Police set to give latest information on search efforts for Mollie Tibbetts on Friday

BROOKLYN, Iowa-- Wednesday, August 8, 2018 marks three weeks since 20-year-old University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts was last seen in her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa.

Take a stroll through town, her hometown bank is keeping a running total of reward money for Mollie's safe return. It reached $301,000 Wednesday morning.

Even though it's been three weeks, people in Brooklyn are not giving up hope.

Walk about a block down from the bank, you'll find Live Now Designs owned by Joy VanLandschoot. Her design business has become the center hub for the search over the past 21 days.

"It's hard everyday. Every morning you hope you're going to wake up and have missed a phone call or the news that shes been found," says VanLandschoot.

She didn't know Mollie personally, but for the past three weeks, she's made upwards of about a million different signs and buttons of all kinds with Mollie's name and picture.

"People will come in off the interstate and say they're headed to New York or Kentucky, just every state. It's not surprising in a small community to have the community pull together but to have the state, nation the world behind you is astonishing, and we hope it helps find Mollie."

Joy doesn't do it alone. Sheri Sharer is one of many volunteers that help.

"I have a daughter that this could be her, and I work for the city and I figured this would be a good way to help," says Sharer.

More than 20 days spent pressing, cutting and fastening. These workers have a message for Mollie.

"We're going to find you. We're never going to stop until we do," says Sharer.

And the effort is just as eager as it was on day one.

"We really only have one choice; to be hopeful and to keep a positive outlook. I want her to hold out hope and not give up because we are not giving up on her," says VanLandschoot.

Police will hold a press conference with the latest information about the search for Mollie on Friday, August 10, 2018.

Conspiracy theory posts cost Bill Fawell GOP support in race against Bustos

If underdog GOP House candidate Bill Fawell is going to spring an upset over incumbent Democrat Cheri Bustos in the race for Illinois’ 17th District seat this November, he will have to do it without financial or campaign support from his fellow Republicans.

Citing Fawell’s repeated posting of debunked conspiracy theories on his social media platforms – including that the 9/11 terror attack was orchestrated by the CIA and Israeli Mossad and that the Sandy Hook massacre that killed 20 children was a fake “false flag” event – Illinois GOP leaders have told multiple media outlets they are withdrawing support from Fawell.

Rock Island County Republican Central Committee Chairman Drue Mielke expressed disappointment that Fawell, a Galena area real estate broker, appears to focus on issues of little or no relevance to voters in the district.

“These are things that are important to him, and that’s fine, but when we get into conspiracy theories that are out there, that becomes a problem for us,” Mielke said. “Those issues don’t play to any voters I know. My advice (to Fawell earlier) was to focus on issues that affect the 17th Congressional District.”

State Republican party chairman Tim Schneider had an even more scathing indictment of Fawell, telling the Dispatch-Argus that the candidate is dishonest.

“Bill Fawell has a problem with the truth and his statements have done a disservice to the individuals who lost their lives from terrible acts of violence,” Schneider said. “As chairman of the Illinois Republican party, I disagree with his misguided views and cannot support his candidacy for Congress in the 17th Congressional District.”

For his part, Fawell – who won last spring’s primary running unopposed – said via his Facebook page Tuesday that his GOP colleagues had been duped by “fake news.” He remained defiant in a series of posts published to his Facebook page over the past 12 hours.


Mielke noted that the Rock Island GOP has not supported Fawell’s campaign financially and that it will no longer offer him campaign support in the county.

In a written statement, Bustos’ communications director Jared Smith said her her campaign remains primarily concerned with local issues.

“Congresswoman Bustos is focused on bringing down the cost of health care and raising paychecks by investing in Illinois because that’s what the hardworking families she serves care about,” Smith said. “There’s a pretty clear difference between what she’s focused on and what her opponents are spending their time thinking about.”


Poppy seed bagel leads to ‘traumatizing’ drug test result for expectant mom

Elaine Benes could get behind this: A new mom is asking a Maryland hospital to revamp its approach to drug tests for expectant moms after her poppy seed bagel breakfast resulted in a false positive for opiates.

“It was traumatizing,” Elizabeth Eden tells WBAL of the saga that began when her doctor alerted her to the result of her drug test while she was in labor. Eden had previously heard that poppy seeds, which come from the opium poppy plant, could cause misleading results.

“I said, ‘Well, can you test me again? And I ate a poppy seed bagel this morning for breakfast,’ and she said, ‘No, you’ve been reported to the state.'”

That meant Eden’s daughter, born April 4, was held at St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson for five days and a case worker had to visit her home.

Increased awareness about false positives means hospitals generally look for opiate levels beyond 2,000 nanograms per millimeter.

Eating one teaspoon of poppy seeds can result in levels of 1,200 nanogram per millimeter, but St. Joseph Medical Center considers a positive test to be above 300 nanograms per millimeter, per Time.

The hospital’s head of obstetrics says raising the limit would let actual drug users slip through undetected.

But, citing a letter in which Eden advises the hospital educate expectant moms about the risks, the doctor adds, “it’s a really good point that people probably should know that if you use poppy seeds before you have a toxicology screen that it could result in a false positive test.” (This mom sued over her poppy seed debacle.)

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Immigration raids in Nebraska, Minnesota target businesses

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A large federal law enforcement operation conducted Wednesday targeted businesses in Nebraska and Minnesota that officials say knowingly hired — and mistreated — immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.

The investigative arm of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement — Homeland Security Investigations — led the operation that saw about a dozen businesses and plants raided and the arrests of 14 business owners and managers and more than 130 workers. Most of the arrests occurred in northern Nebraska and southern Minnesota. Several of the businesses were in O’Neill, Nebraska, a town of about 3,000 about 160 miles northwest of Omaha. Officials said they were still looking to take three owners or managers into custody as part of the operation.

Special agent in charge Tracy Cormier described the operation as one of the largest in Homeland Security Investigations’ 15-year history.

“I would say the amount of criminal warrants that are being executed will be one of the largest for HSI,” she said. “I’m not aware of a bigger one.”

Between 350 and 400 federal, state and local law enforcement officers worked together on the arrests, she said.

The focus of the operation is unusual in that it targeted business operators for arrest. Most immigration raids have targeted workers suspected of being in the country illegally.

“The whole investigation was initiated, basically, because we knew that these businesses were cheating these workers and cheating taxpayers and cheating their competition,” Cormier said.

The businesses engaged in a scheme that used fraudulent names and Social Security numbers to employ people in the country illegally, she said. The businesses used “force, fraud, coercion, threat of arrest and/or deportation” to exploit the workers, Cormier said. The business that hired out the immigrants also forced the workers to cash their paychecks with that business for an exorbitant fee, officials said, and withheld taxes from workers’ pay without paying those taxes to the government.

“It kind of reminds us of the revival of the old ‘company store’ policy, where it used to keep the coal miners indebted to the company for all kinds of services … like check cashing,” she said.

Dozens of workers suspected of being in the country illegally also were arrested, Cormier said. Some will be issued notices to appear before an immigration judge and released, while those with criminal backgrounds will remain in ICE custody.

The raids come as President Donald Trump’s administration has been carrying out high-profile enforcement actions against employers who hire illegal labor.

Dozens of workers were arrested at a meatpacking plant in rural Tennessee in April, followed by agents rounding up more than 100 employees two months later at an Ohio gardening and landscaping company.

Immigration officials have also beefed up audits of companies to verify their employees are authorized to work in the country. Officials opened 2,282 employer audits in the first seven months of this fiscal year, many after audits at 100 7-Eleven franchises in 17 states in January.

Civil rights organizations in Nebraska were quick to denounce Wednesday’s operation.

“The ACLU condemns this ongoing campaign of misery that targets immigrants, disrupts local businesses and separates families,” Rose Godinez, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, said in a written released Wednesday morning after news reports of a raid at O’Neill Ventures, which grows tomatoes in huge greenhouses.

Immigrant advocacy group Nebraska Appleseed released a similar statement saying, “Senseless raids like these today leave long-lasting damage across entire communities.”

Whether the operation targeted U.S. businesses hiring immigrants illegally in the country or the immigrants themselves, the effect is still the same, Nebraska Appleseed communications director Jeff Sheldon said.

“This is going to leave widespread fear and damage in the community,” he said. “You got businesses that are directly affected. You’ve got neighborhoods that are directly affected. You’ll have kids tonight coming home to a house where one or more of their parents are gone. This is pain that can last for generations.”

Thursday’s heat and humidity will help a few storms pop up

We ended up seeing quite a bit of sunshine around the Quad Cities today, and it’s going to remain pretty quiet tonight. With the exception of a little patchy fog in low lying areas, most of us will see a clear sky. Lows will be in the mid 60s.

Get ready for a hot and humid Thursday with highs around 90. Thanks to the humidity, it’s going to feel more like the mid 90s. For much of the day, there will be a mostly sunny sky. By the afternoon and evening, we’ll see a few storms pop up along a cold front.

We’ll keep the chance for a few more isolated storms on Friday, but it will be cooler with highs in the mid 80s. We’ll remain in the mid 80s on Saturday and Sunday with plenty of sunshine.

-Meteorologist Taylor Graham

Trump’s legal team responds to Mueller regarding interview

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(CNN) — Rudy Giuliani said Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s legal team has responded to the special counsel, the latest effort in ongoing negotiations over a possible interview.

“We have now given him an answer. Obviously, he should take a few days to consider it, but we should get this resolved,” Giuliani said during an interview on the radio show of fellow Trump attorney Jay Sekulow.

“We do not want to run into the November elections. So back up from that, this should be over by September 1,” Giuliani said.

Sekulow confirmed in a statement that the legal team “responded in writing to the latest proposal” from the special counsel, but declined to comment on the substance of the response.

Giuliani had previously told CNN that the team planned to send its counteroffer to special counsel Robert Mueller regarding a potential interview on Wednesday.

“It is a good faith attempt to reach an agreement,” Giuliani, one of Trump’s lawyers on the Russia investigation, told CNN.

The former New York City mayor similarly would not describe the contents of the counteroffer, except to say that “there is an area where we could agree, if they agree.”

Giuliani wouldn’t say if that area has to do with collusion or obstruction.

The President has previously said that he wants to speak with the special counsel and has insisted there was no collusion or obstruction, while deriding the investigation as a “witch hunt.”

But Trump’s public attacks on the Russia probe have sparked questions over whether his actions could constitute obstruction of justice. Those questions intensified earlier this month when the President called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to shut down the investigation, an escalation that Giuliani attempted to downplay as Trump merely expressing an opinion.

The President’s team has sought to limit any potential interview to questions about collusion. But Giuliani told CNN they would be willing to consider questions relating to any obstruction of justice inquiry as long as they are not “perjury traps,” a phrase favored by the Trump legal team as a way to raise questions about the fairness of the special counsel, though it also speaks to the risks of having the President sit down for an interview.

“For example: ‘What did you say about Flynn?’ ‘Why did you fire Comey?'” They already know our answer,” Giuliani said, referring to former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former FBI director James Comey, whom Trump abruptly fired in May 2017. The former FBI director later testifiedto Congress that Trump had pressed him to drop an investigation into Flynn, a claim that Trump has denied.

“If they can show us something in that area that didn’t involve those direct questions, that we don’t consider perjury traps, we would consider it,” Giuliani said, but conceded he “can’t think of what that would be.”

Mueller has indicated to the team that the special counsel wants to ask the President obstruction questions in an interview.

The President’s lawyers had previously offered the special counsel written answers to obstruction questions and limiting the interview to matters before his presidential inauguration, which are largely confined to collusion.

The back and forth over an interview comes as the special counsel investigation faces its first major test in court as Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort stands trial in the Eastern District of Virginia where he is accused of bank fraud, tax evasion and other financial crimes.

Manafort’s case isn’t about the 2016 presidential campaign, but he is the first defendant Mueller’s team has taken to trial.

Shark startles swimmers at Myrtle Beach State Park

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. – A shark startled beachgoers at Myrtle Beach State Park over the weekend.

Terry Egan was at the beach when he said he felt something rub against him in the water. Moments later, the fin of a black-tip shark broke the surface of the water.

In a Facebook post, Egan said he grabbed his camera and snapped a picture of the shark in the water near swimmers.

“What a way to end Shark Week!!!” Egan wrote.

No injuries were reported, according to WMBF.

3-year-old boy killed, 2-year-old sister injured by freight train

PORTAGE, Ind. — A 3-year-old boy was killed and his 2-year-old sister seriously injured after they were struck by a freight train Tuesday morning.

Bryon Benson says his 3-year-old grandson Caleb Wilson and 2-year-old granddaughter Ellie Wilson must have crawled out of a hole in the screen door of their home in the Woodland Village Mobile Home Park sometime Tuesday morning.

"It’s dumbfounding to me how they even got out. With three grown adults, not on drugs not drinking state of mind," Benson told WGN. Kelsey’s a good mom. She has been from day one."

Even though there was a children’s gate loosely covering the hole, they got out and made their way to the CSX railroad train tracks four houses down.

"By the time the mom went to check the laundry, she came back and said, 'dad, the kids are gone.' I got on my shoes. I went one way, my brother went the other way, she went another way," Benson said.

But no one thought to check the train tracks first, because Benson says the toddlers never played there. Then around 9:30 a.m., residents in the mobile home park heard the horns blowing and a train screeching to a halt.

"At three and two, kids don’t know how powerful a train can be. Even if you’re walking by you can get sucked under," Benson said.

The conductor of an eastbound CSX train later told police he saw the children on the tracks and blew the horn while attempting to stop the train, but he was unable to avoid striking them. The first officer on the scene said Caleb was dead on impact. His sister Ellie has head trauma but she was actively crying. She was airlifted to Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago.

"These kids were loving kids. Caleb, he was a terror but a joy to be around. Fun to be around, always wanted to be by his mom, always," Benson said. "Ellie always followed her brother."

An autopsy will be performed on Caleb Wednesday, according to the Porter County Coroner. Portage Police Department Chief Troy Williams said once their investigation is complete, he will send the outcome to the state’s attorney’s office.

The Wilson family is now at Comer Children's Hospital, waiting at the bedside of 2-year-old Ellie, and praying she pulls through.

Hawk Newberry’s body positively identified by Muscatine medical examiner

MUSCATINE, Iowa — Authorities have positively identified the body of a small child recovered from the Mississippi River in Muscatine on Aug. 5 as that of missing toddler Hawk Newberry, who fell into the river at Schwiebert Park and drowned on July 24.

In a release,  Muscatine County Medical Examiner Richard Hines said investigators used information from an autopsy, medical and dental records and video surveillance footage to make the positive identification.

“Our office and staff sends our deepest sympathy to family and hope that everyone does the same and give them the opportunity to grieve the loss of Hawk,” Hines wrote.

Search and recovery crews as well as members of Neweberry’s family and volunteers had been scouring the river from Rock Island to Buffalo to Muscatine for weeks attempting to bring closure to the family.

Heavy police presence in Chicago planned this weekend to curb violence

CHICAGO (WGNtv)-- An additional 600 police officers will hit the city's streets this weekend as the Chicago Police Department tries to get a handle on the growing gun violence.

About 430 additional officers will be put into several locations on the South and West sides during the week, according to CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson. That number will increase to 600 additional officers during the weekend. The officers will be added to the 5th, 6th, 10th, 11th and 15th districts, which are the main areas where there was a surge in shootings over the last five days.

The announcement comes after 74 were shot and 12 were killed between 3 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Monday. WGN previously reported that 63 were shot and 12 were killed. Those numbers have since changed.

Johnson said the additional officers will be from the department’s various tactical units, saturation and gang teams. Those units, as well as the fugitive apprehension teams will have most regular days off canceled. CPD’s organized crime unit, narcotics, vice and gang teams will be sent in to target gang conflicts that are fueling the violence.

When asked about the cost of the police surge, Johnson said they are down about 30 percent in overtime usage when compared to this time last year.

"So let me just put that out there. We’re way down in terms of overtime use. This initiative comes from resources that are not not in overtime so the overtime use is minute," Johnson said.

Johnson said there shouldn't be a price put on public safety.

"So whatever it takes to ensure the safety of the citizens of this city, we’ll do it," he said.

National Night Out took place Tuesday evening. Police and residents throughout the region participated. The event was designed to help build relationships and promote community partnerships in an effort to make neighborhoods across the country safer.

Each police district in the city hosted their own event. For a full list of events that took place, take a look at this map tweeted out by Mayor Rahm Emanuel or visit the National Night Out website.

Tree infestation emerald ash borer confirmed in 3 more Iowa counties

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — State agricultural officials say an insect that’s killed millions of ash trees has been found in three more Iowa counties.

Officials said in a news release Wednesday that the emerald ash borer has been confirmed in Crawford, Delaware and Page counties. That brings Iowa’s total to 64 counties.

People are urged to report any suspected infestation. Mike Kintner with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship says tracking the whereabouts of emerald ash borers across the state helps in formulating treatment recommendations.

To report the infestation:

  • Illinois — Contact your county Extension office. The Illinois Department of Agriculture also offers a toll-free hotline at (800) 641-3934 for extension-confirmed infestations
  • Iowa — Call (515) 294-5963

Click here for more information including how to spot the insect’s negative effects.

The emerald ash borer has been spotted in several areas across Illinois and Iowa already, including Davenport last year.

Infected trees usually lose leaves at the top of the canopy and the die-off spreads downward. The trees usually die within four years.

The bugs are native to Asia and were first reported in the U.S. in Michigan in 2002 and in Iowa in 2010.

Asbestos found in Playskool crayons, group says

A brand of crayons being sold at Dollar Tree and multiple online stores tested positive for asbestos, according to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG).

Credit: U.S. PIRG

According to the report, Playskool crayons purchased at a Dollar Tree store in Chicago tested positive for trace amounts of asbestos.

The product, a 36-pack of crayons, are also being sold on Amazon and eBay.

"We tested six types of crayons for asbestos and one tested positive for tremolite: Playskool crayons (36 count) that we purchased at Dollar Tree. We tested the green color crayon. Asbestos is a known carcinogen and can lead to serious health conditions, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Pictures of the tremolite fibers taken from the laboratory are included in Appendix A."

The research group is calling on Dollar Tree and Playskool to recall the crayons and remove the product from store shelves. They also recommended the company contact customers to warn them about the product.

“Based on our testing, we know that most manufacturers make safe school supplies. We’re calling on the makers of unsafe products to get rid of toxic chemicals and protect American schoolchildren,” said Kara Cook-Schultz, U.S. PIRG Education Fund Toxics Director.

Hasbro, the parent company of Playskool, issued a statement on Tuesday:

"Product and children’s safety are top priorities for Hasbro. We are conducting a thorough investigation into these claims, including working with Leap Year, the licensee of the product."

Dollar Tree also issued a statement about the report:

"The safety of our customers and associates is our top priority.  Our company utilizes a very stringent and independent testing program to ensure our supplier products meet or exceed all safety and legal standards. We are aware of the report and have since re-verified that each of the listed products successfully passed inspection and testing."

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to asbestos only occurs when asbestos-containing material is disturbed and particles become airborne.

U.S. PIRG also publishes an annual report about toy safety. Last year, the group identified two fidget spinners being sold at Target that contained over 300 times the legal limit for lead in children's products.

“The safest schools are healthy schools,” said Coalition for Healthier Schools Coordinator and Healthy Schools Network Founder and Executive Director Claire Barnett.  “As children across the country get ready to return for the new semester, the national Coalition is urging parents to join us in this fight."

Virginia man arrested at best friend’s funeral

HOPEWELL, Va. - Police say they did the right thing arresting Rodney Peace at his best friend's funeral last week in Hopewell, Virginia, but his best friend's mother says officers should have waited and somebody needs to be held accountable.

Donna Watson wanted to give her son's necklace to his best friend on Friday at her son's funeral, but she said she never got the opportunity, according to WTVR.

Acting on a tip, two Hopewell officers showed up at 31-year-old Troy Howlett's funeral to arrest his friend Rodney Peace.

"We had been looking for Mr. Peace for quite some time. He has been wanted since October of last year," a Hopewell Police spokesperson said.

Hopewell Police Lieutenant Paul Intravia said Peace was wanted for credit fraud and failure to appear, and he had a preliminary protective order taken out against him for family abuse.

"We have a victim that's involved in this as well and their rights are just as important as his right to say goodbye to his friend," Lt. Intravia said.

Police handcuffed Peace but allowed him to stay in the funeral home for the duration of the funeral.

"They actually showed a lot of compassion with him in doing so when they did not have to at all. They could have simply escorted him out when they first made contact and brought him directly to jail," Lt. Intravia said.

Rodney Peace and Troy Howlett

Yet, Watson said they ruined her son's service.

"He tried so hard to give Troy a kiss, but he couldn't because he didn't have anything to catch himself [because he was handcuffed], It was the most barbaric thing I've ever seen. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy ever," Watson said.

Rodney Peace remains in jail.

Watson said she spoke with him by phone, and he apologized for what happened. But she said she wanted to hear an apology from the Hopewell Police Chief and not from Peace.

Trump-backed candidates in Ohio and Kansas locked in tight races

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(CNN) — Two candidates endorsed by President Donald Trump are locked in tight races, with votes from Tuesday’s elections still left to count.

The special election in a deep-red Ohio congressional district was too close to call Tuesday night, with Republican Troy Balderson holding a narrow lead over Democrat Danny O’Connor.

In the Republican primary in the Kansas governor’s race, meanwhile, Trump-backed Secretary of State Kris Kobach and incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer were waiting on results from the highly populated Johnson County, in the Kansas City area.

The best barometer for November’s midterm elections came in Ohio, where the contest in a congressional district near Columbus that Republicans have held for three decades was too close to call.

Balderson led by 0.9 percentage points with all early and election day votes counted. However, the Ohio secretary of state reported there are 8,483 outstanding absentee and provisional ballots left to count — much more than Balderson’s 1,754-vote lead.

Balderson and Republicans claimed victory Tuesday night, but O’Connor did not concede the race. “We are in a tie ballgame,” he told supporters at his election night party.

The close race was another ominous sign for the GOP fewer than three months from the midterm elections. It was also a sign that the party’s strategy for the race — fully embracing Trump and his bombastic message in hopes of motivating Republican voters, rather than trying to soothe moderates’ worries about the President — could backfire in similar districts in November’s midterm elections.

Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats to take control of the House, and Republicans are currently defending dozens of districts that are more favorable to Democrats than Ohio’s 12th District, which Trump in 2016 and Mitt Romney in 2012 both won by 11 percentage points.

The race matched consistent trends in special elections and statewide contests since Trump took office: Turnout sagged in rural, heavily Republican areas; surged in suburban areas; and swung in Democrats’ favor in those suburbs when compared to the 2016 election results.

For Republicans, it was costly: The Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC and the National Republican Congressional Committee, the House GOP’s campaign arm, poured a combined total of more than $5 million into the race, compared to just $1 million from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Winning, though, would provide a psychological boost to the GOP after the party suffered a stunning loss in a March special election for a House district outside Pittsburgh.

In Balderson’s Columbus-area race, the GOP groups’ Trump-like message in television advertisements focused overwhelmingly on latching O’Connor to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and accusing him of being weak on issues such as immigration.

Trump echoed that message on Saturday, when he visited Delaware County for a pro-Balderson rally.

Balderson also got a boost from second-term Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who endorsed him late in the race, even as he sounded an alarm over the Trump-driven tactics, warning that they had alienated suburban women, in particular.

No matter the special election’s outcome, Balderson and O’Connor are set for a rematch in November.

Awaiting results in Kansas

In the Republican primary for Kansas governor, Trump on Monday endorsed Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state known for his crusade for restrictive voting laws, over incumbent Colyer. In doing so, he ignored the pleas of the Republican Governors Association to stay out of the race. Kobach is widely seen as uniquely vulnerable in a general election due to his controversial national profile.

Kobach and Colyer were locked in a tight race as ballots were counted.

The two each had about 41% of the vote, but Johnson County, the heavily populated suburbs of Kansas City, had yet to fully report early into Wednesday morning. There’s still enough outstanding vote left to count there that could determine the outcome of the contest.

Kansas is a deep-red state — Trump won there by 20 percentage points in 2016 — and any Republican would be favored in the gubernatorial election in November.

But Democrats believe momentum from this spring’s protests over education funding against Republicans who control the state government could make the state surprisingly competitive this fall. And Kobach — who publicly backed Trump’s false claim that millions of people voted illegally in 2016 and who advocates a hard-line approach to immigration — could alienate Republican voters in areas like the Kansas City and Wichita suburbs.

The concern extends to Kobach’s potential impact on two potentially competitive congressional races in Kansas, too — including Rep. Kevin Yoder’s re-election bid in the 3rd District, a top Democratic target.

Missouri voters pick Hawley, reject right-to-work

In Missouri, voters selected the GOP establishment’s preference, Attorney General Josh Hawley, as their candidate to challenge Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. The state, which Trump won by 19 percentage points in 2016, is one of the GOP’s best pick-up opportunities for a US Senate seat in November.

The bigger story, though, was voters’ overwhelming rejection of Missouri’s right-to-work law. Labor unions’ $16 million campaign against the union-busting law was successful despite the Republican-dominated state legislature moving the referendum from November’s general election to the lower-turnout August primary.

A test for the left

After Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning primary victory in New York against Rep. Joe Crowley, progressives hoped to demonstrate that their policies can win over voters in the middle of the country.

But the Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders-backed Abdul El-Sayed’s bid for Michigan governor fell short, CNN projects, as the establishment favorite, former state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, nabbed the Democratic nomination and a November date with Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Sanders, who defeated Hillary Clinton in the state back in 2016, and Ocasio-Cortez lined up to back El-Sayed, who ran on an innovative “Medicare for all” plan and proposals for public broadband and tuition-free college.

But Whitmer, a respected liberal legislator who painted El-Sayed’s platform as unrealistic in the purple state, kept the race close in areas El-Sayed needed to win big and ran up the score everywhere else.

Another progressive challenger, Cori Bush, was trounced in her Democratic primary in Missouri against Rep. William Lacy Clay.

Progressive candidates fared better in Kansas, where James Thompson won the Democratic nomination in the 4th District and faces Rep. Ron Estes.

In Kansas’ 3rd District, Sanders-backed labor lawyer Brent Welder is running in a six-way primary to take on Yoder. Other top candidates include Sharice Davids, an EMILY’s List-endorsed former MMA fighter attempting to become the first Native American lesbian in Congress, and Tom Niermann, a teacher running a more moderate campaign with a long list of local officials’ endorsements.

However, that district — like the Kansas GOP gubernatorial primary — hinges on the outcome in Johnson County.

Both Red and Blue states lead in business friendliness; Illinois trails

(Illinois News Network) – Illinois ranked 28th in CNBC’s annual list of “America’s Top States for Business,” far behind other states in the Midwest.

CNBC’s scorecard on state economic climate ranked states on competitiveness to show their ability to attract businesses. The list has both Republican-model and Democrat-model success stories at, or near, the top. But even highlighting its strengths, Illinois was in the bottom half of the rankings.

The comprehensive ranking of states is based on their ability to lure and retain businesses. It used more than 60 metrics to compare the states against each other. The most important were workforce, infrastructure, and cost of doing business.

Texas came out on top, scoring high marks on everything, save quality of life, where it ranked 36th.

Robert Allen is the president of the Texas Economic Development Corp. Appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott last year, Allen said the Lone Star State’s business-friendly regulatory environment is unmatched, allowing small businesses to become big businesses.

“Those are the seeds that need to be taken care of because they’re gonna grow,” he said. “It’s very important to just give them the needed tool and then just get out of the way.”

With a top corporate tax rate of 9.8 percent but scoring high marks for quality of life, education, and infrastructure, Minnesota was No. 1 in 2015 and placed sixth this year.

Michael Langley, CEO of the Greater Minneapolis St. Paul Economic Development Partnership, said it’s about the investment.

“We like to call it a high-value model,” he said. “Continuing to invest a lot in education, invest a lot in infrastructure and quality of life issues but we know that we pay for it.”

At 28th, Illinois has many attributes that the top states in the ranking share, but budget woes and business regulations continue to hold it back.

It’s International Cat Day, and we’re celebrating

It's International Cat Day today, August 8, and local viewers were more than happy to show why this day is special to them.

WQAD News 8's Angie Sharp asked her Facebook followers to send in some cat photos to celebrate the day. She didn't expect to receive over 100 photos. Here are just a few of them.

(From left to right: Maria Merrill and Miss Kitty; WQAD's editor Elise Edens' cat, Emma; and Rexxx, posted by Shane Torres)

In case you didn't get your cat fix from those cute little guys, watch the video above for more of the submissions.

International Cat Day was started by the International Fund for Animal Wellness. According to their website, the day promotes vaccination, sterilization, veterinarian care and more.

New Zealand’s new attraction makes you a human slingshot

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(CNN) — New Zealand, the world’s capital of adventure tourism, just got even more adventurous.

The land of hobbits and skydiving is upping the ante with a human slingshot.

Yep, you read that right. The Nevis Valley on New Zealand’s South Island near Queenstown — home of the world’s first commercial bungee jump — is now home to a new thrill-seeker’s dream called The Nevis Catapult.

If you’re the kind of person who thinks bungee jumping is just not exciting enough, the catapult is the perfect way to get your heart beating in your throat.

Unlike a bungee, which involves a freefall and rebound (basically, you go down and then back up), the catapult pushes you straight out in one direction before dropping you — 492 feet up and out, to be exact.

According to AJ Hackett Bungy, the company who created The Nevis Catapult, the brave people who try it out will reach speeds of nearly 62 miles an hour in just 1.5 seconds in the air. Overall, the catapult experience lasts three or four minutes, depending on velocity.

Travelers who want to partake in the catapult experience will need to get in a AJ Hackett-owned four-wheel-drive vehicle to access the remote region of the Nevis Valley, before strapping in with a harness and helmet and embarking on the thrilling journey.

A few things to keep in mind: In order to participate, you must be at least 13 years old and weigh at least 60 pounds (27 kg). It costs $255 NZ ($172 USD) to take the leap, and you’ll also need to fill out a questionnaire and share any medical conditions in advance.

Although Queenstown has become known as one of the world’s best destinations for adventure travelers, the gorgeous region has plenty more to offer besides skydiving and human catapulting.

The Remarkables mountain chain and Lake Wakatipu are both breathtaking natural features, and the surrounding valley is noted for its wine, especially Pinot Noir.

The Score Preview – United Township Football

United Township is coming off a 2-7 season, as well as losing 23 seniors.  They do return their Head Coach Jim DuPage which should give then some stability and consistency.  Now they need to turn the page and focus on getting better as a team.

Jackson County jail vote fails

MAQUOKETA, Iowa – Supporters of a new jail for Jackson County could not muster enough votes in a Special Election to push forward with construction.

The plan to issue $7 million in 20-year bonds got 52.5% of the vote on Tuesday, August 7, 2018, but the referendum needed 60% to pass.


YES  52.5% (1595 votes)

NO   47.50  (1443 votes)

The turnout was just under 21%.

The current Jackson County jail can house up to 11-inmates.  Supporters say a new, larger jail would meet new requirements and would be safer for jailers.

Rural areas of Jackson County were less likely to support the bond referendum.  The greatest amount of support came from the four election precincts in Maquoketa where the bond issue got up to 72% support in Precinct 16.