

The corn crop’s late maturity means it had less time than usual to dry in the field. Corn normally should have about 15-17% moisture, officials said. But the average for corn currently being harvested is 21%. It could spoil if not dried.

Temperatures dipping into the 20s and 30s this week also mean more propane is needed to heat homes and livestock facilities.

The situation may not be as pronounced in Nebraska.

Kurtis Harms with the Nebraska Corn Board checked with some farmers and said he didn’t turn up more problems than usual with wet grain. But that could change soon, Harms said, as the harvest continues.

Record flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and tributaries and heavy spring rains delayed planting and now the harvest.

Just 43% of Iowa’s corn crop had been brought in as of Monday, a federal report said, and the harvest is 11 days behind the typical figure at this time of year. In neighboring Nebraska, Monday’s U.S. Department of Agriculture report showed 60% of the state’s corn has been harvested, compared with 69% for the five-year average.

“I don’t believe it’s an actual product problem. It’s a transport problem,” Lynne Schuller, executive director of the Nebraska Propane Gas Association, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Trucks must wait in line for hours at propane terminals as elevators scramble to get propane for customers. Iowa’s Gov. Kim Reynolds has already signed an emergency proclamation to help boost supplies by lifting restrictions on how many hours drivers can work.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also has lifted driver restrictions across Iowa, Nebraska and other states with propane supply problems.

Related: What you recycle may be putting workers at risk

Starbucks’ holiday cups will be back this week

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Christmas time has arrived at Starbucks once again.

The coffee chain said on Wednesday that its holiday drinks, foods and its signature red and green cups will be back in stores on Thursday.

For Starbucks, the seasonal offerings are a way to create buzz, give their fans what they want and boost sales.

“Customers have really let us know that tradition is important to them,” chief operating officer Roz Brewer told CNN Business. “Even when we introduce our pumpkin platform, they’re already asking about Christmas.”

This year, Starbucks is selling five specialty holiday drinks: the peppermint mocha, toasted white chocolate mocha, caramel brulee latte, chestnut praline latte and eggnog latte, in addition to its Christmas coffee blend. It’s also selling a number of seasonal foods, including a turkey and stuffing panini, sugar plum danish and gingerbread loaf, among others.

Although in the past Starbucks has experimented with less Christmasy cups, this year it’s sticking to the holiday theme with red and green designs. Two cups have the phrase “Merry Coffee” repeated across the surface. The company also has a reusable holiday cup.

To develop this year’s cups, Starbucks’ designers drew inspiration from Christmas movies and songs, as well as previous iterations of the signature vessel.

Plus, this year Starbucks is making sure that its cafes look festive. “You’ll see our partners all in red aprons this year,” said Brewer, adding that in the past, red aprons have been worn “sort of infrequently.”

New or seasonal menu items help drive sales because customers often buy them in addition to their regular orders, instead of swapping items out. To capitalize on that tendency, Starbucks has extended its pumpkin flavor to cold drinks.

Starbucks was “very encouraged” by the reception of the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew this summer, said CEO Kevin Johnson during an analyst call discussing fourth-quarter earnings.

“We expect this momentum to continue as we move into the favorable holiday season,” he added.

Starbucks isn’t the only company that relies on seasonal markers to draw in customers. Dunkin’s peppermint mocha returned to stores on Wednesday, and McDonald’s brought back its McRib sandwich in October for a limited time.

Stray puppy found in rural Australian backyard is actually a purebred dingo

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(CNN) — A miracle puppy that was found in a rural Australian backyard after possibly being dropped by a bird of prey has been discovered to be a purebred dingo, to the joy of conservationists.

Wandi is less than a year old but already the small dingo puppy is carrying the weight of his species on his shoulders.

Lyn Watson, director of the Australian Dingo Foundation, said it was very rare for a sanctuary to take in a 100% purebred dingo puppy and Wandi would now be an important part of their breeding program to save the vulnerable species.

“They’re our apex predator, they’re our lion,” Watson said. “Their job is to keep the kangaroo population down. That was their job before the coming of the Europeans, that was their job for thousands of years.”Dingoes are native to Australia but have had their numbers reduced by habitat destruction and hunting.

Dingoes are native to Australia but have had their numbers reduced by habitat destruction and hunting. The species is currently listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Wandi was discovered in a backyard in the small town of Wandiligong, in the state of Victoria in August.

“They went out in the morning and they could hear whimpering,” said veterinarian Rebekah Day. Day said originally the family who found Wandi left him alone, thinking he was lost, but eventually after no one claimed him they realized he was not a normal puppy.

Wandi was taken to Day’s Alpine Animal Hospital in Bright, a nearby town.

“He was very laid-back and happy to be picked up. Really just ever so cute, he was just a little floof,” she said.

Day noticed marks on Wandi’s back, which looked like scratches. She said it was likely they were made by a large bird of prey that had snatched Wandi away from his family with the intention of making a meal out of him.

“There was no evidence of any other dingoes around (and) we have some large birds of prey in the area, and we have seen lambs and small dogs picked up on occasion,” she said.

Eventually, Watson and her foundation, which is located nearby, heard about the puppy and got in touch with Day. She agreed to take Wandi into her care but also asked Day to send off a genetic sample to the University of New South Wales for tests.

The results took six to eight weeks to come back and in that time, Watson said her team worked to socialize Wandi by giving him a companion and introducing him to other dingoes his age. “(At the beginning) he sank his fangs into everybody,” she said, laughing.

When the results finally came back at 100% purebred dingo, Watson said her team was “delighted.” She said the little dingo would now be an important part of their breeding program, which consists of about 40 adults.

Watson said she hoped Wandi would be the “flagship” for Australia to improve its knowledge of the dingo and the important role the animal plays in the country’s ecosystem.

“We’re just keeping the genetic lines going until the day that there’s going to be a safe place where they can be rewilded,” she said.

Dramatic reversal splinters Trump’s impeachment defense

WQAD News -

(CNN) -- A dramatic reversal by Republican donor turned diplomat Gordon Sondland, who now says that a quid pro quo was needed from Kiev to free up military aid, rocked Washington Tuesday and undercut GOP strategy.

In testimony released by impeachment investigators, the US ambassador to the European Union also testified that he assumed it would be "illegal" for Trump's fixer and personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to push Ukraine to investigate the President's political opponents.

Sondland's adjusted testimony did much to dismantle the President's core and repeated defense: that he did not hold up aid to Kiev to force it to open a probe into Joe Biden and that any suggestion to the contrary is simply the "crazed" delusion of "Never Trumpers."

But his deposition was still punctuated by admissions that he could not remember what happened or did not know the motivations of key players -- signs of a potential attempt to protect the President.

Yet given the ossified political partisanship in the Congress, there were also signs that no disclosures, however damaging to the President, are likely to turn a party in thrall to his faithful political base against him and lead it to contemplate ejecting him from office.

Still, Sondland was not the only senior diplomatic figure to contradict the President's version of events on the second day of releases that threaten to turn into slow moving political torture for the White House.

The former US envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, threatened another pillar of Trump's defense -- that the July 25 call with the Ukrainian President that Trump has said was "perfect" was in fact a "surprise" and "extremely unfortunate."

Tuesday's developments were a critical twist in an investigation that is on the cusp of a new and public phase that could further imperil the President and his 2020 election plans.

The disclosures appeared to significantly weaken the White House case that there was no quid pro quo with Ukraine and therefore no abuse of presidential power worthy of impeachment.

'A very grave development'

Democrats immediately seized on Tuesday's events to argue that a devastating hole had been blown in Trump's defense.

"This is a very grave development for both Ambassador Sondland and frankly for President Trump and his Republican defenders," Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

"The entire defense by President Trump and his Republican acolytes in Congress that there was no quid pro quo has now collapsed."

A growing list of witnesses, including the top diplomat in Ukraine William Taylor and National Security Council aide Tim Morrison, have testified that Ukraine opening political probes was linked to $400 million in aid and a potential meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Further damaging revelations are possible in the coming days as Democrats preside over the release of testimony taken behind closed doors as they prepare for public impeachment hearings.

The evidence from Sondland and Volker was far from the only damaging development over the last few days for Trump and his loyal troops on Capitol Hill.

Hundreds of pages of transcripts show that GOP lawmakers and counsel spent hours cross-examining witnesses in days of hearings, despite claims they were shut out of the process -- another pillar of the GOP objections to impeachment.

Growing evidence, meanwhile, of a shadow foreign policy scheme masterminded by Giuliani and stretching over months undermines Trump's focus on two events -- the call with Zelensky and a whistleblower report -- as the only significant data points in the scandal.

At one point, Sondland deepened the political plight of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who appears to have been aware of the Giuliani scheme but did nothing to stop it: "Pompeo rolled his eyes and said: 'Yes, it's something we have to deal with.' "

The White House responded to Tuesday's events in characteristic fashion, with press secretary Stephanie Grisham ignoring the existence of newly disclosed facts.

"No amount of salacious media-biased headlines, which are clearly designed to influence the narrative, change the fact that the President has done nothing wrong," she said.

But Grisham also seized on Volker's statement that he was not aware of the existence of a quid pro quo and belief that the new Kiev government did not know aid was held up. She also pointed out that Sondland did not directly tie Trump personally to the demand for a quid pro quo.

"Both transcripts released today show there is even less evidence for this illegitimate impeachment sham than previously thought," she said in a statement.

Grisham's commentary was undermined by Sondland's new testimony itself since he now says he told a Zelensky aide that the security assistance an announcement of a public investigation were in fact linked.

McConnell stands firm

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, said on CNN's "The Situation Room" that Sondland's profile made his revised testimony even more significant and damaging to the President.

"This is not some anonymous whistleblower. This cannot be argued to be some action by a deep state opponent of President Trump," Coons said. "Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the EU, was a major Republican donor and a supporter of President Trump."

Tuesday's disclosures seemed to wound Trump in the fact-based environment of an impeachment probe, but his political future is playing out in front of diverse audiences. While Democrats see further proof of guilt, Republican lawmakers seem likely to simply fall back on a new set of arguments.

They can make the somewhat implausible case that since Sondland did not implicate the President in the quid pro quo, he could have been acting on his own initiative or the orders of someone else.

They can try to repurpose the argument that a quid pro quo is not illegal and a fact of foreign policy -- a point made last month by White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney that was quickly withdrawn. No revelations, however damning, are likely to shake Trump's hold on his political base glued together by his claim that the Democratic tactics are the "crazed" actions of a party seeking to overturn an election.

Or they can reach a last resort position that Trump's conduct may not be acceptable but is not impeachable -- however much that might anger a President who insists he did nothing wrong.

Whatever they say, Tuesday's developments, while changing the legal and logical context of the impeachment inquiry are unlikely to shift the locked in political dynamics imposed by America's tribal partisan environment.

"I'm pretty sure how it's likely to end. If it were today, I don't think there's any question it would not lead to removal," GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday, speaking about the prospects for an impeachment trial in the Republican-led Senate.

That doesn't mean Republicans aren't sweating.

A source close to the White House who speaks to Trump regularly offered a grim assessment to CNN's Jim Acosta of the aftermath of Tuesday night's races in Virginia and Kentucky, where Democrats made solid gains.

"Totally bad. Kentucky and Virginia signal to GOP they are underestimating voter intensity against Trump, and it could be terrible for them next year," the source said. "Bad omen for impeachment."

But the wider politics of impeachment are still tough to call. No revelations, however damning, are likely to shake Trump's hold on his political base glued together by his claim, last made in Kentucky Monday night, that the Democratic tactics are the "crazed" actions of a party seeking to overturn an election.

And new polls show that in the swing states that will decide whether he wins a second term, public opinion is closely divided on whether he should be impeached and removed from office.

But Sondland's testimony offered a preview of how damaging testimony by witnesses close to the President could undermine his narrative on Ukraine and wrongdoing. That could have the potential to reshape wider public opinion among more moderate voters Trump also needs a year from now.

Lawyer: Accused Texas school shooter found incompetent

WQAD News -

HOUSTON (AP) — The trial for a teenager accused of fatally shooting 10 people at a Texas high school will be delayed while he receives mental health treatment, his attorney said Monday.

The news comes after three experts — one for the defense, one appointed by the court and one picked by prosecutors — found Dimitrios Pagourtzis incompetent to stand trial, said Nick Poehl, one of Pagourtzis' attorneys.

Poehl said he could not discuss specific details of any diagnosis due to privacy issues. But he said Pagourtzis cannot understand the charges against him or assist in his defense.

"I'm glad he's going to be receiving some treatment that he desperately needs," Poehl said.

The prosecution expert's findings were discussed at a meeting between attorneys and Ellisor on Monday in which all parties agreed that Pagourtzis was not competent to stand trial, Poehl said.

A formal order from Judge John Ellisor is expected later this week.

Kevin Petroff, the first assistant district attorney for Galveston County, said his office was working to meet with all families of the victims before making any statement.

Pagourtzis, 19, is charged with capital murder for the May 18, 2018, attack at Santa Fe High School, which is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Houston. His trial was set to start Feb. 18. Because he was 17 at the time of the attack, he is not eligible for the death penalty.

The issue of Pagourtzis' competency relates to his current state of mind and not his state of mind at the time of the shooting, Poehl said.

Pagourtzis will be transferred from the Galveston County Jail to a state mental health facility, where he will remain for four to six months to receive treatment. After that, he will be re-evaluated to determine whether he is competent for trial.

It's not clear when the transfer will happen.

"We're all just hoping it happens as soon as possible," Poehl said.

Ellisor on Monday lifted an order that had prevented defense attorneys and prosecutors from discussing Pagourtzis' mental state.

Pagourtzis also faces federal charges in a sealed criminal case.

Iowa fire chief accused of drunk driving in ambulance

WQAD News -

GRAND JUNCTION, Iowa (AP) — A central Iowa fire chief has been accused of being drunk while driving an ambulance and taking a patient to a hospital.

Greene County court records say 39-year-old Thomas Launderville is charged with operating while intoxicated, second offense. The records don't list the name of an attorney who could comment for him.

A Jefferson City police officer says in the records he heard Launderville slur his words during a radio call late Friday as Launderville drove the Grand Junction ambulance and a patient to Greene County Medical Center in Jefferson. Launderville has since been dismissed as Grand Junction's fire chief.

The records say the officer arrested Launderville at the hospital, and a breath test later showed Launderville had a blood alcohol content of more than twice the legal limit.

Iowa high court to decide if farm pollution suit continues

WQAD News -

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court has decided to step into a legal battle between the state and environmental groups over whether enough is being done to keep hog manure and other farm pollutants from tainting rivers that provide central Iowans drinking water.

An order signed Monday by Justice Edward Mansfield halts all proceedings in a lawsuit filed in March by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food & Water Watch and orders attorneys to file documents within 14 days to begin the court's review of the case.

In September, district court Judge Robert Hanson ruled that the lawsuit may proceed to trial. The state asked the Supreme Court to review that decision arguing that courts typically do not intervene or attempt to put on trial legislative action that involves a political question.

The state's attorneys say the farm runoff issue includes controversies revolving around policy choices and value determinations of the legislative and executive branches that courts should avoid.

Lawyers from the Iowa attorney general's office are representing the state and have asked the court to dismiss the case.

They argued that the lawsuit, if allowed to go to trial, will place decades of nutrient reduction research and policy decisions made by the legislature, the secretary of agriculture and appointed commissioners on trial.

They said a court ruling that would impose nitrogen and phosphorous restrictions on farms "would be a first in the nation and a dramatic shift from present-day agricultural practices."

"The continued litigation will produce substantial uncertainty and grave concerns for every member of Iowa's agricultural economy, with unknown effects rippling throughout the country," the state's attorneys said.

The environmental groups contend that citizens have every right to challenge in court what they believe to be violation of a fundamental constitutional right.

"This lawsuit is a wake-up call to force the state to act. Every Iowan has a right to clean water under the Public Trust Doctrine, and the state has a duty to protect that right. So far, the state has failed to protect Iowans' right to clean water," the groups said Tuesday in a statement.

"We have faith that the Supreme Court will preserve the role of the courts in protecting the rights of Iowans."

The lawsuit claims the state's policy of expanding hog farms and voluntary farm pollution controls is violating the rights of citizens to clean water in the Raccoon River, a 31-mile tributary of the Des Moines River that serves as a primary source of drinking water for about 500,000 central Iowa customers of Des Moines Water Works.

The river has exceeded federal safe drinking water nitrate limits on occasion for the past decade and the water utility must run an expensive treatment system to maintain acceptable nitrate levels.

The lawsuit asks for the court to order mandatory limits on nitrogen and phosphorous pollution and for a moratorium on new and expanding hog confinement facilities.

Iowa is the nation's leading pork producer, with nearly 25 million pigs on farms.

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