Voters look to narrow down nearly two dozen candidates with Iowa caucuses just months away

MUSCATINE, Iowa-- The Democratic Presidential field remains packed with caucuses nearly six months away. Candidates like Julian Castro are trying to make an impression.

The former mayor of San Antonio, Texas was in Muscatine Monday, July 15. He first toured areas of downtown affected by flooding then held a meet and greet at Black Pearl Coffee.

Many of the people inside the packed coffee shop say they want to hear from as many presidential hopefuls as possible.

"I kind of made it my goal to meet every one of the top candidates, and look them in the eye, and ask them a question, and see how things go," Cindy Bryant says. "I think it is very important that everybody find out everything they can and make an informed decision."

She says it could be hard to narrow down the candidates.

"We have a really good group of candidates," she says. "They're intelligent. They have plans. It's a little difficult. The policies aren't that different."

For some like Guadalupe Saucedo, Castra has caught their attention.

"He's the only Latino candidate," she says. "I'm interested in listening to what he has to present."

Saucedo says Castro's performance during the first Democratic debate impressed her and his ideas about early education resonate with her.

"I would like to know information about each of the candidates," she says. "It isn't something that I'm just going to say, 'This is what I want.' I'm truly listening."

Some voters like Peg Heither are learning about a whole new party. She says the Republicans don't reflect her ideals anymore with President Donald Trump in the White House.

"I'm a voter without a party," she says. "So I'm looking at the Democratic Party. I'm looking at the candidates. Hopefully, I'll find one that I'll vote for."

Caucuses are February 3, 2020. The presidential visits continue all week. Castro will join Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris at the Des Moines Register and AARP Presidential Candidate Forum Tuesday, July 16 in Davenport. That event is invite-only.

Montana Governor Steve Bullock will be in Muscatine Wednesday, July 17 at Elly's Coffee & Tea.

The Charlottesville car attacker gets a life sentence: How we got here

(CNN) — The violence that erupted in Charlottesville almost two years ago sent shock waves far beyond the picturesque university town in Virginia.

One woman died, dozens were injured, and a nation was traumatized by the specter of rising alt-right violence.

The Charlottesville story is far from over, but one chapter closed Friday when James A. Fields Jr. was sentenced to life in prison for hate crimes. The 22-year-old was behind the wheel of the car that plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer.

This is how we got here.

The statues

In February 2017, the Charlottesville City Council voted to rename two parks named for Confederate generals and to remove a bronze statue of one of those generals, Robert E. Lee, from an eponymous downtown park.

Other Southern cities had removed dozens of Confederate monuments from public property after a self-described white supremacist massacred nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.

The Charlottesville move met with resistance, as some residents sued, and a judge blocked the statue’s removal for six months while the matter was litigated.

The City Council voted again in April, this time agreeing to sell the statue and let the buyer remove it, CNN affiliate WVIR reported.

The first response by white nationalists

In mid-May 2017, Richard Spencer led a demonstration that served a prelude to the deadly violence that occurred in August.

Spencer, a prominent white nationalist and a graduate of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, led torch-wielding demonstrators in a march on the city. They were met by counterprotesters. Three people were arrested, and one police officer was hurt.

In July, about 50 Ku Klux Klan members, some in Klan robes, arrived in the city, where they were outnumbered 20-to-1 by counterprotesters.

Torches on campus

Jason Kessler, a vocal white nationalist, organized a “Unite the Right” rally for the weekend of August 11-12, 2017, that was aimed at “standing up for our history.”

On Friday night, August 11, a group marched across the University of Virginia campus carrying torches and chanting white nationalist slogans. Scuffles with counterprotesters broke out near a campus statue of President Thomas Jefferson. Police ran off the white nationalists and counterprotesters.

Saturday violence

On Saturday, August 12, the two groups again fought in the streets. The governor declared a state of emergency. More law enforcement officers poured into the city.

Around 1:30 p.m. ET, a silver Dodge Charger plowed into a crowd of people who opposed the white nationalists. The often-played video was dramatic, showing protesters flying through the air upon impact.

Police arrested the driver and identified him as James Alex Fields Jr., then 20, of Maumee, Ohio. Later that day, two Virginia State Police troopers died after their helicopter crashed while on patrol near the clashes.

Trump’s ‘fine people’ remark

Hours after the attack, President Donald Trump went onto Twitter and admonished “hatred, bigotry, and violence, on many sides.” Many people felt he should have singled out the white nationalists who staged the rally.

Two days later, Trump held a news conference and further inflamed critics, saying “both sides are to blame.”

“What about the ‘alt-left’ that came charging at, as you say, the ‘alt-right,’ do they have any semblance of guilt?” Trump asked. Trump also said there were some “very bad people” on both sides, but that there was some who came out to protest the removal of Robert E. Lee’s statue who were “fine people.”

Critics replayed the comments over and over. Trump defended his words as recently as April, when former Vice President Joe Biden referred to them while announcing his candidacy for the presidency.

UVA bans Spencer

American universities, not just UVA, struggled with how to allow free speech while regulating hate speech.

In October 2017, Spencer led a third march in Charlottesville. That same month, he spoke on the University of Florida campus, where he was heckled. Earlier in 2017, he spoke at Auburn University and scuffles broke out.

In October 2018, UVA acted against Spencer, banning him from campus for four years. Nine other people involved in the United the Right rally were also banned.

The march toward justice

In December 2018, Fields was found guilty in state court of first-degree murder and nine other charges. He will be sentenced July 15.

Fields pleaded guilty to 29 federal hate crimes last March, a plea that allowed him to avoid capital punishment. On Friday, he was sentenced to life without a chance of parole.

The statues are still there

A Virginia judge ruled in April 2019 that the statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson in Charlottesville are war monuments that the city cannot remove without permission from the state.

Ohio day care owner accused of sexually abusing children sentenced to 30 days

GROVE CITY, Ohio – An Ohio woman accused of abusing young children in her care was sentenced to just over four weeks in jail after making a plea deal.

Kimberly Hignite (Courtesy: Franklin County Jail)

Kimberly Hignite, 52, was indicted on multiple counts of gross sexual imposition and endangering children. As part of a plea agreement, six of the counts were dropped and she pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of endangering children, according to Franklin County Common Pleas records.

Judge William Woods sentenced her to 30 days in jail Monday.

Hignite ran an unregistered daycare at her house in Grove City. Last year, investigators searched the house and found 23 children between the ages of 7 months and 5 years, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

Parents said their children were confined to carseats, deprived of food and water, and forced to take sleeping medication. Two children reported Hignite sexually abused them.

The Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office told the Dispatch the families who cooperated with the investigation were involved in the plea deal.

Police: Man killed teen he met on Instagram, shared photos of her dead body on gaming platform

Bianca Devins (Family Handout)

UTICA, N.Y. – A recent high school graduate — who cultivated an online following, particularly among gamers, by posting selfies — was killed over the weekend.

The suspect then shared graphic photos of her dead body online, the Utica Police Department said.

Bianca Devins grew her following across several apps where she shared photos and details about her life.

The calls

Around 7:20 a.m. Sunday, police responded to several 911 calls in Utica, New York, about a suicidal man who claimed to have killed a woman, the department said.

When officers arrived, the man began to stab his neck with a knife, police said.

The suspect then laid down on a tarp on the ground. Police said the officer saw brown hair protruding from underneath the tarp, and the suspect confirmed it belonged to the woman he said he harmed.

Police identified the victim as Devins. She had extensive injuries to her neck, they said.

The pair met two months ago

Police said the pair met on Instagram about two months ago and their relationship grew into a close one.

The couple was driving back from a concert in New York City sometime after 10 p.m. Saturday. Police said an argument between the two precipitated her death.

“it is believed that he took and distributed photographs of the killing on the Discord platform,” police said. Discord is a text and video chat app for gamers.

Members of Discord who viewed the images and posts contacted the Utica Police Department.

“We are shocked and deeply saddened by this terrible situation. We are working closely with law enforcement to provide any assistance we can. In the meantime, our hearts go out to Bianca’s family and loved ones,” a Discord spokesperson told CNN.

The suspect, identified by police as 21-year-old Brandon Clark, underwent emergency surgery and is expected to live, police said.

Charges will come once officials interview him, they said. CNN has not been able to determine if Clark has retained a lawyer.

Devins planned to attend college in the fall

Devins’ family issued a statement through police thanking friends and family for their prayers.

“Bianca, age 17, was a talented artist, a loving sister, daughter, and cousin, and a wonderful young girl, taken from us all too soon. She is now looking down on us, as she joins her cat, Belle, in heaven.”
Devins had planned to attend Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica in the fall, her family said.

“Bianca’s smile brightened our lives. She will always be remembered as our princess.”

Trump abortion restrictions effective immediately

WASHINGTON (AP) — Taxpayer-funded family planning clinics must stop referring women for abortions immediately, the Trump administration said Monday, declaring it will begin enforcing a new regulation hailed by religious conservatives and denounced by medical organizations and women’s rights groups.

The head of a national umbrella group representing the clinics said the administration is following “an ideological agenda” that could disrupt basic health care for many low-income women.

Ahead of a planned conference Tuesday with the clinics, the Health and Human Services Department formally notified them that it will begin enforcing the ban on abortion referrals, along with a requirement that clinics maintain separate finances from facilities that provide abortions. Another requirement that both kinds of facilities cannot be under the same roof would take effect next year.

The rule is widely seen as a blow against Planned Parenthood, which provides taxpayer-funded family planning and basic health care to low-income women, as well as abortions that must be paid for separately. The organization is a mainstay of the federally funded family planning program and it has threatened to quit over the issue.

Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen said in a statement that “our doors are still open” as her organization and other groups seek to overturn the regulations in federal court. “We will not stop fighting for all those across the country in need of essential care,” Wen said.

HHS said no judicial orders currently prevent it from enforcing the rule while the litigation proceeds.

Clare Coleman, president of the umbrella group National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, said “the administration’s actions show its intent is to further an ideological agenda.”

Known as Title X, the family-planning program serves about 4 million women annually through independent clinics, many operated by Planned Parenthood affiliates, which serve about 40 percent of all clients. The program provides about $260 million a year in grants to clinics.

The family planning rule is part of a series of Trump administration efforts to remake government policy on reproductive health. Other regulations tangled up in court would allow employers to opt-out of offering free birth control to women workers on the basis of religious or moral objections, and grant health care professionals wider leeway to opt-out of procedures that offend their religious or moral scruples.

Abortion is a legal medical procedure, but federal laws prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman.

Under the administration’s rule, clinic staff would still be permitted to discuss abortion with clients, along with other options. However, that would no longer be required.

The American Medical Association is among the professional groups opposed to the administration’s policy, saying it could affect low-income women’s access to basic medical care, including birth control, cancer screenings and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. By law, the family planning program does not pay for abortions.

Religious conservatives see the regulation as a means to end what they call an indirect taxpayer subsidy of abortion providers.

Although abortion remains politically divisive, the U.S. abortion rate has dropped significantly, from about 29 per 1,000 women of reproductive age in 1980 to about 15 in 2014. Better contraception, fewer unintended pregnancies, and state restrictions may have played a role, according to a recent scientific report. Polls show most Americans do not want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion.

The Trump administration’s policy echoes a Reagan-era regulation that barred clinics from even discussing abortion with women. It never went into effect as written, although the Supreme Court ruled it was appropriate.

The policy was rescinded under President Bill Clinton, and a new rule took effect requiring “nondirective” counseling to include a full range of options for women. The Trump administration is now rolling back the Clinton requirement.

Mount Pleasant man dies after crashing into tree and grain bin

HENRY COUNTY- A 60-year-old man is dead after he crashed into a tree.

On July 13th, around 4:45 p.m. the Henry County Sheriff’s Office received a call about a car accident.

Police say they arrived at the 2000-grid of Franklin Avenue to find that Otis Henkle Jr, 60, of Mount Pleasant veered off the roadway then hit a tree and grain bin.

Henkle was the only person in the car. While at the hospital he passed away from injuries from the accident.

Police are not filing charges.

YOUR HEALTH: Why stem cell clinics are becoming the “Wild West” of medicine

SEATTLE, Washington – One doctor says it's becoming the "Wild West" of medicine.

Private clinics are opening nationwide claiming stem cells will cure everything from arthritis to macular degeneration,
autism to erectile dysfunction.

The Food and Drug Administration says many of those claims are just not true.

Norman Wohlken found out the hard way.

His osteoarthritis makes walking painful.

He read an ad for a stem cell clinic and signed up.

"If you're desperate, you're in pain. But there is hope for a cure, then you're probably going to try it."

He paid $14,000 to have cells extracted, spun in a centrifuge, and reinjected.

"The results were negligible, no improvement.  In fact, worse."

Dr. Chuck Murry has worked on regenerating heart muscle with stem cells for 20 years.   He says some private clinics are taking people's money and giving them unproven treatments that could in fact be harmful.

"Let's gather some data and let's see," he said.

"Here's standard of care.  Is it better, same, or worse? It's not that hard, and that's not being done. They skipped all that hard work in the middle."

Dr. Murray leads researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine.

"It's kind of like the Wild West. It's as though people can just go and set up a shop and say we can cure anything with these cells as though they have magical powers not defined by biology or physics and they just wait for people who are desperately ill to come in."  -Dr. Chuck Murry

The FDA is cracking down, notifying clinics that stem cell procedures must be approved as clinical trials.

"I think the FDA waited too long to start and so this blew up on them," explained Dr. Murray.

"Now there's 900 or so of these clinics around the country right now."

Dr. Murry says stem cells offer great hope, but cautions folks not to risk trying them before they're thoroughly researched.

DANGERS:   All medical treatments have benefits and risks but unproven stem cell therapies can be particularly unsafe.   For instance, attendees at a 2016 FDA public workshop discussed several cases of severe adverse events including a patient who became blind due to an injection of stem cells into the eye.   Another patient received a spinal cord injection that caused the growth of a spinal tumor.   Other potential safety concerns for unproven treatments include administration site reactions, the ability of cells to move from placement sites and change into inappropriate cell types or multiply, failure of cells to work as expected, and the growth of tumors.   Even if stem cells are your own cells, there are still safety risks such as those noted above.   In addition, if cells are manipulated after removal, there is a risk of contamination of the cells.

The only stem cell treatments approved by the FDA are those for the treatment of certain cancers and disorders of the blood and immune system.

The FDA says people need to ask stem cell clinics if they are part of the few clinical trials that are FDA approved.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.

Toddler dies after falling into grease trap at Tim Hortons restaurant

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A 3-year-old boy died after falling into a restaurant grease trap Monday morning in Rochester, New York, police said.

Rochester Police Department Investigator Francis Camp said they believe the boy fell through a plastic lid that gave way and into the grease trap embedded in the ground outside a Tim Hortons restaurant.

The grease trap was covered with a green plastic lid — much like a manhole cover — that helped it blend into the surrounding grass, he said.

“The lid was on there, it looks like the child ran across it and it popped open and he fell into the trap,” he said.

The grease trap is 2-and-a-half feet in diameter, according to police.

Camp said a witness found the child in the grease trap minutes after he was reported missing. The witness saw the boy and pulled him from the trap and started administering CPR, Camp said. The boy’s name has not been released.

Attempts were made to revive the boy but they were unsuccessful, according to Camp.

“We have a horrifying episode here that happened today,” he said. “We’re asked all the time, ‘What’s the worst thing you encounter as a police officer?’ and this is number one.”

The medical examiner’s office told CNN the cause of death will be released in coming days.

The city is currently pouring concrete around the opening in the ground where the grease trap was located and putting a metal lid on it, according to Camp.

CNN reached out to the NY Buildings Administrative Enforcement Unit to ask if this location’s grease interceptor was up to code.

Tim Hortons provided CNN with the following statement:

“What occurred today was a tragedy and on behalf of the Tim Hortons family, we offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the young boy who passed away. Tim Hortons is fully cooperating with authorities. As there is an ongoing police investigation, we have no further comment at this time.”

Camp said police will be following up with the DA’s office, OSHA and the medical examiner’s office.

A 3-year-old child died in Auburn, Alabama, after falling into a grease pit in October 2017 while on a family outing at an ice cream shop.

California camper found alive 4 days after vanishing in ‘extremely remote’ area

INYO COUNTY, Calif. – A woman who vanished four days ago while camping with her husband in a remote area in Southern California has been found alive, officials said Monday afternoon.

Sheryl Powell, 60, was located near the Montenegro Springs area of Inyo County, below where her dog she went missing with was found hours before, in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, Inyo County sheriff's officials said in a news release.

Rescuers described her as "resilient and strong but exhausted after being lost in an extremely remote area" within the national forest east of Bishop, authorities said.

She was being taken to a nearby hospital for medical clearance.

Just two and a half hours before, search crews announced they had found Powell's 4-pound Yorkie-poo about 2 1/2 miles from where she disappeared.

Powell disappeared with her dog Miley after taking out the pet while her husband moved their Jeep near their remote campsite in the Bristlecone Pine Forest area, according to the Sheriff's Office.

"This took 5 minutes or less but when he got back she and Miley were gone without a trace," the couple's daughter, Farrah Powell, wrote on a GoFundMe page set up on Saturday to help "with funding for helicopter search in the event the search becomes scaled-down, which they did say would happen."

After parking their car, Powell's husband spent about one hour looking before calling authorities from the Grandview Campground at around 2 p.m. Friday, the Sheriff's Office said.

The incident drew help from search and rescue teams from across California, including ground and aerial units equipped with a thermal imaging device, the agency said.

The family had said they suspected a "high likelihood of abduction which many rescue personnel are skeptical of," Farrah Powell said on GoFundMe.

"They keep insisting she just got lost (she didn’t bring any food or water and had no plans to hike yet, they were just setting up camp) or the dog got away (she weighs 4 lbs was on a leash and has a bad leg so she can’t run)," Farrah Powell wrote. "I hope they’re right but I think they should be pursuing the possibility of abduction as well."

It's still unclear how the woman became lost while near her campsite. Officials described Powell as an experienced hiker.

Farrah Powell said her father refused to leave the campsite after his wife disappeared and was "on the verge of breakdown."

On Monday, the sheriff's office said investigators don't suspect any link to Powell's husband.

"They have been married for 42 years," Farrah Powell said of her parents in a Facebook post. "They love each other, they love my brother and me, and they love the outdoors."

One of the couple's friends, Lorie Geery, told KTLA Joe was easing into retirement, "and I can’t imagine either one of them wanting to go through the rest of their life alone."

The family was "extremely cooperative" in the investigation, the Sheriff's Office said.

Woman infected with flesh-eating bacteria at Virginia beach

NORFOLK, Va. - Amanda Edwards can laugh today thinking back on her potentially fatal health scare after spending just ten minutes in the water at a Virginia beach.

"I was just like, 'Oh my goodness... my leg is gonna fall off,'" Edwards chuckled. "That’s the only thing I could keep thinking."

She told WTKR she contracted a flesh-eating staph infection during a day of fun at Norfolk’s Ocean View Beach. She said the infection spread quickly.

“The way that it was spreading, it was going up my leg," Edwards explained.

It happened last week.

“I was like, ‘It’s really hot. Let’s go to the beach.’ So, we went outside to the beach. I was only in the water for maybe like 10 minutes,” she explained.

The next day, the fun was over.

“I did not feel good. I noticed this thing that came on my leg. I ignored it for a couple days, and it just started getting bigger and bigger and bigger to the point where I couldn’t walk anymore,” she explained.

She said doctors treated the infection and said the bacteria possibly got into her skin through an open cut.

“They had to cut me open, drain it out and stuff it with some gauze. I had to keep it covered for days," Edwards, who was at the beach with friends, said.

This was around the time there was a swimming advisory.

“Please check the news and make sure there is not an advisory out because there was not signs out there,” Edwards mentioned.

The Norfolk Health Department told us germs can get into the water in different ways, like washing off of swimmers' bodies or when people relieve themselves in the water.

Health officials urge swimmers to avoid swallowing water and taking a dip after a heavy rainfall.  Don’t swim if you are ill or have a weakened immune system and swim away from fishing piers, pipes, drains and water flowing from storm drains onto a beach.

As for Edwards, she said she’s taking a break from splashing around for the rest of the summer.

“Every time I go into the water, I’m gonna think about that bad experience.”

Edwards has to continue taking antibiotics for the next two weeks.

Once you get out of the water, health officials say you should shower with soap.

Pride of the Wapsi trades in strawberries for sunflowers

LONG GROVE, Iowa-- For the first time in 15 years, Pride of the Wapsi will not be growing strawberries; they're growing sunflowers instead.

It's a new day at this Iowa farm, and it's a sunny one.

After months of tending the fields. this place is ready for their first of its kind crop debut.

"We think it's an opportunity for families to see something they normally don't see in Iowa. We see fields of gold tassels but not gold flowers," says Pride of the Wapsi co-owner Pat Dierickx.

On the farm, feast your eyes on two acres filled with 40,000 sun-seeking beauties. There are six different kinds, all with different shapes, sizes, and colors.

Starting opening day people can come to the farm, take in the views, and take some fresh flowers home.

"Pick a sunflower, have a glass of wine, spend the afternoon with us," says Dierickx.

Dierickx says planting these was a change that makes sense for the farm and the customers.

"When we first started at Pride of the Wapsi, we did strawberries, sweet corn and a fall festival of pumpkins," says Dierickx.

For the past 15 years, picking strawberries was a staple here at the farm. But growing them wasn't always easy.

"It is a very labor extensive and expensive project to do," says Dierickx.

And Dierickx says the way visitors spend time on the farm is different.

"Families would come out and pick 100, 150, 200 pounds of strawberries. That culture is changed," says Dierickx.

He says when people come to the farm, they want an experience. They'll come in with their families, enjoy the flowers, snap a picture and post it to social media.

With a new venture on the horizon, the future here is as bright as the newly grown petals.

Sunflower Days opens July 20-21 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and then again the following weekend.

Visitors can also come out during weekdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

And photographers can call and reserve private plots of flowers to shoot photo sessions in the evenings.

97-year-old motorcycle racing legend reunites with his bike for the last time

BETTENDORF, Iowa -- At Iowa Masonic Health Facilities Monday morning you would find a silver truck pulling into the parking lot.  Inside that truck sits the racing bike of a 1950’s motorcycle racing legend.

“It’s called the “Big Based Scallop” and only 50 of them were ever made,” says Bob Sheffington, one of the men who hauled it in.

The bike belongs to 97-year-old Bill Tuman who resides at the Masonic nursing home and deals with Dementia.

“I can’t remember anything,” comments Tuman.

His short-term memory is shrinking, but he can always recall his racing glory days when he rode his Indian motorcycle along with the “Indian Wrecking Crew”.

That was back in the ’50s, and Truman hasn’t seen his own bike in almost 20 years, but that all changed Monday morning.

“I think he’s going to be extremely impressed because as long as he’s concerned this bike is still in Australia,” says Sheffington, a long-time friend of Tuman’s.

As Tuman makes his way outside to the Masonic parking lot, one piece of racing history reunites with another, Tuman remains speechless, but decides to take a leap of faith and attempts to sit on his bike like back in the day.

Tuman earned the biggest win of his career and took first place at the Springfield Miler in 1953, becoming the new national champion.

“I think it’s going to take some time to sink in,” says Sheffington. “Just like it would be for any great event for any of us.”

And no matter how much time passes, or where it goes next, number 51 will always be Bill Tuman’s bike.

“His name is the serial number,” Sheffington comments about Tuman's name etched into the engine. “It’s the only bike in the world that I know of.”

The bike will be shipped back to Australia later this week where it will be stored forever.

Luke Andrews chooses not to testify, closing arguments set for Tuesday

DAVENPORT, Iowa - Both the prosecution and the defense have rested their case in the trial of the 13-year-old boy who brought a gun to North Scott Junior High School last year.

Luke Andrews is charged with attempted murder, assault while displaying a dangerous weapon and carrying weapons on school grounds.

On Monday, prosecutors called their final witnesses to the stand.

Two of the witnesses were already heard from last week and all four of the witnesses that testified on Monday were Eldridge Police officers who played a role in the investigation of the incident in question.

Andrews is said to have brought a loaded pistol to class.

Witnesses say he pulled the gun out, pointed it at a student teacher, then at his teacher.

They say he pulled the trigger.

Some witnesses have testified that they heard a clicking sound when the trigger was pulled.

However, during cross-examination on Monday, a police officer who testified about the weapon Andrews used told the court that there would be no clicking sound if the safety was on.

Instead, the officer said that an audible click would be heard if the magazine is in the gun but no round is chambered. He said the safety would need to be disengaged to hear that clicking sound.

The defense is trying to argue that Andrews never pulled the trigger. They argue that Andrews brought the gun to school to gain attention.

Prosecutors say the teen should be convicted of attempted murder.

Andrews did not take the stand in his own defense when given the opportunity on July 15.

The judge questioned him to make sure he understood his right to make an independent decision about testifying.

"At this point you have chosen not to testify in this case? Correct?" asked Chief District Judge Marlita Greve.

"Yes, Your Honor," replied Luke Andrews.

The judge then asked, "Has Ms. Thwing or Ms. Brandt or anybody forced you or do you feel any pressure from anybody that you should or should not testify?"

"No, Your Honor," said Andrews.

The defense did make a motion asking for a judgement of acquittal on July 15.

The motion was denied by Judge Greve

Closing arguments and jury deliberations are now set for July 16.

Andrews is being charged as a youthful offender in adult court.

If convicted, Andrews could spend the rest of his childhood in a juvenile detention center.

Then, just before his 18th birthday, a judge would review the case.

At that point, the judge could re-sentence him or discharge him.

Wayland Iowa business owner accused of forgery and wage theft

HENRY COUNTY- An Iowa business owner was arrested after being charged with forgery and wage theft.

Police say they started an investigation back in October of 2017, the subject was Curtis Wagler, 44, and Wagler Manufacturing, Inc. of Wayland Iowa.

Police say Wagler was suspected for theft of employee wage.

Back in 2016 and 2017, over $1,500.00 was taken from employees’ paychecks and it was determined that Wagler committed forgery during the investigation.

On July 15, 2019, Curtis Wagler, 44 of Wayland, was arrested and charged with three (3) counts of forgery and one (1) count of theft 2nd degree (all charges are class D felonies).

The Henry County Sheriff’s Office was assisted in the investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Crews begin draining West Lake Park to improve water quality

DAVENPORT, Iowa  — Crews have begun draining four lakes that form part of the ecosystem at West Lake Park in north Davenport.

“Our lakes are on Iowa’s Impaired Waters list, primarily due to the sediment that comes into the lakes and the excess algae that we have,” said Roger A. Kean, executive director for Scott County’s Conservation Board. Scott County received about $4 million in funding from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to improve water quality at its lakes.

A park ranger on Monday morning accessed a fenced-in valve and let-down structure by Lake of the Hills, the largest lake at the park. A turn of the valve lifted up a gate valve deep underground, as the sound of rushing water could be heard flowing into a culvert underneath Interstate 280. The water eventually flows into Black Hawk Creek and the Mississippi River.

“So this valve goes down underneath the lake out in the middle of the lake,” Kean explained.

“We can open it as much a we want to and let the water out and let the water drain as fast as we want, but we are required to only do about a foot a day on drop. That way we know there’s no impact on the creek below us, and it doesn’t cause any problems for the people who live along Black Hawk Creek.”

Only Lake of the Hills has a valve and pipe running to the creek, so contractors set up pumps to drain the surrounding smaller lakes into Lake of the Hills.

“This pump here will pump 38,000 gallons per minute so we’re not quite sure how long it’s gonna take to drain all of them,” Kean said. He estimated it would take about a month.

Recreational activities including swimming, fishing and boating would be minimally impacted — until August 1.

“Fishing is still going on and we have what call liberalized fishing: People can catch and keep as much as they want, but that will end on August 1 as well, primarily due to the fact that the water level will get so low that it’s hard for people to get to the shoreline to be able to fish. And then our boat ramp aren’t accessible as well after the water level is down,” he said.

The lakes won’t be drained entirely, but the water level on Lake of the Hills is expected to drop 17 feet. At that point, the remaining fish population will be killed off. The lakes will be restocked with game fish at the end of the lake restoration project.

The lakes will be closed for the 2020 season and reopen in 2021. The entire lake restoration project will run about $5 million by the time it is finished, he said.

“We are gonna improve angler acess, redo the shoreline, improve our fishing piers and other small projects like that. You don’t get many opportunities when the lake is down, to do that work,” he said, adding that the lakes will be restocked with game fish at the end of the entire project in 2021.

As for the water levels, he hoped for what many had lamented this spring.

“All this rain that we got this spring, we need that in the spring of 2021 and that’s what will fill the lake back again.”

Nearly one-fifth of adult Twitter users follow Trump

(CNN) — Almost one in five adults on Twitter follow the President’s personal account, @realDonaldTrump, according to a new study done by the Pew Research Center.

The data is based on a nationally representative sample of US adult Twitter users who gave permission to have their accounts analyzed and answered some questions in December 2018. Almost a quarter of all adults said they use Twitter (22%), and they tend to be younger and more Democratic-leaning than the overall population. But Trump’s tweets reach further and wider than just those who follow him.

Trump tweets almost constantly, often concurrently with things he sees or hears on television. A series of recent tweets from the President drew criticism — even from some members of his own party — in the last few days after he made racist jabs at four Democratic congresswomen.

Of those who follow Trump on Twitter, more than half approved of the job he’s doing as president (54%). But Republicans and Republican-leaning adult users are more likely than Democrats to follow him (31% of Republicans follow Trump, only 13% of Democrats who use Twitter do).

Among those who don’t follow the President on Twitter, only a quarter approved of the job he’s doing.

More Twitter users follow former President Barack Obama than Trump, with 26% following the former president compared to 19% for Trump. More Democrats follow Obama — 38% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning adult Twitter users, compared to 9% of Republicans.

Twitter users who said they posted political content in the last 30 days were more likely to follow the current President and former leaders. One-third who had tweeted about politics recently followed Trump and half followed Obama.

The Pew study was based on 87% of adults on Twitter who have public accounts and didn’t include the 13% with private accounts, since researchers couldn’t verify who these users followed. Researchers analyzed 2,388 US adults with a public Twitter, going beyond counting each of the President’s followers, a number that can include bots or accounts run by companies.

Grandma arrested with loaded gun at New York City airport

NEW YORK — Officers arrested a grandma found with a loaded gun in her bag at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport on Monday morning, officials said.

Officers found a loaded gun in a grandma’s bag at LaGuardia Airport. (Transportation Security Administration)

The North Carolina woman was with two of her grandchildren, according to a Transportation Security Administration  spokeswoman. Officers spotted the gun in the woman’s red suitcase as it went through an X-ray machine.

The handgun was loaded with six bullets, including one in the chamber, officials said.

The woman told officers that she did not know that there was a gun in her bag. She said she had borrowed the suitcase.

This was the sixth firearm that TSA officers have detected at the LaGuardia Airport checkpoints so far this year. Officers found just two guns in 2018.

‘Meth gators?’ Tennessee police warn against flushing drugs down toilet

LORETTO, Tenn. – Police in Tennessee are cautioning against flushing drugs down the toilet out of concern for the animals in local waterways.

The warning comes from a Loretto Police Department Facebook post where officers say they found a suspect trying to flush meth and several items of paraphernalia.

Police arrested the man.

“On a more or less serious note: Folks…please don’t flush your drugs m’kay,” police wrote.

They said flushed drugs end up in retention ponds for processing before going downstream.

“Now our sewer guys take great pride in releasing water that is cleaner than what is in the creek, but they are not really prepared for meth. Ducks, Geese, and other fowl frequent our treatment ponds and we shudder to think what one all hyped up on meth would do,” the Facebook post says.

Police say “meth-gators” could be created in Tennessee and Alabama if the meth made it far enough downriver.

“They’ve had enough methed up animals the past few weeks without our help,” the Facebook post says.

Police say they will properly dispose of drugs if called.

A $15 minimum wage started as a slogan. This week, it’s set to pass the House

(CNN) — Nearly seven years ago, a week after Black Friday, a few dozen workers walked off their New York City fast food jobs to demonstrate for higher pay. The median wage for fast food workers was $9 an hour, CNN reported at the time. The demand that would soon emerge as the movement’s rallying cry — $15 and a union — seemed hopelessly ambitious, like a wild-eyed opening bid.

This week, the House of Representatives will vote on the Raise the Wage Act, which would make $15 an hour a reality for nearly all American workers by 2024, up from the current national minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. And it’s expected to pass.

Although the bill still has to make it through the Republican-led Senate and past the President’s desk — a near-impossibility, at least in its current form — the House vote sets the stage for a final victory if Democrats win back the Senate and White House in 2020. That would break the longest period America has gone without raising the minimum wage since it was originally instituted, back in 1938.

The path from then to now has been a remarkable journey. The first place to adopt a $15 minimum wage, in 2013, was the tiny town of SeaTac, which is almost entirely taken up by the airport that serves Seattle and Tacoma. Then came Seattle, San Francisco, New York City, all of California and New York State. Conservative states like Arkansas and Missouri started raising their minimum wages through ballot initiatives. Big companies like McDonald’s and Walmart started inching their way up as well, and Amazon adopted a $15 minimum last year.

“It created this snowball,” says Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, which helped organize the Fight for $15 movement behind the scenes. “And then employers started raising the wage — all these people we didn’t expect. It became natural to think about, why not try to do it at the federal level?”

The other reason raising the wage nationwide became important: Blue cities in red states that set local minimum wages, like Birmingham and St. Louis, were knocked back down by their conservative state legislatures. Other cities in places like Texas and Virginia never even tried, because their state laws already pre-empted localities from acting on their own.

Those are the places where a $15 minimum wage could make the most difference in peoples’ lives, because so many workers there currently make less than that. For the same reason, they’re also the places that face the highest risk of job loss as a result, because businesses will have to spend more to comply.

Will it cost jobs, and does it matter?

The fight over the effects of raising the minimum wage goes back to the 1990s, when economists Alan Krueger and David Card published trailblazing work casting doubt on the canonical understanding that artificial wage floors kill jobs. The most recent research, which now has a large number of minimum wage increases to draw from, generally finds little to no job loss following minimum wage increases — and that that they may actually create more jobs by bringing people into the labor force.

But most of those increases have been in relatively hot job markets, where — at least in the past few years — employers have no choice but to cough up to stay fully staffed, even if it means raising prices. That could be a different story in places with weaker local economies, where businesses are operating on thinner margins and don’t have as much room to charge more.

The debate reached its apogee last week, when the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office published a study taking into account most of the latest research and projecting the effects of the Raise the Wage Act. (The legislation also indexes the minimum wage to inflation after 2024, and phases out the tip credit, which allows employers to pay as little as $2.13 per hour if employees make up the difference in tips.)

The verdict: By 2025, the legislation would raise the wages of 27 million people and lead to 1.3 million fewer jobs, or 0.8% of total employment. They arrived at that conclusion by averaging numbers that represent what other studies had found to be the employment “elasticity” — the sensitivity of jobs to changes in the minimum wage.

The CBO heavily emphasized the uncertainty around those estimates, but both sides immediately seized upon parts of the report as evidence to support their positions, while some criticized its methodology.

Arindrajit Dube, a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, said the CBO erred in equally weighting some of the older papers. He is among a group of authors to publish a study forthcoming in the prestigious Quarterly Journal of Economics that finds the elasticity is actually positive, and thinks that the CBO’s report overestimates how many jobs will be lost.

“What we had to do is reconcile a lot of the past literature,” says Dube, who provided input to the CBO on an earlier draft. “We specifically show what the problems are with some of those papers. What I see is peculiar choices that, in my opinion, are not justified that clearly affect the final outcome.”

Others saw the CBO study as an effective synthesis of a complicated literature, and cause for scaling back the bill to something more modest. Daniel Hamermesh, a distinguished scholar in economics at Barnard College who has also published papers on the minimum wage and reviewed CBO’s report ahead of time, called it “extremely good and extremely fair.” Because of the employment effects of the $15 option, he favors $12, which is projected to have only a mild impact.

“This is closer to religion than anything else,” Hamermesh said, of the two sides of the minimum wage debate.

Methodological quibbles aside, progressives argue that it’s important to focus on the overall welfare impacts of raising the minimum wage, as well as possible government responses to help anyone who may end up without a job because of it.

David Howell, a professor of economics and public policy at the New School, says that raising wages significantly for those at the bottom of the income distribution is more important than simply preserving low-paid employment.

Half of the projected 1.3 million lost jobs are those held by teenagers, he points out, many of whom could be employed through work-based learning programs that would provide a better on-ramp to a career. Everyone else, given the strong demand in America for workers in fields like nursing and construction, could be retrained for higher-paid work.

“The American problem isn’t quantity of jobs,” Howell says. “It’s quality of jobs.”

Both sides dig in

After several months of inter-party lobbying, the Democratic caucus seems to have come around to support the bill. Members of the moderate New Democrat Coalition were reassured by the addition of an amendment that would require a study of the effects of the bill a few years in, leaving room to make adjustments if more jobs have been lost than anticipated.

The bill now has 203 cosponsors, and National Employment Law Project government affairs director Judy Conti says she’s “very confident” the votes are there to pass it. Even Representative Terri Sewell, who had been trying to rally support for an alternative bill that would have tailored the minimum wage to local economic conditions, now says she’ll vote for the Raise the Wage Act.

But no Republicans have voiced support for it. The minority leadership of the House Education and Labor Committee sent a press release slamming the Democrats’ “radical and unprecedented mandate,” and that “one job lost is one too many.” White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said recently he doesn’t think minimum wages are a good idea at all, raising doubts that Trump would sign it. And although the powerful US Chamber of Commerce has said it’s willing to meet in the middle on some higher minimum wage, $15 is out of the question.

“If the House proceeds and passes $15, that’s a dead letter, it’s going nowhere in the Senate, and any momentum for a compromise that could be enacted into law dies,” said Neil Bradley, the Chamber’s chief policy officer.

Bradley sent a letter to all House members last week outlining his willingness to support a number in the double-digit range. But he also requested labor law changes to help businesses absorb the increased costs, such as allowing after-hours electronic communications to not be counted for the purposes of overtime, and letting employers audit their own payrolls rather than having the Department of Labor do it.

To the charge that businesses already should be able to stomach higher wages, given the massive corporate income tax cut they received in 2017, Bradley responds: “We don’t believe that the government has a claim on everyone’s income and gets to return it when it sees fit.”

There may be room for compromise on the House side in order to get something through the Senate this session.

“If they have an interest in talking, we’ll obviously talk,” said Representative Bobby Scott, who, as chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, has pushed the bill forward. He’s coy, however, on how far he’s willing to go. “I’m not going to say I’ll accept this or that.”

Even if nothing passes before the 2020 election, the union that pushed $15 onto the national stage sees the debate as a way to galvanize support among voters. The aim is to elect a Democratic Congress that wouldn’t have to compromise at all — or persuade Republicans to change their minds.

“We want to use the Raise the Wage Act going to the Senate as a way to inject it into Republican-dominated states and districts,” said Henry, of the SEIU. “The fight we want to have is to convince them that the political price they would pay for voting against it is not worth it.”

Maxine Waters has a plan to ban Libra and other Big Tech cryptocurrencies

(CNN) — New proposed legislation drafted by Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ staff could stop Facebook’s cryptocurrency ambitions.

The proposal, still just a discussion draft, is titled the “Keep Big Tech Out of Finance Act.” It details rules that would prohibit large internet platforms from becoming financial institutions or offering cryptocurrencies.

The draft will be a topic at a House Financial Services committee hearing on Wednesday about Facebook’s plan to launch a digital currency called Libra. Waters chairs that committee. The Senate Banking Committee will take up Libra on Tuesday.

The proposed legislation would affect more than Facebook. It would prohibit all large internet companies from affiliating with or becoming financial institutions — including domestic or foreign banks, credit unions, and depository institutions, among others. The prohibition would go into effect one year after the bill’s passage.

The draft bill was circulated by Waters’ committee staff. Waters has loudly opposed Facebook’s Libra since it was announced last month. Facebook says Libra will be a digital currency managed by an independent association in Switzerland that could speed up online payments and improve financial inclusion. Libra is expected to launch in early 2020.

The Libra announcement, and Facebook’s plans to offer a digital wallet and other financial services for Libra users, sparked worries that the company wants to become a bank without being regulated like one. President Donald Trump tweeted last week that Facebook would need to “seek a new Banking Charter and become subject to all Banking Regulations, just like other Banks,” if it wants to offer financial services.

One major question concerning the project has been which US regulatory agency would oversee Libra. Its proposed governing body, the Libra Association, and related products from Facebook would also need federal oversight. The drafted bill lays out the various banking regulatory agencies that would be responsible for enforcing the legislation.

The proposed legislation would also bar Big Tech companies from developing cryptocurrencies. The bill would apply to any technology company with an annual global revenue of $25 billion or more whose primary business is operating an online public marketplace, an exchange, or a platform for connecting third parties. That would apply to Facebook, Google, Amazon, and potentially Apple and Microsoft.

The bill would not ban digital currencies from existing financial institutions, such as the digital coin introduced by JP Morgan earlier this year.

Violators would be subject to a fine of “not more than” $1 million per day, according to the drafted bill.

The proposed legislation has not been formally introduced, and thus it does not yet have any sponsors. But Waters and other Committee Democrats have asked Facebook to place Libra’s development on hold to give to lawmakers the chance to consider regulatory action.”

The Facebook executive testifying at this week’s congressional hearings, David Marcus, said in his prepared remarks released Monday that Facebook will not launch Libra until it receives the proper regulatory approval. The company says it has met with regulators and will work with lawmakers on guidelines for Libra.