Ventura, California

Tens of thousands fled their homes Tuesday as several incredibly fast-moving brush fires pushed by howling Santa Ana winds scorched parts of Southern California.

“Fires are breaking out across the so. Cal. Region… Be fire safe. Firefighters are working very hard to minimize damage to property. Evacuations are taking place in many places in Southern California,”the Ventura County Fire Department tweeted.

Unpredictable winds and extremely dry brush, victim of little rainfall over the past three months, fueled at least five blazes.

In Los Angeles, at least 500 firefighters watched a fire go from 4,000 acres to 11,000 in a matter of hours.

“We simply don’t know what this fire will do,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

To the west, the biggest blaze had zero containment and it had grown to 50,000 acres — about 78 square miles — in just 19 hours.

Some homes were ablaze in the northern part of Ventura, a city of more than 100,000 on the Pacific coast. More than a quarter of the city’s residents had been told to get out.

The fire — the largest of several wind-driven blazes in Southern California — forced sheriff’s deputies to knock on doors to warn residents to evacuate Monday night. About 150 buildings, including homes and an evacuated Ventura hospital, have been destroyed.

On Ventura’s northern edge, at least 10 homes and many trees were burning in one neighborhood, sending thick smoke and dangerous embers into the gusty air.

Evacuee Catherine Wastweet, stood on a street Tuesday morning and looked up to the foothills where her neighborhood was aflame. “We live up there … but we just don’t know whether our house is burned down or not, because we can’t even see through all of the smoke,” she said.

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Washington, District of Columbia

White House and Trump lawyers: President’s financial records have not been subpoenaed.

The White House and President Trump’s lawyers denied news reports Tuesday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed financial records related to the president from a German bank.

“No subpoena has been issued or received,” Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said. “We have confirmed this with the bank and other sources.”

Trump, who has previously said he would object if Mueller probed his finances as part of his investigation into Russia’s interference into the 2016 presidential election, did not comment on Tuesday. Neither did Mueller’s office.

News reports out of Germany said Mueller asked Deutsche Bank for data on accounts involving Trump and his family, and that Germany’s largest bank received a subpoena several weeks ago.

The reports did not specify what kind of information Mueller might be seeking.

Denying the reports from the White House on Tuesday, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said “this is another example of the media going too far, too fast.”

When The New York Times asked Trump in July if a Mueller examination of his or his family’s finances would be “a breach of what his actual charge is,” Trump replied: “I would say yeah. I would say yes.”

The president added: “I mean, it’s possible there’s a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? I don’t make money from Russia.”

Deutsche Bank has been linked to both Trump and to Russia money.

The bank has loaned millions of dollars to the Trump Organization, even after other financial institutions had refused to lend to the New York businessman who had a history of bankruptcies.

Deutsche Bank has also been accused before of laundering Russian money.

The bank denied a records request by House Democrats in June, citing privacy laws.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said a Mueller subpoena would be welcome, making references to previous news reports that the Russians have compromising information on Trump.

“If Russia laundered money through the Trump Organization, it would be far more compromising than any salacious video and could be used as leverage against Donald Trump and his associates and family,” Schiff said.

Mueller’s office is investigating any links between Trump’s campaign team and Russians who sought to influence the 2016 election by hacking Democratic emails and pushing fake news about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Trump has denounced the investigation, which has already led to the prosecutions of four former Trump campaign aides, as a “witchhunt.”

The special counsel is also investigating whether Trump tried to obstruct justice when he fired FBI Director James Comey in May.

Trump and aides deny that claim, saying Comey was fired because of job performance.

“There is no collusion, there is no obstruction,” Sanders said Tuesday. “We’re confident that the facts will show that when this is wrapped up.”

News Source:© 2017 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, LLC.

New York City, New York

Bronx man confesses to strangling his teacher-girlfriend and their love child.

A Bronx man who strangled his ex-girlfriend and their 4-year-old son pleaded guilty in the killings Tuesday.

Isaac Duran Infante, 24, admitted murdering Felicia Barahona, 36, who was his science teacher at DeWitt Clinton High School, and little Miguel inside their W. 153rd St. apartment on Dec. 22, 2016.

Infante confessed to investigators that Barahona was “still gasping for air and fighting for life,” when she screamed for their son to call 911, according to a statement read by prosecutor Nicole Blumberg in Manhattan Supreme court.

Barahona started a sexual relationship with the student in 2011, when Infante was 18 years old.

Five years later, her former student used an electrical cord to end her life.

“The defendant wrapped the cord even tighter around her neck until he was sure that she was dead,” the prosecutor detailed.

Once Barahona was dead, Infante turned his sights on his own child, who he strangled and left “lying face-down in a bathtub filled with water,” Blumberg added.

In a deranged attempt to cover up the crime, Infante tried to convince police the killings were a murder-suicide.

News Source:© Copyright 2017 All rights reserved.

Sutherland Springs, Texas

US air force failed to submit dozens of records to gun background check system.

An investigation into the US air force’s failure to report criminal records to the nation’s gun background check system has already found “several dozen” records that should have been submitted and were not.

The investigation comes after the mass shooting at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, which left 26 people dead. The day after the murder the air force announced that the shooter should have been barred from legal gun ownership because of a 2012 conviction for abusing his wife and stepson.

The air force had failed to submit the records of Devin Kelley’s domestic violence record to the national background check system, allowing Kelley to go on to purchase multiple guns, despite his history of violence, an air force spokesperson said.

Nearly a month into an investigation of these reporting errors, the air force has announced that “the error in the Kelley case was not an isolated incident and similar reporting lapses occurred at other locations”.

Air force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said on Tuesday: “Although policies and procedures requiring reporting were in place, training and compliance measures were lacking.”

The United States, which recognizes gun ownership as a constitutional right, allows citizens to buy guns from licensed dealers after a quick check to make sure they have not been listed in the national database of Americans disqualified from legally owning guns.

The failure to report the correct disqualifying criminal or mental health records to the background check system has been a systemic problem for years, with at least three high-profile mass shooters getting weapons legally because of a breakdown in reporting or locating records.

The full scope of the air force’s failure to report domestic violence records and other disqualifying convictions to the gun-buying background check system is still unknown.

The air force “is reviewing approximately 60,000 cases involving serious offenses over the 15-year period to ensure full compliance,” spokesman Mark Graff said.

But he could not clarify if the “several dozen” records that had failed to be reported were found after reviewing just a few hundred cases, or many thousand. The investigation is “ongoing” and “will be completed over the next several months,” he said.

The defense department is also investigating whether records from other branches of the military have been submitted appropriately.

While federal agencies are already required by law to submit criminal records to the gun background check system, a bipartisan group of legislators has introduced new federal legislation to make sure that the US military follows the law, including introducing new requirements for public disclosure about record submissions, and financial penalties for officials whose agencies do not comply with the law.

“The failures are so stark here, and the danger to the public is so stark, so I think there’s clearly a need for some dramatic action,” Lindsay Nichols, the federal policy director at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said when the legislation was introduced earlier this month.

“If the air force failed to report somebody, and instead of resulting in the deaths of 26 people in a church, it resulted in the death of one person on the streets of Chicago, it probably would not have sparked the same national conversation,” she said. “I don’t know if we’d even know about it.”

There are more than 11,000 firearm homicides each year in the US, according to official estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

News Source:© 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Melbourne, Florida

Police: Man stabs, then slashes victim in face in Melbourne home.

A homeless man living in the Melbourne area was arrested early Monday after police say he stabbed a man in the side and slashed his face with a box cutter-like knife before being caught stealing a bike less than a mile away.

Trent Kaufmann, 29, met the victim early Sunday at Circle K on Post Road and Wickham Avenue in Melbourne. The two planned to meet later “to hang out with some girls,” according to an arrest affidavit.

Kaufmann arrived at the man’s house later that day with a woman, and Kaufmann and the woman began fighting immediately, the man told Melbourne police. At one point, the woman walked to the bathroom to cry and Kaufmann followed.

When Kaufmann came out, he became aggressive, accusing the man of talking about him, police report.

Kaufmann then backed the man into a corner and stabbed him in the side with a kitchen knife, according to reports. When the man told him to leave, Kaufmann slashed him several times on the face with a “box cutter type knife,” police report.

The woman finally persuaded the Kaufmann to leave, police say.

The victim then walked to the 7-11 on Post Road and US-1 to use a phone, but a man at the gas station saw his wounds and offered him a ride to the hospital, according to reports.

Law enforcement were dispatched to Wuesthoff Hospital around 11:30 p.m. Sunday, where they say the man had lacerations on his face.

Not long after, Melbourne police responded to a burglary call on Canterbury Lane. When they arrived just before 1 a.m. Monday, they located Kaufmann, who was in possession of the bike he stole from a resident’s front porch on that street, police say.

Kaufmann was arrested on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, burglary of an unoccupied dwelling and grand theft.

In an interview with law enforcement, Kaufmann said the he and the woman were at the man’s house Sunday night, but denied any physical altercation between him and the man. Kaufmann told police the man attempted to buy drugs off him, so he and the woman left.

Kaufmann is being held on $45,000 bond.

The victim has been released from the hospital.

News Source:© 2017 All rights reserved.

Nikos Mizas, Editor