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Latest from Ana Espinosa

    Protesters in black masks started fires and damaged property in an attempt to stop controversial speaker Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking at the University of California-Berkeley in February. >> Read more trending news It is situations like those that have U.S. senators on the Judiciary Committee discussing free speech on college campuses. In the past several months, universities have canceled speakers after threats of violence. Many of the speakers have been conservative, prompting concern among Republican senators about universities potentially silencing controversial voices. “That is an open invitation to discriminate based on viewpoint,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said she’s worried universities lack equipment and security to protect students from violence at speeches. “I do believe that the university has a right to protect its students from demonstrations once they become acts of violence,” Feinstein said. Zachary Wood, a student at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, testified in front of the committee. He said it is important to have your beliefs challenged. “Instead of nurturing thoughtful debates of controversial topics, many college educators and administrators discourage free debate by shielding students from offensive views,” Wood said. “Yet one person’s offensive view is another person’s viewpoint.”
  • New legislation on Capitol Hill aims to equip cars with technology that could help save the lives of children. >> Read more trending news  More than 800 children have died from heatstroke in hot cars since 1990, according to Kidsandcars.org. A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the Hot Car Act this week. “Our legislation would move us one step closer to getting this inexpensive technology in every car on the road to help save the lives of children nationwide,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, R-Ohio. Parents and families who have been affected by hot car deaths and safety advocates joined members of Congress to push the bill.The bill would require cars to visually alert drivers to check rear seating once the car has been turned off. The alert must also include a noise to remind the driver to check the back seat. The alert system could also include a vibration system to physically alert the driver. The technology would be similar to the alert a car gives when keys are left in the car or the headlights are still on. The bill would also educate the public on the risks of leaving a child unattended in a car after it has been turned off. Nine children have died so far this year from being left in a back seat. 
  • Restaurants and bars in Washington, New York and other U.S. cities are treating James Comey's long-awaited Senate testimony like the Super Bowl. >> Related: Comey expected to confirm Trump asked him to drop Flynn investigation: reports Several will open early Thursday with food and drink specials while tuning televisions to coverage of what the fired FBI director has to say about President Trump and questions surrounding Russia and the 2016 election. >> Related: Trump told Russian officials firing 'nut job' Comey relieved pressure on him: report Shaw’s Tavern in Washington, D.C., is set to host a watch party called “The Comey Hearing Covfefe,” named for the mysterious word President Trump tweeted about the press.  >> Read more trending news The event begins at 9:30 a.m.  The tavern will feature $5 Russian-flavored vodka specials and an 'FBI' sandwich. Shaw’s tavern isn’t the only bar offering a special event. Duffy’s Irish Pub in D.C. will also open early for the testimony. The restaurant will feature special drinks including a Bloody Mary and a 'covfefe cocktail.'  Senators can go just a block away if they'd rather watch Comey at a bar. Capitol Lounge, just a block from Capitol Hill, will open at 9 a.m. for the hearing.
  • The 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee is this week, with the finals airing Thursday at 8:30 p.m. >> Read more trending news Since 2014, the spelling bee has ended in a tie, with co-champions. But this year is different, with new rules to prevent a draw. Now, spellers must take an extra written exam. The tiebreaker test consists of 24 items: 12 spelling and 12 multiple-choice vocabulary questions. How would you do on a tiebreaker test? Here are examples of vocabulary questions provided by the Scripps National Spelling Bee.   1. Which of these would be most dulcet?  a. a jet engine b. a popular lullaby c. a poorly written essay d. a red-colored seaweed 2. If something is baneful, it is: a. healthful b. plentiful c. fruitful d. harmful 3. Which of the following is closest in meaning to schlepp? a. tell a lie b. knock down c. haul d. taste 4. What is a cutpurse? a. a pickpocket b. a small, collapsible knife c. a fringed handbag d. a noxious weed 5. Something said succinctly is: a. legalistic b. flowery and nostalgic c. vague d. brief and exact 6. An example of an ergogenic activity is: a. taking a course on public speaking b. cutting expenses to increase savings c. trying bungee jumping as a hobby d. increasing sleep time by an hour   7. A jurisprude is: a. a failed bill in a legislative body b. a person who likes to show off their legal knowledge c. a judge who hands down an unusually stiff sentence d. an officer in a courtroom 8. A pennate object is shaped like a: a. wing b. boat c. tube d. ring   This quiz comes from the Scripps National Spelling Bee website. The answers can be found at the bottom of this article. The spelling bee had 291 contestants hoping to be named champion. This is the largest amount of contestants ever. This year, if there are two winners at the end of the championship round, the scores for the tiebreaker tests will be revealed. The speller with the highest score will be named the champion.   Answers for the quiz: B D C A D D B A    
  • Osceola county has now created designated parking spaces as a way to honor wounded veterans.  The County Commissioner Fred Hawkins Jr. said, “It’s important to take care of our wounded warriors, who have sacrificed so much to protect our freedoms. The signs that read 'combat Wounded' and have a Purple Heart medal symbol on them have been place at the Beaumont complex where the county’s office for veterans is located. More signs will be placed in the courthouse, government center and other properties. The board agreed to put up the signs after the idea was pitched to Hawkins by a resident, Peter Olivo, who served in Vietnam where he lost both his legs. Commissioner Hawkins said, 'this is one small way to show our gratitude.” The Wounded Warriors Family Support project, which provides the signs for free, is happy to help the over 1.8 million Purple Heart recipients. “It is just something to say thank you,” Olivo said. “When I shed blood for my country it made me feel proud. I would do it all over again. I lost both my legs but I gained a whole country. It is a great for me to see these things go up. To me it’s a very, very big thank you.”
  • Lego announced a new collection of Disney mini-figures.  18 characters ranging from the classic Mickey Mouse to the superhero Mr. Incredible.  This is the first time the company debuts a collection of Disney characters.  The new mini-figures will hit stores starting May and sell for a suggested price of $3.99.  Like most Lego figures, the beloved character will be sold in blind package. 
  • An Orlando man was arrested for stealing over 300 vases from Highland Memory Gardens cemetery.  Robert Christopher Jacobsen, 34, was arrested and charged with three counts of grand theft and three counts of injuring or removing a tomb or monument. WDBO contacted the cemetery that said that they replaced all the vases at no cost to the families.  It also increased security at the cemetery by adding fences and security cameras.   The thefts began last November when the cemetery discovered that 67 vases were missing last November. Weeks later another 268 vases were reported missing but were thought to have been stolen.  An alert later came from a scrap metal dealer that contacted law enforcement after he turned down a man that wanted to sell a unusually large amount of bronze vases.  The dealer was able to write down the suspect license and tag information that later led to an arrest by the Seminole County Sheriff's Office. 
  • Governor Rick Scott wants Yale University to move to Florida.  Lawmakers in Connecticut have proposed a tax on the profit on investments to Yale's $25.6 billion endowment.  The governor said, 'With news that the Connecticut Legislature wants to unfairly tax one of the nation’s most renowned universities to deal with the state’s budget shortfall, it is clear that all businesses in Connecticut, including Yale, should look to move to Florida.' He continued on to say, 'since I took office in 2011, we have not raised any taxes or fees in Florida.  In fact, we have cut taxes 55 times, including $1 billion in tax cuts over the last two years, which saved Floridians $5.5 billion.'  Scott has previously told businesses to get away from high-taxes in Connecticut and move to low-tax Florida.  This probably won't prompt one of the country's most prestigious colleges to move to the sunshine state. Yale's Press Secretary, Tom Conroy, responded by saying, 'It’s wonderful to be recognized as an outstanding asset, but Yale, New Haven, and Connecticut have been on common ground to great mutual benefit for 300 years. We’re looking forward to reaching even greater heights in education, research and civic engagement over the next three centuries and more.' The Governor of Connecticut, Dannel Malloy, said that Scott's comments are nothing more than gimmicks and not real economic strategies. 
  • We've learned that two people died in the plane crash this morning at Peter O. Knight Airport in Tampa. Officials tell us one plane, a twin-engine Cessna 340, was headed to Pensacola, and was taking off from the airport when the crash happened near the seawall.  We have heard the plane possibly hit another plane, which was attempting to take off at the same time.  Large clouds of smoke could be seen coming from the airport.    Fire officials confirmed the two people were found dead at the crash scene.  (Video from News Channel 8-Tampa) ------------------------------------- A small plane crashed Friday morning at Peter O. Knight Airport. The Peter O. Knight Airport is on Davis Islands in Tampa.  The fire crews responded when the plane caught fire.  Airport crew was notified of the crash at around 11:30 a.m. on Friday.  Two planes were involved in the crash but it is unclear exactly what happened.  There is no word if there were any injuries or how many were on board. 
  • Central Florida is holding early voting from now through March 13th.  Early voting centers are open from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Alafaya Branch Library 12000 East Colonial Drive Orlando, FL 32826 Southwest Branch Library 7255 Della Drive Orlando, FL 32819 Apopka Community Center & VFW 519 S. Central Ave. Apopka, FL 32703 Supervisor of Elections Office 119 W. Kaley Street Orlando, FL 32806 Renaissance Senior Center(South Econ Community Park) 3800 S. Econlockhatchee Trail Orlando, FL 32829 Washington Park Branch Library 5151 Raleigh Street, Suite A Orlando, FL 32811 South Creek Branch Library 1702 Deerfield Blvd. Orlando, FL 32837 West Oaks Branch Library 1821 E. Silver Star Road Ocoee, FL 34761 Southeast Branch Library 5575 S. Semoran Blvd. Orlando, FL 32822 Winter Park Library 460 East New England Ave. Winter Park, FL 32789 Hiawassee Branch Library 7391 W. Colonial Dr. Orlando, FL 32818 Herndon Branch Library 4324 E. Colonial Dr. Orlando, FL 32803 Chickasaw Branch Library 807 N. Chickasaw Tr. Orlando, FL 32825  Edgewater Branch Library 5049 Edgewater Dr. Orlando, FL 32810  Maitland Community Park 1400 Mayo Ave. Maitland, FL 32751 Orange County National Golf Center 16301 Phil Ritson Way Winter Garden, FL 34787 Acacia Florida Centro Borinqueno 1865 N. Econlockhatchee Tr. Orlando, FL 32817 
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  • A suspect hiding from Pasco County deputies in a swamp after a high-speed chase was arrested covered in slobbery kisses instead of a bite from their K9.  The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office sent out an alert to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office after they say Paul Daniel Smith, 34, resisted arrest and battered a deputy. He took off in a Ford F150.  Deputy Marc Lane spotted the vehicle on US 41 and went after him.  Smith eventually stopped and ran into a heavily wooded, swampy area. With the help of their K9 bloodhound Knox, deputies tracked Smith down through the swamp, finding him stuck in thick mud with water up to his neck. “Stop resisting,” the deputies can be heard saying in the video posted to Facebook. (Facebook) As they try to get Smith out of the mud, instead of biting, Knox covers his face in wet, doggy kisses. Knox’s specialty is finding people, from missing children to wanted men. Smith is facing several charges including aggravated assault and violation of probation. As for Knox, he’s been rewarded for a job well done with his favorite treat: cheese.
  • Have you seen this guy? (tweet) Orlando police need your help in identifying the man who is suspected of attacking an elderly gentleman in the parking lot of the Lake Fredrica Shopping Center on Semoran Boulevard and Lake Margaret Drive. Witnesses say the suspect, a man in his 20s, stood in front of the car of the victim and blocked him from being able to drive away. When the elderly victim got out to confront him, the suspect punched him once, knocking the victim out cold. 'One punch that was all it took,” witness Jennifer Pola tells WKMG. “He hit him dead in the temple, boom. He was out for at least two minutes.' When police arrived, they found the victim, a man in his 60s, on the ground and bleeding.  Pola says the attack was completely unprovoked.  Several witnesses went after the suspect but he got in a vehicle and drove away. They managed to snap a clear photo of him before he took off. Anyone with information is asked to call Orlando police or Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.
  • The head of the Capitol Hill office which deals with workplace harassment cases said Wednesday that she still does not have the power to reveal the names of lawmakers who used taxpayer dollars to pay legal harassment settlements, drawing sharp rebukes from members of both parties on a House spending panel, as lawmakers in both the House and Senate expressed growing frustration about the matter. “The transparency issue is revolting,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). “It is absolutely unacceptable that we continue to let members who abuse their employees hide.” At a hearing of a House Appropriations subcommittee, Susan Grundmann, the head of the Congressional Office of Compliance, said that workplace settlements which involve lawmakers, often include non-disclosure agreements, precluding any publicity. “Most settlement agreements – in fact all that I have seen – contain non-disclosure clauses in them,” said Grundmann. “Those are not by our doing.” In my opening statement to @LegBranch_OOC Executive Director Susan Grundmann, I emphasize the need for Congress to remedy workplace harassment on Capitol Hill. How can we expect others to follow our example if we're not willing to acknowledge and address this problem? pic.twitter.com/AHKtaPHVy9 — Congressman Tim Ryan (@RepTimRyan) April 18, 2018 Pressed sharply by both parties at a hearing where she asked for a nine percent budget increase to help deal with harassment training and case reviews, Grundmann made clear there was no plan to reveal the names of members who had engaged in such settlements in the past. “No, I think we are prohibited from under the law – in terms of the strict confidentiality that adheres to each one of our processes, and the non-disclosure agreements, we cannot disclose who they are,” Grundmann added. Grundmann said new reporting standards approved by the House would reveal every six months which offices had some type of legal settlements – and she also said that if a lawmaker agreed to a workplace settlement, taxpayers would pay the bill up front – and then have that member of Congress reimburse Uncle Sam within 90 days. So far, the House and Senate have not finalized an agreement on legislation to set new standards for transparency on workplace settlements involving lawmaker offices, as one leading Democrat today again demanded action by that chamber. “The Senate has no more excuses,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The Senate has no more excuses. We must pass these reforms before our next recess. Members of BOTH parties, men and women, agree that it’s time to act. https://t.co/vSr7sew5KN — Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) April 19, 2018 Back in Wednesday’s House hearing, lawmakers did not like to hear that while reforms in the House would publicly name the lawmaker and/or a top staffer if they were involved in harassment of other staffers, a Senate reform plan would not be as sweeping. “So, if a Chief of Staff engages in that conduct, or anyone else that isn’t the member, then their conduct is not disclosed?” Wasserman Schultz asked. “That’s correct,” replied Grundmann. “That’s absolutely unacceptable,” the Florida Democrat said. The hearing came days after the resignation of Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), who had taxpayers foot the bill for an $84,000 settlement with a former office employee – Farenthold had promised to pay that money, but now that he is gone, it seems unlikely to happen. Meanwhile, Grundmann denied press reports in recent weeks that any personal information about sexual harassment or workplace abuses in Congressional offices was left on unsecured computer servers. “We have not been hacked. We have never stored our data on an unsecured server,” as Grundmann said their computer precautions had been described by officials as “Fort Knox.” “Fort Knox doesn’t talk about their cyber security,” she added, offering to brief members in private about the issue
  • U.S. marshals have erected billboards in multiple states as they continue to search for a Minnesota grandmother, gambling addict and alleged killer who is suspected in two homicides, including that of a woman she allegedly killed to assume her identity.  Lois Riess, 56, was last seen April 8 in the area of Corpus Christi, Texas, following what is believed to be a multistate homicide case. She is sought on murder and theft charges in the slaying of Pamela Hutchinson, of Bradenton, who was found shot to death April 9 in a condominium in which she was staying in Fort Myers Beach, Florida.  Riess, who Minnesota law enforcement officers dubbed “Losing Streak Lois” for her penchant for gambling, is also a person of interest in the killing of her husband, David Riess, who was found shot to death March 23 on the couple’s worm farm in Blooming Prairie. In each shooting, the victim had been dead for several days when the body was found. Authorities also believe Lois Riess used the same weapon in both cases. >> Related story: Minnesota grandma sought in deaths of husband, Florida ‘lookalike’ killed for ID The U.S. Marshals Service on Tuesday updated the search for Riess to major status and announced a $5,000 reward for her capture. Another $1,000 in reward money is being made available by Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers.   John Kinsey, a deputy U.S. marshal in Florida, told the Star Tribune in Minneapolis that the billboards are going up in Texas, New Mexico, California and Arizona.  “Unfortunately, there have been no further sightings,” Kinsey told the Star Tribune. “She blends in real well. She is an average, 56-year-old white female walking around, and that is part of the problem.” >> Read more trending news Florida investigators have said Riess killed Hutchinson, 59, for her identity. The women, who were strangers before Riess befriended Hutchinson, bore a striking resemblance to one another.  Surveillance footage from the Smokin’ Oyster Brewery, located two blocks from Hutchinson’ condo at the Marina Village at Snug Harbor, shows Riess smiling and chatting with a blonde woman in a hat who Lee County Sheriff’s Office detectives have identified as Hutchinson.  Hutchinson’s cousin on Monday posted an image from the surveillance footage to Facebook, side by side with an undated image of Hutchinson wearing that same hat as in the footage.  Officials with the U.S. Marshals Service said investigators believe Hutchinson was killed on or around April 5, when the surveillance footage at the bar was shot.  Lee County officials also on Tuesday released several snippets of surveillance video, including one piece that shows Riess, wearing the same blue shirt seen in the bar video, calmly walking away from Marina Village toward the parking lot. She is seen on another video driving away in Hutchinson’s white 2005 Acura TL. Hutchinson’s keys, identification, cash and credit cards were also missing when her body was found. The News-Press in Fort Myers reported Tuesday that sometime after Hutchinson’s death, Riess went to a Wells Fargo branch there and used Hutchinson’s identification to withdraw $5,000 from the slain woman’s account.  See the original footage of Riess chatting with Pamela Hutchinson, obtained by the News-Press, below. Riess was next spotted in Ocala, about 215 miles north of Fort Myers, where more surveillance footage released Tuesday shows her driving up to a Hilton hotel in Hutchinson’s stolen car and checking in as a guest. Again, she is wearing the blue top seen in previous videos, as well as a light-colored fedora-style hat with a black band. Lee County Sheriff’s Office officials told the News-Press that Riess stayed in the hotel the nights of April 6 and 7.  Riess used Hutchinson’s identity to check into the hotel around 8 p.m. on April 6. She also used the victim’s identification to withdraw another $500 from Hutchinson’s bank account at an Ocala bank.  “She’s confident, doesn’t look over her shoulder, like she’s not hiding anything,” Kinsey told the Star Tribune of Riess’ demeanor in the videos. “She was very nonchalant.” >> Related story: New footage released of ‘killer grandma’ suspected in 2 homicides; $6,000 reward offered for capture The fugitive was next spotted in the stolen Acura in Louisiana, where an attempt to get $200 at a gas station failed, the News-Press said.  Kinsey said Riess was also spotted on surveillance images April 7 and 8 in casinos in Louisiana.  “She went from casino to casino to make money, or because she is addicted to it,” Kinsey said. “She is consumed by it.” The final definite sighting of Riess was the following day, April 8 in Refugio, Texas, about 40 miles north of Corpus Christi. Corpus Christi is about 150 miles from the Mexico border.  Mexican authorities are aware of the search for Riess and are keeping an eye out for her, or anyone using Hutchinson’s identification, at the border, the News-Press reported. A Lee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said she would have to show identification to cross, but there is no guarantee she would not be able to slip through. The last confirmed sighting of Riess or the stolen car was the day before Hutchinson’s body was found -- and before she was even linked to that homicide.  The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which has been searching for Riess since late last month, describes her as a white woman with brown eyes and pale blonde hair. She is about 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs about 165 pounds.  The white Acura she is accused of stealing from Hutchinson has Florida license plate number Y37TAA.  Riess has been on the run since mid-March, when she is suspected of gunning down her husband, David Riess, on their rural worm farm before stealing $11,000 from his personal and business accounts. Deputies with the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office found him after his business partner reported that he had not been seen or heard from in several weeks.   Lois Riess was nowhere to be found, but investigators learned she visited a casino in Iowa on her way out of the Midwest, investigators said. She is charged with grand theft in connection with her husband’s slaying.  Dodge County investigators are also anticipated to file murder charges against her sometime this week.  Riess was initially linked to Hutchinson’s slaying, in part, because her family’s white Cadillac Escalade, which she was believed to be driving after her husband’s murder, was found abandoned in a county park in Fort Myers Beach, the News-Press reported.  Court records in Minnesota also show that Riess, who was named guardian of her disabled sister in 2012, stole more than $78,000 from her before being caught three years later.  Lee County Undersheriff Carmine Marceno described Riess to NBC News earlier this week as a “stone-cold killer” who authorities fear might kill again when she runs out of resources.  “She smiles and looks like anyone’s mother or grandmother,” Marceno said. “And yet she’s calculated, she’s targeted and an absolute cold-blooded killer.”
  • On hold for months, President Donald Trump’s pick to head NASA was finally given the green light by a pair of GOP Senators, as the Senate voted 50-48 to overcome a possible filibuster, and advance the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to be the next Administrator of NASA. A final vote to confirm Bridenstine’s nomination could come as early as Thursday in the full Senate. The key votes came from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) – Flake initially voted to filibuster Bridenstine, but after an extended wait, returned to change his vote for the final margin of victory. It wasn’t immediately clear why Flake – and then Rubio – had changed course on the President’s NASA nominee, as Bridenstine supporters had spent months trying to squeeze out a final vote in support of the President’s choice, who faced determined opposition from Democrats. Before the vote, Rubio’s office did not respond to requests for comment on the decision of the Florida Republican, who had repeatedly rebuffed the calls of fellow GOP lawmakers to support Bridenstine, a more conservative House GOP lawmaker who has not hesitated to make waves during his time on Capitol Hill. Sen Marco Rubio votes 'Yes' on cloture for Bridenstine – after months of opposing his nomination — Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) April 18, 2018 Just before the vote, Bridenstine’s leading Democratic critic in the Senate wasn’t backing away from his stern criticism of the three-term Republican Congressman from Oklahoma. “The NASA Administrator should be a consummate space professional,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) in a speech on the Senate floor. “That’s what this Senator wants – a space professional – not a politician,” Nelson added. “Senators on both sides of the aisles have expressed doubts – both publicly and privately to me – about his qualifications for the job,” said Nelson, who was the only Senator to address the matter before the vote on cloture, a procedure to end debate in the Senate. Since Bridenstine was nominated for NASA Administrator in September, Rubio had sided with Nelson and other Democrats, raising questions about Bridenstine’s ability to run a federal agency in a nonpartisan manner. But that suddenly changed this week – and GOP leaders quickly moved to take the Bridenstine vote, moving the President a step closer to having his choice in the job as NASA chief. The procedural vote on Bridenstine’s nomination almost went awry, as Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) voted “No,” leaving the vote tied at 49-49. Ordinarily, the Vice President would be brought in to break the tie, but Vice President Mike Pence was in Florida with President Trump, hosting the Japanese Prime Minister. After a wait of over a half hour, Flake returned to the floor and voted “Yes,” allowing the Senate to force an end to debate.