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    A Jungle Cruise boat took on water at Disney’s Magic Kingdom Thursday afternoon, Disney officials said. A Disney spokesperson said a boat took on some water and everyone was able to get out of the boat safely. The Reedy Creek Fire Department responded to the incident and helped rescue the guests. The company said it worked with guests individually so they could enjoy the rest of their day at the park. The attraction has since reopened. Guests shared photos of the incident on Facebook and Twitter.
  • A couple of great-grandparents were mistaken as bank robbers and swarmed by police after leaving the bank they are members of. Ottis Dugar, 86, a Korean War veteran, and Demitri Dugar, 67, were leaving the bank and going to go to a Denny’s restaurant when they were stopped at gunpoint by police and detained for 40 minutes, WLS reported. “(The police were) yelling, ‘Get out of the car. Put your hands up.’ And when I’m having a bad knee, I cannot get out,” Demitri, who was driving, told WLS. “They asked me, ‘Who’s in the car?’ I said, ‘My husband.’ ‘What’s his name?’ I said, ’It’s Ottis.' ‘Does he have a gun in the car?’ I said, ’No, we don’t have any guns.' ‘Well, if he’s got a gun in the car we’re going to shoot him.’” The couple were handcuffed and put into separate patrol cars while police determined they were not the suspects. A teller from the bank arrived and told police the Dugars were not the suspects. They were released shortly later. City officials apologized for the mistake. “It was a case of mistaken identity based on the initial report of an eye witness,” The Village of Oak Park said in a statement. “A show-up was conducted at the stop and the witness continued to say the individuals were the ones seen leaving the bank. However, a teller from the bank brought to the show up corrected the information. The couple was immediately released and officers involved in the incident apologized for the mistaken identity. Officers also said the couple did not express any anger or concern about the incident, which all occurred within just a few minutes.” It is unclear if investigators captured the actual suspects.
  • A surprising find inside an apartment in Virginia has wildlife officials buzzing. Virginia Wildlife Management and Control officials removed an 8-foot-long beehive from an apartment ceiling in Richmond on Monday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. The unit was empty at the time of the beehive extraction, The Associated Press reported. The hive of Italian bees was approximately 2 years old, according to wildlife officials. It is believed the bees gained access to the apartment through holes in the siding. The hive produced between 80 and 100 pounds of honey, and crews were able to salvage about 15-20 pounds of it, according to a Virginia Wildlife Management and Control Facebook post. While it is the policy of Virginia Wildlife Management and Control to not kill bees, in this case, the queen bee could not be found, so the hive could not be saved, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
  • A Florida woman and her grown son were indicted Wednesday in the killings of her husband and sister that took place 25 years ago in New Jersey, according to authorities. Dolores Mejia Connors Morgan, 66, and Ted Connors, 47, both of Del Ray Beach, are each charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the 1994 slaying of Ana F. Mejia, 24, and the 1995 killing of 51-year-old Nicholas William Connors, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said in a news release. Both killings took place in the victims’ homes in Long Branch, a beachside city about an hour east of Trenton. A third person, Jose Carrero, 48, of Jackson Township, New Jersey, was also charged with murder in both homicides, Gramiccioni said. Carrero, who, like Morgan and Ted Connors, was arrested Jan. 10, pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of second-degree conspiracy to commit murder in a plea deal with prosecutors. Media reports at the time of the killings indicated that Mejia considered her sister and brother-in-law her parents. An obituary that ran in the Asbury Park Press under the name Ana Mejia-Jimenez listed them as her mother and father, and Ted Connors as her brother. Mejia was found dead Dec. 8, 1994, in the bedroom of the apartment she shared with her boyfriend and her two young children, Gramiccioni said. “Mejia was stabbed multiple times and had a white powdery substance rubbed on her face when she was found. Her children were found safe within the residence,” the prosecutor said in a news release. Investigators initially believed it was cocaine that had been smeared on Mejia’s face, including inside her nose. According to NJ.com, however, the white powder found around Mejia’s nose and mouth was determined to be baby formula. Mejia had been stabbed 23 times and news reports at the time indicated her body was mutilated. Raw HTML blockedit “Six months later, on May 14, 1995, Long Branch police officers were dispatched to the Van Dyke Place home of Nicholas Connors, 51,” the news release said. “There, authorities found Nicholas Connors on a sofa, deceased after multiple gunshot wounds to the head.” Morgan, then 42, was the person who found him dead, NJ.com said. Two of the couple’s children, ages 13 and 12, were home but slept through the shooting. “By habit, he would wait for her to come home before going to bed,” then-Monmouth County Prosecutor John Kaye told the Asbury Park Press in 1995. “She found him on the couch, and there was blood all about.” Gramiccioni said last week that Carrero admitted conspiring with Morgan and Ted Connors “to kill Mejia in retaliation for what they believed were her actions to tip off law enforcement officers about the illegal activities of her boyfriend.” An Asbury Park Press article published in 1994 indicated that Mejia was slain a week after her boyfriend was arrested on drug charges. Raw HTML blockedit NJ.com reported Carrero said in court that Morgan feared her sister, who was allegedly working as a confidential police informant, would also tip detectives off about her illegal activities. She determined Mejia had to die, he indicated. Carrero told the court that he met with Morgan, who said she would pay him to help with the killing, and Ted Connors in the kitchen of the Connors home in 1994 to plan the hit on Mejia. He said he and Ted Connors planned to go to a party together the night of the crime to establish an alibi, NJ.com reported. He said he and Ted Connors left the party and parked down the street from Mejia’s house so no one would see Connors’ vehicle, the news site reported. They went to the house and Mejia opened the door for him and her nephew before returning to her bedroom. Carrero said he covered Mejia’s face with a pillow while Ted Connors stabbed her because he “didn’t want to see her” as she died, NJ.com said. After the murder, the pair returned to the party to maintain their alibi, Carrero said. “Carrero also admitted to conspiring with Ted Connors and Connors’ mother, Delores Morgan (then known as Delores Connors) to kill Nicholas Connors. Nicholas Connors was the adopted father of Ted and then-husband of Delores,” Gramiccioni said last week. Nicholas Connors “was killed in a successful effort to collect on a life insurance policy,” Gramiccioni’s news release indicated. NJ.com reported that Carrero said in court that he, Morgan and Ted Connors again sat at the kitchen table of the family’s home to plot out the husband and father’s killing. He said Ted Connors obtained a gun and Morgan went to work that night so she would not be home when her husband was slain. Carrero said he and Ted Connors again parked down the street from the house before walking to a side door and slicing the screen to make it look like a break-in. When they went inside, Carrero said he could hear a television in the next room. He said he remained in the kitchen while Ted Connors went in and shot his father, the news site reported. When he heard a second shot, he fled and ran to the car, with Ted Connors a couple of steps behind him, NJ.com said. News reports at the time indicated investigators almost immediately suspected the killings of Mejia and Nicholas Connors were related. Carrero said he was never paid outright for the crimes but Morgan loaned him cash at one point and he didn’t pay it back. He also lived at the family’s house for a while, rent-free, until Morgan kicked him out, the news site reported. As part of his plea deal, Carrero has agreed to testify against both of his codefendants. Gramiccioni said in exchange for his testimony, prosecutors would recommend consecutive sentences of five to 10 years in state prison for each of the two charges to which he pleaded guilty. The prosecutor said investigations into the Mejia and Nicholas Connors killings were launched back in 1994 and 1995 but the cases went cold. “Additional evidence recently uncovered by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Cold Case Unit and Long Branch Police Department resulted in charges being signed against the three defendants on Jan. 10, 2020,” Gramiccioni said. NJ.com reported last month that proof of the insurance payout Morgan received following her husband’s killing was part of the new evidence. An affidavit obtained by the site did not give the amount of the insurance payment she received. Cold case detectives also found that both the men accused in the crimes had confessed their alleged involvement to multiple friends. “The information given to (the friends) by Ted Connors and Jose Carrero is supported and proven to be true based on additional information discovered and confirmed in the current review of the file and additional investigation conducted over the last two years,” the affidavit read, according to NJ.com. The investigators also recently uncovered a transcript of a recorded conversation Ted Connors had with a friend about the crimes in 1995. Police re-interviewed one of the witnesses and obtained a new statement from him a couple of months ago, the affidavit said. Carrero’s sentencing was scheduled for June 5, but prosecutors told NJ.com it would not take place until he had testified against Morgan and Ted Connors. Both mother and son remain jailed without bond in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution.
  • As the new coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads across the globe, the World Health Organization has deployed hundreds of doctors and researchers to work to find the cause of the virus and to help slow it’s spread. Because COVID-19 is a new type of coronavirus, many have questions as to what the virus does and how they can protect themselves from it. In addition to questions, the WHO has begun to hear myths about the virus and has issued a fact sheet to try to stem the tide of misinformation. Here are some of those myths about COVID-19 and the WHO’s answer to them. 1. Hand dryers are effective in killing the new coronavirus. No, hand dryers are not effective in killing a virus. The best way to protect yourself is to wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Then use a hand dryer or a paper towel to dry your hands. 2. Ultraviolet disinfection lamps kill COVID-19 No, ultraviolet lamps will not kill the virus and they can cause skin irritation. 3. Spraying alcohol or chlorine bleach on yourself can kill the virus. No. They won’t kill the virus, and they will burn your skin. You can, however, use those substances to clean surfaces in your home or office that could have the virus on them. 4. It’s unsafe to open a package from China. Yes, it is safe to open it. Coronaviruses do not survive long on objects like letters or packages. 5. I can get the coronavirus from my pet. According to the WHO, there is no evidence that companion animals such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. 6. The pneumonia vaccine provides protection against COVID-19. There is no vaccine yet that protects against the coronavirus, including pneumonia viruses. Researchers have said they believe a vaccine for COVID-19 will be available in about a year. 7. Saline rinses help kill the virus. No. There is no evidence that regularly rinsing your nostrils with saline offers any protection against the new coronavirus. 8. The coronavirus is only dangerous for older people and those who have pre-existing medical conditions. No, the coronavirus can affect anyone. Older people and those with certain medical conditions appear more vulnerable to the virus, according to the WHO. 9. Antibiotics will help if you get the virus. No, COVID-19 is a virus. Antibiotics do not work against viruses. 10. Medicine given after the virus can cure it. There is no medicine that will prevent the virus. The medicines used after a person gets the virus are aimed at treating the symptoms. Researchers are working on a vaccine against the virus.
  • A dog’s delight quickly turned into “The Twilight Zone” when he was trapped in a vat at a meat processing plant in Tennessee. Animal control officers rescued McGregor Feb. 19 after he was found caught in machinery 12 feet down by employees at the factory. “This rescue was particularly dramatic,” said Katie Pemberton, spokeswoman at Memphis Animals Services. “Animal control officers put themselves in dangerous situations every day.” Officers Amanda Sutter and Ashley Hunley used two control poles to pull the lethargic 68-pound dog to safety. He was taken to Animal Services for evaluation. It’s believed that McGregor was in the machinery for up to 12 hours and exhausted himself trying to escape. Only his head and paws were visible, WHBQ reported. Because of McGregor’s tenacity, staff at Animal Services named him in honor of mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor. McGregor was overall in good health. He was taken to Woof River Animal Rescue for further treatment. He started eating again when the rescue introduced him to Nano, a small pug. McGregor was then placed in a foster home while he waits to be adopted.
  • Derrick Marks Jr.’s mother said he was hurting, mourning a best friend gunned down outside a central Alabama barbershop Tuesday. “I know you forever with me until we meet again,” Marks wrote on his Facebook page about three hours after Delquan McNeily, 21, was killed. Marks, 25, of Birmingham, decided to meet some friends to play video games and take his mind off his friend’s slaying. Minutes after leaving his home, Marks was also cut down by a bullet, AL.com reported. He died a short time later at St. Vincent’s East Hospital. “We never got a chance to see him,’’ Catrina Carey said of her son’s body. “I’m devastated. I haven’t eaten. I haven’t slept. I haven’t put my eyes on him.” The spate of violence began around 1:40 p.m. Tuesday when gunfire broke out outside Corey’s Barber Shop in Center Point, AL.com said. McNeily was found dead near the doorway of the business. David Agee, deputy chief of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, said the preliminary investigation indicated a group of men were arguing outside the barber shop, which AL.com reported is located in a heavily-populated commercial area. Witnesses from nearby businesses reported hearing at least five or six gunshots and seeing a vehicle speed away. “We don’t know what the argument was about, but weapons were drawn and a man was shot, and he is dead,” Agee said at the scene. AL.com reported that investigators determined McNeily and another man were arguing when a third person came out of the barber shop and opened fire, striking the victim. He was pronounced dead at 1:50 p.m. Marks was among the grief-stricken family and friends who gathered outside the barrier of police tape cordoning off the shop that afternoon, Carey told the news site. “They were best friends,’’ Carey said of McNeily and her son. “He used to be at my home all the time. They were very close. He was very sweet. He was the one in the bunch that never talked. He was on the timid side.” Carey said she saw her son when he came home from the crime scene in Center Point. Concerned about the violence and about how upset Marks was, she begged him to stay in that night. “I said, ‘Just don’t go back out. I don’t know what’s going on. Please just stay in the house,‘” Carey told AL.com. Marks got a phone call, however, and was soon packing up his gaming console to take with him to the Hunter Ridge Apartments in nearby Irondale, where he and friends planned to play for cash. He walked out the door around 6 p.m. and within 15 minutes, he had been fatally wounded. Carey told AL.com a bullet that struck Marks in the leg traveled internally to his heart, killing him. He was pronounced dead at the hospital at 7:13 p.m., less than six hours after his best friend’s official time of death. The shootings took place about 6 miles apart. Irondale police officials told the news site Marks was found sitting in a vehicle in the apartment complex’s parking lot, which was littered with about three dozen shell casings. Investigators do not believe he was in the vehicle when he was shot. Carey said she believes her son may have been ambushed by someone who knew he was bringing cash to the apartment. She said she believes the two shootings in such a short time span are a coincidence. “In my heart, I don’t feel like one had anything to do with the other,” she told AL.com. Carey said she was still trying to comprehend both her son and his best friend being killed. “There’s so much violence in the neighborhood. We trying to talk to the kids, and the teens, and the young men, but the violence has just taken over,” she said. Carey said she will always remember the creative side of her son, who worked in refrigeration but dreamed of being a rapper. Marks had some success on the local rap scene under the stage name ABM Brazi. She urged the person who shot her son to surrender to police. “Whoever did it, especially if it was a friend, turn yourself in. You really hurt a lot of people,” Carey said, according to the news site. “I forgive you and I hope God blesses you, but I want justice served.”
  • It’s unclear how it happened, but an empty dump trailer crashed, leaving the vehicle upended against an Indiana highway overpass Thursday morning. The crash was quickly cleared around 1 a.m. and the bridge was inspected for structural integrity and deemed OK, WRTV reported. Indiana State Police Sgt. Glen Fifield called the accident a “mishap.” The driver’s condition was unclear.
  • As the media covers stories about COVID-19, or nova coronavirus, kids are being exposed to the news that there is a health threat, but they may not understand what it means. Parents and other trusted adults are going to get questions as the illness spreads across the country. Perspective Experts say first it is important to put coronavirus in perspective. While the news focuses on coronavirus, and it sounds scary, the impact may be minor for kids. The Journal of the American Medical Associated says most of those infected are between the ages of 49 and 56. If children develop the illness, they have milder symptoms, Dr. H. Cody Meissner, an infectious disease expert, told The New York Times. Dr. Mark Mulligan, another infectious disease expert, told the paper, “Flu is killing a lot more Americans, including children. There’s no doubt the influenza virus will cause many more illnesses, hospitalizations and even deaths than this coronavirus.” Protect yourself Like any illness, children need to be taught to wash their hands and do it correctly for at least 20 seconds with water AND soap. And they should do it frequently - before eating, after they use the bathroom, when they come in from outside or after they touch something dirty, the Times reported. If they see someone coughing or sneezing, try to stay 6 feet way away from that person. If an outbreak is declared in your area, stay home. Don’t go to stores, movies or sporting events. Even schools could close to stop the spread of the virus. Be positive, age appropriate Don’t be all doom and gloom for kids. They will latch on to it, child psychologists say, according to NBC News. But you can also explain why the information seems to be everywhere. If you do explain what’s going on, use age-appropriate language, child experts say. They may be worried more about their close circle -- like parents, family members and their pets. Reassure them that they will be OK. One outlet that may help is BrainPOP, an online education site some schools use to supplement education. The company has produced a video that deals with coronavirus. Also, be confident with your knowledge. Kids will follow your lead, not only when talking about what is in the news but also how they act. They will wash their hands if you wash yours, NBC News reported. Older kids, preteens and teens, can have context added to the discussion. But the most important thing a parent or an adult can do is listen. Listen to their questions, answer them, and comfort them, NBC News reported.
  • U.S. sales of new homes jumped 7.9% in January to the fastest pace in more than 12 years, a positive sign for economic growth. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that new homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 764,000 last month. That’s the highest sales rate since July 2007, shortly before the U.S. economy slumped into the Great Recession. Half of January’s sales gains came from people buying homes that have yet to be constructed, possible evidence that low mortgage rates may be driving their decisions to purchase. Borrowing costs for home loans have tumbled since 2018. But a shortage of properties on the market means that prices are also rising quickly. The median price of a new home surged 14% from a year ago to $348,200.
  • U.S. sales of new homes jumped 7.9% in January to the fastest pace in more than 12 years, a positive sign for economic growth. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that new homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 764,000 last month. That’s the highest sales rate since July 2007, shortly before the U.S. economy slumped into the Great Recession. Half of January’s sales gains came from people buying homes that have yet to be constructed, possible evidence that low mortgage rates may be driving their decisions to purchase. Borrowing costs for home loans have tumbled since 2018. But a shortage of properties on the market means that prices are also rising quickly. The median price of a new home surged 14% from a year ago to $348,200.
  • With less than 48 hours until the polls open on Saturday for the South Carolina Primary, several of the top candidates in the Democratic Party race on Thursday decided to leave the Palmetto State behind, and jump ahead to some of the 14 states which vote on Super Tuesday. Bernie Sanders was hitting two Super Tuesday states on Thursday, holding a late morning rally in Winston Salem, North Carolina, before going on to Richmond, Virginia, two states which vote next week. Sanders finishes Thursday with a rally at Wofford College in Spartanburg. Unlike the past few days on the stump in South Carolina, where Sanders has thrown elbows at Michael Bloomberg and Joe Biden, Sanders in North Carolina instead focused his ire on President Donald Trump. 'I believe that Donald Trump is a hoax,' Sanders said, criticizing the President for his views on climate change. Along with Sanders, Elizabeth Warren was also taking a day off from the Palmetto State, as she had a rally in San Antonio. Part of Super Tuesday, Texas has not attracted a great deal of campaign attention until now, even though 228 delegates are at stake in the Lone Star State - more than the 155 delegates awarded from the first four contests combined in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. While both Warren and Sanders were going to return to South Carolina, the calculus was a bit different for Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who has now wrapped up her campaign in South Carolina, and moved on to Super Tuesday states. The Minnesota Democrat started her Thursday with a voting rights roundtable in Greensboro, North Carolina. 'As much as maybe the debates may have seemed like slugfests, I want to you to remember what an exciting time this is in our politics,' Klobuchar said. “Call your friends, tell them what you heard today,” Klobuchar said at a second event in the Tar Heel State. “It is not about the biggest bank account,” Klobuchar said of the campaign.  “That's been shown time and time again.” Klobuchar will campaign Friday and Saturday in North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee - all three states are on the docket for Super Tuesday.  While Klobuchar, Warren, and Sanders spent time outside South Carolina, Tom Steyer, Joe Biden, and Pete Buttigieg were still doing campaign events in the Palmetto State on Thursday. The latest poll from Monmouth University showed a growing lead for Biden.
  • Adding another item to their election year list of grievances about President Donald Trump, the candidates for the Democratic Party nomination have stepped up their criticism of the White House response to the Coronavirus, arguing it is emblematic of what they charge is the President's haphazard method of governing. 'I am deeply concerned not just by the rise of cases of Coronavirus worldwide, but by the inadequate and incompetent response we have seen from Donald Trump and his administration,' said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). 'He has done an absolutely terrible job of responding,' Tom Steyer said of the President at a campaign stop on Wednesday in Georgetown, South Carolina.  'He is incompetent,' added Steyer, as Democrats blasted the President for proposing cuts at the Centers for Disease Control. 'The Trump administration is absolutely bungling the response,' said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), as she accused the President of 'putting our public health and our economy at risk.' In a CNN televised town hall on Wednesday night in Charleston, Mike Bloomberg joined in ridiculing the White House response. 'Number one, he fired the pandemic team two years ago,' Bloomberg said. 'Number two, he's been defunding Centers for Disease Control. So, we don't have the experts in place that we need.' The comments came as Bloomberg has already put up a campaign ad saying that he would be the perfect politician to handle such a crisis. In a separate CNN town hall, Joe Biden said the U.S. needs to challenge the Chinese more on how the government is handling the situation. 'I would not be taking China's word for it,' Biden said. “I just hope the President gets on the same page as the scientists.' Asked about the President putting Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the Coronavirus response, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) said there might have been better choices. “I would think, usually, you might put a medical professional in charge,” Klobuchar said to laughter from the audience at a CNN town hall.
  • A day after a raucous final debate before Saturday's key primary in the Palmetto State, Joe Biden rolled out a major endorsement from the most influential black Democrat in South Carolina, while Bernie Sanders said Biden does not have the ability to defeat President Trump in November. 'Jim, you better hope I don't win because you're going to be the busiest man in the world,' Biden told Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), just before Clyburn officially weighed in on behalf of Biden. 'I know Joe Biden. I know his character, his heart, and his record,' Clyburn said, as he urged black voters to back the former Vice President this weekend. 'We know Joe. But more importantly, he knows us,' Clyburn added. During a stop in Georgetown, a small port town up the coast from Charleston, Biden urged voters to turn out and vote on Saturday. “Take back the country - now,” Biden said, his voice rising. Before a group of local officials and voters, Biden made clear his dislike for President Trump - 'he's more George Wallace than George Washington' - and gently chided Bernie Sanders with familiar jabs on health care and gun control. 'God Bless Bernie,' Biden said, reminding voters that Sanders has made big promises which cost trillions of dollars. 'I'm not picking on Bernie or those who are for Medicare For All, I just think it's a little bit of honesty about what in fact, things are going to cost - who is going to pay for it,' Biden said. While Biden looked to consolidate his support among African-American voters, Sanders rushed across the state to sign up more people for his election crusade. 'Some of you may have recently heard that the establishment is getting very, very nervous about our movement,' Sanders said at a rally in North Charleston. While Sanders mainly focused on President Trump, the independent Senator from Vermont also added in some new jabs at Biden to Wednesday's stump speech. 'Same old, same old, is not going to do it,' Sanders said, making the argument that Biden is not going to bring enough new voters into the Democratic Party to defeat President Trump in November. 'And I say to my good friend, Joe Biden - Joe, you can't do it,' Sanders added, making the case that he is the only candidate who can win the White House. 'Joe is a friend of mine and a decent guy, but that is not the voting record or the history that is going to excite people, bring them into the political process, and beat Trump,' Sanders added. Polls in South Carolina show Biden and Sanders far ahead of the field, with only Tom Steyer - who has spent large amounts of money on advertising in this state - in striking distance of the two leaders. Steyer and Biden were about four blocks from each other in Georgetown, as Steyer spoke to a small, racially mixed crowd at a black church several blocks from the water. 'I've been here more than anyone else,' Steyer said of his attention to South Carolina, as his visits combined with a lot of television ads have propelled him into the mix here - unlike any other state so far. Steyer rattled off his work on impeachment and blasted President Trump at every opportunity, calling him incompetent. 'He stinks on the economy,' Steyer said. Only a few blocks away, both men had essentially the same message for their audiences in Georgetown. 'South Carolina gets a huge voice on Saturday,' Steyer said. 'Get up and take back the country!' Biden implored.
  • Los Angeles County firefighters responded to a large refinery fire that temporarily closed all lanes of the 405 Freeway Tuesday night in the city of Carson. KTLA-TV reports that massive flames could be seen burning from the Marathon Petroleum Corporation located 13 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. The Los Angeles County Fire Department said the fire sparked about 10:50 p.m. An explosion went off before the fire began burning in a cooling tower at the refinery, the department said. Personnel from the refinery were keeping the flames in check through “fixed ground monitors” while working to depressurize the system, fire officials said. Authorities secured a perimeter around the refinery and did not anticipate needing to evacuate residents, officials said. Marathon is the largest refinery on the West Coast with a crude oil capacity of 363,000 barrels per calendar day, according to the company’s website. It manufactures gasoline and diesel fuel, along with distillates, petroleum coke, anode-grade coke, chemical-grade propylene, fuel-grade coke, heavy fuel oil and propane, the website says. Authorities could not immediately confirm what sparked the fire. No injuries have been reported so far.

Washington Insider

  • With less than 48 hours until the polls open on Saturday for the South Carolina Primary, several of the top candidates in the Democratic Party race on Thursday decided to leave the Palmetto State behind, and jump ahead to some of the 14 states which vote on Super Tuesday. Bernie Sanders was hitting two Super Tuesday states on Thursday, holding a late morning rally in Winston Salem, North Carolina, before going on to Richmond, Virginia, two states which vote next week. Sanders finishes Thursday with a rally at Wofford College in Spartanburg. Unlike the past few days on the stump in South Carolina, where Sanders has thrown elbows at Michael Bloomberg and Joe Biden, Sanders in North Carolina instead focused his ire on President Donald Trump. 'I believe that Donald Trump is a hoax,' Sanders said, criticizing the President for his views on climate change. Along with Sanders, Elizabeth Warren was also taking a day off from the Palmetto State, as she had a rally in San Antonio. Part of Super Tuesday, Texas has not attracted a great deal of campaign attention until now, even though 228 delegates are at stake in the Lone Star State - more than the 155 delegates awarded from the first four contests combined in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. While both Warren and Sanders were going to return to South Carolina, the calculus was a bit different for Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who has now wrapped up her campaign in South Carolina, and moved on to Super Tuesday states. The Minnesota Democrat started her Thursday with a voting rights roundtable in Greensboro, North Carolina. 'As much as maybe the debates may have seemed like slugfests, I want to you to remember what an exciting time this is in our politics,' Klobuchar said. “Call your friends, tell them what you heard today,” Klobuchar said at a second event in the Tar Heel State. “It is not about the biggest bank account,” Klobuchar said of the campaign.  “That's been shown time and time again.” Klobuchar will campaign Friday and Saturday in North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee - all three states are on the docket for Super Tuesday.  While Klobuchar, Warren, and Sanders spent time outside South Carolina, Tom Steyer, Joe Biden, and Pete Buttigieg were still doing campaign events in the Palmetto State on Thursday. The latest poll from Monmouth University showed a growing lead for Biden.
  • Adding another item to their election year list of grievances about President Donald Trump, the candidates for the Democratic Party nomination have stepped up their criticism of the White House response to the Coronavirus, arguing it is emblematic of what they charge is the President's haphazard method of governing. 'I am deeply concerned not just by the rise of cases of Coronavirus worldwide, but by the inadequate and incompetent response we have seen from Donald Trump and his administration,' said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). 'He has done an absolutely terrible job of responding,' Tom Steyer said of the President at a campaign stop on Wednesday in Georgetown, South Carolina.  'He is incompetent,' added Steyer, as Democrats blasted the President for proposing cuts at the Centers for Disease Control. 'The Trump administration is absolutely bungling the response,' said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), as she accused the President of 'putting our public health and our economy at risk.' In a CNN televised town hall on Wednesday night in Charleston, Mike Bloomberg joined in ridiculing the White House response. 'Number one, he fired the pandemic team two years ago,' Bloomberg said. 'Number two, he's been defunding Centers for Disease Control. So, we don't have the experts in place that we need.' The comments came as Bloomberg has already put up a campaign ad saying that he would be the perfect politician to handle such a crisis. In a separate CNN town hall, Joe Biden said the U.S. needs to challenge the Chinese more on how the government is handling the situation. 'I would not be taking China's word for it,' Biden said. “I just hope the President gets on the same page as the scientists.' Asked about the President putting Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the Coronavirus response, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) said there might have been better choices. “I would think, usually, you might put a medical professional in charge,” Klobuchar said to laughter from the audience at a CNN town hall.
  • A day after a raucous final debate before Saturday's key primary in the Palmetto State, Joe Biden rolled out a major endorsement from the most influential black Democrat in South Carolina, while Bernie Sanders said Biden does not have the ability to defeat President Trump in November. 'Jim, you better hope I don't win because you're going to be the busiest man in the world,' Biden told Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), just before Clyburn officially weighed in on behalf of Biden. 'I know Joe Biden. I know his character, his heart, and his record,' Clyburn said, as he urged black voters to back the former Vice President this weekend. 'We know Joe. But more importantly, he knows us,' Clyburn added. During a stop in Georgetown, a small port town up the coast from Charleston, Biden urged voters to turn out and vote on Saturday. “Take back the country - now,” Biden said, his voice rising. Before a group of local officials and voters, Biden made clear his dislike for President Trump - 'he's more George Wallace than George Washington' - and gently chided Bernie Sanders with familiar jabs on health care and gun control. 'God Bless Bernie,' Biden said, reminding voters that Sanders has made big promises which cost trillions of dollars. 'I'm not picking on Bernie or those who are for Medicare For All, I just think it's a little bit of honesty about what in fact, things are going to cost - who is going to pay for it,' Biden said. While Biden looked to consolidate his support among African-American voters, Sanders rushed across the state to sign up more people for his election crusade. 'Some of you may have recently heard that the establishment is getting very, very nervous about our movement,' Sanders said at a rally in North Charleston. While Sanders mainly focused on President Trump, the independent Senator from Vermont also added in some new jabs at Biden to Wednesday's stump speech. 'Same old, same old, is not going to do it,' Sanders said, making the argument that Biden is not going to bring enough new voters into the Democratic Party to defeat President Trump in November. 'And I say to my good friend, Joe Biden - Joe, you can't do it,' Sanders added, making the case that he is the only candidate who can win the White House. 'Joe is a friend of mine and a decent guy, but that is not the voting record or the history that is going to excite people, bring them into the political process, and beat Trump,' Sanders added. Polls in South Carolina show Biden and Sanders far ahead of the field, with only Tom Steyer - who has spent large amounts of money on advertising in this state - in striking distance of the two leaders. Steyer and Biden were about four blocks from each other in Georgetown, as Steyer spoke to a small, racially mixed crowd at a black church several blocks from the water. 'I've been here more than anyone else,' Steyer said of his attention to South Carolina, as his visits combined with a lot of television ads have propelled him into the mix here - unlike any other state so far. Steyer rattled off his work on impeachment and blasted President Trump at every opportunity, calling him incompetent. 'He stinks on the economy,' Steyer said. Only a few blocks away, both men had essentially the same message for their audiences in Georgetown. 'South Carolina gets a huge voice on Saturday,' Steyer said. 'Get up and take back the country!' Biden implored.
  • For the first time in the 2020 Democratic Party race for President, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took the brunt of the attacks on stage, as the front runner was bluntly accused of being so liberal on a variety of issues that a Sanders nomination would cause more moderate Democrats in Congress to lose their seats in Congress. 'They are running away from your platform as fast as they possibly can,' Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg said to Sanders, drawing cheers from the debate audience. The verbal battle got so heated at times - as the CBS moderators struggled to keep control of the debate - that Buttigieg, Sanders, and others simply talked over each other repeatedly, making it hard to hear what was going on. Here's a quick look at how each of the seven candidates fared on stage Tuesday night. + BERNIE SANDERS. Sanders might have been bloodied, but he certainly wasn't beaten down by the other Democrats on stage, though the independent Vermont Senator seemed to be tiring of the attacks late in the debate, as he yelled more and more loudly. 'Hey, Amy,' he roared at one point, trying to push back at Amy Klobuchar. 'Really?' Sanders said as he was jeered at one point by the audience - another time Sanders was booed when he criticized Joe Biden while debating gun control. But whether it was his words about Fidel Castro and Cuba, or his plans for Medicare For All, Sanders was not apologizing for where he's been - or where he wants to go. + JOE BIDEN. Biden did not mince any words when pressed about how he needed to do on Saturday in South Carolina. 'I will win,' the former Vice President said, in a Joe Namath Super Bowl victory guarantee. It may have been Biden's best debate so far, as he jabbed at Sanders repeatedly - 'Bernie in fact hasn't passed much of anything' - and again raised questions about how Sanders has dealt with gun control legislation. When the debates began last summer, Biden would always nicely follow the rules and stop talking when his time was up. But by debate number ten on Tuesday night, he was done with that. 'Why am I stopping? No one else stops,' Biden told the CBS moderators. + ELIZABETH WARREN. Warren had the most unique game plan at the debate, as she spent very little time talking about why she would be good as President, but spent a lot of time trashing former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Every chance Warren got, she turned a topic into a referendum on Bloomberg. Why hasn't he released his taxes. What about non-disclosure agreements with his employees. She accused Bloomberg of racism on housing. In fact, Warren's attacks went so far that some in the crowd jeered her at one point as she launched a new attack on Bloomberg. The closest she got to saying anything bad about Sanders was when she said, 'Bernie and I agree on a lot of things, but I think I would make a better President than Bernie.' + PETE BUTTIGIEG. Maybe the most effective in leading the charge against Sanders in the debate was Buttigieg, as the two often talked over each other in a battle of wits between the 78 year old Senator and the 38 year old Mayor. Buttigieg mocked the idea that Sanders could win in November, portraying his nomination as a toxic brew which could cost Democrats control of the House, and the defeat of dozens of more moderate Democratic lawmakers elected in 2018. 'Stop acting like the presidency is the only office that matters,' Buttigieg chastised Sanders. One thing Buttigieg did not repeat from last week in Las Vegas was his mini battles with Amy Klobuchar. + AMY KLOBUCHAR. While Amy Klobuchar repeatedly tried to explain how she had been working on issues big and small in the Congress, she did not pull any punches about Bernie Sanders, joining attacks from others that Sanders could be a big liability in November up and down the ballot. 'I like Bernie,' Klobuchar said. 'But I do not believe this is the best person to lead the ticket.'  Klobuchar will campaign in South Carolina on Wednesday, but then leave the state to look for votes in some of the states which vote on Super Tuesday, March 3. + TOM STEYER. While Steyer is not a major force around the country, he has been polling strongly in third place here in the Palmetto State - which means that his debate effort could have a bigger impact on Saturday's vote. Steyer has also made some inroads in the black community in South Carolina, maybe grabbing some votes away from Joe Biden. Both men will be campaigning within a few blocks of each other on Wednesday. + MICHAEL BLOOMBERG. In his second debate, Bloomberg did not repeat his first debate performance, which was widely panned, though he struggled to deliver some one liners which fell flat.  During this debate, Bloomberg again found himself under fire from Elizabeth Warren, but tried to use his time on the debate stage to raise questions about Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump instead. Remember - Bloomberg is not even on the ballot in South Carolina, as he is focused on the Super Tuesday states of March 3.
  • While Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took the most flak at Tuesday night's Democratic Party debate in South Carolina, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) ran against the grain of others on stage, repeatedly attacking Michael Bloomberg as she did in a debate last week in Nevada. 'I don't care how much money Mayor Bloomberg has,' Warren said at one point in the debate. 'The core of the Democratic Party will never trust him.' 'Is Warren running to win the nomination or to be Bernie’s wingman?' tweeted political analyst Stu Rothenberg, as Warren spent more time attacking Bloomberg than talking about why she should be President. 'Warren can slay Bloomberg, but what does she get out of it?' said Joe Lockhart, a former White House Press Secretary under President Barack Obama. In one exchange with Bloomberg, Warren pressed the former New York mayor so much that some in the crowd began jeering the Massachusetts Senator. As the debate began, Warren made the case that she was the better progressive choice than Sanders, but did not try to tear down the Independent Senator from Vermont. 'Bernie and I agree on a lot of things, but I think I would make a better president than Bernie,' Warren said. 'Progressives have got one shot. And we need to spend it with a leader who will get something done,' Warren added, as the closest she came to criticizing Sanders directly came as she accused Sanders aides of attacking her. 'And then Bernie's team trashed me for it,' Warren said. But after that - it was almost all about Bloomberg. The polls in South Carolina have not shown much in the way of promise for Warren, as she's been mired in a battle for fourth place with Pete Buttigieg, well behind Joe Biden, Sanders, and Tom Steyer.