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Updated: 2 hours 27 min ago

U.S. Supreme Court allows Scott Cheever’s conviction, death sentence to stand

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 16:21

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – The U.S. Supreme Court is letting a death sentence stand for a southeastern Kansas man who fatally shot a sheriff during a 2005 drug raid.

The high court declined Monday to review Scott Cheever’s case a second time. Cheever faces lethal injection for killing Greenwood County Sheriff Matt Samuels as Samuels tried to serve a warrant at Cheever’s rural home about 75 miles northeast of Wichita.

Cheever acknowledged shooting Samuels, but his attorney argued Cheever was too high on methamphetamine for the crime to be premeditated.

The Kansas Supreme Court in 2012 ordered a new trial for Cheever because prosecutors used a court-ordered mental evaluation from a different trial against him. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed that decision in 2013.

The Kansas court then upheld Cheever’s death sentence last year.

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Tree costume takes Twitter by storm

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 14:59

(WVTM/NBC News) – A University of Alabama student is making good on a Twitter promise.

Kelsey Hall posted a picture of herself in a Christmas tree costume, saying she would wear the outfit for the remainder of the semester if she received 1,000 retweets. She quickly received 30,000.

As promised, she has been wearing the festive piece but says all the attention is kind of getting to her.

“It’s been a little stressful,” Hall says. “You know, having everyone like tagging me in things and calling me. And people wanting interviews and stuff.”

After this experience, Hall says she will probably think long and hard about posting any more challenges to social media.

 

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Living nativity draws large crowd at Wichita church

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 14:53

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – On Sunday, the College Hill Neighborhood Association held their lights tour along with a living nativity at East Heights United Methodist Church.

The warm temperatures definitely brought out a crowd.

“Normally, we don’t have this many people here, and it’s really touching that so many people are coming this year, I don’t know why this year specifically people showed up? But I’m glad they did,” said Olivia Lehrman, East Heights United Methodist youth group.

The group puts on the nativity complete with a live baby Jesus.

“With live animals and the live baby, sometimes you don’t know what’s going to happen so sometimes the animals have a mind of their own,” said Paige Nelson, East Heights United Methodist youth group.

Like the donkey that just didn’t want to go Bethlehem, and the goats that ate most of the grass in front of the church.

“And, I feel like that might be a draw, but at least we’re telling the Christmas story,” said Nelson.

The animals, which came from a local petting zoo, are a big hit with young and old.

And it’s a combination of both live animals and getting people to interact with some of these holiday traditions that the group hopes will keep people coming back.

“It’s a day to give back and to remember what Christmas is really about instead of being self-centered the whole time,” said Lehrman.

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Snapchat photo of baby in bag leads to couple’s arrest

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 14:31

CLAREMORE, Okla. (AP) – A northeast Oklahoma couple has been arrested following a Snapchat image of a baby in a laundry bag that was hanging from a door handle.

The Claremore Daily Progress reports that 23-year-old Paul Chuckluck and 21-year-old Johnnie Gaghins were booked into Rogers County Jail on Monday. They face possible charges of child abuse or neglect.

Hominy police alerted the Claremore Police Department about the photo’s appearance on Snapchat, a social media app. Claremore police obtained a copy of the picture and found that Chuckluck and Gaghins were the baby’s parents.

Police allege that Chuckluck placed the nine-month-old inside a mesh laundry bag, tied a knot and hung the bag on a door handle. Records say Gaghin said she thought it was funny and took a photo of the child.

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Topeka Zoo says 35-year-old elephant Shannon has died

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 13:22

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Topeka officials say a 35-year-old African elephant at the Topeka Zoo has died.

The elephant, named Shannon, died Monday morning after she was found lying on her side for the second day in a row.

When the 5,500-pound elephant was found on her side Sunday, Topeka fire personnel used a large strap and tripod to help lift her back into an upright position.

Zoo director Brendan Wiley said firefighters were attempting to lift the elephant again Monday morning when she took her last breath.

Wiley said zoo officials are investigating what caused the elephant’s death.

Shannon and Cora, a 59-year-old Asian elephant, arrived at the Topeka Zoo in August 2016 from a traveling elephant program based near Tampa, Florida. They joined two other elephants at the zoo.

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3 Trump accusers speak out, call for congressional probe

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 12:39

WASHINGTON (AP) — Three women who have previously accused President Donald Trump of sexual harassment shared their stories on NBC’s “Megyn Kelly Today.”

Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Rachel Crooks on Monday told of alleged harassment by Trump spanning decades.

The White House called the claims false and “totally disputed in most cases.” It said “the timing and absurdity of these false claims speak volumes.”

One of the accusers, Rachel Crooks, called the White House statement “laughable.”

Crooks said of sexual misconduct: “I think politicians seem to be immune to this.”

Holvey described the pain the women felt after Trump’s victory. “We are private citizens and for us to put ourselves out there, to try to show America who this man is, and especially how he views women, for them to say, ‘Meh, we don’t care,’ it hurt.”

The women, who first shared their stories before the November 2016 election, were holding a press conference later Monday to call for a congressional investigation into Trump’s alleged behavior. They cited the recent revelations of sexual misconduct by prominent men in business, media and politics, for their decision to speak out publicly against Trump once again.

“The environment’s different,” Holvey said. “Let’s try again.”

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Villanova No. 1, Wichita State No. 3 in latest AP Poll

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 12:38

Villanova is the new No. 1 in the AP Top 25 while Arizona State made a big leap after a tumultuous week in which half of the top 10 lost.

The Wildcats (10-0) were fourth but earned 41 of 65 first-place votes to hop over Michigan State, which earned 19 first-place votes to climb from third to second. They were the favorites to take over at the top following unanimous No. 1 Duke’s weekend loss at Boston College.

Wichita State climbed three spots to No. 3, followed by Duke and Arizona State. The Sun Devils (9-0) jumped 11 spots and earned the other five first-place votes after winning at then-No. 2 Kansas to extend their best start since the 1974-75 season.

The Jayhawks fell to No. 13 after two losses.

___

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

___

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

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Leavenworth woman sentenced to life for raping young girl

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 12:36

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) – A Leavenworth woman has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for at least 25 years for raping a 16-month-old girl.

Forty-one-year-old Mahogany Jaelene Payne was sentenced Friday.

Leavenworth County prosecutor Toff Thompson says a crime occurred when Payne was babysitting the girl and a 5-year-old girl in January 2016.

Payne was convicted in October of one count of rape. She was acquitted of a second rape charge.

The Leavenworth Times reports Payne was given a life sentence under Jessica’s Law, which calls for harsh sentences for people convicted of sex crimes involving children.

Payne’s attorney, Curtis Holmes, had sought a sentence of probation. But Assistant County Attorney Katie Devlin argued against that, noting that Payne was convicted of child abuse in 1999 in Sedgwick County.

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Hays man killed in Rush County rollover

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 11:39

HAYS, Kan. (KSNW) – The Kansas Highway Patrol said a 51-year-old Hays man was killed Sunday when his vehicle rolled six miles east of La Crosse.

A Toyota Tacoma was westbound on K-4 when it hit the gravel shoulder. The Tacoma entered the ditch and overturned in a field.

The driver, Darin Alan Stiles, was ejected. The patrol didn’t release the exact time of the crash.

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Baby formula maker calls global recall over salmonella fears

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 10:10

PARIS (AP) — Baby milk maker Lactalis and French authorities have ordered a global recall of millions of products over fears of salmonella bacteria contamination.

The French company, one of the world’s largest dairy groups, said it was warned by health authorities in France that 26 infants have become sick since Dec. 1.

According to a list published on the French health ministry’s website, the recall affects customers in countries around the world, including: Britain and Greece in Europe, Morocco and Sudan in Africa, Peru and Colombia in South America and Pakistan, Bangladesh and China in Asia. The United States, a major market for Lactalis, is not affected.

Company spokesman Michel Nalet told The Associated Press on Monday that the “precautionary” recall involves “several million” products made since mid-February.

Lactalis said in a statement that the 26 cases of infection were linked to products branded Picot SL, Pepti Junior 1, Milumel Bio 1 and Picot Riz.

It said it is “sincerely sorry for the concern generated by the situation and expresses its compassion and support to the families whose children fell ill.”

The symptoms of salmonella infection include abdominal cramps, diarrhea and fever. Most people recover without treatment.

The company said a possible source of the outbreak has been identified in a tower used to dry out the milk at a production site. Disinfection and cleaning measures have been put in place at the suspected site in western France.

The health scare started earlier this month when Lactalis was told that 20 infants under six months of age had been diagnosed with salmonella infection. The company ordered a first recall that has been extended to more products at the request of French authorities following new reports of infections.

Lactalis is a privately held company headquartered in Laval, western France. It has 75,000 employees in 85 countries and annual revenues of about 17 billion euros ($20 billion). Its other notable brands include President and Galbani cheeses and Parmalat milk.

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Mary Blige, Mariah Carey, Nick Jonas get Golden Globe nods

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 10:10

NEW YORK (AP) — Mary J. Blige is dancing into the Golden Globe Awards as a double nominee — for her acting and songwriting — while Mariah Carey and Nick Jonas are some of the other popular singers nominated for honors.

Blige earned nominations Monday for her work in the Dee Rees’ period film “Mudbound.” She’s up for best supporting actress in a motion picture and best original song for “Mighty River,” which she co-wrote.

“I feel so good. I’ve been thanking God all morning long. I’ve been up since my phone has been ringing,” the 46-year-old singer said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

“Mudbound,” released on Netflix last month, follows two neighboring families — one black, one white — on a hardscrabble farm in 1940s Mississippi. Blige plays the role of Florence Jackson, a mother and sharecropper’s wife.

They filmed last summer in New Orleans, around the time Blige announced she was divorcing from her husband and former manager. She said she took all of the emotion from her personal life and put it into the film.

“I would come over to (my acting coach’s) house and I would be going through it. And she would say, ‘Take all of that mess and give it to Florence. Give everything to Florence.’ And I just gave Florence everything that was good, bad, vulnerable, that was strong, that was sad, that was disappointing,” she said.

Blige detailed the very public breakup and infidelity claims on her album, “Strength of a Woman,” released in April.

“2016 was the year that I didn’t know what the heck was going on. As women we have intuition, we don’t know exactly what’s happening, we just feel everything. I know I feel everything. And I just gave … everything I was feeling to Florence,” she added.

Blige, who grew up in New York, said trips to the South to visit her family also helped her connect to the character: “I would see my grandmother and my aunts and they were this woman Florence, so I saw this woman a lot. I think I probably have her in my DNA.”

She also said it was tough transforming from Mary J. Blige, the 9-time Grammy-winning R&B superstar, to Mary J. Blige, the actress.

“I wear a lot of wigs and weaves and things like that, but for this I had to wear my own textured hair, which I was never really wanting to do, especially without a perm,” Blige said. “And (Dee Rees) was like, ‘No, I want nappy edges. I want Florence to look like she’s a sharecropper’s wife, and it was a little hard disconnecting from Mary J. Blige because she’s been around for a minute. So it was hard to get rid of her, but once I got rid of her Florence actually liberated Mary. So it was sad but beautiful at the same time.”

Blige’s two nominations are the only ones “Mudbound” earned Monday.

The singer shares her best original song nomination with Taura Stinson and Raphael Saadiq, the singer-songwriter-producer who has worked on hits for Solange, D’Angelo, Erykah Badu and himself.

Blige’s competition includes Carey, who is nominated for the Christmas tune “The Star,” from the animated movie of the same name.

“Listen, I’ve been a fan of Mariah Carey since Mariah Carey came out. It’s a beautiful thing to see all of your peers at the same time being blessed and nominated and recognized for our work,” Blige said.

Jonas is also up for best original song for “Home” from the animated film “Ferdinand.” Jonas and Carey are first-time Globe nominees; Blige was up for an award at the 2012 show for “The Living Proof” from the film, “The Help.”

Other best original song nominees include Oscar-winning composers. Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the husband-and-wife songwriting duo behind “Let It Go” from “Frozen,” are nominated for “Remember Me” from the film “Coco,” while Benj Pasek and Justin Paul — who earned an Oscar this year for “City of Stars” from “La La Land,” are up for “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman.”

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Supreme Court declines gay rights work discrimination case

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 09:39

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is leaving in place a lower court ruling that a federal employment discrimination law doesn’t protect a person against discrimination based on their sexual orientation.

The court on Monday declined to take up the question of whether a law that bars workplace discrimination “because of…sex” covers discrimination against someone because of their sexual orientation.

President Barack Obama’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took the view that it does. But President Donald Trump’s administration has argued that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars discrimination based on gender but doesn’t cover sexual orientation. Federal appeals courts are split on the issue. That means the issue is likely to come to the court again.

The case the Supreme Court declined to take involved Jameka Evans, a gay woman who worked as a hospital security officer in Georgia. Lower courts said she couldn’t use Title VII to sue for discrimination.

The Supreme Court didn’t explain why it was declining to hear the case. But the hospital where Evans worked, Georgia Regional Hospital, told the court there were technical legal problems with the case.

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2 Pitt State profs arrested amid illegal recording inquiry

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 09:37

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) – Two Pittsburg State University associate professors have been placed on paid leave amid an investigation into the illegal recording of a nude or partially clothed person.

The Pittsburg Morning Sun reports that police say the two suspects were arrested last week and released on bond. One is suspected of felony breach of privacy, and the other of misdemeanor stalking.

Police said in a news release that a warrant says the victim was identifiable in a video, which was disseminated.

Provost Lynette Olson said in a news release that the university takes the allegations “very seriously” and is working with law enforcement. Olson says the two associate professors have been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

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City of Buhler opts for surveillance cameras around town

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 09:25

BUHLER, Kan. (KSNW) – The city of Buhler is taking a proactive approach to deterring crime and solving cases by installing surveillance cameras around town.

City commission voted at their November 28 meeting to install cameras five to six cameras around town, one at each entrance to town and two downtown.

“The city has a very low crime rate, and we want to keep it that way, that’s why a lot of people, we believe live in our community because it’s very safe and quiet. So as the price of the camera systems have gone down, we thought it was a perfect time to install the system,” Buhler Mayor Daniel Friesen said.

Friesen said most citizens and business owners were on board with the idea, but one citizen addressed privacy concerns.

“We want to reiterate, these cameras are just to be focused on the public right of way…not in anyone’s back yard, not in anyone’s front yard, just in the public right of way,” Friesen said.

A business owner in Buhler volunteered to purchase and install the cameras at cost, so the city will spend between $7,000-10,000 according to Friesen.

Downtown business owners are embracing the approach the city has taken.

“To me, it was very exciting, very forward, moving forward with our town. You know we are very safe in Buhler right now, we don’t feel like we’re not safe, but I think this just puts us into the next step,” Shelly Bartel, owner of Bartel Kitchen and Bath said on Wednesday.

Bartel, a 25-year-resident of Buhler added, she doesn’t feel the surveillance is like “big brother,” rather a positive move by the city.

The cameras will be installed during the first quarter of 2018.

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Bullying post goes viral

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 09:10

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A video on Facebook has gone viral for the message an East Tennessee boy has about bullying.

In the since-removed video Kimberly Jones posted on Friday, you see Keaton tearfully begin by asking, “why do they bully?” That video has been viewed more than 22 million times.

READ MORE: Maynardville community reacts to boy’s viral video about bullying

Keaton questions how bullies can find joy by picking on others.

He goes on to describe his experience from the day, including how other students poured milk on him and put food down his clothes.

“We all know how it feels to want to belong,” Kimberly Jones said in her post, “but only a select few know how it really feels not to belong anywhere.”

He says he is not the sole victim of bullying at his school, and that other students are targets too.

Keaton says people who are different shouldn’t be criticized for that. Keaton ends the video by saying “it will probably get better one day.”

As of Monday morning, a crowdsourcing page had raised more than $46,000 for the boy.

Nearly 450,000 people had shared Kimberly Jones’ original Facebook post as of Monday, and numerous people have stepped up for Keaton on social media, including Tennessee Vols quarterback Jarrett Guarantano.

So I got the chance to spend the day with my new best bud Keaton. It was unbelievable to get to know him and realize that we have a lot in common. This dude is very special and has changed my life forever. Now I have the little brother I always wanted! God bless you my man pic.twitter.com/vMHVtnf2rC

— Jarrett Guarantano✞ (@BroadwayJay2) December 11, 2017

This is heartbreaking. But the response of support for him is a beautiful thing. Add me to your long list of friends Keaton. https://t.co/NKasvdo00u

— Ralph Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) December 10, 2017

This boy is incredibly brave and the video really got to me. @danawhite, If he takes you up on your offer to see UFC Headquarters, I would be honored to host him and his family at our place if they need somewhere to stay. https://t.co/EWx05o0yI0

— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) December 11, 2017

I need someone to connect me with this child's family, please. I've been told he is from Knoxville.

Mr. Lewan is against bullying and willing to provide his services as a bodyguard.

Do your thing, Twitter! Connect us. #TitanUp pic.twitter.com/OkrQP0UTqe

— Nate Bain (@natebain) December 9, 2017

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‘Shape of Water,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ lead Golden Globes

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 08:41

NEW YORK (AP) — Guillermo del Toro’s Cold War-era fairytale “The Shape of Water” swam away with a leading seven nominations from the Golden Globes, while the HBO drama “Big Little Lies” led the television nominees with six nods.

The nominees for best picture drama are: “Call Me By Your Name,” ”Dunkirk,” ”The Post,” The Shape of Water” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

The nominees for best picture comedy or musical are: “The Disaster Artist,” ”Get Out,” ”Lady Bird,” ”The Greatest Showman,” and “I, Tonya.”

The Globes are the most prominent platform yet in Hollywood’s awards season to confront the post-Harvey Weinstein landscape. Among the supporting actor nominees is Christopher Plummer, who has replaced Kevin Spacey in Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World.” Scott, too, was nominated for best director.

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Snow wreaks havoc on travelers in Britain, schools closed

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 08:40

LONDON (AP) — Snow and wintry weather are still wreaking havoc on travelers in Britain, with flights cancelled, roads sheathed in ice and rail travel disrupted.

With temperatures dropping overnight as low as minus 11.6 Celsius (11 degrees Fahrenheit), hundreds of schools were closed Monday. Europe’s largest airport, Heathrow, warned Monday that some flights would be cancelled as it cleared the backlog of flights delayed by Sunday’s snowfall.

Heathrow asked travelers to check with their airlines. In the world of interconnected air travel, any extended disruption quickly leaves planes and flight crews out of position, knocking them out of rotation for their next assignments.

National Rail said poor weather conditions are affecting travel across England and Wales. Trains on Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, Great Western, and Virgin Trains will all also be affected.

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Russia says its athletes want to compete at the Olympics

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 08:40

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian athletes are overwhelmingly in favor of competing at the upcoming Pyeongchang Games despite a ban on the national team, the country’s Olympic committee said Monday.

Sofia Velikaya said the Russian Olympic Committee’s athletes’ commission, which she chairs, has heard from “all the athletes in all sports” on the Olympic program, with a majority in favor of competing.

Velikaya said no athletes have told the ROC they would rather boycott.

“At the current moment, everyone’s training and everyone’s hoping to take part in the Olympics,” Velikaya said.

The International Olympic Committee last week barred the Russian team from Pyeongchang because of doping offenses at the 2014 Sochi Games, but is allowing Russians to compete under a neutral flag as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.”

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the government won’t stand in their way.

ROC spokesman Konstantin Vybornov said teams from biathlon and snowboard had recorded videos affirming their desire to compete, while the men’s hockey team has written “a collective letter.”

Some Russian hardliners believe it is shameful for athletes to compete at the Olympics without their national flag. But Velikaya defended the athletes, saying everyone watching will know who is from Russia.

“The choice of competing at the Olympics is strictly individual,” Velikaya said. “I call on Russian society to treat athletes’ decisions with understanding and respect.”

With the IOC due to send out invitations to individual Russians over the next two months, Velikaya said Russian sports officials would put together lists of their preferred teams. Those rosters, she said, would stop the IOC from inviting “numbers five and six” in the Russian team while leaving out genuine medal contenders.

Russia is pushing back against some IOC conditions, however, backing appeals by Russian athletes banned for doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Velikaya also said her commission will ask the IOC to remove a condition stopping athletes from being invited to Pyeongchang if they have been suspended for doping in the past. That affects a few athletes with earlier offenses unconnected to the Sochi Olympics, including biathletes banned for using the blood-booster EPO and speedskating world champion Denis Yuskov, who was suspended in 2008 after testing positive for marijuana.

Forcing the Russians to compete as neutral athletes puts the IOC in the uncomfortable position of regulating how they celebrate.

The Russian flag won’t be flown at medal ceremonies, but what happens if a Russian winner accepts a flag or a gift from a spectator for a victory lap? Can Russian athletes fly the flag from their windows in the athletes village? Those are on a list of questions Vybornov said Russia will ask of the IOC.

“A figure skater wins, let’s say, and they throw her a teddy bear in Russian uniform onto the ice,” Vybornov said. “She picks it up. Can she do that? Or is that an offense?”

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Final push for Moore and Jones in Alabama Senate race

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 08:40

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Democrats see Tuesday’s special Senate election as a chance to renounce a history littered with politicians whose race-baiting, bombast and other baggage have long soiled the state’s reputation beyond its borders.

Many Republicans see the vote as chance to ratify their conservative values and protect President Donald Trump’s agenda ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

At the center are Republican Roy Moore, a former jurist twice removed as state chief justice and now accused of sexual misconduct with teenage girls decades ago, and Democrat Doug Jones, an erstwhile federal prosecutor best known for prosecuting two Ku Klux Klansmen responsible for killing four black girls in the 1963 bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church.

The winner will take the seat held previously by Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions. Republicans control the Senate with 52 seats.

And while Trump himself didn’t campaign in the state after Moore was hit with allegations of sexual misconduct, the president recorded an audio message for robocalls that went to voters on Monday — underscoring the importance to Trump’s agenda of keeping the seat in Republican hands.

The matchup mixes both Alabama’s tortured history and the nation’s current divisive, bitterly partisan politics, and it has made a spectacle of a Deep South state well acquainted with national scrutiny but not accustomed to competitive general elections.

“This is an election to tell the whole world what we stand for,” Jones told supporters at one stop Sunday, adding that his campaign “is on the right side of history.” At an earlier appearance, he declared Alabama is “at a crossroads” and that Moore, an unapologetic evangelical populist, tries only to “create conflict and division.”

Jones, 63, stops short of explicitly comparing Moore to the four-term Gov. George Wallace, whose populism was rooted in segregation. But Jones alluded Sunday to that era of Alabama politics.

“Elect a responsible man to a responsible office,” Jones said, repeating the campaign slogan of another Alabama governor, Albert Brewer, who nearly defeated Wallace in 1970 in a contest Alabama liberals and many moderates still lament as a lost opportunity.

Some of Jones’ supporters put it even more bluntly. “I thought Alabama’s image was pretty much at the bottom,” said Pat Lawrence, a retired software engineer in Huntsville. A Moore win, Lawrence added, “will be a whole new bottom.”

Those concerns extend even to some GOP quarters. Alabama’s senior senator, Richard Shelby, confirmed Sunday that he did not vote for Moore, saying he wrote in another “distinguished” party figure he declined to name.

Yet for many Republicans, Moore is a paragon of traditional values. They reject accusations that he molested two teenage girls and pursued relationships with others decades ago. Moore denies the charges.

“Everyone has to vote their convictions,” said Kevin Mims of Montgomery, as he held his Bible outside his Baptist church Sunday in Montgomery. “My conviction is he’s the right man for the job.”

Where Moore’s critics see a state judge who defied federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage, Mims see a stalwart who stands “on the word of God.” Other conservatives see an anti-establishment firebrand in the mold of Trump, who won Alabama by 28 percentage points.

Moore encourages that view with fundraising emails that urge backers to help him “defeat the elite,” a swipe at both Democrats and the establishment Republicans who tried to deny him the GOP nomination earlier this year.

Ultimately, Republicans from Moore to Trump himself are betting on a simple bottom line: Most Alabama conservatives simply won’t defect to a Democrat.

“If Alabama elects liberal Democrat Doug Jones, all of our progress will be stopped cold,” Trump says in a robocall the Moore campaign plans to push out Monday.

The president also invokes a common fear among Republicans, calling Jones “a puppet of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer,” the Democratic House and Senate leaders in Washington, both of them reviled by conservative voters. “Roy Moore is the guy we need to pass our Make American Great Again agenda,” the president insists.

Moore’s baggage could make it difficult to draw conclusions about what the results might mean beyond Alabama, but both parties are watching closely.

Democrats need to flip 24 GOP-held seats to reclaim a House majority, and they’re trying to dent the slim Republican advantage in the Senate and its dominance of statehouses around the country. In many of those races, they’ll need the same thing Jones must get to win in Alabama: strong turnout among young and non-white voters, along with improved performance among suburban moderates.

A Jones victory would be hailed as a potential precursor, and Democrats have indicated they have a post-Alabama strategy even if Jones loses: They’ll take Alabama’s brand national, hammering Republicans as “the party of Donald Trump and Roy Moore.”

—–

Barrow reported from Mobile, Alabama. Follow Barrow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BillBarrowAP and Chandler at https://twitter.com/StatehouseKim.

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CBS’ O’Donnell reports on sexual misconduct at Air Force

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 08:40

NEW YORK (AP) — One reason for the steeliness in Norah O’Donnell’s demeanor the morning after the sexual misconduct accusations against former “CBS This Morning” co-anchor Charlie Rose were revealed became apparent on Monday.

She and her colleague, producer Jennifer Janisch, were in the midst of a six-month investigation into sexual assault cases at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Their first report, saying that more than a dozen current and former Air Force cadets believe their cases had been mishandled and that they faced retaliation, aired Monday on “CBS This Morning.”

Two current and two former cadets talked to O’Donnell on the broadcast about their experiences.

When “CBS This Morning” reported on Rose the morning of Nov. 21, O’Donnell spoke sternly about what had been learned about their colleague. There’s no excuse, she said. “This has to end. This behavior is wrong. Period,” she said. Rose was fired hours later.

“When I said women cannot achieve full equality in the workforce until there is a reckoning and a taking of responsibility, that line and the sternness with which I delivered it, was impacted because of what I witnessed at the Air Force academy,” O’Donnell said.

While the Department of Defense has encouraged victims of abuse in the military to report their stories, O’Donnell said that attitude hasn’t fully filtered down, and that some women have been ostracized or retaliated against for talking about it.

“That, to me, is egregious and unacceptable and it is ruining what could be fine military careers,” said O’Donnell, whose father served in the military for 30 years and whose sister is in the Army. One of the former cadets who spoke to CBS left the academy while her alleged harasser graduated.

Similar stories inspired Janisch, who said she wanted to look into the impact of sexual misconduct on women away from high-profile careers like the media and entertainment.

The current cadets had their identities obscured during the CBS interview because they were not permitted to speak to the press.

“It was incredibly brave of them to not only share their stories on the phone, but to leave the campus and risk their military careers to sit down with us to shine a light on what they believe is a systemic problem at the U.S. Air Force Academy,” O’Donnell said.

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