May 9, 2018

3 injured after handling bobcat kittens they mistook for domestic kittens

City of San Antonio Animal Care Services/Facebook(SAN ANTONIO, Texas) -- Three people in Texas suffered minor injuries over the weekend after mistaking two bobcat kittens for domestic kittens and bringing them inside the house, according to local authorities. The kittens were found in an alleyway in San Antonio on Saturday, San Antonio Animal Care Services spokeswoman Lisa Norwood told ABC News. After the three acquaintances brought the kittens inside, they were bitten and scratched as they were trying to feed the bobcat kittens milk for domestic kittens, Norwood said. The trio had the bobcat kittens for about a day and a half before they realized they were not house cats, Norwood said. Once they noticed the bobbed tails and how robust the kittens were, they took the baby felines to animal care, Norwood said. The injuries they suffered were minor - bites to the hands - and did not require hospitalization, she said. On Monday, the bobcat kittens -- one male and one female -- were taken to Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in Kendalia, Texas, the sanctuary's founder and president, Lynn Cuny, told ABC News. Cuny warned would-be good Samaritans against tampering with wildlife, instructing them to "assume that everything's fine," leave the animals alone and call wildlife experts instead. "These kittens should have never been taken away from their mother," who was likely hiding from the humans or hunting for food, Cuny said. Part of the problem, Cuny acknowledged, is that the kittens are "so cute" and it grabs the attentions of humans. The kittens are currently "doing fine" but are stressed out due to the drastic change in environment, Cuny said. It took them "several hours" to get used to being fed be humans, she said. Caregivers are hoping to reunite the kittens with their mother, but she has not been spotted around the San Antonio area, Cuny said. "The occurrence of bobcats in the city is decidedly rare," she said, adding that they typically only get calls for bobcats in rural areas. Releasing predators back into the wild is a challenge with predatory animals because they typically stay with the mother for up to two years, and she teaches them how to hunt, hide and take care of themselves, Cuny said. "They know they’re supposed to be with their mother," Cuny said. In hopes of releasing them back to the wild, caregivers are attempting to handle the kittens as little as possible so they do not become "habituated to dealing with humans," Cuny said. The kittens haven't been named, and they are only being cared for "as much as they need." They are also being housed in a protective area, where they can hear the sounds of nature, she said. The brother and sister bobcats are "alert and bonded to each other," Cuny said. "They don’t separate," she said. "They're on top of each other all the time. That’s very comforting for them." If caregivers cannot release the bobcats back in the wild, the kittens will live on the rescue center's 212-acre sanctuary, Cuny said. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
May 9, 2018

EPA memo claims ‘lashing out from passengers’ prompted Pruitt’s first-class flights

Alex Edelman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Newly-released documents show that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's first-class flights were prompted by what his security chief called life-endangering "lashing out" from other passengers when he flew coach, but the agency has not completed investigations into any of those incidents. Lawmakers have questioned the security concerns cited as justification for increased spending on Pruitt’s security detail and first-class travel. EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox has previously said that Pruitt had a “blanket waiver” to fly first-class but later said that because of the security concerns Pruitt received a waiver to fly an upgraded class for every trip. A memo to the agency’s travel coordinator requesting that Pruitt be seated in first or business class, obtained by the Washington Post and other news organizations through the Freedom of Information Act, shows that Pruitt’s security detail wanted him to be seated in an upgrade class due to “lashing out from passengers” on full flights where his security wasn’t easily accessible to him. “We believe that the continued use of coach seats for the Administrator would endanger his life and respectfully ask that he be placed in either business or first class accommodations,” then-acting security chief Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta wrote in the memo. The memo does not detail any specific incident in which Pruitt was said to be in danger or what exactly is meant by "lashing out." A former EPA enforcement official Mike Hubbard said it is "disingenuous and patently absurd" to suggest that someone's life is in danger because of other passengers' comments and that the memo does not provide any rationale for the additional expense of flying first class. Perrotta said in an interview with a conservative news outlet this week that various incidents with social media and other examples of threats, including what he called "very graphic" messages on Pruitt family's phones, were enough to show that threats against Pruitt were an issue. He did not specifically address security incidents related to Pruitt's travel. "Those particular examples you don't need many of them to realize that there are people out there that want to cause harm," he said in the interview. "And what's important for everyone to know is that security is not there to prevent from an incident to occur, security is there to plan ahead hoping that they can defuse, deflate, or address potential issues." Perrotta retired from the agency this month and recently met with congressional investigators. Federal regulations say that officials should use the least expensive option when they travel, but there is an exception allowing first-class for security reasons. None of the investigative reports released by the agency in response to a separate FOIA request shows that these cases were referred and investigated further to determine if the “lashing out” was a serious threat, according to documents released to ABC News and other news organizations from the agency’s internal investigative office. The EPA has not responded to questions about whether any of the incidents involving Pruitt's travel were investigated. Pruitt said in March that because of concerns about the cost of his first class travel he has asked his staff to book him on more flights in coach. He previously said in interviews that there were some incidents between him and other travelers that were "not the best." Reports from the investigative branch of the EPA inspector general show that the agency recorded 16 threats against Scott Pruitt as of August 2017, more than four times the number of threats against former administrator Gina McCarthy in the previous fiscal year. Most of the investigations determined there was “no overt threat” against Pruitt or took no further action. At least two investigations are still pending but the inspector general's office said it does not comment on pending investigations and so could not confirm if any were related to Pruitt's travel. An email dated January 2018 said that there were six investigations into threats against Pruitt in the 2018 fiscal year. Some of the threats reported to the office contained vulgar language, calling Pruitt “evil” or in one case a phone caller saying they hoped a family member would die. In several of the cases investigators contacted the source of that language and determined that there was no immediate threat to Pruitt. Other complaints were closed and no action was taken, though the specific findings were redacted. In multiple cases, the investigators presented information to the Justice Department but U.S. attorneys declined to prosecute. The office also looked into a complaint about a printout of the cover of Newsweek magazine where someone had drawn a mustache on Pruitt’s face. Investigators determined the printout was not a threat. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
May 9, 2018

House Ethics may not have jurisdiction to investigate Tony Cárdenas molestation allegations

Paul Morigi/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Despite a request from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for the ethics committee to probe allegations of sexual battery and sexual assault against Rep. Tony Cárdenas, the panel may not have the investigative jurisdiction to examine the matter. Cárdenas, a third-term California Democrat, identified himself through an attorney as the subject of a civil suit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on April 27 by attorney Lisa Bloom. That complaint alleges that in 2007 an "elected politician" – which Cárdenas acknowledges through an attorney is him – molested an unnamed 16-year-old girl. Pelosi said she spoke with Cárdenas, who asked his fellow Democrats to withhold judgment until there is a full investigation. Instead, she urged the House Ethics committee to look into the allegations. “As Members of Congress, we each have a responsibility to uphold the integrity of the House of Representatives, and any type of alleged misconduct must be investigated by the Ethics Committee. Congressman Cárdenas said he will fully cooperate with an Ethics investigation,” Pelosi, D-Calif., stated. “I call upon the House Ethics Committee for a prompt investigation of this matter.” House rules, however, limit the ethics committee’s investigative jurisdiction to violations that “occurred before the third previous Congress unless the committee determines that the alleged violation is directly related to an alleged violation that occurred in a more recent Congress.” Because lawmakers are currently in the 115th session of Congress, the “third previous Congress” would be the 112th Congress, cutting off the committee’s jurisdiction in January of 2011. Unless the molestation allegations are “directly related” to an additional allegation that occurred after the start of the 112th Congress, House Ethics cannot investigate the child molestation allegations against Cárdenas because they happened too long ago. Tom Rust, chief counsel and staff director at the House Ethics committee, declined to comment. According to the lawsuit, which never identifies Cárdenas by name, the accuser says the man fondled her as he drove her to the hospital, touching her vagina and rubbing her breasts after she collapsed while playing golf at the Hillcrest Country Club in 2007. The young woman said the politician handed her water with “a distinctly different” taste before the two teed off. About four or five hours into a round of golf with him, she "suddenly collapsed to the ground but did not lose consciousness," according to the court filing. During the ride to the hospital, the man allegedly reached into her shirt, rubbing her breasts, and also reached down her shorts "intermittently throughout the drive." The alleged incident continued for 30 to 45 minutes during the drive, according to the court filing. At the time of the alleged assault, the victim says she was awake in the car’s passenger seat with her eyes closed and head resting on the window. “Frozen from shock,” she pretended to sleep and did not react to the alleged assault. Cárdenas denies the allegations, according to a statement released by his lawyer. “My client is sickened and distraught by these horrific allegations, which are 100%, categorically untrue,” attorney Patricia Glaser of Glaser Weil stated on behalf of Cárdenas. “These claims against the Congressman are absolutely false and are utterly inconsistent with who he is — in the workplace, in the community, and at home.” Glaser and Cárdenas contend that the complainant is the daughter of a “disgruntled” former employee and “may be the victim of manipulation.” House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, who characterized the allegations as “very serious,” said he does not believe Cárdenas should step down from his role as an assistant Democratic whip. “In the whip team he plays, you know, a role with 25 other people and he’s not a leadership role. He’s a member. I don’t know that he needs to step back from that,” Hoyer, D-Md., said. “My position is we have a process in America where you’re innocent until proven guilty.” Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
May 9, 2018

Brazen jewelry store smash-and-grab caught on surveillance video

ABC News(CARY, North Carolina) -- An audacious smash and grab at a North Carolina jewelry store has been captured on surveillance video. Thieves robbed Artisan Jewelers in Cary, North Carolina, of an estimated $500,000 worth of high-end merchandise in just five minutes, owner Malik Saeed told ABC-owned station WTVD-TV. The masked thieves smashed the glass on the door of a non-operating spa to gain entry to the mall where Artisan Jewelers is located, heading straight to the jewelry store. The surveillance video showed two men using what appeared to be a rock or concrete block to smash the glass front door and enter the store. The men then used a hammer to smash open cases of valuable merchandise, such as jewelry and Rolex watches. The thieves have not yet been found, but they left behind a few clues. One of the men in the surveillance video walked with an unusual gait. Additionally, a few drops of blood were found at the scene. Saeed hypothesizes one of the thieves may have cut himself despite wearing gloves, and said police collected samples of the blood, which could provide DNA evidence for any future arrests made by police. "It's not only me. I have five employees over here," Saeed told WTVD-TV in regards to the impact of the robbery on his business. "How are we going to get back on track and make sure we take care of everybody the way we normally do? It's a massive loss." Cary police and Saeed are offering a reward for any information leading to arrests. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.