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LIVE COVERAGE: Donald Trump’s Inauguration 2017

January 20, 2017

Here’s the full schedule of events for President-elect Trump. (all times Eastern):

Thursday, January 19

3:00 p.m. – Wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery
4:00 p.m. – “Make America Great Again!” welcome celebration
7:30 p.m. – Candlelight dinner at Washington’s Union Station

Friday, January 20

8:30 a.m. – Private prayer service for Trump and his family at St. John’s Episcopal Church
9:30 a.m. – Coffee date at the White House between the incoming and outgoing presidents
11:30 a.m. – Swearing-in ceremony, with performances by Jackie Evancho, The Rockettes and more
12:00 p.m. – Oath of office and Trump’s inaugural address

Afterward, Trump and Pence will attend the Congressional Lunch in the Capitol.

3:00 p.m. – Inaugural parade
7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. – Inaugural balls, which will be attended by the president-elect, vice president-elect and their wives.

Official Livestream:

Livestream 2

Livestream 3

Bad News

ISIS militants partly destroy Palmyra’s Roman amphitheater

January 20, 2017

BEIRUT – Islamic State militants have partially destroyed a Roman amphitheater that they were using for their macabre executions in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, state officials said Friday.

The extremist group seized control of the area last month for the second time, reversing one of Russia’s largest military victories in Syria, and raising fears that the jihadists would destroy what remained of one of the most famous Roman sites in the Middle East.

A major stop for the cross-desert caravans, this 3rd century Roman city was once ruled over by the legendary Queen Zenobia and one of the best preserved cities of the classical era.

During their previous control of the town, the Islamic State destroyed two of its temples and the huge triumphal arch honoring Roman Emperor Septimius Severus.

“This is not just the destruction of ancient ruins, this is the destruction of civilization,” Maamon Abdulkarim, Syria’s antiquities minister, told The Washington Post.

Satellite imagery shows the Islamic State militants appear to have destroyed large parts of the amphitheater’s facade and structures on the stage.

They also demolished the Tetrapylon, a towering structure marking the intersection of the cities two main boulevards.

Aerial footage posted online by Palmyra Monitor, an activist network with contacts inside the area, appeared to show the structure shattered into a pile of stones.

Like many of the country’s ancient treasures, Palmyra’s ruins have been looted by government forces, damaged in fighting and airstrikes and shattered with dynamite during its occupation by the Islamic State – a group that has delighted in destroying archeological sites in Syria and Iraq, labeling them as pagan.

Russian airstrikes facilitated the Syrian government’s recapture of Palmyra in March, marking Moscow’s most concrete victory at the time against the Islamic State group in the since it intervened to prop up President Bashar al-Assad’s then-crumbling fortunes.

But when Islamic State forces moved to retake the area in December, they met with little resistance.

Khaled al-Homsi, an activist from the area, said Thursday that the extremist group had executed twelve prisoners, some on the ampitheater stage. Most of the dead were said to be Syrian soldiers or government-allied militiamen. Four were teachers or government officials.

Once one of Syria’s most popular tourist destinations, Palmyra was believed to be largely deserted by the time it fell to the Islamic State for a second time. Homsi said the area was mostly home to government forces and militiamen, with less than 100 civilians remaining.

Featured Image:


(c) 2017, The Washington Post

VIDEOS, Viral Videos

SHOCKING VIDEO: Anti-Trump Protester Sucker Punches Trump Supporter In The Face

January 20, 2017

Shocking video has emerged of a Donald Trump supporter being punched in the face outside the DeploraBall.

James Allsup was wearing a Trump T-shirt and ‘Make America Great Again’ hat while engaging in a debate at an anti-Trump protest.

A man wearing a ski-mask can be seen grabbing his hat, Allsup is then punched by another coward.

Speaking to Fox News, Allsup, with blood gushing from his head, said he blacked out for a minute following the punch.

“I’m all for disagreeing, I debate people all the time and I want to engage in these discussions, but they’re throwing bottles,” he said. “I would be livid if people who supported Trump were doing this to Hillary [Clinton] supporters.”

Bad News

CNN Slammed For Report On Who Would Take Power If Trump And Pence Were Assassinated

January 19, 2017

In a somewhat unnerving report, CNN made the decision to brainstorm what would happen if President-elect Trump and Vice-President-elect Mike Pence were assassinated at Friday’s inauguration.

CNN concluded that a member of the Obama cabinet would be selected to take over.

The segment envisioned a scenario in which Speaker of the House Paul Ryan as well as President pro tempore of the US Senate, Orrin Hatch, perished along with Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

“But what if something happened to them at the inauguration, too?” he asked. “After that, it goes down the list of cabinet secretaries, starting with secretary of state. On the day of the inauguration, as a precaution, a cabinet secretary called the ‘designated presidential successor’ will not attend the inauguration, ready to step in if something happens.”


“But it won’t be a Trump cabinet secretary, since none of them have been confirmed yet. It will be an Obama appointee,” Todd noted. “No word from the White House on who that will be on Friday.”

CNN’s segment drew criticism from the conservative news organization Breitbart, who accused the network of “dreaming up scenarios whereby the Obama administration can keep power.”

 (c) Breaking911 – Robert Walker

Police, VIDEOS

WATCH: Dashcam Video Captures Illinois Police Saving Man From Overdose

January 19, 2017

One man is lucky to be alive thanks to the actions of two Park Forest police officers. Police on Jan. 16 were called to the scene of a man found slumped over the steering wheel of his truck. The vehicle was locked and in drive, a needle spotted sticking out of the man’s arm. Officers JP Garrity and Christopher Batzel sprung into action, forcing entry to the truck to reach the driver unconscious from a suspected opioid overdose. Once inside the vehicle, officers resuscitated the man using Naloxone, an anti-opioid medicine more commonly known as Narcan. All Park Forest police carry the medication. A dash-cam captured the save. “Opioid use is having a profound effect across our country,” Park Forest police wrote on social media. “If you or someone you know is abusing opioids, we strongly encourage you to seek treatment. This man was lucky to have Officers Garrity and Batzel respond as they did.”


A note from police: The face of the man has been blurred to protect his privacy. Paramedics had already been requested in earlier portions of the video not shown, and arrived on scene at the end of this clip, continuing treatment and ultimately transporting the man to the hospital for emergency care. The countdown that can be heard just prior to the man’s resuscitation is part of the electronic voice instructions of the medicine delivery system.

Police, VIDEOS

WATCH: Florida Police Officers Join Kids in Basketball Game

January 19, 2017

Bodycam footage has been released that shows Florida police officers joining a group of children in a basketball game.

BREAKING NEWS

Assange says he stands by offer to go to the US, after Obama releases Chelsea Manning

January 19, 2017

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stands by his offer to go to the USA now that Chelsea Manning is being released, he told a press conference today.

Obama said he granted clemency to Manning because she had gone to trial, taken responsibility for her crime and received a sentence that was harsher than other leakers have received.

Speaking from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, he said there would be ‘many discussions’ on his future before Manning leaves prison in May.

Stay with Breaking911 for the latest.

Viral Videos

WATCH: Shocking truck crash in China kills at least five people

January 19, 2017

This is the horrifying moment an out-of-control truck flattens homes in just one second, killing five people.

The incident was caught on CCTV footage on January 18 in Haiyuan County, China’s Ningxia Hui region.

At least three people were also injured in the incident and are being treated in hospital.

Additional footage filmed in the aftermath of the crash shows emergency workers sifting the rubble as a crowd of onlookers watch.


Bad News

Deutsche Bank sued in U.S. by Jewish trust over $3 billion

January 19, 2017

Deutsche Bank was sued in Florida by a Jewish charitable trust that claims the firm wrongly withheld as much as $3 billion from the heirs to a wealthy German family.

The lawsuit claims the bank refuses to return the funds initially deposited by the Wertheim family in accounts opened at what is now Credit Suisse Group before the rise of the Nazis in Germany. Those accounts were later transferred to Deutsche Bank, according to the complaint filed Wednesday in federal court by Wertheim Jewish Education Trust.

Deutsche Bank has “refused to cooperate with the heirs of the Wertheim family fortune in the recovery and return of the monies that they are withholding from the rightful heirs,” and preventing the use of the funds for charitable and other purposes, according to the complaint filed in Fort Lauderdale.

Deutsche Bank is “taking the matter very seriously,” said spokesman Tim-Oliver Ambrosius. “The accusations are completely unfounded, and Deutsche Bank denies them,” he said. “All proceedings initiated against Deutsche Bank in this matter have been decided in favor of Deutsche Bank.”

The charitable trust is an heir to the descendants of Joseph Wertheim, a family that amassed a fortune by building the KaDeWe department store in Berlin and a textile and manufacturing empire in Frankfurt, according to the complaint. One of those descendants, Karl Wertheim, feared the German rise of anti-Semitism in the 1920s, moved his businesses to Spain and opened an account at Credit Suisse in 1931.

The Swiss bank protected the family assets through the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s and during World War II, using secret numbered accounts, pseudonyms and trust accounts, according to the complaint.

When Karl Wertheim died in 1945, the estate passed to his wife, Maria, who managed the fortune until the early 1970s, according to the lawsuit. The fortune included the sewing machine and office-machine business of Hispano Olivetti, accounts and investment portfolios in Swiss banks, land in Europe and the U.S. and art collections, it said.

As the health of Maria Wertheim deteriorated, she turned to Ambrosius Wolfgang Bauml to help manage the assets. After she died in 1976, Bauml managed the Wertheim family fortune until his death in 1990, when control passed to the family of Rudolf Sutor.

Through a complex series of events, the assets were transferred in 1993 to Deutsche Bank, which misled the Wertheim heirs for many years about the accounts, according to the complaint. The lawsuit seeks return of $3 billion and an accounting of the assets in dispute.

Featured Image: Reuters


(c) 2017, Bloomberg

Animals, Bad News, ISIS Videos, VIDEOS

Video of animal abuse on set of ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ sparks boycott

January 19, 2017

The trailer for “A Dog’s Purpose,” the new children’s dramedy from Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom (“Chocolate,” “The Cider House Rules”), promised an adorable romp when the movie is released on Jan. 27.

The short clip followed a golden retriever who is reincarnated time and time again – as a German Shephard, a corgi and even a Saint Bernard – serving a new owner each time, until he eventually reunites with his original owner.

“Was there a point to this journey of mine? And how did bacon fit in?” the dog asked in the trailer, eventually concluding, “If I can get you licking and loving, I have my purpose.”

But another video – this one less family friendly – published by TMZ on Wednesday incited some to promise a boycott of the movie and has prompted an investigation into its filming.

In the about one-minute-long clip from November 2015, a German Shepard named Hercules stood between its handler and a large pool of churning water in preparation to shoot a scene.

But Hercules appeared frightened, leaning away from the turbulent white water and struggling to escape his handler’s grasp.

“Just gotta throw him in,” said one off-screen voice, while the handler attempted to shove him in, managing to dip Hercules’ feet in the water before the dog jumped defiantly back onto the ledge.

“I don’t think he wants to go in,” said the voice, now chuckling. “He wants to get away. Just throw him in.”

Eventually, the dog was shoved into the water but even then wouldn’t comply, still desperately struggling to get out of the water.

The movie’s production company Amblin Entertainment and distributor Universal Pictures released a joint statement noting that the footage was “edited” and stating “the Amblin production team followed rigorous protocols to foster an ethical and safe environment for the animals.”

“While we continue to review the circumstances shown in the edited footage, Amblin is confident that great care and concern was shown for the German Shepherd Hercules, as well as for all of the other dogs featured throughout the production of the film,” the statement read. “There were several days of rehearsal of the water scenes to ensure Hercules was comfortable with all of the stunts. On the day of the shoot, Hercules did not want to perform the stunt portrayed on the tape so the Amblin production team did not proceed with filming that shot.”

Regardless, the video sparked anger.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals told Variety, “PETA is calling on dog lovers to boycott the film in order to send the message that dogs and other animals should be treated humanely, not as movie props.”

Meanwhile American Humane – which according to its website, “works in association with the American film and TV industry to help ensure the well-being of animal actors and promote the human-animal bond” and is “on the set to protect animal actors” – is investigating the matter.

American Humane spokesperson Mark Stubis told the Associated Press the on-set safety representative was suspended, and the organization is hiring an independent investigator to look into the video.

Many of the top creative forces behind the film’s production have also expressed anger and regret at the clip.

Gavin Polone, one of the film’s producers who claimed to have worked on set for 70 percent of the shoot, told Variety, “Had I been on the set, this would have never happened. This movie got made because of how I feel about animals. So this happened 15 months ago and should have been investigated immediately. It’s unconscionable that someone waited a year and three months to call attention to this.”

In three tweets on Wednesday, Hallstrom, the director, said, “I am very disturbed by the video released today from the set of my film ‘A dog’s purpose. I did not witness these actions. We were all committed to providing a loving and safe environment for all the animals in the film. I have been promised that a thorough investigation into this situation is underway and that any wrongdoing will be reported and punished.”

Finally in a tweet confirmed as authentic by his publicist, actor Josh Gad – who voices the dog in the film – said he considered the movie “one of the most beautiful love letters to animals.” But he was “shaken and sad to see any animal put in a situation against its will.”

Gad said he “reached out to the production team and studio to ask for an explanation for these disturbing images.”

Whether the film will be boycotted on Jan. 27 remains to be seen, but the onternet has certainly directed its collective indignation toward the film.

The film boasts a shockingly low 1.1/10 stars on the user-generated portion of IMDb with many reviews referencing the clip.

Featured Image YouTube

Donald Trump

When Donald Trump gets sworn in, the White House is in line for a decorating update

January 19, 2017

WASHINGTON – On the afternoon of Inauguration Day in 2009, the Obamas’ designer, Michael Smith, made his way to the Oval Office, stepping into it for the very first time.

Presidential designers in recent history have concentrated on giving the ultimate power office a one-day Inauguration Makeover to reflect the fact that a new occupant has taken charge. Kaki Hockersmith, the Clintons’ designer, feverishly replaced dozens of yards of Bush blue curtains with gold silk swags and brought back the 1880 Resolute Desk used by John F. Kennedy from storage. Fort Worth designer Ken Blasingame swapped out the Clinton Oval Office rug for the Reagan Oval Office rug, because George W. Bush preferred the way the presidential seal was depicted on it, and a painting of western horse riders, “A Charge to Keep” by W.H.D. Koerner was hung.

But Smith made only one, symbolic, change that day: He replaced the traditional formal flower arrangement on the coffee table with a wooden bowl of fresh apples.

“The world was in crisis,” Smith says. “This wasn’t the time to do anything major.” He spent most of his time making the Obama girls’ rooms comfortable and welcoming. “Outside you could see huge crowds, but inside you couldn’t hear anything. I was making up beds,” Smith says, “but I knew I was in the eye of the storm.”

As Donald and Melania Trump and the rest of the new first family prepare to check out their new digs after he is sworn in as the 45th president, speculation has been rampant – and facts sparse – on who has been helping them plan their move-in.

Although the Trumps have not made public who their designer or designers are, immediate changes are sure to be coming to the Oval Office and private quarters. Donald Trump is extremely image-conscious: He reportedly is very involved with architects and designers for his various hotels, condos and office buildings and knows his way around high-end fixtures (preferably gold) and fabrics.

Style at this White House may be like no other. Consider the current Trump addresses: a glittering jewel-box penthouse of gilded fanciness atop New York’s Trump Tower and private apartments in the palatial Palm Beach landmark Mar-a-Lago. Then there’s the private 757 plane with 24-karat gold-plated seat-belt buckles and bedroom pillows featuring the Trump family crest. Since the Trump Organization headquarters and Trump’s Manhattan penthouse home are both in Trump Tower, he is already living above his office and walking to work, as he will presumably be doing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.

In a 2015 interview in People magazine, Trump said, “If I were elected, I would maybe touch it up a little bit, but the White House is a special place.” He added, “You don’t want to do too much touching.”

As well as being the house of the president, the White House serves as an office, a venue for constant receptions and high-profile dinners, and a museum of American history, full of valuable antiques and paintings. It is constantly undergoing renovation and preservation, not surprising for any house dating from 1800.

At noon on Jan. 20 after the swearing-in, the carefully choreographed change of occupants will begin. The Trumps have been working with White House Chief Usher Angella Reid and White House Curator Bill Allman on details.

At some point, the Trumps will get a briefing about who pays the bills. Part of the funds Congress appropriates for repair and restoration of the White House is a redecorating allowance of $100,000. This money is earmarked for the private quarters. The Obamas and other recent presidents declined the allowance, preferring to use their own money or private funds.

The White House Historical Association, a nonprofit educational institution, provides money for projects from two sources: the White House Endowment Trust, used for public rooms and conserving collections, and the White House Acquisition Trust, used to acquire fine and decorative arts.

Changes to the first floor, called the State Floor, and the ground floor, which contain the State Dining Room, Green Room, Blue Room and others, are made in consultation with the White House curator’s office and the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, an advisory group established by Lyndon Johnson in 1964. The committee is a group of experts, including several ex officio members, and others appointed by the president, who are tasked with preserving the “museum quality” of White House public spaces. The president traditionally appoints his own decorator to this committee.

Meanwhile, it’s up to the president and his designers to decide what to put into the Oval Office, the room most associated with the presidency.

“Everyone now personalizes it,” says William Seale, a historian who has written books about the White House. “They usually don’t change much right away. But then they might change the curtains, and everyone eventually gets a new rug.”

The designers who have worked with presidential families all have their stories of how they were able to accomplish everything.

Blasingame says he moved into a third-floor White House bedroom on the Monday after the inauguration and spent 10 days getting things organized and comfortable for the Bushes. The first time he walked into the Oval Office he began playing a video in his mind of the news conferences and addresses to the nation that would take place there. “It was so impressive,” he says. “I was just doing my job, but I was participating in something so historic.” He always stuck to the presidential dress code when working on the Oval Office. “Since President Bush wanted everyone to wear a coat and tie when they entered the Oval Office, I did the same,” says Blasingame. “No jeans.”

Everyone wondered how Kaki Hockersmith, the Clintons’ designer from Little Rock, could make such sweeping changes in one day. She says it was because then-first lady Barbara Bush “was very generous and gave us a lot of access in advance.” But on Inauguration Day, she had to hustle to get to the White House and supervise all the installations she had planned. “Hillary Clinton insisted that I come to the swearing-in and she said she would arrange to get me back to the White House as soon as possible. She told us to go to a certain corner across from the Capitol and look for a military officer in a van. We were then cleared to go through every barricade throughout the parade route. And, oh, my God, people would see the vehicle and start waving at us. I will never forget that ride.”

The design world is waiting to see which decorator the Trumps will choose and is hunting for clues as to what it might look like. There aren’t many photos of the Trump penthouse, originally decorated in the 1980s by the late Angelo Donghia, but more gold has shown up over the years. Margaret Russell, longtime design editor, went to the penthouse in the 1980s when Donald Trump was still married to his first wife, Ivana. “What I can see from recent photos is that not much has changed,” says Russell. “It’s very ornate, very detailed. I believe I recall cherubim on the ceiling.”

Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s exotic Palm Beach property, was built between 1923 and 1927 by cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, who also owned Washington’s Hillwood estate. Its lavish rooms had the look of European castles and palaces, layered in gold leaf and dripping in crystal chandeliers. Post left her villa to the federal government in 1973 to use as a presidential retreat, but the government deemed it too expensive. Trump bought the house and furnishings in 1985. He and his family used it until 1995, when Trump reopened it as a private club, keeping their own private quarters. Wood paneling, pink marble, gold-leaf ceilings and most of the original architecture remain.

The Trumps clearly are used to living in large houses with staff. But the White House is like no other house in the world. “You move there under public scrutiny and you have probably not seen much of where you are going to live,” says Betty Monkman, former White House curator. “When you walk onto the State Floor, the world is watching. It’s a big adjustment for any family to move in there.”

Featured Image: Abbie Rowe-National Park Service-White House Historical Association


(c) 2017, The Washington Post

International, Politics

Le Pen moves into lead in French race, Le Monde poll shows

January 19, 2017

Marine Le Pen is gaining support in France and has taken the lead in a major survey of voters’ intentions for the first round of the presidential election.

The populist leader of the National Front had between 25 percent and 26 percent support compared with 23 percent to 25 percent for Republican candidate Francois Fillon, according to an Ipsos Sopra Steria poll for Cevipof and Le Monde. In mid December, Fillon led with about 28 percent and Le Pen around 25 percent.

Since the election of Donald Trump as president on Nov. 8, the French race has been closely-watched as another crucial battle between populist and establishment forces. Under the French electoral system, the two leading candidates face each other in a run-off vote on May 7, presenting a significant hurdle to Le Pen.

European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, a French Socialist, said in Davos Thursday that there’s little chance of Le Pen securing the broad support needed for victory.

“I’m not worried about Madame Le Pen being president,” Moscovici said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “I don’t want Madame Le Pen in power. Never, ever in my country.”

Le Pen has pledged to take France out of the euro if she wins.

Independent candidate Emmanuel Macron is in third position and gaining, the poll showed. His support would exceed 20 percent if Arnaud Montebourg becomes the presidential candidate for the ruling Socialist Party, according to Le Monde. Communist-backed candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon would win between 14 and 15 percent support.

With 15,921 people interviewed, the Ipsos Sopra Steria poll is roughly 16 times the size of typical French political surveys.

Featured Image: Reuters


(c) 2017, Bloomberg

VIDEOS

WATCH: Bodycam Footage Of San Francisco Police Shooting Sean Moore

January 19, 2017

The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office released new body cam video showing an officer shooting Sean Moore on Jan. 6, Moore who survived and is reportedly in stable condition, is obviously agitated throughout his interactions with officers Kenneth Cha and Colin Patino. He’s been diagnosed with schizophrenia, according to his family and the public defender’s office. Two officers responded to a neighbor’s complaint in the middle of the night. Moore, 42, was agitated and verbally aggressive while officers asked him in a calm manner to come down from the top of a staircase. Finally, one officer fired pepper spray at Moore. He also inadvertently sprayed his partner, as he fell down the stairs. Moore went back inside the house while the officers continued to tell him to come outside. After a while, he did. Officers continued to yell for Moore to get down. He came closer, picking up some papers he dropped on the stairs. Then a scuffle ensued. One officer had his baton raised.

The body camera angle distorts the video. The other officer fired off two shots. Public Defender Jeff Adachi believes the officers should have used crisis intervention techniques. “Mr. Moore did not have to be shot and the officers, had they properly used deescalation techniques, would have gone home.” Interim Police Chief Toney Chaplin sees the video differently, saying the officers were assaulted, and used great restraint. “You saw them back down the stairs a couple times,” he said. “One officer, even put his hand up and even backed the other officer up at one point a little bit, to give him a little bit more time.” Chaplin released photos of the two officers and their injuries suffered after the scuffle. Moore is at the county jail, charged with, among other counts, assault on police officers.

Bad News

Dogs attack schoolchildren, killing one and mauling another

January 19, 2017

It was just before 7:30 Tuesday morning, around the time Shamonte Clayton’s southwest Atlanta neighborhood comes alive, when the sleeping resident was jarred awake by the sounds of children screaming.

Alarmed, because these screams weren’t accompanied by the routine giggles of most school mornings, Clayton told local media he grabbed his gun and ran outside.

What he found was grisly chaos — panicked parents, flocking neighbors and a pack of scared schoolchildren shielding themselves from the jaws of several loose dogs circling the area.

Those dogs, identified by officials as a pit bull mix and border collie, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, had already attacked.

Clayton told WXIA-TV he saw two more children, badly bitten, laying on the ground, a 5-year-old girl, Syari Sanders, and a boy, 6-year-old Logan Braatz.

Nearby the boy’s limp body hovered his shocked mother.

“I picked up the child’s body because the mother couldn’t do nothing but sit there and just cry,” Clayton told the AJC, “. . . that hurt me.”

He carried the boy to an ambulance, Clayton told the AJC, but his injuries were too severe. Logan died Tuesday, police said, and the Associated Press reported that Syari was hospitalized with critical injuries.

The deadly attack has thrust the southwestern Atlanta community into a heated debate over how welcoming it wants to be toward pit bulls, a breed of dog that has long caused controversy in cities across America. Critics say pit bulls are dangerous, propelled by an unstoppable ferocity stamped in their DNA. Advocates reject that notion, adamant that it’s not genes to blame, but training and treatment.

Already, some residents have called on the Atlanta City Council to restrict or ban pit bull ownership, claiming that a chronic problem of stray dogs has kept senior citizens and children from venturing outside. And in the 48 hours since Tuesday’s attack, City Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms proposed legislation that would crack down on irresponsible dog owners.

For the incident this week, that’s where prosecutors are placing the blame.

On Tuesday, Cameron Tucker, the owner of the two suspect dogs, was arrested and initially charged with two counts of reckless conduct, reported the AJC, which are misdemeanors. But at his first appearance in court Wednesday, officials added an involuntary manslaughter charge. His bond was set at $70,000, according to the AJC, and he was ordered to avoid animals and the victims’ families as conditions of his bond.

Tucker’s lawyer, Cinque Axam, told CBS 46 that the 31-year-old man lives in the Atlanta neighborhood with his mother, fiancee, six-month-old daughter and his future mother-in-law. Axam called Tucker’s two dogs additional family members.

“Mr. Tucker is shocked, he’s saddened and he is surprised that this has occurred,” Axam told CBS 46. “It’s heartbreaking, it’s very sad, but Mr. Tucker has cooperated with the police and the authorities.”

Axam said the dogs are indoor, family pets that are “around kids all the time,” the TV station reported. Each morning, Axam said, Tucker puts the dogs outside into his fenced-in backyard. When Tucker realized the dogs had escaped Tuesday, Axam said, he “immediately” went out searching for them.

“We’re not sure yet how they got out,” Axam told CBS 46.

Neighbors told local media they had seen the dogs wandering the neighborhood before, but that they’d never been aggressive.

The mother of the boy who was killed, Angelica Braatz, told WSB-TV that the last thing her son said to her Tuesday morning was, “I love you mommy.”

He added: “I’ll see you after school.”

It wasn’t long after that Braatz heard the screams of the children walking to their school bus.

“Everybody came running,” she told CBS 46.

Atlanta Police Dept tweeted: Heartbreaking news today. Child has died as a result of a pit bull attack. Prayers go out to the family. Homicide detectives on the scene.

Braatz said she first saw the girl laying on the ground, then joined the other frantic adults searching for the rest of the children – including Logan. She eventually found him, lying on the ground behind a nearby house. He was limp.

Clayton, the neighbor who carried the boy to the ambulance, came soon after. By that time, he had already chased away one dog from Syari, the injured girl, he told WXIA-TV, and defended the children crowding on the porch from further attack.

Clayton then used his gun, he told the AJC, to scare one of the dogs away from Logan.

Tamiko Williams, a relative of the 5-year-old girl, told CBS 46 that other adults with bats and sticks ran to help. Other witnesses told Fox 5 that neighbors showed up with knives.

“The dogs was still chasing everybody, there was nothing we could do,” Williams said, “. . . they kept coming back, kept coming back.”

Even the other children, who witnessed their friends’ attack, fought back.

“We had some brave kids,” Atlanta police Sgt. Warren Pickard told the AJC. “Some kids ran back to the scene to try to pull the dogs off the children that were injured.”

Photos taken during the capture of the dogs show one with blood-stained fur. The dogs were not wearing collars, reported Fox 5, but were eventually taken into custody by animal control.

Residents, lawmakers and the victims’ families are still searching for an appropriate reaction to the tragedy.

“As pet owners, if we can’t be responsible, then as a city we have to toughen our laws to make people more responsible,” Bottoms, the city councilwoman, told Fox 5. “And if it means that you don’t have sense enough to do what you’re supposed to do, then we need to put some laws in the books to tell you what you’re supposed to do.”

Regulating pit bull ownership, though, could be a different challenge altogether.

Several metro-area counties have restrictions or ordinances already in place regarding pit bulls and other large dogs. In Fulton County, where Tuesday’s attack took place, pit bulls, rottweilers, doberman pinschers and German shepherds are declared “potentially dangerous” and require special registration.

The Georgia state legislature considered preventing local governments from banning pit bulls in 2015, reported the AJC, but then passed a law in 2016 that allows communities to continue regulating the issues involving “vicious dogs, abandoned dogs or stray dogs” themselves.

An emotional Braatz told WSB-TV 2 she just wants people to watch their pets.

“This is not something that families should have to go through,” she said, “because irresponsible dog owners can’t keep a hold of their animals?”

Featured Image: Atlanta Journal Constitution


(c) 2017, The Washington Post

Bad News

Half of U.S. wineries might be sold in the next five years

January 19, 2017

When billionaire Stan Kroenke, owner of Napa cult winery Screaming Eagle and a slew of sports teams (including the L.A. Rams), bought a majority stake in iconic Burgundian estate Bonneau du Martray in December, shockwaves ricocheted around the wine world. The historic property has belonged to the Le Bault de la Moriniere family since the French Revolution. Its grand cru Corton-Charlemagne is one of the planet’s great white wines.

But that was only one of many high-profile wineries and vineyards to trade hands last year. In California and Oregon, more than 35 were sold.

Get ready for 2017: The Silicon Valley Bank State of the Wine Industry 2017 report, released Wednesday, predicts a continuing vineyard land grab this year.

“This sell-off phenomenon is not a real estate bubble,” insists author Rob McMillan, founder of the bank’s wine division.

The Silicon Valley Bank serves both the tech industry and the wine industry; about half its 350 west coast winery clients are in Napa. And this gives the bank unique insights into what’s happening in the U.S. wine world and what will happen next. McMillan’s annual missive has become the industry’s yearly report card. This year he looks back at the trends in 2016 and tackles what to expect in 2017 through the entertaining framework of the movie Jaws.

“In the wine business, there is blood in the water. The fishing is for premium wine assets,” he notes in the section on Land and M&A. More buyers want prime land in prestigious areas where there are fewer and fewer plantable acres. Sellers of the top estates can bargain hard as prices spiral upwards.

In a survey of U.S. winery owners, for example, he found 30 percent of them were considering or expected to sell in the next five years, while another 20 percent said a sale during that time frame was “possible.” That’s a lot of wineries and land that might come on the market.

A prime reason the sell-off will continue, he says, is that baby boomers are aging out and want to retire. That’s the story behind the October sale of Oregon pinot noir estate WillaKenzie. Owner Bernard Lacroute had just turned 73, and his children had no interest in taking over the business.

Many small boutique wineries are also selling out to bigger wine companies for financial help, easier access to top grapes, and marketing muscle, and hustle. It’s become harder and harder for even the best small brands to get their bottles on retail shelves. One of my favorite Sonoma pinotmakers, Copain, and two pioneers in Oregon, WillaKenzie and Penner-Ash joined the list of wineries owned by Jackson Family Wines in 2016.

The payoff can be incredible. Former rock promoter Charles Smith, known for his frizzy white hair and wines with weird names made from purchased grapes, founded his Washington State winery in 1999. In October, he sold his five core brands to giant Constellation for a $120 million. He’s staying on to make the wines. That’s the new way to sell out.

The SVB report doesn’t cover Europe, but in the Old World, a great sell-off is full-speed ahead, too. Here succession problems come to the forefront, often involving inheritance taxes on land that has recently become incredibly valuable, which threatens the ability of families to hold on to their historic estates. Top vineyards in Burgundy now bring as much as €4 milliona hectare ($1.7 million an acre). Bonneau du Martray’s estate manager Jean-Charles le Bault de la Morniere, one of the four brothers who retain a minority share, says they sold to ensure “the future of the estate.”

In Italy sales of iconic wineries such as Vietti (Barolo) and Biondi-Santi (Brunello di Montalcino) to outside investors sparked serious controversy. Local winemakers are worried their regional wine cultures will change and that the younger generation will be shut out when vineyards come on the market at high prices.

A host of trends outlined in the SVB report explain the current land rush from the buyers’ perspective as well-and why it will continue in 2017. Among the most important are the stronger dollar, improving economy, and ever-increasing consumer demand worldwide, especially for more expensive wines as drinkers jettison cheapie generics.

Large U.S. wine companies such as Jackson Family Wines want to grab more premium wineries for their international vineyard empire while they’re still available, and lock in a supply of high quality pinot noir and cabernet.

“Debt is inexpensive right now and there are amazing wineries on the market,” says executive vice president David Bowman, who likes to call the Jacksons “the Medici family of the wine business.”

And let’s not forget ego, curiosity and passion as buyer motivations. The dream of owning a vineyard is still going strong, and in 2017 there will be good buys in Oregon, where prime vineyards still cost one-tenth the price of Napa, and in Bordeaux, where Chinese buyers like Jack Ma have been joined by wine lovers from elsewhere.

American Tom Sullivan, founder of Miami-based Lumber Liquidators, was captivated by a vineyard in Tuscany, but in 2016 he plunked down money for four small organic estates in Bordeaux, where, he says, “the prices were way lower.”

So what does all this selling and buying mean for wine drinkers in 2017? It’s a mixed picture. If you want to purchase a vineyard, you’ll have a lot of choices.

On the other hand, prices of the some luxury wines may begin to rise. Grape prices both drive and reflect land values, says McMillan. If a vineyard costs $700,000 an acre, the grapes generally have to cost $10,000 a ton (the going rate for top cabernet grapes in Napa), “and that translates into a minimum of $100 a bottle.”

For passionate wine lovers an even bigger question is what will happen to the quality of the wines made by sold-off wineries. Will the juice keep its allure?

That all depends on who buys what and whether the talented winemaker stays on, as happens more and more.

Billionaires often sink far more money into a property than makes financial sense in the short term and end up subsidizing quality. Wine lovers could be the beneficiaries of their long-term thinking.

Featured Image: Bloomberg