The latest local news

Trump signs law ensuring shutdown pay for government workers

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(CNN) — President Donald Trump signed a bill providing back pay to federal employees affected by the ongoing partial government shutdown, the White House announced Wednesday.

Trump signed the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019, which the White House said “requires the compensation of government employees for wages lost, work performed, or leave used during a lapse in appropriations that begins on or after December 22, 2018, and entitles excepted employees to use leave during a lapse in appropriations.”

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, who sponsored the bill, tweeted that Trump signing the legislation “is an important step toward providing our civil servants with some stability and hope.”

“But it doesn’t help pay the bills *now.* To do that, we MUST reopen the government. #EndTheShutdown,” added Cardin, whose state neighbors Washington and is home to many federal workers.

Earlier Wednesday the President met with members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of members of Congress, to negotiate amid the shutdown revolving around funding a US-Mexico border wall.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the meeting was “constructive” and that the group attendees “listened to one another and now both have a good understanding of what the other wants.”

A member at the White House meeting described it as a respectful exchange of ideas and an agreement to keep talking, but said there were no signs they are closer to a deal. In fact, Democrats kept pushing to reopen the government before immigration talks.

Man arrested for felony animal cruelty after neutering neighbor’s cat

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Eden, NC (WGHP)- A North Carolina man was arrested Wednesday for felony animal cruelty after neutering his neighbor’s cat, according to a news release from the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office.

According to authorities, Jordan Thomas Hall, 30, was at his neighbors’ home in Eden on Monday.

Earlier in the evening, that neighbor had referenced having to take his cat to have him neutered. Hall offered to neuter the cat for Dickerson, but Dickerson declined his offer.

At around 2 a.m. on Tuesday, after the neighbor and his girlfriend had gone to bed, he got up to check on Hall who was supposed to be sleeping in the living room of the home, but Hall and the cat were gone.

Later, he found his cat bloody and his testicles had been removed.

The neighbor became irate and confronted Hall, chasing him out of his residence before calling the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office.

The cat, “Shna-Shna”, was taken by Rockingham County Animal Control to a local vet for treatment and is expected to survive.

Hall was placed in the Rockingham County Detention Facility under a $5,000 secured bond. He is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 24.

Investigators ask for public’s help identifying toddler found dead in duffel bag

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SAN DIEGO - Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying the skeletal remains of a boy found near a Rancho Bernardo park in 2004.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has teamed up with San Diego Police Department in the effort to identify the deceased child.

On May 4, 2004, skeletal remains of a small boy were discovered by two hikers on a trail near the park and Interstate 15.

The hikers noticed a green padded winter-type coat lying over a green and white duffle bag, according to SDPD. When they removed the coat and looked in the bag, they saw a human skull and bones. Red warm-up pants, gray-tan socks, a blue vest and two sweatshirts were also in the bag.

Forensic Isotope Analysis determined the boy was likely between 2.5 and 3.5 years of age at the time of his death and he had been deceased for at least one year before he was found.

The same analysis revealed the child’s mother likely spent time in the southeast while pregnant, may have lived in Texas shortly after the child was born, then moved to Southern California.

NCMEC completed a facial reconstruction which shows what the child may have looked like.

Anyone with information should contact SDPD, reference case number 04-029569.

The group’s forensic team is currently assisting law enforcement with over 700 cases of unidentified deceased children.


World-ranked bull rider dies from injuries

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DENVER - A bull rider died from injuries he suffered during an event at the National Western Stock Show in Denver on Tuesday night.

Mason Lowe of Exeter, Missouri, was ranked 18th in the world, according to the Professional Bull Riders Association. He had been a professional rider for seven years.

The event he was scheduled to be competing in on Tuesday night was called the PBR Chute Out, a test of how long a rider can stay up and atop an out-of-control bull.

"We are deeply saddened to report that Mason Lowe passed away this evening following injuries sustained at the PBR event in Denver," said Sean Gleason, president of the Professional Bull Riders Association.

"The entire PBR and National Western sports family extends our heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies to Mason’s wife Abbey and his family."

Lowe, 25, had earned nearly $10,000 in competitions so far this year.

N.C. school district drops lunches to ‘minimum level’ to conserve food during government shutdown

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VANCE COUNTY, N.C. — As the United States’ longest ever government shutdown lingers, a North Carolina school system said they’re bringing school lunches down to a “minimum.”

“Due to the Federal Government Shutdown, lunch menus in Vance County Schools have been revised to a minimum level to conserve food and funding,” the district wrote in a Facebook post.

Beginning next week, Vance County students will notice changes on their trays with the “minimum level” lunches.

The district will no longer include fresh produce in lunches except at elementary schools in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.

That program, however, will also be reduced down to two days a week.

Bottled drinks, like water and juice, will only be available until stocks run dry.

No ice cream will be available until further notice.

With these changes, students can still expect to get a main dish, bread, two vegetables, one fruit and milk.

“The Vance County Schools Nutrition Program for students is self-supporting with federal funds providing meals,” the district said. “We hope that normal lunch menus can be resumed as soon as possible once the shutdown has ended.”

Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ has the longest run atop Amazon since ‘Fifty Shades’

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“Becoming” by Michelle Obama is not just one of the best-selling books of the past year — it is one of the hottest titles of the decade.

The inspirational memoir by the former first lady has been on sale for more than two months, yet it is still No. 1 on Amazon’s constantly updated list of best-selling books.

Amazon said “Becoming” enjoyed the longest streak at No. 1 for any book since “Fifty Shades of Grey” came out in 2012.

No political tome or public figure’s memoir has ranked No. 1 for as long as “Becoming,” according to data the company provided to CNN Business.

“Becoming” was released on November 13, specifically timed to maximize holiday season sales.

It hit No. 1 on Amazon the Friday before the publication date and stayed there for nearly nine weeks.

According to Amazon, it was No. 1 “most sold on Amazon across all formats for 47 consecutive days,” which is the longest streak since “Fifty Shades.”

Another book briefly took the top spot on day 47, Amazon said, but “Becoming” returned to No. 1 and has stayed there practically ever since. Spot checks of the website this month have showed Obama holding steady at the top of the list, with Marie Kondō and Rachel Hollis following close behind.

Obama eclipsed all of 2018’s Trump-related titles within a few weeks of being released. Pro-Trump books like “The Russia Hoax” and takedowns like “Fire and Fury” have performed remarkably well for publishers, but “Becoming” has had more staying power.

Since 1995, when Amazon started keeping track of sales this way, only seven other titles had longer streaks at No. 1.

Four of those were by JK Rowling: “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” in 2000, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” in 2003, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” in 2005, and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” in 2007.

The other three were “Da Vinci Code” in 2003; “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose,” which came out in 2005, but hit No. 1 when Oprah Winfrey endorsed it in 2008; and “Fifty Shades of Grey” in 2012.

The publishing house behind the book, Penguin Random House, declined to provide updated sales totals. But in its first week on sale, “Becoming” sold more than 1.4 million copies, the company said back in November.

The publisher kept printing more copies to keep up with demand, but the book was still out of stock at some retailers at Christmas.

What’s remarkable is that the book continues to sell so well, despite the early rush of demand.

On a weekly basis, “Becoming” has “consistently held the No. 1 spot on its weekly Most Sold and Most Read nonfiction lists since the book was released in November,” Amazon said this week.

The book has also ranked No. 1 on the New York Times’ nonfiction best seller list for eight consecutive weeks.

Penguin Random House also has a deal to publish Barack Obama’s post-presidential memoir. That book does not yet have a publication date.

The company paid an enormous sum — a reported $65 million — to acquire both books.

Coal Valley elementary school on lockdown

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COAL VALLEY, Illinois — Bicentennial Elementary School was placed on lockdown after police received word of a possible weapon inside the school.

The lockdown went into effect around 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, January 16, according to a spokesperson with the Coal Valley Village Police Department.

A spokesperson with the Moline-Coal Valley School District said police had gotten an anonymous tip that there could be a weapon in the school.  Officers ordered the school go into a “passive” lockdown.

Around 2:15 p.m. classes were being released one at a time.

The school was initially supposed to let out around 1:30 p.m., but the lockdown delayed their schedule.

Police were investigating the tip, which was not seeming to be credible, according to the school district spokesperson.


American who survived 9/11 killed in Kenya attack

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He escaped one act of terrorism, but not a second. American Jason Spindler, a survivor of the 9/11 terror attacks, was among at least 14 people killed Tuesday when militants stormed a hotel and office complex in Nairobi, Kenya.

Nairobi News cites colleagues as saying the founder and CEO of investment firm I-DEV International, located in the targeted complex, was eating lunch at the hotel when the attack occurred.

“I am sure he gave them hell!” his brother says, per Reuters, describing Spindler as “a fighter.”

He reportedly escaped the World Trade Center’s Building 7, where he worked as an analyst for the Salomon Brothers investment bank, before it was crushed by the North Tower on 9/11, per the Daily Beast. Spindler would later serve with the US Peace Corps in Peru.

“It’s so sad that such a bright young person is taken away by terrorism,” Spindler’s mother tells NBC News, noting her son was “trying to make positive change in the Third World in emerging markets” and had received grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates and Clinton foundations.

“Know you are mountain climbing with the angels tonight,” a friend adds of the avid rock climber, per Reuters. British development professional Luke Potter, who’d only recently moved to the East African country, was also killed in the attack claimed by Somalia-based al-Shabab. Reuters also identifies Abdalla Dahir and Feisal Ahmed, two Kenyan development professionals who worked to improve life in Somalia, as among the dead. Ahmed’s widow is said to be seven months pregnant. (More details here.)

More From Newser:

Jayme Closs rescued herself. Should she get the $50,000 reward money?

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A couple who called 911 and alerted authorities that Jayme Closs was at their home said they did not want a $50,000 reward for providing information on the abducted girl’s whereabouts.

Kristin Kasinskas said that she and her husband, Peter, had not been approached by officials about the reward or where it may go. Still, they said if anyone does receive the reward, it should be Jayme.

“Because she got herself out,” Kasinskas said.

The question of what to do with that five-figure reward money comes a week after 13-year-old Jayme was found alive and well outside Gordon, Wisconsin, about 70 miles north of where she was last seen. Her parents were killed and she was abducted October 15 near Barron, Wisconsin, sparking an extensive law enforcement search for any signs or tips on her whereabouts.

The FBI offered a $25,000 reward for any information leading to her rescue. In addition, the Jennie-O Turkey Store, the employer of her parents, Denise and James Closs, added another $25,000 to that reward.

But a break in the case didn’t come until Jayme escaped from her captor and fled to safety on January 10.

“Jayme was the hero in the case. Jayme was the champion that finally said enough is enough,” Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said. “We can’t be more proud of Jayme.”

Now that she has been found alive, authorities are working to determine where the reward goes. Or if it’s awarded at all.

Fitzgerald told CNN that he and the FBI will be consulting on the reward soon to make a decision about what happens with the money. FBI Milwaukee spokesman Leonard Peace also confirmed that the FBI is continuing to review the reward.

“That’s a question for someone else other than me,” District Attorney Brian Wright said Monday.

How she escaped

For nearly three months, Jayme was kept in captivity after her kidnapping. She told investigators that she was often forced under her captor’s bed and blocked in by weights.

But when he left the home for several hours last week, Jayme pushed aside the weights blocking her, put on a pair of his oversize shoes and ran outside the home.

She came upon Jeanne Nutter, a neighbor out walking her dog. The two of them then went to a nearby home owned by the Kasinskas, who recognized the girl immediately from news reports. Together, they called police to let them know Jayme was alive and well.

“I have a young lady at my house right now, and she has said her name is Jayme Closs,” Kasinskas said in the 911 call. “It is her. I 100% think it is her.”

In the call, Nutter explains how she came across Jayme.

“I was walking my dog, and we were almost home and she was walking toward me, crying, saying, ‘You got to help me, you got to help me,’ ” Nutter said.

CNN has reached out to Nutter for comment about the reward.

Jake Patterson, 21, has confessed to killing Jayme’s parents and kidnapping her, according to a criminal complaint. He was charged with two counts of intentional homicide and a count of kidnapping and armed burglary, and he was ordered held on $5 million bail.

Ebola outbreak continues in the Congo as obstacles challenge health care workers

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(CNN) — The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ebola outbreak, which began August 1, is continuing unabated in the new year.

The total number of probable patients is now 663, while 407 deaths are likely attributable to the viral illness, the Ministry of Health said Wednesday. An additional 123 people, who doctors suspect may be sick with Ebola, are currently under investigation. The ministry also reported that 237 people have recovered from the life-threatening illness.

On average, Ebola — which causes fever, severe headache and in some cases hemorrhaging — kills about half of those infected. The latest outbreak has a case fatality rate of 60%.

The current outbreak is the second-deadliest and second-largest in history, topped only by one in West Africa in 2014, when the disease killed more than 11,000 people, according to the World Health Organization.

Recent tweets from both Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general, and Dr. Peter Salama, WHO deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response, address the “numerous” challenges of this epidemic.

Salama believes the current outbreak “is really several distinct outbreaks,” as North Kivu province remains the epicenter with additional cases occurring in neighboring Ituri province, according to the World Health Organization. The two provinces are among the most populous in the nation and border Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.

Not only is North Kivu experiencing this deadly Ebola outbreak, but long-term conflict smolders there, with 50 armed groups causing intermittent violence, according to WHO. The UN public health agency estimates that more than a million refugees and internally displaced people are traveling through and out of North Kivu and Ituri, and this movement is a potential risk factor for the spread of Ebola.

Another complication: a high number of malaria cases in the region.

Local grit has overturned some of the obstacles. Though protesters of a long-delayed presidential election vandalized health care facilities in late December, on Monday, locals in Rwangomaworked to repair the damage with their own labor and at their own expense. Each inhabitant contributed 500 Congolese francs (equivalent to about a third of a US dollar).

Hope arrived in the form of a baby girl born earlier this month to a mother who had been cured of the viral disease in December. Twice the healthy baby girl has been tested for Ebola, and twice the results have come back negative.

Other positives include the Ministry’s November launch of the first randomized control trial for experimental Ebola treatments; 248 patients have received one of the four new drugs as of January 1, according to the WHO. Additionally, 60,715 people have been vaccinated since early August.

How the TaxSlayer Center turns an ice rink into a rodeo stadium

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MOLINE, Illinois — The TaxSlayer Center is saddling up for a rodeo, converting the hockey rink into a dirt arena.

The Cinch World’s Toughest Rodeo is on Friday, Jan. 18, and Saturday, Jan. 19, and will feature bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, women’s barrel racing and even a rodeo monkey.

But how does the TaxSlayer Center turn ice to dirt and back to ice again?

Kevin Snodgrass, director of operations, told News 8 the ice actually never leaves.

“The ice stays in year round so the time we put it in in September till we put it in April or May,” Snodgrass said. “We did it in basically about 12 hours … last night getting ready for the dirt to come in.”

Snodgrass said crews covered the ice in several layers including fiberglass and wood to keep the ice safe and insulated.

Then, 66 truckloads of dirt rolls in, eventually covering the floor in 6-8 inches.

When the rodeo is over, it’s time to scrape it all back out.

“More time is probably spent in the out because there’s more cleaning involved,” Snodgrass said. “Then, we have to reset for hockey.”

The rodeo starts at 7:30 p.m. both nights.

Iowa food stamps arrive early due to shutdown

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DES MOINES, Iowa- The USDA will issue February’s SNAP benefits early.

The Iowa Department of Human Services said in a press release February benefits will become available on January 17, 2019. These are still the normal February benefits, they are just being issued early.

Due to the government shutdown, the Iowa DHS wanted to ensure life still runs as normal as possible. “We understand the importance of ensuring food security for Iowans in need and will do everything we can to ensure there is as little disruption as possible,” said Director Jerry Foxhoven.

The DHS says in the upcoming weeks there may be increased call volume, which may impact the timeliness of returned calls. Contingency plans are being developed for March.


Muscatine County suspends its use of slag for gravel roads

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MUSCATINE, Iowa (AP) — An eastern Iowa county has stopped using slag as the gravel on its roads, at least temporarily, because a state toxicologist reported that the steel manufacturing byproduct could be harmful, especially to children.

Muscatine County supervisors voted Monday to suspend the use of slag while they wait for further testing on it, The Muscatine Journal reported.

The move comes after Iowa Public Health Department toxicologist Stuart Schmitz issued a report that said slag contains metals at levels that can be harmful.

Related: Muscatine County residents fighting against slag use on county roads

Children exposed to high levels of manganese, which is in slag, could develop learning disabilities and adverse behavioral changes, according to a U.S. Department of Health report.

Slag dust is also dangerous for adults who are exposed to high concentrations of the material, though adults would have to work “an entire workday, most days of the year,” to be harmed, Schmitz’s report said.

The material hasn’t been used on roads since June, said County Supervisor Nathan Mather.

“Simply put, we suspended the use of slag out of an abundance of caution while more information is gathered,” Mather said.

Glenn Hundertmark is the North American environmental manager at Harsco, the industrial company that provides the county with slag. He said there aren’t health or environmental risks tied with the material.

“We believe that any claims otherwise are completely meritless and based on mischaracterized, misinterpreted data,” Hundertmark said.

Hundertmark requested time to provide additional information. He said samples of the slag were taken recently with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and results should be available soon.

Former ‘To Catch a Predator’ host Chris Hansen arrested in Connecticut

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STAMFORD, Conn. — Chris Hansen, best known as the former host of NBC’s “To Catch a Predator,” turned himself in to police in Connecticut on Monday on charges of issuing a bad check.

The 59-year-old allegedly failed to pay a $13,000 bill despite a police warning, according to the Stamford Advocate.

Hansen allegedly ordered 355 ceramic mugs, 288 T-shirts and 650 vinyl decals from Promotional Sales Limited in Stamford, Conn., receiving an invoice for $12,998.05 in September 2017.

Owner Peter Psichopaidas then filed a complaint in April, saying a check he received had bounced.

An apologetic Hansen offered to make partial payments, but the money never came, according to an arrest affidavit, which notes Hansen also bailed after agreeing to give a statement to police.

The charges came after Hansen was warned he could be arrested for larceny, according to investigator Sean Coughlin. “I told Chris … that nearly $13,000 is a lot of money to a ‘mom-and-pop’ business and it is not fair that he accepted the material but hasn’t paid for it,” he writes.

Per The Wrap, Hansen previously offered coffee mugs and T-shirts as a way to attract investors to a 2015 Kickstarter campaign intended to revive “To Catch a Predator,” which NBC canceled. (The campaign worked, sort of.)

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Scammer poses as Davenport police over the phone

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DAVENPORT, Iowa- The Davenport Police Department warns against a telephone scammer impersonating the police.

In a recent Facebook post the Davenport Police say a scam is  falsely threatening locals with arrest. The scammer uses an app to appear as the Davenport Police on caller ID. Then the scammer warns victims they will be arrested unless they pay a large fine. Instructions are then given on how to pay the fine over the phone with a pre-paid charge card.

The Davenport police say they don’t solicit money over the phone. Plus, legal fines cannot be paid on those type of pre-paid cards.

They ask if you receive a call, don’t pay the fine and report the call to the Davenport Police Department at 563-326-7979.

US service members killed in ISIS-claimed attack in Syria

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(CNN) — ISIS has claimed responsibility for a deadly explosion that killed US service members in the Syrian city of Manbij on Wednesday.

US service members were killed in the attack, according to a tweet from the spokesperson for the US-led coalition Operation Inherent Resolve.

“U.S. service members were killed during an explosion while conducting a routine patrol in Syria today. We are still gathering information and will share additional details at a later time,” the tweet said.

The coalition has not said how many service members were killed. Prior to Wednesday’s attack, only two US service members had been killed in action in Syria since the start of the campaign in 2014.

There were several reported casualties in the city a militia controlling the city and a UK-based monitoring group said.

The ISIS-affiliated Amaq agency said the attack in the northern city of Manbij was carried out by a suicide bomber with an explosive vest.

“An explosion in Manbij’s busy market street, initial reports of casualties,” spokesman of the Manbij military council Shervan Darwish wrote on Twitter.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least eight people were killed.

A spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve tweeted Wednesday that the coalition is “still gathering information” about the explosion.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said President Donald Trump has been briefed on the situation. Vice President Mike Pence has also been briefed, according to a tweet from his press secretary.

However, Pence made no mention of the attack or the deaths of US service members while making remarks at the Global Chiefs of Mission conference at the US State Department Wednesday, claiming “The caliphate has crumbled, and ISIS has been defeated.”

The attack comes less than a month after Trump announced that US troops would withdraw from Syria. In making his announcement, Trump declared in a video released on Twitter: “We have won against ISIS. We’ve beaten them and we’ve beaten them badly. We’ve taken back the land and now it’s time for our troops to come back home.”

The US has about 2,000 troops in Syria, with no specific date for their withdrawal. Last week, the US began withdrawing some military ground equipment from Syria, according to an administration official with direct knowledge of the operation.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was a harsh critic of Trump’s plans to bring home US troops from Syria when the decision was announced earlier in December, said Wednesday that he is concerned that the President’s statements about withdrawing from Syria have emboldened the enemy.

“My concern, by the statements made by President Trump, is that you set in motion enthusiasm by the enemy we’re fighting. You make people we’re trying to help wonder about us. And as they get bolder, the people we’re trying to help are going to get more uncertain. I saw this in Iraq. And I’m now seeing it in Syria,” Graham said during impromptu remarks at a Judiciary Committee hearing on Attorney General nominee William Barr.

“Every American wants our troops to come home, but I think all of us want to make sure that when they do come home, we’re safe,” he added. “So I would hope the President would look long at hard at where he’s headed in Syria. I know people are frustrated, but we’re never going to be safe here unless we’re willing to help people over there who will stand up against this radical ideology.”

During his surprise visit to Iraq on December 26, Trump was warned by military commanders that — despite his claims — ISIS was not entirely defeated in Syria. People familiar with the President’s reaction said the conversation was eye-opening for a leader who, days earlier, claimed the terror group was defeated “badly” in the country.

The discussion occurred inside a tan tent at the al-Asad airbase west of Baghdad and included the US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman, Lieutenant General Paul LaCamera, national security adviser John Bolton, and the first lady Melania Trump, along with other officials.

Trump was told that pockets of ISIS militants remained in the Euphrates River valley and that the US military had not yet eliminated all of their strongholds. Commanders told him the US had been successful in taking back other areas but that the job was not finished.

The people familiar with the conversation described it as sobering, and said it broke through to Trump in a way his conversations with national security officials in Washington had not. Coming days after Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria, it centered partly on the remaining challenges of going after ISIS fighters in pockets of Syria.

In addition to the briefing from the commanders, Trump found the massive security apparatus on the trip surprising — something his advisers told him was reflective of the remaining challenges against ISIS.

Still, it remains unclear whether Wednesday’s attack will impact Trump’s decision to pull US forces from Syria as top administration officials continue to qualify the terms and timing of a pullout — altering the President’s December 19 assertion that forces would leave “now.”

After Trump declared that the US would pull troops from Syria and a US Defense official told CNN that planning was underway for a “full” and “rapid” withdrawal, national security adviser John Bolton began adding conditions that could indefinitely delay a troop departure and has refused to discuss timelines.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also avoided offering a specific timeline but insisted in a Cairo speech last week that under the Trump administration, the US is a stalwart presence in the Mideast. He told reporters separately that “there’s no contradiction whatsoever” in the US policy on Syria, arguing that “this is a story made up by the media.”

At the same time, the top US diplomat has denied allies were confused about the US withdrawal from Syria. “I think everyone understands what the United States is doing,” Pompeo said. “At least the senior leaders in their governments do.”

Yet on the ground and in diplomatic circles, Trump’s decision landed with explosive effect.

US allies in the region were blindsided. Two diplomatic sources say their countries were not consulted or informed and the news came as a total surprise.

But discussions about a US withdrawal have continued this week.

Trump and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan discussed “ongoing cooperation in Syria as US forces begin to withdraw” during a phone call Monday, just one day after Trump threatened to “devastate Turkey economically” if the NATO-allied country attacks Kurds in the region.

“The President expressed the desire to work together to address Turkey’s security concerns in northeast Syria while stressing the importance to the United States that Turkey does not mistreat the Kurds and other Syrian Democratic Forces with whom we have fought to defeat ISIS,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement about the call.

Winter Weather Advisory south tonight… Snow on track to start the weekend

WQAD News -

First of two weather systems will be tracking across the area as early as overnight hours with the second still on track to start the weekend.

Expect some light snowfall to begin sometime after midnight Thursday before slowly coming to an end near lunchtime.  For most, a good dusting to a half an inch is likely with roadways looking more wet than slippery.  The only exception will be along Highway 34 from Mount Pleasant, IA to Galesburg, IL. where up to an inch of snow is likely.   A mix of freezing rain is also likely and thus a Winter Weather Advisory has been issued for this area from 9pm tonight to 9am Thursday morning.  Untreated roadways will have the biggest impact.

We continue to track the potential for a stronger system by Friday night and Saturday. The track remains south of the area, keeping any heavy snows well south of the area as well.  Too early on snowfall amounts but given the snowfall road conditions will be a challenge as I expecting plenty of blowing and drifting on main roadways.

As the system departs, temperatures will plummet later Saturday into Sunday with wind chills as cold as the minus teens Sunday night into Monday morning. Highs will struggle to get out of the single digits above zero that Sunday as well.

Chief meteorologist James Zahara

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