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National

    Students in Potter, Neb., were served kangaroo meat mixed with beef in chili at school last week without their knowledge, and the district superintendent is hopping mad about it, according to news reports. >> Read more trending news  It happened at a junior and senior high school in the Potter-Dix public school district, News Channel Nebraska reported. Head cafeteria cook Kevin Frei told Potter-Dix Schools Superintendent Mike Williams that he served the Roo meat “because of its nutritional value as a very lean meat,” according to the news station. “If a family wants to eat exotic foods, they can do so on their own time – not at school,” Williams said in a statement. “If we were to have food or ingredients that are out of the ordinary, they should be listed on the menu so that students and families are aware of what they would be being served,” he said. “We will no way be serving food of this nature again. Period.” Williams apologized in the statement and said that school officials don’t believe kangaroo meat is “unhealthy or dangerous” -- otherwise the U.S. Department of Agriculture would not approve it for sale -- but he said Roo meat will not be part of the school district’s meal plan. >> Trending: Watch: Vicious kangaroo attack injures girl, stuns family at Alabama park Kangaroo meat is mostly produced in Australia from wild animals, which are killed as part of a wildlife population management program, according to the Australian government.
  • Federal safety investigators have been unable to conduct a full examination of the limousine involved in a crash that killed 20 people nearly two weeks ago in upstate New York because local prosecutors are probing it as part of their case against the limo company's operator. While a National Transportation Safety Board spokesman says it is working cooperatively with local officials, people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Thursday that investigators have privately expressed frustration over their inability to fully examine the limousine. They spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity in order to discuss sensitive conversations. The limo remains in the possession of New York State Police after the limousine company's operator was charged four days after the crash with criminally negligent homicide. A state police spokesman said it could be several more weeks before the NTSB is granted hands-on access to the limo. The NTSB would get in line behind state investigators and the lawyer for the limo company's operator. 'The vehicle is the most important piece of evidence that will help ultimately determine the cause of the crash, and the extent of any criminal wrongdoing,' spokesman Beau Duffy said in a statement. 'If the NTSB were allowed to handle evidence before it has been fully examined and processed by the state police and the defense, it would jeopardize the criminal case.' NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss said investigators were able to look inside the limousine briefly and have not conducted a full examination. But he stressed that the agency is working closely with state police. 'We anticipate getting everything we need in a timely fashion,' Weiss said. 'They have a criminal investigation to do. We have to accommodate that.' The federal agency is charged by Congress to conduct independent probes and can make urgent safety recommendations to address specific issues discovered during an investigation. The NTSB expects to release a preliminary report on the wreck in the next several weeks, Weiss said. The district attorney in Schoharie County did not immediately return a call from the AP seeking comment on Thursday. The limousine loaded with 18 people on their way to a birthday party for one of the occupants ran a stop sign and crashed at the bottom of a hill in the town of Schoharie. Everyone in the limo died, including four sisters, along with two pedestrians. Prosecutors allege the limousine company's operator, Nauman Hussain, allowed an improperly licensed driver to operate an 'unserviceable' vehicle. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge and has declined to comment on the crash. ___ Klepper reported from Albany, N.Y. Associated Press writer Mary Esch in Albany, N.Y., contributed to this report.
  • A lawyer for a longtime Adidas employee urged jurors Thursday to use common sense and evidence to conclude college basketball coaches like Bill Self at Kansas and Rick Pitino at Louisville knew shoe companies were paying money to families of elite athletes to steer them to their schools. Attorney Michael Schachter, representing Adidas sports marketing manager James 'Jim' Gatto, cited testimony and evidence that emerged during the fraud conspiracy trial of Gatto, aspiring sports agent Christopher Dawkins and Merl Code, a former Adidas consultant. 'Ladies and gentlemen, what help do you think a coach thought Jim Gatto was going to provide in persuading a kid to go to their college?' he asked. 'Jim works for a shoe company. He is not a guidance counselor. Kids don't turn to him for assistance in where they should go to college.' Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Diskant, who has portrayed the schools and sometimes their coaches as victims of the defendants, said in a closing statement that coaches were not 'running rampant.' 'Nothing can be further from the truth,' the prosecutor said, highlighting protocols in place at schools to ensure compliance with NCAA rules. He said the defendants hid payments from coaches, knowing they would be fired if they facilitated payouts to players' families. 'Does that mean that some of the coaches didn't break the rules? No, it's possible they did,' Diskant said. The prosecutor noted that there was no mention of money in two voice messages Gatto left for Pitino. He also cited evidence that Dawkins, speaking of a financial payout, told the Bowen family: 'I would never tell Rick anything like this because I don't want to put him in jeopardy.' Schachter told jurors that the government's star witness — former Adidas consultant Thomas 'T.J.' Gassnola — lied when he testified that he was concealing from universities the fact that cash was being paid to the families of top recruits. He cited Gassnola's testimony about a North Carolina State assistant coach. Gassnola, who pleaded guilty to criminal charges and cooperated with prosecutors, told jurors that he delivered cash in 2015 to Coach Orlando Early, who planned to give it to a personal trainer for highly touted point guard Dennis Smith Jr. so it could be relayed to the athlete's family. Schachter said evidence shows that Self 'knew of and asked for a payment to be made to Silvio De Sousa's handler.' The lawyer added: 'More than that, Coach Self requested just that kind of help that Mr. Gassnola arranged as a condition for Coach Self to permit Adidas to continue their sponsorship agreement with the University of Kansas.' Schachter also cited a conversation his client had in late May 2017 with Pitino, saying it occurred just after Code told Gatto that he needed money for the family of Louisville recruit Brian Bowen Jr. because the University of Oregon, a Nike school, had made an 'astronomical offer' to recruit him. Schachter said Gatto wanted to be sure Pitino wanted Bowen before he spent his employer's money. 'Why, precisely, would Louisville's head coach think that a shoe company representative wants to speak with him about a player?' Schachter asked. 'Ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you that the only explanation that makes any sense is that Coach Pitino knows exactly why Jim is calling to discuss a player.' Bowen committed to Louisville on June 1, 2017, though he never played for the school. He now plays professionally in Australia. Pitino, a legendary coach, was never accused of a crime but was fired amid the investigation's fallout. North Carolina State announced last year that Early and the school's head coach were leaving the program months before the corruption case became public. Smith played one year at NC State. He now plays for the NBA's Dallas Mavericks. De Sousa is a sophomore at Kansas. The jury is likely to start deliberations Monday. ___ Associated Press Writer Tom Hays contributed to this report.
  • If you think lifting weights is the only way to tone your muscles? Think again, because nutrition has a better impact, according to a new report.  >> Read more trending news  Researchers from the University of Michigan recently conducted a study, published in the PLOS One journal, to explore the relationship between exercise, nutrition and muscle strength. To do so, they examined mice. The rodents went through exercise training and were fed a mineral-supplemented or normal diet for eight weeks. The scientists measured the animals’ bone mass and strength and administered mechanical assessments on the bones after the training period and again eight weeks after detraining. >> Related: Want to gain some muscle? Beware of ibuprofen, study says After analyzing the results, they found nutrition has a greater impact on bone mass and strength than exercise. In fact, the mice that continued to eat a mineral-supplemented diet maintained their bone strength even after the exercising stopped. “The longer-term mineral-supplemented diet leads to not only increases in bone mass and strength, but the ability to maintain those increases even after detraining,” coauthor David Kohn said in a statement. “This was done in mice, but if you think about the progression to humans, diet is easier for someone to carry on as they get older and stop exercising, rather than the continuation of exercise itself.” Upon further evaluation, they learned diet alone had a positive effect on bones without exercise.  “The data suggests the long-term consumption of the mineral-supplemented diet could be beneficial in preventing the loss of bone and strength with age, even if you don’t do exercise training,” Kohn said. >> Related: Is two minutes of exercise just as good as 30 minutes? Although they noted that the findings don’t translate directly from mice to humans, they said the results “give researchers a conceptual place to start.”
  • Animal rescue groups are on the ground in the devastated Florida Panhandle, trying to help pet rescue organizations impacted by Hurricane Michael.  >> Read more trending news  The Humane Society of the United States is one of the groups taking part in the effort and has already moved more than 400 shelter animals into new homes across the country.  Some of the pet shelters in the Panhandle were badly damaged by the powerful Category 4 hurricane, which knocked out power and water to many facilities.  Sara Varsa with HSUS said moving animals from damaged shelters allows those shelters to better focus on animal-recovery efforts. >> Related: Pets rescued from South Georgia Hurricane Michael damage zone need new homes “Those facilities or those areas then have a lessened burden of unowned animals in care so that they can serve their community needs,” Varsa said. Parts of the Florida Panhandle were decimated by Michael, which made landfall last Wednesday close to a Category 5 storm with winds of more than 150 mph. “What I’m hearing back on the ground from our responders is this is like an F5 tornado,” Varsa said. “That’s what this devastation looks like. It’s going to be a long, long time in recovery.” >> Related: Trumps visits storm-ravaged Georgia, Florida Panhandle after Hurricane Michael Lawmakers are considering a House bill that would require certain licensed animal rescue groups and facilities have a disaster plan in place to keep animals safe after the next hurricane or other major storm strikes.   
  • The Trump administration said it will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene if a federal appeals court does not rule soon on the administration's decision to end legal protections for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants. The U.S. Department of Justice wants the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rule on President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, by Oct. 31, or it will ask the Supreme Court to take up the case, the Justice Department said Wednesday in a letter to the 9th Circuit. A spokesman for the 9th Circuit, David Madden, said the letter would be sent to the three judges considering the case and it's up to them to decide when to issue a ruling. The case is likely to end up at the Supreme Court, but the Justice Department said in its letter it wants the high court to hear the case this term. DACA has protected some 700,000 people brought to the U.S. illegally as children or who came with families that overstayed visas. The Trump administration ended DACA in September 2017 and wants the 9th Circuit to overturn a district court judge's ruling in January that required the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to continue the program for existing enrollees. That ruling came in several lawsuits, including one filed by the state of California. 'The district court's injunction has now been in place for more than nine months and, unless either this court or the Supreme Court promptly intervenes, it could remain in force for at least another year, given the Supreme Court's argument calendar,' DOJ attorney Mark Stern said in the letter to the clerk of the 9th Circuit, Molly Dwyer. The three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit heard arguments on the case in May. The administration has been critical of the 9th Circuit and previously tried to sidestep the appeals court and have DACA lawsuits heard directly by the Supreme Court. The high court declined in February to do so.
  • Regular exercise and a well-balanced diet can help you maintain your health as you age. But one type of food is especially beneficial, according to a new report.  >> Read more trending news  Researchers from Tufts University recently conducted a study, published in the BMJ journal, to determine the link between omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential nutrients that help prevent and manage heart disease and may help lower blood pressure, and healthy aging. Healthy aging was defined in the assessment as “a meaningful lifespan without major chronic diseases and with good physical and mental function,”  >> Related: Eat this meat twice a week to avoid heart attacks and strokes, study says For the trial, they examined 2,622 adults, with an average age of 74, who took part in the U.S. Cardiovascular Health study from 1992 to 2015. The analysts measured the participants’ blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids at the beginning of the trial, at the six-year mark and again after 13 years.  After analyzing the results, they discovered only 11 percent of the subjects maintained good health through old age, which they believe was due to omega-3 acids.  >> Related: About those omega-3s: You need them, so eat more fish While the nutrients are found in foods like nuts, leafy greens vegetables and flaxseed oils, the results show omega-3s in seafood had the greatest effect. In fact, seafood with omega-3s was linked with a 24 percent lower risk of unhealthy aging. “These findings encourage the need for further investigations into plausible biological mechanisms and interventions related to n3-PUFAs [omega-3s] for maintenance of healthy aging, and support guidelines for increased dietary consumption of fish among older adults,” the authors wrote in a statement.  The scientists think the omega-3s can prevent heart disease, depression and Alzheimer’s disease, but more research is needed to explore its benefits.  >> Related: Fish oil benefits: Study says fish oil not as healthy as you think “Any evidence-based clues to improve health in later life are welcome but additional efforts to accelerate this area of research are essential,” they concluded. 
  • Calls to breach four hydroelectric dams in Washington state have grown louder in recent months as the plight of critically endangered Northwest orcas has captured global attention. Some argue the best way to get more salmon to the starving whales is to tear down four dams on the Lower Snake River, a tributary of the Columbia River, to help migrating fish. But federal agencies and others have pushed back, saying the dams provide benefits to the region in low-cost hydropower, navigation and recreation. Breaching the dams has long been contentious, but it's gained renewed attention as the orcas have hit the lowest numbers in more than three decades. The whales struggle from pollution, boat noise and lack of chinook salmon, which have been declining because of dams, habitat loss and overfishing. Just 74 animals remain in the small group. A task force called by Gov. Jay Inslee is prioritizing a list of potential solutions to address those three threats. At a meeting Thursday, there was little consensus on whether the group should recommend that the governor convene stakeholders to discuss issues related to possible future removal of the dams. Ken Balcomb, a scientist with the Center for Whale Research, who supports dam breaching, told the group that punting on the issue won't help the orcas. 'They're reaching the bottom of their barrel,' he said. 'We have to move the ball forward. The time is now.' A number of whale and fisheries scientists have urged the task force to recommend breaching the dams and spilling more water over Columbia and Snake river dams to help salmon. Many who have commented have also supported the idea. But dam supporters say the structures provide carbon-free electricity and support barging on the Snake River that moves millions of tons of cargo. 'The dams along that river are the lifeblood of those communities,' Tom Davis, government relations director with the Washington Farm Bureau. He called the talk over dams 'a distraction' that continues to divide the state. Some say dam removal could be part of a long-term solution but note that more immediate actions could boost salmon, such as removing smaller dams or increasing habitat protections. 'Everything has to be on the table,' said state Sen. Kevin Ranker, an Orcas Island Democrat who supports dam removal but said more discussions would need to take place. Meanwhile, he said the state can move quickly on other actions, including creating a 'no-go zone' that restricts vessels around feeding whales. Other ideas being weighed by the group include reducing boat noise around the orcas; creating a permit system for commercial whale watching trips; protecting habitat for chinook salmon and the smaller forage fish that they eat; boosting production of hatchery fish; and spilling more water over Columbia and Snake river dams. 'There is no one magic solution to recovery of southern resident killer whales,' said Rob Williams, a Pew Fellow in marine conservation and co-founder of Oceans Initiative. 'The three main threats that the whales are facing are inextricably linked, so recovery actions need to be linked too.' Federal agencies are currently studying dam breaching as one of many options to aid salmon recovery in the Columbia River basin after a federal judge in 2016 ordered a new plan and told the federal government to consider breaching one or more of the four lower Snake River dams. That environmental review won't be complete until 2021. Officials with the Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the four dams, and Bonneville Power Administration, which markets the power, said the structures provide low-cost electricity and adds reliability to the entire system. The dams produce an average of 1,000 megawatts of power a year, or about 5 percent of electricity generated in the Pacific Northwest, and account for about 12 percent of BPA's power. A number of conservation, fishing and other groups say dam removal represents the greatest opportunity to boost salmon runs and that planning must begin now. They note that the two Snake River runs are among 15 priority stocks of chinook salmon for orcas, and increasing those runs would be a big step forward. Michael Milstein, a spokesman with NOAA Fisheries, said those Snake River runs are important but not in isolation. The whales 'depend on a number of stocks up and down the West Coast over the course of the year and they're all important,' he said, adding that returns to the Snake and Columbia rivers have been up in the last 10 years. 'We do think that the whales have access to the same volume of fish that they would have otherwise,' he said. Jeff Friedman, U.S. president of the Pacific Whale Watch Association, said 'the dams are not everything but it's a big piece.' He said there are interests in eastern Washington that would need to be addressed but 'it's time we have that conversation to find out what it is going to take for everybody.
  • As some 3,000 Hondurans made their way through Guatemala, attention turned to Mexico, after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened Thursday to close the U.S.-Mexico border if authorities there fail to stop them — a nearly unthinkable move that would disrupt hundreds of thousands of legal freight, vehicle and pedestrian crossings each day. With less than three weeks before the Nov. 6 midterm elections, Trump seized on the migrant caravan to make border security a political issue and energize his Republican base. 'I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught — and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!' Trump tweeted, adding that he blamed Democrats for what he called 'weak laws!' The threat followed another one earlier this week to cut off aid to Central American countries if the migrants weren't stopped. Trump made a similar vow over another large migrant caravan in April, but didn't follow through and it largely petered out in Mexico. On Thursday, Mexico's foreign ministry said the government was assisting members of the caravan who had already crossed into Mexican territory. It was explaining the options open to the migrants and helping those who chose to apply for refugee status to navigate the lengthy process. Mexico had also dispatched additional police to its southern border after the Casa del Migrante shelter on the Guatemalan side of the border reported that hundreds of Hondurans had already arrived there. Apparently pleased with that response, in the evening Trump retweeted a BuzzFeed journalist's tweet of a video clip showing the police deployment, adding his own comment: 'Thank you Mexico, we look forward to working with you!' Mexican federal police and immigration officials also appeared to detain immigration activist Irineo Mujica, who led a caravan of migrants through Mexico last spring. His organization Pueblo Sin Fronteras, or People without Borders, said via Twitter that he was arrested Thursday in Ciudad Hidalgo on the Mexico-Guatemala border while participating in a peaceful march. Mexican officials had said the Hondurans would not be allowed to enter as a group and would either have to show a passport and visa — something few have — or apply individually for refugee status, a process that can mean waiting for up to 90 days for approval. They also said migrants caught without papers would be deported. Marcelo Ebrard, who is set to become foreign relations secretary when President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador takes office Dec. 1, said Trump's tweets need to be understood in the context of the upcoming U.S. midterm elections. 'The electoral process is very near, so he is making a political calculation,' Ebrard said in an interview with Radio Centro. Trump's stance, he said, was 'what he has always presented,' adding he saw 'nothing surprising in it.' Current Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Videgaray was also sanguine and viewed things through the lens of U.S. politics. 'Nobody likes them (Trump's comments). There's no reason to give them greater transcendence or importance,' Videgaray said from the United Nations where he sought the world body's help processing asylum requests from the migrants. 'What is important to us is the migrants, respect for human rights, their due protection, particularly the most vulnerable.' Still, the idea that Mexico could close its porous southern border — or that the United States would choke off the lucrative trade and other traffic between the two nations — strained the imagination. 'There would be huge economic impacts for both the United States and Mexico ... but limited effect on illegal immigration,' said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute. 'The president certainly can slow down crossing at legal border crossings where about a million people cross each day. That would really hurt legal transit between the two countries and manufacturing and trade, which would affect American workers,' Selee said. 'But it would have much less impact on illegal border crossings between ports of entry.' Stephanie Leutert, director of the Mexico Security Initiative at the University of Texas at Austin, said she interpreted the tweet to mean Trump could send troops not to ports of entry but elsewhere where the illegal crossings take place. 'If that's the case, I don't think Mexico should be too worried because in a sense ... it's the same kind of thing U.S. administrations have been doing for a long time,' Leutert said. Like Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico is a country of many migrants, raising the question of whether the political will exists for a confrontation. Lopez Obrador wants to avoid repression against migrants and also to avoid angering the United States. He said this week that Mexico would offer jobs to Central Americans. 'Anyone who wants to work in our country ... will have a work visa,' he said. Juan Escobar, 24, said he had heard about Trump's comments but said they would not dissuade the migrants from continuing their journey. 'Only God on high can stop us,' Escobar said. Carlos Lopez, 27, said he was concerned by Trump's threats, but 'you have to keep fighting.' Trump also warned that he prioritizes border security over even the recently struck trade deal to replace NAFTA, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. 'The assault on our country at our Southern Border, including the Criminal elements and DRUGS pouring in, is far more important to me, as President, than Trade or the USMCA. Hopefully Mexico will stop this onslaught at their Northern Border,' Trump tweeted. Analysts didn't see the pact as being in imminent danger, though trade attorney Daniel Ujczo of Dickinson Wright PLLC said there is 'a significant concern' Trump could hold the agreement hostage over future issues. 'Leaders around the world are skeptical that any deal with this U.S. administration is actually final,' Ujczo said. U.S.-bound migrant caravans have been going on for years — with traveling in numbers seen as offering protection from assaults, robberies, even shakedowns by police. They're also a cheaper alternative to the $7,000 to $10,000 that smugglers, charge for passage to the border, Leutert noted. Still, it wasn't until this year that the caravans received widespread attention. 'There have been these caravans through the years, but they become prominent because the president tweets about them,' Selee said. He predicted that, like the caravan in April, Mexico will respond with measures like granting asylum to some migrants who qualify while deporting others who don't, perhaps not eliminating the caravan entirely but significantly reducing its size before it reaches the U.S. border. But the direct, public pressure from Trump puts Mexico, already an uneasy ally the last two years, in an uncomfortable spotlight. 'Ironically, the way President Trump responds to these caravans makes it harder for the Mexican government to cooperate with the U.S. on immigration enforcement,' Selee said. 'There is a lot of disposition in both the current and the incoming Mexican government to cooperate with the U.S. on some aspects of immigration control. But it becomes much harder when President Trump makes this a political issue in which he bashes Mexico.' ___ Orsi and Stevenson reported from Mexico City. Associated Press writer Paul Wiseman in Washington contributed to this report.
  • A 63-year-old man was shot and killed by police in Monroe, Georgia, Thursday after pointing what turned out to be a replica Thompson submachine gun, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said. >> Read more trending news  The incident happened about 9 a.m., when police responded to a report of a man with a gun, Monroe Public Safety Director Keith Glass said in a statement. The man was identified as Mahlon Edward Summerour, GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said in a statement, adding that Summerour appeared to be wearing a curtain over his clothing. “During the encounter, Summerour pointed the weapon at one of the officers,” Miles said. “One officer fired a shot at Summerour, striking him in the chest. Summerour was transported to a local hospital where he later died.” Officer-involved shootings in Georgia in 2018 are on track to surpass the 97 recorded in 2017, according to the GBI. The Monroe shooting is the 73rd such investigation the agency has opened in 2018.