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Jamie Dupree's Washington Insider

    After weeks of negotiations over a White House request for extra money to deal with a surge of illegal immigrants along the southern border with Mexico, Senators on a key spending panel voted 30-1 on Wednesday to approve a $4.59 billion spending package to insure that various federal agencies have enough money to address what President Donald Trump has said is a crisis at the border. 'This situation as most of us realize is past the breaking point,' said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL). 'I believe we must act.' 'The fact is that we do have a humanitarian crisis on the border that does need to be addressed,' said Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), who recounted crowded holding facilities for illegal immigrants. 'We've seen big numbers in the past, but we're going to exceed that this year,' said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). 'This bill is absolutely necessary,' said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). 'There are families and children who need our support.' The only 'no' vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee came from Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR). The bill only deals with money to help address the humanitarian needs along the border - it does not address any changes in U.S. immigration laws desired by President Trump. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee had been scheduled to start work on a bill which would make some of those immigration reforms, but that work will be delayed into July in search of a bipartisan agreement. “This is not a crisis - this is a disaster,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is leading President Trump's charge to change immigration laws. 'Our immigration laws are a disgrace and the Democrats can get together with the Republicans and solve the problem quickly,' the President told his campaign kickoff rally on Tuesday night in Orlando, Florida. It's expected the full Senate could vote on the package next week. It is not clear if the House would follow suit before lawmakers leave town at the end of June for a break during the week of July Fourth.
  • Even as President Donald Trump and top Republicans in Congress call on Democratic leaders in the U.S. House to allow a vote on a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, the President's top trade negotiator told Senators on Tuesday that there's still no set date for when the agreement would be submitted to the Congress 'I believe we're on track, I believe we are making progress,' said United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Asked by a GOP Senator about discussions with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Lighthizer gave no public hint about any problems. 'My hope is that over the course of the next several weeks, that we can make substantial progress,' Lighthizer added, as he said talks with Pelosi had been 'constructive.' Democrats have been pressing the Trump Administration over the enforcement of new labor reforms in Mexico, worried that the government won't adequately enforce the changes. Asked by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) when to expect a vote in Congress, Lighthizer gave no concrete date - as the trade agreement has not yet been formally submitted to the Congress. At a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee, Lighthizer faced some verbal slings and arrows from both parties about the President's trade policies. 'I do not agree that tariffs should be the tool we use in every instance to achieve our trade policy goals,' said Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA). 'China's market is now more closed off to American goods and American agriculture than before the trade war began,' said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), as he complained about the impact of the President's tweets on trade policy. For the most part, Lighthizer did not engage in pitched battles with Democrats over trade matters, repeatedly stressing common ground over trade disputes with China and final talks over the USMCA trade deal. As for China, Lighthizer made clear that President Trump isn't bluffing when it comes to additional tariffs on Chinese goods, acknowledging to Senators that the next round could have a bigger impact, to include items like laptop computers and cell phones. Lighthizer could have a somewhat more partisan reception on Wednesday, when he testifies on the same issues before the House Ways and Means Committee.
  • Five weeks after announcing his intent to nominate Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan for the top job at the Pentagon, President Donald Trump abruptly announced Tuesday that Shanahan was no longer under consideration, and would be replaced by the Secretary of the Army. 'Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who has done a wonderful job, has decided not to go forward with his confirmation process so that he can devote more time to his family,' the President said, announcing that Army Secretary Mark Esper would be named as the new Acting Secretary of Defense. President Trump had announced on May 9 that he intended to nominate Shanahan to the post; he had been acting Secretary since the start of 2019, replacing former Secretary James Mattis, who resigned at the end of December. The move by the President came hours after reports by news organizations that Shanahan's FBI background check had been delayed because of an issue involving a domestic dispute with his ex-wife in 2010. Shanahan had been meeting with Senators in recent weeks as a prelude to his confirmation hearings - but no date for those hearings had been set by the Senate Armed Services Committee, and no formal nomination had been made by the President. It had led to speculation that Shanahan's nomination could be in jeopardy. The move comes at an awkward time for the Pentagon, as Shanahan had been serving as Acting Defense Secretary since January 1, after taking over for ex-defense chief James Mattis. Mattis resigned at the end of 2018 after a dispute with President Trump over U.S. troop levels in Syria and Afghanistan.It means the U.S. will go well over a half year without a Senate-confirmed Secretary of Defense, a point noted by lawmakers on Capitol Hill. “This job should be filled in a matter of a few weeks, not months,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee. “We urgently need a Secretary of Defense that has the confidence of the President, the Congress, and the country,” Thornberry said.
  • It was one year ago this week that I returned to the radio after a two year absence, with a new computer generated voice which we call 'Jamie Dupree 2.0' - a high tech invention which has allowed me to continue my radio news work, even after an unknown medical problem took away my voice. After doing your job one way for over thirty years, it has taken a little time for me to get used to operating the controls of Jamie Dupree 2.0, which produces a voice that sounds like me, but no matter how advanced it is, it can also go haywire in a split second and sound like a bad robot. 1. First, a recap for those who might not know the story. In the Spring of 2016, I was covering the race for President. Everything was fine. I took an Easter vacation with my family, got a stomach bug, and suddenly my voice started having problems. It's now to the point where I can barely talk, with the diagnosis being a neurological dystonia - the signals from my brain to my tongue and throat are getting messed up somewhere along the way, and my mouth just won't work correctly to form words and sounds associated with speech most of the time. My company found a firm in Scotland, CereProc, which built a computer version of my voice from my audio archives, using tapes from my old radio news stories. 2.  Jamie Dupree 2.0 just isn't just typing some words. It would be nice if I could just type my radio scripts, hit a button, and magically have a perfect audio file for my next radio newscast. But it's a bit more complicated than that, as the field of computer generated voices is still in its infancy. Luckily, there are special computer commands which can be employed with the Text-to-Speech program that runs with my special voice. Those commands allow you to slow words at the end of sentences, mimic the more natural ways that we speed up and slow down during regular speech, and find ways to make the overall sound less robotic. It makes for some clutter on screen, but this is what one of my typical radio news scripts might look like: 3. Some Jamie Dupree 2.0 words just don't sound right. For whatever reasons, there are some words and phrases which don't come out right when you type them in. The last name of Rudy Giuliani works perfectly, but the last name of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross does not - I have to use 'Ros' instead. Robert Mueller's last name came out as 'Myoo-ler,' so I had to spell it as 'Muller' to get it to sound right. Those are just a couple of examples of how, over the last year, I've had to do a lot of experimenting to figure out how to sound out certain things, which can be frustrating when you need to get a story done for the next newscast. Like one of the Democratic hopefuls for President, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. That's hard for most people to say, let alone for me to try to figure out how to get my computer voice to say it. So far, I've settled on this: Pete Budda jidge. Here are some other names and words that I have to get creative with: 4. Stumbling on ways to make the 2.0 sound more real. As I did more and more work over the last year with my new voice, one of the most obvious problems was trying to figure out how to mimic our own real voices, as we speed up and slow down certain words and sounds. XML commands dealing with 'emphasis' didn't really work. I tried using my audio editor program to add some emphasis to my words, but that only was a minimal success. By accident, I found that by repeating a word or phrase, it would sound different - sometimes I would get exactly the right feel and emphasis. In the following example, I wanted a little more 'oomph' for the phrase, 'President Trump tweeted from Air Force One.' When you watch the video below, you will hear the original version of the audio produced by Jamie Dupree 2.0, followed by the version where I had it say the same phrase five times in a row. Then the two are compared at then end of the 30 second video. For some reason, the repetition creates a little more emphasis. Why? I don't know. I don't really care.  All I know is that I found a shortcut which makes it sound better. 5. The reaction to 2.0 continues to be mostly positive. Remember, these are the days of social media, so it's not difficult to make your voice heard, and tell me that you never liked me in the first place, and you're happy that my real voice doesn't work.  But those messages only spur me to keep going and to work harder at being heard on the radio.  I don't want to be using this computer voice technology, but thankfully for my family, it's available, and it has allowed me to continue in my career as a radio reporter covering Capitol Hill.   As I have detailed above, it's not a simple process to get a story on the air.  It takes time to mold the words into the correct sounds, and get that into our radio newscasts.   It would be much quicker to just open my mouth, hit the record button, and start talking.  For whatever reason, my brain won't allow that to happen.
  • Unable to fulfill one of his central campaign promises - a repeal of the Obama health law - President Trump is again talking about releasing a plan to replace the current system which forces Americans to buy health insurance coverage, as the President continues to dangle the possibility of setting out a new health care package. In an interview with ABC News broadcast in recent days, the President said that he would unveil a new plan in the next month or two. 'And we already have the concept of the plan, but it'll be less expensive than Obamacare by a lot. And it'll be much better health care,' Mr. Trump said, adding that 'we'll be announcing that in about two months.' 'Obamacare has been a disaster,' the President said, again bemoaning the last second change by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) which defeated a bare bones effort to pass any kind of GOP health care plan in the U.S. Senate in July of 2017. The sudden talk about unveiling a new plan caught Capitol Hill Republicans by surprise - just as the President had surprised the GOP by saying earlier this year that he wanted the GOP to act on health care reform. 'The Republican Party will become the party of Health Care,' Mr. Trump tweeted back in March. But after a few days, the President backed off, and said he would not try to press for major changes in the Obama health law until after the 2020 elections - and only if Republicans take back control of both houses of Congress. 'It will be truly great HealthCare that will work for America,' the President tweeted back in early April. At the time, there seemed to be little appetite on Capitol Hill for tackling the issue again, as the GOP is all for doing something different on health care - but does not have an agreement on what that 'something' should be, in terms of the fine print. Democrats were skeptical that anything has changed. 'Someone tell the President that ripping health care away from 20 million Americans isn’t called a “plan,” it’s called a catastrophe,' said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA).
  • With rules that make it difficult for lawmakers to steer taxpayer dollars into home state projects - that doesn't mean less money is being spent for such items - as instead billions of dollars in grants are being handed out by the Executive Branch each year, with federal bureaucrats taking the place of lawmakers in deciding how to dole out money approved by Congress for a variety of programs. A decade ago for example, Congress would have approved a highway bill filled with pages and pages of specific projects to be funded back in their states - but now, Congress funds billions in generic grants for the Department of Transportation, and then watches as the money is handed out by the feds. Experts say voters probably don't understand that what some would deride as 'pork barrel spending' just been shifted from the Legislative Branch to the Executive Branch. 'Presidents — and their appointees — engage in pork-barrel politicking (earmarking) in the same way Congress does,' wrote John Hudak of the Brookings Institute, who argues that budget 'earmarks' should be brought back in the House and Senate. Here are some examples of money sent out for highway and transit projects by the feds: Some lawmakers say they should be the ones deciding where that money goes - not a bureaucrat who maybe has never been to their state. 'We all should be able to stand behind the work that we do and advertise to our constituents and everybody around the country as to why this is a priority,' said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). 'If people think we are quote saving money,' Murkowski told reporters, 'they are fooling themselves, because those dollars are still going out the door.' But there are also Republicans who think Congress should just stay away from pork barrel spending. 'Earmarks grease the skids for bigger government,' said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE). But regardless of complaints about how big the federal deficit might be, and how much is being spent overall, lawmakers of both parties trumpet the arrival of money for the folks back home - with federal agencies joining in those announcements as well. There are so many grants offered by the U.S. Government that a special website was set up to help people find out more information about what's available. Going through many of the grants, what one notices right away is the wide swath of money available for all sorts of matters: + Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) USA Cooperative Agreement Program + Invasive and Noxious Plant Management  + Forest and Woodlands Resource Management + Cultural Landscape Inventory for the Navajo Settlement  + Longitudinal Research on Delinquency and Crime  One grant available right now from the National Institutes of Health deals with research into dementia, 'to conduct new research on automobile technology for signaling early signs of cognitive impairment in older drivers.' In recent weeks, President Trump has made it clear that he's ready to use support for specific home-state spending matters to his electoral advantage, too. The focus on local spending is not new - almost ten years ago, I wrote about the proliferation of grants, and how the executive branch was handing out the pork. And it's still happening today.
  • NBC News and the Democratic National Committee unveiled the lineups for the first two night debate in late June, setting the stage for the first group face off of the large Democratic field for 2020, with three top candidates getting paired together on the second night. The first night - Wednesday June 26 - features Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), while former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigeg, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) are grouped together on Thursday. Here are the lineups as announced Friday by NBC News, which is hosting this first debate in Miami. The lineup means that four of the top five candidates - in terms of overall polling right now among Democrats - will be in the second debate, with Warren the only one of those leaders going on Wednesday.
  • With lawmakers in both parties criticizing remarks by President Donald Trump in which he said he would not automatically reject offers of foreign election help, the head of the Federal Election Committee went on Mr. Trump's favorite social media platform Thursday night to clearly state that such a move 'has been considered unacceptable since the beginning of our nation.' “Let me make something 100% clear to the American public and anyone running for public office,” said Federal Elections Commission chair Ellen Weintraub.  “It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election,” Weintraub said in a statement on Twitter. Without mentioning the President directly, the FEC chief directly addressed one of his comments in an interview earlier this week with ABC News. “Any political campaign that receives an offer of a prohibited donation from a foreign source should report that to the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” Weintraub said, echoing calls by the FBI Director last month, and directly contradicting the President's statements from earlier this week. “Everybody in the country should be totally appalled by what the President said,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Thursday. “This one borders on so totally unethical that he doesn’t even realize it,” she added, as the President took flak from members of both parties. “I think it's a mistake,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters on Capitol Hill.  “I don't want to send a signal to encourage this.”
  • Margaret Hunter, indicted along with her husband Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) for the alleged misuse of over $250,000 in campaign money, plead guilty on Thursday to federal corruption charges, raising the possibility that she could testify in any trial involving the GOP lawmaker. The Hunters were indicted in August of 2018 over the use of campaign money for personal expenses, as federal prosecutors detailed how credit cards for the Congressman's campaign were used for family vacations, hotel rooms, dinners, and a variety of personal home expenses. Under her agreement with federal prosecutors, Margaret Hunter plead guilty to 'knowingly and willfully' converting campaign funds to personal use; the original indictment against the Hunters said the husband and wife 'knowingly conspired with each other.' Mrs. Hunter did not speak to reporters, allowing her lawyer Thomas McNamara to read a statement outside the court house, after she entered her plea agreement. The guilty plea raised even more questions about Hunter's future in the Congress; Republican leaders have refused to allow Hunter to serve on any committees while he is under indictment, leaving him with little in the way of official responsibilities, other than voting and constituent services. Hunter is one of two GOP lawmakers currently serving in Congress who are facing federal indictments.  Rep. Chris Collins R-NY is awaiting trial on charges related to insider trading. The charges against the Hunters were highly detailed, showing that they funneled campaign money to their own personal use for vacations, hotels, dinners - and a wide variety of domestic items, including groceries, payments for a dance competition, video games, school lunches for their children, dental work, dog food, utility bills, and even private school tuition. The plea agreement also included details of how the Hunters used campaign money to fly their family's pet rabbit around the country. Hunter's reaction came in a written statement, as he again denounced his prosecution. “It was politically motivated at the beginning, it remains politically motivated now,” Hunter said. Rep. Hunter's next scheduled court date is July 1.
  • A day after Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) voted with Democrats on a U.S. House panel to hold the Attorney General and the Secretary of Commerce in contempt of Congress, one of President Trump's sons stepped up the attacks on the Michigan Republican, making clear a strong desire to get rid of the GOP lawmaker in the 2020 elections. 'I hear Michigan is beautiful during primary season,' tweeted Donald Trump Jr., on Thursday morning, citing a poll in Amash's district in Western Michigan, which showed him trailing a primary challenger. Amash responded by quoting from an email by Trump Jr. about the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting, involving an offer of dirt on the campaign of Hillary Clinton. In a tweet, Amash said, “if it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer” - which was exactly Trump Jr.'s response on June 3, 2016 to an email which offered “documents and information that would incriminate Hillary.” Earlier this week, Amash resigned from the conservative House Freedom Caucus, as the top Republican in the House made clear that Amash's call for impeachment proceedings against President Trump was not welcome. 'Justin Amash can determine his own future, but I think in a philosophical basis, he’s probably in a different place than the majority of all of us,' said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). After Amash raised questions about how Attorney General William Barr had handled the Mueller Report, President Trump had called Amash a 'loser.' Amash defended his decision to join with Democrats in the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday to find Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt, in a dispute over documents about the Trump Administration's efforts to put a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. 'Both Democratic and Republican attorneys general are capable of being in contempt of Congress,' Amash said, as he defended voting for contempt proceedings as well against Attorney General Eric Holder under President Obama. Amash is the only Republican lawmaker in the House who has called for the start of impeachment proceedings against President Trump, arguing that questions concerning possible obstruction of justice deserve further scrutiny by the Congress. Amash argues there is too much partisanship, which keeps lawmakers and politicians from honestly dealing with major issues before America. 'The two-party system is hurting America,' Amash tweeted this week. First elected in the Tea Party wave election of 2010, Amash has already drawn two GOP challengers in his district. The Michigan primary elections don't take place until August 4, 2020.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Police arrested a 33-year-old man Monday on suspicion of intentionally driving into pedestrians in Jefferson City, injuring a 61-year-old man and killing a pregnant woman and her 2-year-old son, according to investigators. >> Read more trending news  Authorities said William David Phillips, of Jefferson City, swerved to intentionally hit Tillman Gunter, 61, while driving west on East Main Street on Monday afternoon. Police said Phillips traveled less than a mile before swerving again, striking Sierra Wilson Cahoon, 30, and her 2-year-old son, Nolan Cahoon. Cahoon, Nolan and Cahoon’s unborn child were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, according to investigators. Gunter was taken to a hospital with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening, police said. Authorities were called around 3:30 p.m. Monday after Phillips lodged the car he was driving into a building for Sustainable Aquatics, a fish hatchery, according to The Citizen Tribune and the Knoxville News Sentinel. Witness Bill Ray Jones told WBIR-TV he heard Phillips yelling that the “government told him to do it” as he tried to flee from the scene of the crash. 'He knew he had hit (Cahoon) and I'm sure he did because he was talking all crazy,' he told the news station. Sustainable Aquatics owner John Carberry told the News Sentinel he arrived at the scene of the crash within minutes Monday and found Cahoon and her son dead on the sidewalk. “There was a hole in the building and one of my employees ran out,” Carberry told the News Sentinel. “She had minor injuries. She ran up to the main building, and the perpetrator ran out of the hole and ran up and some local citizens grabbed him.” The crash ruptured several fish tanks and destroyed four fish systems, Carberry told The Citizen Tribune and the News Sentinel. He estimated about 2,000 wild-caught fish died after the crash caused more than 10,000 gallons of water to rush from the tanks. “I just want to let the police do their job and mourn the passing of this mother and child,” Carberry told The Citizen Tribune. “It’s very sad.” Phillips, of Jefferson City, was arrested on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder. Authorities filed an additional murder charge against Phillips on Wednesday for the death of Cahoon's unborn child, WATE reported. In a news release, police said investigators believed 'this was an intentional act of violence toward randomly chosen pedestrians. “Investigators have determined that Phillips did not know the victims,” police said. In an arrest warrant obtained Wednesday by the News Sentinel, authorities said Phillips told investigators “a voice told him that he needed to go kill meth addicts.” After Phillips spotted Cahoon and her son, 'He said the voice told him that the baby stroller had meth in it so he intentionally drove into (the mother and child) ... killing them both,' the warrant said, according to the News Sentinel. Records from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department showed he remained jailed Wednesday. A spokesperson for Carson-Newman University, a Christian university in Jefferson City, told WBIR-TV that Cahoon and Nolan were the wife and son of Matt Cahoon, an assistant athletic trainer at the school. “Our hearts are breaking for one of our own,” Carson-Newman University interim President Paul Percy said Tuesday in a statement. “We take comfort in knowing that God also feels our pain and hears our prayers. Because of this, we ask for prayers for Matt and his family now and in the days ahead.” Officials at First Steps Preschool at the First United Methodist Church told WBIR-TV Nolan was a happy student who always gave out hugs and high-fives. 'He was a joy,' the preschool’s director, Jessica Lawson, told WBIR-TV. 'He would walk through the door smiling every morning.' Officials at Carson-Newman University started a fund to benefit the Cahoon family. Those wishing to contribute can donate online to The Randall and Kay O’Brien Benevolent Fund on the university’s website.
  • A man who stabbed a New York City man early Tuesday also partially severed his own finger during the attack, police said. >> Read more trending news  The 35-year-old victim, who was repeatedly stabbed, lived in the Bronx, WPIX reported. According to police, the attacker and victim were arguing outside a bar at 1:15 a.m. when the stabbing occurred. The victim was stabbed in the back, while the attacker partially cut a finger on his left hand, WPIX reported. The assailant then ran away, police said. Police said the attacker appeared to be in his mid- to late 20s, the television station reported. The man had a beard and tattoos on his right forearm and upper right arm, WPIX reported. Police said the man was last seen wearing a red baseball cap, white T-shirt and dark colored shorts, the television station reported.
  • A mentally ill Oregon woman suffered life-threatening injuries Monday when she apparently climbed into a garbage chute at her boyfriend’s condominium community and plunged 16 stories to the bottom. The Oregonian reported that the woman, who was not publicly identified, suffered head injuries in her fall from the 16th floor of the Civic, a condo building in Portland’s Pearl District.  Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman Rich Chatman told the newspaper the woman, who is in her late 20s, slid down into the garbage collection area, where firefighters found her unconscious. Police declined to file charges against the woman. “I can say there was a mental health component involved,” Chatman told the paper.  On Tuesday, Chatman said it appeared the woman put herself in the chute.  “The prevailing assumption is that she got into the chute on her own will,” he said.  Steven Lofton, who lives on the 16th floor of the Civic, told a reporter that the woman and her boyfriend are known on their floor for getting into fights, both verbal and physical. Neighbors had voiced their concerns to the building’s management. >> Read more trending news Lofton said he heard someone pounding on his door just after lunchtime Monday and went to the door to find the woman, who told him she was afraid. When he opened his door, she rushed in, screaming, and began trashing his condo, he told the paper.  “She was wild, just absolutely wild,” Lofton said. “She was breaking and throwing everything in her sight. Plates, vases, cutlery. You name it.” The woman ran out into the hallway, where she encountered her boyfriend. They got into a physical confrontation, Lofton said.  Lofton said he closed his door and called 911. The woman went down the garbage chute moments later, The Oregonian said.  A Portland police spokeswoman told the paper Tuesday that a domestic violence investigation is ongoing, though detectives are waiting for the woman’s condition to improve. “The involved woman’s medical situation is of a higher priority than the criminal investigation at this time,” Jones said in an email to the newspaper.  
  • Meet Poncho Via - the newest holder of a Guinness World Record with a sensational set of 10 foot-7.4 inches horns from tip to tip. The 7-year-old steer makes his home in Goodwater, Alabama and has been living with his family, the Pope’s, since he was six-months old. The family said they knew Poncho was something special when his horns began to grow out to the sides inside of curving up, like other longhorns’ do. Poncho is very popular around town too, with his ‘dad’ saying of him, 'All my neighbors (around) here, any time they have company, they come over to see the longhorn. He's just a big, gentle character. Everyone brings (food) with them -- he likes apples, carrots and marshmallows.' Mobile user see tweet here. His humongous horns aren’t all glitz and show, though. They’ve gotten him into trouble a time or two. George Jones, a family member who helps out with Poncho on the ranch, tells the story, “He pulled a water bottle right out my pocket with his tongue. He's there playing with the bottle and I reached and scratched him for a bit.'  The caretaker said he was knocked into a pond once, when the longhorn became spooked by something. 'That went on for a little while and I guess a horsefly got on him or something (because), all of a sudden, he turned that head and I went airborne into the pond. He just knocked me completely off my feet into the water,' Jones said. The former record holder, a Texas longhorn named Sato, had a horn spread of 10 feet, 6.3 inches, when measured in September, according to Guinness World Records. As the tweet below mentions, Poncho’s horns measures more than twice the width of a concert grand piano. Mobile user see tweet here.
  • An independent investigator for the United Nations says there is 'credible evidence' warranting a probe into Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's possible involvement in the 2018 slaying of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.  >> Read more trending news  According to The Associated Press, U.N. special rapporteur Agnes Callamard said in a 101-page report that 'a proper authority' should consider whether the crown prince or senior adviser Saud Alqahtani bore 'criminal responsibility' in the death. 'Mr. Khashoggi's killing constituted an extrajudicial killing for which the State of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible,' the report said.  Khashoggi, who was critical of the Saudi regime, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October. Saudi officials later blamed the death on 'rogue operators,' CNN reported. Eleven people – five of whom could receive the death penalty – are being tried in Saudi Arabia in connection with the slaying. The report said Callamard made 'no conclusion' as to whether the crown prince or Alqahtani are guilty but determined that Khashoggi's execution was 'deliberate' and 'premeditated,' news outlets reported. The report also named 15 suspects in the incident, during which Khashoggi was drugged, suffocated and dismembered, CNN reported. Read more here or here. – The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Washington Insider

  • After weeks of negotiations over a White House request for extra money to deal with a surge of illegal immigrants along the southern border with Mexico, Senators on a key spending panel voted 30-1 on Wednesday to approve a $4.59 billion spending package to insure that various federal agencies have enough money to address what President Donald Trump has said is a crisis at the border. 'This situation as most of us realize is past the breaking point,' said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL). 'I believe we must act.' 'The fact is that we do have a humanitarian crisis on the border that does need to be addressed,' said Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), who recounted crowded holding facilities for illegal immigrants. 'We've seen big numbers in the past, but we're going to exceed that this year,' said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). 'This bill is absolutely necessary,' said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). 'There are families and children who need our support.' The only 'no' vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee came from Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR). The bill only deals with money to help address the humanitarian needs along the border - it does not address any changes in U.S. immigration laws desired by President Trump. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee had been scheduled to start work on a bill which would make some of those immigration reforms, but that work will be delayed into July in search of a bipartisan agreement. “This is not a crisis - this is a disaster,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is leading President Trump's charge to change immigration laws. 'Our immigration laws are a disgrace and the Democrats can get together with the Republicans and solve the problem quickly,' the President told his campaign kickoff rally on Tuesday night in Orlando, Florida. It's expected the full Senate could vote on the package next week. It is not clear if the House would follow suit before lawmakers leave town at the end of June for a break during the week of July Fourth.