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Latest from Ben Morgan

    What started out as a poor joke between two Starbucks employees, ended up making national headlines. On Thanksgiving Day a Kiefer Police Officer drove out to the Starbucks in Glenpool, only to find that the cups he received were labeled 'PIG.' You can hear the full interview with Lola Rose here:  A Facebook post from the Kiefer Chief of Police Johnny O'Mara sparked controversy, calling the act an 'absolute and total disrespect for a police officer.'  KRMG was able to speak with the former Shift Supervisor who was there that day, who's since been fired, and says that's now exactly how things went down. After a weekend of what she thought was a spread of misinformation,  Lola Rose, the shift manager on duty Thanksgiving Day tells KRMG all of this started out as a joke.  A barista was making drinks for the Officer, put the word ‘pig’ on the cup, just to see if her Barista coworker would yell out the name.  That barista, understandably was uncomfortable yelling out that word, and told Lola about the situation. “[The barista] pointed to the officer, he approached us at the counter... he brushed it off, he thought it was okay. Even in testimonies he provided later on, he knew it was a joke” Rose told KRMG. Rose tells KRMG the barista told her she and the cop were close family friends.  So, seeing as the cop wasn't upset about it, and being an extremely busy day, Rose decided to just let it go and continue on with the day.  But then, chaos. “I recieved a call from the Chief of Police, O’Mara who was upset about the situation... understandably.” She says, with the training she was provided by Starbucks she tried to resolve the situation, something she says both Chief O'Mara and the news media have been reporting inaccurately.  “He’s been telling news media that we only offered to replace the labels on the cups. It’s against health code to take cups back. I offered for him to  come in and we would remake the entire order. For the entire department, not just for the officers who received the order.” But, Chief O'Mara obviously was not satisfied with that response, and took to Facebook.  Hours later, the store was receiving death threats from angry customers, people hoping the police would harm the baristas, it wasn't a fun time.  “I’m a strong person and I can brush these things off, but my 16-year-old Barista who picked up the phone and got that wasn’t and isn’t okay. Those things aren’t okay for them to experience.” So now, both the Barista who made the joke, and Lola have been fired from Starbucks. KRMG reached out to Kiefer Police and Starbucks who have chosen not to comment any further on the matter, other than the original statement. Rose says her plan was always to work at Starbucks, they had given her help in finding and paying for an apartment as well as helping her pay for college, but that’s all gone now. “To just be swept under the rug, and blamed for something I wasn’t even apart of, really goes back on the entire culture of what Starbucks preaches about their partners.”  Rose isn’t deterred however, she tells KRMG she’ll move on from the issue and find something new.  She just wants her side of the story to be told. 
  • Tech companies in the Tulsa area are joining forces with the University of Tulsa and other like-minded organizations to encourage new developments in technology research, to support entrepreneurialism and to create jobs and economic impact. The collective group of organizations will collaborate under the name of COG, or Center of Gravity.  You can listen to the full interview with SINTIR’s Clint Parr and James Yu with Centrex Solutions here: COG is a group of private institutions, philanthropic organizations and commercial companies which are building the infrastructure and resources to catapult Tulsa into a leading science and technology economy COG’s purpose is to share ideas, best practices, resources and business leads with one another in order to help the group as a whole.  When appropriate, members will collaborate together on new business opportunities. The group’s first gathering was an event called COG2019, a tech event created to display the exciting future of scientific and technological research and business growth in Tulsa.  “COG2019 is the first gathering of these tech companies to come together under one roof,” said Clint Parr with SENTIR Research Labs and emcee of the event. “At this event, we will host leading tech researchers, investors, entrepreneurs and many others who are helping to create a substantial ecosystem in the Tulsa tech industry and help put our community on the map.” Parr said the event also will be a place for the investment community to meet existing companies, startups and entrepreneurs to explore business opportunities. The event was held in Caine’s Ballroom where representing members from TU, The Tulsa Regional Chamber, Congressman Kevin Hern as well as 6 tech companies to speak about the venture.  “COG is just one way we are working to make Tulsa more competitive with other markets,” said Parr. “Cities like Austin are way ahead of us with roughly 200 research labs and well-established collaboration with education, philanthropy and investors. We have vast potential ahead of us and we are excited about the momentum we are already seeing.” Parr pointed out that early collaborative efforts with the business, academic and investor community have already produced results. “We’re excited to announce that our work with the Tulsa Regional Chamber and many other tech economy partners is spawning new advanced technology companies in Tulsa, while attracting others to our community” said Parr. “These include Stratalytic Technologies, a SaaS-based, real-time precision monitoring platform, Kanary Alert Systems, an algorithmic based simultaneous gas signature detection solution and True Federal Services, an advanced cybersecurity federal research and contracting company. You can learn more by checking out their Facebook page.
  • A local business owner has inspiring words for females trying to create their own business. Dee Hays is the president and CEO of Excellence Engineering in Tulsa.  You can listen to Dee Hays full interview here:  Located at 8670 S Peoria Ave. in Tulsa, Excellence Engineering has been on the INC 5000 List 6 times, and named one of the 50 Fastest growing women's business in the world 3 different times. Hays tells KRMG she believes a woman can do anything a man can do.  “Never give up. Keep trying, keep trying, keep trying. Fail fast and move forward.”  Hays has a Bachelor in Electrical Engineering from Kansas State, and received a scholarship to Harvard. She says one of the hardest aspects of being a female business owner is being taken seriously. “Everywhere I went people always assumed this business was my father’s or my husband’s... it was never MINE.”  But that hasn’t stopped her from growing her business.  Recently Excellence Engineering went through an expansion at their Peoria location. They now have well over 30 employees.  “I may not know their favorite color, but I know them all pretty well. We’re like a family,” Hayes laughed as we toured the offices.  She encourages not just women, but anyone to do whatever they want to do, and not let any challenges discourage your dreams from coming true. 
  • Officials representing the Tulsa Regional Tourism board of directors and community partners announced today the ongoing economic impact due to delayed funding from the established Tourism Improvement District (TID). A primary example of the negative financial impact is the loss of Tulsa’s opportunity to host the Bassmaster Classic in 2021, which would attract 11,000 visitors and provide a $30 million economic impact to tourism. Additional major meeting and sporting events being pursued by Tulsa Regional Tourism are also at risk. The Tulsa City Council established the TID in November 2018, which allows larger hotels in Tulsa to assess a 3% fee for each room night. By law, the collection of these fees must be exclusively used for marketing activities which recruit major events to Tulsa. The delay in funding from Tulsa’s TID is due to a lawsuit filed a year ago in Tulsa County. “In this case, time is money. The delay in available funding from the TID has cost Tulsa an estimated $50,000 each day in lost opportunity,” said Mike Mears, CEO of Magellan Midstream Partners and chair of the Tulsa Regional Tourism Board of Directors. “After nearly a year, we have lost our chance to bring the Bassmaster Classic back to Tulsa. The $30 million economic impact could have been revenue for our City, for our hotels and restaurants, and for our event sponsors. This one example has set Tulsa back tremendously.” Authorized by an Oklahoma State Statute in 2016, a TID provides cities across the state with the ability to utilize visitor dollars to expand its tourism opportunities. Approximately 180 cities in the United States have similar tourism districts providing the funds necessary to compete for events. Following the establishment of Tulsa’s TID, the City of Norman announced it is creating a TID to fund sports event recruitment. Ray Hoyt, president of Tulsa Regional Tourism, was counting on the TID funding to pursue future events for Tulsa. “The delayed TID funding is having a negative multiplier effect across all of the tourism industry. Our prospective event pipeline is full and all available budget is already allocated to other events,” Hoyt said. “Tulsa lost the Bassmaster bid because the funding we needed to host the event was budgeted from the TID allocation.”   The TID investment was also earmarked for Tulsa’s successful recruitment of the three-year IRONMAN® contract which is expected to bring $11.5 million and 10,000 visitors each year in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
  • Route 66 Main Street in Tulsa has announced the organization has chosen recipients to share in PatriotFest 2019 proceeds. Northeastern Oklahoma organizations working with veterans or advancing veterans causes were considered to receive a portion of the proceeds generated from PatriotFest.  This year’s presentations will be made to representatives from the following organizations:  American Legion Billie A Hall Post 17 Sand Springs Northeastern Oklahoma Veterans Memorial Cemetery Commerce Oklahoma Blue Star Mothers Tulsa Chapter Daniel Webster High School JROTC  Route 66 President & 2019 PatriotFest Chairman Matt Rose tells KRMG they will be giving out over $7,000 to these organizations for their service to local veterans.  PatriotFest is held leading up to Memorial Day in West Tulsa and is organized by Route 66 Main Street. 
  • University of Tulsa leadership was voted away last night. An overwhelming majority of University of Tulsa professors uprooted leadership Wednesday night, succeeding in a vote of no confidence to unseat President Gerard Clancy and Provost Janet Levit. Over 75% of faculty members voted against Clancy and Levit. The vote was 157-44 against Clancy and 161-41 against Levit. There is still question as to if this will alter the implementation of the controversial “True Commitment” reorganization plan, which would eliminate 40% of TU's degree programs and establish a business, health and law 'super college.' It would also funnel all incoming students through a university studies program and reconfigure academic departments as interdisciplinary divisions built around 'contemporary issues.' Several University Professors were open about their disapproval of “True Commitment.”
  • The Blue Dome Pop-Up Shops are up and running each weekend between now and Christmas. Each weekend, from now until Christmas local artists will perform and create in the district.  Artists will rotate in and out of the Blue Dome regularly, each day of each weekend will new host a new group of local artists so that shopping will always be fresh and new. Event details can be found on the Facebook Event Page, where you can find info about who is coming each day and get an idea about what they’ll be offering through artist profiles, weekly promo videos and images of their work. Additionally, many artists will be making special items for the holidays, including ornaments and seasonal decor, as well as running special promotions.  The artists will be performing inside the historic Blue Dome, which is rarely opened and will be decorated for the season. 
  • Still have left over candy from Halloween?  IF so, you don’t NEED to eat all of it. You can donate it.  The Will Family Chiropractic Office, located at 1826 E 15th St, is accepting donations of candy as part of their partnership with Operation Gratitude.  The non-profit sends the leftover goodies to soldiers overseas in the form of care packages.  The best part, you can earn a dollar for every pound of candy you donate.  Dr. Quinn Will tells KRMG however, they won’t be accepting HUGE hauls of candy, and asked that you limit your donations to 4-5 pounds a person.  They’re accepting donations until Friday, and you can leave them at their offices in Tulsa. 
  • A huge fire in Wagoner had crews working for hours to extinguish it.  The Wagoner Fire Department were dispatched at around 7:30 a.m. this morning to D&J’s Auto Clinic at State and Cherokee Street.  Crews tell us the fire did “significant damage” to the building.  Smoke could be seen for miles.  City Officials say via Facebook tap water could be discolored due to high water usage to extinguish the fire.  No word yet on what caused the fire to start. 
  • The M.e.t and Full Sun Composting are partnering to bring awareness to the issue of food waste by accepting holiday pumpkins to compost. Four M.e.t. center locations, as well as at the Owasso Recycling Center, will be accepting holiday gourds, squash and pumpkins at any of the five locations free of charge during the month of November. They ask that residents remove all decorations, such as candles, plastics, or stickers. All pumpkins that are dropped off will be composted by Full Sun Composting. Compost will be available to residents who participated in this event in the Spring of 2020 from Full Sun.
  • Ben Morgan

    News Editor

    Born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, Ben Morgan is new to Tulsa, but is eager to be a part of the KRMG family. He earned his degree in Multimedia Production and Broadcasting at the International College of Broadcasting, graduating in 2018, and has been in radio for about 2 and a half years. Ben is a self-described nerd and loves movies. He can be found at home with his cat playing video games in his free time. You might see him out and about doing interviews and working on stories, but most of the time he'll be behind-the-scenes producing  the Cox Communications broadcast of the KRMG Morning News with Dan Potter on Cox Channel 3 or 1003. Plus, he'll be writing and producing stories for KRMG radio newscasts. Favorite Movie: Pulp Fiction. Favorite Band: Queen. Favorite TV Show: Breaking Bad. Favorite Sports Team: Cleveland Cavaliers.

    Read More
  • Even as Democrats press ahead with a historic effort to impeach President Donald Trump in the House, lawmakers in both parties are on the cusp of possibly producing series of major, bipartisan legislative deals, covering everything from a crackdown on surprise medical bills to a compromise establishing the President's plan for a 'Space Force' at the Pentagon in exchange for a big benefits change for federal workers. The calendar doesn't offer much time for action in either the House or Senate, as lawmakers hope to leave town by the weekend before Christmas - which would give the House and Senate until around December 20-23. Here are some of the big issues which might get resolved in Congress at the same time as Democrats force a vote on impeachment. 1. Lawmakers cut deal on surprise medical bills. Sunday brought news that a group of key lawmakers - in both parties from the House and Senate - had reached agreement on a plan to rein surprise bills which consumers often face, especially after emergency care. Backers stressed the bipartisan nature of the agreement. 'The legislation includes proposals from 80 Senators, 46 Democrats and 34 Republicans,' said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in a Sunday statement. That does not necessarily mean this deal gets voted on in the next two weeks. 2. New minimum age to buy tobacco products. The deal on the issue of surprise medical bills also has some other items involved in it, including a provision which would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 years. The idea of raising the legal age for buying cigarettes and tobacco has been supported in recent months by the Senate's top Republican - Majority Leader Mitch McConnell - but it's not clear if McConnell would rush such a bill to the Senate floor over the next two weeks. 3. 'Space Force' might be ready for launch. Lawmakers in both parties were trying to finalize a major defense policy bill early this week, and the details are expected to finally give President Trump his plan to set up a 'Space Force' inside the Pentagon. The plan - which has been resisted by lawmakers in both parties - would not set up a brand new branch of the military, as sought by President Trump. Instead, the Space Force would operate out of the Air Force, sort of like the Marines are considered part of the Navy. Critics argued a plan to set up a separate new branch of the military would have been too expensive, and would create an unnecessary new bureaucracy. 4. Paid family leave benefit for federal workers? The President won't get his Space Force for nothing in this major defense policy bill, as reportedly the deal with the White House will give around 2.7 million federal workers a new benefit - paid family leave. The plan would reportedly include up to 12 weeks of such leave for federal civilian workers. While no final bill language has been released, a tweet from over the weekend by President Trump's daughter shows this exchange could well be part of the defense bill. Stay tuned. 5. USMCA trade deal still a late year possibility. With a flurry of late negotiations involving U.S., Mexican, and Canadian trade officials, it's still possible that the final touches could be put on a new trade deal among the three nations, and have it voted on by the House and Senate. The White House has been quietly working with Mexico and Canada in recent weeks to work out tweaks to the agreement, mainly dealing with labor and environmental enforcement, trade dispute resolution, and issues dealing with some medical drugs. While the President and his allies keep saying the plan has been sent to Congress already for a vote - that is simply not true. 6. Government funding plan remains in limbo. While there were seemingly agreement on surprise medical billing, the Space Force, and more, lawmakers still have not finalized a giant package of bills to fund the operations of the federal government for 2020. The current temporary funding bill runs out on December 20. While there is obviously the threat of a government shutdown, lawmakers in both parties hope they can either reach a deal now - or extend that temporary spending plan into the New Year. So, this could also be part of a late rush of big legislation.
  • A suspect died Friday morning after opening fire at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola, killing at least three people and injuring seven others. >> Read more trending news  Authorities said the shooting was reported just before 7 a.m. local time in a classroom building at NAS Pensacola. Responding deputies with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office exchanged gunfire with the suspected shooter, killing him, officials said. Here are the latest updates: Update 3:42 p.m. EST Dec. 8: Officials are still trying to determine whether Ahmed Mohammed al-Shamrani acted alone or was part of a terrorist group Friday when he opened fire at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola, The Washington Post reported. Rachel Rojas, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville division, said at a news conference that the agency’s main goal is to determine whether the Saudi air force lieutenant worked as “part of a larger network,” the newspaper reported. Rojas said Shamrani’s weapon, a 9mm Glock, was purchased legally, but she did not describe how Shamrani obtained it and brought it onto the base, according to the Post. Update 10:38 p.m. EST Dec. 7: The third victim of the Naval Air Station Pensacola shooting was identified as Cameron Scott Walters, 21, of Richmond Hill Georgia. “The Sailors that lost their lives in the line of duty and showed exceptional heroism and bravery in the face of evil,” Capt. Tim Kinsella, commanding officer at the installation, said in a release. 'When confronted, they didn’t run from danger; they ran towards it and saved lives. If not for their actions, and the actions of the Naval Security Force that were the first responders on the scene, this incident could have been far worse.” Update 9:58 p.m. EST Dec. 7: Two of the three victims in the deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola were identified. Mohammed “Mo” Haitham, of St. Petersburg, Florida, was killed as he tried to stop the shooter, The Tampa Bay Times reported. Haitham, 19, joined the Navy after graduating high school last year. He was assigned to flight crew training and was expected to graduate later this month. “He said he was going to get his flight jacket for Christmas,” his mother, Evelyn Brady, who also served in the Navy, told the Times. Update 3:08 p.m. EST Dec. 7: Authorities said Mohammed Saeed Ashamrani, the Saudi student who fatally shot three people at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola hosted a dinner party earlier in the week, and he and three other people watched videos of mass shootings, The Associated Press reported Saturday. The official was briefed by federal investigators, according to the AP. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, whose district includes the Pensacola area, tweeted he received condolences from Saudi Ambassador Reema Al-Saud, WEAR-TV reported. Update 11:05 a.m. EST Dec. 7: Family members identified one of the victims fatally shot at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola, the Pensacola News Journal reported Saturday. Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who reported to Pensacola two weeks ago, was one of the three people killed during Friday’s shooting, the newspaper reported. Watson’s brother, Adam Johnson, confirmed the death in a Facebook post, the News Journal reported “Joshua Kaleb Watson saved countless lives today with his own,” Adam Johnson wrote Friday night. ”After being shot multiple times he made it outside and told the first response team where the shooter was and those details were invaluable. 'He died a hero and we are beyond proud but there is a hole in our hearts that can never be filled.” Watson’s father, Benjamin Watson, told the News Journal his son was the officer on deck at the time of the shooting. Joshua Watson was shot at least five times, his father told the newspaper. Update 11:05 a.m. EST Dec. 7: Family members identified one of the victims fatally shot at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola, the Pensacola News Journal reported Saturday. Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who reported to Pensacola two weeks ago, was one of the three people killed during Friday’s shooting, the newspaper reported. Watson’s brother, Adam Johnson, confirmed the death in a Facebook post, the News Journal reported. Update 9:30 p.m. EST Dec. 6: The shooter has been identified as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani according to WKRG. He is one of hundreds of international military members who are receiving training there. In a news conference Friday night, the FBI declined to comment on his possible motivations. “There are many reports circulating, but the FBI deals only in facts,” said Rachel L. Rojas, the FBI’s special agent in charge of the Jacksonville Field Office. “This is still very much an active and ongoing investigation.” Update 2:25 p.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities declined to confirm the identity of the person who shot several people Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola, killing three people before being shot and killed by deputies. “I think there’s obviously going to be a lot of questions about this indivdual being a foreign national, being a part of the Saudi Air Force and then to be here training on our soil and to do this,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday morning at a news conference. “The FBI is working with (the Department of Defense), they’re working with (the Florida Department of Law Enforcement), they’re working with Escambia County sheriff’s to answer those questions.” DeSantis said he spoke earlier Friday with President Donald Trump. “One of the things that I talked to the president about is given that this was a foreign national in the employ of a foreign service ... obviously the government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for the victims,' DeSantis said. 'I think that they, they are going to owe a debt here, given that this was one of their individuals.” Authorities confirmed at a news conference that the suspect used a handgun in Friday’s shooting. Capt. Tim Kinsella, commanding officer of NAS Pensacola, said the suspect was at NAS Pensacola for aviation training. Earlier in the day, deputies said the suspect opened fire just before 7 a.m. local time in a classroom building at NAS Pensacola. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 1:45 p.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities in Pensacola are expected to provide an update Friday afternoon on the investigation into the deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola that left four people dead. Update 1:20 p.m. EST Dec. 6: President Donald Trump said Friday afternoon that he’s spoken to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and received a full briefing on the deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola. “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time,” Trump said. “We are continuing to monitor the situation as the investigation is ongoing.” Update 12:50 p.m. EST Dec. 6: An official told The Associated Press that the person who opened fire Friday at Naval Air Station Pensacola, killing three people and wounding several others before being shot and killed by authorities, was an aviation student from Saudi Arabia. Authorities are investigating to determine whether the shooting was terrorism-related, according to the AP. Military from around the globe attend the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. Authorities are expected to hold a news conference at 12:30 p.m. local time Friday to update the public on the investigation. Update 11:50 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities expect to hold a news conference at 12 p.m. local time Friday to provide more updates on the shooting that left four people dead at Naval Air Station Pensacola.  Update 11:05 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities said a total of 11 people were injured or killed in Friday morning’s shooting, including the suspected shooter. The injured included two responding deputies with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff David Morgan said Friday at a news conference. One deputy was shot in the arm and the other was shot in the knee, Morgan said. They were both expected to survive. Morgan described walking through the scene left by Friday’s attack as being similar to “being in a movie.” “You just don’t expect this to happen here at home,” he said. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 10:45 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials are holding a news conference to update the public on Friday morning’s deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Update 10:25 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Vice President Mike Pence said he’s monitoring the situation in Florida after a shooting left two victims and a suspect dead at Naval Air Station Pensacola. “Praying for the victims & their families,” Pence wrote Friday morning in a Twitter post. “We commend the first responders for their swift action in taking down the shooter & getting those on base to safety.”  Update 10:20 a.m. EST Dec. 6: White House officials said President Donald Trump has been briefed on the deadly shooting reported Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola.  Update 10:15 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials with Naval Air Station Pensacola said the base will closed for the day Friday after a shooting left three people dead earlier in the day. Authorities said at least three people, including the suspected shooter, were killed in the incident. Reports indicated at least eight other people were wounded in the shooting. The incident happened two days after authorities said a U.S. sailor shot and killed two civilian employees before turning the gun on himself at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. One other person was injured in that shooting. Naval Air Station Pensacola employs more than 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel, according to officials. Update 10:10 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said his office has been in “close contact with all the relevant officials & closely monitoring events” after a shooter opened fire at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday morning, killing two people. Authorities said the shooter also died. “Please pray for everyone impacted by this horrible situation,” Rubio said in a Twitter post. Update 10 a.m. EST Dec. 6: A spokesman at Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital told CNN that hospital officials expected to get three patients who had been injured in Friday morning’s shooting, down from the six expected earlier in the day. Hospital spokesman Mike Burke told the news network most victims were taken to Baptist Hospital because of its proximity to the base. Kathy Bowers, a spokeswoman for Baptist Hospital, earlier told the Pensacola News Journal that the hospital had received five patients wounded in Friday’s shooting. Update 9:45 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials with the U.S. Navy have confirmed that a second person has died after a shooter opened fire Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola.  Update 9:35 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials told the Pensacola News Journal two people were confirmed dead after Friday morning’s shooting, in addition to the shooter. Naval officials previously said at least one person had been killed. Update 9:20 a.m. EST Dec. 6: At least 11 people were hospitalized in the immediate aftermath of Friday’s deadly shooting, according to The Associated Press. Ascension Sacred Heart spokesman Mike Burke told the AP six people were taken to the hospital after a shooter opened fire at Naval Air Station Pensacola early Friday. The Pensacola News Journal previously reported five other people were taken to Baptist Hospital with injuries. Naval officials said at least one victim was killed in Friday’s shooting. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 9:10 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials with the U.S. Navy said at least one person died Friday morning in a shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. Authorities said the suspected shooter was also dead Friday morning. Update 9 a.m. EST Dec. 6: An official with Baptist Hospital told the Pensacola News Journal five patients were taken to the hospital after Friday morning’s reported shooting. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 8:55 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said a suspected shooter was dead Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Original report: Authorities are responding Friday morning to reports of shots fired at Naval Air Station Pensacola, according to base officials. Authorities at NAS Pensacola said both gates to the base were closed Friday morning as authorities investigated. Officials with the U.S. Navy said the base was on lockdown around 7:45 a.m. local time. A spokeswoman for ECSO told the Pensacola News Journal deputies were working to “take down” what was described as an active shooter around 7:30 a.m. local time. Officials with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office told WEAR-TV injuries were reported. Details on the number of people wounded and the extent of their injuries was not immediately available. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Check back for updates to this developing story.
  • The Supreme Court on Friday blocked the Trump administration from restarting federal executions next week after a 16-year break. The justices denied the administration's plea to undo a lower court ruling in favor of inmates who have been given execution dates. The first of those had been scheduled for Monday, with a second set for Friday. Two more inmates had been given execution dates in January. Attorney General William Barr announced during the summer that federal executions would resume using a single drug, pentobarbital, to put inmates to death. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington, D.C., temporarily halted the executions after some of the chosen inmates challenged the new execution procedures in court. Chutkan ruled that the procedure approved by Barr likely violates the Federal Death Penalty Act. The federal appeals court in Washington had earlier denied the administration’s emergency plea to put Chutkan’s ruling on hold and allow the executions to proceed. Federal executions are likely to remain on hold at least for several months, while the appeals court in Washington undertakes a full review of Chutkan's ruling. The Supreme Court justices directed the appeals court to act “with appropriate dispatch.” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in a short separate opinion that he believes the government ultimately will win the case and would have set a 60-day deadline for appeals court action. Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh joined Alito's opinion. Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the legal fight would continue. “While we are disappointed with the ruling, we will argue the case on its merits in the D.C. Circuit and, if necessary, the Supreme Court,' Kupec said in a statement. Four inmates won temporary reprieves from the court rulings. Danny Lee was the first inmate scheduled for execution, at 8 o'clock Monday morning. Lee was convicted of killing a family of three, including an 8-year-old. The government had next planned on Friday to execute Wesley Ira Purkey, who raped and murdered a 16-year-old girl and killed an 80-year-old woman. His lawyers say Purkey is suffering from dementia and he has a separate lawsuit pending in federal court in Washington, D.C. Then in January, executions had been scheduled for Alfred Bourgeois, who tortured, molested and then beat his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter to death, and Dustin Lee Honken, who killed five people, including two children. A fifth inmate, Lezmond Mitchell, has had his execution blocked by the federal appeals court in San Francisco over questions of bias against Native Americans. Mitchell beheaded a 63-year-old woman and her 9-year-old granddaughter.
  • As one family mourns the loss of a beloved pet, they are hopeful their heartbreaking experience might save other dog owners some unexpected sorrow. >> Read more trending news  Cori and Kris Clark lost 6-year-old Isa one week ago after the wire-haired pointer ate half a container of chewing gum left in a vehicle console, WTVT reported. “Most of you are aware that we lost our sweet Isa last night. We had to make the hardest decision and our hearts are extremely heartbroken,' the couple wrote on Facebook, adding, “Not only did we lose an amazing dog but we lost a part of our family.” Although the family rushed Isa to an emergency veterinarian upon realizing the problem, she succumbed quickly to seizures and liver failure brought on by the ingestion of Xylitol, KTRK reported. Because Xylitol is a strong stimulator of insulin release, the ingredient is lethal for dogs even in small amounts, KTRK reported. “I had a lady message me yesterday to tell me that our post saved her dog’s life,” Cori Clark told WTVT, adding, “We just want people to be aware.”

Washington Insider

  • Even as Democrats press ahead with a historic effort to impeach President Donald Trump in the House, lawmakers in both parties are on the cusp of possibly producing series of major, bipartisan legislative deals, covering everything from a crackdown on surprise medical bills to a compromise establishing the President's plan for a 'Space Force' at the Pentagon in exchange for a big benefits change for federal workers. The calendar doesn't offer much time for action in either the House or Senate, as lawmakers hope to leave town by the weekend before Christmas - which would give the House and Senate until around December 20-23. Here are some of the big issues which might get resolved in Congress at the same time as Democrats force a vote on impeachment. 1. Lawmakers cut deal on surprise medical bills. Sunday brought news that a group of key lawmakers - in both parties from the House and Senate - had reached agreement on a plan to rein surprise bills which consumers often face, especially after emergency care. Backers stressed the bipartisan nature of the agreement. 'The legislation includes proposals from 80 Senators, 46 Democrats and 34 Republicans,' said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in a Sunday statement. That does not necessarily mean this deal gets voted on in the next two weeks. 2. New minimum age to buy tobacco products. The deal on the issue of surprise medical bills also has some other items involved in it, including a provision which would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 years. The idea of raising the legal age for buying cigarettes and tobacco has been supported in recent months by the Senate's top Republican - Majority Leader Mitch McConnell - but it's not clear if McConnell would rush such a bill to the Senate floor over the next two weeks. 3. 'Space Force' might be ready for launch. Lawmakers in both parties were trying to finalize a major defense policy bill early this week, and the details are expected to finally give President Trump his plan to set up a 'Space Force' inside the Pentagon. The plan - which has been resisted by lawmakers in both parties - would not set up a brand new branch of the military, as sought by President Trump. Instead, the Space Force would operate out of the Air Force, sort of like the Marines are considered part of the Navy. Critics argued a plan to set up a separate new branch of the military would have been too expensive, and would create an unnecessary new bureaucracy. 4. Paid family leave benefit for federal workers? The President won't get his Space Force for nothing in this major defense policy bill, as reportedly the deal with the White House will give around 2.7 million federal workers a new benefit - paid family leave. The plan would reportedly include up to 12 weeks of such leave for federal civilian workers. While no final bill language has been released, a tweet from over the weekend by President Trump's daughter shows this exchange could well be part of the defense bill. Stay tuned. 5. USMCA trade deal still a late year possibility. With a flurry of late negotiations involving U.S., Mexican, and Canadian trade officials, it's still possible that the final touches could be put on a new trade deal among the three nations, and have it voted on by the House and Senate. The White House has been quietly working with Mexico and Canada in recent weeks to work out tweaks to the agreement, mainly dealing with labor and environmental enforcement, trade dispute resolution, and issues dealing with some medical drugs. While the President and his allies keep saying the plan has been sent to Congress already for a vote - that is simply not true. 6. Government funding plan remains in limbo. While there were seemingly agreement on surprise medical billing, the Space Force, and more, lawmakers still have not finalized a giant package of bills to fund the operations of the federal government for 2020. The current temporary funding bill runs out on December 20. While there is obviously the threat of a government shutdown, lawmakers in both parties hope they can either reach a deal now - or extend that temporary spending plan into the New Year. So, this could also be part of a late rush of big legislation.
  • The U.S. economy was humming last month, as the Labor Department reported Friday that 266,000 jobs were created in the month of November, with the nation's unemployment rate ticking down again to the historically low level of 3.5 percent, as job growth in 2018 is now almost equal to last year's levels. Not only were 266 thousand jobs added in November, but the latest jobs report also revised growth upwards in both September and October, adding another 41,000 jobs. Monthly average job growth in 2019 stands at just under 180,000 jobs per month, compared to 182,000 in 2018, and 195,000 in 2017. While some of the November job gains were attributed to workers ending a strike against General Motors, the November job gains were the second largest of 2019, trailing only the 312,000 jobs created in January. GOP lawmakers in Congress hailed the new numbers. While the jobs report indicated stronger than expected growth, the overall numbers in terms of U.S. economic output have shown a slower pace of growth in recent months than earlier in 2019. The U.S. Gross Domestic Product was at 3.1 percent in the first quarter of 2019, but dropped to 2.0 percent in the second quarter. The current estimate is for a 2.1 percent growth rate in the third quarter of 2019. President Trump has repeatedly blamed slowing growth on the head of the Federal Reserve - whom he nominated for the post - arguing the Fed should have cut interest rates more to spur economic activity in the U.S.
  • Invoking the concerns of the Founding Fathers about foreign interference in U.S. elections, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that she was authorizing the House Judiciary Committee to draw up impeachment articles against President Donald Trump, possibly paving the way for a full House vote on impeachment by Christmas. 'In America, no one is above the law,' the Speaker said in a statement to reporters outside her office in the U.S. Capitol. A day after a closed door meeting with fellow Democrats, the Speaker said Congress could not close its eyes to the evidence gathered so far about the President's actions related to Ukraine. 'The facts are uncontested. The President abused his power for his own personal political benefit,' Pelosi said, as Democrats charge Mr. Trump withheld military aid for Ukraine in an effort to force the government to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, as well as a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine - and not Russia - had hacked Democrats in the 2016 campaign. At the White House, the reaction was one of condemnation. 'They have no Impeachment case and are demeaning our Country,' President Trump tweeted about Democrats shortly before the Speaker's announcement.  'But nothing matters to them, they have gone crazy. Therefore I say, if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business,' Mr. Trump added. The White House Press Secretary echoed the President's sentiments on Twitter. Democrats quickly showed their support for the Speaker's decision. “The president abused his power,” said Rep. Val Demings (D-FL).  “The president jeopardized our national security.    The president on multiple occasions obstructed justice.” While Pelosi did not set out a timeline for action, top Democrats have talked about action in the next week by the House Judiciary Committee, followed by a vote in the full House later this month. 21 years ago, Republicans faced a similar time crunch before the holidays, and ended up voting to impeach President Clinton on the Saturday before Christmas. It could be this Congress is heading for an impeachment vote holiday repeat.
  • As the focus of work in Congress on the impeachment of President Donald Trump shifted to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, a panel of constitutional experts became the proxies for both parties in this impeachment fight, with the two sides using the testimony to buttress their points for and against the impeachment effort. 'President Trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors,' said Harvard law professor Noah Feldman. 'If we are to keep faith with the Constitution and our Republic, President Trump must be held to account,' said Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan. 'If what we're talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable,' added University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt. While Democrats focused their questions on their three witnesses, Republicans gravitated to their sole invitee, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. 'If you rush this impeachment, you're going to leave half the country behind,' Turley warned, comparing the Trump impeachment to that of President Andrew Johnson after the Civil War. 'This is the narrowest impeachment in history,' Turley added, urging Democrats to take extra time to bolster the investigative record related to President Trump. At one point, Turley questions about possible impeachment charges centering on abuse of power by President Trump on Democrats. 'It is an abuse power,' Turley said. 'It's your abuse of power.' While Turley said he was no supporter of President Trump, his testimony against impeachment drew interest - because he had testified 21 years ago for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. 'In my view, President Clinton's conduct demands an open and deliberative review under the conditions created for that purpose by the Framers,' Turley testified in November of 1998. 'Allegations of criminal acts in office by a president are perhaps the greatest threat to the perceived legitimacy of government,' Turley told the same House Judiciary Committee twenty one years ago before the Clinton impeachment. In the hearing, GOP lawmakers belittled today's proceedings. 'What a waste,' said Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH). 'This is not an impeachment, this is a simple railroad job,' argued Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA). At the start of the hearing, Republicans forced a series of procedural votes which slowed proceedings, as they demanded testimony from the original Intelligence Community whistleblower who raised questions about the President's actions regarding Ukraine, and demanded the right to question Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the head of the House Intelligence Committee. With Christmas just three weeks away, it was not immediately clear when the Judiciary Committee would move to draw up actual articles of impeachment against the President, or when those votes would take place. 'What are we doing for the next two weeks?' asked Rep. Collins with an aggravated tone. 'I have no idea!' It was a similar situation in December of 1998, when there was talk from GOP leaders - exactly 21 years ago - of not voting on impeachment until the next year. Ultimately, the House Judiciary Committee, and the House, worked through two weekends, holding an impeachment vote in the full House on the Saturday before Christmas.
  • Phone records obtained by the House Intelligence Committee and made public in a new impeachment report from Democrats show President Donald Trump's personal lawyer speaking to the White House and figures in the Ukraine investigation at key times in 2019, and also reveal contacts between Giuliani a mystery phone number labeled only as '-1' in call records. 'Certainly the phone records show there was considerable coordination among the parties, including the White House,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Schiff did not reveal how the call records were obtained, though the legal 'Bates' identifiers used in the report might indicate Giuliani's cell phone records were obtained with a subpoena. It was not immediately clear who the '-1' calls were with - but the New York Times reported that a similar number was found in cell phone records introduced as evidence in the trial of Roger Stone. 'We can't confirm yet who that '-1' number belongs to, but certainly there were indications in the trial of Roger Stone that when he was communicating with the President it would show up in phone records as a 'dash-one' number,' Schiff told CNN's Anderson Cooper in an interview Tuesday evening. The new report from Democrats also had phone records from Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, who helped Giuliani along with Igor Fruman in Ukraine. Parnas and Fruman were arrested in early October and charged with illegally funneling foreign money into U.S. elections. The phone records contained in the new impeachment report also showed Giuliani contacts with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, as well as phone calls between Nunes and Parnas. 'Devin Nunes, you should have recused yourself at the outset' of the impeachment hearings,' tweeted Joseph Bondy, the lawyer for Parnas, who was arrested as he and another Giuliani associate, Igor Fruman, were leaving the country on a flight to Austria. While Nunes refused comment to reporters, he told Sean Hannity on Fox News that he didn't really remember calls with Parnas, saying it was 'possible' they had spoken. Ironically, the revelation of the Nunes-Parnas phone calls came as Nunes filed a $435 million defamation lawsuit against CNN, in which he said, 'Parnas was a renowned liar, a fraudster, a hustler, an opportunist with delusions of grandeur.